by Dathan Ritzenhein | Jun 15, 2012 |
Recently I’ve spent considerable time considering what it takes to to be one of the best 10,000 meters runners in the world. One thing has become very clear to me is that to be relevant at the world level in the 10,000 meters you need to be competitive in the 5,000 meters. What does that mean? At the simplest level it means being able to run under 13:00minutes. This may not be that shocking of a revelation but it is a realization that has become stronger every day during this last training block as I finally, after two and half years of frustration, have been able to work out with Mo and Galen. Just like all the best 10K and 5K runners in the world, they can compete in both events and be equally successful. That is definitely where I expect to be by the end of the summer.
Watching Mo and Galen run 12:56 and 12:58 respectively two weeks ago at the Prefontaine Classic gave me so much confidence going into the Olympic Trials 10,000m in one week. It really is inspiring to watch your teammates compete at that level knowing that you’ve been running the same workouts. The most powerful source of my current confidence however is not based on Mo or Galen’s performances but on the fact that not since 2009 have I been able to put together this much uninterrupted training. The last time this happened I ran 12:56 and I believe that I am at that level of fitness again.
I had that belief back at the end of ‘09 when I ran 12:56 in the 5K and 60:00 for the half marathon. I ran those races only six weeks apart. Many people might say there is a big difference between a 5k and a half marathon, but I think at the elite level, the difference is very small. The general fitness is the same, the only difference is a fraction more speed at the lower end or a fraction more strength at the upper end, but it is never more than a few workouts away if you have the necessary base fitness and talent.
Training is going great and, with the exception of Hengelo, my warm-up races have gone well. I am confident but perhaps even more importantly as I get ready for the Olympic trials I am driven by a desire never to experience the emotional low I felt after I got fourth in the marathon trials. Although a miserable experience, the drive to make the Olympic team is even stronger now. I definitely wanted it bad back in January but biggest difference this time is that instead of three months of training, I have the biggest foundation of mileage I ever have had in one season.
I remember my old college coach say once that you can’t fake it in this sport when it gets really tough at the end. It is a hard business when you have to put yourself in that kind of pain, and if your heart and soul are not there, it is going show on the track. I am excited for June 22nd and the opportunity to toe the line and make the US Olympic team.