When the Olympics roll around every four years athletes, host countries, and fans spend time getting prepared for the big event. Coach Jerry Alexander takes us into the training plans of the athletes he took out to LA for the Olympic Marathon Trials. Seeing runners out there getting it done on a huge stage is exciting to watch but having a small sense of what it took to get there gives all of us a view into the hard work it takes to be there.
A fundamental truth about distance running is that before an athlete can race at a peak level, he or she has to do a whole lot of the hard training, so when you watch the best in the world knocking heads on the track and the roads in Rio, you can be sure that to get there, they put in years of work to prepare for their moment in the sun. And in every training cycle, each athlete will have one key workout that she will look back on as the moment she knew she was ready to do something great.
Before the Pacers Running//GRC New Balance contingent of Kieran O’Connor, Teal Burrell, and Emily Potter got on the starting line at the Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles, they logged thousands of miles and innumerable hard training sessions, but each of them had one key workout that let them know that they were prepared to kill it at the Trials.
For Kieran, who placed a remarkable 24th at the Trials despite being seeded 146th, the key workout was a 10 mile tempo on the track in 49:41. Kieran ran a huge negative split, going 24:37 for the last five miles, and closing in 4:47 for the final mile. If there was any doubt in Kieran’s mind that he was fit to lock horns with the top marathoners in the country, those doubts were erased after that workout.
For Teal, it was a track session of 3 x 2 mile with 4:00 recovery in 12:00, 11:42, and 11:24, which was a 2 mile PR for her, that made Teal realize she was in the best shape of her life. Teal is a true marathoner who has limited speed in the shorter stuff, so to be able to run a 2 mile PR at the end of a long workout was a major confidence boost.
For Emily, 3 days after she ran a strong half marathon of 1:17:53, she ran a workout of 3 x mile in 5:52, 5:48, 5:44, and 4 x 800 in 2:48, 2:47, 2:44, 2:43. Emily thrives on speed work during her marathon training, and being able to recover sufficiently 3 days after a hard half marathon to run those paces was a sure sign that she was fit to go at the Trials.
Those workouts are impressive indeed, and they paved the way for the even more impressive finishes on race day of Kieran, Teal, and Emily.