Trials Update: Less Than A Month To Go!!

as originally posted by Ben Rosario on Hoka One One Northern Arizona Elite

Where did the time go? All of a sudden there’s just three-and-a-half weeks to go until the Olympic Trials Marathon. Hopefully you guys have been following us on social media and have seen all the big workouts and big miles we’ve been putting in. We’re fit! This past weekend Ben Bruce ran a big PR in the half marathon of 1:02:28 right in the thick of training. That was a huge sign for us because we’re very strength-based and marathon specific in our workouts. So for him to have the kind of wheels to be able to close in the low 4:30s at the end of that half was a big confidence boost for the group. The others stayed home and trained but just like Ben unleashed his fitness in Phoenix we feel confident that Matt, Scott and Kellyn will be able to unleash their fitness in LA on February 13th (and Ben again of course!).

I put it out on the Twitter that I’d be writing this post and asked you guys, the fans, if there was anything in particular that you wanted to know. I had some great questions so I’ll answer them here:

Thanks for the question Derek! This is an easy one. We’ll be heading to Southern California two weeks before the race. We’ll stay in a house together in San Diego until three days before the race and then we’ll drive up to L.A. We’re not really going down to be at sea level for two weeks. It’s more to get used to the weather as it’s likely to be warmer in L.A. than it’s been in Flagstaff.

I can’t speak for their own personal mental preparations of course. As a team (warning- sports cliche coming) we’re just taking things one week at a time. But it really is true. Last week Matt didn’t even know what days we were doing the workouts. He’s just in full-on marathon mode and figures he’ll be ready no matter what’s coming. As a coach I am as confident as I’ve ever been in these athletes. Hopefully that’s coming off in my daily demeanor because I do believe a coach’s belief can rub off on the athletes.

We have two more big sessions coming. This Saturday (three weeks out) we will run 16 miles at marathon pace. We’re driving to Lake Mead to run the workout at 1,300ft so we can run actual race pace. That will definitely be a big one both physically and mentally. Then the next Saturday we’ll run 2 x 6 miles at a little faster than marathon pace. After that we’ll have a set of cruise 800s at half marathon pace and a 2 x 3 miler at marathon pace the week of the race just to touch that exact rhythm one last time. I can’t say that any one session is the one “go to” workout that instills the confidence. But I do think the 16 miler and the 2×6 are workouts that the athletes look forward to.

We don’t do as much “extra stuff” as we do in the track season. I sort of lean toward the idea that the heavy mileage we’re doing during a marathon build-up A) is extra work in and of itself and B) leaves the legs a little more fragile and thus hard plyometric work is risky. That said, we still do an hour long strength and conditioning session every week with AJ and Wes Gregg at Hypo2. They are very aware of the demands of the L.A. course and have been prepping us to be able to handle all the turns. AJ and Wes also give the athletes individual exercises to do during the week based on their particular biomechanical needs.

If I’m reading that top one right you’re asking how to make up, with food, for the fact that you’re running all the time in a marathon build-up and thus have less time where your body is completely recovering (aka not running). Well nothing in particular except I’m always stressing to eat big hearty, healthy meals. That, and after hard workouts the athletes bring recovery snacks so they can begin the replenishment process as soon as possible. As for average daily caloric intake it’s not something I monitor as a coach and I don’t monitor bacon intake either although I do encourage it!!

We always prepare for the demands of whatever course a particular marathon has to offer. You’re right to assume that we’ve earmarked the turns as the most unique challenge in LA. As mentioned above we’ve been doing a ton of exercises to prepare the core for turns and for turning while fatigued. Out on the roads we’re fortunate that the spot we’ve done the majority of our hard workouts, a three-mile loop in Camp Verde, has eight turns on it so we’ve gotten a lot of real-time practice from that. And on the 16 miler we’ll be doing at Lake Mead this Saturday I’ll be creating the course for that one myself and it will have a thousand meter section with several turns that we’ll do four times. I’m confident that come race day the turns will actually be an advantage for us since we’ve prepared so thoroughly.

Well if the segment goes like it’s supposed to then we shouldn’t need some sort of massive taper. Of course, when you’re pushing the envelope like we do that can happen sometimes. Two weeks before Kellyn ran 2:28 in Houston she was pretty wiped out. We had to back off quite a bit and she actually didn’t do any hard workouts at all for ten full days leading into the race. But again, so far everything is going exactly according to plan. If that remains the case then we’ll begin backing off the mileage two weeks out. We’ll do a set of cruise 800s about ten days out and an easy 14 mile long run one week out. Then on Tuesday of race week we’ll run 2×3 miles at marathon pace. The last two days before the race will probably just be four-mile runs.

I saved this one for last as it’s probably the sexiest question. As you could probably imagine we would never have a plan called, “go out hard and hopefully don’t blow up!” As of right now we are waiting to see how the last couple hard sessions go and waiting until we can see what the weather pattern looks like. I can tell you this though- the plan is to make the team. Any strategy we do settle on will be the one we believe, if executed, puts us on the the plane to Rio.

Thanks for your questions everyone! I am planning on doing a Periscope session sometime in the next couple of weeks to let you guys fire away once again and I can just answer all the questions at once. Should be fun so stay tuned…


Related Reading: Forks in the Road, by Ben Rosario
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