Fri, 4 March 2011 - 12:51 p.m. MT
Credit: Steve Nearman - American Running Association
By Steve Nearman
Special to American Running Association
[ed note: Galen Rupp debuted on the NYC streets with a very impressive close 3rd place finish; the follow interview took place just prior to the NYC Half Marathon.]
Galen Rupp is coming to NYC on March 20 for the NYC Half Marathon.
“I'm just looking to compete and get in there,” said Rupp, 24, facing some of America’s top distance runners in Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman, Ryan Hall, Jason Lehmkuhle and Patrick Smyth as well as an international field yet to be announced. “There are a lot of good guys in the field, and I just want to be competitive.”
For Rupp, a 2008 Olympian and American record-holder in the indoor 3,000 and 5,000 meters, the half marathon will be his longest race to date and just his second professional road race.
“Several of my teammates have run [the NYC Half], and they've had nothing but great things to say,” Rupp opened his comments during a teleconference with media earlier in the week from his home base in Portland, Oregon. “So I'm just really happy that this opportunity presented itself.”
The opportunity happened quite by accident. Initially scheduled to run a 10,000 meters in Christchurch, New Zealand last week, Rupp was forced to regroup when a major earthquake hit the Kiwi city on February 22 and the meet was cancelled.
Rupp, who already had travelled halfway around the world to do some Nike promotional activities in Melbourne, Australia, then flew into Albuquerque, New Mexico, and notched the runner-up spot to Bernard Lagat at the USA Indoor Championships 3,000 meters on February 26.
He insisted that he took the cancellation in stride.
“I couldn't be too disappointed not running, especially considering what happened down there,” he said. “Those people and what they're going through have much bigger problems than worrying about some silly track race.”
After the earthquake, Salazar quickly found two races to fill the void with the USA Indoor Championships and a half marathon in New York City, the same city where he himself burst onto the world scene with his first of three consecutive New York City Marathon titles 30 years ago.
“Yeah, I'm obviously in favor of Galen running this race,” Salazar explained. “It was the one that I popped it on him given the change of the schedule over the last few weeks…And I felt that Galen had done a significant amount of training much more based on higher mileage and focusing on the 10K versus in the past we've really been more 5K based.
“We're focused in. And I thought this half marathon would be an opportunity for him to really see what all that training had amounted to, and he had good results. He broke the American record for 5,000 of course indoors. But I really feel his strength is at a place where he's way ahead of where he's been before. And it's not a matter of just taking advantage of that conditioning to hopefully do something very good. In my mind, the half marathon is a way for him to test himself, to put himself in a race that is out of his normal comfort zone which is the 5K to 10,000 and to go in there and test himself against literally some of the best in the world at the half marathon distance.”
While one might think the half marathon distance is part of a near-term plan to jump to the marathon distance, both Salazar and Rupp were quick to dispel such a notion.
“We haven't really talked much about running a marathon at all,” Rupp countered. “This half marathon, when [Salazar] brought this up was literally the first time we've ever talked about doing something longer and on the roads. So it hasn't really been something that we've talked a lot about.
“I definitely want to run one at some point. It's just a matter of when and how it fits into my development and scheduling. So I try to let Alberto worry about that more than me. But I definitely want to run one at some point in the future.”
Salazar further explained his rationale.
[The NYC Half] is not going to be easy,” said Salazar, like Rupp an all-American at University of Oregon. “I mean, you could go and just stick with 5 and 10's. But I think putting himself in situations out of his normal comfort zone is something that ultimately will make him better when he goes into his normal races like the 5 and 10. So I look at it as not just an opportunity to do well given the condition he's in, but also an opportunity to improve himself as a runner by challenging himself at a distance that he's never run before.”
Rupp punctuated Salazar’s comments by offering that, while he is keeping his options open, he most likely while be focusing his efforts on the track to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2012 in the 10K and 5K.
“I mean, I'm still pretty young,” stated Rupp, who more recently has been training with another Salazar athlete in American mile record-holder Alan Webb. “I'm only 24, so I don't want to get too far ahead of myself and thinking about the marathon. It will definitely be something that I'll do at some point, but I still have a long ways to go on the track and I want to keep focusing on doing that moving forward in the present.”
Whether Rupp is running cross country, track or on the roads, one thing has remained consistent in Salazar’s philosophy since they began working together when Rupp was a freshman at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon, in 2000. That Rupp have fun.
“I really believe that running has to be fun, first of all,” Salazar stressed. “So as an athlete, you would ask what constitutes fun for a particular runner. Training can be fun for some people. But for most of my athletes, they really like racing…Running is running. Whether you're running a cross country race, a five-mile cross country race which Galen ran in Edinburgh, or a 10K track race which he was going to run outdoors in Christchurch or a couple of indoor meets, and now a road race, the training, other than perhaps being a little different for the different distances is pretty similar.”
“Yeah, I think just, again, going off what Alberto said, if you can run fast for 5K or 10K, it shouldn't be that much different whether you're running indoors, outdoors or cross country,” he added. “Some guys might be a little better at cross country and track. Some guys might be better at track than cross country. But there really shouldn't be that much difference in how well you run.
“I think just being able to do a lot of different things just helps prepare you for anything. Nothing really, as long as you're not thinking too much about it, you should be fine.”
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