Workout of the Day
6 x 1,000m w. 500m rec.
Splits: 2:26 / 2:28 / 2:26 / 2:27 / 2:26 / 2:24
Recovery: 500m in 3:00
Galen Rupp — July 13th, 2013
Context & Details
I count Alberto Salazar as a mentor. Our relationship has spanned nearly two decades. It started off as coach/athlete in the late 1990s when I was in high school, then mentor/mentee in the late 2000s when I got into coaching, and now we are on polite, professional, but distant terms. It is what is. And I won't get into it here. However, I can honestly say I would not be the coach or person I am today without Alberto's influence. I do owe him a debt of gratitude.
In 2013 I coached a small cohort of immigrant Ethiopian distance runners. They were fast — by American standards, not Ethiopian, which was the international gold standard of running at the time. The guys I coached were so far down the depth chart in Ethiopia it didn't make sense for them to stay. So they came to America on 2 year visas in hopes of making a little money on the B-level road racing circuit here to send back home to family in Africa. When they found themselves in Portland they approached me to be their coach. I agreed.
One guy, Diriba Degefa, was particularly talented and capable. We got him a gig as a pacer for Kenenisa Bekele in the 10,000m at the Pre Classic that year (he paced 8:03 for 3,000m). And since Alberto was mentoring me at the time, Diriba would be called upon regularly to pace Sir Mo Farah and Galen Rupp in workouts.
OK, I realize that is a lot of distance running royalty name dropping. I'm sorry.
When I supplied rabbits for his athlete's workouts Alberto would invite me to observe the sessions. This Summer's day Diribia was called upon to pace Galen for 800m of the 1,000m repeats. The target paces were brisk and not a walk in a park for rabbit or Rupp.
Galen was coming off another 10,000m national title at the 2013 USATF Outdoor Championships as well as a runner-up finish in the 5,000m. Alberto told me this session was his final "hard" effort before heading to Europe to race the Diamond League circuit and World Championships.
I cannot speak to why Alberto chose this session. All I can say is Rupp drilled it.
I clearly remember Alberto calling off Dirbia on the 1K final rep at 600m so Galen could run the last 400m solo, all out. He wanted Rupp to put himself to the test. By Alberto's design, they came to 600m at 1:29 when Diriba pulled off. My records show Galen dropped a 55 second final 400m.
He did work. I was impressed. The greats often make mind boggling feats look easy.
A few moments later, hands on his knees, gasping for air, Galen started to projectile vomit all over the track. He had pushed to his limit that day. And I thought, "Wow. He's human after all."
As Rupp was puking, Alberto, completely unfazed, said to me, "He's ready." I shot back, "Ready for what?" "To run 13:05 at Monaco," he answered (the 5,000m at the world famous Monaco Herculis meet was Galen's next race, roughly a week later).
Alberto was spot on. Rupp ran 13:05.17 for 6th place at Monaco. It was the fastest 5K by an American that year at that point. His result there, and many brilliant races since, have proven my thinking that July day to be flawed — he's not human. He’s superhuman.
Any questions? I'm happy to answer. You can send me a Direct Message on Twitter or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thx // jm