By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.
BOSTON (18-Apr) -- The last five months have been extremely tough for American Ben True. Battling a misdiagnosed injury, the 28-year-old is slowly rounding into form and will take to the streets here tomorrow for the sixth annual B.A.A. 5-K. True is a two-time champion of the race; he won in 2011 and 2012.
"It was a long, frustrating battle," True said, reflecting on the time period between November, 2013, and early 2014.
True's troubles began after the completion of last year's track season. Following a month off, True ran for three days then raced in the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5-K on November 2. Using the race as a way to kick off his winter season, things quickly went downhill.
Though he finished seventh in a very strong 13:57.6, True had injured his biceps femoris, a muscle on the back of the thigh.
"I had taken a month off before [the race], I ran for three days, I raced and took a month off after that," he said, voice fading to a frustrated tone.
During his time off from running, True stayed in shape by trying various forms of cross training: he tried biking, using an ElliptiGO, an elliptical machine, pool running, and other pool exercises that worked solely on his upper body.
When he tried to run again, the pain was still there.
"If I don't allow my body to recover fully and do two hard workouts close together, fitness wise I feel fine but my leg would tighten up very much," said True. "All winter I had been battling that."
The injury was originally misdiagnosed as an iliotibial (IT) band issue. But, it turned out to be a biceps femoris strain.
True has tried to remain positive, looking at the injury as simply "one of those things" that can happen when training hard.
Still based in Hanover, N.H., True is taking little steps forward with hopes of getting into prime racing shape this summer. His main goal is still to break 13:00 for 5000m on the track.
As True worked to get healthy in January, his coach at the time --Mark Coogan-- took a job as part of the Running Sports Marketing Team at New Balance. Because of contractual obligations, Coogan was no longer able to coach the Saucony-sponsored True.
Since then, True and training partner Sam Chelanga (Nike) have self-coached one another, he said. Both have grown to enjoy the process and transition.
"It's been great having Sam," said True, the enjoyment back in his voice. "It's amazing to have another guy there to train with."
He continued: "It's amazing how much easier running a workout with someone else is. I never really realized how much energy I was using up mentally just by doing every single workout by myself [before Sam moved to Hanover]. It's refreshing."
Although self-coaching is working for the time being, True and Chelanga are currently looking for a traditional coach that will aid them in Hanover. They hope to find the right person by early summer, though acknowledge it could take some time.
Right now, True's outlook on the rest of 2014 is positive. On March 15, at the Gate River Run 15-K (also the U.S. 15-K Road Racing Championships), True claimed victory in a personal best of 43:04. It has been reported that he closed the final (downhill) mile of the race in 3:58. Winning and coming away healthy was a very big step forward.
"The biggest thing is that the leg held up and that I was able to finish, do a cool down and run the next day," he said. "The biggest thing was to test out the leg and see if I could run a hard effort and still be OK."
In addition to Saturday's B.A.A. 5-K, True plans on racing at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University on May 4, and possibly the B.A.A. 10-K in June.
"I'm back to training, I'm just not training at the highest level that I'd like to train," said True, acknowledging that sometimes it's best to take little steps. "But I'm making a comeback at it. I have been able to string weeks together of good mileage and good training."