Records Falling and David Torrence is Hungry
By: Cait Chock
One year ago David Torrence could barely make it through five minutes of running without pain, fast-forward to present and he's got a World Record and American Record to his name. An outside observer wouldn't be faulted for assuming the last 12-months marked a big jump for the harrier; yet, as any runner can tell you, the black and white numbers only tell half the story.
"To be honest, I feel like I should have been running 3:31 like four years ago," states Torrence. "A lot of people just see the numbers and think, 'Oh, he's getting better and better each year,' but in reality sometimes it's not getting better and better, it's getting better opportunities."
The four years ago he's referencing is Monaco 2010, a pinnacle step in the rise of the American miler scene. The 1500m race saw Americans Andrew Wheating run 3:30.9 and Lopez Lomong hit 3:32.2. Torrence was there, having only been allowed into the 800 meters, when he'd wanted to get into the 1500. He set a PR with a 1:45.1; but, watching from the sidelines of that 1500 he was frustrated.
The following years for Torrence certainly still qualified as successful, he'd won the USA Road Mile Champions three times over and his 3:52.1 at the 2012 Pre Classic was the fasted time posted of the year. It's just that his training and workouts indicated he should be placing higher. Not one of the best Americans, but the best.
The feeling of knowing he was capable of more only made him hungrier.
The 2013 track season for Torrence got off to a late start due to injury and he was only able to start training at the end of February. It's tough to play catch-up and, given the circumstances, you'd certainly call his 7th-place showing at USA's solid, Torrence knew he was better. "That was disappointing because even though I was coming back from injury, I felt really, really fit and really stronger."
He need only wait one more week for all that fitness to speak in his races. His first 1500m race in Europe was a PR. "I was like, 'Awesome, I knew I was fit, I knew I was strong!'" Even the most confident of runners appreciate the affirmation of their instincts now and again. Torrence thought to himself, "It was a bad time with the injury and things, but I'm still there."
Still there indeed. In the upcoming weeks he twice lowered his 3000m PR, down to 7:40.78, and brought that 1500m down to 3:33.23.
By the time outdoors was over he thought, "I feel real fresh, I feel real strong, I just don't wanna stop right now and take a break." Already known for his dominance as a road miler, Torrence set his sights on the US 5K Road Record at the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. The race went out uncharacteristically slow, his 13:33 shy of the 13:24 AR, but Torrence closed out his last ¾ mile in 3:03. He kept the season rolling right into indoors where the records finally did come crashing down.
It's early 2014 and David Torrence has a World Record for the indoor 4x800, the American Record for the indoor 1000m, and while he dipped below the previous American Record for 2000m, fellow American Bernard Lagat was able to dip lower in the same race.
Even amidst record-breaking performances the black and whites aren't telling the full story.
Training in Oakland, CA, after his coach John Cook retired last July, Torrence continued training self-coached and running nearly all of his workouts solo. Having always been a student of the sport, he speaks with the maturity of a runner well beyond his years, one smart enough to actually listen to his body. "I try to be very aware of when I'm breaking down, when I'm feeling great, and why those things happen," shares Torrence. "I keep pretty good logs and I'm able to look back on things and see what I was able to do to make a week or month better or worse." Though, the times he would most appreciate another set of eyes come during races, to have someone there watching and be able to lend insights on tactical mistakes.
The Next Step
Torrence finally did find that perfect set of eyes and as of the last six weeks he's officially been training under the guidance of Coach Jama Aden. Joining Aden's other athletes Abubaker Kaki, Ayanleh Souleiman, and Genzebe Dibaba, "I was taking a risk, going outside my comfort zone," Torrance speaks of being the sole American amongst the team of African powerhouses. Take risks, surround yourself by the best, and thrive.
The training stepped up right away, taking his usual 50-60 miles per week up to 85-90, "The training intensity level has gone up a lot, the volume has gone up, but I'm able to handle it." His ability to handle the extra workload surprised even the runner himself. "I was nervous," admits Torrence, but he credits the extensive core, drills, stability, and flexibility routines renowned of Cook's training regime for laying the foundation of being able to handle it. "If I had done this work four years ago I wouldn't have been strong enough."
Running stronger than ever, Torrence timelines the next few years. The rest of this season will be focused on faster times and chasing the American Outdoor 1000m record, be named to the World Relay 4x1500m Championship team, and of course winning the USA Championships. "The US mile scene has really exploded the last few years," Torrence speaks of a field that includes Olympic medalists, "If I can top them, I'm in pretty good standing." Looking into 2015 he'll be making the World Outdoor Team,and from there all eyes are on Rio 2016.
The Fans, The Next Generation, What's Coming Next
Making himself accessible to fans, Torrence is anything but an untouchable World Record holder and fully embraces the part of role model. Engaging on Twitter (https://twitter.com/David_Torrence) and Instagram (http://instagram.com/dtrunsthis), he freely responds and gives out advice to eager high schoolers looking to improve. "I'm shocked but also honored and I try to do my best to help them out as much as I can."
Besides, if ever there is a time for a selfie it's on the bus wearing the sweat of an American Record on your shoulders, no?
Definitely be sure to 'Like' that picture but be on the lookout for many more to come. Running in Team USA gear and placing much higher in International competition is the area Torrence feels his career is lacking due to tactical error rather than fitness. "The workouts I've done, I've shown so much more potential than in US Champs and that's been frustrating. So making teams is what I'm focused on and I think I have the right coach for that now, and he has a lot of confidence in me and thinks we can go to great heights."
Heights high enough to see this American come out on top of the Olympic podium.
Caitlin Chock (caitchock.com) set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004. A freelance writer, artist, and designer she writes about all things running and founded Ezzere, her own line of running shirts (www.ezzere.com). You can read more, see her running comics, and her shirts at her website.