Interview with Ben True (Post BAA 5K win and New American road record), by Cait Chock

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This interview was done with Ben True in late April, after the Boston Marathon, by Cait Chock. I just missed it. In this interview, Cait Chock gives our readers a personal view of Ben True, one of our finest American male distance runners. Looking forward to seeing Ben True racing later this season.

True_Ben-Baa5k17.jpGBen True, photo by PhotoRun.net

Interview With Ben True Post-BAA 5k Win and New American Road Record

By: Cait Chock

It may have been Boston Marathon Madness, but amidst all those marathoners the BAA brings together one hell of a line-up for their annual 5k and mile the weekend before. Enter Ben True taking his fourth BAA 5k title and breaking his own American 5k road record. This year True, who runs for Saucony and In The Arena, has been shaking things up in how he approaches races and clearly it's working.

He's also tweaked his training, but one some things never change and regardless of if he takes the pace out faster or not, he still has that lethal kick. Oh, and he's immune to the pain of racing. Read on to hear all the details!

1) So congrats again on what is now your fourth BAA 5k win and you lowered your own American 5k road record in the process!! How are you feeling?

Thanks so much! Yeah, feeling good. It is always exciting to be a part of 'Marathon Weekend.' The energy and crowds in town is just amazing with all the runners from around the world.

2) Can you talk us through the race a little bit?

Sure. Dejen Gebremeskel took the pace out from the start and got us moving early. We came through the mile in around 4:20. I slowly moved up onto his shoulder in the second mile and James Kibet and I took over the lead a bit after halfway. We went through the 2 mile in 8:42. On Boylston St, James pushed the pace and I didn't pass him until about 800m to go. I lead the final 800m with Stephen Sambu just behind me. I didn't know I had a chance of the record until the final 100 meters when I could see the clock and knew that I could dip under 13:22.

3) You said you're doing things differently this year in terms of both training and racing. On the racing end you're pushing yourself to stick your nose in there earlier on. Can you talk about what prompted this shift in tactics and how it's been feeling in execution?

Just trying different strategies. I'm tired of championship style races being all about the sit and kick, so getting used to doing more work earlier and playing around with pushing the pace at various points of the race only helps with being better prepared to race all styles of races.

4) As far as changes in training, can you talk a little about how your approach may have changed and what are some things you're doing differently?

Honestly, not a ton. Really just making sure that I am listening to my body more and taking the rest when I need it. I've been running a lot more 5k specific workouts with having an indoor season and making sure I'm not going crazy with the super high intensity work.

5) Can you give us a sample day in the life of Ben and an example of your weekly training schedule?

A day in the life of Ben is fairly boring. Really just revolves around getting my runs in. As far as training, I am typically running in the low 90s for mileage with a few hours of cycling as cross-training. That is probably the biggest change in my training from years' past. Instead of always doing a shakeout run in the afternoon, I've started switching that out for time on a bike after interval training. My body seems to recover faster with spinning the legs as opposed to jogging after hard sessions. But besides that, my training schedule is a fairly standard two hard sessions and a 2 hour long run every week.

6) What is one of your favorite workouts?

One of my bread and butter workouts is the Michigan. It is a 1600m interval, followed by a 2k tempo, 1200m interval, 2k tempo, 800m interval, 2k tempo, 400m interval. It's 10k of work and combines fast interval training with tempo.

7) It sounds like this year you're going to be honing your speed, focusing on the 5k and you've got a 3k coming up in Doha. What are some of your goals for the rest of this season and then looking past this year, some more long term goals? (Note: Ben True ran 7:47.00 at Doha DL).

The long term goals are simply to stay healthy and continue to improve. This year with it being a World Championship year, running well at the World Championships is definitely my primary goal.

8) You've consistently improved and been on the top of the American racing scene since you were in high school. Can you talk a little about what you credit that consistency to, whether it be elements in training, mental outlook, or something else?

I think a lot of it is the fact that all the way through high school and college I split my time between running and cross-country skiing, so I don't have the same amount of abuse in my legs that years of running can do to you. I also take the long game approach to training, with the goal of slowly chipping away and making little improvements every year, instead of trying to carve large chunks out and risk getting injured and burning out mentally.

9) Finally, no two ways around it...training and racing hurts. Can you share some of the mental tricks you use to combat and push through the pain that comes with being a distance runner?

I've always joked that I don't feel pain when I run. Now this isn't because I'm some freak of nature or that I'm not pushing myself hard enough, but it's because I've disassociated the discomfort from pain. Instead, what many would label "pain" during running, I simply associate that feeling with running hard. That the feeling is what I am suppose to feel like, thus, I strip away any negative connotations (pain, hurting, etc) and except that feeling for what it is: running and racing.

Thank you so much for your time, Ben, look forward to watching you continue to kick butt and take down records!

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Caitlin Chock (caitchock.com) set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004 and went on to run professionally for Nike. A freelance writer, artist, and comedian in Los Angeles, you can see more of her work on her website, Instagram @caitchock, and Twitter @caitlinchock.

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