Updated November 2, 2016
Dathan Ritzenhein is in the last few days before the TCS New York City Marathon. Here is an interview that we did in September with Dathan. We wish him the best of luck!
Dathan Ritzenhein has been on the American running scene since 1998, from high school, to college, to a long elite career. From the first time I saw him at FootLocker in 1999, at the Regional Championships, Dathan has given his all to see how fast he could run and how far he could go. In 2012, I followed him to Hengelo, to watch him try and make the A standard for the 10,000 meters. He would not be successful, but would run the needed A standard in the Olympic Trials 10,000m final.
Dathan Ritzenhein is preparing for the TCS New York City Marathon, which will be held on November 6, 2016.
Last weekend, September 11, Dathan battled Mo Farah over the 13.1 mile distance in Great North Run in Manchester/Gateshead, England. This interview was done through the assistance of Philippa Morrow at Great Run Company, and Dan Lilot, Dathan’s manager. Special thanks to Dathan Ritzenhein for his time before his race. We look forward to seeing Dathan in the Big Apple.
RunBlogRun # 1. Your solo run at Bobby Crim showed your fitness, tell us how you felt?
Dathan Ritzenhein: Crim was a bit of a last minute decision. I was planning to run a 10 mile tempo run that day. After finding out there was not going to be any professional field (at Crim), I felt it was important to go and give that race some professional presence still. Many people don’t know, but that race was important to the “open” professionalism of road racing. It was the 40th anniversary of the race and it is an event that has meant a lot to Flint in tough times. It was important to give that iconic race something back, like it has done to running and the city. So I went in hoping to run the first mile hard, tempo four miles, run the Bradley Hills hard, tempo for three miles, then finish hard the last mile. I felt great and was running much faster than I anticipated so I just finished tempoing in. I had run 29 miles in training two days before so I expected to be tired but felt really strong. It is a hilly race so I was very happy with the time.
RunBlogRun # 2. Tell us about your current training?
Dathan Ritzenhein: My training has been going very well. I trained well over the summer, but nothing crazy, just solid consistency. I took an easy week after Beach 2 Beacon, where I took three days off, no workouts and just one long run. I have been trying to hold back a little still because I want to be healthy and strong for NYC, so I just need to guage my efforts in daily training. I gain fitness very fast, so I just focus on the workouts, long runs and moderate volume. I don’t risk too much speed but I still run very good intervals. The biggest thing is that I have not done a workout on the track since February, all workouts have been on the dirt roads or rail trail. Yesterday, I did a light session in 300s at the track in Gateshead and that was literally the first time I have done anything except strides on the track.
RunBlogRun, # 3. What do want to achieve at Great run?
Dathan Ritzenhein-Great North Run is the only race I have built into my NYC build up. I think I can run very fast, and I just want to compete and see where I am at. With Mo in the race, I know I will have my hands full, but I really feel at home at the half marathon and believe I can make it a good race.
(Editor’s note: Dathan finished nine seconds behind Mo Farah, battling him until the Great North Run on September 11. Dathan ran a fine 60:12).
RunBlogRun # 4. Dathan, your thoughts on Galen’s marathon run?
Dathan Ritzenhein: I was very impressed with how he hung on in the last few miles. I could tell he was hurting, but he managed to hold strong. That is such a hard 15-30 mins at the end of a marathon. Everything in your body and mind is telling you to throw in the towel. It is just a matter of how much you can push, and if there is any fuel left in the tank. He ran great, but it didn’t not surprise me at all because he always shows up ready to go for the championships.
RunBlogRun # 5. Back in 2012, you and I sat in Amsterdam airport and spoke about Centro, you spoke about his talent, your thoughts now?
Dathan Ritzenhein: I remember that! Matthew is someone I really was so excited to see win that race. I had a close bond with him when we trained together, almost like a younger/older brother relationship. He would drive me crazy, but he was always keeping training entertaining. He never ceases to amaze me at how well he races when it matters. Rio was one of the most exciting races I have seen.
RunBlogRun # 6. If you were speaking to young coaches what would you say about importance of cross country in young athlete development?
Dathan Ritzenhein: I cannot stress enough the importance of XC in the development of athletes. The biggest lesson learned in it is that you get the most out of yourself no matter that the conditions. Pushing to the limit is something that has to be learned and XC is the best for that. You can get dropped and it is easy to bag it, you have to learn to keep going.
RunBlogRun# 7. Eliud Kipchoge gave media after London 2015, his support of old school: XC, track then road- are you old school?
Dathan Ritzenhein: Absolutely! Developing those skills early is important. I have had a long career I think, because of that. The one thing I wish I did more was develop speed on the track more. My coach at CU, Mark Wetmore pushed me to (develop speed), but I wanted to do the long work. That long work did help develop my aerobic system, but I think I left a little on the track in a few events.
RunBlogRun # 8: Thanks for what you have done for our sport! You have been one of my favorites since I first saw you as a sophomore in high school!
Dathan Ritzenhein: Always a pleasure!