ON THE ROAD TO SACRAMENTO
WITH MATT HOLTHAUS
July 11, 2000
Welcome to another installment of On The Road To Sacramento
where we are interviewing America's top athletes as they prepare
for their shot to represent the Stars and Stripes in Sydney.
Today's interview is s in conjunction with runwiththebuffs.com,
and it is with US 1500m hopeful Matt Holthaus. Holthaus, who
was a collegiate standout at James Madison University, really
hit his stride last year, where he won the USATF indoor mile
championship and placed third in the 1500m outdoors. However,
a bout of food poisoning prevented him from achieving the qualifying
time and being able to represent the U.S. at the World Championships
in Seville, Spain.
Holthaus lives in Washington, DC area (which is where he also
grew up - Columbia, MD), and is attending graduate school at
American University. He is a member of the Reebok Enclave.
The Holthaus File
9th grade prs. 2:58 1000m
10th grade prs. 4:50 mile 10:20 2mile
11th grade prs. 4:31 mile 9:40 2mile
12th grade prs. 4:21 mile 9:17 2mile
3:47 1500 13:46 5,000 29:12 10,000
All-American 5k and 10k in 1998.
6th place 5k NCAA; 10th place 10k NCAA
28:07 10k, 13:41 5k
11th at 1999 USATF Nationals in 10k
Q and A
RWTB/LETSRUN.COM: The Olympic Trials are less than three weeks
away. How do you feel about things leading into them? It seemed
like you've raced pretty well early in the season in the few
races you have run - getting a little faster each time except
for the one hiccup in North Carolina.
HOLTHAUS: I didn't run any indoor this year, but seemed
to really hit my stride in April or so. Since then, I've generally
had a pretty good outdoor season, the only problem being a lack
of consistency. I would prefer to have been more consistent in
the weeks leading up to the Trials so that my confidence was
at a peak. Nevertheless, I think my inconsistency has been because
I've tried to race a lot to make up for the lack of an indoor
season. This made me a little tired on a couple of occasions.
Now that I've begun to taper, I'm feeling strong and ready to
compete at the Trials.
RWTB/LETSRUN.COM: How do you see the US 1500 Trials breaking
down? Do you think it's as wide-open as we do with 5 or 6 guys
with a good chance of making the team?
HOLTHAUS: I think the Trials are always wide-open, at
least in my experience, anyway. This year is no exception. There
are a handful of guys who have run faster than the rest of the
field early in the season. Krummenacker, Jennings and Lassiter
have all run 3:36 or 3:37 this year. The rest of the field has
run in the 3:38-3:40 range. A National Championships or Olympic
Trials always comes down not only to strength, but also strategy
and the ability to keep your composure. For that reason, anything
can happen. Still, I see about 7-8 guys with a legitimate chance
of finishing top 3 in the final. I don't think that many guys
are going to run the Olympic standard of 3:36.8 this year, though.
RWTB/LETSRUN.COM: After a great indoor season in 1999,
you didn't run indoors this year. Was this a conscious decision
to focus on the 2000 trials or were you injured?
HOLTHAUS: It was basically due to a prolonged bout of
the flu. I got sick in early January and had to back out of my
first race. For the next six weeks or so, I felt fairly lethargic
and flat in workouts, and eventually decided to skip what was
left of the indoor season. I focused on getting healthy and the
clouds started to part in March. By my first outdoor meet at
the end of March, I was feeling pretty strong.
RWTB/LETSRUN.COM: Do you consider yourself to be a big-meet
runner? Your results at your two most recent races at US championships
indicate that you have the ability to peak when it counts. Does
this give you a lot of confidence heading into this year?
HOLTHAUS: I haven't always had success in big meets. Last
year, however, was a breakthrough year and I went into both National
Championship races with more confidence than I had had before.
I've been working on the ability for years to control my emotions
and run relaxed and confident at big meets. I think it gets a
little easier over time as you learn to trust your ability more.
I ran well at both National meets last year. If I put a string
of several more successful National meets together, then I'll
consider myself a big-meet runner.
RWTB/LETSRUN.COM: Having finished in the top 3 at the
US Trials last year (as well as indoors) and not getting to compete
in the world championships because you didn't meet the world
championship "A" qualifying standard, do you think
about the Olympic A standard time or are you just focused on
getting in the top 3?
HOLTHAUS: For now, the Olympic "A qualifying standard
is irrelevant. I was thinking about it earlier in the season,
because it would have been nice to have the standard before the
Trials. Right now, though, I'm just concentrating on racing.
There will be plenty of time to get the standard after the Trials
the deadline is Sept. 7th I think. In recent years, getting the
standard has proven even more important than finishing in the
top 3 at the Trials. So, regardless of what happens at the Trials,
there may be a lot of guys trying to run the standard for the
rest of the summer in the hope that they can still make the team.
Finishing in the top 3 is important, though, to make sure you
have a legitimate shot.
RWTB/LETSRUN.COM: How frustrating was it not to get the
time last summer? You seemed poised to get the time before you
got sick in Europe.
HOLTHAUS: The week after the Trials, I had a great workout
a few days before I left for Europe. At that point, I was convinced
that the standard would not be much of a problem. Getting sick
in Europe made for an emotional roller coaster ride. For a couple
of weeks, it seemed like there was no chance I'd run the standard,
but then I started feeling better and ran a 3:38. At that point,
I had renewed hope. There were only two races left for me, though,
and I only managed a 3:39. Although I was disappointed, I tried
to focus on the great year I'd had. I knew there would be other
chances later on.
RWTB/LETSRUN.COM: Despite being one of only two runners
who has made the finals in the USATF 1500 every year since 1996
and having come in a career high third last year, you are only
picked to finish 10th at the Trials by Track and Field News.
Do you feel that you don't get the respect you deserve?
HOLTHAUS: I don't pay much attention to people,s predictions,
because they are making them based on limited information. Very
few people get the benefit of the doubt in this sport. There
have been plenty of cases where someone rises to prominence for
a while and then disappears. Unless you've been winning races
and running very fast times recently, you won't get much credit
or respect. This is only fair. I don't let anyone else,s opinion
color my view of my chances, though. It's my goal to run fast
enough on a consistent enough basis so that I'm always considered
a factor. I haven't done that yet.
RWTB/LETSRUN.COM: How important has the Reebok Enclave
been to your post-collegiate success? You've been training with
them since you got out of college so we figure you must think
it's a great team.
HOLTHAUS: The Reebok Enclave has been vital to my progress
in running over the past five years. Having such a large group
of talented runners to train with makes it easier to go out and
work hard week-in and week-out. The team aspect also stokes the
competitive fires. I like to see Enclavers going to major meets
and making an impact. It makes me want to be a part of that success.
RWTB/LETSRUN.COM: Can you tell us a little about your
training in general? We understand your not much of a mileage
HOLTHAUS: I've experimented with various mileages over
the years. In '98, I ran several months in the 80-95 miles per
week range. I felt strong, but I never felt really fast in a
race. I was also hampered by foot injuries. Since then, I prefer
to run more moderate mileage and focus on having consistently
good track workouts. I also like to supplement my aerobic work
with swimming workouts. That really seems to make my lung capacity
RWTB/LETSRUN.COM: Do you have any plans for after 2000? Do
you think you'll keep it up for another 4 years? We've heard
your in film school. Any movies in the works?
HOLTHAUS: I'm going to finish my masters degree in film
this year at American University. I intend to run competitively
for another year. I may change my mind, but that,s how I see
it right now. As a thesis project, I want to make a documentary
that captures the essence of post-collegiate track competition
in the U.S.
RWTB/LETSRUN.COM: Many, many thanks and best of luck in
Sacramento. It's an absolute joke that TFN only picked you 10th
and we hope you prove them wrong by earning a ticket to Sydney.
pleasure on the interview.
here to read about Matt discussing his high school career, and
his advice for current high-schoolers.