Webb: “I just want to move up and do some longer stuff and see if I can still play at this game.”
January 15, 2013
American mile record holder Alan Webb has found a new home. Webb has confirmed that he is now officially training with Nike coach Jerry Schumacher‘s group in Portland and that he’s going to shift his focus from the middle distances to the longer distances – the 5000 and 10000 now but maybe eventually the marathon (although Webb said that now that he’s doing long distance training he realizes the marathon goal might be “a little bit further away than I originally thought”).
Schumacher’s group is a “Whos Who” of America’s best long distance runners not named Galen Rupp as it includes among others sub -13:00 performers Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp, American steeple record holder Evan Jager and recent college stars German Fernandez and Chris Derrick.
A more mature Webb, who became a father last year and actually turned 30 on the day of the interview, was full of introspection about his up and down career, that has been particularly rocky the last few years. Schumacher is the 4th coach Webb has had in the last 3.5 years.
Webb was very much aware that four coaches in 3.5 years is a lot of change for a professional distance runner but he says poor performance compelled him to keep moving on.
“At times, patience hasn’t been my strong suit but it’s one of the things I’m trying to learn – or I feel that I have learned. Sometimes things just have to work themselves out. There has been a little bit of frustration involved (for me), but looking back I would think it would be understandable – at least in my mind. It hasn’t been a super awesome road for me athletically,” said Webb with a self-effacing chuckle.
Webb admitted at times it hasn’t been easy and he’s several times had to ask himself if continuing as a runner was what he should be doing.
“I think a lesson I’ve learned is that when you do get frustrated and have setbacks, it makes you ask the question, “Do I really want to do this? Is this something I like to do?” And I’ve realized that I just love the sport – I love doing it,” said Webb.
“During those hard times, I kept or I keep telling myself, ‘If you are going to do go down, you gotta go down fighting. Don’t just give up.’ That’s what it’s all about in the end.”
Webb said that after his disappointing 2012 season when he didn’t run faster than 3:37.26 and failed to make a second straight Olympic team, he came to the conclusion he should move up and focus on the longer distances – the 5,000 and 10,000 – and leave the middle distances behind. When asked if that was a difficult decision to make, Webb quipped that anyone who watched his races in 2012 would realize that at that “point it wasn’t a hard decision as the writing was on the wall.”
“I just want to move up and do some longer stuff and see if I can still play at this game,” said Webb.
The idea of a 3:46 miler excelling at the 10,000 may seem absurd to some but we’d remind people that Webb ran a 27:34.72 10,000 and stunned Dathan Ritzenhein in the process back in 2006. Additionally, when Webb was under the tutelage of Salazar and training with Rupp and Ritzenhein, Salazar said the following of Webb, “We all know he is the most talented in the whole group.”
The Full Interview
The flotrack interview lasted for about 22 minutes and was broken up into two separate interviews.
Both of them are embedded at the end of this piece if you want to watch them. We couldn’t get them to both embed so if you want to watch them, do so at these links:
We know most of you don’t have time to watch 22 minutes of video, a bunch of ads and what not. So we tried to give you the highlights already above. Even more highlights and best quotes from the interview appear below. A few of them are repeats from above. At the bottom, Webb talks specifics about his training and raves about the group dynamic in Schumacher’s group. Enjoy.
Webb on why he hadn’t previously announced the move to Schumacher:
“I’m trying to just keep things low-key. I didn’t feel like it was necessary to make a big deal of anything. It’s just been great to have these guys to run with. These guys are the big boys – the best in the world.”
On what he learned from training under Jason Vigilante and with Robby Andrews:
“Number one is that Robby is good -he’s fast. That kid is awesome. I feel like every point in my career has sort of been a learning experience and what I took from Vig was having good perspective on things and making sure you are keeping balance.
I had a couple of injuries that I think I learned from as well from a training standpoint. And obviously in Charlottesville, my daughter was born and that has been pretty much awesome. That was a huge positive in my life non-runing wise and I’ve taken a lot positives from that.
The biggest thing has just been the shift as to what my goals are. I have a little bit of different goals now than when I moved to Virginia.”
On his many recent coaching changes:
“I realize I’ve kind of bounced around a lot – more than I would have predicted. Each was sort of for a different reason. A lot of it stems from when you aren’t accomplishing what you want to accomplish, (you are going to make a change). You know I’m trying to get the best out of myself. And if you aren’t really getting the results you want, you can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. So that’s been sort of the reason for the changes I’ve made. I recognize that I’m not performing the way that I want to and I want to do better and I know I can do better. I’m just sort of exploring what I can do to continue to improve. I guess I just haven’t found the answer yet.”
On whether he’s too impatient, the now 30-Year old Webb said the following:
“At times, patience hasn’t been my strong suit but it’s one of the things I’m trying to learn – or I feel that I have learned. Sometimes things just have to work themselves out. There has been a little bit of frustration involved (for me), but looking back I would think it would be understandable – at least in my mind. It hasn’t been a super awesome road for me athletically.“
On whether he’s ever thought about quitting:
“You have a poor performance or a couple of them, I feel it gets harder and harder to bounce back from it. It just sort of wears on you a bit. I think a lesson I’ve learned is that when you do get frustrated and have setbacks, it makes you ask the question, “Do I really want to do this? Is this something I like to do?” And I’ve realized that I just love the sport – I love doing it.”
“If you are going to do go down, you gotta go down fighting. Don’t just give up.”
“During those hard times, I kept or I keep telling myself, “If you are going to do go down, you gotta go down fighting. Don’t just give up.” That’s what it’s all about in the end. And I feel that even when I was doing well – that’s sort of the mentality (I had). If I was looking at other successful athletes, that’s what they do well – they are fighting no matter what – always keep fighting.
If you have that mentality when you are down, you’ll probably have it when you are up. When I was in the up part, I was fighting on the last lap of the mile to run the American record. Now that fight is at a different time. You have to just keep plugging away,” said Webb who admitted that after each season he’s had to sit down and ask himself, “All right, what’s the big goal here? Are you willing to commit to it 100%?”
After that quote, Webb was asked if he’s ever been closing to answering that question with negative
“No. (Well) I take that back. Not giving it up for good but really after the (2012) Olympic Trials, that was really sort of a moment for me. Not giving up totally but (it made me have) a clear shift in my focus. I’ve always had some goals of running the longer distances and I’ve dabbled in it some, but that’s when I decided I really want to focus on that as my main event choice – or goal. (I’m) not giving up – but not having the middle distances be my focus. I wouldn’t say that I was giving up – but maybe just recognizing that my time had come to shift my focus (on the longer stuff).
I’m not saying that I won’t do those events as I still like doing them. But that was for sure when it finally clicked – maybe it should have clicked earlier but it was it was. I just wasn’t getting it done the way I wanted to (in the middle distance events). I still have goals of doing the longer stuff and I want to start doing it now.”
When asked if it was easy to make up his mind to focus on the long distances instead of the mid-distances (Webb had said it had all “clicked” for him after his 2012 Trials disappointment), Webb laughed and then said:
“Well anybody that watched my races in the past year, if you watched the races, (you’d know that my poor performance) made it easier. By the time I got to that point it wasn’t a hard decision as the writing was on the wall.
The mile and middle distance events are just so much more intense – the intensity is just so high. You are on it every second – you aren’t relaxed. There is no easy part. For some reason, I just couldn’t dig as deep as I used to. I guess I was telling myself it was a mental thing at that point, because I thought if I could just get it together it would all kick in, but who knows. I’m only speculating. That’s a ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ type thing, it doesn’t really matter now. I’m kind of on to the next part of my career now.”
On What His Goals Are:
“I’d love to run the longer stuff – the five and ten and at some point I’d like to run the marathon.
But now that Ive been in this group for a little bit and seen sort of the difference in the training, that might be a little bit further away than I originally thought. The patience thing kind of comes in – not that I thought it would be easy – but I realize now it’s going to take time to develop that.
I just want to move up and do some longer stuff and see if I can still play at this game.”
***Everything above came from the first flotrack interview. Everything below is from the 2nd interview in case you want to watch either one***
On what his training is like currently:
“(I’m doing) just longer stuff -no rocket science – more mileage- longer tempo run type stuff long intervals – not that I hadn’t done that stuff before but it’s just a little bit more of everything – more of everything on a consistent basis.
It’s not that I hadn’t done periods (of that in the past) but it’s more of it and more often,” said Webb who added he thought he over did it a bit this Fall.
“I think I need a couple of cycles to get it and have my body kind of respond to it. It’s cool. It’s just a different thnig. You know going for a 2 hour run -I had never done that before. It’s great. I enjoy it, especially when you have a really good group of people to do it with. It makes going on a run fun.”
On the training group:
“I feel privileged to be even allowed to hang around (this training group). The dynamic with these guys is better than I could have imagined. Everyone here is very driven – everyone knows how to work hard – but these guys are really smart guys – obviously a couple of Stanford guys are book smart too – but smart form a training standpoint of knowing when to push and not to – and they can keep you accountable.”
Alan Webb Timeline:
- May 27, 2001: Alan Webb Runs 3:53.42 Mile As High Schooler “Prep School Crashes Party” Eugene Register Guard
- June 19, 2002: “Webb to do his running in pro track” Associated Press
- July 21, 2007: Alan Webb Runs 3:46.91 in the Mile IAAF
- August 6, 2009: “Alan Webb leaves longtime coach to join Alberto Salazar in Oregon” USA Today
- March 30, 2011 Alan Webb Leaves Alberto Salazar
- April 2011 Webb Joins Jason Vigilante
- January 2013 Webb Joins Jerry Schumacher
Webb’s Record Under His Most Recent Coaches
In August of 2009, Webb left long-time coach Scott Raczko for Alberto Salazar.
Raczko guided Webb to great highs – a 3:53 HS mile and 1:43.84 800 /3:46.91 mile showings as a pro in 2007 – but also great lows as Webb failed to make the 2008 Olympics and 2003 and 2009 world championship teams under Raczko.
Webb had one full track season under Salazar – 2010 when he ran a 3:36.21 1,500 before he moved to Jason Vigilante in 2011.
Under Vigilante in 2011 and 2012, Webb never ran faster than 3:37.26