February 27, 2014
Today it was revealed that former American 10,000-meter record holder Chris Solinsky is shifting his focus to the marathon and he’s already begun training for a 2014 marathon debut in the fall.
In an interview with Flotrack’s Ryan Fenton, Solinsky said that he’s recently realized that he’s been unable to get his speed to come back into his legs without totally sacrificing his mileage. Solinsky said if he drops his mileage and works on his speed every day with strides, it’s still there – he ran his fastest quarter ever in practice last year – but then his endurance isn’t there. Solinsky told Fenton:
We’ve been beating my head against the wall trying to get it to comeback and it hasn’t comeback. So, I was reading the writing on the wall, saying, ‘Alright, speed’s not in your legs anymore and the strength has been coming back. The strength is there. Let’s work on that and do races accordingly…….
I could get the speed back, but I think it’d be at the cost of overall performance. And by the I mean, I would do far less mileage. I would focus on strides like everyday and the speed work that’s necessary. I mean, last year I ran the fastest quarter in practice that I had ever had, but I didn’t have the fitness to back that up by the end of the year.
Solinsky said one factor that made the decision to move to the marathon easier was the fact that Jerry Schumacher’s group of athletes has recently been infused with a big group who are beating the drums out of him consistently in practice:
All the young guys that are in the group, that’s kind of made the transition easier in terms of saying, ‘I don’t have the speed anymore.’ Because I see that a lot of those guys are my competitors that I train with and when you’re getting your doors blown off in practice everyday by everyone. We kind of have a joke and it’s at Dan Huling’s expense, but it’s ‘even Dan could do it and I couldn’t do it.’ Having those guys blow my doors off consistently, and I was making small, very, very incremental gains on them, but it wasn’t enough for me to say, ‘This is what I can do at a high level.’ That’s why I’m in this sport. Nike wouldn’t pay me to be running at a mediocre level as well. I know that right now, for me, that high level, is moving up in distance. The best I’ve felt in the last two years is pacing Matt [Tegenkamp] through Chicago.
Solinsky said he’s only a few weeks into the high mileage training of 120-140 per week and hopes to run a yet to be determined fall marathon.
Quick Take #1: Better Now Than When It Is Too Late: A somewhat surprising, but smart move. Far too many runners try to move to the marathon when they are past their prime. Solinsky is getting ahead of the game and this will enable him to get 2 or 3 marathons in before the 2016 Trials (Fall 2014, spring 2015, fall 2015).
Meb Keflezighi turns 39 in May, Abdi Abdirahman is 37 and Ryan Hall hasn’t finished a marathon in two plus years, so the three spots for the 2016 US Olympic team in the marathon are wide open. Making the team at 10,000 would be VERY hard for Solinsky unless he got back to his form of old as beating Galen Rupp, Chris Derrick and Ben True in their prime isn’t easy.
Let’s not forget that Chris Solinsky despite his incredible accomplishment has never made the Olympics.
Quick Take #2: The Money is In the Marathon People used to wait until their careers were over to move to the marathon, but now that is definitely not the case. Young Kenyans and Ethiopians are skipping track careers entirely and moving straight to the marathon. “Follow the money” as they say. Solinsky has to be making less from Nike than he did when he was setting the American record. What’s the easiest way to increase his income substantially? Get an appearance fee for his marathon debut. With Keflezighi nearing retirement, Abdi past his prime, and Hall not finishing races, if Solinsky can run well, he can fill the role as America’s top marathoner. That pays pretty well.
Quick Take #3: Is Solinsky’s Body Made for the Marathon? Solinsky’s an aerobic monster but as we pointed out last year when his teammate Matt Tegenkamp made his marathon debut in Chicago, the list of super successful history marathoners over 6 feet tall is few and far between. Of course Solinsky has defied the odds before. He is the tallest and heaviest man to ever break 27:00 for 10,000 meters: Chris Solinsky Is The Tallest And Heaviest Sub-27 Man In History
MB: Fastest Marathoners over six feet tall (1.83m or taller)
Successful 6 Feet and Taller (1.83 cm)
Markos Geneti 2:04:54 1.83 cm
Toshinari Takaoka 2:06:16 1.86m
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot 2:07:35 1.88 m (6’2″)
Henry Szost 2:07:38 1.85 m
Kamiel Maase 2:08:21 1.88 m (6’2″)
Derek Clayton 2:08:34 1.88m (6’2″) 1987 world champion
Dick Beardlsey 2:08:53 (Beardsley wife emailed us to say he’s 6 feet tall)
Rod Dixon 2:08:59 1.86 cm
Douglas Wakiihuri 2:09:03 6’1
Alan Culpepper 2:09:41 1.86 cm
Quick Take #4: Let Us Pause and Remember the Greatness of 26:59 Solinsky’s track career will most be remembered for his 26:59.60 debut in the 10,000m. Not only did he get the American record, but he became the first non-African born runner under 27:00, all in his debut. Alberto Salazar’s plan was for Galen Rupp to break the American record in that race. Rupp actually did break the old record, but Solinsky stole the thunder and capped it off by being the first American under the magical 27:00 barrier. The tension and rivalry between the Schumacher and Salazar groups which the public saw this past weekend, racheted up a level with Solinsky’s run.
Solinsky’s 26:59.60, was not only a tremendous accomplishment, it was one of those magical, almost totally unexpected moments like Jenny Simpson’s 3:59 and Ryan Hall’s 59:43 half marathon. A problem with track and field for mainstream sport fans is it is often too predictable. Solinsky’s 26:59.60 debut definitely wasn’t. Thank you Chris for one of the more memorable moments in American distance running the last decade.
Quick Take #5: You can read a full transcript of Solinsky’s interview with Fenton on flotrack or listen to it below.
More: Flotrack: Solinsky & the marathon (full interview)
Messageboard discussion: Solinsky moving up to marathon
*LRC Archives: Homepage after Solinsky Broke 27:00
*Chris Solinsky Is The Tallest And Heaviest Sub-27 Man In History