By Chris Lotsbom.
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

September 21, 2012

For Heather Kampf and Craig Miller road mile races seem to come easily. The two Americans have combined for seven road mile victories in 2012, and seek to add one more at tomorrow's NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile in Manhattan. But as much as the pair's seasons mirror one another --three road mile wins at the same events, including the USA Road Mile Championships last May-- the two view their success in the discipline somewhat differently.

"I like the road mile quite a bit more [than the track]," Kampf, 25, told Race Results Weekly in a phone interview from New York City. "For me it feels a lot different because I always have trouble on the track keeping in contact. But when the race is so wide in the street, you can basically be anywhere you want and still be near the front."

Miller, also 25, who represents New Balance, enjoys the race as well, but doesn't think he is any better suited for the roads than the track, where he has a 3:56.41 personal best.

"I don't think I'm that much better at road miles than I am on the track. I think I just come up with good races, or get lucky a little bit on the roads," he said.

Despite their difference in reasoning, both conclude that road mile races are vastly different from their track counterparts, especially in the strategy department.

"It's so much different to not have to get the inside lane of the track or plan when you're going to go around this person or that person," explained Kampf, a member of Team USA Minnesota who represents Asics. "It's just straight running and you can see the finish line from a long ways out. I think that is one of those things that can be a real psychological factor because you know your going to start your kick a little before you should. It's just that decision when you want to actually go."

Miller agrees with the fact that many athletes in road miles make the mistake of kicking as soon as they see the tape.

"You can see the finish from very far out and some people get a bit antsy, a little impatient, kick too early and eventually die in the end," he said. "You don't really know how far you are from the finish line, you still might be about 400 meters away. On the track, people always know where they are and where to begin their kick. I think that may be the biggest difference."

Both Kampf and Miller have run the fastest miles of their careers on the roads, with Kampf's personal best of 4:30.95 set at the 2010 Fifth Avenue Mile and Miller's record 3:54.4 having been run at last year's event. Heading into tomorrow's races, both will draw on their experience competing on the asphalt as they seek to earn yet another road victory.

"I've learned that the road mile seems to go by quicker than a track race," Miller said. "You don't pay attention as much. In a road mile you kind of just go, and when you see the finish you kick and sprint all the way."

As for Kampf, road miles have helped her gain back the confidence to win races again, something she says she hasn't completely had since her college days at the University of Minnesota.

"The mentality I always had in college was that if I could set my mind to it, then I could do it," said Kampf. "Not that I didn't believe that was true when I first started my professional career, but I think now that I've had that actually come true a few times this year, its just really helped me build back my confidence and makes me believe that if I can tell myself to do it, my body will follow through with it."


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