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The Breakthrough and the Dream:
by: Weldon Johnson

     Well, the Olympic Trials are now less than 1 week away. It's hard to believe that they are that close, but it's kind of exciting too. When I moved to Flagstaff at the start of January to train, it was with the pipedream of making the Olympic Marathon team. I had made the U.S. half-marathon team last fall, but besides that was a 2:19:52 marathoner, and a 29:49 10k guy. However, I always believed in my long term abilities in the sport, and my coach John Kellogg, assured me that I could be a good American marathoner if I would stick with his plan. So, I figured in a moment of insanity, I should quit my job, move to Flagstaff, and train all out for the trials. I would not have moved out here if in the back of my head, I did not think it was possible to make the Olympic team. However, at the same time, I knew that most likely my dream would go unfilled. But how many people can say they are training for the Olympic Marathon Trials??? Besides, once you tell people you are trying to make the Olympics, they give you a lot of encouragement and you start to believe them.

     So now, now let you tell me a little about my time in Flagstaff and my training. I moved out here in January to begin my training. My identical twin brother, Robert, moved out here in February, after he just missed qualifying for the Trials at the Las Vegas Marathon. I paced Robert in that race, and in return he has been running with me on virtually all of my runs. I really enjoy training with him because we get along together so well. There is never the need to push our easy runs, as most of them are very slow. Also, we have the comic relief that twins can only have together on runs, whether we are trying to inspire each other, scare each other (you should have seen him jump when I acted like a wolf was chasing us), make fun of each other (this is our favorite hobby), or just talking to our new favorite animals, the prairie dogs.

      My training is quite simple - do what Kellogg says. That is, I follow the advice of my coach John Kellogg. John has been now coaching me off and on for half of my life, so we have a great coach-athlete relationship. The one advantage I have over other runners, is that I know that I'm receiving the best coaching out there. I have some input in the process, but I know that John's advice is 100% correct.

     I'm sure some people are wondering what has been the main reason for my breakthrough this year. I recently lowered my 10k time by 1:22 seconds to 28:27 after only lowering it 50 seconds the previous 6 years. Obviously, some of the success can be attributed to me leaving my job, moving to Flagstaff, and training at altitude. I get a lot more sleep, eat a little bit healthier, and stay in a lot more, but I wouldn't say there is one secret to my success. If anything I credit my increased mileage. I'm running a lot more than I ever have in the past. Kellogg has always been a big proponent of high mileage, but my body was not ready for what I'm doing now.

    Other runners talk about killing themselves running high mileage and doing really hard workouts, but if anythying I'd say my workouts are pretty easy, and I'm well rested even though I'm running a ton. I actually feel better on some of my longer weeks, and wouldn't say that they are too much of a strain on my body. I'd also like to believe that any of the top runners could go my hard workouts, but maybe I'm not giving myself enough credit for the new level that I have reached. (Actually not, I just asked my coach and he said they all could do my workouts, and then he asked if I was on drugs.).

    So here I am 3 weeks before the trials, a virtual unknown, who is now being picked by some people to make the Olympics. That was my dream when I moved out her, but I'm not sure how much I believed it would really happen. All anyone can ask for is a legitimate chance to make the team, and now I've got that. Anything can happen in the marathon (what's up with Khalid Khannouchi being a 6-5 favorite in London, no one is that much of a certainity in the marathon), so I'm definitely not booking a flight to Australia. But if you're going to pick the one time in your life to start running really well, I can't think of one better than 3 weeks before the Olympic Trials.

    Considering that I'm currently "job-free" and all I'm doing is running and working on this website (and I'm really not running too much this week as the Trials start on May 7th), be sure to email me your comments or suggestions as I'm a little bored.
-Weldon, April 26, 2000

PS . I've changed my mind and decided to reveal my secret workouts as I want my coach to get more exposure. Click here to see a sample week.

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