By Jonathan Gault
January 29, 2015
2014 was a year of highs and lows for Leo Manzano. He was just fifth at the U.S. indoor championships in February, almost cost the USA the 4×1500 silver medal at the IAAF World Relays in May and was beaten by the likes of Eric Finan and Hamish Carson in a mile in June. But Manzano produced when it mattered most as he claimed his second U.S. outdoor 1500 title in Sacramento and ran a pb of 3:30.98 in Monaco on July 18, making him the fifth-fastest American of all time at 1500.
Manzano will open his 2015 season on Saturday at the Camel City Elite races at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, N.C. He’ll face the last two fourth-placers at USAs in Matt Elliott and Will Leer as well as Riley Masters (3:56.25 pb) of the Brooks Beasts and Cory Leslie (3:53.44 pb) of the Furman Elite.
I caught up with the always-positive Manzano over the phone on Wednesday evening from his winter training base in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, as we discussed his recent training, indoor schedule and goals for 2015.
Jonathan Gault: Let’s start with last year. If you had to give yourself a grade for 2014, what would it be?
Leo Manzano: Wow, 2014 was very interesting actually. On a grade, it would be kind of hard to grade. I think I accomplished a lot. I couldn’t give you a specific grade, but I do know that I accomplished a lot, overcame a lot of obstacles. That being said, I think it was a great year. After not having a sponsorship, I came back and won outdoor nationals, ran 3:30 in the 1500. I think it was an incredible year. Not only that, I also acquired Hoka One One, Timex, and a couple other little jobs in the sponsorship field.
JG: Looking ahead to 2015, is there anything about your training that you’re looking to change from last year?
LM: First of all, I’ve been blessed to have found Coach [John] Hayes. Honestly, he’s the guy that takes care of all the training in terms of planning and all that. He’s just been a phenomenal guy, great friend, phenomenal person. We’ve worked very, very well together.
Definitely there has been some changes in my training. I’ve probably got a little bit more mileage than I had in the past but other than that, I’ve still tried to incorporate some of the same things I’ve been doing in the past. I think things are going okay.
JG: You’ve been training in Mexico recently. Where exactly were you and how long were you there for?
LM: I’m in Mexico for altitude training in this area called San Luis Potosi. It’s one of the biggest cities in Mexico actually. It gives me a great place to come and train and come focus. The facilities are great, people here are very welcoming. There are a lot of areas where you can go and run. That’s why I come to San Luis Potosi.
JG: What kind of altitude is that at?
LM: It’s right around 6,500 feet. We’ve actually climbed a little higher as well. You can get up to about 8,000 feet if you want to get up that high. But ultimately as middle distance runners, we usually like to train at right around 6,500 feet.
JG: Did you go with anyone else to Mexico? Was anyone else down there training with you?
LM: I have a couple teammates: Miles Batty, who will also be in the JDL track meet (Batty will run the 3,000), Duncan Phillips and Todd Van Velson.
JG: How did your stint down there go and how long were you there for?
LM: I’ve been here almost a month. I arrived here on January 2 and I’ll be here until tomorrow (Thursday). It’s been great. Everything has gone pretty much as planned so we’re happy.
JG: What kind of stuff do you guys do down there?
LM: Primarily, when we come here, it’s just to focus. When you’re in Austin, you have a lot of commitments to attend to. Thankfully, we can come down to San Luis and we get three to four weeks of just focus. Primarily, we train, usually anywhere from one to two, potentially three times a day. We just train and we take care of ourselves as much as we can. That’s pretty much about it. We’re just here to focus.
JG: What do you guys like to do in your downtime when you’re not training?
LM: The facility is a great place to hang out. You can go to the pool, hang out and chill. There’s a downtown area where you can come and hang out, have dinner. It’s a very different lifestyle. People here like to walk, they’re out and about. It reminds me a little bit of Europe actually.
JG: With a guy like you, the focus is going to be on the outdoor season this year. What kind of mileage and workouts are you doing around this time of year to get ready for that outdoor season?
LM: Right now, I’m at approximately 70 miles a week. For me, as a middle-distance runner, 70 miles is perfect.
JG: And what kind of stuff are you doing — long tempos, cruise intervals? What kind of stuff to get ready for the track season?
LM: It’s been a lot of base training. We haven’t done much in terms of being on the track. Yeah, we’ve been on the track a little bit. But like you just mentioned, our main focus is the outdoor season, that’s our bread and butter. We’re just trying to do our best and hoping to go out to the JDL track meet and have a good race.
JG: What’s the goal for Saturday?
LM: As you now, the goal is always to win. I know I’ll be facing some very stiff competition. Anytime that you race these guys, you have to respect them. They do always always come out and bring their A game. [The goal is] just have a good race, compete hard and go for the win.
JG: Are you planning on running any other indoor races this year?
LM: Yes. Right now, we’re looking to run at Millrose, also the USA Indoor championships and that will be pretty much it. And right after that we’ll focus for the outdoor season.
JG: And those will both be miles as well?
LM: Yes, both miles.
JG: Looking ahead to outdoors, what are your goals for this year? Goals for the outdoor season?
LM: Honestly, I just want to have a good year. I feel like I’m in a very good place. Anytime you can break a record is great. Main goals are to defend my title at the USA championships outdoors and make it to the World Championships. At the World Championships, I guess we’ll see, another goal is to finish top three.
More: Discuss this Q&A in our running fan forum: MB: Will Leo the Lion roar in 2015? Q&A with Leo Manzano before his 2015 opener at Camel City (link fixed)