By Jonathan Gault
February 26, 2015
BOSTON — A small group of athletes gathered at the Boston Marriott Copley Place on Thursday afternoon for the pre-meet press conference ahead of the 2015 USATF Indoor Championships, which begin Friday at the Reggie Lewis Center (main portion of the meet is 4-6pm Saturday and Sunday on NBCSN, rest of meet is on USATF.TV)
While pentathlete Sharon Day-Monroe, sprinter Natasha Hastings and pole vaulter Mary Saxer were all in attendance, the LetsRun faithful is most interested in the mid-d and distance races. Since the two mid-d/distance athletes — Matthew Centrowitz (men’s mile) and Treniere Moser (women’s 1000) — did the most talking anyway, this article will be dedicated to what they had to say on Thursday afternoon. Without further ado, three quick observations ahead of this weekend’s meet.
1. Centrowitz believes his poor performance in Birmingham was due to a failure to adapt to the new time zone
Centrowitz was undefeated in 2015 prior to last Saturday, when he ran the 1500 at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix and finished just 10th in the 11-man field, running a disappointing 3:40.80. Initially, Birmingham hadn’t been on Centrowitz’s calendar at all, but after not running quite as fast as he would have liked in the Wanamaker Mile (Centrowitz won in 3:51.35 but was hoping for sub-3:50), he and coach Alberto Salazar decided to head over to Birmingham in an attempt to break the U.S. record at 1500 (it’s 3:33.34 indoors).
However, Centrowitz said that when he goes over to Europe in the summer, it usually takes him a week or two to adapt to the time difference (it’s five hours from Eastern Time and eight from his training base in Portland). After flying from New York to the UK, he had less than a week before he had to race on Saturday (his race was at 3:29 p.m. GMT, which is 7:29 a.m. Pacific Time) and that he had been getting only four or five hours of sleep leading up to the race as a result, even going so far as to say that he felt like he was going to fall asleep on his shakeout.
Athletes often have some excuse for running poorly, especially on the heels of the season Centrowitz was having, but his claim does hold water. In 2012, in Centrowitz’s first European race of the outdoor season, he finished dead last in an 800 in London in 1:48.42. The next year, in his first European outdoor race in Paris, he dropped out of the 1500.
2. Centrowitz is peaking for this race
Centro and his NOP teammates race more than most professional groups during the indoor season, and I was curious if he believed all that racing (this will be his fifth consecutive weekend of racing and seventh indoor race overall) affected his performance during the outdoor season. Centrowitz said that he believes racing a lot indoors has a positive effect on his performance outdoors; last year he missed the entire indoor season with a virus and he said it took him longer to get back in the swing of things outdoors (though he did concede that when you go six weeks without running — as he did indoors in 2014 — at any point in the year, it makes things more difficult).
“The indoor season helps you reevaluate whats is working or not and adjust to outdoor season,” Centrowitz said.
Salazar tries to get his runners to peak twice per year — once indoors and once at the World Championships outdoors — and Centrowitz said that his results in the past show that it’s a system that works. He also mentioned that he loves racing and took indoors seriously during his college days at Oregon so it wasn’t much of a transition to tackle a race-heavy indoor season as a professional.
Aside from winning, Centrowitz said his main goal in the mile on Sunday is to work on his tactics and he believes indoor tracks are the best place to do that. With their tight turns, Centrowitz said it’s harder to get into good position in indoor races and he’s looking forward to testing that aspect of his racing this weekend. It’s certainly going to be tough to maneuver in the mile, especially if all 15 men currently entered wind up running in one race. That’s a lot of people competing for a small amount of real estate on a 200-meter track.
Generally a strong championship racer, Centrowitz has yet to win a U.S. indoor title (he was second in 2012 and eighth in 2013); this is his best chance yet at taking the crown.
3. Moser feels at home in the 1000
Though her teammates Centrowitz and Shannon Rowbury may have garnered more attention this year, Moser has put together a very nice year of her own, setting indoor pbs in the 800 (2:01.79), 1000 (2:37.86) and mile (4:27.49), with the 1000 mark doubling as a world leader. She said that the 1000 was a natural fit for her at these championships since she’s been working on her speed this season and already ran well in the event on the same track three weeks ago.
I asked her whether she considered doubling in the mile in addition to running the 1000 (Rowbury and fellow NOP teammate Jordan Hasay are both double-entered in the mile and 2-mile). Moser said it’s something she and Salazar considered but ultimately decided against.
“Maybe if there was a World Indoors to train for, but a lot of it is being safer than sorry,” Moser said. “Staying healthy is the biggest battle right now. We just decided to focus on the one race because I end up being able to run rounds that will help me as well. I’m super excited. I’ve only run the 1000 a handful of times. It’s just fun to break up the year.”
She also mentioned she was a fan of USATF switching it up to include the 1000 at this meet as it’s an event that isn’t run very often.
After this meet, Moser and Centrowitz will both take four to six weeks off from racing and will ratchet back the intensity in training before gearing up again for outdoors.
“Treniere and I have been talking about how excited we are to take a break after indoor season,” Centrowitz said. “Indoors is so short that we’ve been able to travel around and take advantage of the good shape our team is in.”