WTW: Racing and Time Trialing are Very Different, Laura Muir is Dominant, and the Olympic Marathon Trials Will be Hilly

The Week That Was in Running, February 25 – March 3, 2019

By LetsRun.com
March 4, 2019

After a two-week hiatus (one to get ready to broadcast the Heps on ESPN+, one for the flu), the Week That Was is back at last. If you missed our coverage of the first Abbott World Marathon Major of the year — the 2019 Tokyo Marathon — or Yomif Kejelcha‘s indoor mile WR, or even the 2019 USATF Indoor Championships, catch up now.

Past editions of the Week That Was can be found here.

Questions, comments, or a tip? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post on our forum.

There’s a difference between a time trial and a race (and between being fresh and tired)

Last week, there were a couple of examples of something that we think many casual fans fail to appreciate: there is a big difference between a time trial and a race, particularly when you are talking about the 1500/mile.

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Lewandowski celebrates

At the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow, the winner of the men’s 1500 was Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski — the man with a 3:34.04 pb — not 18-year-old wunderkind Jakob Ingebrigtsen — who has a 3:31.18 pb.

It surely didn’t help Ingebrigtsen that he was running his fourth race of the weekend as he’d already won the 3000, whereas Lewandowski was running just his second race of the weekend. But to be honest, if it had been the second race of the weekend for both men, we think the results would have been the same — Lewandowski first, Ingebrigtsen second.

If you watched last year’s European 1500 outdoor final, you should remember that Lewandowski, who also earned silver at World Indoors last year, was BY FAR the best guy on the last lap; he just put himself in a horrible position with 400 meters to go, so he had to settle for the silver to Jakob’s gold. However, in Glasgow over the weekend, Lewandowski’s tactics were better and he got the win as a result.

In a time trial featuring the two men, we have no doubt that Ingebrigtsen would win. His 5000 strength plays really well in a 1500-meter time trial, but Lewandowski’s 1:43 800 speed makes him lethal in championship 1500 races. There’s a big difference between changing gears and slamming home a tactical 1500 and trying to maintain 57-second pace for as long as possible.

Here are the last two European 1500 finals. Watch them both and try to tell us you’d bet on Ingebrigtsen over Lewandowski in a championship 1500 final if they race a third time. We certainly wouldn’t make that pick.

2018 European outdoor 1500 final

2019 European indoor 1500 final


Behind Yomif Kejelcha‘s world record in the indoor mile last week in Boston, you saw the reverse of what we just talked about. In Boston, the first American across the line was Johnny Gregorek, who ran 3:49.98 — and not Craig Engels, the US champion in the indoor mile the week before, who ran 3:53.89.

Prior to the time trial in Boston, Engels and Gregorek raced three times this year and Engels won all three races convincingly.

January 26 – Engels beat Gregorek by .80 in the 1k at the Armory, 2:18.98 to 2:19.78.
February 9 – Engels beat Gregorek by 1.34 seconds at Millrose in the mile, 3:54.18 to 3:55.52.
February 24 – Engels beat Gregorek by .57 in the mile, 3:59.69 to 4:00.26, to win the US title in Staten Island.

The comparison of Engels and Gregorek is similar to the one between Lewandowski and Ingebrigtsen. In a tactical middle distance race, Engels’ endurance, coupled with his 800 background, makes him much more dangerous than he is in a time trial. Gregorek also mentioned after the race that he’s been doing a lot of strength endurance work in his training, which helps with time trials but can leave him lacking in a championship-style race.

“I feel like I’m in really good strength shape right now,” Gregorek told LetsRun.com. “I’m just super strong, so I think just running those 29-[second laps]…At Millrose, I think I really ran erratically, a little fast in the middle of the race, and it took a lot out of me. And at USAs, I didn’t quite have that final gear. But I think [in Boston], I just need to keep running 29’s, I just needed to use my strength. I think a lot of speed comes from strength, as they say.”

The co-founders of LetsRun.com certainly weren’t 1500 runners but they learned about the difference between time trials and tactical 1500s by becoming big fans of the sport in the 1990s, when American Steve Holman annually seemed to mesmerize/frustrate US fans. Somehow, Holman managed to finish in the top 10 in Track & Field News‘ world rankings for 1,500 three times (#5 in 1994, #4 in 1995, and #10 in 1997) without winning a US title in any of those years. Holman had the NINE fastest American 1500 times of the 1990s (with a PR of 3:31.52 from 1997) yet somehow managed to win just one US outdoor 1500 title in his entire career (1999).


Stat of the Week I / Let’s Put These Fast Indoor Miles in Perspective

The fast indoor miles run last weekend deservedly garnered a lot of attention, but we think it’s good to compare them to some better 1500/outdoor marks so people don’t get too carried away.

3:26.00 – Hicham El Guerrouj’s outdoor 1500 world record.
3:27.40 –
Bernard Lagat‘s outdoor 1500 American record.
3:30.07 – what Alan Webb‘s 3:46.91 outdoor American record for the mile converts to for the 1500 according to our 1.0802 conversion.
3:30.16 – what Yomif Kejelcha‘s 3:47.01 indoor mile world record converts to for the 1500 according to our 1.0802 conversion.
3:31.04 – Samuel Tefera‘s indoor 1500 world record.
3:32.91 –
what Johnny Gregorek‘s 3:49.98 indoor mile converts to for 1500 according to our 1.0802 conversion (10th place on the all-time US outdoor list for 1500 is David Krummenacker‘s 3:31.93).

Stat of the Week II / This Is What We Call TOTAL DOMINATION

3.38 – margin of victory, in seconds, in the women’s 1500 at the European championships for Laura Muir.
3.45 – margin of victory, in seconds, in the women’s 3000 at the European championships for Laura Muir.

Quote of the Week (that wasn’t quote of the day) / The 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials Are Going To Be Relatively Hilly

“Hilly is an understatement. I definitely have a new respect for this marathon. I only ran eight miles. I can’t imagine doing four times that distance.”

American Brogan Austin talking to Race Results Weekly after running and winning an 8-mile race that was run on the main portion of the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials course.

In case you missed it when we unofficially plotted the elevation of the Atlanta Olympic Marathon Trials course in January, take a look at the chart below.

More: What You Need to Know on the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials Course — With Elevation Charts

Recommended Reads

Abandoned by his parents at age 4, he didn’t even start running until college but he made the Olympics – Meet Shane Healy If you read one thing this weekend, this needs to be it. Irishman Shane Healy lived the “American” dream and it got it to him the Olympics. Now 50, he’s got his sights on the 50+ WR. “I want to get the message across to young people. You can never ever give up on your dream.”
*MB: Learn about the incredible life of Shane Healy

No easy answers in Caster Semenya debate “If we are to accept the unregulated presence of male biology in women’s sport, that women born without male sex organs must compete against those who have them on the premise that biology is fundamentally unfair, why not abandon the women’s category altogether?”

Storylines and Subplots at the 2019 Tokyo Marathon A fantastic read from Brett Larner. After 12 years, the women’s race in Tokyo is finally on par (actually superior) to the men in Tokyo + the quest for the 100th Japanese man under 2:10.

To see our favorite reads from other weeks, go here.

Quotes Of The Day And Last Week’s Home Pages

To see the quotes of the day from last week or last week’s home page or any home page, go to our archive page.

Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us or post in our forum.

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