After Stress Reaction In His Femur, Conner Mantz Ready for Olympic Marathon Trials as #1 Seed

Conner Mantz was a two-time NCAA cross country champion for BYU. Since turning professional he has had good success in the marathon, running 2:08:16 in his debut for 7th place in Chicago in 2022. He followed that up with a 2:07:47 for sixth place in Chicago in 2023, which earned him the fastest seed time in next Saturday’s Olympic Marathon Trials. In between his two Chicago runs, Mantz ran the 2023 Boston Marathon, where he ran with the leaders before facing to 11th place.

Mantz joined this week for a video chat which you can find embedded below. We have also written up highlights. For the first time publicly, Mantz revealed that he dealt with a stress reaction in his femur in late November, but is now healthy and training has been going well.

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Mantz’s Thoughts Heading Into the Trials (LRC): We’re about what, nine days out from the Trials. What are your thoughts heading in?

Conner Mantz: I am just excited. The Olympics is [only] every four years… I was fifth in the 10k in 2021, and I’ve been itching to have another chance at it, but mainly just excited to run another marathon.

LRC: Your three marathons have gone well, especially your two on flat courses. You ran 2:08:16 in your debut two years ago in Chicago. Followed that up with 2:07:47 in Chicago this year. On flat, fast courses, you’ve done very well.  That sets you up for the Trials very well.

Do you agree with that assessment?

Mantz:  I think I could run well on a hilly course, but I just need to make sure I keep my emotions in check and not go out with the leaders. But I think that’s a good assessment. I’ve done well on flat courses.

Conner Mantz (l) and Clayton Young (r) in Chicago (Kevin Morris photo)

 LRC: You’ve got the fastest seed time coming in. Do you view yourself as the favorite? How do you assess the field?

I don’t know. I think I definitely see myself as a favorite to make the team and take one of those top two spots maybe. We don’t know about third place. The chances of us getting third, I have no idea what they are or of getting [all] three spots. But I see myself as one of the favorites.

I think I’ve been pretty consistent. Every time I’ve raced, like, my performances I feel are all pretty close together for the most part. I’ll have an occasional bad race, but most of my races are fairly consistent.

 LRC: When you say us, do you mean Clayton Young?

Yeah, Clayton and myself.

 LRC: How much of your training have you done with Clayton? I know Jon’s gonna ask you some questions here. He’s been stalking your Strava, but a workout just got posted today on YouTube. We’ll put a link to it. You guys did four by three mile, but it seems like you and Clayton have been joined by the hip for what the last year in training. How much of your training have you done for this buildup [with Clayton]?

Most of our training this buildup. It’s kind of been funny, ’cause Coach [Ed] Eyestone, he liked how Chicago went. So he’s having us do exactly what we did for Chicago. And it’s like, okay, like you guys both did this at Chicago. Let’s just replicate that. So, yeah, every workout, almost every easy run, not almost every easy run, but at least half of them are together.

 Mantz Reveals He Had Stress Reaction in Femur in November

LRC: And Jon, do you wanna jump in and grill him about his Strava activity? This is something that happens on the message board is everyone, they try to do the Strava analysis of exactly who’s in shape and who’s not and that sort of thing. Your Strava account is public. And there are two notable things I think that would jump out to anyone who looks at it.

And one is there’s a two-week gap after your run at the Manchester Road Race [on November 23] where you don’t have any activities logged at all. So what’s the explanation for that? Were you running, were you hurt? What was the deal?

Conner Mantz wins the 2022 Manchester Road Race in a course record 21:04 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly) (Mantz’s injury was in 2023)

I haven’t really told too many people about it, but now that I’m in shape, I feel like I can show my cards a little bit. I had a stress reaction in my femur that kind of popped out right before the Manchester Road Race. Didn’t know what it was, just kind of dropped my mileage considerably heading into that race and was like, oh, well you know what I’ll be able to drop my mileage and taper. And then it started bugging me about two days before and the day beforehand, quite a bit. And so I changed my flights home and I wasn’t actually gonna start the race. But then I said, okay, like if it hurts at all on the warmup, I won’t start. If it hurts at all during the race, I’ll drop out. It felt fine during the race. (Editor’s note: Mantz finished 2nd in a sprint finish)

In my mind it was like, whoa I’ve had a few stress reactions there before. It doesn’t really feel like it, but it might be one. So it was like the day before the race, I changed my flight. So I would fly back earlier and then I set up a doctor’s appointment and an MRI, so I could get those in as soon as possible. Sadly it was a stress reaction. Took me out for two weeks. But I kind of just privatized a lot of my runs since then. At first it was just like, I’ll make ’em public right before the Trials. But it, it was just kind as a way of like, all right, I might not be running but I’m gonna get sneaky good. Or at least sneaky as, be as sneaky as I can. I don’t wanna completely make my Strava private, but I’ll make some runs private.

LRC: My other question is, if you look at the mileage totals, weekly mileage, since you’ve returned to running, none of them are above about 71 miles a week, which is a lot lower than you usually do, but I’ve also noticed you’re only running, you know, there’s only four or five entries per week in that span.

Is that the actual mileage you’re running or are there other runs that you just haven’t logged on there and you’re doing more?

There’s a lot of runs. I keep probably half them or so private, and I’ll probably make ’em all public right before the Trials. Cause it was kind of like ‘crap I’m injured’, how much do I wanna show to other people I’m hurt? Now I’m at the point where I’m like it doesn’t matter.

I’ll probably go back and make ’em public pretty soon, but my fitness is there, at least as far as I can tell. You can only really tell so much from a workout. And I haven’t raced since the Manchester Road Race.

LRC: Those two weeks after Manchester, did you not run at all or there were runs in there and they just weren’t public?

I was on like an Alter-G treadmill or Boost treadmill or biking, swimming, or, I didn’t swim this time, but I did, the Arc trainer, if you know what that is.

LRC: Parker Valby’s favorite.

Yea, yeah A lot of people love it. Whittni Orton does a ton on the Arc trainer. I probably shouldn’t say that, but she’s kind of been the inspiration for the Arc trainer ’cause it’s just like, dang, she gets fit.

So when I heard the stuff about Parker Valby, who I thought of was Whittni.

LRC: When you get back to sort of running on solid ground, is it because your leg is feeling back to normal that the injury is healed? Or is it shoot the Trials are almost here, I need to start, running, logging real running workouts?

It was ’cause things were feeling better. I definitely wanted to be out running like earlier. Coach Eyestone was very much like, ‘Hey [tone it down].’ He told me this four years ago and I got hurt right before the last marathon trials. He was just like, look, half the people that show up on that day who are gonna be competitors, they’re not healthy. If you’re healthy, you really only have to beat half of your competitors to make the team.

And he was just very confident in if you’re healthy, you’re gonna be fine. It doesn’t matter, like if you’ve run your workouts really fast or really slow, you know it, it doesn’t matter. Just be healthy. So I just kind of took that as kind of my mantra as get healthy and then get some good workouts in and be ready for the Trials.

 LRC: Coach Ed Eyestone, two-time Olympian. What advice did he give you about the Trials, the marathon trials, which is new for you?

We try and bug him a lot. He doesn’t really talk about his day that much, but [he does say] a few things. One don’t overdo it. He says the best shape he was ever in was in ’96, and that’s the year he didn’t make it on the [Olympic] team. But also like being healthy. He’s just very big on make sure you’re healthy. But he’s also a very hands-off coach. He never gets like, I don’t know, never really gets mad about us doing one thing or the other. He’s just very like, figure yourself out and then I’ll help lead and guide you, but don’t overdo it.

Conner Mantz Marathon Debut in Chicago Conner Mantz in Chicago (Kevin Morris photo)

Heat Prep and Sam Chelanga Being in Group

LRC: One thing you guys don’t have in Utah is heat. What have you done to prepare for the heat in Orlando?

Done a bunch of sauna, like finish a run, go to the sauna, or I’ll get like some rain jackets or like sauna suits and just run in that on a treadmill. Haven’t done that as much, but most of it has been like I finish a run and then we, Clayton, Sam Chelanga, who joined us for the last couple months, so me, Clayton, Jared [Ward], and Sam would go to the sauna after our runs.

LRC: Is Ed coaching Sam?

Right now, yeah.

LRC: Oh, interesting. I was gonna pick Sam in my contest, but he didn’t run very well at Houston. Was that sort of more of a training run for him?

No, he was pretty sick. When I asked him about it after the race, he was just like, ‘dude, like the moment the gun went off, I didn’t feel good and I just thought I’d warm up into it. But I felt worse and worse as the race went on.’

LRC: And he didn’t do the four by three mile workout with you guys. So, does he just do some of them?

He didn’t do that workout with us cause that was the same week as Houston. He was trying to taper for Houston, trying to secure that third spot, but then shows up and on the start line feels awful. It’s like, well I guess I’ll just, I don’t know. He just kind of had to run it ’cause he was there.

The Olympic dream

LRC: What would it mean to make the Olympic team?

You know, it would mean a lot. But also I need to keep my mind in check. You know, it’s, I don’t know, it’s kind of been a dream. So a dream, it would be a dream come true, but I also need to keep in check that like, if it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. It’s nothing. It’s like there’s always more teams and more races to make.

LRC: One more question. We started a better running shoe site on LetsRun[.com]. What shoes have you been training in, and what shoe will you be racing in?

I’ll race in one of the Alphafly iterations. Still trying to figure out which one exactly. And then, I’m training a lot in the Vomero, but I use probably four or five different Nike shoes, such as like, I’ll use the Pegasus, the Invincible. The Vomero is my favorite, but I to switch things out pretty often.

LRC: All right. We appreciate it. Hope to see you in Orlando. Good luck.

Thank you.

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