Adam Goucher, the reigning USA 4 km cross country and indoor 3,000-meter champion, on Thursday appeared on a USATF media teleconference. Goucher will compete this weekend in the 1,500 meters at the adidas Track Classic, part of the Visa Championship Series.
Q: Tell us about what you've been doing since the World Cross Country Championships.
A: Everything's been going great. I'm really looking forward to this weekend, to finally get out there and start the racing season. We've been training so hard for so long - since World Cross Country - without any real races that I've focused on. I'm definitely looking forward to this weekend. I'm looking for a PR, which would be 3:36. It's going to be really fast. Basically, what I've been doing since World Cross is training like crazy.
Q: What kind of training?
A: Pretty much constant 85 to 95 miles per week, depending on the week. Working out every two days. I'm getting in 3-4 workouts a week. I've said it before, but the difference from the past is a lot longer, harder repeats. Since World Cross, this is a year where we've decided we can really focus on my speed. I'm not getting any younger, and in my opinion and Alberto's opinion [coach Alberto Salazar], I need to be a 3:33, 3:34 1,500-meter runner if I want to be in the 12:50s for 5K. So to follow that line, we've been focusing more of our workouts on speed since World Cross. So some of the more intense workouts I've done in the past have become once a week or so. We're more focusing on shorter, faster, really intense stuff - stuff I haven't done since I was living in Colorado.
Q: Have you found a difference between training in Oregon vs. Colorado, where there is altitude?
A: Anything from 400 meters down, I feel like I go faster at altitude. For me, the longer, intense, faster intervals is what we couldn't do up there [at altitude in Colorado] because we couldn't recover. That's what I've had to adapt to, is the faster, longer workouts. Like mile repeats in 4:30 or something like that.
Q; What time do you want to run this weekend?
A: It's realistic for me to say one step at a time, let's just go sub-3:36 first. It's been 5 years since I've run that. But if the race is a 3:32, 3:33 race, I'll be right right there.
Q: Have you run any races since coming back from World Cross Country?
A: Two weeks ago, Nike had employee mile day where they celebrate the 4-minute mile and have their employees run mile races. They've added an elite field to that. The Thursday before last, I ran a 1-mile race on [Nike] campus against Alex Kipchirchir, Julis Achon, a couple other guys that train in John Cook's group. There were about 13 of us in the race. It was a pretty sporadic race. We went through the first 400 on [3:55] pace, then it slowed up. I finished second behind Alex, about a half second behind him ... in a 90-mile week I was at 3:58.
Q: What are your plans for racing in Europe?
A: After US nationals, I'm not sure what races we're going to yet. The races are there, I just have to get over there. We're going to go for a stint of altitude training [at Park City, Utah] after USAs. That puts us into July before we start our European tour.
Q: Talk about the ancillary training you're doing.
A: At least 3, 4 days a week I'm doing ancillary drills or lifting in the weight room. I go in and just have a routine I follow from when I first came here. It's more lighter weight, higher repetition type workouts. We'll do maybe 2x15 of each lift or drill. We work with core strength. Obviously, the more explosive stuff -bounding drills, hurdle jumps, hurdle drills, routine stuff.
Q: When did you relocate to Portland?
A: October 30, 2004 is when we pulled into Portland. We've been here about a year and seven or eight months.
Q: Between now and nationals, will you be doing other meets?
A: I'll be running Prefontaine. [2 mile]
Q: Will the pace at Pre be chasing the American record for 2 miles?
A: Absolutely, no doubt about it. It'll be paced for probably 8:06. The record right now, Webb set it last year, is 8:11. He's racing this weekend [running the 2 mile at the adidas Track Classic], so I imagine he'll be gearing for that as well and trying to knock it down. I definitely am looking at that record and hope it comes.
Q: The middle-distance landscape in the United States now is much different than it was in 2000, when you won your last outdoor track title.
A: I think if you look at the state of distance running right now, it's at the all-time high. Even looking back through history, I don't think it's ever been at the level it's been at right now. We had five guys under 13:15 last year. It's come around so much since 2000, even 2001 when maybe the fastest U.S. guy was running low 13:20s, but that was it. I ran 13:10 in 1999, but I haven't touched that until this last year. It forces everyone to raise their game and come out to race. Everyone is believing it's not impossible to run these times. That's what we've seen especially in the last year - and I think it's going to get better year after year.
Q: You're talking about a 3:33 1,500m, and Alan Webb just ran a fast 10 km; is it surprising to see that kind of range?
A: I don't think it should be a surprise to people. There are those people who are more 10K and marathon specialists. Nowadays, if you're running up to 10Ks, they're closing the last 400 of a 10,000 meters in 53 seconds. You've got to have speed. There's no reason why a person can't be one of the best in the 1,500 and one of the best in the 10K or even marathon. I don't have any experience with the marathon or the 10K on the track, but strength correlates to speed.
Q: Any feeling of needing to get to 5,000 meter American record before somebody else does?
A: I don't think [any] of those guys are going to put it out of range for me to get. I look at what I feel I'm capable of doing, and they're going to have to knock it down a lot further to put it out of range. If they get to it first, that doesn't mean I'm not going to get it.
Q: No major championships in 2006 must affect your planning a bit.
A: I don't know if you gear it differently. You have a set plan going in, and you say maybe the beginning of July through the middle of August, that's my racing window. You have to get ready for that racing window, and in that window is when you hope it's going to happen, when you'll run those fast times.
Q: You've been back on top of your game all year, and back towards last year. You indicated at one time you wondered whether you could keep doing this. Doing well for the better part of the year, how do you feel?
A: I feel so blessed that I was able to come back and not only run what I've run in the past, but be back on my game and kind of back to the old Adam Goucher. After 2002, 2003 into 2004, you look back and you go, who was that guy? I can't even recognize that guy. The dwindling confidence and fighting injuries, up and down, up and down. That was one blow after another. I don't think it's really any major secret or anything. It was finding something and being revitalized and rejuvenated. Trying something new, and I'm going to put my heart and soul into it and see what I can do, coming out (to Oregon). If I can stay healthy, I'm going to run fast, and that's what I've managed to do. As soon as you start feeling better and you're healthy and you're running fast, the confidence comes back. I gradually started remembering who I was and what I've done. The confidence level has come back, and now I feel there's no one I can't race with.
Q: What did you do to keep yourself going?
A: I had some pretty bleak moments and pretty down moments. I credit so much of it to [wife] Kara and my family. There was the realization that if I were to fail, all my goals of running, they're not going to stop loving me or supporting me. It doesn't matter if I'm running 17 minutes in the 5K or building homes or whatever. It was that realization for me. It showed me there are people there who believe in me and love me, and it's not the end of the world if I can't run. My entire life is not defined by being a runner. It's defined by the people around me and who I choose to be with. It was kind of refocusing and reorienting to that. Once I did that, I was able to see my failures at running and dismal performance at the Olympic Trials ... if it's not meant to be, life goes on and I can deal with that. That's what I needed, I think. Up until the Olympic Trials, it never crossed me mind that maybe I needed a change. You trust the people around you, and you say, 'maybe that's what we need.' And that's what we did.