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Chris Solinsky Ready For Shift to the Roads

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/Pro   on May 8 2014, 02:25 PM

Former American Record Holder Getting Stronger

By Scott Bush

Chris Solinsky is a man on a mission. After a breaktaking 2010 season, where he broke the 13-minute barrier for 5k three times and set the American record for 10,000m, he suffered a career threatening injury. After taking a full year to recover and another year to get back into racing shape, Solinsky is now shifting his focus professionally, at least for 2014, to the roads.

Solinsky kicks off his road racing season this Saturday at the USA 25 km Championships, where he'll contend with a strong field for the win. We caught up with the Portland-based runner this week, talking training, teammate Shalane Flanagan's Boston Marathon performance, longevity in the sport and much more.

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Scott Bush (SB): You've had a very quiet start to your 2014 season. How's training going? What type of work have you been putting in lately?

Chris Solinsky (CS): Overall I would say training has been going pretty well. I have been focusing running high mileage each week and doing a lot of strength based workouts. We have been up in Flagstaff, AZ for the last six weeks and I feel that I have been putting in some good long quality work.

SB: You're set to compete at the USA 25 km Championships on May 10. Does running in Grand Rapids signal a shift for you this season of focusing much more on the roads?

CS: Doing the 25k certainly signals a shift for me this season, as everything that I race this year will most likely be on the roads and with the purpose of either getting ready for a fall marathon or for the purpose of getting my confidence and race instincts back. I wouldn't quite shut the door, however, on track for me in the future, it is just most likely not in the cards for this year.

SB:  As you start to race on the roads more, how does this change how you train? More long runs, less speed?

CS: That's exactly right. I am actually training very similar to how I trained before getting injured, only smarter. I am doing longer long runs, longer workouts, and more doubles. I am just doing a lot less intensity, like no 5k/10k specific workouts it is pretty much all half marathon/marathon type workouts in the attempt to become as aerobically strong as possible.

SB: Your teammate, Shalane Flanagan, ran with heart and courage in Boston. What was it like for you to watch someone you know so well really lay it on the line and make the race in Beantown?

CS: Shalane ran like a stud! We all delayed our workouts that morning to watch and were all amazed how strongly she ran from the front and how well she hung on to her race plan. Jerry told us beforehand that she was going to run 2:22 and she did just that. Unfortunately, six other women ran faster. I mean only two other years would that not have won the race and 1 other year would that not have been top two.  She ran it tough and with heart and that is very motivating. They made a plan that historically would work, but it didn't this year.

To Shalane's credit the six ladies that beat her had enough respect for her to not just let her get away, they knew she was for real so they stayed with her from the start.

SB: Your team recently reformed around the Bowerman Track Club, which has a strong youth and amateur component to it. What are the benefits, as a professional runner, to be part of a group that's more than just the professionals?

CS: In running you loose the team aspect after college, though you may train with other athletes in practice when it comes time to line up and race you are on that line alone; for yourself. Being part of the Bowerman Track Club allows us to have a little bit of that team back because when we race we represent the same club that both youths (that we interact with in Portland) and masters runners. It is exciting to race with the same uniform that they will be wearing too.  

In a way it also allows us to give back a little bit to the grass roots of the sport. If a kid can get motivated to see us wearing the same singlet that he/she wears it may serve to motivate them to push for their dreams that much harder.

SB: You're an assistant coach at the University of Portland. What have you learned from coaching that you've been able to apply to your own running?

CS: I think as a professional it can be possible to forget why you started the sport in the first place, especially when things are not going well. Helping out the Pilots has helped me to reconnect with the reason I started running in the first place; for the love of running and seeing how far I can push my body. The guys on the team come to practice and work hard to better the team and to push their limits and until I started working with them I kind of forgot about that. They are a fun group to be around and I think they have some big things ahead of them these next couple of years, so it will be fun to be a part of that.  

SB: You've been running under the guidance of Jerry Schumacher for over ten years and have had teammates like Matt Tegenkamp and Simon Bairu for just as long. What's it been like having such stability within the core of your team?

CS: The only secret to this sport is consistency, and that goes further than just training, it includes your coach and training partners. It has been great to have guys like Matt, Simon, Tim (Nelson), and Evan to training with throughout my career. I don't think I could have done the things I have done without them by my side. With that main group being together for so long it has been tough to see guys end their careers, like with Jonathon Riley, and Tim retired, that's never easy to see.  

Obviously, having a coach for 10+ years and having him know me and what works and doesn't work is very beneficial. Luckily, Jerry is one of those coaches that changes things up subtly from year to year, so there is no stalling effect, we are constantly challenging our bodies and never settling into a groove.

SB: Every runner has goals for their season. What are yours?

CS: My goals for this season are very simple, to be consistent with my training and to keep getting better throughout the year. Obviously, I want to run a great first marathon, but where and what that means I will know more in the future. As I said, my training has been going fairly well and I'm looking forward to the 25k to see just where that leaves me standing.  

I am much more focused on my day to day training at this point than the end desired results. Focusing on where I want to be rather than the process has gotten me into trouble over the last two years. It can be overwhelming and thus defeating to think where you want to be and where you are now, so I just have the blinders on and am trying to make myself a better runner each day.  

SB: What's the perfect non-running day look like for you in Oregon?

CS: It would be a toss up of two: spending the morning drinking coffee with my wife, Amy, followed by hiking with her and our dogs, wrapped up by coming home to cooking out with a beer and enjoying a fire. Otherwise, I would love to be out in the woods fall archery hunting with John, Tim, and Sam Truax for some elk and deer.

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