Alberto Salazar, center, celebrates with Galen Rupp, left, and Mo Farah after the 10,000m final at the London Olympics. Photo: PhotoRun.net
5 Lessons Learned From Salazar
1. Take a long-term approach
The most important lesson is to be patient. Set long-term goals for 1 to 3 years down the road, such as moving up to tackle the marathon distance or taking a large chunk of time off your current personal best. Give yourself plenty of time to mature as an athlete, work on your aerobic development, and improve strength and speed over the course of a few years rather than try to cram it all into a 10- or 12-week period. Of course, it’s important to give yourself short-term benchmarks along the way as a means of checking your progress, but don’t be discouraged if you’re not running a personal best every time you take to the starting line. Always keep the bigger picture in mind.
2. Find good training partners
You don’t have to be an elite athlete to become a member of your local running club, however, or simply meet up with other runners in your area to train with a few times a week. Find a person or persons who can push you to become a better athlete and improve your confidence when you step to the starting line on race day.
3. Work on your running form
Land lightly, relax, & don’t “bounce.” A good way to practice the three points described above is to incorporate form-specific drills such as high knees, butt kicks, skips and bounding into your training two to three times per week.
4. Learn how to sprint
Incorporate short hill sprints, short flat sprints, & practice kicking.
5. Train your mind
You might not be competing against top runners from East Africa anytime soon, but you can, and should, work on your mental game. Recognize progress when it occurs and see it as a necessary step toward long-term success. Practice visualization techniques and see yourself accomplishing your goals. Use mantras while racing to stay focused and work through rough patches. Remain relentlessly positive and focus on the things you can control in training and racing rather than be rattled by the things you can’t. And last but certainly not least, have confidence in yourself and your abilities when you step on the starting line. Without that key component, none of the other stuff really matters all that much.