Interview with Mike Smith - Galen Rupp's coach

After Alberto Salazar was handed a 4 year coaching doping ban, America’s top marathoner Galen Rupp decided to link up with Northern Arizona University (NAU) coach Mike Smith. While in transition, only a week after Salazar was busted, Rupp DNFed Chicago Marathon at mile 22. But he came back with an incredibly strong performance at the Olympic Marathon Trials in Atalanta, winning in 2:09 and change. LetsRun’s Jonathan Gault interviewed Rupp’s new coach of 4 months. The full interview is here but some of the highlights are below:

  1. Rupp’s mental strength and embracing of his lifestyle is incredible ~ spends 18 hours a day indoor in altitude tents.

  2. He had never done a fartlek workout until he linked up with Smith.

  3. After his tune-up at the Mesa Half Marathon in 61:19, he ran 24 x 400 meters at 60 seconds/rep (4:00 mile pace)!

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Interesting interview, and I appreciated the coach’s external perspective. To add on to your takeaways:

  1. I had to read it carefully, but he just lives at 10,000 feet, so he doesn’t need to live in an altitude tent. But I suppose, if you were an elite athlete, the altitude tent wouldn’t be so different from what a lot of people are doing for self-quarantining these days.

  2. I cannot believe a world-class runner at age 33 had never done a fartlek workout. I mean, seriously? How does any serious runner miss that? The other thing that was odd was that apparently all his rests were based on 400m jogs. Seems… limiting.

  3. Sure, that 24 by 400m workout sounds tough, but the real OMG is the next sentence.

The NAU kids would be laughing at that like, all he did was 24?

No wonder Northern Arizona University won NCAA cross country titles in 2017 and 2018.

Ugh, I just can’t get excited about anything related to Galen Rupp. Although I will say it was an intelligent PR move on Rupp’s part to seek out Mike Smith as a coach. Smith is the anti-Salazar so the optics are good for Rupp.

I’m surprised that Smith agreed to coach Rupp, especially with the ongoing revelations about the violations of Salazar and the NOP. Smith’s sterling reputation could easily be tarnished if damning info comes out about Rupp doping in the past. At the same time, I guess it’s hard to turn down the best American distance runner of the past decade.

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