Even when you’re one of the best U.S. distance runners ever, a little downtime goes a long way. Two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp has been recovering hard since his last race, October’s Chicago Marathon, where he placed second. (It was a huge mental boost for him after coming in a disappointing eighth in the Olympic Marathon just a few weeks prior.) Now fully recharged, he’s looking to build on his Chicago performance when he competes against a loaded professional field on March 20 in the United Airlines NYC Half. The event had been canceled the previous two years and Rupp isn’t looking to just ease his way back into the swing of things.
“I’m at a point now where I’m trying to win,” Rupp said. “Obviously, there needs to be a long-term goal in it, but when I enter something, it’s with the goal of winning it and running well.”
We spoke with the four-time Olympian to discuss his approach to marathon running, remaining present, and how his training and nutrition has changed as he’s gotten older.
GQ: How good did it feel to close the year out on a high note in Chicago?
Galen Rupp: It was a really positive race for me. I kind of needed it just for my own mental state. It had been a while since I had run that fast after having a pretty major surgery [on his Achilles in 2019]. The Olympics didn’t go how I would’ve hoped, so to bounce back and run a 2:06 and be right there contending for the win in the end—it was a positive step forward for me. I’m really hoping to build on that in 2022. I’m pumped to be getting ready for New York. It’s going to be fun.
Where are you at in terms of your training?
I’m back in pretty hard training right now. After Chicago, I took a good three to four weeks really easy. I might have run three days a week but only 20 minutes, very slow, just to get my legs moving a bit. We built up slowly and targeted mid-December for when we really needed to start ramping up and getting ready for the spring season. I kept my mileage lower these last several months and will keep it lower due to this being a half. It’s right around 100 miles a week—a little less than what I would do for a normal marathon. With not running a marathon this spring, I wanted to really take advantage of this time, do a little less volume, and save my body a little bit of that pounding, but also really focus on the speedwork. A half marathon is a shorter distance than what I normally run, and I really tried to work on getting more efficient at running faster paces.
How do you mentally take a break from running?
I just trying to be totally present in whatever I’m doing, whether that’s training, working out. It’s getting the most out of that. Certainly, there’s a time where you should be thinking about how this workout, practice, or session is going to help you compete in the long run, but when it’s time to go home and I’m around my kids, I don’t want to be thinking about something else. I want to be completely present with them. It’s really the greatest thing for me because I can come back after a good or bad day and they’re going to love me the same way. They will still always have smiles on their faces and want to play around when I get home. It’s really the best distraction and it’s easy to not think about running when I’m around them.