Olympian undergoing knee surgery this Friday.

Adam Goucher at the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon earlier this year. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Adam Goucher, the oft-injured Olympian who returned to competitive racing this year and qualified for January’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon in September with a 64:52 clocking, announced via his Run The Edge blog on Wednesday that he is having knee surgery this Friday and is officially retiring from competitive running.

“I am retiring from elite racing but I am not done running. Not by a long shot!” Goucher wrote. “I am looking forward to new starting lines and joining the millions of runners who find inspiring reasons to run that do not include Olympic berths or even personal bests. Those days might be behind me but I feel like my running career is just beginning. I am a runner. That will never change.”

For the better part of the 10-year stretch from 1998 to 2008, Goucher was one of the the main men in U.S. distance running. In 1999, a year after graduating from the University of Colorado as a four-time NCAA champion, Goucher showed incredible promise on the track, posting personal bests of 3:54.17 in the mile and 13:11.25 for 5,000 meters. The following year, he dominated the 4K and 12K races at the USA Cross Country Championships, winning both contests in convincing fashion and asserting himself as the future of American distance running.

Then Goucher got injured, starting a pattern that would end up plaguing him throughout the rest of his competitive career.

After failing to qualify for the Olympic team in 2004, Goucher and his wife Kara moved to Portland, Oregon to join the Nike Oregon Project and be coached by Alberto Salazar. The move proved to pay off, and in February of 2006, Goucher won another 4K title at the USA Cross Country Championships and went on to place 6th at Worlds–the highest placing by an American male in 20 years.  That summer he ran the third fastest 2-mile ever by an American (8:12.7) and bettered his own 5,000-meter PR, running 13:10.00 in Heusden, Belgium.

Old injuries begab to resurface shortly afterward, however, forcing Goucher to have surgery on his ankle. Goucher again failed to qualify for the Olympic team in 2008 and more or less fell off the radar of competitive running till his return in Philadelphia in September. During that race Goucher said he was plagued by consistent knee pain, which an MRI later revealed was a torn meniscus and substantial damage to cartilage in the joint.

“The MRI showed a torn meniscus (the same meniscus I had repaired a year earlier) and substantial damage to the cartilage in the joint. I needed surgery. Again.” Goucher wrote. “This coming Friday (November 11, 2011) I will go under the knife again to fix what is broken.  Within a week I should be able to start some gentle cross training, and within four weeks I will be able to begin some easy running.  There is not enough time. There will be no Olympic Trials marathon in January.  That is one starting line I will not make.”

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