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Back On Track: 5 Questions With Chris Solinsky

We caught up with the former U.S. 10,000m record holder.

Chris Solinsky returned to competition this past weekend with an 8:05.38 3,000-meter win at the University of Washington Final Qualifier in Seattle. It was his first race since he tore his hamstring in 2011. Next up is a stint of altitude training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs with his Nike teammates followed by an outdoor racing season focusing on the 3K and 5K. We caught up with Solinsky earlier this week to talk about his plans for the upcoming outdoor season, his incredible training load and what he’s doing to prevent injuries.

RELATED — I’m a Competitor: Chris Solinsky

Your return to racing seemed like a good effort. How did you feel about it?

I came away from it very pleased. Going in I had zero idea what I was capable of. I’ve been working out since about August, but all of the workouts have never quite been what my expectations have been, and I’ve always been a little bit off of what the other guys can do. I felt bad because I sat behind a bunch of college kids and put on a big finish at the end, but that was the plan going in: to run whatever the race presented and finish hard off of it. I felt good because Jerry and I have talked about my 3K at the end of the year in August being in the low 7:50’s to high 7:40’s at the max. To be close to that right now is very encouraging to me.

Considering the quality of runners you train with in your group, how do you return from an injury while still holding yourself back so you don’t come back too quickly and reinjure yourself?  

Jerry definitely throws me in with the group and I just hang on and try to survive as long as I can. I do anywhere from 75-90% of what the group does. I’ve been able to get through quite a bit of the work, but I have to remind myself to be happy with the improvements I’ve made rather than comparing myself to the other guys and remembering what I used to do. The theme for the year is to build momentum and if I can do that week to week I’m on the right track.

When talking with other people in the sport about you, they are often amazed at your training workload. Have you really done stuff like 15 miles at five-minute pace?

There have been days where we’ve done a two-hour run where, by the end, we’re averaging 5:02. In 2009 and 2010, that is where the training had taken us. Jerry sets up workouts that may be over somebody’s head, but he makes sure to stop you before you get into that zone of having it be a home run workout. He is able to know when a guy has had enough for the day. That’s been the hard part for me because I’ve always been able to finish every workout, and have it be pretty manageable for me. It’s been humbling to not only not be able to do it, but probably be the worst guy in the group at this point. 

As you return from the hamstring injury, are you doing anything differently with regards to injury prevention?

Yeah, I’ve definitely changed my whole mentality. I used to do nothing except for getting a massage once or twice a week. Now I’m still getting those, but I’m also doing continual rehab exercises. I used to do them until I felt pretty good, and then I stopped, and that’s when a bump or bruise pops up. I’m much more diligent with the foam roller and The Stick. I had both of those, but I never used them before. I feel like I’m finally 100% confident that I’m past the point of any kind of re-injury or compensation injury because of the weakness of the hamstring.

What are your racing plans for the outdoor season?

Jerry mentioned the Payton Jordan meet, but I’m hoping to race again before then. The U.S. Championships are a big focus. Hopefully, I’ll be doing the Prefontaine Classic, whether that’s the two-mile or the 3K or whatever they have there. I’ve always had a fondness for the 3,000; maybe that’s because it’s where I had my first success in college with winning the NCAA title. My heart has always been in the 5K, but I definitely need to start wrapping my head about the 10K a lot more. I need to see what kind of training base I can get in this year and if the 10K will be the right move next year.


About The Author:

Matt McCue is an author and speaker living in Manhattan. He has written for New York, ESPN The Magazine, Bloomberg, and The Daily Meal. An Honorable Run is his first book. He has shared his story at over 75 middle and high schools, leadership seminars, colleges and universities around the country.