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It’s hard to believe it’s been less than a year since Scott Fauble had his huge breakthrough moment as a runner.
Last April in the Boston Marathon, the 28-year-old Northern Arizona Elite runner was in the lead pack entering the Newton Hills when he got frustrated with the cat-and-mouse pacing tactics. So, despite owning a modest 2:12 PR at the time, he famously took the lead, pushed the pace and continued to lead through the 22-mile mark.
Although Lawrence Cherono and the rest of the field eventually covered his moves, Fauble’s aggressive racing style led him to a 3-minute PR and a solid seventh-place, 2:09:09, finish. But after that highlight, Fauble’s season was slowed by a frustrating bout of hamstring tendinopathy in his right leg.
“Yeah, Boston seems like a long time ago,” Fauble said candidly on Thursday in Atlanta in advance of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. “It had been a while since I felt like myself and felt really fit and really strong.”
Until now that is.
Fauble says he’s as fit and healthy as he’s ever been and, with the lingering hamstring issue healed and behind him, he has his sights set on contending for the win in Saturday’s race.
NAZ Elite coach Ben Rosario said the hamstring issue emerged before Boston and then worsened through the summer and fall. Fauble says he continued to train and race “at about 95%,” but he eventually cut his season short after the U.S. 10-mile championships on Oct. 4 in Minneapolis, where he finished 11th in 47:55.
Reality Check and Rebuild
“That was the big slap in the face moment for us, a real reality check,” Rosario said. “He was fit and strong and tough and was able to manage it in training. But at the 10-mile championships he wasn’t exploding up the hills the way he did in Boston because of the hamstring issue so we decided to shut it down so he could work on it.”
Fauble says the hamstring irritation exposed some deficiencies in his physique, including a functional leg length discrepancy and hip imbalance that had probably kept him from running with maximum efficiency since even before his seventh-place, 2:12:28 effort at the 2018 New York City Marathon.
Working with physical therapists at the Hypo2 Performance Center in Flagstaff, as well as renowned chiropractor John Ball in Phoenix, Fauble isolated the issues causing the tendinopathy and immersed himself in intensive physical therapy, strength training and the process of rebuilding his form.
Now he’s running as smooth and efficient as he ever has.
“I think it was kind of a blessing in disguise because I am moving better, I have more hip extension, my glutes are stronger and I have better oblique stability,” Fauble says. “I think I’m in a better place physically than I was before Boston.”
Firing on All Cylinders
Fauble started his marathon training block with his NAZ Elite teammates in late November healthy and strong, averaging about 110 to 120 miles per week with a steady dose of hilly runs and successive workouts in December and January. He had planned to run the Rock ’n’ Roll Phoenix half marathon on Jan. 17, but he was a bit under the weather so he and Rosario decided against it.
Fully recovered and healthy, Fauble crushed his last two workouts in Flagstaff and appears to be stronger than he was a year ago heading into Boston, Rosario says.
Four weeks ago, Fauble ripped off a 20-mile progression run on a hilly course on Flagstaff’s Lake Mary Road by averaging 6 minutes per mile for the first 10 and the dropping down to 5:10 pace for the final 10. Then two weeks ago, he cranked out a 15-mile marathon simulation workout at 5:10 pace, finishing that effort with a 4:56 mile for the final slightly uphill segment.
“He’s firing on all cylinders now,” Rosario says. “We’re all systems go.”
With his form slightly rebuilt, Fauble is eager to find the flow of aggressive running he unleashed in Boston. He enters the Olympic Trials race with the fourth-fastest lifetime best in the field behind Galen Rupp, Leonard Korir and Abdi Abdirahman, but has run the second-fastest time since the start of 2019 (behind Korir’s 2:07:56).
“I want to win. I think the best way to make this team will to be to race for the win,” he says. “If you’re going to race for third and spot some guys some time and count on having a strong last couple of miles, you’re not going to make it. The guys are too good and it will be tough to make up ground over the last few miles. But I think if you put yourself in there and you race for the win, cover all the moves and try to make a move of your own at the end, that’s the best way to be in the top three.”