Catching Up With Chris Solinsky
It's been a long road back for former American 10,000m record holder Chris Solinsky. In late summer 2011, Solinsky sustained a horrific injury, when his hamstring tore from his pelvic bone, crushing his 2012 Olympic dreams and the incredible momentum he'd been building over the past few years, which was showing him as one of the very best distance runners in the world and a legit medal contender.
Fast forward to 2013. Solinsky struggled with the ups and downs every professional athlete faces when coming back from a major injury, but if the indoor season was any indicator, the former University of Wisconsin standout was regaining his old form. Then, at the Payton Jordan Invitational, Solinsky had what many would call a breakthrough race, competing strong and finishing in 13:23.62, well off his personal best, but highly competitive and a big step forward.
This weekend, Solinsky chases another seasonal 5k personal best, hoping to achieve the World Championship 'A' standard of 13:15.00, while showing his tenaciousness on the track once again. We caught up with Solinsky recently, where he discussed his comeback, his ups and downs and his goals are the rest of this season.
Scott Bush (SB): You were jubilant at Payton Jordan two weeks ago, running a strong 13:23 and closing hard. Since that effort, how have your workouts been going?
Chris Solinsky (CS): Nothing has really changed to our plan, we are doing much of the same and the theme is still to make each week better than the last and I think we have done a good job of not getting too high and/or too low while just focusing on the process and the results will follow.
SB: With Oxy this weekend, where you'll be running the 5k, what are your goals heading into the meet?
CS: Just to keep on improving! Obviously, I would love to hit the A standard and to compete. I don't think I really competed until the last few laps at Stanford, so I need to do a better job of that during this meet. I have more of a green light to run more of my style of race.
SB: You threw down a bit in a post-race interview at Payton Jordan telling Lopez Lomong, Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat that you're coming for them. It seems like you're starting to get your confidence back! Is that a fair assessment?
CS: I would say that my confidence is starting to come back, especially since a year ago I questioned whether I would even be back at all, and now I know for sure that I will, it is just a matter of time. That 5k team will be hard to make with Lagat who never seems to slow down and my own teammates Lomong and Bumbi looking real strong, along with True really rising at the right time. So I am confident, but realistic that a lot of things would have to fall into place. That being said I will run that race with all I have and give those guys all they can handle.
SB: Talking a bit about your comeback from the injury you sustained in late summer 2011, what has the road back to being competitive been like for you?
CS: As I said before, it was not that long ago that I questioned whether this was going to happen again. Through lots of patience, which has not been my strongest attribute, I basically put the blinders on and came to work each day, each week, each month trying to chip away and improve. I would have little setbacks every now and again from December of 2011 through about December of 2012 and since then I have been training uninterrupted since then and now I'm reaping the rewards of that consistency.
The takeaway I learned/relearned was to never give up and to have a short memory for the setbacks. The talent never goes away and I am confident that my body will get back to that level with time, it took me a long time to reach those marks and it won't come back over night, but it will come back.
SB: Besides staying healthy, what's it going to take for you to get back to the level of performance you were at before the injury and to go even faster?
CS: Consistency! I reached the level of performance that I did because of many years of uninterrupted training and now that I have learned some lessons of how to train smarter and healthier, I am confident I can get back to that kind of consistency.
SB: After Oxy this weekend, what are your racing plans moving forward?
CS: I am not 100% sure what my schedule is going to be following Oxy, but I think it looks like a mile at Pre and then get ready to give it all I have at USA's. After that I will be heading to Europe and see what level I can get back to this year and then start it all over again and put week after week together, month after month together, and finally year after year together to get me back to competing for a podium finish at the 2016 Games.
SB: You've been an assistant coach at the University of Portland this school year. What has coaching UP been like for you?
CS: It has been really fun working with the UP distance squad, they are a fun bunch of guys and have a good thing going, with some good talent and chemistry. Rob Conner has been great in letting me be around for the practices and give some input and learn a little more about the collegiate coaching scene.
When my career is over, which I don't think will be for some time, I really want to get into collegiate coaching and Rob has allowed me to get some experience around my schedule. Watch out for the Pilots in the future. We are young, hungry, and ambitious.
SB: How important has it been to you over the years to have such a strong training group around you, with Jerry being your coach for over 10 years and having a few of the same teammates since college?
CS: A theme of our program if you couldn't tell is consistency is key. That goes for coach and training group as well. I have essentially been in the same program for my entire career, I was lucky to have two great coaches for cross country and track in high school that followed a similar plan to Jerry, so it was a seamless transition to college. I trust Jerry athletically whole-heartedly and know he always has my best interest as an athlete in mind when he comes up with training plans and schedules.
Training with guys like Matt, Simon, and Tim for 10 years has helped too we know how to push each other to be at our best and we are each better at different aspects of training, so we can elevate each other to another level.
SB: Shoes you train in?
CS: Pegasus and Zoom Fly
SB: Favorite food?
CS: My wife Amy's cooking its all good!!
SB: Car you drive?
CS: Lexus ES 330
SB: Best movie?
CS: Transformers (all of them)
SB: Favorite workout?
CS: Mile Repeats
SB: What's playing on your iPod?
CS: I'm a Pandora guy, mood always changes