Catching Up With Dorian Ulrey
It's been a tough past year and a half for middle distance star Dorian Ulrey. Dealing with multiple injuries, the former University of Arkansas standout saw his 2012 Olympic dreams slip through his fingers, but the hardship he faced has caused the current Nike Oregon Project runner to bounce back even stronger in 2013.
Catching up with Ulrey recently, we discussed a variety of topics, including his current health, moving up to the 5k and what it's like for him to be a part of such a success training group.
Scott Bush (SB): 2012 was a tough year for you as you battled through injury for a good portion of the year. Can you talk through your 2012 season and the injuries a bit?
Dorian Ulrey (DU): To say that 2012 was a tough year would be a major understatement. My string of injuries actually began shortly after the 2011 US outdoor championships in July and kept me out of training until February of 2012. Going into 2012 injured was an extremely hard pill to swallow, knowing that I would not be anywhere near full strength going into the Olympic trials. The injury that has caused the most damage is a labrum tear in my hip, which kept me out of training for seven months. I began experiencing pain in my hip in July but the labrum tear went undiagnosed until December. I had looked forward to those 2012 olympic trials for years, and to have them ripped away by injuries was such a strain on my professional and personal life that I gave some serious thought to hanging up the spikes, but the thought of selling insurance was too much to bare.
SB: Your latest tweets seem to have you in a good mood and training well again. How is training going for you?
DU: The last month of training has gone unbelievably well. I spent a majority of my fall in the weight room, getting strong and working on my imbalances so that when I returned to running again I would be injury free and able to really move forward for the first time in over 2 years. I won't divulge too many details but before I rabbited Galen to his 3:50 mile I had done a mountain of 400's in about a 55 second average, and it was at that point that I knew I was starting to get truly fit for the first time in a long time.
SB: You've been a miler since your days at Arkansas, any chance we'll see you attempt the 5,000m event in 2013?
DU: I have labeled myself as a miler since I was in sixth grade, but what I am rapidly figuring out about myself is that I may be able to run just as fast in the longer events as well. I don't know how soon I will be making any jumps in distance but I am definitely thinking about it more and more. Being part of the Oregon Project and training with guys like Galen and Mo definitely helps bridge the gap between being a miler and competing in the longer events.
SB: With the 2013 track season starting to gear up, what are your goals for this season?
DU: Goal number one is staying healthy, if I can stay healthy then I can start checking off some boxes that have been left dormant for quite some time. The second goal is to run a full indoor season to get used to competing at the highest level again and being comfortable with it. When I get through the indoor season I will sit down with Alberto to set some clear goals for the outdoor season, but I can assure you now that the main goal will be making the world championships team. I have really missed competing since graduating from Arkansas and I look forward to stepping back on the track healthy and in good shape, and ready to shake things up!
SB: You are part of one of the strongest training groups in the world with teammates Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, Dathan Ritzenhein and Matt Centrowitz. What's it like having so many top-tier athletes around you, pushing each other every workout?
DU: Being part of the Oregon Project is an unbelievable opportunity. Training with world championship and Olympic medalists on a daily basis keeps me motivated to train like a champion every single day. The hard part of being in such an elite group is knowing when to really go for it and when to hold back a bit. There are very few designated easy days, so if I am feeling tired I need to know how to run my pace and not someone else's. Being a professional is all about taking ownership of yourself and your body and doing the things that are ultimately going to keep me on my feet and in one piece.
SB: Is Matt Centrowitz your main training partner at the moment or do you do workouts with guys like Mo and Galen, too?
DU: I would say that I am my own training partner right now, being that I was a little bit behind the rest of the guys coming out of the summer. As I move forward I don't think that I will have one main training partner. When everyone is healthy and clicking on all cylinders we all train together.
SB: How do you feel you've evolved as a professional athlete since joining Alberto Salazar and the ODP?
DU: I would say that the main change in me has been one of treating running as a serious job and not as something that I squeeze in around a personal life. Training, napping, massage, and getting in the weight room come before everything else, which can be extremely hard at times. I have really begun to take ownership of myself and have learned how to say no to the things that aren't going to move me forward in my career as a professional runner.
SB: You grew up in a small town in Illinois and now you are living in a fairly sizable city, sponsored by one of the biggest companies in the world and a part of one of the best training groups in the world. When you were 17 years old, winning Illinois state titles at Riverdale H.S., could you ever imagine the life you are now living?
DU: When I was 17 years old the only thing that I was thinking about was moving off to college and meeting girls. I look back on all the things that have had to happen to get me where I am today and think that I was either extremely lucky or that I had someone guiding me down the right path without knowing it. To be sponsored by Nike and to be living in Portland really is a dream come true.
SB: Best band?
DU: Coldplay, go ahead, say it…
SB: Shoes you train in?
DU: Nike Structure Triax
SB: Favorite workout?
DU: Tempo's believe it or not
SB: Best movie?
DU: The Shawshank Redemption
SB: Car you drive?
DU: 2010 Nissan Rogue (silver)
SB: Favorite food?
DU: Swiss and bacon burger from Hugos (Fayetteville)