Joan Benoit Samuelson and Frank Shorter are the one two runners to have gained BOTH the U.S. Olympic Trials and the following Olympic Marathon.
They not too long ago spoke collectively on the podcast “Operating: State of the Sport” hosted by Amby Burfoot and George Hirsch. Here’s a condensed and edited model of their feedback, introduced with permission.
Burfoot and Hirsch: How a lot operating and different health work are you doing nowadays?
Samuelson: Properly, I’m nonetheless alive and kicking right here in frigid Maine, the place I grew up. I’m nonetheless operating, and I’m doing a number of biking when the climate’s heat sufficient or inside on a motorbike when it’s not.
We’ve lastly received snow on the bottom, so I’m additionally doing a number of Nordic snowboarding. I’m making an attempt to take care of some semblance of health and leaping into races periodically. We’ll see what 2024 brings, together with the fortieth anniversary of the L.A. Olympics.
Shorter: My spouse, Michelle, and I moved to Falmouth, Massachusetts, a number of years in the past, however I’m in Colorado now, the place the wind chill was minus 19 a few days in the past. I’m understanding as a lot as I ever have when it comes to time.
However once I’m out on the roads or paths, I do a jog-walk now. I do elliptical coaching indoors–intervals–to get my coronary heart price up. Like Joanie, I additionally experience the spin bike indoors. I don’t experience outside. I’m 76 now, and I’ve determined I’m not going to fall and hit the freeway any extra.
Burfoot and Hirsch: What’s particular and distinctive concerning the Marathon Trials?
Samuelson: The factor that makes the Trials actually completely different is that it’s a smaller discipline. It’s onerous to get misplaced within the discipline, so to talk. I wish to get misplaced. I don’t need anybody to know the place I’m, however you may’t cover within the Trials. I feel that’s one cause I went out as quick as I did on the Trials in 1984. I had no enterprise doing so after the knee surgical procedure, however I made a decision to exit onerous as a result of there was no hiding.
Shorter: My experiences have been completely different from Joanie’s as a result of I at all times selected to run in a bunch. In 1972 and 1976, I truly ran deliberately with another person–first Kenny Moore in 1972, then Invoice Rodgers in 1976.
Invoice and I ran collectively till 800 meters from the end when he pulled his hamstring a bit. I stated, “Would you like me to decelerate?” However he stated, “No, I could make it. You go forward.” So we completed that means.
I at all times admired the best way Joanie might run on the entrance all by herself, particularly after the harm in 1984 when she needed to do some coaching with a hand ergometer whereas she was in mattress. I’d have been panic-stricken if I couldn’t run. So I at all times admired her psychological energy.
Burfoot and Hirsch: Joan, might you inform us extra about 1984?
Samuelson: Yeah, as a result of, sadly, all these recollections are nonetheless very vivid. The unique harm was on St Patrick’s Day, and it was so unhealthy that I couldn’t run afterward. I noticed an amazing physician in Boston after which flew out to Nike, the place an exquisite therapeutic massage therapist labored on me. After a few days, he threw up his palms and stated he couldn’t do something extra.
So then I let Dr. Stan Jones do the arthroscopic knee process 17 days earlier than the Marathon Trials. After I awoke and noticed that I used to be coated in bandages from toe to hip, I figured: “Okay, the marathon’s out. Possibly I may be prepared for the 3000 meters on the Monitor Trials.”
However Stan stated, “Don’t name it quits on the marathon but.” So I waited a number of days and examined the leg. It actually didn’t harm, however I had no confidence it might maintain up for lengthy. So, on the Wednesday earlier than the weekend Trials, I requested Lisa Martin to run 17 miles with me. And I managed to cowl the space. It wasn’t enjoyable. It wasn’t fairly. And it wasn’t quick. However I coated the space.
So I traveled as much as Olympia and simply ran my coronary heart out. I’ll let you know: If anybody had come up on me within the final a part of the race, they’d have handed me. I had completely nothing left. I used to be operating at that time on prayer.
When folks ask me now, I say the L.A. Olympic Marathon was the most important win of my life. However the Marathon Trials was the race of my life. I actually can’t clarify how I used to be in a position to do it.
Burfoot and Hirsch: Frank, your first Marathon Trials was in 1968 if you have been an unknown cross-country runner from Yale. Why did you run it?
Shorter: I used to be residing about 100 miles away in New Mexico, and I believed it might be enjoyable to observe the Trials. I had by no means seen a marathon. So I drove there in a pickup truck with my youthful brother, and we camped for a number of days in a metropolis park.
I went all the way down to race headquarters sooner or later and came upon anybody might enter by merely signing up for $3. So I did that despite the fact that I had by no means run greater than 10 miles at a time. Then I went to borrow a pair of street trainers from Amby Burfoot, who I had raced towards in school in Connecticut.
He loaned me a pair of his footwear that have been a measurement too small for my toes. That didn’t work properly, and we each ended up dropping out at about the identical level, round 17 miles. Then we stood and watched the end.
Burfoot and Hirsch: 4 years later, you have been a marathon champ and favourite on the 1972 Trials. How did you come thus far in simply 4 years?
Shorter: It began the spring of my senior yr at Yale once I completed all my diploma necessities early and determined to start coaching twice a day and enhance the depth of my intervals.
In simply a few months, I had improved sufficient to win the NCAA 6-mile and double again strongly within the 3-mile. That was sufficient to get me involved in pointing towards the 1972 Olympics.
Subsequent, I attended graduate faculty on the College of Florida in Gainesville and educated with Jack Bacheler and John Parker, writer of As soon as A Runner. On the time, Jack was the most effective within the nation. I at all times preferred coaching with others and utilizing them as mentors.
The coaching was good, however I received bored once I was simply operating and doing nothing else. So I enrolled within the legislation faculty, and used that as my stress reduction from operating, which was my principal focus. John Parker was already in legislation faculty. We roomed collectively in a windowless room within the discipline home.
Jack Bacheler taught me about restoration. We by no means timed our straightforward runs. Jack simply ran them very slowly. So I noticed that was the best way you get your restoration.
Burfoot and Hirsch: How about your coaching again within the day, Joan and Frank?
Samuelson: In contrast to Frank, I like to coach on my own. I like to carry my playing cards near my chest. Like Frank, I feel the most effective method is to run straightforward on straightforward days and onerous on onerous days.
The distinction for me is it at all times appears I’ve one thing to do proper after I end my run. So typically, a straightforward run will get pushed a bit tougher due to the following factor on the docket.
My coaching mantra has at all times been: Run the best way you are feeling. In the event you really feel like operating onerous, run onerous. In the event you really feel drained, then run straightforward. The three exercises I’ve at all times subscribed to have been the straightforward long term, the medium long term that I’d usually push onerous, and observe exercises, pushed onerous.
Burfoot and Hirsch: Joan, did you care concerning the footwear you have been carrying?
Samuelson: Oh, yeah, I cared concerning the footwear for positive. My coaching shoe earlier than the Olympics and so long as they lasted was the Nike Dawn. After which I normally raced within the Nike Skylon.
Burfoot and Hirsch: And Frank, how about you?
Shorter: I feel I educated just like Joanie in some ways. What we shared that folks may not understand was an curiosity in coaching quick on the observe. I at all times tried to do a big quantity of operating at a tempo a lot quicker than I’d be operating within the marathon.
I figured the bigger the hole between my coaching tempo and racing tempo, the extra comfy I’d be within the marathon itself.
It turned out that I educated lots like a 5000 meter runner. My favourite coaching associate turned Steve Prefontaine, who I met when he was a senior in highschool. We loved doing a exercise of six occasions 800 in 2:01 with a 200-meter jog.
As for footwear, all I cared about was carrying no matter was the lightest. In 1972, I wore a pair of observe spikes with the spike plate eliminated and a skinny rubber outsole utilized to them. Lightness was the important thing. We needed our footwear to be as gentle as attainable. We didn’t fear about pounding. I joked that we had 4 years to recuperate after the marathon.
I feel Joanie and I have been blessed with what train physiologists may now name a low coefficient of friction. We didn’t put a lot vitality into the bottom as we moved throughout it.
Burfoot and Hirsch: Joanie, what do you admire about Frank’s profession?
Samuelson: He was such a pioneer for modern-day distance operating. Frank and Invoice Rodgers have been my heroes, together with Roberta Gibb, Katherine Switzer, Jacqueline Hansen, and so lots of the pioneer girls.
I keep in mind Frank’s race within the Montreal Olympics. I used to be so psyched by what Frank had carried out that I couldn’t assist myself–I went out and ran within the night time on the street the place Winslow Homer’s studio was.
I owe such a debt of gratitude to the women and men in our sport who have been on the market earlier than me, after which supporting me in my profession.
Burfoot and Hirsch: Frank, similar query about Joanie.
Shorter: I used to be so impressed that it by no means occurred to Joanie that she couldn’t do it. There was one thing in the best way she carried herself earlier than, throughout, and after competitions.
She was a mannequin of how one can do it. I imply, none of us are good. However Joanie was nearly as good a consultant of ladies’s sports activities as anybody might have hoped for. A close to good instance for others to emulate.