An Experiment of Three

Taken from Mike Sandrock’s book Running with the Legends. 

Frank ran some good indoor races during the winter of 1971-1972, as fast as 8:26 for two miles. With the 1972 Olympic trials looming, Shorter went to 8,000-foot Vail, Colorado, to train, along with buddies Jack Bachelor and Jeff Galloway. They lived solely for training for six weeks, doing some great workouts.

Vail was still undiscovered by the rest of the world, a small ersatz European village surrounded by the 14,000-foot peaks of the Gore Mountain Range and the endless dirt trails of the White River National Forest. It is a beautiful spot, and Shorter made the most of his time there. The majority of his runs were done in Vaily valley, flat enough to allow for training runs at a 6-minute mile pace, even at the high altitude. Shorter, Bachelor, and Galloway put in three runs a day for up to 170 miles a week, which Shorter says is comparable to 200 miles a week at sea level. Vail, says Shorter, was “our laboratory, and we were the experiment.” The three runners were “exhilarated with the challenge of riding the line between intensity and excess,” and Shorter always felt “in control,” he writes in Olympic Gold. “Never did I feel I was overdoing it, and still I was convinced that nobody else in the world could have been training that hard. Whether that was true or not, it was one thing that motivated me.” Everything revolved around running; a typical day was an 8-mile run in the morning, 4 miles at noon, and intervals in the afternoon for another 11 miles.

You know the rest of the story…Frank Shorter went on to set American records in the semi-final AND final of the 1972 Olympic 10,000 meters AND then went on to WIN the GOLD medal in the Olympic Marathon a few days later!

The challenge of riding the line between intensity and excess certainly paid off for Frank.

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