I can’t even describe to you how excited I was to talk to Dathan Ritzenhein. Dathan went from an injury that took him out from running (and cross-training) for 6 months this year, to taking 4th in the Olympic Time Trials with a 5 second PR (2:09:55).
I was a little (okay, a lot) nervous all day long to talk to one of my biggest running heroes. They called 12 minutes earlier than I was expecting and Billy can tell you that I almost had a heart attack.
Dathan was incredibly friendly and easy to talk to, I learned a lot from him and I am so excited to share it with all of you! Pretty much we are bff’s now. Is it creepy that I photoshopped our pictures together?
Billy is really smart with computers and things and made a link for the interview (if you make fun of my high pitch voice you will be in big trouble).
You can hear the full interview HERE!!!!! (if you make fun of my voice you are in big trouble.
Surprisingly Dathan is feeling pretty good today and the best that he has felt physically after a marathon. “Mentally I am still getting over the disappointment of yesterday but that will get less with time.”
I read that Dathan experienced cramping during the race and he said that it was more like a spasm in his hamstring that was due to the fast pace that they went out at and the lack of training (6 months of doing 0 miles per week this past year), not due to nutrition. He has experienced nutritional cramping before and it was not what he experienced yesterday. He was able to lessen the spasms by slowing down a little bit and it went completely away for the last few miles.
Of course he is disappointed about missing the Olympic team by just 8 seconds but he is happy that he was out there healthy, he is ready to go forward.
How has your nutrition changed over the last few years?
-He is working with Gatorade this year and this is the first time (in six marathons) that he has not struggled with nutritional problems while running. This year he was able to go to the GSSI Lab to find out what his body is burning, how efficient it is and what he needs to put back into it. He is learning a lot working with the pioneers of sports nutrition, Gatorade. He will go back in the spring to see how things have changed now that he is more fit.
What are some foods that you recommend for runners?
-Eating well year round is difficult, especially for workoutaholics. He tries to eat well rounded but supplements with producs in the G Series Pro Line help supplement his diet. “When you are burning 3,000-4,000 calories every day there is only so much you can do besides eating McDonalds every day.” Nutrition is something you REALLY have to work at!
What is your pre-race meal?
-You want to stick to things that are kind of the opposite of what you should eat for your everyday life, you want to steer clear of your fruits, veggies and protein. Stick to something EASY to digest. HIGH CARBOHYDRATES like a plate of pasta and white bread. When he is running he takes in Gatorade and thinks about getting in high amounts of sodium and sugars which you NEED as an endurance athlete but sodium and sugar are things that people are usually told not to eat too much of. So basically our pre-race and during the race nutrition is kind of the oppositve of what we are used to hearing about that makes us healthy.
Dathan has dealt with a bunch of injuries and so I asked him how he mentally dealt with them.
-He has had almost every type of injury possible and he says that it is part of the game when you are pushing yourself to the max. You could back off that extra 10% and not get injured as often but it is when you go the 100% that you get the amazing performances. Finding the line is the hard part that comes over time but that doesn’t make the disappointment and heartache any easier.
-Recovery is so important to do EVERYTHING RIGHT.
-Simple things you can do: Get the massage, take an ice bath (HE DOES EVERYDAY!) “If you can squeak them into your day you can beat things away before they build up but when they do happen, I always dig myself into cross-training.”
“GET ON THE BIKE, GET IN THE POOL, it is good for your head and you can keep that aerobic conditioning, you can infinitely increase your aerobic conditioning.”
Getting in the weight room is really important so that when you get back to running you do not get injured somewhere else.
He says that he has had the best training ever because he really focused on strength training during this cycle. Make sure you recover (G Series Recovery Shake for him) in between running and strength training so that you don’t hurt yourself:)
Why did you start running and what keeps you going?
-What keeps him going everyday (twice a day ha) is money of course (he has a family to support;) but he really does love running and loves training ever since he was a kid.
He started running after his parents got divorced. His dad really wanted to get in shape and joined a runners club and so Dathan tagged along with his dad and go hang out with a friend. Eventually he got absorbed into doing 5ks on the weekend and speed work on Wednesdays and even started doing triathlons at 11 years old.
He still loves it today!
Are your kids going to be runners?
-He sure hopes so but really just wants them to be good at any sport. He wants to be able to cheer them on. He thinks his daughter has the little frame of a runner but his son has the frame of a linebacker;)
Best tips for beginner runners?
-Road running is a booming industry right now and so there are a lot of people getting into it. One of the most important things for beginner’s is to set a goal. Just set something and get with other people and train together. Running with people makes a huge difference in being able to get out the door and run. Get with a group, his training group helps him get out the door!
Who is your running inspiration?
-Greg Meyers was from the same area as him and won the Boston Marathon in 1983 and was from his hometown. He grew up with a lot of great runners in his small town.
Are you going to be focusing in on the 10K now?
-He picked himself up and dusted himself off and realized after not making the team yesterday that he has had a lot of success in the 10k and he wants to go again to try and qualify to make his THIRD Olympic team in a few months. All of his attention will be getting back to the track.
How long will you be resting after your 2:09:55 marathon yesterday?
-He is in recovery time right now but they are not sure how long he will need to fully recover. He feels great right now because he had a great training but he does not want to go back too quickly. It may be a few days or even a week or two?
When the race gets tough, what are some ways you mentally bring yourself back up?
-He said that with the marathon you have more time to get down or have slow times (not for him…only 2 hours;) You practice going into the race what you will do when the times get tough. He never gave up yesterday but had focused so much on preparing for when things got hard. He is a big fan of MANTRAS. “I am going to make that team.” That is what kept him going because he had been thinking about it for 6 months. Positive REINFORCEMENT.
What do you drink/eat during the marathon?
-He does not eat during the marathon and only takes in liquids. The threshold that he is runing at (under 5 minutes per mile) makes his breathing SO hard that he really can’t choke down anything. The body starts running out of glycogen at mile 18-20 so you HAVE to get energy in during the marathon and so for him he uses Gatorade mixtures in his body with the right ratio for him.
No bananas or powerbars for him while running that fast:)
Are you going to go back to the 1/2 marathon to try and break that 1 hour time?
-“FOR SURE, I have had a lot of success with the 1/2 marathon and the 1/2 marathon is a good aerobic distance and you can do foundational work and you can almost jump into one of those at any time.”
Are you staying in Portland?
-Yep, he is heading back there and will be joining his training group as soon as he his body is READY!
If you are looking for some amazing form drills for endurance running, check out Dathan’s video HERE!
Who are your running heroes?
What running injuries have you overcome?
What distance are you going to be focusing on this year?
-This year I want to get my 10k and half times down. Those will be my main focus.