On Top Of The World: Exclusive Interview With Lauren Fleshman

Competitor.com:  How are you feeling as you head into the 5,000m semifinals? Are you nervous at all? Do you ever feel intimidated racing East Africans?

Fleshman leads her semifinal heat of the 5,000 meters on Tuesday night. She finished in 15:34.04, less than a second out of first place. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Lauren Fleshman: I’m feeling pretty good. It’s the first championships I’ve been in where I don’t feel completely burnt out. It’s refreshing to be genuinely excited to compete for a change, and not having to waste a bunch of energy convincing myself “I can do this.”  Nerves aren’t an issue yet, but I’m sure they’ll kick in; they always do. And no, I’m not intimidated by East Africans. I respect their ability of course, but I don’t give them a second thought beyond that. I’m focused on my own progression as an athlete.

Your win in London a few weeks ago was a comeback of sorts for you. Were you surprised at all by your performance there? Does it give you any confidence at all going into Worlds?

I was surprised only in the sense that I finally felt good. I had been struggling with stomach cramps all year. Plus, it has been years since a race felt natural and smooth.  It felt like “I am meant to be doing this.”  The workouts Coach Rowland put me through between USA’s and London were indicating good things, so it was great to see that take shape in a race.

Tell me about your expectations at Worlds. What kind of training (workouts/mileage) have you been doing in the lead up to the event?

I’ve maintained a high level of training, with tough track sessions all the way up to seven days before the semi[final]. Volume has tapered down on the in-between days, so my mileage is about 50-55. During the last two weeks, I just do whatever feels good between workouts.  Some days that’s two 3 mile runs at 9 minute pace.  Some days it’s 7 miles at 6:40 pace. I tune into my body and listen hard to what it needs. The last couple days before the race, I’ll do practically nothing.

I don’t have any expectations to be honest, other than competing my best. Hopefully that’s enough to get me into the final. And then in the final, anything can happen. There are all kinds of factors out of my control that will affect the outcome, so all I can do is put myself in a position to jump through a window of opportunity if it opens.

Any concerns about the weather in Daegu (heat/humidity). How have you prepared for that?

I love weather conditions that favor slower starts and fast finishes. I’ve prepared for the heat by coming to Daegu two weeks before my race to acclimate, and putting myself in a positive frame of mind about it.

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