Five Lessons Learned From Alberto Salazar

Mo Farah and Galen Rupp push each other every day in practice. The race results speak for themselves. Photo: Brian Metzler

2. Find good training partners

In 2002, Salazar started the Oregon Project, a post-collegiate training group funded by Nike, where its athletes would get access to every resource they would need to succeed: top of the line gear and equipment, use of Nike’s world-class facilities, physical therapy of various sorts, altitude houses, underwater treadmills, cryo-saunas, and the list goes on. More important than perhaps any of these things, however, is the powerful group-training environment that is the core of the Oregon Project. Salazar’s aim from the beginning was to foster an atmosphere where American distance runners (and later, international athletes as well) would train together in pursuit of a place on the medal stand at major international competitions such as the world championships and the Olympic Games. Rupp, a high schooler coached by Salazar at the time the Oregon Project first came to be, would often run workouts with the professional members of the team — runners who had personal bests significantly faster than his who would push him harder than any scholastic teammate ever could.

Though the years, members of the Project — as in any training group — have come and gone, but at any given time there has always been a group of highly motivated, extremely talented athletes working together every day in the pursuit of one common goal: improvement. In its most fundamental form, this is no different than any running club that meets regularly for workouts, long runs and races.

Bottom line: group training works. The Greater Boston Track Club of the 1970s and 80s, and Mammoth Track Club, Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, and various Team USA training groups of today, are further evidence of the effectiveness of group training. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to become a member of your local running club, however, or simply meet up with other runners in your area to train with a few times a week. Find a person or persons who can push you to become a better athlete and improve your confidence when you step to the starting line on race day.

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