Thursday, June 26, 2014

Running: Kim Conley Wins 10K Nationals, Loyola's Amy Horst Offers Insights

The USATF Outdoor Championships are underway in Sacramento (image / USATF)

Sacramento, CA - It's been fifty summers since current Sacramento resident Billy Mills shocked the world at the 1964 Olympics with a 10,000 meters victory. Tonight another Sacramento resident paid the effort appropriate homage. 

Olympian Kim Conley, 28, sprinted past Oregon's Jordan Hasay in the last 75 meters to become the USATF 10,000 meter national champion. Hasay had taken the lead with roughly 225 meters left in the race before Conley closed convincingly. 

Conley competed in the 5,000 meters at the London Games in 2012 and had tremendous indoor and spring seasons, setting a series of PR's and continuing a string of improvement that has been a hallmark of her career. 

The choice of 10,000 meters was no coincidence, "Since this is a non-World Championships year, athletes often choose to experiment with a different event at the national championships since there isn't as much at stake," said Conley. "I think I have the potential to be competitive at the 10k as well as the 5k so I wanted to try it out this year at the championship level and, if all goes well, have my options open for both the World Championships next year and the Olympics in 2016," she added.

That strategy appears to have played out perfectly to form. 

Conley, running for New Balance / SRA Elite turned in a 32:02.07 winning time with Hasay of Nike Oregon Project claiming second with a 32:03.28 and Amy Hastings running for Brooks and taking third with a 32:18.81.
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Loyola University Maryland women's track & field head coach Amy Horst, herself a former collegiate distance runner at MSOE and later an assistant coach at Marquette, offered insight into the tactics Conley is honing in addition to keeping her options open at the 10k and 5k distances.

Distance runners, the truly good ones, are just that - distance runners. So whether it be a 1,500 or 10k, successful athletes will be able to race a full variety and not pigeon hole themselves into one race. If you really look at the speed, the true velocity (meters/second) of a race, in a championship 10k the field will run both sedentary and world record paces all in the same race.

My coaches will talk about 'critical speed' and loosely defined, that's the speed that you must race at in the last segment of the race to be in a competitive position to win. In the 800 that may be the last 200m, the last 300-500 in the 1500, or the last 1600 in a 10k.    

- Tom Flynn

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