ME’s True Climbing to World Class

By Chris Lotsbom

(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(used with permission)
Photo by Clay Shaw/Sports 35

YORK (24-May) — The last three months have been quite a journey for
American Ben True. The 27-year-old won the USA National 15-K
championships in March, placed a surprising sixth at the IAAF World
Cross Country Championships, set a 1500m personal best at the Mt. SAC
Relays in April, then nine days later won the Payton Jordan 5000m at
Stanford University, timing a World Championships “A” standard time of

Confidence, he said, has been the key to his success this year.

are definitely going well,” True said with a chuckle, speaking to
reporters here on the eve of the Diamond League’s third meeting of
2013, the adidas Grand Prix. “I can’t complain too much.”

with 1996 Olympian and Dartmouth University head coach Mark Coogan,
True has developed into one of America’s most consistent distance
runners in 2013. Currently the world leader at 5000m, he is primed to
continue his recent success tomorrow in the 5000m, when he faces
Olympic silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel and 19-year-old Ethiopian
sensation Hagos Gebrhiwet.

True credits his rapid development
to another year’s experience and Coogan, who has helped reel in the
competitive True and adjust his mindset.

“I think physical
fitness wise, I am fairly similar to where I was last year,” True
explained. “I don’t think I was able to really put anything together in
a race last year. This year I am able to put things together; this year
I think my confidence is a lot higher whereas last year I doubted
myself a lot more.”

After his sixth place finish and team
silver medal at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, True’s
outlook on competition changed. Rather than doubt his ability –like he
says he did last year– True now believes he can compete with the best
athletes in the sport.

“Going to USA’s [the 2012 Olympic
Trials], people kind of already had in their mind an idea of who’s
going to make the team. I think that got in my head a little bit too
much,” True said. “This year, that’s not there. I have the confidence
to be able to run with anybody. I think that’s a big change.”

new is the philosophy Coogan has brought to the table. In training,
Coogan will harness True’s workouts, trying to avoid working him to
complete exhaustion.

“One of the biggest things that Mark
definitely does is he holds me back a lot more in workouts,” explained
True. “I think I am able to recover more. I think I have a little more
energy in my step day today.

“He doesn’t want me to ever kill a
workout for instance,” he continued. “I’m such a competitive person
that when I used to train with people I think I would be too
competitive and race workouts rather than fully back off a little bit
and get what I needed to get out of the certain workout.”

training going well, True’s focus is the USA National Championships in
Des Moines next month, where he will compete in the the 10,000m hoping
to make his first IAAF Outdoor World Championships team. Having already
achieved the World Championships 10,000m “A” standard thanks to a
top-15 World Cross Country finish, True is going through the outdoor
season more relaxed than ever. On Saturday, he will race the 5000m
without any worries.

“I’m not chasing anything, I’m just there
for fun, having a good time in the race,” he said. “They’re [the other
competitors] going to go for it and it’s a perfect opportunity for me
to tuck in and see what I can do on that day. I think I can run fast.”

Speaking with reporters, it is evident that True believes he is in the best shape and mindset of his career.

I toe the line, I feel like I can run with those guys, whereas before I
didn’t really know,” he reiterated. Saturday, he will be the only
American in the field of twelve.

True believes that if he
continues to improve and “chip away,” as he puts it, breaking the 13:00
barrier for 5000m could be in his future.

“I definitely think
so,” he said with a smile. “I think 63’s [seconds per lap] is not a
very difficult proposition for me to run. Hopefully down the line I’ll
be strong enough to be able to run the consistent 63’s and close hard.

long as I am steadily improving, things are good,” he adds. “I think
there’s a lot more in me for even this year. Hopefully the next few
months I’ll chip away even more.”

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