So, I don’t like sitting back and feeling super easy the whole race, although that can lead to success. When I’m being aggressive and pushing up against pain, it makes me feel like I'm living in the present moment a lot.
FF: Bringing that mentality into the current situation: Do you find that mentality useful in the middle of a pandemic, to navigate uncertainty?
PS: Yeah, I don’t know if it does help. I think that it makes it hard for me, to be honest. I’m someone who likes to live in those exciting moments and push myself. And there’s not much to do right now. So it's tough.
FF: How do you navigate that?
I know there will be big races again someday. I know that when they start happening again I’ll be ready for them. Right now it’s just tough. It’s tough to stay motivated. It’s almost a “damned it you do, damned if you don’t.” You don’t want to be crushing it too much. You want to work on bettering yourself and being a more holistic athlete, but for me, big city marathons are what I get excited about.
But the worst thing I could do right now is to spend my time thinking about a big city marathon that probably isn’t going to happen. Because then I run the risk of running out of excitement and momentum. Right now, I’m just in the same boat with everyone else. I’m looking at other areas of life, spending time developing new hobbies.
FF: What have you been doing lately?
PS: I’ve been playing Call of Duty with friends, and some other games where we wear headsets and talk to each other. I live in Boulder. I’ve been going on a ton of hikes, too. I’ve never really been a hiking person, but I live in Boulder, Colo., so I’ve been taking advantage of all that the area has to offer. I’ve also done some rock climbing and scrambling, white water rafting … you know, all the outdoorsy Boulder things.
FF: Do you think anything you’re learning to do now will it help you when you get back into race season?
PS: Yeah, I think so. I already made a big step forward in the marathon last year that was less of a physical breakthrough, and more of a mental one. I’m learning to not be as aggressive, become comfortable feeling comfortable and toning it down a little bit when I need to.
This time is more practice at that. I can’t get too excited about anything right now. What if I started crushing my training, and ended up with an injury right when races start again? Then I’d be out for three months during races when I could have been patient, chilling, during the three months when no one was racing. I think remembering all of that, and not pushing hard all of the time will help me with my marathon demeanor and in life after running.
FF: Speaking of injuries, you were injured and didn’t get to run in the Olympic Marathon Trials. Can you talk a little about what happened after the trials in February and how you felt going into quarantine?
It’s been unbelievably hard. Dealing with an injury, then missing the trails. I was in really good shape, then I was dealing with that injury. On top of such a tough time in human history. It’s been incredibly hard, and really lonely. I lost my job, my passion. I can’t be around friends and family as much.
That said, I know it's going to help me in the long run for sure. But man, it’s painful and difficult to go through.
It felt so final not to be able to run the trials. I became numb to it. I knew I wasn’t going to get to run the trials but I never really let myself process it because it was such a huge deal to me. I still have only processed it so much. It still seems surreal. It doesn’t seem like it actually happened. You know, the team has been set. And I wasn’t a part of that day.
FF: Thank you for such a truthful answer. Looking ahead, what are your goals for when you can race again?
At this point in my career, and with the way 2019 went, I definitely changed as an athlete with what excites me. I don’t get excited about getting in shape for a little race. Or checking this box or that box. With breaking that record and running great at Chicago, that's what gets me up in the morning, to train. That’s what I think about.
I will have smaller goals, process goals before that. Getting injured doesn’t change who I am and what I’ve done. But I want to run great at the New York City Marathon one of these days. If I had to put a time on it, I’d love to run like 2:08 high, 2:09 low in the marathon. Something else I think would be really cool is I’d love to try to get Greg Myers’s 10-mile American record of 46:13.
So, I still want to do all those things. It might take a long time and it might be a really tough journey to get there, but that’s what does it for me.
FF: So, it sounds like your goals are more inwardly focused than maybe just racing and winning?
PS: Yeah, I do love beating people and stuff, but what I love about running is being faster and better than I’ve ever been. If all you care about is beating people that can be tough because it’s not fair to yourself sometimes. Maybe you executed a perfect race and lived up to your fitness but someone else was just better than you. So, I’ve always loved time goals for that reason.
FF: And what a perfect time to focus on time goals for our readers. With no in-person races on the horizon.