Olympic Trials 2012: Marathoner Nick Arciniaga Chases a Dream

Olympic Trials 2012

In a few short days, Nick Arciniaga will take aim at his dream of competing in the marathon at the Olympics.  But in order to realize that dream, Nick needs to make the US team, and that will be determined on Saturday, January 14th at the Olympic Trials 2012 in Houston, Texas.  According to the Olympic Trials 2012 website,

“The 8-mile loop course was designed to replicate the course in London at the 2012 Olympic Games next August.  The top three men and women finishers will comprise Team USA and represent our country in the marathon in London eight months after the Trials.”

At 28 years of age, Nick has been conditioning his body for this opportunity for well over a decade.  Raised in Fountain Valley, California, Nick earned a track scholarship to Cal State University, Fullerton.

“At Fullerton I found out how to train smarter and more consistently while keeping myself injury free.  After graduation I decided to try to become a professional runner, and I ran my first marathon in Chicago in the fall of 2006.”

Olympic Trials 2012

Since that first marathon, Nick has logged thousands of miles training and preparing for this unique Olympic opportunity.  In 2010 Nick moved to Flagstaff, Arizona to join the McMillan Elite training group and signed a sponsorship contract with Adidas.  And less than one year ago, also in Houston, Nick recorded a personal best time of 2:11:30 in the marathon.

While it is clear that Ryan Hall is the odds on favorite to win the Olympic Trials 2012 race on Saturday, Nick is focused on completing the race in 2:09 (or under), placing in the top three, and earning a spot on Team USA.

A View Inside

With Nick’s permission I am sharing a glimpse into his thinking and preparation over the past few weeks.  This preparation included recovering from a nagging hip injury after the World Championships in September, 2011.

“Getting back into shape has been a lot tougher than I imagined.  November seemed to come and go rather quickly, probably from the excitement of being able to train almost at my full capacity again.  In the past 5 weeks I have jumped from running 50 miles to 3 weeks at 99-105 miles. I have only just started doing workouts, and the race in Houston is approaching fast.  With each day that goes by the more nervous I become that I won’t be ready to compete for a top 3 spot.

It has been a frustrating few weeks, even with being able to run more and feeling good on most runs. Then I compare myself to my competitors who are weeks ahead of me in training and much more fit.  I also compare myself to my teammates who are beating me significantly on every repeat of every workout that we do together. All this eventually leads to doubt.

Doubt is always creeping into my mind. Was I even good enough to make the team when I was healthy? Will I hurt myself again if I don’t play it safe with my training? If I do play it safe, will I cost myself the race? What am I going to do with my life if I have another bad race on this big of a stage?

Doubt takes over a lot in athletes at any level, there is no denying that. I feel that the toughest part of training for me is to stay positive and focused on the Trials. I know I am gaining tons of fitness each week, and I believe that the training I am doing will get me to the race in Houston ready to run the best that I can on that day. That is until I run my workouts and I realize how much further I have to go to get myself to my best.

My passion is there, I love getting out and running, but my fitness and my fear of reinjuring myself limits my ability to train as recklessly as I used to. I dislike being cautious and limiting how much I run. I’ve always been a guy who has never been satisfied with how much I am running; I never think I am doing enough. This mentality is what got me into trouble with my injury in the first place. So now I am trying to delicately balance my training with my maintenance and rehab of my body.

Less than two weeks remain until the Trials and I am finally getting excited for the race. This past week my fitness finally caught up to where I wanted to be going into the Trials. It has been a long, doubtful road since my last marathon in Daegu. A few weeks ago I was worried that I would not be able to even finish the race but each day I have gotten my training in, hoping that one day soon that I would start to feel fast again. That day has finally come and I am pumped about it.

My fitness and my confidence are exactly where I hoped they would be at this point. And if everything keeps increasing like it has the past two weeks, then there is no telling what I will be capable of doing on race day. I know I have a shot of making the team, and of running a personal best. Anything can happen over the course of a marathon, I just need to be ready to put my best performance out there.”

You can follow Nick at his blog Run Nick Run, on Twitter, or Facebook.

Best of luck Nick!

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Tim Huntley , is currently the COO of Paired Health and was formerly the CEO of Ganymede Software. Tim spends his free time advising high tech start-ups, serving on the board for the Track and Field Athletes Association, and writing on his blog, An Entrepreneurial Life.

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