RunBlogRun: 1) There’s been strong Instagram announcements from you about possibly taking on the marathon – how did you come about deciding to pursue this?
Ben Blankenship: “You’ll need to thank Ryan Hall for this mission. He was someone that was extremely positive about the strength and determination I’ve shown throughout my career and someone I looked up to throughout my career. So, when he started talking marathon I was all ears. It was always in the back of my head that “one day” I would run a marathon. I woke up and realized I am 34 & I have a lot of good running left – what goals do I still have within the sport? The biggest and possibly the hardest one is to run a great marathon. Here we are, just a year away from the Olympic Trials, and that’s what is motivating me.”
Ben Blankenship runs 7:50.13 in 2020, photo by TrackTownUSA
RunBlogRun: 2) How’d you involve yourself with Ryan Hall?
Ben Blankenship: “I had the pleasure of working with Ryan a bit in 2019. We’d overlap a bit when I was up in Flagstaff and I have always looked up to both Sara & Ryan. As I began to think of pursuing goals beyond just the 1500m on the track, we started talking, and it was this full-circle moment. It was a bit surreal forming a personal relationship with someone I looked up to as a young athlete. I credit Sara & Ryan for a lot of support throughout my career, as they are both positive, thoughtful people who I have looked to for guidance along the way.”
Ben Blankenship and Jeff Benjamin, photo by Jeff Benjamin
RunBlogRun: 3) Do you have any firm goals in place at this time for a 2023 Marathon?
Ben Blankenship: “Main goal is focused on the Olympic Trials and being competitive there. I want to line up for each race as healthy as possible. Knowing that I’ve done the work but I’ll also have the opportunity to let the work shine. Am super excited to be at mile 10, mile 20, and mile 22 and see how I can respond both psychically and mentally in those moments.”
RunBlogRun: 4) In our Sport’s history one can trace what you’re doing to how New Zealander Rod Dixon – a 3:33 1500 1972 Bronze Olympic medalist who won the NYC marathon in 1983 – eventually gravitated up in distance racing – do you see any similarities?
Ben Blankenship: “Rod Dixon is a legend in this sport. To quote him: “All I want to do is drink beer and train like an animal.” – I think many college kids followed this logic, but his talent and abilities were far greater so it probably worked a bit better for him. To be compared to him is an honor but his career is one for the ages. A lot of individuals have taken this path, focusing on the track, and then slowly moving up. Reading Molly Huddle’s & Sara Slattery’s book, I learned a ton. One story that I’ve thought about is Marla Runyan. She finished 8th in 1500 at the Sydney Olympics and went on to run a hell of a marathon. Both Rod and Marla were competitors at heart and that’s hopefully where we have similarities.”
RunBlogRun: 5) If one follows the Sport they’d observe that your progression up is not unusual – a few years ago you won the USATF Club Nationals individual title – do you agree with this view?
Ben Blankenship: “I always wanted to keep running as exciting as possible. Toss my hat in the ring and see how competitive I can be. In 2020, I ran a track 10k and that opened my eyes to the possibility of running the marathon.”
RunBlogRun: 6) You’ve posted quite a few of your recent workouts on Instagram- can you describe 1 or 2 workouts that have given you the greatest confidence going forward?
Ben Blankenship: “This has been my favorite training period in my career. It’s fresh, it’s new, and everything is unknown. I’ve also been able to share the miles with my partner Jessi Gabriel. To spends 2 hours plus out on the road as you run and she accompanies me on the bike, it’s been wonderful. Makes the miles go by but it’s also this relaxed environment where we’re out there living our best lives. I’ve felt extremely privileged to have the opportunity to do this.”
RunBlogRun: 7) Does weight training/rest/nutrition play a big part in your training?
Ben Blankenship: “I’m a bit of a “let the running take care of the running” kind of person. I do lots of random exercises without much consistency; I’ll get hooked on something and look up and it’s been two weeks of the same routine. Always had the idea that the best athlete wins the race. As far as weight I’ve found that if you eat well and enough, race weight will naturally sort itself out. I’ve had issues like most athletes do, but at the foundation, if you eat, sleep, and recover, you’ll be alright.”
RunBlogRun: 8) When Rod Dixon won the 1983 NYC Marathon coming from behind and out sprinting Brit Geoff Smith he said he won because “A Miler’s kick does the trick!” – one would think that, given your 1500/mile speed, that would also be a great weapon in your arsenal as well.
Ben Blankenship: “Ha! Nobody has ever said I was fast. I might be the slowest guy to ever make a global final in the 1500. One thing that is my secret weapon is mindlessness. Being somewhere else mentally and waking up at the right moment. It might sound silly but even that 1500 becomes a long run if you start thinking about every step.”
RunBlogRun: 9) Can you tell us a little about “The Fast Forest” project you helped to set up?
Ben Blankenship: “The Endless Mileage Project has been one of the coolest projects I’ve had the chance to work on. The team and the board are amazing and have made this idea, and concept, a reality. I had this idea a long time ago about how to incorporate sustainable programs into track and field and this was the end product. It’s a two-pillar project – The Fast Forest & Recovered Running. We honor the accomplishments of athletes by giving back to the environment by planting trees for every American Miler who breaks 4 mins (men) and 4:30(women). Currently, we have 692 trees representing all the athletes to the end of 2021. We will announce the class of 2022 in the near future.”
This is so cool!! https://t.co/9UdrCm7Zys
— Emily Infeld (@emily_infeld) November 16, 2022
Recovered Running’s aim is to reduce the barriers to entry into the sport. It’s a program that started out of my car. I’d contact local programs and ask what they needed to help their athletes be successful. I’d ask fellow elites, local groups, and individuals for running items. (Jackets, Pants, Shorts, shirts, etc). It has been an incredible thing to see the impact some of the gear can have on young athletes. Recently, I spoke on the U of O campus as part of a panel, and after the presentation, a young man came up to me and said he started his running career when I donated items to his school. He received a rain jacket and it served him throughout his high school career and onto the U of O Club team. He was still using it. It was a powerful moment for me, knowing that this program could have such a lasting impact on an individual.
RunBlogRun: 10) Is there any key advice you’ve been given by anyone on how to prepare for the Marathon?
Ben Blankenship: Marathon training is about running the mile that you’re in and, if it’s a bad patch, believing a good mile is just around the corner” – from Steph Bruce!”
Excited to see everyone there!! https://t.co/RXPQEwvm1T
— Benjamin Blankenship (@benfblankenship) January 19, 2023
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