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Jim Ryun


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  • #16
    Here's something I think I may have posted previously, but it is relevant here:

    In the autobiography, Ryun tells that after the 1967 NCAA Indoor meet, steeplechaser Conrad Nightingale took him to see Daniels, who was then working on his doctorate (which was about the effects of altitude on athletic performance).

    The book quotes Daniels (speaking to Ryun in that meeting) as follows: "Even if you show up [at Mexico City] in the condition of your life, I doubt you'll do better than four-minute pace. I wouldn't be surprised if 3:38 won it."

    Ryun then describes his visit to Alamosa, Colorado, made at Daniels' invitation, during which he ran a one-mile trial. Ryun, who had run 3:53 a few days earlier, struggled to run 4:32. This made him a believer in what Daniels was saying. "I needed no further persuasion," wrote Ryun.

    There is also a vivid description of a seven-mile training run that Ryun described as "unlike anything I'd ever experienced" for its sheer pain and torture.

    "After a few weeks at Alamosa in 1967, I was genuinely apprehensive as I anticipated Mexico. There would be no opportunities to do extended altitude work during the school year. Therefore I saw my only choice in preparing for Mexico to be to work that much harder," Ryun said.

    Ryun then proceeds to describe his training over the winter of 1967-68: "I continued to train twice a day, but with greatly increased intensity. Where before I would have rested perhaps every other day with a light ten-mile run, now I pushed myself to the maximum limit every was these very workouts--designed to make me stronger--that ultimately broke me down." Shortly thereafter came the mononucleosis.


    • #17
      Originally posted by Alan Sigmon View Post
      From what I've read, not only was Ryun training hard (as usual), maybe even harder after having experienced the effect of altitude first-hand after test effort at altitude, and he was working as a photographer to make some $, and traveling back and forth to Kansas State (?) to see his girlfriend. In other words, burning the candle at both ends. Coming down with some illness and/or injury was not surprising under these circumstances. I've always thought Timmons should have monitored his star pupil more closely / found a way for him to get more rest.
      You are most likely right on with the multiple hurdles Ryun had to prepare for the impossible task of being prepared for a 7000 "pound" elephant on his back at Mexico. The Kansas University bio on Jim Ryun reported on a previously unknown fact (I never read or heard before). Following his set backs in spring of 1968 of hamstring injury and on crutches for three weeks in April, mono in May, dropping out of school in May-June to go to Flagstaff, AZ and being away from teammates, Timmons, serious relationship to the woman he marries, and realizing he won't be able to run in NCAA or AAU meets in June or the to make the first OT race in July.
      The article says: "for the first time in his career Ryun found himself in a feud with Timmons. A spat that grew out of a debate over the best way to train for that year's Olympics distanced the star from his coach and the two were not reconciled for some years." ( "Ryun's Run"

      That latter "hurdle" of losing confidence and mentorship of your coach may have been the straw that caused the result at Mexico. I know of another personal friend who was WR holder and favored to win medal (even gold) at OG but three months before OG he and his coach separated on a very personal difference in training and my friend never made it to the OG Finals. My friend and coach never spoke to each other for years. Both Timmons and Ryun were under a lot of pressure on how to get ready after injury and illness to the greatest challenge and racing conditions in their lives.
      I met Ryun some years later and he was well grounded in his faith and family which I feel was the best reward to achieve in life.


      • #18
        Instead of the Olympic nonsense I wish Ryun had had another crack at the 1500 and mile WR. With a rabbited race like Mexico City but at sea level he might have run 3:30 and 3:48.

        Having the Olympics at Mexico City is another reason to despise the IOC. 7500 ft.... completely insane.


        • #19
          I had great empathy for Ryun because, several years earlier, I'd had mono, and went from running great workouts to being exhausted just from doing my usual warmup. The fatigue persisted for several months, but I kept trying to train and race, and the result was that I finished dead last in our conference championships.
          Had I known Ryun, I'd have advised to rest, although I'm sure he'd have rejected that advice with the OG approaching.