Last last month in Switzerland, Dathan Ritzenhein became only the second third fourth non-African-born man to run under 13:00 for the 5000m, clocking a new American record of 12:56. It took 13 years for someone to break the previous 12:58 American record held by Bob Kennedy. Then, just a few days later, Matt Tegenkamp went well under 13:00 too in Belgium, missing also beating Kennedy’s record by about half a second.
Watching those two races was nothing short of mind-blowing. What shift had occurred to allow for this dramatic twofer? These were huge PRs, not just the usual incremental ones. I know it made me think about what’s possible for myself.
I was also reminded of an article from Matt Fitzgerald in Running Times late last year, How Records Are Broken, which examined the forces that push records downward and what everyday runners can learn from them. The gist being: While we hobby runners may not break any world, national or age group records, breaking our own personal records in a regular and dramatic fashion is a worthy goal — and an achievable one.
Incidentally, that article link also includes an interview with none other than the now-former American record holder for the 5000m, Bob Kennedy.