On a pure performance level, the core of Ritz’s problem was that he arrived at starting lines without confidence. Specifically, his body told him it was not fast enough. That was an underlying issue with me going into some of the races, he said. I didn’t feel I was prepared enough in that way. If it does nothing else, a runner’s training must make him feel prepared, because if he feels prepared, he is prepared, and if he doesn’t, he isn’t. To fix the problem, Ritz decided to train for lifetime-best performances in the 5,000 m and 10,000 m, not so much to develop a scientifically calculated increase in speed as to recapture that feeling of toughness and preparedness that he would need to achieve his marathon dreams. He came away from his sixth-place finish at the World Championships and his third-place finish in Zurich, just 4 seconds (and closing) behind world record holder Kenenisa Bekele, with more speed and a warm feeling about how it would affect his next marathon starting line experience. Hopefully, what happens is that I show up and I feel confident that I’m ready to run with anybody, he said. Now I feel I can run with anyone in the world on the track, so why can’t I do it in the marathon?
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