Bernard Lagat

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Bernard Lagat looking beyond the track

At 41, Bernard Lagat still harbours hopes of winning one title that has always eluded him-an Olympic gold. The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil will definitely be his last and he hopes to finish on a high. But that will not be the end of us reading and seeing the Kenyan turned American run, he intends to shift to road races.

“After the summer of 2016, I don’t plan to retire, but my track career will be over completely,” said Lagat. “I have to be honest to myself; I’ll be nearly 42 by then so I’ll be very happy to run,” Lagat was quoted by the IAAF. Lagat has represented his country – initially Kenya and then later the USA – at 15 global championships over the past 16 years. He has taken 13 medals from those championships, five of them gold, but he is not quite finished.

He won world indoor gold over 3000m in 2004, 2010 and 2012, plus silver at that distance in 2014 and silver over 1500m in 2003. But to be at the Olympics, he has to be at his best. When Lagat made his Olympic debut just a few months shy of his 26th birthday in 2000, few would have believed that he’d be able to fit in many more appearances at the Games before retiring. But with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games less than 200 days away, Lagat believes he can make it to his fifth Olympics.

“I would like to go to this one a lot more,” he said. “This would be my fifth one and it’s also going to be my last one. Lagat knows that he is fortunate to have never been hit by a career-ending injury, but that is just part of the reason behind his longevity. “Being able to train injury free is the most important thing,” he said. “When you do that, you’re able to really do any kind of training you want. You can do long runs and you can go hard on tempo runs without feeling as though you might injure yourself.

“Being smart also helps,” he added. “I don’t race so much, and when I do race, it’s what we’ve planned way in advance. It means that when I’m training, I know I’ll be doing about three serious races and that’s it. The bulk of my time is dedicated to training. “I’m always thinking ahead. For example, with the World Indoors, I know that if I don’t train hard, how am I going to perform against the young guys? Guys who are training like me, some of them are maybe even training better than me.

“If I train sub-par, it will show in my competition. So I wake up thinking that I have to go hard in training, knowing that this is the only way to do it. And when I train hard, it feels good afterwards, knowing that I’ve nailed it. I’d usually follow a session like that with an easy day and then bang it hard again in the next one. “But it’s also down to having the right people,” he said. “My coach is really smart. It’s a combination of all the things, even the support from my family, which keeps you moving.”

While he intends to hang up his spikes after the summer of 2016, he will simply replace them for racing flats. “The next thing I’ll be venturing into is road racing,” he said. “We have all these road races in America which I’ve always wanted to do. I still want to be competitive but I want to have fun also.” When he embarks on this next chapter of his career, he also wants to run a marathon.

“I’ve always said I want to know what 26 miles feels like,” said Lagat, whose longest training run to date was 16 miles. “But it’s not going to be competitive, I won’t be doing it for the money, it’s just to say that I ran a marathon.

This article first appeared on iaaf.or

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