In the case of Galen Rupp, running coach Alberto Salazar began focusing on biomechanics more than 12 years ago. At the time, Rupp was about 14 years old.
Salazar felt it was important to teach Rupp the proper techniques early, though, he said, because he didn't want his pupil to be limited in the same ways he was.
During his prime, Salazar won three consecutive New York City Marathons, and in 1982, he won the Boston Marathon. He finished the season ranked No. 1 in the world at the marathon distance.
Salazar's success wasn't limited to the 26.2-mile distance, either. The Cuban-born runner also was ranked No. 1 in the world in the 10-kilometer road race and No. 2 in the world in the 10,000-meters track race. In addition, Salazar won many accolades during and after college as a cross-country runner.
Despite the success he had during the late '70s and early '80s, Salazar maintains that poor biomechanics and technique limited him and led to an early decline in his running career. As a coach, Salazar didn't want the same thing to happen to Rupp.
"I've been working with (Rupp) on his technique and biomechanics for 12 years because I know that my lack of proper technique and biomechanics caused me to get a lot of injuries and shortened my running career," Salazar said during this video posted on Flotrack.org. "So when I first started working with (Rupp) I realized that it was very important that … the natural proper biomechanics that he had … we'd reinforce these. … I was convinced that was going to be a key element for him to be successful."
After 12 years of training under Salazar's tutelage, Rupp nearly reached the summit of the track and field world when he won a silver medal in the 10,000-meters at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Mo Farah of Great Britain, who also trains under Salazar and is Rupp's training partner, won gold.
Rupp is convinced that Salazar's training techniques and early vision helped him to become the runner he is today.
"(Salazar) has been probably the biggest person behind my success, and I owe more than I could ever imagine to him," Rupp said during this interview, posted on Flotrack.org. "I've known him since I was 14 years old, so he's really done a great job training me. … He's been so gradual with my career and never pushed me to do something that hasn't been in my best interest, and knowing that I have someone like that who is always going to look after me and not risk anything has been huge for me."
Rupp, who is from Portland, Ore., trains with Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project. Since he began working with the project, Salazar has, at one point or another, trained 2012 Olympians such as Rupp, Farah, Kara Goucher, Dathan Ritzenhein and Matt Centrowitz, Jr.
Sandra Johnson is a longtime Olympic fan. While working for the United States Olympic Committee and living in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46
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