By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
(25-Sep) -- Nick Symmonds was satisfied with his 4:00.1, 17th place performance at last Sunday's NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile presented by Nissan. When notified of his time shortly after crossing the finish, the 29-year-old let out a big "Aww c'mon" and had a smile on his face.
"I said I have one goal to break four [minutes] and I was .1 off, but it sets me up for a nice long break before I start training for indoor," he told Race Results Weekly. "I've beaten these guys before just not at this event."
For the IAAF World Championships 800m silver medalist, the road mile was both a test and a beginning. Symmonds used the race as a fun way to set the stage for next year, when he plans to make the 1500m/mile his primary focus.
After much success over two laps on the track --five-time USA Outdoor champion, fifth place Olympic finish, and 1:42.95 personal best-- Symmonds will be shifting his goals to the 1500m and mile over the next calendar year, exploring the events in the IAAF World Championships "off" year. Ultimately, Symmonds's goal is to double in both the 800m and 1500m at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro; in 2014, the plan is to only run the 1500m at the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.
"I've come a long way in my strength the last couple years," Symmonds told Race Results Weekly prior to the Fifth Avenue Mile. "I was able to get down to 3:34 for 1500m which makes me a little bit more competitive as a miler, but I think still when you look down the list of PR's in the mile I'm towards the bottom as an 800m guy."
Speaking passionately about the longer distance event, Symmonds is ready to do what it takes to join the likes of America's best milers: Matthew Centrowitz, Leo Manzano, Lopez Lomong, et. al. The studying process was on full display in New York City this past weekend.
"I'm just trying to have fun and learn everything I can with these guys. I had breakfast with Bernard (Lagat) and Leo, learning what it takes to be a great miler," he said. "I know where my training is at and I know where it needs to be at to be a great miler."
In the past, Symmonds has observed Manzano's training while at altitude in Mexico. Looking ahead, Symmonds already knows the first steps to be taken in order to get closer to the Olympic silver medalist.
"For me to run a great 1500m or mile, I need to up my mileage a little bit and lose a couple pounds. I'm able to do really good mile work early on in the year when I'm coming off altitude," he said. "Next year I am going to run the 1500m at USA's and that will be a really good test of what my potential is in the 1500m. I'll train specifically for that event. I thought it would be a new challenge, and I think when I switch to the 800m over in Europe after USA's that the added strength training for the 1500m will only benefit me."
Currently, Symmonds's personal bests are 3:34.55 for the 1500m and 3:56.72 for the mile (albeit indoors on an over-sized track).
Symmonds hinted at the likelihood of running 1500m and mile races both indoors and outdoors throughout 2014. He also emphasized that the mile-specific training to be done will all be in preparation for 2016.
"We are not going to throw in a bunch of radical ideas," Symmonds said, speaking about his training under Nike Oregon Track Club Elite coach Mark Rowland. "We are going to keep building on it year after year, getting a little bit stronger in the weight room, little stronger in distance work and a little faster in speed work."
Following his finish in New York City this weekend, Symmonds was excited for his future opportunities at the distance.
"1500m, USA's, 2014 is the goal right now," he said smiling.