Olympic Team Miss is Just the Beginning For Amanda Eccleston

The photo finish for third place in the U.S. Olympic Trials 1500m final is a great representation of the tenacity required to make Team USA.

After several painstaking rounds, Brenda Martinez and Amanda Eccleston exerted every last ounce of energy to dive for the line. For Martinez, it was her sixth race in eight days after an unfortunate crash in the 800m final. For Eccleston, it was the closest she'd ever come to a national podium finish.

nullBoth women fell to the ground after diving head-first over the line. They eagerly waited for the announcement of the final name headed to Rio.

"Brenda Martinez!" yelled the announcer at Hayward Field, followed by a roar from the crowd who watched Martinez make the team in the toughest way possible.

Martinez finished in 4:06.16 and Eccleston finished in 4:06.19. Just 0.03 seconds separated Eccleston from the Olympics and a Trials upset.

But it wouldn't have been an upset to Eccleston—she knew she belonged on that team.

"We had written down on paper last September, top three. That's what we wanted. It's what we worked for all year," Eccleston told FloTrack.

"Yes, I'm happy because I had never finished higher than 10th before, but we thought going in that we were going to Rio," she said.

Fourth at the Trials is a devastating result that can often make track athletes question their careers. But for Eccleston, it's just one goal on her list that fell a bit short.

Prior to the 2016 season, Eccleston held a 1500m personal best of 4:08.08 from 2014—a quality mark, but not competitive enough to make an international team. Nearly two years, several injuries, and a healthy block of training later, Eccleston's times started to drop considerably.

On June 4, she ran 4:05.56 at the Furman Elite 1500m. Two weeks before the Trials, she ran an 800m personal best of 2:02.14 at the Speed River Inferno. That's when her coach, Mike McGuire, affirmed she could accomplish her goal.

"He [McGuire] told me two weeks before the Trials, after I had run my 800m PR, that he thought I was going to make the team," Eccleston said. "That was the first time he had told me that all year."

McGuire started to coach Eccleston when she enrolled at Michigan to earn her master's degree in public health. She had one remaining year of eligibility on the track and planned to use it as a Wolverine. Prior to Michigan, Eccleston completed her undergraduate degree at Hillsdale College where she earned two Division II NCAA titles and notched a then-PR of 4:15.

While at Michigan, Eccleston anchored the distance medley relay to an NCAA title by maintaining the lead and extending herself to secure the win at all costs. She split 4:32 on the mile leg when her PR at the time was 4:37. She would have accepted nothing less than victory.

"I approach every race thinking 'I can win this one,' even if I have the slowest PR in the field, and I definitely don't win a lot of them," she said. "But I think you need to have that attitude regardless of who you are -- just think that you can do it, and go out and race that way."
null
Those NCAA titles were also written down as goals well ahead of the season. In fact, in 2012 she wrote goals for every year that followed, including a goal to run sub-four in the 1500m by 2016. Although she hasn't accomplished that one yet, Eccleston is getting close.

One week after the Trials race, Eccleston flew to Italy where she ran 4:04.88. Eight days later, she ran 4:03.25 in the London Anniversary Games, her first Diamond League race ever.

Eccleston attributes the jumps to consistent training, being injury free, and taking advantage of every opportunity.

"Some of that is just getting that chance, and getting in the race and being willing to take risks, like Diamond League I got out and I was third, and at first I was thinking, 'What am I doing out here? I'm way over my head,' but at the same time I like to run in the front, I like to get out and at least see what I can do," she said.

"It seems like a breakthrough year, but it's actually a natural progression in my mind."

Eccleston's next race will be at Sir Walter Miler tonight where she hopes to win with a personal best. Looking back on the bittersweet taste of the 2016 season, Eccleston is more than confident that her future holds endless opportunity.

It's a confidence that came from just missing out on the Olympic team.

"I had not closed in 60 [seconds] before until the Trials, and that is something that used to terrify me, thinking 'how am I going to close in 60? I can't do that! I don't have the greatest 400m time," she said.

"But I was able to do it and that was the third race in four days. So that gives me the confidence that whatever is thrown at me, I'll be ready to get after it."

Leo Daschbach Becomes 11th U.S. Prep To Break 4:00 With 3:59.54

null

On Saturday night in El Dorado Hills, California, high school senior Leo Daschbach (AZ) became the 11th U.S. prep runner to break 4:00 in the mile with his 3:59.54 clocking.

Is NCAA Track/XC Dying?

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

The recent announcements of program cuts to men's cross country at Akron and men's track at Central Michigan have resurfaced a feeling of uncertainty for the future of NCAA cross country and track. Here is a breakdown of where our sport currently stands within the NCAA system.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Understanding Resting And Maximum Heart Rate

Throughout the past years, business has combined the health and technology industries to create a society where fitness tracking has become a regular pastime. People have become more invested in their health and want fun devices to assist in that. These smartwatches and apps have made it easier than ever to know what your exact heart rate is, how many hours of sleep you get, or how far you run. However, with all the knowledge presented to you, it’s equally important to actually understand what those numbers mean to best achieve all of your fitness goals. A big part of this is knowing the different active and resting heart rate zones. 

Pre-Run And Post-Run Stretches

Stretching before and after your run can add a lot of benefits to your exercise routine. It allows you to warm up your muscles and safely progress into your run and also provides your body time to cool off and continue to activate your muscles. It’s important to set aside a couple of minutes before and after exercising so you can make sure you’re taking proper care of your body. 

The History Of Track And Field

Track and field has been around since the start of the Olympics in Ancient Greece in 776 B.C. It was created alongside religious events and celebrations for the Greek gods where men (no women were allowed) could show off their athletic abilities. From there it spread to the Romans who continued the games until the Christian Emperor Theodosius I banned them in 394 A.D. because of their ties to pagan beliefs. 

Don't Miss The Quarantine Clasico Sub-4 Live On MileSplit

null

History could be headed our way on Saturday in California. 

How To Prevent & Remove A Tick

Summer is right around the corner, and that means more time to get out and run in the great outdoors. However, while it's a perfect time for us humanoids to get outside, it's also the perfect time for those nasty little buggers we call ticks! 

How To Run Long Distance

Long-distance running is a whole different animal to short sprinting, and it's no secret that it can really kick our butts. Whether it's fatigue, pain, or mental obstacles, there are a number of factors that make long runs seriously challenging. 

Running FAQs: What Time Does It Get Dark?

Going for a nice jog has dozens of benefits for both our mental and physical well-being. Not only does it get our bodies in better shape, but it also helps us to clear our minds and let go of any stress or anxiety we may have stored up. 

Jakob Ingebrigtsen Smashes Norwegian 5km Record

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: an Ingebrigtsen brother broke a Norwegian national record on Wednesday as 19-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen ran a 13:29 road 5km in Stavanger, Norway, to better Sondre Moen’s 13:37 mark from 2019.