After running a 2:09:58 PR in Boston despite dealing with a persistent case of plantar fasciitis, which nearly prevented him from reaching the starting line, Rupp shared at Friday's press conference that the preparation for his fourth marathon has been his best build-up to date.
"For this one, we've been healthy first and foremost," Rupp said. "The workouts have just gone great. I've exceeded a lot of them."
Rupp's speed was the element most affected by the foot injury; he struggled in the shorter workouts before Boston.
"My speed just wasn't there," the 10,000m American record holder said.
But Rupp still managed an impressive race despite his lack of burst, finishing just 21 seconds behind winner Geoffrey Kirui. He credited his mental approach for the success.
"For me, the biggest thing before Boston was mentally to keep a calm mind," he said. "Your mind's a very powerful thing. The more you can stay calm in there and just have that mental fortitude, I think was huge. That's what I mostly concentrated on in the weeks before."
It's not a stretch to say that a healthy Rupp has a strong chance to win in Chicago. Although it's been 15 years since an American man has claimed victory, Rupp's 10K prowess and success in Boston offers the best chance yet. In a race that has turned tactical since pacers were removed two years ago, Chicago presents just as much a mental challenge as a physical. Rupp believes both aspects are peaking at the right time for this race.
The two-time Olympic medalist is clicking on all cylinders, and feels better equipped to cover surges on the flat and fast Chicago course. Those could come at any time from anyone on Sunday, as Chicago is a field without a clear favorite.
Defending champ Abel Kirui, world record holder Dennis Kimetto, Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa, and 2:03 man Stanley Biwott are the big names that figure to challenge Rupp, but it is only Kirui who has run a solid marathon in 2017. Kimetto and Biwott have struggled with injuries and neither has finished a marathon in the last year, while Lilesa is still adapting to life in the U.S. after leaving Ethiopia and has been off his game at his last two marathons.
That uncertainty in a race without pacers should make for an exciting show on Sunday in the streets of Chicago. For Galen Rupp, that means using the lessons from Boston and his renewed speed to his advantage. He survived the curveball in Boston and now he's confident he can handle whatever challenge -- physical or mental -- that Sunday throws his way.
"It's really just important I think in a race like this to be ready for anything," he said. "You never want to go into something thinking it's going to be a certain way and then it ends up being something else. Just go through all those scenarios in your head; go through them all in training in the build-up. I know I'm ready to go no matter if it's fast or slow."