“This is track and field. What an opportunity to be here,” were the first words out of Johnny Gregorek’s mouth back at our hotel room following the Oslo Diamond League Meeting. In the relatively tight knit community of track and field, the Diamond League races are the pinnacle of the sport. Each summer, the Diamond League circuit produces world-class fields only rivaled by Olympic Games and World Championships. In the beginning stages of my professional career I didn’t have the opportunity to race at such a high caliber meets. Now, with a solid foundation under me, and a semi-decent resume to my name, I am able to participate in a select few Diamond League races each year. However, these high caliber fields often mean that the runners at the back of these races can lose sight of what’s important in this sport—competing. They fall into the ‘just happy to be here’ trap and allow themselves to be gapped early on in the race. So, in the week leading into the 3,000m at Oslo, I made it my mission to show up to the line with a competitor’s mindset.
Throughout the week, and especially in the final moments leading up to the race, I meditated on being in flow state through the first two kilometers of the race. Light hands, relaxed jaw, no strain in the shoulders—flow state. The fastest you can run while being completely relaxed—flow state.
My soft tissue therapist, Marcus Allen-Hille, texted me before the race with some advice that stuck with me. Marcus told me to, “Envision what you aspire to experience. Then create it as best you’re able to.”
“Envision what you aspire to experience. Then create it as best you’re able to.”
Heading into Oslo, I was coming off of my worst 1,500 meter race of the season. In Finland, I came through 1,200 meters in perfect position to get the World Championship standard, but fell completely off pace in the last 300 meters. I would be lying if I said that race didn’t disturb my confidence going into Oslo. So, per Marcus’ advice, I decided to meditate on a positive and rewarding experience in Oslo. I focused on the feeling of what a good race brings—the indescribable happiness that has me constantly coming back for more. I used a lot of positive self-talk and confident race visualization in the days leading up to the 3k. I fed off my teammates’ swagger coming off their solid performances at Portland Track Festival and reminded myself that this is fun! Stop overthinking it—just run.
Watch Drew’s disappointing 3:39 1500m in Finland eight days before Oslo Diamond League:
Walking into a packed Oslo Stadium, I had the biggest smile on my face. After all, we are entertainers and rarely have such an impressive audience to put on a show for. My emotions were completely in control standing on the starting line. I had my plan and I knew I was going to do everything in my power to create the positive experience I’d envisioned. The gun went off, and we started clipping off 62 second laps—and I was in the flow. The leaders seemed content with the slower pace (I wasn’t complaining), so I sat back through the first mile. Right after the mile mark, I could sense that a move was coming. I slowly started to work my way up closer to the front of the pack in preparation.
Most of the time, I would say I have a pretty high race IQ and know when to make moves and when to cover moves. However, racing against 12:40 5k runners is a different game. I had to trust my fitness level and focus on the moves I could make without breaking myself. So, once the break of the East Africans (and Stewey McSweyn) occurred, I knew that wasn’t the race for me. I quickly found myself towards the front of the chase group and, with the help of the Norwegian crowd responding to Henrik Ingebritsen surging towards the lead group, I took over the lead of the chase pack. The race went by relatively quickly once I was at the front of the group. I hit the bell lap with a surge of adrenaline and maintained my position all the way through the finish line. 7:39 flashed across the clock. Heading into the race, I didn’t necessarily have a time in mind, but let’s be honest—7:39 sounds a hell of a lot better than 7:40.
I competed well. Coming in with the slowest PR in the field, I knew the odds were stacked against me. I kept going back to my pre-race goal, which was to give myself an opportunity to run well.
Johnny and I did not win either of our Diamond League races. We didn’t run a world record or anything remotely close. But, we were in the thick of it. We scored our first ever Diamond League points and, for the first time at this level, we felt like we belonged. And in this sport sometimes giving yourself that chance is all you need. Johnny ran a superb race, sitting mid-pack for most of the Dream Mile and using his signature slingshot finish to pick up some places following the hot pace early on. Going into the 3k I had my sights set on finishing top eight, secure a few Diamond League points, and to be quite honest—not embarrass myself. Coming in with a comical 8:14 3k personal best according to IAAF (I have run 7:51 indoors), I knew I was throwing myself to the wolves. But here I was in beautiful Oslo, Norway with an opportunity to run against the very best. That’s all this sport is—opportunities. And I wanted to make the most of mine.
WATCH DREW’s 7:39 3,000m at the oslo diamond league:
Written By: Drew Hunter
Photography: Foon Fu