Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Different paths of return for Radcliffe, Goucher

Universal Sports

Things between Paula Radcliffe and Kara Goucher couldn't be more simpatico.

The two marathoners forged a tight bond over the winter and early spring when Radcliffe traveled to Portland, Oregon to train with Goucher and capitalize on the facilities and support offered at Nike headquarters.

It was on that trip that both women learned that they were pregnant, Radcliffe with her second child and Goucher with her first. Soon thereafter, the women were told that they are both due on September 29th. They have continued to train through the fifth month of their pregnancy, running about half of their usual 120- to 140-mile weeks.

But when it comes to how and when Radcliffe and Goucher will make their returns to competitive running, that's where the similarities end.

Radcliffe, 36, suffered a number of injury problems following the birth of her daughter, Isla, following a 27-hour labor in 2007. She returned to running 12 days after giving birth and wound up with a sacral stress fracture.

"Last time, I was so happy to be back running and I started setting targets in my mind like, ‘Oh, I can make that race,'" Radcliffe said. "I'm not saying that it was the fact that I started running 12 days afterward that was too soon, but probably the scale at which I ramped up for the labor that I had."

Before running in the New York Mini 10K, Radcliffe indicated that she has no such rushed plans this time. In fact, she has no return plans at all.

"For me it's about not planning, because if I start planning then that's dangerous because then I have a target that I'm blinkered towards and I won't listen to the warning signs quite so much," Radcliffe said. "I'd rather be in shape and then look around and say there's a race next week and jump into that than have it planned. I just need to be honest with myself, don't think about planning, get into shape first and then think about where the races are."

Radcliffe added that her husband, Gary Lough, and her advisors are taking a more active role in preventing her from making the same mistake twice.

"My husband and my management company are being a bit sneaky as well," she said. "They're lining up a lot of things that I have to do through October and November so I can't get into too much running."

Goucher, 31, has also vowed not to rush her comeback. But unlike Radcliffe, who can be selected to Great Britain's 2012 Olympic Team by committee, she must pay closer attention to the calendar and putting herself in the best situation to qualify for Team USA.

With the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston scheduled for January 2012, the 2011 marathon season will take on a much different look for elite American runners and has certainly complicated Goucher's plans.

"The ideal situation would be to come back slowly, run some spring road races, run a really great track season, and then run New York in November (2011)," Goucher said. "But that's not an option because of where the Trials are placed. I also have an idea in my head where I would love to run a marathon next spring, which may be pushing it.

"To run London or Boston, I have to be able to run a half marathon at least five weeks out at good pace, which means I have to have been training for a good two months before that. If I have a perfect delivery and a perfect situation, I would run a spring marathon and then go back to the track and then get ready for the Trials in January."

Goucher indicated that she would adjust her plans based on the difficulty of her labor and recovery. That may mean abandoning the idea of running another marathon before 2012, which would also deny her the opportunity to resolve the fluid and nutrition issues she endured during the World Championships in Berlin prior to the Trials.

"If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen," she said of running another marathon before the Trials. "I feel like if I can get two or three good half-marathons that will do. But I love the marathon and the last one ended on a sour note a little bit so I'd like to do one to know that I've actually gotten all of my nutrition stuff together before I run the Trials. I don't feel like I have to, I would just like to."

If Goucher decided that she definitely needed another marathon, one option that could present itself would be to run the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in August of 2011, which would leave four full months to prepare for the Trials.

As of right now, though, that doesn't seem to be in the cards.

"I really have my heart set on doing a track season," Goucher said. "That's something where if (a spring marathon) didn't happen, I would really have to sit down with Alberto (Salazar) and decide what's the best course of action. My initial reaction is that going back to the track is going to be me where I need to be better than forcing the marathon."