Ian Dobson finished third in the 5k on Monday to qualify for the Olympics. He then gave an incredibly revealing interview at Flotrack as part of their "Uncut" series. I have always respected Ian as a runner, and being the friend of a friend I have heard first-hand how great a person he is. But his straight-forward, thoughtful responses in this interview were very honest and the fact that he discussed so candidly self-doubts and negative mindsets that he continues to battle today just increases the respect I have for him.
Ian ran with Ryan Hall at Stanford, and their 2005 season was simply incredible. They went 1-2 at the NCAA Championships and then both qualified for the World Championships at 5k. That increased Ian's expectations for the years ahead but it's been more hardship than success. He talks about that, and about how the frustrations over the past years have resulted in him having to battle through negativity to achieve success.
He makes a number of comments about training in general that I found to be very useful advice. Primarily the notion that certain runners thrive off of certain workouts, and while it's good to mix it up, there can sometimes be an intangible quality to a workout that provides mental benefit as well as physical benefit.
Lastly Ian very candidly discusses whether his current attitude will hinder him from becoming a world champion, and he reaffirms his belief that he can get back to that mindset of 2005. He talks about how the confidence and momentum that Lagat and Matt Tegenkamp have generated benefit them (as they did Ian in 2005) and how taking someone's "alpha energy" is key to defeating them.
You won't get a better, more candid interview about the mental challenges that result from the quest to be great. I am sure I will go back to this interview time and again because it's really that good.