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August 17, 2022

Catching up with Eric Jenkins Before Falmouth Road Race

Heading to Falmouth this weekend is local-elite, Eric Jenkins, who is bringing with him a small overnight bag and an impressive list of personal bests (3:53/13:05/27:22). While better known for his track performances, Jenkins has previously won the historic Manchester Road Race and he’ll be looking to join the short list of individuals who have done the double. I caught up with him ahead of Sunday:

This is your first time ever running Falmouth. What took you so long? Is this the transition from track to road happening in real-time?

I’ve done the mile, but never the road race. I had a tough spring. I just wasn’t able to stay healthy and had to take five weeks off in April. It wasn’t the build-up I wanted going into USAs for the 5000m and 10000m. This is just something a bit different — I still do think those are my better events. I’m not going to the marathon yet. I might do a half, but this isn’t an official move.

How’s everything been feeling recently heading into this 7-miler?

It’s been tough with the recent heat wave here on the East Coast to get good quality training in the past couple of weeks, but I’m feeling good about it and am excited.

I haven’t seen you publicly talk much about being back in New Hampshire full-time training under Andy Powell again. How’d that decision play out?

With the way that Pete and the Union group was headed — becoming more of a shorter middle-distance group — I wasn’t matching up with anybody over there. I love Craig and Donavan, but I was the lone 5k/10k guy. I had been with Pete for a long time and I was just looking to switch it up. I know Andy really well and it made sense at this point in my career.

I know you go to Boston regularly to meet up with Johnny (Gregorek) for workouts. But are you experiencing any unexpected advantages in this new setup?

Right now Ed Cheserek is being coached by Andy, as well. When I was out in Flagstaff I was training with him before I went to Seattle with Johnny in the spring. And it’s been nice, now that I am 30 years old, to not be in altitude camps eight months a year. I have more flexibility in how I want to approach things and Andy understands that.

Johnny and I were talking last week about how there are certain people who are built for the structure of college. And then it’s a different personality type that thrives as an early professional. But then there’s this other phase in life once you’re 30ish that requires a whole new shift in your mindset.

It’s a different type of drive. When you’re first out of college you’re so hungry and you’re willing to do whatever. I’m still motivated now, but I want to set up my life a bit differently, versus training being over absolutely everything, at all times.

It’s like, how do you keep it going? There might be times when you’re not hungry and that’s fine. For example, there were times when Craig had a hard time staying motivated, day in and day out. And I’d say to him ‘that’s natural, just keep going for the runs and you’ll find that motivation again.’

I’ve always thought you’d make a great coach one day if you decide to go that route. You have a good training concept and have an idea of what you want and what you need. How does that work now?

I think in the past I’ve wanted to know why I’m doing certain workouts. I am curious about it and I want to know stuff. But then I think when you do that too much it leads to overthinking. This year I’m trying to take my mind off it and just do what I’m being told to do.

Would you say it’s a problem that you’re too smart?

No one else will say it, but I think that might be it. Thank you for speaking up.

Looking to this weekend, do you feel some level of pride on the Cape? You’re kind of the hometown guy. Did your family have a picture of John F. Kennedy next to Jesus on the mantel growing up?

I am two hours away. I can drive in the morning of and roll right up the start line — no warm-up. And Jesus was there, but I don’t know if Jack made the cut.

What will you consider a successful race this weekend?

Going out and competing. Being willing and prepared to hurt those last few miles. I’m sure being the top American will be tough, but you never know.

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