May 24, 2023
"I’m so thankful for the career that I had. It’s led me to some of the best connections and relationships in my life. I couldn’t imagine I would’ve got this far when I started."
After eight years of running professionally, Eric Jenkins has retired.
The announcement was made on the latest episode of The CITIUS MAG Podcast. The Portsmouth, New Hampshire, native finished his career with personal bests of 3:35.94 for 1500m; 3:53.23 for the mile, 13:05.85 for 5000m and 27:22.06 for 10,000m.
He broke out as a junior at Northeastern when he ran 7:46.21 to finish second in the 3,000m at the NCAA Indoor Championships (the ninth-fastest performance in NCAA history at the time) only to be DQ’d controversially. He went on to transfer to Oregon and finished second at the 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championships before winning two individual indoor titles at 3000m and 5000m.
Jenkins graduated and signed with Nike and spent time working under Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project, Pete Julian and the Union Athletics Club, then back to Andy Powell for the last few years.
While many people within the track and field community may think of him for his reputation as a fun off-season guy or his hilarious Instagram videos, many don’t realize just how intense he was as an athlete. It showed when he finished fourth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, qualified for the 2017 World Championships and managed to win the Millrose Games’ Wanamaker Mile and 5th Avenue Mile.
Listen to the full conversation for more stories by Jenkins including being a punk in high school, deciding to take the sport seriously/breaking out at Northeastern, #FreeJenkins, landing at Oregon and winning two titles, his time at the Nike Oregon Project and what he considers his best race ever. Plus, why you may not be done hearing from him.
CITIUS MAG PODCAST: Closing the book on your professional career, how do we feel about it?
ERIC JENKINS: Oh, man. We’ll be here all night. Overall, it’s all still so fresh. I really gave it everything. It just felt like the right time. My body hasn’t held up to the training necessary to compete. There’s nothing I can really do about it. I’m so thankful for the career that I had. It’s led me to some of the best connections and relationships in my life. I couldn’t imagine I would’ve got this far when I started. The competitor in me believes there are things I could’ve done that I didn’t but that’s how it goes in this sport. You’re never going to be truly satisfied. Eliud Kipchoge could retire today and he’s gonna be like, ‘I could’ve done something different.’ I’m so thankful for my career and more than anything, I’m very proud of it. That’s where I’m at right now. It’s tough because it’s not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It’s been a work in progress for months and months. There were times when I wasn’t sure about it but I feel really good.
CITIUS MAG PODCAST: How did you get to that point? You had some plans to race this year. What changed?
ERIC JENKINS: I don’t think I felt 100% for a little bit. The amount of training, intensity and volume that it takes to compete at this level is just not something that my body was able to hold up. When you’re doing that every day and trying to get it up for training when you’re not feeling good – it just weighs on you and it’s exhausting. Between January and now, my heart wasn’t in it fully. I didn’t have the same fire that I had years ago.
CITIUS MAG PODCAST: When’s the last hard run that you went on? I guess they’re getting tougher each day.
ERIC JENKINS: I was gonna say ‘Last week.’ I haven’t worked out in a long time. I love running but it will probably be a while until I do a workout. I can’t quite wrap my head around that right now.
CITIUS MAG PODCAST: There are fans out there who are left wondering how good you would’ve been in the half marathon or marathon. Do you have those question marks in your head too?
ERIC JENKINS: A little bit. I just didn’t necessarily feel the desire. The half and the marathon are a whole other beast. It would be another thing to try and get myself 100% for a marathon – I don’t like the sound of that. Quite frankly, I don’t want to do the training required to do that. Just because I ran quite well in the 5000m and 10,000m doesn’t always translate to the marathon. It doesn’t necessarily mean I would be a great marathoner. You saw Kyle’s marathon. I think I could probably smash that. Right now, I don’t want to do a marathon build.
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Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.