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January 02, 2012

Abdi Abdirahman - January Pro's Perspective

Written by Dena Evans
Abdi_croppedAbdi Abdirahman

Pro’s Perspective - January 2012


Abdi Abdirahman finished tenth and fifteenth in his first two Olympic Games (2000 and 2004) in the 10,000 meters, and won the 2008 US Olympic Trials at that distance.  The 1995 Tucson High grad initially attended Pima College, before transferring to the University of Arizona for his junior and senior years.  In fact, he continues to train in Tucson with his college coach, Dave Murray, picking up the light-hearted nickname Black Cactus along the way.  Injury setbacks in 2010 have kept Abdirahman under the radar heading into the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials on January 14th.  However, he is now training well and has an outstanding marathon personal best of 2:08.  Abdi took a moment to chat with FNF as he prepares to challenge for his fourth straight Olympic team.


FNF: Is training going well for the Olympic Trials in Houston?

AA: Training is going wonderfully.  I’m enjoying running again, after struggling with injuries for the last couple years.


FNF: How has it been coming back after such a tough stretch?

AA: Well, in 2010 I had a hip injury.  It was a stress reaction in the femur, and I took basically 6 months of no running.  With no world championships that year, it was a great time to take a step back from running and let it heal.  I did a lot of rehab and strengthening – I got back to basics.


FNF: What were some of the things you did with your time while healing your hip?  What kinds of things are you interested in pursuing once your professional career has concluded?

AA: I want to start my foundation and work with kids.  Also, one of my friends started a company, Solar for Africa.  He has the idea of providing it to rural villages.  It could help a lot.  Kids could go to night classes.

I don’t only want to help Somalia [Abdirahman immigrated to the US from Somalia as a youngster], but all the third world countries that are the poorest.


FNF: As fans preparing to watch the upcoming marathon trials, what should we be looking for in the men’s race?

AA: It is going to be a great Trials with a lot of great people running: Ryan Hall, Meb [Keflezighi, 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist], Dathan [Ritzenhein, 9th place finisher in Beijing], and a lot of other great guys who are running.

I haven’t run a marathon since 2009, in New York, but my training has been going well, almost as well as when I ran 2:08 in Chicago. There are only three spots; you are only running to be top three, and if you win it is a bonus.  The marathon is all about patience.  You can be in the best shape of your life, but everything has to go well that day.  I hope everyone has a good race, and may the three best men make the team.


FNF: Do you love the marathon?  Will we see you on the track this spring and summer?

AA: I love track.  Marathons are fun to train for, but I think I enjoy track more.  It is more speed, more all out. You can control the outcome of the track, but not the outcome of the marathon.  In the marathon, you can be in the best shape, but something else can go wrong.  On the track you can be pretty much 90% you will run around what you are ready to run.


FNF: What are your goals for the upcoming year?

AA: I enjoy running.  I look forward to training.  Right now, I realize the key to success is staying healthy.  If you are pain free, you can enjoy your training.

I want to make this Olympic team, and I always look forward.  I am approaching this race like I have never been to the Olympics.


FNF:  You have been in Tucson around 15 years.  How has the community supported you in your career?

AA: The community has been a big part of my success.  They say there is no place like home.  I ran well under Coach Murray at Arizona.  I had opportunities to go to other groups, but I feel more comfortable here. I have access to the facilities, I just feel like it is my comfort zone.  A lot of people say in order to accomplish something, you have to get out of your comfort zone, but that is not for me, I think you need to feel comfortable where you are.

People have been supportive of me since day one and have provided me everything I need. I enjoy spending time with the Boys and Girls Club, getting a chance to say thank you for your support.


FNF: What is some advice you have for our recreational runners headed toward their own big race in Houston?

AA: Enjoy the moment.  Enjoy that you have done all the hard work, you have done your long runs. It is time to reward your hard work and enjoy it.  Run your own race, not your training partner’s or someone else’s pace.


Last modified on January 03, 2012
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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