The Road to Beijing: Trent Riter

During the lead-up to the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials this June, USATF Minnesota will present interviews with Minnesota’s top Olympic prospects. We're calling the series “The Road to Beijing.”

Kicking off the series, we recently caught up with last year’s surprise U.S. Outdoor 800 meter finalist, Trent Riter. Riter, a Mounds View High School graduate who went on to star at the University of Minnesota, is finishing up a stretch of training in San Diego at the Olympic Training Center.

Features Editor Charlie Mahler asked Riter about his training, life in San Diego, and his hopes for the future.

USATF Minnesota: So how are things going for you these days?

Riter: Things are going really well. I've been fortunate enough to be in San Diego at the Olympic Training Center since January 7th. Talking to friends and family back home it sounds like I'm avoiding a very cold winter. As much as I've enjoyed toughing it out in Minnesota the past 25 years, I've been able to accomplish so much more with my training here.

USATF Minnesota: Aside from the weather, what are the advantages to being in a place like the Olympic Training Center?

Riter: Being in an environment like the Olympic Training Center, your day basically revolves around training. I live onsite in a dorm and my first month here I made it off campus four times. It has been very good for me but I will be ready to head back home and separate my everyday life from training. When I first got here I was a bit homesick, but I've met some really nice people here and will miss them when I leave.

USATF Minnesota: How’s your health?

Overall, my health is good. My training, for the most part, has been unimpeded by injury. The past three months I've had the best, most consistent training of my life.

USATF Minnesota: How long will you stay at the OTC?
Riter: I heard about the short-term 90-day residency program from [former Gopher teammate] Karl Erickson. Last year he was a resident athlete. I applied on Labor Day and finally heard back in late November. Initially, they did not have bed space available for me and I was looking for an apartment but fortunately, something opened up. We really wanted to get out of Minnesota from January through March. I've been here since January 7th and will migrate back to Minnesota on April 3rd.

USATF Minnesota: Are you training with any other athletes? 

I really haven't been training with many athletes. It is fitting for most athletes here to do their hard workouts alone. We do a lot of recovery runs together and spend time in the dining hall and generally hanging out between workouts. It still feels like a training group.

USATF Minnesota: What T&F athletes are there now?

There are a lot of track and field athletes here. A few weeks ago the Team Running USA group was here. Athletes have come and gone and will return again. David Krummenacker was here and is coming back later this week. I spend a lot of time with him and Jon Rankin. I also tag along with Alice Schmidt down to the Chula Vista golf course for tempo runs. They are all coached by Joaquim Cruz. Each one of them, including Coach Cruz, has been a great influence. There are so many amazing people here. Too many to list and I wouldn't want to leave anyone out.

Riter at the 2007 USA Outdoor Track & Field  Championships. Photo by Sean Hartnett.


USATF Minnesota: Have you raced yet in 2008?

When I first got out here I was preparing for the Five Nations Meeting in Glasgow, Scotland. The competition was a USA team event vs. Great Britain, Germany, Sweden and a Commonwealth Select Team. That race was on January 26th. It was my first time traveling and racing in Europe. I learned a lot from that experience. After a 4th place finish in 1:51.89, we decided to reevaluate our plans for the indoor season.

I was injured for a few months in the fall and was cross training a lot. Trying to get race ready in January and February felt like we were cutting corners and we decided to forgo the indoor season and get back into solid base work.

Besides that, this past weekend I raced a 1500m at San Diego State. I won the race, but even with 20mph winds, a 3:53.32 was not the result I was looking for. Including that race, the past three workouts have been really terrible. I'm currently waiting on results of some blood work. Up to last Tuesday I was crushing workouts. That day I did 400m hills averaging 63s. But two days later I was going to do some pace work in preparation for the 1500m and 63s on the track were a struggle.

I've been officially accepted into the special invite field for the 800 at the Drake Relays, which will be my first outdoor 800m of 2008.

USATF Minnesota: What's a typical training week like for you at this time of year?

Since my arrival here, I've been doing two-a-days pretty consistently. I have hard workouts three to four times a week consisting of hills, shorter intervals, longer intervals, mile repeats or a tempo run, and a long run. I fill in the rest with weights two to three times a week, recovery runs, strides, and lots of general strength. Since all I have to do is train here, I spend a lot more time taking care of myself with injury prevention exercises. The sports medicine staff here is great. Every Monday I get a massage and every Tuesday I see the chiropractor.

USATF Minnesota: Will you still be racing in the Run N Fun singlet this year or did you find a national sponsor?

Riter: I am not sponsored right now. That is not much of a concern. The focus is on running fast. When I do that, things will take care of themselves.

USATF Minnesota: What do you do for fun there or to take your mind off training and competition?

Riter: Here, they have a place called the AT&T center. It has all sorts of fun things to distract you. We spend most of our time watching movies or battling on the ping pong table. We spend a lot of time sitting around a table at the dining hall, but our conversations rarely revolve around training and competing. Everyone wants a sense of normalcy. We've gone to the beach a few times and out to dinner. Besides that, I've gotten hooked on the USA Today crossword and I try and read when I'm not too tired.

USATF Minnesota: Anything else you want to tell us?

One more thing... my parents have been retired for a while now and have come out here. My Dad [who is Riter’s coach] makes it up here to the Training Center three or four times a week for workouts and I try to visit my mother every seven to ten days. They're having a blast and are really enjoying San Diego. They found an RV park to stay at with a lot of adventuresome people like themselves. I am happy that they are here. They really give me my space and it is no different than if I was in Minnesota.