Jakob Ingebrigtsen says that the 1500m is the most painful race
Is there anything Jakob Ingebrigtsen gets nervous about? In his exclusive interview in the April issue of AW magazine, the Norwegian star talks with real assurance about how he plans to put himself at the summit of his sport. His aim? “To be too fast for everybody else, which means that I can basically do what I want and I will still win.”
The 20-year-old exudes confidence in his ability and was in complete control when winning both the 1500m and 3000m at last month’s European Indoor Championships. There is a very clear air of calm around him, too, but he does admit that nerves play a significant part in his racing life.
Nerves when it comes to the pressure of meeting his own expectations but also nerves surrounding – particularly when it comes to the 1500m – the prospect of pain.
“Yeah, I’d say so,” he answers when asked if he’s good at channelling that nervous energy.
“If there’s a lot at stake then you’re obviously going to get more nervous than if it’s just a random race but I usually get really nervous – not only because of my expectations but it’s also about the pain [that comes] with racing. I don’t enjoy being in pain.”
He adds: “It’s difficult to describe but the 1500m is probably the most painful race because you are going out at such a high speed and after 500 metres you are really hitting a wall. But then, when you continue you don’t slow down, you just run faster and faster. Or at least that’s my experience.
“If you are really well prepared and you do what you need to do going into that race it’s going to end up pretty good and you’re not going feel that much pain after all. But I know, going into my next race, I get really nervous [again] because of the pain.
“But I think that’s my way of preparing myself physically and mentally for each race – to be nervous of the pain that’s coming but also to be awake and focused on the task so I can run as fast as possible.”
Expectation does now follow the 1500m European record-holder both indoors and out whenever he toes a start line. But the man who is coached by his father Gjert and trains with brothers Henrik and Filip is not usually one to dwell on outside opinion.
“Expectations are always a good thing but I usually don’t read comments from other people because I know I’m going to be really disappointed if I’m not winning,” he says.
“Even if I’m a worse runner than my competitors, I’ll still aim for finishing first.
“My mentality going into races is that I’m always going to win so I would say the expectations that I put on myself are always going to be a little bit harder to fulfil than everybody else’s.”
To achieve those goals, the Ingebrigtsen family is well known for laying the groundwork through a regime of threshold training. That is, finding the pace and the sweet spot where lactate levels are held stable rather than flooding the system.
Only just out of his teens, one of the most fascinating and exciting things about Jakob is that he is still growing and becoming stronger.
posted Wednesday April 7th
by Euan Crumley, AW magazine