If it would mean a season similar to what he experienced in 2011, Ben True would break his big toe every year.
It happened within the first month of training for his 2011 track and field and cross country seasons. He was in the midst of major changes in his running career. He had just changed coaches to 2004 Olympian and the indoor 3,000m American record holder Tim Broe and joined the “In The Arena New Hampshire Team” running club.
Barefoot and doing simple straight-leg bounds, True broke his big toe which set his season back more than two weeks. It took some time, but True can laugh about it now.
“It was just my clumsiness,” True said with a laugh.
While not his proudest moment, it marked the beginning of what True calls the best season of his running career.
“Things have been going great,” he said reassuringly. “It was a good season overall.”
The season True recently completed featured a substantial list of accomplishments. He recently placed second at the USA 10 mile Championships, which gave him enough points to claim the 2011 USA Running Circuit Championship (USARC). His wins while running the USARC include the USA 5 km and 10 km Championships.
The broken toe and winning the USARC bookmarked what proved to be a stellar year. Last spring, True placed fifth at the USA Cross Country Championships to qualify for his first World Cross Country Championships team. In Spain at the World Championships, True was the top men’s finisher from Team USA placing 36th.
“My fifth place finish at USA Cross Country nationals was big,” he said. “It got me on my first World Cross Country Championships team and it allowed me to reassure myself I was on the right path.”
With a season that had included a coaching change and a broken toe, it was the performance True was looking for to build confidence for the rest of the season. And that confidence continued to grow.
Along with the wins on the USARC, True set a new Boston Athletic Association 5km record and placed second at the USA 15km Championships.
True will run a 5km in conjunction with the New York City Marathon in November as his final race of 2011. He has now shifted his goals to the 2012 track and field season. Those goals remain clear for True.
“Making the Olympic team is definitely the number one goal,” he said. “Next track season I want another shot at that 10,000m. One or the other (5,000m) I will be shooting for at the Olympic Trials.”
At this point True remains evenly divided on which race to pursue at the USA Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Ore. He fell short of his goal of making Team USA for the recent IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Daegu, South Korea. He competed in the 5,000m at USA Outdoors and placed 10th.
With improvement shown in his first year competing under Broe, True hopes it is a trend that continues. In addition to the coaching change, True is also in the midst of dedicating himself to running year-round for just the second year. Also a cross-country skier while attending Darmouth, True has put his skiing career on hold to concentrate on running. It was also an adjustment he had to make.
“I made the decision when I graduated that I wanted to run,” he said. “Two years ago I gave up cross country skiing. It took a year to really get my body used to it. Hopefully I will return to it someday, but for right now it has completely been put on hold.”
While the transition has been successful, True pointed out competing in multiple sports had its advantages and disadvantages.
“I have been able to shed some of the extra body mass,” he said, noting keeping more body weight when cross country skiing. “When I was in college I was a lot larger of a runner. But skiing has its advantages. It helps build an aerobic base without all of the pounding.”
It was the latest in a long list of changes in the last year for True.
The broken toe was painful and a definite setback. However, if it means making his first Olympic team, True would certainly go through it again in 2012.
USA Track & Field