By John Trautmann
John Trautmann is a 1992 Barcelona Olympian, in the 5,000m. He is still a competitive runner, racing and setting records with the indoor mile in the age 45-49 bracket, and also coaches at Mile High Run Club and as head coach and founder at Speed Club, LLC. We asked John about his Olympic experience, and what it means to Go for Gold.
What is it really like to compete in the Olympics? Anyone at the Olympic level has been competing for most of their life, but is there a different, heightened sense of reverence in competing at such a historic event?
Any time you are able to represent the United States is an honor. There are other opportunities such as the World Championships, Pan Am Games, etc, but nothing compares to the Olympics. One reason is that Track goes relatively unnoticed for 3 years, and then it becomes the highlight sport at the Olympic games. Once I retired from the sport and went to work in the real world, nobody cared how many World Championships I competed in or what times I ran, but being an Olympian got me noticed.
How do you get out of your head when you are competing on such a large stage, and just focus on the goal?
A big part of competing your best at a competition is learning how to relax and get into the flow state. I like to do 10-15 minutes of meditation before a competition to help me relax. Being nervous is normal, but you have to figure out for yourself how to deal with the nervousness and use it to your advantage.
How do you deal with disappointment when you don’t perform how you may have wanted to?
The challenge is to find out why you didn’t perform up to your expectations. It could be your training, outside distractions, or a variety of other reasons. Sometimes you just have an off day, but the important thing is you learn the cause and figure out how to correct it.
What is your best memory/moment from the Olympics?
Without a doubt it was the opening ceremonies. Pretty much all the athletes attended, and it was great to mingle with the athletes of different sports and different nations.
A behind-the-scenes/ little known fact about the Olympics a regular viewer may not know?
The swimmers really like to have a good time when they are done. They compete during the first week, so by the time the track athletes get to the village, the swimmers are mostly in party mode!
How do you use what you learned at the Olympics in competing/training/training others today?
By interacting with other elite athletes, you learn that there can be many ways to arrive at the same destination. What works for one athlete may not work for another, and the key to coaching is to figure out what method your athlete responds to best.
Any advice for someone looking to take their athleticism to the next level?
Be consistent and have patience. No one workout is going to make you into a great runner, you must look at the body of work over time.
Coach John Trautmann has had success at every level of running. John had national age group records in the mile and 1500m at age 14. As a senior in high school, he broke Steve Prefontaine’s national 3000m record. He was an NCAA champion in the 5000m while at Georgetown University, and in 1992 won the US Olympic trials in the 5000m, qualifying him for the Olympic Games. John has continued to run at the Masters level, most recently setting the world record in the mile for the 45-49 age group, running a 4:12.33. John is a USATF certified coach and is an assistant coach for the NJNY Track Club. He is also the head coach and founder of Speed Club LLC.