Ben Flanagan is the 2018 NCAA 10,000m champion and a newly signed Reebok athlete. The Kitchener, Ont. native and former University of Michigan student, who has relocated to begin his professional career in Charlottesville, Virginia, ran a personal best at the Dr. Sander Invitational two weeks ago in New York, taking the win in 7:48.8. He’s headed back to race a 3,000m in New York at the Millrose Games this weekend. 

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Flanagan’s goal for the weekend is to be competitive. “I haven’t seen the full start list, but I’m feeling confident after my last race at the Armory. I want to make sure I’m a contender in the race.”

Flanagan is loving his new training group and community, which includes Toronto native Justyn Knight. “The first month here has just been focusing on making a smooth transition and adjustment. I’m really focusing on running and getting in with the group.”

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Flanagan is only in his first year of professional running. “Being a professional athlete is definitely different. One thing that’s nice about working with coach Chris Fox is that he doesn’t over-complicate things, which is similar to the training I’m used to from college. Not having to go to school has really opened up the possibilities for me in terms of recovery and making the most of every day. As I get settled here, I’ll try to get more involved in the community.”

In terms of his training, Flanagan says that the professional level is certainly different than the collegiate level he was used to. “The difference between professional and collegiate running is when someone has a good day at the professional level, they can really have a good day. There has to be an understanding that there are days where you’ll have to swallow your pride, get dropped, and know that you have to do what’s best for you. I’m surrounded by excellent athletes.”

Flanagan says his workouts are difficult. “We do a lot of tempos on the dirt roads which are really challenging. The Syracuse guys [Knight ran for Syracuse in college] are on another level compared to me when it comes to hills. We did a seven-mile tempo at five-minutes-per-mile pace and on that terrain, that’s crazy fast. Working out with Justyn is making my workouts really high-quality.”

The team did a speed workout recently, and Flanagan was only able to do a portion of it. “The guys did seven by 600m at around 1:30 per rep. They only had 1:30 rest too. I could only get through four reps of that and then I did some 800m repeats after. The biggest change is the recovery. The recovery is short, which makes the paces really honest.”

Flanagan will race this Saturday at 4:52 p.m. You can catch the event live on NBC Sports. 

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