Clausen has a legitimate shot at being on the podium at the end of his race. His fourth-place finish at the 1999 World Championships proved that he is among the world's best, and his American record-setting performance at the U.S. Olympic Trials showed hes never been better.
Recently he took a break from his training at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., to talk to Active.com.
Active.com: What are you working on now in training?
Curt Clausen: Right now I've re-entered a base period. Were kind of viewing this year as two seasons, so we just finished up our first season. We qualified for the Olympics in February, then we did some altitude training and did four races in Europe in April and May. That gave us a chance to see the rest of the competition.
Now weve taken a couple of easy weeks. Its a lot like running, in that we have a base period for six to eight weeks and then well start doing a little more fine-tuning—faster-than-race-pace stuff. Right now Im doing about 160 kilometers a week. Well go a little higher than that soon, up to just under 200K.
A: With whom are you training?
CC: My coach is Enrique Pena. He coached the Olympic gold medalist in '96. Fortunately, we were able to get him to come coach the team based here. We have five other men training for racewalking here.
A: How did you get into racewalking?
CC: I got into it during the summer of seventh grade at the Junior Olympics Track and Field program. I was running summer track; we had a local club in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and I was running the 1,500 and 3,000.
One of the guys from the local university had won a national title in walking. He came out and showed us how to racewalk, because it was part of the Junior Olympic program but nobody in our club had even tried it because they had no clue how to. I guess it was just sort of luck that I got into it because it was an endurance event and it meshed well with the distance running. I did it every summer from then on, through high school.
A: Youve already qualified for the 50K in Sydney. Are you going to try to qualify to compete in the Olympic 20K this summer, as well?
CC: Honestly, unless my coach encourages me to do so, I dont see myself doing the 20K. Im going to focus on the 50. The way the U.S. team is set up right now, we have three guys at 50K, but because we dont have A standards at 20, were probably only going to take one athlete. Im going to go to the Trials and try to win the thing, then probably defer to whoever the next eligible athlete is.