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The 5,000 meter heats start Wednesday, July 20, and the American women have some tough races ahead of them, with reigning world champion and Olympic silver medalist Hellen Obiri returning alongside Tokyo Olympics winner Sifan Hassan. Hassan took 10 months off from competitive racing, however, citing a lack of motivation after an intense Tokyo showing, which could help open up the field. These are the three American women to watch.
Elise Cranny’s win at nationals wasn’t exactly a surprise—she had just set an indoor 5,000 meter record in February—but after she scratched from the 10K champs due to “not feeling like” herself, there were questions about her health. It turns out, the Olympian was battling RED-S, the condition in which an athlete’s calorie consumption isn’t keeping up with their training. She had fatigue, amenorrhea, and a host of other symptoms.
Thanks to lots of rest of food, Cranny was able to bounce back in time to not only complete at the U.S. championships, but win. While it’s her first worlds team, it’s not her first global stage, and she hopes to put that knowledge to work. “I am looking forward to taking what I learned from racing many of these women in Tokyo and put it into action,” she told Women’s Running.
Best part of training: “My teammates. Being surrounded by people who challenge me and bring out the best in me on a daily basis is inspiring, motivating and special. Plus, we have been training at altitude in Park City, which I love. The mountains remind me of growing up in Colorado and I feel lucky to get to train with my friends in such an inspiring place.”
Worst part of training: “Trying to find the line between when to push and when to back off and incorporate a bit more recovery. The first little bit at altitude I was dealing with some fatigue, RED-S, and overtraining, which meant I had to take some time off training/workouts. Trying to be patient during this time and trusting that my body would come around and that I would start to feel more like myself again was the most challenging piece.”
Best advice received: “Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.”
Pre-race superstitions: “I have to paint my nails, put on glitter eye shadow (thanks to my teammate Vanessa Fraser for getting me into this), and wear the same earrings and socks to warm-up in before a race.”
Go-to summer jam: “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston
5,000m PR: 14:48.02
Emily Infeld had one of the best stories of the U.S. championships in June, when she narrowly missed making the 10K team in a heartbreaking finish and came back to score a spot in the 5,000 meters. After a few years of injuries, a widely reported stalking case, and a move from Bowerman Track Club, her success feels especially sweet.
Her finish at nationals was a tight battle down the homestretch. “I honestly feel like I kind of blacked out, like the last 80 meters … I saw Elise go outside. And I was like, Oh, I’m just gonna stay inside. Because I bet Elise is gonna go out, Karissa’s gonna go, I’ll just like sneak in on the inside—I like to do that,” she says. “For me, the goal that race, I wanted to make the team and I had a feeling it was probably going to be slow at the beginning, knowing the conditions, and I didn’t want to lead, but I wanted to get out well. So I think I was in the lead, maybe for like one lap and we ran like a 90 second lap. And then I immediately got gobbled up and was in the middle of the pack. But I was just laser focused on following Elise, kind of those last few laps, and I feel like that last 100 meters I just realized I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s the three of us, we are going to be on the team.'”
After all that jostling, Infeld contracted COVID right after the championships. It was mild, and she only missed a few workouts. “My husband got knocked out pretty hard,” she says. “I just had to adjust my training slightly, but I’m feeling great now.”
Best part of training: “Working with my husband, I think it’s been really, really nice. He’s back in the office now. So don’t do our daily runs together as much as when he was working remote. But it’s been really nice. We were kind of doing things before or after his work. So we were either working out at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m., which worked out well, the wind [in Flagstaff] was really bad, and we wanted to probably be doing that anyways. But I’ve just been really thankful for him. He is just so even-keeled and I really need that. I’m really emotional. And I’m so invested in this and he helps to keep me more level.”
Worst part of training: “I feel like I don’t want to say COVID stuff. I mean, I’m saying that now because I’m frustrated. But I feel like having that fear is still there and I think that’s been really hard. Just I think still not doing things normally, like gyms aren’t open. It still feels like not totally normal. And then Flagstaff in the spring, the wind was terrible.”
Best advice received: “Probably from my dad, he sent me a couple of quotes, I think because I was really stressed about getting COVID and I just think my dad is so wise and he’s so kind. He said ‘the biggest waste of time is anytime you spend on regret.’ I think it’s really nice.”
Pre-race superstitions: None!
Go-to summer jam: Music for a Sushi Restaurant – Harry Styles
5,000m PR: 14:54.09
Karissa Schweizer, 26, is making a habit of doubling up in world competitions. At the Tokyo Olympics she competed and advanced to the finals in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meter events and ultimately placed 7th and 12th, respectively. At the World Athletics Championships, she is once again doubling in the two events.
The Olympian secured her spot on Team USA by winning her first national title at the 10,000 championships in 30:49.56.
Now she’ll be making the short journey from her home base in Portland, Oregon, where she trains with Bowerman Track Club, to Eugene, Oregon, to run a potential total of 50 laps on the track over the course of the competition (pending she makes the 5,000 meter final).
Schweizer was unsure how this year would turn out for her after having surgery on her Achilles fall of 2021. “In October the thought of making it to this start line was up in the air,” she wrote on Instagram before the championships in May. “One of my goals (like everyone else racing Friday) is to make the World team. Before I could even think about that big goal, I had to make it to this start line healthy.”
It’s safe to say the she accomplished that goal, and, in fact, doubled it.
5,000m PR: 14:26.34