Spotlight on Ben Blankenship: 1500m US Olympian Now Dedicating Himself to the Marathon
This guest post was written by 2016 US Olympian Ben Blankenship
My name is Benjamin Blankenship, and for most of my professional life, I have said that I am a track and field athlete – more specifically, a 1500m runner. I represented my country globally in that event at the Olympic Games in 2016, at the World Championships events in 2018 and 2019. But recently, I’ve made a dramatic change – I have begun training for the marathon.
If you know anything about track and field, it is unusual for an athlete to switch from middle distance running and move directly to the 26.2 miles of the marathon. As athletes age, they certainly tend to move up in distance – but they’ll first make stops in the 5,000m or the 10,000m.
The New Challenge Ahead
However, the last couple years, my training and competition schedule kept getting interrupted by untimely injuries, and I knew I needed to make a big shift.
My current coach, Ryan Hall, owns the fastest marathon (2:04:58) and half marathon (59:43) times in U.S. history – and he planted the seed of this idea in my head in 2019, when I was still training to be among the best 1500m runners in the world. I laughed it off then, but as time passed, I realized that I was thinking about the prospect of the marathon, and I was thinking about it a lot.
I have always been a strength-based runner, and I have always envisioned running a marathon – so, I thought, why not now?
I am in the middle of my first full marathon training block now and the differences are stark. Before, much of my training was done on the trail or on the track – now, almost all of my miles are run on the roads. As a 1500m runner, my longest long run was 16 miles – in this block, I have hit 25 miles in one run. I’m regularly hitting over 90 miles a week, which previously was pretty much my peak mileage.
Prioritizing Rest & Recovery
All of that, cumulatively, means I have to prioritize rest more than ever before. My body has been adapting really well to the change of stimulus, but in order to maximize the effects of the training, I have to get as much sleep as possible.
I’ll be honest that historically, I was pretty terrible at this. I have never been someone who “needs” a lot of sleep – give me 6 hours on any given day and I’ll function just fine. But as the mileage creeps up, my coach has made it clear that outside of running, my job is to sleep. That is the only way my body will truly recover and absorb the training load the marathon requires.
Which is where Lagoon comes in. I took the online test, matched with the Hippo, and had one of the best night’s sleep of my life the first time using it. Then the same thing happened the next night. And the next.
Obviously, you don’t have to be a marathoner or a professional athlete to benefit from a solid night’s sleep. Sleep is the one of the main components of a healthy, active lifestyle. Sure, you can function on less sleep, and on lower-quality sleep. But why should you? Lagoon Sleep can work for anyone, with a wide variety of fill options to suit every preference.
Now I tell everyone I can about these pillows. I can honestly say that they have changed my sleeping patterns – and, therefore, my overall rest and recovery – for the better.
My debut marathon will be in the early spring of 2023. I have my eyes on trying to make the 2024 U.S. Olympic team in the marathon, the Trials for which will take place in Orlando in February of 2024. It’s going to take a lot of training and a lot of determination to make it to the start line with a fighting chance. And while some people think I’m a little crazy for making this change, I know that chasing this dream is right for me.
The journey is on – and I’m excited for where it might lead!