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A Canadian Paralympic track & field athlete shares his Flagstaff training story.
For those who may not know me, my name is Nate Riech, and I compete in the 1500m on the track. To give you a little background on myself, I am a Paralympic track & field athlete, representing Canada on the international stage.
Being a middle-distance runner, there are many adaptations to my training plan which I implement in order to reach my full potential, with the hope of snagging an international medal for my country.
In 2018, I had found myself in a rut, and my coach at the time suggested heading up to Flagstaff to do some altitude training. Anything new brings lots of excitement along with some nerves, but those nerves would be silenced shortly after reaching Flagstaff. Flagstaff offers everything an endurance athlete could want; endless unpaved trails, access to testing/treatment and other support via HYPO2, welcoming running community, fantastic coffee, and opportunity to go on adventures during downtime.
In addition, I believe there is a unique quality to training in the mountains, and I have always felt that I gained an edge on my competition from training in Flagstaff. If you come to Flag for seclusion, you definitely have that, but on the other side of the coin you can find someone to run with every day without fail. When we weren’t training, you could find us enjoying a cappuccino at Macy’s Coffeehouse downtown or hiking up Mount Elden.
Following my stay, I set a PB (Personal Best) in the 1500m for the first time in 4 years, and I’ve always believed it was because of my time training in Flagstaff. The following year, a big group of Canadians went down to Flag for a month, which eventually was a springboard for me to capturing Gold at the Para Pan-American Games, as well as the World Championships. Flagstaff will always be a crucial part of my training plan, as I prepare to compete for Paralympic Gold in 2021.
Nate participated in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, making a name for himself in Para athletics. He won the gold medal in 2019 in the men's T38 1500-m at both the IPC World Championships and the Parapan American Games in meet record time. Nathan was named Athletic Canada’s Ambulatory Athlete of the Year in 2018, and as of December 2019, holds the world record in the T38 800m and 1500m.