Late in August, Timmons put Ryun through a workout with emphasis on his weakness, speed recovery in the face of fatigue. The session took place late in the afternoon on the track in the University of Kansas stadium, ringed by 45,000 gray and empty seats. It had been 90� early in the afternoon, and it was still 87. Already that morning Jim had been up at 7:30 and run six miles over the rolling pasture land and rutted and stony roads near the Timmonses' house. He had come back, eaten a breakfast of cereal, toast, milk and orange juice. He spent the morning doing the odd jobs that any accommodating boy without a regular summer job does around the house. He carried in bags of groceries for Mrs. Timmons, put a sickle bar on a small tractor and adjusted a power mower. He ate Swiss steak and drank iced tea for lunch, then watched television in a desultory way. Around 5, Timmons drove him to the stadium. Waiting there to work out with Ryun was Bill Dotson, himself a sub-four-minute miler. Dotson now lives in Lawrence and is preparing for the indoor track season.
Dressed in sweat clothes, Ryun and Dotson began by striding a mile and doing loosening-up exercises. Already drenched with sweat, they stripped to shorts and T shirts and ran four 110-yard and four 60-yard sprints. They followed those with a fast 1,320 and a strided 880. Next they ran two 660s within a four-minute interval, counting the times of the 660s. Then came another strided 880. Next four 330s within three minutes, followed by another strided 880. Now they did six 100s in two minutes and eight 60s within one minute.
At that point Ryun complained of sore calves and asked if the workout could be curtailed. Timmons said no, but promised him a whirlpool bath after practice. "I've a surprise for you," he said. "I'm going to open the gates and let you run a little outside."
At the top of a fairly steep hill, visible through the stadium's open end, stands a memorial campanile. It was at least a third of a mile from the stadium. "Run up there and back four times," Timmons ordered.
With a trace of acerbity Ryun suggested, "You'd better call your wife and tell her we'll be home for dinner at 8:30 instead of 7:30 like you told her."
"Why don't you tell that to Jim Grelle?" Timmons countered. "Maybe he'll send you a postcard from Tokyo." Ryun smiled and bounded off up the hill with renewed speed and determination. Timmons' session on speed recovery was an apparent success.
Ryun runs with a short stride, his knee lift never exaggerated. He is 6 feet 2 inches and 150 pounds and has been described as "a stork in shorts." His legs, not heavily muscled, appear slender but strong. His running is fluid and limber, marred only by his habit of turning his head from side to side as he runs. Timmons is trying to break this habit, reasoning that it uses up energy and that the repeated head motion can lead to nausea.
Ryun so far outclassed his school rivals that only in the last six months has he acquired a body of experience in running against other men instead of against a watch. "He has lacked the initiative to take the lead in a race and that cost him in the first Olympic trials," Timmons says. "He has had trouble stumbling, too. Gerry Lindgren beat him in a two-mile when he fell. He stumbled and fell off the track at Compton. He stumbled at the National AAU—ran too close to the curb. You know Burleson was kind enough to tell him right during the race, 'Jim, run wider, or you'll stumble again.' I'm trying to correct all these things, but remember, Jim's like so many tall teenagers at the awkward stage."
Almost every day in the last few weeks Timmons and Ryun have discussed strategy and tactics for the Olympic trials. They talk about when Jim should make his move if it turns into a slow race and what position he should try to hold if it is a fast one. As the day of the trials approached, Timmons was contending with one psychological problem which beset the coaches of few other Olympic track and field aspirants. Ryun is so young that it would be easy and perhaps natural for him to cherish the belief that if he does not make the team this year, he will probably have at least two more good tries at it. Some well-meaning friends have been telling Jim just that. But Timmons will have none of it. "I've told Jim that a lot could happen between now and 1968 and 1972," he says. "He could get the mumps, be run over by a truck or come up with a bad stomach the day of the trials in 1968 or 1972."
Timmons seems to have made his point. "I'm going to try my hardest for the team this year," Jim said shortly before departing for Los Angeles. "A lot can happen between now and 1968 or 1972. I might get the mumps, be run over by a truck, come up with a stomachache..."