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RUNNER'S NICHE

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Vol. 1 No. 5 August, 1996

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NOTES FROM THE EDITOR

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Yes, this issue is a bit late coming out. I wanted to wait

until the Olympics were over before letting this issue loose.

I hope to have Oly results e-mailed out in the next couple of

days.

There are many things we will likely carry with us from these

games. There are several positives I hope we can all

remember. (Despite the whining American press and electronic

media.)

I hope the world remembers a very talented, brave young

American sprinter by the name of Tim Harden. He was the

rookie on the 4 x 100 US mens relay team who was suddenly put

on the spot. When attempts were made to put Carl Lewis on the

relay team to give him a shot at his tenth gold medal, Tim

could have been the odd man out. Harden ran, and ran well,

despite what had to be enormous pressure.

I'm hoping Erv Hunt will be remembered as the coach who stuck

with his principles, and refused to put someone on the relay

team who had not earned the right.

Maybe Americans can remember this as the Olympics when a new,

strong batch of Canadian sprinters took the spotlight by

winning the 400 meter relay. Perhaps Donovan Bailey can

receive the respect he deserves after winning the gold and

setting the world record in the 100 meters.

I'd love to see more attention given to the strong US

distance efforts. Sure, we all recognize that work needs to

be done to improve development of US distance running talent,

but let's help to do that by holding up examples of our

strong US talent. Look at Bob Kennedy, who nearly pulled of a

medal in the 5000 and who was courageous enough to take the

lead with two laps to go in the race. How about veteran Mark

Croghan in the steeplechase. He ran a great tactical race and

finished a strong fifth. Then there was the gutsy performance

of Anne Marie Lauck, who literally collapsed at the finish

line after giving it all she had in the marathon. By

promoting these individuals, maybe it would be possible to

stir up more interest in the sport.

Similarly, I hope everyone remembers how well American Lance

Deal did in the hammer throw, taking the silver. Let's forget

grumbling about how American John Godina "only" got a silver

in the shot, and failed to make it to the finals of the

discus. He's only 22 years old and the man already owns a

silver medal!

Then there is the the courage of injured athletes like Jackie

Joyner-Kersee, Mike Powell and Chris Huffins who put it on

the line despite great pain. One got a medal and two did not,

yet they all left the field knowing they gave everything they

could.

Most importantly, when the history books are written, I hope

the courage, determination and strength of the people of

Atlanta and the Olympic movement are noted. A cowardly,

moronic, evil, sub-human little puke who planted a pipe bomb

in Centennial Park thought he could bring the games to a

stop. The games did stop, there was a moment of silence at

each venue to remember those who had died and those who were

injured. Then the games proceeded full steam ahead.

- Woody Green

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OLYMPIC ODDS AND ENDS

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- Michael Johnson: "I never dreamed I would run a 19.32."

- Johnson's coach, Clyde Hart: "Personally, I would have

thought that if he had run 19.32, his heart would have

exploded."

- Michael Johnson: "The 19.32 wasn't a perfect race, I

stumbled out of the blocks. I think 19.2 is possible."

- More on Johnson: There was a lot of talk by sports

journalists that if you divide Johnson's 19.32 in two, you

would get 9.68 for each 100 meters - faster than Donovan

Bailey's new 100 meter record of 9.84. Thus, they reasoned,

Johnson must be the "real" fastest man in history. This logic

fails to recognize that Johnson's second 100 meters was run

with the aid of a full running start. In reality, Johnson was

timed in 10.12 for the first 100 meters of his historic race.

From there, he closed with 9.2 for the last 100 meters, which

, of course, was with a running start.

- Getting to the start: Boulder resident Rich Castro,

personal coach of Ecuador's Martha Tenorio, said the bus

driver who took them from the Olympic village to the start of

the marathon didn't really know where to go. First he took

athletes to the practice track instead of the stadium. Once

he got redirected to the main stadium, he went through the

wrong security line, taking much longer than need be. Finally

he got them to the stadium, but insisted they get off at the

entrance for athletes not competing. Marathoners then had to

walk to the other side of the stadium to get to the competing

athletes entrance.

- Accommodations: Castro also reported that while larger

countries were housed in huge dormitories, smaller countries

were given a sorority or fraternity building. The

Ecuadorians, staying in a frat house, must have learned of

the reputation for wild parties in American frats. They

partied wildly and late into the night after Jefferson Perez

won the 20 K racewalk for Ecuador.

- Security: To get into the athlete's village, athletes and

coaches had to go through three separate security gates.

- More security: No cars were permitted in any area of the

athlete's village. Buses were used to transport athletes

around the village at all times.

- Can you stomach this? One coach waiting in line at one of

the McDonalds in the Olympic village watched as the athlete

ahead of him in line, a Russian weightlifter, took all eight

double cheeseburgers off the serving table. The woman behind

the counter was undaunted, saying, "more double cheeseburgers

up in a moment." Apparently this was not the first Olympian

appetite she had seen!

- Medal detector needed: Carl Lewis temporarily lost his long

jump gold medal when the medal and Carl's pager wound up in

TV anchorman Tom Brocaw's car after an interview.

- Looking forward to 2000: Richard Palfreyman, an Olympic

official for the upcoming 2000 games in Sydney said: "I'm not

sure we can improve on the friendliness and energy of the

Atlanta people. But we certainly believe we can make our

Olympics special for everyone."

- Relay splits: Gail Devers defeated Gwen Torrence in the

Open 100 meter race. Gwen turned the tables a bit, at least

for trivia buffs, in the 4 x 100 relay. She had a slightly

faster relay leg, running 9.97 to 10.03 for Devers.

- More relay splits: The US womens 4 x 400 relay team ran

well enough to get the gold medal. The fastest individual

relay leg of all the athletes in the field, however, came

from Germany's anchor runner Grit Breuer, who clocked 48.63.

As fast as this was, Marie-Jose Perec's winning time in the

open 400 was faster - 48.25 out of the blocks.

- Drugs: Marina Trandenkova, 5th in the womens 100, tested

positive for bromanton, a stimulant and masking agent. The

Russian sprinter was not the only athlete to test positive

for this drug. Two Russian swimmers and one wrestler tested

positive for bromanton as well.

- How fast is fast? Decathlete Dan O'Brien ran 4:45.89 for

1500 meters, the final event of the decathlon. This might

have looked slow on TV, but that translates to 5:06.76 for a

mile. Not exactly pedestrian.

- How slow is slow? The final finisher in the mens marathon

was A Baser Wasiqi of Afghanistan with a time of 4:24:17.

This is a record for the slowest time ever recorded in the

Olympics.

- Slow but not that slow: The last finisher of the womens

marathon fared much better. Marie Benito of Guam ran

3:27:28, good for 65th.

- DNFs: While the weather was not super hot for either

marathon, it was still warm and very humid. That took its

toll as 20 out of 85 women who started failed to finish. The

men fared a bit better, with 13 out of 124 dropping out.

- The bright side: Americans may not have taken any medals in

the marathon, but all 5 who finished were in the top half of

the field.

- More on the bright side: Bob Kennedy, American record

holder in the 5,000 meters, ran a superb race and even took

the lead of the Olympic 5,000 with two laps to go. He

finished 6th with a time of 13:12. (The race was won by 1500

meter specialist Niyongabo of

Burundi in 13:07.96.) Watch out for Kennedy in the next few

years. He has no "Kenyaphobia" at all.

 

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BLAST FROM THE PAST:

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Mexico City: October 20, 1968

The Mexico City Olympics are now remembered primarily for the

world record blitz in the sprint and jump events. This was

the Olympics where Bob Beamon long jumped 29' 2 1/2", almost

2 feet longer than the world record at the time. Wynomia Tyus

ran 11.0, Jim Hines 9.9, Tommy Smith 19.8, Lee Evans 43.8.

All in all 15 World Track and Field Records were set. The

thin air of Mexico City contributed greatly to most of these

marks, since the thin air offers less resistance and allows

greater speed in sprints.

In 1968 the women had no race longer than 800 meters. The

Olympics were still under the charge of cavemen who felt

women were too delicate to run "longer" distances. The men

competed in all the traditional distance events,however, and

these were certainly NOT aided by the 7400 foot altitude. In

fact, there were numerous problems for athletes who did not

live and train at high altitude. In the end, 10 of the 15

distance event medals went to athletes who came from high

altitude. Most of these were Kenyans.

An excellent example of the altitude problem for sea level

trained athletes was legendary Australian distance ace Ron

Clarke, who was the favorite in the 10,000 meters. In the

thin air of Mexico City, however, he faded to 6th place and

collapsed at the finish. It took 10 minutes to revive him and

he was taken to the hospital immediately. Some feared he

would die. He recovered completely (and competed in the 5000

meters a few days later), but he was only one of several

athletes who were overcome by the effects of altitude.

The mens 1500 meter event was to be a showdown between the

world record holder, Kansas college student Jim Ryun, and the

blazing fast Kenyan, Kip Keino. West German Bodo Tummler was

another force to be reckoned with, having run the fastest

mile and 1500 of the year leading up to Mexico City. His

times were 3:53.8 and 3:36.5. Keino had been red hot, too,

having run 3:55.5 in the mile in late August. Nineteen year-

old Marty Liquori, who had followed Ryun's footsteps as a

high school running phenomenon, was also in the finals.

Ryun had a problematic year leading up to the Olympics. He

had several injuries, and had to overcome Mononucleosis which

was diagnosed in May. This detracted greatly from his summer

training. In the Olympic trials, held in Lake Tahoe, he

failed to qualify in the 800 meters, but managed to win the

1500. Still, he did not feel good in the race, and was very

unsure of himself. He was certainly not the Jim Ryun of 1967,

when he had set the world record in both the mile and 1500

(3:51.1 and 3:33.1, respectively.)

Jim knew what he was up against with the high altitude

factor. He had trained with Jack Daniels in Alamosa, Colorado

during the Summer of '67. To support himself while he trained

in Colorado, he worked as a grocery sacker. There were no big

shoe company contracts to support track athletes in the back

then.

Jack Daniels, a very well known and respected exercise

physiologist and coach, warned Ryun that at the altitude of

Mexico City, going out too hard at the start would certainly

spell disaster for sea level trained athletes. Ryun would

need to run a smart race since Keino would likely go out hard

to try to deplete the other athletes of oxygen.

In the finals, Keino did just that. He had some help, as Ben

Jipcho, a young, upcoming Kenyan, led the race out to aid his

countryman. Jipcho hit 400 in 56.0, with Keino at 56.6. Ryun

was at the back of the pack in 58.5, heeding Daniels advice

to be cautious.

Jipcho and Keino did not let off the accelerator on the

second lap, with Keino in the lead at 800 in 1:55.3. Bodo

Tummler was holding on for dear life, 4 meters back. Ryun was

a good 30 meters or more behind Keino at this point. Those

who did not understand the effects of altitude were not too

worried about Ryun being that far back. He had a fearsome

kick and had outsprinted the world's best from behind more

than once in his young career.

Keino's third circuit of the track was unrelenting, as he

passed 1200 in 2:53.4. Ryun, however, was making up ground

slowly, hitting 2:56. Tummler was still the closest pursuer

to Keino at this point, and Ryun was not yet in medal

position.

Before the race, Ryun figured a 3:39 could win, and he had

planned his strategy accordingly. He was on pace to run under

3:39, but with 300 meters left Keino was well ahead and

looking strong. Tummler was fading, and Ryun passed him and

went into second place on the final curve. His last 400

meters would be 54, and he made up ground on the Kenyan, but

nobody had any real chance to beat Keino on this day.

Keino charged home to win by a large margin. Some people felt

Keino had an unfair advantage running at altitude since he

lived in the highlands of Kenya. This hardly seems credible

given his final time of 3:34.9. Not only did this net him the

gold medal, it was the fastest time of the year and an

Olympic record. Keino had come within 2 seconds of Ryun's

world record. This could only be described as remarkable for

a race held 7400 feet above sea level! On top of all this,

Keino ran the race with a painful kidney stone. His doctors

did not even want him to get out of bed, let alone run the

race!

Ryun sprinted to the finish, looking over his shoulder three

times in the final 100 meters. He had to be content with the

silver. His time of 3:37.9 should fairly rank as one of the

best marks in Olympic history, but it is often overlooked as

a result of Keino's masterful win.

Tummler salvaged the bronze with a 3:39.0. The early

pacesetter, Jipcho, slid back to 10th in 3:51.2. His mission

was to help secure the gold medal for Kenya, not individual

glory. The young American, Liquori, hobbled by a bad arch,

was last in 4:18.2.

Ryun would never run as fast in the 1500 or mile as he had in

1967. Some would say that the 1968 Olympics broke him, others

say that his coach, Bob Timmons, simply worked him too hard

at too young an age. Regardless, he will be remembered as one

of the very best athletes to ever grace the track.

Keino, interestingly, never surpassed his 1968 Olympic time

of 3:34.9 in the 1500 meters. To have a career best set at

the altitude of Mexico City is certainly unique, and it only

adds to the magnificence of his golden Olympic effort. While

Keino was not a terribly consistent runner, he continued to

be a strong force in track and field through the 1972 season.

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THIS MONTH'S LIST

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This month we introduce a new monthly feature. Each month we

will have a list, not unlike Letterman's top ten list, on a

running related issue. Thanks to Diana Shannon for this

months list.

TOP 5 REASONS THAT A MARATHON IS BETTER THAN A MAN

1. A marathon is an accomplishment you are proud to tell your

mother about.

2. Marathons last longer.

3. Marathons don't get jealous if you run other marathons.

4. A marathon won't whine if you quit it.

5. A marathon won't dump you for some cute, young runner.

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ALTITUDE TRAINING

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By Woody Green

There is a sort of mystique that surrounds sites like the

high plains of Kenya or the mountains of Colorado. These

locations, along with many others roughly a mile or more

above sea level, are thought to be very special places to

train. The very thin air that leaves runners gasping at

higher altitudes is thought to have magical qualities for the

runner wishing to get maximal gains from their training.

There are, however, plenty of people who feel there is no

real benefit in training at altitude, unless you are planning

on racing there. In fact, some feel that training at altitude

can actually slow a runner down.

So, who's right? All the studies on training at altitude

agree on one basic fact. When training at altitude, your

blood becomes "thicker." That is, you have a higher

concentration of red blood cells and hemoglobin. This seems

to be a way of adapting to the lower levels of oxygen

available to the lungs in the less dense air. Common belief

is that this could result in greater than "normal" endurance

when runners go to race at sea level.

This concept may sound familiar to people who have never

heard of the benefits of altitude training, but have heard of

the benefits of a friendly physician. The procedure known as

"blood doping" or "blood packing" is an attempt to accomplish

the same thing. In this procedure, an athlete will have a

unit of blood extracted and preserved. Later, when the

athlete's blood has naturally increased back to its normal

level, the old blood is reinjected into the athlete. This

provides extra red blood cells and hemoglobin for oxygen

transport. It should be noted that this method is illegal

according to the governing bodies of athletics. It should

also be pointed out that it is dangerous. Many athletes have

wound up ill as a result of this technique. Rumors are that

some have even died.

Another medical attempt to increase the oxygen capacity of

the blood is a drug called EPO which similarly increases the

blood "thickness." Again, this method is both illegal and

dangerous.

It is very well accepted in the arena of world class running

that "blood doping" and EPO work very well to increase an

athlete's endurance. Some Olympic medalists have been accused

of using this method to improve their performance.

If altitude training results in the same thing: "thicker"

blood, then shouldn't it increase performance, too? Many

runners and coaches believe it does. Certainly the

performances of athletes from areas such as Kenya, Ethiopia

and Mexico who live and train at altitude would lead many to

suspect that altitude training is a definite advantage. And,

it is not illegal, immoral or life threatening!

Common belief, though, has yet to be solidly backed by

scientific evidence. The scientific community has conducted a

good number of studies on training a high altitude.

Surprisingly, there are very few that support the notion that

altitude trained athletes will have an advantage when racing

at at sea level. Many studies have shown that athletes who

are taken to high altitude to train, then back to sea level

to race, show no improvement over their pre-altitude training

times.

Additionally, there are problems associated with running at

altitude. Since it is impossible to run as fast at altitude

as a similar distance at sea level, some coaches fear that

altitude training will actually slow their athletes down.

Some feel that interval training may be negatively impacted

by altitude, as well, making anaerobic training less

effective.

When an athlete trains at altitude, then goes to sea level,

the body begins changing. The increased levels of hemoglobin

and red blood cell density return to "normal" after several

days. Thus, any benefits in blood composition are probably

short lived.

Another problem is not so much the altitude itself, but the

climate that accompanies most high altitude locations. They

tend to be dry and relatively cool. This makes it hard for an

athlete to adapt to the heat and humidity more commonly found

when they race at sea level.

Still, advocates of altitude training provide arguments in

favor of running in "rare air."

Frank Shorter was once quoted as saying that one of the

benefits of altitude training was that it is simply not

possible to run as many miles as at sea level. This, he felt,

kept some runners from running too many miles and beating up

their legs.

Many feel there is a sort of psychological advantage as well.

Training feels harder at altitude, which can lead to a sense

of confidence and mental toughness. Mental attitude is

extremely important in any athletic endeavor. Anything that

leads to increased confidence must certainly be considered a

benefit.

Additionally, those who point only to scientific evidence

should be reminded that there were initially numerous

scientific studies which indicated that steroid use had no

effect on muscle strength or recovery from workouts. Studies

or not, unscrupulous athletes continued to use the drugs,

knowing full well that the benefits were very real. They did

not wait for science to prove what they already knew. Despite

scientific findings, perhaps the athletes training at

altitude know something the exercise physiologists have yet

to prove. And, there's nothing unscrupulous about training on

a beautiful mountain trail at 5000 feet!

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WEB SITES OF INTEREST

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There is a new DOS-based program called RunLog in a calendar

format. It keeps track of all your distances, times, paces,

totals, etc. and graphs them, too. There is a web page for

it with a demo at:

http://www.pacifier.com/~mshep/runlog/

You PC users might want to check it out!

**

The North Carolina Roadrunners Club (about 700+ members) has

a web page with upcoming races and results for middle/eastern

NC. It is:

http://sunsite.unc.edu/ncrc

Take a visit to this nice site!

**

The Hood to Coast Relay has its own web site. Included are

race details, weather conditions, course changes, training

tips, maps and more. Sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, visit

this site at:

http://www.nationwidedirect.com/hoodtocoast/

 

 

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READER'S MAIL

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*Olympic Trials Editorial*

These readers share their feelings about last month's

editorial on the Olympic trials:

*****

Dear RUNNER'S NICHE,

Glad you had such a wonderful time in our city at the trials-

-didn't realize you were such an expert in stadium design and

urban culture and decoration-Please cancel my subscription.

-No Name Given

*****

Dear RUNNER'S NICHE,

Re: your Olympic Trials experience. I totally agree.

- Jim O'Brien

 

*Blast From the Past Correction*

Benji Durden writes to correct an error in the Blast from the

Past column last month that stated that Steve Jones' 2:07:13

was the fastest ever on a loop course:

*****

Dear RUNNER'S NICHE,

The Rotterdam course is a loop course as well (where Carlos

Lopes set the WR at 2:07:12) so Jonesey's 2:07:13 was the 2nd

fastest for a loop, not the fastest. The start and finish

were just a few feet apart.

It is true that Lopes had some good rabbits though. I was one

through 10K (29:58 I think it was) and 2 guys actually hung

onto 3 min K's 'till around 25K before they crashed and Lopes

was on his own. He slowed to a K over 3 minutes finally

around 39-40K (after having steak for breakfast that

morning). I was stunned with how fast he ran.

Jonesy was stunning with how crazy he ran and survived.

Another time.

Later,

- Benji Durden, Boulder

*EATING MORE AND ENJOYING IT LESS*

*****

Dear RUNNER'S NICHE,

My name is Amanda Parish and I love to run. I've been running

for 3 months now and I run 3-4 miles every night (excluding

Sunday.) I've noticed that since I've been running my

appetite has increased. And, I can't seem to get enough to

eat. I was wondering if there was something I could do to get

my appetite to decrease? I would also love to join your E-

magazine. I downloaded a couple of your back issues, and they

were fantastic!

Thanks,

-Amanda

Ed: A greater appetite is perfectly normal when you increase

your activity level. Not only does your body need more food

to provide energy, you require more vitamins, trace elements

and water.

Be happy that you can eat more and worry less about it . You

are burning 3-400 calories a day by running 3-4 miles a day.

Many runners say the only reason they run more is so they can

eat more!

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CONTRIBUTIONS

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RUNNER'S NICHE needs more writers! If you would like to write

an article about any aspect of running, please submit it via

e-mail to us. Since this is a free publication, we don't pay

our writers. Still, your article will be read by a great

variety of folks, including subscribers in 5 different

continents. Besides, what can be more fun to write about than

the best sport of all: running?

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NEXT MONTH IN RUNNER'S NICHE

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- Blast From the Past looks at the 1979 NCAA Nationals

- Notes from our European editor on the problems with British

track and field.

- Fartlek training.

- Other fun stuff!

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RUNNER'S NICHE IS ON THE WEB!

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RUNNER'S NICHE has a web page! We have some cool links, and

past issues can be downloaded there. Also, we have a

Macintosh training log program for free download. Features

are continuously being added. If you'd like to visit, the URL

is: http://members.aol.com/woodyg3/web/runiche.html . Pass

the address on to your friends!

 

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