Vol. 4 No. 1 January, 1999
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
There are a ton of books on running, and many web sites,
magazines and other resources to help you along. The keys
can be sorting through all the information, and, of course,
taking some advice with a gain of salt.
Guidance that I once got from a silly computer cartoon
"moose" rings pretty true when it comes to running. He
popped up on the screen and said, "Don't believe everything
that you believe."
Many runners read something new about training and take it
as gospel. Others take advice so literally that they become
easily baffled. I know one runner who was dismayed and
unsure how to proceed because two different authors
suggested heart-rate targets for his lactate threshold
training that were 5 beats per minute apart. He analyzed
himself into a frenzy. It never occurred to him that a
difference of 5 beats per minute wasn't likely to make much
difference one way or the other.
On a broader scale, some runners will examine a training
schedule and dismiss it entirely because their bread and
butter workout isn't a part of the program. It never occurs
to some people that there may be more than one way to
accomplish the same training goal. For example, some people
prefer to do intervals on the track, others like to do it
on trails, fartlek style. Some will do a prescribed,
measured course for their threshold workouts; others will
just go hard for 20 minutes or so on any route that suits
their fancy that day. Your body will respond and adapt,
regardless. These differences in training are more a matter
of style and personal preference than physiology.
Then there are runners who find a running program and
follow it to the letter, day in and day out, regardless of
how they feel or what results they are getting. They may
stop doing workouts that have worked well for them before
and greatly alter their training intensity in the name of
following a prescribed schedule. Training schedules are
meant to be guides, though, not training law.
Here's one that will blow some of you away. There are
runners out there who don't have a clue what the terms
lactate threshold, aerobic base training or fartlek are,
yet they succeed at improving just by running a variety of
routes at different paces according to how they feel and
what seems to work.
Don't get me wrong, every runner should try to learn as
much as they can about how to maximize their training
efforts. We are all an experiment of one, and so we each
need to build our own personal programs based on how we
individually respond to training. The more we know, the
better job we can do. So, by all means read everything you
can get your hands on, consult a coach, and talk to other
runners. Just remember that what's right for someone else
may not work for you. Also remember that the guy who writes
that training article you read each month doesn't know you
anywhere near as well as you know yourself.
Take an expert's advise here, a training schedule there,
add your own practical experience and a pinch of scientific
data and you will be able to cook up a training program
that works best for you. By the way, make sure you're
having fun, too. Otherwise, why bother?
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RUNNER'S NICHE / MARATHON & BEYOND TRIVIA CONTEST
Congratulations to last month's trivia winner, Steve Pavlik
of Racine, Wisconsin. Steve receives a free issue of
Marathon & Beyond Magazine and FAME!
This month's winner will also get a free issue of the
running periodical that goes the extra mile - Marathon &
Beyond Magazine. Trivia contest entrants are limited to one
prize per calendar year.
When answering, email your answers with the subject "trivia
contest" and answer the questions in the order they appear
below. Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The FIRST person to
answer all ten questions correctly wins. If nobody answers
all ten correctly, we will award the prize to the person
who answers the most questions correctly. Good Luck!
This Month's Questions:
1. Who was the highest placing American woman in the 1996
A. Kim Jones
B. Ann Marie Lauck
C. Linda Somers
2. Middle distance running star Gabriela Szabo is from...
3. Sonia O'Sullivan is from...
C. United States
4. Boston champ Fatuma Roba is from...
B. New Zealand
5. Collegiate distance running star Amy Skieresz attends...
A. University of Arizona
C. San Diego State
6. Priscilla Welch, the world masters marathon record
holder, is a citizen of what country?
B. United States
7. In what 1987 race did Welch set the masters marathon
A. Twin Cities
8. How many times did Portuguese star Rosa Mota win the
9. How many times has German star Uta Pippig won the Boston
10. Australian distance runner Lisa Martin attended what
American university in the early 1980's?
Last Month's answers:
1. How many times has American Lynn Jennings won the World
2. Who was the first runner to break 3:50 for the mile?
Answer: John Walker
3. Who was the "surprise" bronze medalist in the 1992
Women's Olympic Marathon?
Answer: Lorraine Moller
4. Who was the first runner to break 1:42 for 800 meters?
Answer: Seb Coe, who was also the first to break 1:43.
5. Who is the only woman (as of 12/31/98)) to break 2:21 in
Answer: Tegla Loroupe
6. Who won the 1984 U.S. Men's Olympic Marathon Trials
Answer: Pete Pfitzinger
7. Referring to the last question, who did the winner have
to out kick to win the race?
Answer: Alberto Salazar
8. Who won the 1987 Women's World Championships Marathon
Answer: Rosa Mota
9. How many AAU Cross-Country Titles did Steve Prefontaine
Answer: None. Hard to believe, eh?
10. Who was the first man to run a half-marathon under an
Answer: Arturo Barrios did it on the way to a world record
for the hour run on the track.
Thanks to Conrad Truedson for the last two questions.
FUR SEALS, STEEPLECHASE, AND BIG HEAD TODD: THE SCOTT
By Woody Green
Scott Dvorak has been running at a high level for many
years. He started at Ocean Park High School in Florida,
where he feels that a wise coach held him back from doing
too much training early in his career. He ran a 4:27 mile
and 9:35 two-mile, then moved on to Bevard College and
North Carolina State. A solid performer through his college
career, he discovered he was a good steeplechase runner in
his senior year when he clocked 8:57.
Scott managed to lower his steeplechase time to 8:39.6 and
make a name for himself nationally as a top distance
runner. Now concentrating on the 5,000 and 10,000 he has
continued to improve and placed 6th in the 1997 USATF
nationals for 5,000 meters. While he had a down year last
year due to injury, Scott is upbeat and has his eyes on the
big prize, a spot on the Olympic team in 2000.
This North Carolina resident's interests are certainly not
limited to running, though. He enjoys music, drawing,
windsurfing, mountain biking, and he even does some
modeling to earn a few extra bucks. He also spends a good
deal of time in front of his computer, working as a
WebMaster and updating his personal web site.
When asked how he balances all his interests and active
lifestyle with his running, he said, "It's always
difficult, and I really have to focus sometimes on making
planned time for my training, and not merely trying to
'fit' it in. Certainly, there are times when 'life's little
hand grenades go off', and I have to replan things, but
I've found that if I begin each day with a set plan of when
I'm going to train, where I'm going to train, and how I'm
going to train, then it becomes more the priority, and not
an afterthought. Running is not the number one thing in my
life, but when it's time to do it, it is!"
Good employment situations and a support crew of friends
and family have helped as well. "I've been fortunate enough
to find jobs that are somewhat understanding of my running
and my goals. I used to work for a sports management
company, and they gave me a lot of latitude when it came to
training and racing. Now, I work as a WebMaster for a
company called Self Source here in Charlotte. My boss is a
guy named Bill Taylor, who was a national class runner in
the late 80's and early 90's. Having an employer who
understands what is needed to achieve the goals that I've
set for myself in running is definitely a plus! I generally
do my morning runs at lunch now, and if an employer is
understanding of that, it makes it a whole lot easier."
While it may be tough to fit running into a busy schedule,
not running at all due to an injury last year was worse.
Then, he had the long road to recovery. "Fortunately I had
the understanding of a lot of people including Christie
(his fiancee), my family, my coach Jim Cooper, and my
sponsor Brooks, who still had faith in me."
"I had some chronic knee pain that wouldn't go away. I had
also had some other things happen in my life that left me a
little emotionally wrecked as well, and at that point, I
wasn't sure that I ever even wanted to put on a pair of
training shoes again. I still had my goals in running, but
I wasn't sure if I had it in me to do the work to get back
to where I was. I was just drained all around."
It wasn't easy for this elite runner to start over after a
long lay-off. "It wasn't until August that I really started
to train again," he said, "and regain some of the 'fire and
desire'! I told my coach Jim Cooper recently, that if I
ever miss that much time again, I don't know if I will make
it back. It's just really difficult when you fall out of
your running routine for a long period of time, to try and
make it a daily part of your life again. The fact that I
would go out and suffer through a 4-mile run didn't make it
any easier, knowing where I had once been. And believe me,
I suffered through a lot of them this past summer!"
Scott seems to be quite the adventurer. He has traveled to
faraway spots like Vietnam for a bicycle trip and
Antarctica, where he competed in the Antarctica Marathon in
Of his travels to the southernmost reaches of the globe, he
says, "When I agreed to do the event for World T.E.A.M.
Sports, I decided that I would try and not deviate too much
from the plan that I had set for my spring and summer
season. The focus for me was to just get through it without
damaging my upcoming track season. I basically continued to
do the same work that I would have done otherwise, but I
bumped my long runs up a little from 14 or 15 miles to
around 16 to 18 miles. Don't misunderstand me though, I
went down there with a serious frame of mind."
Running in the Antarctic summer, "it was 28 degrees with a
wind chill of -2 degrees. The first part of the race we
went into the wind, so I had a lot more clothing on. The
wind was by far the worst part, especially on the run up
the glacier. It was a crosswind, and you really had to dig
in to keep from getting blown down the thing.
"The race was predominantly run on a dirt road, which was
muddy at times, but for the most part fairly dry. We ran
about 3 miles up and down the glacier, and there was some
very rocky terrain that we had to navigate before and after
hitting the glacier. For the most part, I was able to carry
a good pace over the terrain. I ran 2:23:11, a Continental
Record for Antarctica. Only 7 people in the world can make
that claim! It's stretching it a little for a 'claim to
fame', but I'll take it!"
During the run he came upon a couple of fur seals in his
path. These animals can be vicious at times, so he had to
take a wide path around them. "That wasn't so much a
frightening experience as it was a wake-up call," he said.
"Up until that point, it had just been another cold run. I
mean, I knew where I was, but I could have been in the
middle of North Dakota in 28-degree weather and wouldn't
have known much of a difference, it would have felt the
same. But when I came around that turn and saw two big Fur
Seals in the middle of the trail I was like, 'Holy $#%@,
I'm at the bottom of the world running a marathon!' It just
really sunk in of what an incredible experience I was
having! One that only a handful of people would ever
For many people, just trying to run the 3000-meter
steeplechase, a track event run over heavy hurdles with a
water jump each lap, would be wild enough. This was Scott's
primary event for a while, but he says, "I think my steeple
days are coming to a close. In '94 I was in Vancouver, at
the Harry Jerome Meet. It had been raining all day, and the
conditions were pretty ugly. I was boxed pretty well. We
were a mile into the race and I wasn't getting a clear view
of the barriers as I was approaching them. Going over a
hurdle on the backstretch, I slammed my trail leg knee into
the barrier and it completely flipped me. It was probably
one of the most shocking things I've every experienced."
Leaving the steeplechase behind makes sense in ways other
than simply saving body parts, too. "With the improvement
that I've had in 5000 and the fact that my knees aren't
what they used to be, I'm more inclined to stay away from
the steeple. I'm also hoping to run my first 10,000 on the
track in the summer, so I may focus on either the 5,000 or
the 10,000 for 2000."
When asked why the Kenyans seem to have such a strangle
hold on the Steeplechase in international competition,
Scott said, "I think they're just really talented and do a
lot of work. Most of them aren't really beautiful hurdlers,
but they can run like mad in between the barriers. They
also have a fearlessness... They have a strangle hold on
distance running in general, not just the steeple. I would
prefer to concentrate less on why they're so good, and more
on how we, as Americans, can get that good!"
What will it take for that to happen? "I think U.S.
distance running is taking the correct steps to see
that there are Americans once again competing with the best
in the world. The programs that are being instituted are
right on target. When I first came out of school there was
very little. Now, with some of the grassroots programs that
are starting, I think there is the potential for great
improvement. The training groups that are starting to form,
like the guys in Boulder and in Washington, D.C. will help,
as well the grants that are being made available. Also,
more opportunities to race, like the CAN-AM Series, will
help. I think they need to continue to focus on the
developing athlete, but also not forget the guys like
myself who have been at the grindstone for longer. I only
wish that they hadn't waited for things to get so bad
before they started trying to make improvements."
One of the programs that helped many U.S. distance runners
was the high altitude elite distance camp in Utah in 1997.
Scott was one of the participants there.
"That was another great experience! I would like to see
more of that take place in the future. The camp brought
together some of the best guys in the country to train for
4 1/2 weeks in Park City, Utah. Guys like Brad Barquist,
Dan Middleman, Dan Browne, Scott Strand, Gary Stolz and
Francis O'Neil. By spending time with them, we were able to
not only trade off on training ideas and thoughts, but also
developed a lasting camaraderie and friendship between us.
There was a study that was taking place around us as well
which focused on the 'Live High, Train Low' Theory, the
idea being that by living at 8000 feet, and doing our
interval work at 4000 feet, we were able to get the
beneficial effects of living at altitude, without the
taxation that it brings to the body when training at high
altitude." Scott hopes to take advantage of some high
altitude training later this year, perhaps in the mountains
Scott's focus for this year and next are pretty clear.
"Obviously the big one is the Olympic Team in either the
5000 or possibly the 10,000. Everything else is focused
around that, the World Trials this June, possibly Europe or
the CAN-AM Series, Mt. SAC or Penn Relays the following
"I feel like I'm capable of running in the 13:20's this
year, but I've got some work to do to get there. I'm
mentally very rested and hungry right now. Taking that time
off was the best thing that I could have done. I'm very
optimistic. I feel like there is a wave of momentum
beginning to be built with running in this country again.
Guys are talking about running fast again and there is
excitement in the air when you hear people talk about the
With his running back on track and his employment situation
looking good, you might think that completes the story.
But, Scott is more than just a runner and an important part
of this man's story happened in April at a rock concert he
attended with his girlfriend, Christie.
Scott tells it like this, "Her name is Christie Webb, and
she is an incredible person! She works as the Director of
Wellness for the county, basically overseeing the physical
wellness programs for all county employees. I asked her to
marry me on stage at the Big Head Todd and the Monsters
concert here in Charlotte. The group is her favorite band,
and I thought it would be a great way to do things and make
it something that she and everyone else would remember. I
was able to get in touch with the band's manager, and
although he wasn't quite sure how we'd do it, he said that
they were game to give it a try.
"When she and I got to the concert, I sneaked away to a
port-a-john and called the band's manager on a cell phone.
He had 2 backstage passes for us, but I had to sneak away
to get them. I came up with a bogus story of having to go
find one of my friends, and went and got the passes. The
plan was that Jeff (the band's manager) would act like he
was an old college friend who was now a roadie with the
band, and that he'd gotten me the backstage passes. I went
back and found Christie and let her know that an old
college buddy of mine had managed to come up with the
passes and we were going to get to watch the show from the
side stage. She was elated! We said good-bye to our friends
and proceeded backstage.
"I had made sure to tell all of our friends, as well as
Christie's parents, what was about to transpire, so they
were all in the crowd. We went backstage, and were hanging
out with the band and Jeff. It was funny because, Jeff and
I were having this false conversation about our college
days that never happened. Meanwhile, all the guys in the
band knew what was going on, so they keep giving me a hard
time behind Christie's back. About 10 minutes before the
band was supposed to go on, Jeff asked me if I could help
him move some things up on stage, so I went up on stage
with him. Then I asked Christie to come up and check it
out. She wasn't really wanting to get up on the stage where
people could see her, but after some prodding she did. We
were sitting off on the side stage looking out on this sea
of people and talking about how cool it all was. Christie
still had no idea was about to happen. There was a big
group of our friends right down in the front row. At this
time I was pretty nervous. Then Jeff comes up to me and
says, "Hey Scott, the band's about to go on, could you go
out and introduce them?" Without missing a beat I said
'sure,' got up and began walking out onto the front of the
stage. I turned around to see Christie sitting there with
her jaw dropped wide open, wondering what the heck was I
"I took the mic in complete tunnel vision and yelled, 'Are
there some Big Head Todd fans out there?' The crowd
erupted. I went on to tell them that the band would be out
there in a minute but first I had a little personal
business to take care of. I said that I've got a huge Big
Head Todd fan back stage, and I needed their help to help
me get her out, cause she has know idea what's about to hit
her. The crowd erupted again. I looked backstage and saw
Christie with her hands in her face either laughing or
crying hysterically, I couldn't tell! I saw Jeff run over
to her and tell her something, probably that she needed to
get out there! Christie came out, and when she got up to
me, I dropped down on bent knee, took out the ring, and
simply said, "Marry Me!" It was awesome, she took the ring,
and gave me this huge hug and a kiss, and the crowd was
When Scott talks about his future in running, he says,
"I'd like to be thought of as a legitimate shot at a spot
on the Olympic Team at the end of this year. Whatever it
takes to do that."
With a rock concert proposal and an Antarctic marathon he's
gone literally and figuratively to the end of the earth in
pursuit of his life goals. You've got to figure the man's
got a shot at anything he puts his mind to.
Visit Dvorak's web site at:
ICE IS NICE
Most of us have heard that it is good to use ice on injured
joints and muscles. Usually, the main reason sighted is to
reduce inflammation in the injured area. Another, often
overlooked benefit of ice therapy is stimulation of
circulation. Increased circulation occurs in an area that
has been iced for at least 15-20 minutes, according to
various studies. Greater circulation, it follows, will aid
When icing, remember that...
1. Ice right on the skin can be irritating, and some people
will need to use a towel between their skin and the ice
2. It's best to ice for about 20 minutes at a time.
3. Sometimes soaking in ice water is more convenient, such
as with an ankle, than using ice packs. Just be careful not
to induce frostbite.
4. A great icing trick is to freeze water in a paper cup.
Take the cup out of the freezer and peel part of the paper
away from the cup, while leaving some to use as a "handle."
Then, you can massage the ice on the affected area. Some
trainers feel this massaging action stimulates increased
circulation better than icing alone.
5. Another tried and true method is to use a plastic bag of
frozen peas as your ice pack. The peas are just the right
size to conform well to different body parts, and the bag
can be reused many times. Just toss it back in the freezer
when you are done icing.
THIS AND THAT
On March 13 the Laurinburg, NC Jaycees will host a 5K run
and 1 mile Fun Run/Walk. The 5K course is flat, out and
back. The first 100 entries receive a free event t-shirt.
Proceeds from the event will be used to support local
charities and Duke Cancer Center. For more information
call (910) 277-0874 or email@example.com
Entry fee is $10 in advance (by March1) $12 at the race.
*Goucher Signs With FILA*
NCAA superstar runner Adam Goucher, who just graduated from
Colorado, has signed a deal with the FILA shoe company
through the year 2004. The contract is said to give Goucher
a very comfortable income with no pressure to run specific
events. He and his coach, Mark Wetmore, retain complete
control of his training and racing schedule. Wetmore told
Mike Sandrock of the Boulder Daily Camera, "If Adam runs
attainably well over the next six years, he'll end up very
comfortable when he hangs up his spikes."
WEB SITES OF INTEREST
*George Sheehan Web Site*
Web site of the late running philosopher and training
*Running Message Board*
Post your opinions at:
*Texas Running Info.*
They don't just watch Cowboys football in Texas:
AND AS ALWAYS:
RUNNER'S NICHE at:
LETTERS FROM OUR READERS
*MANY MILES TO GO*
Dear Runner's Niche,
I have a comment and a question to ask you. I'm in high
school and right now it's the off-season so I can't really
talk to my coach. Anyway, a bunch of my friends and I are
training for track and a few of us including me have been
running a lot of miles. Last week we put in about 60-70
miles, and a couple of days we even ran up to 12 miles. I
was just wondering if running this much off-season really
does help. We only do speed workout once a week and during
that last week I did 3x800 and a couple of 200s. Do you
think I should increase my speed workout to two or three a
week, I mean I'm in pretty good shape for the off-season.
I think right now without any coaching I'm running at 4:45
for my mile. So could you explain to me what I should do
better in order to help my track season.
And also I just wanted to commented on your as article
about Stretching. I thought it was very good advice for
the young runners that doesn't stretch very much like me or
stretches before running. Since my coach isn't there to
coach me I just wanted to get my miles in and go home. So
thanks a lot for putting that article up.
ED: Dear Lap,
It sounds like you are a very dedicated runner, and that
you are serious about improving. Be careful about running
too hard in the off-season. The miles will catch up to you
if you aren't careful, and 60-70 miles a week is quite a
lot, even for most college runners. If you have slowly
built up to that kind of mileage, you might be okay.
There is no real reason to be doing more than one "speed"
workout a week right now. Your interval training, lactate
threshold training and sprint speed training can be
increased once you get into the outdoor track season. For
now it is best to concentrate on building a solid aerobic
Remember above all else, keep it fun!
Can any of you help with some suggestions? A reader has
written asking for the best, safest places to train in the
Caribbean. Send suggestions to Glenn at:
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