Vol. 6 No.1 January / February 2000 (Better Late than Never.)




Fort Vancouver Park in Vancouver, Washington was the site of the

USATF Winter Cross Country Championships on February 17. Along

with my wife and several members of my running club, the Boulder

Road Runners, I was fortunate enough to attend and compete in

the masters division. Despite running well I got my butt kicked.

It didn't matter. I finally got to participate in a race I have

dreamed of being in ever since I started running 31 years ago.

Cross Country is not a glamour sport. Even at these national

championships the elite runners would be competing for less

money than most any major road race. Fans are few compared to

track and field or a big city marathon. The weather is typically

cold and courses are often muddy and difficult. Times will be

slow because of the difficulty of the course. Only a very few of

the elite runners have their way paid to the national meet, and

runners in the masters division can win no more than a half

dollar sized medal.

So why do it? Because it is a pure form of running, almost

primal in nature. Everyone who has ever competed in a cross

country race knows that it takes a special personality and a

special approach to running to do well. The terrain each step is

different than the one before, and getting into any kind of

rhythm as in a road race just isn't possible. Running cross

country well requires both speed and strength, and an even

stronger will. To compete in cross country is an attempt to

become the complete runner. It is an addictive challenge.

The start of a cross country race with the many different

colored uniforms all funneling into a line is one of the most

exciting sights in any sport, and is even more exciting when you

are in the middle of it, literally feeling the ground shake

beneath you.

Don't forget that in cross country you have the unique

opportunity to compete with teammates, the guys that you train

with on weekends. The competitive juices certainly flow when you

know there is a team supporting you and depending on your


Why do the national meet instead of a local race in which your

chances of placing higher might be better? Because you get to

see the best the sport has to offer. This year you could have

seen Deena Drossin win the womens 8 K and witness the emotion

she showed not just because of winning the race but because she

was thinking of her mother who is fighting breast cancer. You

could have seen an epic battle with Meb Keflezighi holding off

Alan Culpepper with repeated, brutal surges in the mens 12 K.

Then there was the courage of Elva Driver in the womens 4 K when

she pushed the pace from the start and gave it everything she

had to try to take the kick away from Regina Jacobs, only to be

passed in the final kilometer. And the fans on the course loved

her for it, and appreciated her effort only as another runner

can. And remember, you can run the very same course that the

elite runners do.

Where else would you want to be?



--- --- --- --- --- --- ---

MARATHON & BEYOND MAGAZINE - Marathon & Beyond, the only magazine

that focuses on the specific needs of marathoners and

ultrarunners. M&B offers in-depth articles on training, race

strategies, injuries, nutrition, race profiles, running history,

and more. Visit their web site at:


--- --- --- --- --- --- ---





Michael J. Roth of St. James, New Jersey was our winner last

month. He will get a free issue of Marathon & Beyond and fame!

Trivia contest entrants are limited to one prize per calendar


When answering, email your answers with the subject "trivia

contest" and answer the questions in the order they appear below.

Mail to: woodyg3@netone.com. 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. American Mark Coogan won a silver medal in a major

international marathon. At what event did he win his silver


2. How many world records did Czech superstar Emil Zatopek set in

his running career?

3. Who holds the women's American record for 5 K on the roads?

4. Who holds the women's world record for 10 miles on the roads?

5. For what nation did former world marathon record holder Steve

Jones compete?

6. At what distance did Kiwi Dick Quax hold a track world record?

7. How many times did Frank Shorter win the prestigious Fukuoka


8. What nation do marathon stars Martha Tenorio, Rolando Vera and

Silvio Guerra come from?

9. Who was the bronze medalist in the 1992 womens Olympic


10. A female athlete won both the Boston and New York Marathon in

1981. Who was she?

Last month's answers:

Running Anatomy 101

1. What is the common name for the group of muscles on the back

of the thigh? - Hamstrings

2. What tendon attaches the calf to the heel bone? - Achilles

3. In what part of the body would you find the plantar fascia? -

Bottom of the foot

4. What part of the muscle cell produces energy for contraction

to occur? - Mitochondria

5. What muscle fiber type is most prevalent in a sprinter's leg

muscles? - Fast twitch

6. What common runner's ailment, sometimes called "runner's knee"

and often caused by over pronation, is characterized by swelling

and irritation directly under the kneecap? - Chondromalacia

7. What is a more common name for the gastrocnemius muscle? -


8. What muscle group is especially important to strengthen in

order to provide support and protection for the knee joint? -


9. Where are the metatarsal bones located? - The foot

10. Where is the medial meniscus located in the human body? - The

medial or inside part of the knee.

--- --- --- --- ---

RUNNING DELIGHTS - all occasion and holiday greeting cards,

novelty gifts, t-shirts, bracelets and many others items.


Our entire catalog is now online with secure ordering.

--- --- --- --- ---





Editor's Note: The author of this piece wishes to remain


The collective wisdom found in ancient legs, cascaded across the

uneven grassy plain - ready to seek out yet another challenge,

unwilling to surrender their youthful souls. The spectacle of

sight and sound produced a fury matched only by their

perseverance - for we were ready to keep our honor bright. There

was brevity to our excited gallop, but the simplicity of the

moment was lost to none. The common arbitrator was this race

course over winter grass, whose colors flickered yellow and brown

and comprised our match this gray and cloudy afternoon. Our

hearts had found what we had sought...to measure ourselves, to

test our imperfect faculties against other men-children. We have

no false face to hide behind... no soliciting of favors, we must

summon our most earnest effort, and fail when we must, and

produce a precise rhythm that comes from deep within our

practiced remembrances. It was a feast of physical delight, and

the numbers ratified our athletic rhetoric. I did not dance this

day, but honesty of effort made the finish an elegant procession,

and yielded a feeling that life's wheel turned another notch.





By Woody Green

From time to time every runner thinks about adding mileage to his

or her weekly or monthly total. The reasons that runners think of

this are varied. Some simply want to get in better shape, others

are preparing for a long race, still others simply want more

impressive totals in their running logs.

What is it that extra mileage actually does for your training?

First, it needs to be stressed that increasing mileage can be the

cause of injury, illness or burn out. It shouldn't be this way,

but if the mileage is increased too rapidly or high mileage is

extended too long without a break, tragedy can occur.

When increasing mileage the key is to increase slowly. Most

coaches indicate that an increase of no more than 5-10 percent a

week is advisable, and even then it is a good idea not to

continue increasing mileage each week without a break every three

or four weeks. The longest run of the week similarly should not

increase too rapidly. If you are planning on running a marathon,

for instance, it isn't usually a great idea to jump from a weekly

8 mile long run up to a 20 miler. You might get away with it for

a couple of weeks, but it will catch up to you eventually.

Assuming your build up in mileage is cautious and gradual, the

question is still what will higher mileage do for you?

Physiologically, longer runs will increase the number of tiny

capillaries in the leg muscles. This will provide more blood to

the working muscles, and thus deliver more oxygen. Increases in

the mitochondria, the "power centers" of the muscle cells, will

also occur. Additionally, your body will adapt to be better able

to use carbohydrate and fat efficiently. What does all this

physiological mumbo jumbo mean? Basically, you'll be able to run

faster over longer periods of time. Additionally, you will set a

solid base on which to add speed training in order to become

better able to race over short distances.

After a few weeks of increased mileage you should be better able

to recover after hard workouts, and better able to recover in the

middle of difficult interval sessions. The common term is that it

makes you a "stronger" runner, but a better term might be a more

"cardiovascularly efficient" runner. Also, a carefully planned

build up in miles can actually make a runner more injury


Other things to keep in mind:

1. You will want to decrease mileage in the last 2-3 weeks before

your most important races.

2. Ease off on your training and decrease your weekly mileage

every few months to let your body recover and come back even


3. Decrease the overall mileage when you are doing a good deal of

speed work. Your body needs recovery not only in relationship to

the volume of training, but also the intensity.







* Caps and Socks:









* December Reflections

Dear Runner's Niche,

Just wanted to drop you a line or two to say thanks for the time

and effort you put into the Runner's Niche.

I look forward to your December issues most of all, as it always

seems that I pull them up and read them late on a snowy evening

right around Christmas. They never fail to hit the mark.

They seem to always put me in a reflective frame of mind,

reviewing the yearly training journal and just taking stock of

that which I am grateful for and the past years accomplishments.

Thanks for your contribution to my/our well being.

Wishing you all the best for the holidays!

- Keith Kauffman

--- --- --- --- ---

Fine 14K and Sterling Silver jewelry for runners. Call/write for

catalog. Creative Sports Jewelry, 6525 Gunpark Dr. #150-422,

Boulder, CO 80301. 303/527-1130 or 800/606-8887. E-mail

SprtJewlry@aol.com Website: www.ontherun.com/sportsjewelry

--- --- --- --- ---






"Runner's Niche" is free, but its contents are copyrighted.

Nobody may use the content without permission of the author and

"Runner's Niche."

SUBSCRIPTION IS FREE. Just write via e-mail to:


Include your e-mail address. We'll send you an issue via e-mail

every month or so.

If you don't want to continue receiving "Runner's Niche", simply

mail with your e-mail address and ask that your subscription be


Article Submissions are always welcome. Unfortunately, there can

be no monetary reimbursement for material used in Runner's Niche.

It is normally best to send a query letter to the editor before

sending finished articles.