Vol. 7 No.1 January/February 2001




It has been quite a while since the last issue of Runner's Niche. October, to be exact. There are multiple reasons for this, but basically, I need to simplify if I am to continue with the Niche. To that end, a few features will be cut, and the magazine will be much less "news" and "web" oriented. Book reviews, training and racing advice, fiction, and trivia will make up the bulk of Runner's Niche from here on out. It has always been my feeling that these were the strengths of Runner's Niche, anyway.

I hope Runner's Niche will continue to fill the wants and needs of many.



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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: http://www.marathonandbeyond.com

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Steve Isham of Cedar Park, Texas was our winner last issue. He will get a free issue of Marathon & Beyond and fame! 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: runnersniche@toucantrackclub.net. The FIRST person to answer all of the questions correctly wins. If nobody answers each question correctly, we will award the prize to the person who answers the most questions accurately. Good Luck!

This month's questions:

1. Where will the USA National Cross Country Championship race for 2002 be held?

2. Where was that same race held last year?

3. Who was the winner of the 2001 USA Womens 8K Cross Country Championship race?

4. Who was the last USA woman to win the World Cross Country Championships?

5. In cross country, what is the area that is marked off for a certain team at the starting line called?

6. In the World Mens Cross Country Championships, the athletes race at 12K and what other distance?

7. The women race at 8K and what other distance?

8. Which University won the Womens Division I NCAA Cross Country Championships for 2001?

9. Which team won the mens division of the same race?

10. Van Cortland Park, the site of many historic cross country races through the years, is located in which New York borough?




Last month's answers:

1. Who was the winner of the mens division in this year's Mt. Washington Road Race? - Daniel Kihara

2. Who was the female winner this year at Mt. Washington? - Anna Pichrtova

3. Shadrack Hoff won the June 9 Steamboat Classic 4M. What country is he from? - RSA

4. Who won the womens division of this year's Grandma's Marathon? - Lyubova Denisova

5. A strong American runner for many years, who was the winner of the womens masters division at this year's Peachtree 10K? - Judi St. Hilaire

6. What company produces the "Grid Stabil" running shoe? - Saucony

7. Which running shoe company first came out with "gel" padding in their shoes? - Tiger/Asics

8. Who was the "Hind" line of athletic wear named after? - Owner Greg Hind

9. Americans speak of setting a PR, meaning a personal record, when they get their best time for a particular distance. British runners call it a PB. What does that stand for? - Personal best

10. What team won the mens' Hood to Coast competition this year? - Bucknell Alumni




By Woody Green

Don't let the title of this article make you think I am against high tech gadgets. Ask my wife how much I spend each year on "toys" and she will just roll her eyes and mumble. And, yes, I do have a heart rate monitor; it's just that I rarely use it.

First, let me state clearly that I think a heart rate monitor is a good information device for many runners. It gives very accurate feedback and helps apply science to one's training methods. Heart rate monitors help runners to go easy enough on their easy days, hard enough on their hard days, and medium enough on their medium days. There is no guesswork.

So, why don't I need a heart rate monitor? I have a couple of monitors built right into my body that work just as well, and in fact, tell you even more than just a heart rate monitor can. So do you, if you learn to use them.

First of all, it is pretty easy to tell how hard you are going just by paying attention to your rate and depth of breathing. Runners tend to time their inhalations and exhalations with their running steps. You will probably notice that when you are running hard it will take two running steps to inhale and two to exhale. The faster you are running, the deeper your breaths. At easier effort levels you may take breaths less frequently, and each breath will be a little shallower. If you pay attention to your breathing over several workouts, you will get a feel for the relationship between breathing and effort level.

What about those two limbs under your body? You know, the ones that propel you forward. Can you get any good information from them? Sure. If they are sore and stiff they tell you that this is not a good day to go hard. If you are trying to do a hard workout and you just can't get your tired legs up to speed, they may well be telling you that they haven't had enough rest since the last workout. There are days when your heart rate monitor might tell you that you aren't going that hard, but your legs are telling you otherwise. Listen.

Also, the rate at which your legs are turning over is a direct link to the speed at which you are running. Your legs have a different feel when you are plodding along at an easy jog compared to zipping along at race pace. With practice you can learn to actually feel subtle differences in leg turnover and thus effort level.

Exercise physiologists know that people have a sort of intangible feedback system that tells them how hard they are working. They call it "perceived effort level." Various scales and methods to quantify this have been made. "How hard does this feel on a scale of 1 to 10," is the idea. This is a good feedback system to monitor, but remember that you can be misled. People who are stressed, worried, or overly excited tend feel greater perceived effort than those who are at ease. Also, perceived effort can be lessened when a runner is very focused and intent on a goal. Runners tend to learn to ignore discomfort, and even pain, so we can fool ourselves into going harder than we really intend to. Conversely, when we are burned out from our jobs, worried about something or similarly stressed, we might feel horrible when running even a slow jog. In the last half of a race or workout, though, the psychological blocks tend to break down and your body gives you more accurate data. Also, with practice, an individual can learn to ignore outside influences and concentrate on breathing, leg turnover and muscle soreness to provide accurate information.

Should you throw out your heart rate monitor? No way! It's a fun toy and it is a helpful tool. Just don't forget that you have several other natural systems on board your body that you should be using at all times.





(Editor's note: An old high school track and cross country teammate sent me the following article about the Run Across America. It may have months since the September 11 attacks, but I feel sure that this article still holds plenty of value to runners everywhere.)

By Reid Sanford

Recently, I had the honor of participating in a unique event called Run Across America. If you want the official description of the event, follow this link: http://www.nikebiz.com/media/n_run.shtml. If you want my perspective, see below.

Shortly after September 11th, Nike employees gathered on the Ronaldo Soccer Field to pay our respects to the victims and their families. Phil Knight, with tears in his eyes, announced that the way Nike would help would be to get back to the Company roots and do what we do best...RUN. It would be a way to raise money, a way to show our respect for firefighters and law enforcement and it would also be a way of returning to business as usual. Lots of folks at Nike run every day. Why not just get organized and all run in the same direction and end up on the East Coast?

Normally, an event of this magnitude takes three years to organize. The amount of time required just to acquire the permits is astronomical. But thanks to lots of hard work and lots of cooperation, the event quickly became a reality. On October 11th, just one month after the horrific events, the run began in Astoria, Oregon. Alberto Salazar and Mary Decker Slaney ran the first leg. The team headed east, ignoring the freeway and visiting the small towns of America. Each night, the team stopped at a local firehouse and spoke about how we're running to raise money for the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund to benefit the children and spouses of the victims throughout the world, including airline crew and passengers. But we're also running to support the local firehouses in community-based and fundraising events. Each firehouse was given some seed money and a bag of autographed Nike footwear, apparel and equipment to use for fundraising.

My personal adventure started when I flew from Portland to Denver to Rock Springs, Wyoming on October 23rd. On the 24th, our team of 20 started out in Farson, WY at 7:00 AM. We were joined by a young man from the local cross-country team. The day was brutal; temperature in the 20s, crosswinds gusting to 50 mph. The altitude in Farson was about 7,000 feet and we worked our way up to 9,000 on South Pass. It was ironic that we were tracing the Wagon Trail in the opposite direction; it was our Manifest Destiny to accomplish this event and reach New York City. I ran a five mile leg with a fellow employee named Chuck. Then later in the day, we ran shorter two-mile legs at quicker speeds so we could get to Lander on schedule. The arrival into Lander was indescribable. All sorts of Fire and Rescue vehicles escorted us into town with lights flashing and sirens blaring. They have a wonderful traditional main street, which was lined with people cheering and waving flags. After the speeches and a wonderful dinner at the firehouse, we headed to the motel to get a few hours of sleep.

The pattern was repeated the next day. We ran from Lander to Muddy Gap, WY. My friend Brett and I ran 7 miles together at a good pace. We all piled into the vans and drove to Rawlins, the nearest firehouse. Some runners hopped out at the edge of town and made a ceremonial run to the firehouse. Emotional speeches and good food were again the order of the day. We left the motel in Rawlins in the wee hours of the morning to backtrack to Muddy Gap and start up where we left off. Brett and I ran together again and crossed the Continental Divide (the team crossed the Divide three times on our circuitous adventure). We ended the day in Hanna, WY. We arrived late (about 8:00 PM), but it seemed like the whole town was there to greet us at the junction. After the firehouse visit, we adjourned to the VFW for a delicious chicken dinner.

The weather was better on my last running day. Brett and I did the "glory run" into Laramie, WY. After running 6 miles, we were joined by a firefighter named Matt who ran the rest of the way with us to the firehouse. He was very excited to see us and set a blistering pace. Nobody wanted to be the one to tell him we needed to slow down. Thankfully, some of the other runners wanted to pile out of the vans and run in with us, so after a 2 mile sprint, we got to slow down so the other runners could keep up with us.

This was a once in a lifetime event and I'm glad I was able to participate. I haven't laughed so hard or cried so much in a long time. Here are some of my random thoughts from the event:

I was just thinking...

ª "I promise to live with courage and stride toward unity in everything I do". This is the pledge we all took and it was printed on the side of the vans.

ª "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave". These are not just words in a song. If you don't believe me, witness the guy running down a country road in a pink tutu* (what would the Taliban do to him?). Witness the First Responders, running up a smoky stairwell as everybody else heads for the exits...

* One of the Nike runners wore his pink tutu while running through the Iowa cornfields. Apparently he got lots of strange looks.

ª Running up to the Continental Divide in 25-degree temperature and 35 MPH crosswinds is not adversity. Adversity is when you're a Firefighter and you enter a burning house to find a little girl hiding in a closet because she's scared. Adversity is when you're a Law Enforcement Officer who pulls over a motorist; not knowing if they're a law-abiding citizen or a desperate criminal carrying a firearm.

ª I met so many good people in Wyoming. It makes you realize good people significantly outnumber bad people and that Good shall triumph over Evil.

ª I love this Country. When I was a young Ensign in the U.S. Navy and I saluted the flag during morning colors, tears would well up in my eyes. I get the same feeling today when the flag passes by me in a Parade. I hope I never lose that feeling.

ª Nike is a good company. I am proud to work there. Take everything you read in the press with a grain (or block) of salt.

ª I used to run to keep my belly from getting too big. Now I run because I can. Being able to run is a gift. I want to run as fast as I can. To quote Steve Prefontaine - "To Give Anything Less Than Your Best is to Sacrifice the Gift". Thanks, Pre. I finally get it.

ª Wyoming is a big state. If you don't believe me, run across it sometime.

ª Wyoming is a beautiful state. If you stay on the Interstate, you're missing it.

ª The people I see around Nike used to be my co-workers. Thanks to Run Across America, they are now my friends.

If you feel like we ran for a good cause, I urge you to make a donation to the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund. How about $34.31, a penny for every mile we ran? Or how about $29.30, a dollar for every mile that I ran? Or pick some number that's meaningful to you. Or if you don't wish to donate, do me a favor. Next time you see a Firefighter or Law Enforcement Officer, look beyond the uniform and see the person within. Stop and thank them for the job they do.

Donate Online to


Enter "Nike" in "Company" field on website.

- OR -

Call 1-800-335-1102

Reference Nike Run Across America during your call.

- OR -

Make a check payable to Citizen's Scholarship Foundation of America (CSFA). Designate "Nike / Familes of Freedom Scholarship Fund" in the memo section.


1505 Riverview Road

P.O. Box 297

St. Peter, MN 56082




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