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RUNNER'S NICHE

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Vol. 4 No. 1 January, 1999

 

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NOTES FROM THE EDITOR

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When you ask a runner what their best time for a particular distance

is, there is normally an embarrassed pause, perhaps some shuffling of

the feet and finally a quiet, self-effacing answer. No matter what

ability level, most runners are never really satisfied with their

personal bests. Even right after a runner has gone out and set a new

personal record, in their mind they are recounting the race and

figuring out how they could have run faster.

A part of the reason for this is that no matter how fast we run, there

is always someone out there who can run faster. It is really impossible

to feel dominant as a runner, because we all know the stopwatch tells

no lies.

Another reason for the inherent dissatisfaction comes from our desire

to attain certain landmark goals. Perhaps someone wants to break 40

minutes for 10 K. A time of 39:59 seems a million times better than

40:01 in this case, and yet 2 seconds can easily be lost due to a

slight mismeasurement of the course or a crowded starting line slowing

the first part of the race. Still, the barrier exists in one's mind in

a very real way.

The problem doesn't stop once you have broken through a particular time

barrier, though. If someone runs 39:59, it becomes obvious just how far

away they are from a 39-minute 10 K. It doesn't matter what level you

are at or what times you are running, there are always unattained time

goals sitting out there in front of you.

We all know that our times are only part of the story. Weather, course

difficulty and other factors greatly influence our final time. The next

thing we look at is how we placed in the race. Still, runners never

seem satisfied. Failure to place in one's age group may be reason to

feel failure, no matter how well the race was run or how fast the time.

Upon placing third in an age category, a runner may be disappointed

they didn't run a bit quicker and nip the second place runner at the

line. Winning an age group may be only partially satisfying if you feel

you could have won the race. Even winning the race isn't enough,

because there may have been someone much faster who didn't show up for

the race.

It's great that we all want to constantly improve and attain new goals

as runners. This is what motivates us in training and racing. But, we

should all be proud of our achievements, too. Don't allow yourself to

feel inferior just because there are runners who are faster, who log

more miles each week, or who take home more medals and trophies than

you. Remember that there are always time barriers in front of every

runner. If you ran 40:01 and that was a good, strong effort for you,

then feel proud. Sure, you could have run faster. Nobody will ever run

the perfect race. So what?

If you permit yourself a little pride, and feel a bit of satisfaction,

you might just feel a boost of the old ego. Maybe you'll feel a little

more confidence at the starting line of your next race. Maybe you'll

even crash though a barrier or two as a result. More importantly, maybe

you can relax and enjoy the effort a little more. It's okay to stay

humble, but there's nothing wrong with a little quiet self-confidence.

-WG

P.S. Happy New Year!

 

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RUNNER'S NICHE / MARATHON & BEYOND TRIVIA CONTEST

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Congratulations to last month's trivia winner, Jim Breitenbucher. Jim

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:

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. How many times has American Lynn Jennings won the World Cross-

Country title?

a. 0

b. 2

c. 3

2. Who was the first runner to break 3:50 for the mile?

a. John Walker

b. Steve Scott

c. Seb Coe

3. Who was the "surprise" bronze medalist in the 1992 Women's Olympic

Marathon?

a. Laura Bruess

b. Lorraine Moller

c. Pricilla Welch

4. Who was the first runner to break 1:42 for 800 meters?

a. Jim Ryun

b. Seb Coe

c. Steve Ovett

5. Who is the only woman (as of 12/31/98)) to break 2:21 in the

marathon?

a. Janice Coen

b. Ingrid Kristiansen

c. Tegla Loroupe

6. Who won the 1984 U.S. Men's Olympic Marathon Trials race?

a. Frank Shorter

b. Pete Pfitzinger

c. Alberto Salazar

7. Referring to the last question, who did the winner have to out kick

to win the race?

a. Andrew Crook

b. Pete Pfitzinger

c. Alberto Salazar

8. Who won the 1987 Women's World Championships Marathon race?

a. Grete Waitz

b. Ingrid Kristiansen

c. Rosa Mota

9. How many AAU Cross-Country Titles did Steve Prefontaine win?

a. none

b. two

c. five

10. Who was the first man to run a half-marathon under an hour?

a. Paul Tergat

b. Arturo Barrios

c. Ron Clarke

Thanks to Conrad Truedson for the last two questions.

Last Month's Answers:

1 - 5 In what city is each of these well-known road races held.

1. Cherry Blossom 10 Mile - Washington D.C.

2. Peachtree Road Race - Atlanta

3. Bay to Breakers - San Francisco

4. Mardi Gras Marathon - New Orleans

5. Marine Corp Marathon - Washington D.C.

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6-10 Multiple Choice

6. How many American males have held the world record for the marathon

(26 miles 385yards.)?

a. one

b. two

c. none

Answer: b. Johnny Hayes in 1908 in the first marathon at that distance

and Buddy Edelen in 1963 at the Polytechnic Marathon in London 2:14:28

7. Where was the Pole Vault WR first set with a fiberglass pole?

a. Eugene

b. Boulder

c. Boston

Answer: b.

8. In 1965 Ron Clarke was the first to run under 28 minutes. How many

seconds did he break the old record by?

a. 3 seconds

b. 12 seconds

c. 36 seconds

Answer: b.

9. Which of the following have won the Boston Marathon?

a. Frank Shorter

b. Ronald Macdonald

c. Grete Waitz

Answer: b. He won the second Boston Marathon.

10. Who was the last American to win a 5000 meter gold medal?

a. Steve Prefontaine

b. Bob Schul

c. Bill Dellinger

Answer: b.

Thanks to Conrad Truedson for the last five questions.

 

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STRETCHING THE TRUTH

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By Woody Green

Most everyone involved in exercise in any way has been preached to

about the benefits of stretching. We have all heard how important it is

to maintain and / or improve flexibility. Stretching is useful for

injury prevention and performance enhancement. It can, however, be

disadvantageous if used improperly.

Never stretch vigorously when your muscles are cold. Always do some

light form of exercise to get blood flowing to the muscles before

stretching. That is why coaches advise that the best time to stretch is

after a workout. At the very least, jog or walk a bit to warm the

muscles up before stretching, and never consider stretching first thing

in the morning right out of bed.

Anecdotal evidence and scientific studies alike indicate that

stretching cold muscles does more harm than good. At worst it is

possible to injure yourself by stretching cold muscles, and at best you

can do little to increase the flexibility of a cold muscle. Think of

your muscles as being like a piece of taffy. Warm taffy stretches as

far as you can pull it, but when cold, it can break into pieces in your

hands.

Another time that you have to be careful with stretching is when you

have a sore or injured muscle. It seems logical that stretching would

help a sore muscle to feel better, and sometimes this works. Muscles

can be sore because of tightness, and carefully stretching can help to

relieve this kind of soreness. Stretching, however, might aggravate a

torn muscle. You can delay healing or even make an injury worse by

aggressively stretching. The best thing to do in these cases is very

easy, controlled stretching. Don't push it at all and back off

completely if you feel discomfort.

Just like any other kind of exercise, don't overdo it. If you haven't

been stretching, don't start off by stretching for a half-hour. Ease

into it. Also, don't try to push yourself too hard. Your muscles will

respond well to gentle, even stretching. Don't try to force your

muscles to stretch farther than they want to. Also, don't use jerky

motions that will actually cause your muscles to shorten in a defensive

manner.

Used correctly, stretching can be a great aid to your running. Just

remember to use it wisely.

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ROAD RACING FOR SERIOUS RUNNERS

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Book review By Woody Green

Elite marathon runner and exercise physiologist Pete Pfitzinger has

teamed up with former editor-in-chief of Running Times Scott Douglas to

write one of the best training books ever. Don't let the term "serious"

in the title dissuade you from choosing to add this book to your

library. As it says in the forward, this book, "... is for anyone who

cares enough about his or her running to want to learn how to go about

it in the most effective, time-efficient way. We've written this book

so that it will be as useful for a 20-mile-a-week 5K runner as for a

100-mile-a-week marathoner." This means that regardless of your ability

level, the book has been written with you in mind. Unlike many other

books on training, there is no looking down the nose at the common

runner. There is help for anyone who wants to take a scientific

approach to their training and try to be as fast as they can on race

day.

The book is broken into two parts. The first in on the physiology of

running. These five chapters explain the basis for their "multispeed

approach" to training. They explain how to improve VO2 max, speed,

lactate threshold and pure endurance, and how to optimize training and

racing. If the scientific terms presented above make you wary, there is

no need to worry. Pete Pfitzinger's knowledge and Scott Douglas'

writing style make for a perfect team. Everything is explained in plain

English, and with a healthy dose of humor. The book is not only

informative, but also entertaining to read.

The second part of the book provides specific training programs. These

are presented in separate chapters according to the goal race you have

in mind. Each chapter not only lays out a week by week plan, but also a

detailed explanation of the reasoning behind their training schedules.

Easy to read programs are presented for 5 K, 8-10 K, 15K - Half

Marathon, Marathon and cross-country races. Within each chapter,

separate training schedules are given for the weekly mileage you can

handle. For the 5 K, for instance, there is a schedule for runners who

do less than 20 miles per week, 20 - 40 miles per week and more than 40

miles per week. The schedules are designed with flexibility to fit your

particular lifestyle and domestic schedule.

I have always been a fan of Pete's exercise physiology column in

Running Times. The guy does his homework and knows his stuff. If you've

ever read Douglas' contributions to the same magazine, you know he's

not afraid to toss a little humor into any subject. His writing style

has clearly added an easy readability to the book that makes it

accessible and enjoyable to anyone regardless of their background or

ability level. One of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from this book is

advice to runners as they recuperate from a marathon effort. "Eat

kahlua mocha fudge brownie ice cream. Sleep in. Get thrown out of the

local hot tub. In short, give your brain a rest form the discipline of

training."

There are only a few books out there that I consider "gotta' haves" and

this is now one of them. Whether you race recreationally and have only

a little time to give to your running, or you are an elite runner

devoting all your time to the sport, this book is for you!

RUNNER'S NICHE BOOK RATING: 5 out of 5 possible winged feet.

 

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MEN'S WORLD ROAD BESTS

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This information came from USATF's ROAD RUNNING INFORMATION CENTER.

5 km 13:12 William Mutwol KEN Carlsbad, CA 3/29/92

8 km 22:03 Peter Githuka KEN Crazy Eights, TN 7/20/96

10 km 27:20 Joseph Kimani KEN Revco-Cleveland, OH 5/5/96

12 km 33:31 Joseph Kimani KEN Arts Fest River, In 5/10/97

15 km 42:13 Paul Tergat KEN La Courneuve, FRA 5/29/94

20 km 58:20 Salah Hissou MOR Paris, FRA 10/16/94

25 km 1:13:55 Jospeh Kariuki KEN Old Kent River Bank, MI 5/9/98

10 mi 45:37 Ondoro Osoro KEN First of America, FL 10/19/07

100 mi 12:05:43 Andy Jones CAN Olander Park 24hr, OH 9/27/97

24 hr 267,543 m Don Ritchie GBR Milton Keynes, GBR 2/3/90

Half-mar 59:17 Paul Tergat KEN Stramilano ITA 4/4/98

Marathon 2:06:05 Renoldo DaCosta BRA Berlin, GER 9/20/98

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THIS AND THAT

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---100 Milers Average 4:33 for Relay---

A Canadian Team of 100 runners set a new world best for the 100 x 1

mile relay on December 21st. The fastest legs were run by Rich Tremain

(4:11) and Graham Hood (4:15). Former Canadian record holders Kevin

Sullivan, Doug Consiglio, and Dave Reid all participated in the event.

---U.S. Masters Track Sites---

The USATF Masters Track and Field Committee has announced the following

future national championship sites:

*Indoor nationals for 1999-2001 Boston, MA

*Outdoor nationals -- 1999 Orlando, FL, 2000 Eugene, OR, 2001 Baton

Rouge, LA

*Indoor Heptathalon -- 1999 Hillside, IL; *Decathlon/Heptathlon -- 1999

Grass Valley, CA;

*Weight Pentathlon -- 1999 Greeley, CO, 2000 Pampa, TX.

---Quotes---

- "Forgetfulness at our age isn't rare. If you run long enough, you

lose half your brain." - Katherine Switzer (taken completely out of

context) at a round table discussion on the current state of the

marathon.

- "Half this game is ninety percent mental." - Philadelphia Phillies

manager Danny Ozark (Could be said of running, too!)

- "Researchers have discovered that chocolate produces some of the same

reactions in the brain as marijuana. The researchers also discovered

other similarities between the two, but can't remember what they are."

- Matt Lauer on NBC's Today show, August 22.

- "As sunlight and a crucifix are to a vampire, (running on) the track

is to the marathon runner." - Rich Benyo from his editorial in the

January / February edition of MARATHON & BEYOND.

 

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WEB SITES OF INTEREST

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---100 x 1 Mile---

The quarter mile splits for each of the hundred runners in the recent

100 x 1 mile relay world record are recorded at:

http://www.tnfmedia.com/cgi-bin/forum.pl?read=7163

---Your Own Web Info Page---

Now you can sign up to get local weather conditions, upcoming local

races, and reminders of your scheduled daily run at the Kick web site.

Best of all, it's free! Go to:

http://www.kicksports.com/personalize/personalize.pl?action=setprefs

 

AND AS ALWAYS:

RUNNER’S NICHE at:

http://home.netone.com/~woodyg3/runiche.html

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LETTERS FROM OUR READERS

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---Snow Woes---

Dear Runner's Niche,

Thanks for another great issue. Let me add one more tip for running on

snow - never do a track workout on it! I've always thought that the

cushioning of snow made it easier on your legs. In 1986, we had snow

for several days in Virginia and I thought nothing of running an 8x200

meter workout on the track. The snow cover was only about 1/2 inch on

the track. What I didn't count on was that the very slight slip from

running the curves on snow was going to wipe out my knee. The pain hit

me the next day and I couldn't run at all for a week. It took several

weeks to recover totally from that one mistake.

-Paul Hough

 

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