Vol. 2 No. 7 July, 1997
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
There are sure a lot of reasons not to run. I know because my non-running
friends tell me about them all the time. Running makes you too skinny, it
can't be healthy. It makes you tired all the time. Runners look like they are
in agony when they are running, they must be masochists. Running takes too
much time. It's too cold, hot or wet outside to run this time of year. The
shoes cost too much. It's boring. Worst of all, it makes you really sweaty!
I remember a great t-shirt from a few years back. It said something like "I
used to jog, but the ice kept falling out of my glass." This can't be
considered too far from the real reason many people don't run. They see it as
too much of a departure from their normal, everyday lives.
Years ago there were scientific reports that indicated that running long
distances was bad because it enlarged the heart. True enough, vigorous aerobic
exercise does result in a larger, more muscular heart. Doctors at that time
saw this as a problem, since an enlarged heart can be a sign of certain heart
disease problems. They concluded that since enlarged hearts were a sign of
cardiovascular disease, running must do damage to the heart.
Later it was recognized that there was a difference between a weak enlarged
heart that produced a small outflow of blood with each beat and a strong, fit
heart that was able to provide a great volume of blood with each beat. It was
then that the medical community realized that long distance running was
actually very good for the heart.
People who don't exercise are generally operating under similar
misinformation. They have yet to realize that skinny is healthy; you wind up
with more daily energy when you exercise, not less; running is about
overcoming pain, not getting perverse pleasure from it; running takes less
time than most any other form of exercise; there is very little weather that
can't be run in comfortably; running costs less than most any other sport; and
it is never boring once you learn to relax and enjoy breaking a sweat.
Good luck to all of you who might be trying to convince someone to give
running a try. One hint - remove the glass from their hand before you start
out the door.
BEER HAS SUSTAINED ME
By Michael Selman
Some things in life are truly paradoxical. For example, why in nature, would
the hardest part of the human body be in direct contact with the softest part
of the human body, fully capable of doing severe damage? Anyone who has ever
bitten their tongue knows exactly what I'm talking about.
Most of the runners that I know represent a similar oxymoron. (No, an oxymoron
is not a dumb person with zits.) To casual observers, we are a picture of
good health and good living. We run, therefore we probably eat fresh fruits
and vegetables all day long, drink nothing but sparkling water, and wouldn't
go near red meat with a ten foot pole. I don't know about you, but rabbit
food just doesn't cut it for me.
It is true that we do share some common health beliefs. Rarely do I see a
runner smoking before a race, but it's not unheard of. One of the nicest
things about post race parties is that they are smoke free, a fact appreciated
by all. But to see what food disappears first at those post race gatherings is
the window to the soul of the runner.
I was at a race recently where post race refreshments included pizza, sub
sandwiches, assorted cookies, and bananas. I saw people walk off with three
pieces of pizza, and then return for more when their stash was gone. I saw
people hoarding down handfuls of cookies without caloric guilt or remorse.
People were crowded around the sub table to the point where you couldn't nudge
through to see what was left. Thanks to the sponsors who provided the feast.
There was plenty of everything for everyone.
One table was practically ignored. The bananas. I didn't see anyone look
both ways and then grab a bunch of bananas when nobody was looking. There was
no need for a sign that said "Please limit yourself to one banana only." Most
people were limiting themselves to no bananas. Curious, I thought that these
health conscious people would bypass the obvious choice in favor of fat and
As I thought about this, I realized that the five pieces of pizza I had just
eaten had made me extremely thirsty. Boy, I could go for a beer right now.
Beer. The one universal drink of the runner. Is there a runner alive who is
not also a beer lover? Just give me my Samuel Adams after a training run and
it truly doesn't get any better than this.
I am an analytical thinker and try to make sense out of everything. So, of
course, I started wondering why good running seemed to go hand in hand with
bad eating and beer drinking. Well, I think I have figured out the answer in
a way that at least I can understand. It's really quite simple if you do the
math. Let's start with the facts.
3500 calories will always equal one pound. This is a simple mathematical
Each mile you run burns approximately 100 calories. Each beer you drink adds
about 150 calories.
Personally, I maintain a weight of about 150 pounds, which remains steady from
year to year. I average about 120 miles of running per month. At 100 calories
per mile, that means that each month, I burn about 12,000 calories running.
120 miles X 100 calories = 12,000.
12,000 calories = 3.42 pounds. That's how much weight I lose each month by
In order to stay even, I need to intake an equivalent number of calories from
12,000 divided by 150 (calories per beer) = 80 beers per month, or 2.66 beers
I willingly do this to maintain the balance of nature. The first 2 beers are
easy, but the last .66 is a bit harder. I haven't yet figured out how to keep
the carbonation going from one day to the next once the bottle is opened.
Simple math again tells me that I cannot stop drinking beer even if I wanted
to (which, thank goodness, I don't.) Here's why.
Suppose I stopped drinking beer today and changed nothing else about my
lifestyle. I'd still run my 120 miles a month, and I'd lose 3.42 pounds in
the process. In only one year, I would lose 41.1 pounds. My weight would
drop to under 110 pounds and I'd have to listen for high wind advisories
before going outside. In only three short years, I will have lost 123.3
pounds, bringing my weight down to 26.7 pounds. I could get a job as a wind
sock at the airport. In less than four years, I wouldn't even be here any
more. I would be totally gone.
Quit drinking beer? How can I? I am forced to drink in self defense. I take
comfort in the fact that health experts now say that a beer a day may be
better for you than total abstinence. So I figure you can never get too much
of a good thing. I'm probably guaranteed good health through the year 2510 by
now. Besides, we
all have to do our part to contribute to the balance of nature (and the
bathroom scale. ) So bring on the pizza, sub sandwiches, cookies, and, most
importantly, keep drinking beer.
And save the bananas for the monkeys.
ANAEROBICS - TWO UNIVERSAL WORKOUTS
By Woody Green
Through the last few months this series of articles has stressed the
importance of anaerobic workouts for all runners, regardless of the distance
they most commonly race. Last month we looked at hill training, which is a
great strength and speed building workout. This month we will talk about a
couple of simple workouts that can be used by 1 milers and marathon runners
Many people have an aversion to running on the track. They prefer trails and
roads that wind through the countryside. The idea of running around and around
a track seems too confining or just too boring. Since interval training has
been traditionally tied to the track, there are those who don't do much
anaerobic training since they can't force themselves onto the track. There is
an easy fix to this problem.
One of the best anaerobic workouts you can do is two minute surges. This is a
way of doing interval training off the track. All you need is a trail, park or
road without traffic and a watch. After a good warm-up, run hard surges
lasting two minutes, and follow these with a period of light jogging before
repeating the next hard surge. The amount of rest you take can vary according
to what shape you are in and how fast you run the surges. If you are planning
on running 1 mile or 5 K, you will want to run the surges faster than if you
are running a marathon, and you will want to take a bit more rest between.
I recommend starting off with 3 or 4 of these surges the first time out. After
you feel comfortable you can increase the number to 6 to 10. I would start
with 2 minutes of rest between surges. If you are running shorter races, you
may want to keep the intensity of the surges high and leave the rest at 2
minutes or perhaps 90 seconds. Those interested in longer races will want to
work down to 90 seconds or 1 minute rest.
If you have a watch with a built-in timer, you can set it so your watch beeps
at you after each 2 minute surge. If you don't carry a high tech watch around
on your wrist, not to worry. Come close to two minutes. The exact time isn't
so critical, but running a hard anaerobic effort is.
Some runners prefer to run their intervals on the track. Assuming you have a
watch, running on the track has the advantage of giving feedback with each
interval. You can see exactly how fast you ran over a measured distance. This
helps in developing a sense of pace and there is no way to trick yourself into
thinking you are running faster than you really are. You can tell when you are
slowing down or speeding up. Perhaps the most important aspect is that average
times from one workout to the next will tell you a lot about how you have
A simple bread and butter track workout that will help every runner is repeat
400's. 400 meters is one lap around an outdoor track. This distance is long
enough to put a runner into oxygen debt, and short enough to permit work on
strength and speed.
A traditional 400 workout would be 10 times 400 with 200 meters easy jogging
between. Don't try that many the first time out, though. Start with 4 to 6 and
work up. You might want to start with a full 400 meter jog between
repetitions, also. You can play around with the number of 400s and the amount
of rest to best suit your needs. Always remember to do a good warm-up before
starting your track workout.
There are any number of other interval schemes you might use, but these two
simple workouts will provide for most runners basic needs. As one elite runner
once told me, the more money you pay your coach, the more complicated your
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*The State of Running in America*
Dear RUNNER'S NICHE,
Running is alive and well in Pensacola, Florida. Every run has hundreds of
runners from children to people in their 80's. I think people are tired of
aloof stars. The future of running is at the grassroots level. We enable the
stars to get where they are. The stars in running as in all other sports
should give back to their sports instead of take take take more more more.
Sorry but the thought that running is on the downturn is not true in my town.
I run at 5am 3 days a week and I have lots of company. I don't want big
names,I just want to run.
Dear RUNNER'S NICHE,
...It (running) only seems to get the bad press lately. I have to say that I
was not impressed by Donovan Bailey, people like that give running a bad rap.
The real reason I'm writing is to address the issue of there being few U.S.
runners that can compete on the world scene.
A few weeks ago I was talking to a fellow runner, and we were discussing U.S.
distance running as of late, and he made the comment that, "...well, you don't
see Americans out there winning the Olympics or setting world records, but
look at the facts. U.S. runners are around a long time, they aren't getting
all busted up. Look at the Kenyans, they come out set a record or win a big
prize, they are good for a few years, and then they are gone." Well, I don't
know how true it is that these Kenyans come out, kick butt and disappear is,
but it is true that many of the runners I talk to believe that Americans just
can't compete with Kenyans. Where did this negative attitude come from? If
Kenyans or any other foreign runners of any back ground are supposed to be
superior athletes, why then does Sebastian Coe still hold the outdoor 800
meter record? He is a white British guy. I don't like it when I hear people
say that I will never be the best because some guy from Kenya was born with a
superior body composition. It's a poor excuse for being mediocre. Hard work
is the key. I don't care who you are or where you come from, you are still
just a person, and so is every one else out there running with you. It doesn't
matter what side of the fence you were born on. No man is going to run faster
than me simply because he is African or English or green with hot pink dots,
the only way another man is going to run faster than me is if he earns it.
Americans can be as good as any one else can. They just have to believe it.
Dear RUNNER'S NICHE,
I was disappointed in the Bailey/Johnson showdown but intrigued at the
commercial possibilities for track. Track needs to experiment for with this
format to see if the level of public interest in North America can be raised.
I'd love to see a Komen, Morceli, Geb, Niyongabo, El Guerrouj matchup over
1500 Meters. The same meet could have a 200 Meter featuring Johnson,
Fredricks, Marsh and Bolden; how about Matola, Jacobs, Clark, Miles, Quirot
and Masterkova over 800? We need to try the super matchup format with limited
events and see if some money and fans can be brought into American stadiums,
but scrap the one-on-one and get at least 4 competitors per event.
*Italian Running Team, Baby!*
This is an Italian running team named ANNA BABY RUNNER. Our seat is in
Civitavecchia (55000 people), a city near Rome on the west coast of Italy.
We are 65 runners (10 females and 55 males) of all the age groups with some
We'd like to exchange experiences with American running teams.
Besides we have a question, do you know where can we get a free web page for
Greetings from Italy
ANNA BABY RUNNER TEAM
c/o Anna Torretta
Via Nazario Sauro, 4
phone and fax: -766/23181
provisional e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ODDS AND ENDS
*MARATHON AND BEYOND*
A great new periodical called MARATHON AND BEYOND might be worth looking into
if you are interested in longer races. It is put out every other month by
Human Kinetics Publishers in good quality paperback book format. The articles
are high caliber, there is no filler or "pop-fitness" junk. Even if you don't
run marathons or ultras, the information is interesting and helpful for all
For more info or to subscribe call 1-800-747-4457 in the U.S. or 1-800-465-
7301 in Canada. You can also subscribe and get info from the Human Kinetics
web site at: <http://www.humankinetics.com/>.
COLORADO RUNNER'S NICHE
There is a new sister publication to RUNNER'S NICHE called COLORADO RUNNER'S
NICHE. Unlike this cyberspace magazine, the COLORADO NICHE is a regular print
publication. If you live on the front range, look for it at Runner's Roost in
Ft. Collins and Boulder, the Boulder Running Company, Mongoose Runner's Den
(Westminster) or Runner's Choice (Boulder). We hope to expand or circulation
in the future.
You can visit the COLORADO RUNNER'S NICHE PAGE AT:
RUNNER'S NICHE IS ON THE WEB!
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Pass the address on to your friends!
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