Vol. 3 No. 6 July, 1998
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
Summer running is good. Sunny skies prevail. No shirts are necessary.
There is no snow, slush or ice to get in the way. You may have a dry
mouth after the workout, but the cold water you guzzle after tastes so
good, so refreshing. In the evening you sit on the porch and rehydrate
while the cool breeze finally washes the heat from your tired, happy
body. Mosquitoes remove highly oxygenated blood from your skin, but at
least you aren't wearing a parka.
THIS AND THAT
:-0 Reports from the first ever Rock'n'Roll Marathon in San Diego
indicate that runners had a problem getting enough water, and the
promised bands did not all show to play along the course. Particularly
warm weather contributed to the problems with water. Still, it seems
that most runners' spirits were high after the event.
<#1> Top mountain runner, Laura Bruess, demolished the field in the
Fila Sky half-marathon in Aspen, Colorado. Her time over the difficult
mountain course was 1:59:49, which beat the nearest woman by nearly 14
;-) Running must keep you young. When runner Boulder and triathlete
Irving Weiss was hit by a car on his bike recently, police reported a
55-60 year-old man had been involved. The doctor who performed a MRI on
Irving indicated he had the brain of a sixty year-old. Irving, who was
visiting his daughter in North Carolina at the time, is, in fact, 79
years old. Besides a few cracked ribs, Irving came out of the accident
okay. He will return to running soon, and when he does, he will likely
continue to beat the 55-60 year-olds he resembles.
:-o MEOW! When asked in Runner's World Daily if she was avoiding Suzy
Hamilton by not running the 1500 at nationals, Regina Jacobs reportedly
replied "If we were equals, then you could ask that question, but I
don't consider us equals. Not at all. That gives her a little too much
credit, to ask if I'm avoiding her."
GRIP AND RIP
By Woody Green
Dante Bichette, an outstanding outfielder for the Colorado Rockies
baseball team, recently made an interesting statement. Bichette is
known to spend hours studying the opposing pitchers and looking at
videotape of his swing. He is a true student of the game, and he thinks
about it all the time. He's well known for his ability to guess what
the pitcher will throw him based on his observations, this normally
affords him quite an advantage. After a game when he smashed a couple
of long balls, the reporters asked Bichette what his strategy was. He
said he had a good day because stopped thinking and he just "gripped
and ripped," meaning he just grabbed the bat and swung hard at whatever
came. He felt he'd actually been thinking too much lately, and that
might have hurt him.
Runners are often guilty of thinking too much. Of course, just like
Bichette, runners should be students of their sport. Heading into a
race it's good to know what the course is like, and having an idea what
pace you'd like to run is smart strategy. Training should be planned
out in some sort of logical manner, with forethought and sound
principals behind the scheme. The problem is that you can also
strategize yourself to bits.
In a recent race Skipper (name changed to protect his identity) was
really ready to run a good 5 K. He was bouncing around at the starting
line, and at the gun he went out hard. When he hit the one-mile mark
and heard his split, he slowed and walked off the course. His one-mile
split was very fast, and he felt certain that he had sabotaged his own
race. At first he was mad at himself for going out so hard, later he
wished he had just continued on to the finish to see what he could have
done. The split time became too important to him. His brain got in the
way. If he hadn't heard his split, maybe he could have still run a
decent race, even if it wasn't as good as he had originally hoped.
Another runner, Not Imex (not his real name), purposely never wears a
watch when he races. He knows that, for him, the best feedback he can
get is what his body is telling him. The watch can influence him to go
too hard, or to limit him to a "reasonable" pace that may actually be
too slow for him on that day. He even tries not to listen when splits
are called out at the mile markers. He doesn't think about it, he just
runs. This is sort of the running equivalent of "grip and rip" for a
batter in baseball.
Similar situations can develop with respect to training plans. No
matter if the plan is laid out by a coach, a computer training program,
or a book, runners often fail to remember that a workout plan is just a
plan, not a dictatorial decree that must be followed come hell or high
water. Many runners are so bent on doing a particular workout on a
particular day that it becomes counter-productive. Sometimes runners
try to complete a workout that is just too hard. This ends in
frustration at best, physical breakdown at worst. Other times we try to
complete a workout in weather conditions that make our original time
goals impossible. This is a bad idea since no matter how well we
understand that our times are slowed by the conditions, we can't help
but be disappointed with what our watch tells us. Modifying workout
plans is not a sin.
A top 51 year-old runner, (we'll call him Dave Dooley, since that's his
name) was asked by another runner how he plans his workouts. Dave is
almost never injured, and he regularly beats the pants off of runners
twenty years his junior. He indicated that he really more or less runs
how he feels each day. It's not like he doesn't plan workouts on the
track, fartlek sessions, tempo runs and long runs; but he does these
workouts only when he feels up for them. He keeps track of how many
miles he runs each week out of interest, but never plans his workouts
toward a particular mileage goal for the week. Sounds like "grip and
rip" to me.
None of this is meant to indicate that training and racing should be
purely random. We all do better with a well thought out plan for both
racing and training. Johnny Halberstadt, a great runner from South
Africa, says that one advantage the African runners have over Americans
and Europeans is that they run in an artistic way rather than a strict
scientific manner. There is a lot to be said for that. But, instead of
saying, "I'm going to run in an artistic manner," I prefer "I'm gonna'
grip and rip!"
RUNNING OUT OF MARATHON GOALS
By John M Wallace
On August 30, 1998 I will cross the finish line at the Noosa Marathon
(Australia) to complete my 130th marathon. This marathon will represent
the completion of a major goal for me -- the completion of a marathon
on all seven continents! But this accomplishment also presents a major
dilemma since I am running out of marathon goals. Why is that a
dilemma? Because, like most runners, and especially marathoners, I need
a goal to motivate me. Without a goal it is difficult to maintain
fifty-plus miles per week, to run hill repeats and intervals, to force
myself out the door in bad weather or to rise at 4:00 AM in a strange
city to get a run in before my business meeting.
Okay, you say. But how can I be running out of marathon goals? To
explain I must go back to the beginning -- like all marathoners -- to
my initial goal, my first marathon.
In 1982 I was running about 30 miles per week and had just completed my
first 10 K. I naively figured that I was ready to run a marathon. I
increased my mileage to 40 miles per week including a 15-mile long run
in preparation for the Silver State Marathon in Reno, Nevada where I
was living. I still vividly remember "hitting the wall "at 23 miles and
as I walked and ran the last 5K I cursed myself with each painful step
and promised that if I finished alive I would never do such a stupid
However as I crossed the finish line the exuberation of completing my
goal quickly eased the pain.
Even I was surprised when a week later I found myself thinking that I
could probably do better if only I trained harder and smarter. My next
marathon goal had been set! One year later I took 14 minutes off my
time at the same Silver State Marathon.
In the spring of 1984, I moved to Dallas, Texas and soon found my way
to White Rock Lake where most of the running community do their long
runs on the weekends. Somehow I ended up running with a group of hard-
core fanatics (er... runners) who ran 13 to 15-mile training runs at a
sub 7-minute pace. They introduced me to new terms and training
practices such as hill repeats, intervals, fartlek and racing 10Ks
every week. My marathon life has never been the same! My new goal
became a sub 3-hour marathon! However a new job and house in Dallas
took their toll on my training time and it was not until the White Rock
Marathon in December 1986 that I was able to achieve that goal with a
2:59:35. I realized that 3 hours represented an ultimate marathon
performance for me and although that became my target goal for all
future marathons I was only able to achieve that goal five more times
in my career.
Since I needed a new marathon goal, I settled on running all the major
or best marathons. There are many so-called lists in many of the
running magazines. As I was running Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, New
York, etc, I decided to see how many marathons I could race in one
year. In 1988 I completed 22 marathons with an average time of 3:05
with four sub 3-hour races including my PR of 2:58 at Twin Cities. I
realized that I had pushed the physical limits of my body with that
goal so backed off and continued with my "lists" goal.
But I soon completed the "lists" and started looking for marathons in
places I had never visited before. This goal took me to some
interesting sites such as Salmon River, Idaho and Duluth, Minnesota
before I decided to expand the geography to include international
locations such as Rio de Janeiro, London and Athens.
Not surprisingly something had to go wrong or break under this grueling
pace and it happened to be the plantar fascia on my left foot during
the last 10K of The Original Marathon in Athens, Greece in October
1990. Since I had tore the tendon off my foot I was unable to run or
train for 11 months. Now the goal became to get healthy again and keep
my streak of consecutive years of marathoning alive. So in September
1991, I began a 90-day miracle-training program to complete the White
Rock Marathon in December 1991 in 3:24:10. I was back! But I was also
wiser and older so I only completed five marathons in 1992 as I nursed
my injury. Then in the spring of 1993 I faced my first marathon goal
dilemma! I had run my best times. I had completed all the "lists"
marathons. What was I to do? How could I stay motivated? Luckily I read
an article in Runners World about an informal club called the "50+DC"
whose members had or were attempting to run a marathon in all 50 states
+ DC. A quick review of my running log showed that I had already run 20
states + DC. I was saved -- a new goal was established! Unfortunately
like most marathoners I am compulsive. So I focused on running the
remaining 30 states over the next 30 months to finish my 50th state at
the Hoosier Marathon on June 11,1995 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Completing this goal was fun and interesting. I visited many states and
parts of the country that I had never been to and probably would not
have gone to but for the goal. I met a lot of very interesting people,
both runners and spectators who broadened my knowledge and horizons. I
do not regret one minute or one run of that goal! As I was nearing
completion of the "50+DC" goal, I realized that I would need a new goal
and the "50+DC" club rescued me again. Many members were working on a
goal to complete all 12 provinces and territories of Canada. That
became my new goal! Logistically this goal was even more difficult than
the "50+DC" goal because of the long distances to travel and most
provinces only have one marathon per year. So if you miss one or there
is a schedule conflict you have to wait a whole year. And remember, I
am still compulsive! Again this was a very enjoyable experience as I
definitely saw parts of the world, such as Nanasivik, North West
Territory (500 miles above the Arctic Circle) that I would never have
visited otherwise. I completed this goal in St John's, Newfoundland on
September 21, 1997 to become only the 15th person in the world to
complete both the US and Canada.
While I was nearing completion of the Canada goal the "50+DC" club also
provided my next goal -- to complete all seven continents. When the
second Antarctica Marathon was held in February 1997, I was there since
I was afraid that I might not get another chance. When I crossed the
finish line to complete the toughest marathon I have ever run, I only
had three continents left. Africa and Asia I managed to complete in
one interesting and enjoyable trip in February 1998. And, as I stated
earlier, I will complete Australia in August 1998 to become only the
5th and youngest person in the world to complete the US, Canada and the
But, unlike the completion of all my previous goals, I have no new
marathon goal beyond this one. The only worthwhile goal I can think of
is to complete as many counties as possible. But the expense of such a
goal would be prohibitive without a corporate sponsor.
Therefore I am in a quandary. Will I stop running marathons? No! But,
it will just not be the same without a big goal to motivate me.
However, I still have one continual marathon goal remaining. I want to
extend my streak of consecutive years of marathoning to at least 40
years, which means I will be running marathons into my late seventies.
Hope to see you on the roads!
The sixteenth annual Eerie Erie 5 and 10 K runs will be on October 31,
1998, starting at the Erie High School track in Erie, Colorado. Any
questions, please call (303) 828-3090
WEB SITES OF INTEREST
Hash House Harriers web site:
--U.S. 100 Mile Club--
Fitness incentives at:
An on line running store with lots of goodies:
AND AS ALWAYS:
RUNNERS NICHE at:
LETTERS FROM OUR READERS
--Motivated and Informed--
Dear Runner's Niche,
I know there may be times when you are wondering if it is worth the
time and effort to write and edit the newsletter.
I can speak only for myself. Your newsletter popping into my mailbox
is a welcome treat.
You do a lot to keep us motivated as well as informed.
Ed: Thanks, Mark, your letter motivates and informs us, too!!!
--Snoozers Are Pretty Fast Walkers!--
A Letter commenting on last month's article on the benefits of sleep to
Dear Runner's Niche,
Among elite racewalkers it's just considered common knowledge that
you'll sleep 10 hours a night plus a nap if you can afford it.
- Dan Pierce
(Ed note: Dan is a former elite racewalker, and currently coaches
several top walkers. He is also the American record holder for the 100
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