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RUNNER'S NICHE

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Vol. 2 No. 6 June, 1997

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NOTES FROM THE EDITOR

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I'm a little tired of negative running news. I keep reading and

hearing about problems like ineffective leadership from USATF,

agents who are too money hungry, positive drug tests, a lack of

interest in running by the general public, and major sponsors pulling

their support from running events. I wasn't too crazy about the self

absorbed antics of Donovan Bailey after the match race between him

and Michael Johnson, either. The most nagging negativism I hear is

the United States lack of talented distance runners, and how

embarrassing it is to see top ten finisher lists from major American

road races with no Americans listed. All of this is enough to make

you think that running in the United States is falling apart at the

seams.

I'm not a negative person by nature, but even I was beginning to feel

a bit cynical about the current state of affairs in American running. I

was, that is, until this year's Bolder Boulder 10 K. This event totally

recharged my batteries, and I was able to see that running in

America is far from dead.

37,000 people turned up to run or walk this year's Bolder event.

Most of them finished the race, and most also trained to prepare for

it. There are the requisite silly costumes and wild behavior

associated with a "people's race," but the great majority seem to be

out there because they actually enjoy running or walking. Sometimes

we forget that the vast majority of runners do it for recreation or

health. They are proof that without USATF or big prize money or

bright shining gold medals, running would still be alive and well for

the masses.

Maybe things aren't as bad as we think on the elite running front,

either. Libbie Hickman, the subject of a feature article in this month's

NICHE, proved that there is at least one American runner who is

ready to take on the best runners in the world. She won the Bolder

Boulder in brave and convincing fashion while facing Kenyan

superstars Gladys Ondeyko, Dellilah Asiago and Jane Omoro.

What about that supposed lack of interest in running by the general

public? After the masses had a chance to run the course, most of the

37,000 stuck around to watch the elite races that follow. You should

have heard the crowd go ballistic at the University of Colorado

Folsom Stadium when Libbie came through the stadium entrance in

the lead. Everyone in the place stood and screamed their throats raw.

The public certainly does care, even if they are not always well

educated about the sport.

Some may say the crowd was simply responding to an American win

when Libbie came across the line. Certainly that added a few decibels

to the crowd's roar, but it seems that the general public was happy to

honor any athlete who proved his dedication and training were

sufficient to win. The final race of the day was the men's elite race,

and the crowd responded with a booming cheer when Hezron Otwori

of Kenya crossed the finish line first. It seems we do have fans of

the sport out there in the American public. Fans who do not whine

and cry when a non-American wins, like so many in the media. I'd

call that a pure appreciation of the sport.

I'm not a head-in-the-stars dreamer. Our sport is undergoing a

difficult time. There are so many positives to build on, though, that I

simply can't believe that it's time to engrave the tombstone. Running

around like a cartoon character with a storm cloud always lurking

above your head will do nothing to help matters, so I, for one, intend

to pursue the positives. Hope you decide to do the same.

- WG

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LIBBIE HICKMAN - A WOMAN WITH A NEW FOCUS

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By Woody Green

Along with a new last name, Libbie Hickman, formerly known as

Libbie Johnson, seems to have a new focus. This Fort Collins, Colorado

resident has been steadily progressing since she graduated from

Colorado State University in 1988. She was an All-American there,

and she set a school record of 9:12 for 3,000 meters.

After college Libbie continued to run. She found success and showed

constant progress. She won the ARRA road racing circuit in 1991, and

while she has always run a fair number of road races, she saves her

best for the track. Track and Field News ranked her as the 8th best

American 3,000 meter runner in 1993, then the fourth best in 1994.

In 1995 she ran a PR of 15:28.27 for 5,000 meters at the US

nationals, good enough to qualify her for the World Championships

team that competed in Götenborg, Sweden later that summer.

Things seemed to set up nicely for 1996. Libbie was intent on

making the team for the Atlanta Olympics. She proved she was in

great shape when she ran 8:43.32 for 3,000 meters in Eugene a few

weeks before the Olympic trials.

In Atlanta for the trials, things seemed to be going well. She made a

strong move to the front late in the race and it seemed that a place

on the Olympic team was surely hers. Unfortunately for Libbie, Lynn

Jennings, Mary Slaney and Amy Rudolph all went past her in the last

lap of the race.

"I was shocked," Libbie says, "I thought I would make the team. Back

then it was hard to even talk about it. It was pretty painful."

Ultimately, she feels that race made her a more aggressive runner.

When she took the lead in the trials race, she made a small tactical

error and hesitated just a little instead of pushing on. That may well

have been what cost her the race.

Even with the emotional downfall of not achieving her ultimate goal,

the rest of her running year went quite well. She won several road

races and her 3,000 time from Eugene wound up being the tenth

fastest time in the world for 1996.

Not making the Olympic team may well have made Libbie a better

runner, and it seems that she has a new, clear focus on what she

wants to achieve.

If her race results thus far in 1997 are any indication of what is to

come, other American distance runners had better set their focus on

trying to figure out how to beat Libbie.

On April 27 she ran 20:08 for 4 miles the Trolly Run in Kansas City.

That time is a new American best for four miles on the roads.

"I was really happy for that," she said of the new record. "I felt good

from the gun, but didn't hear my splits. I figured I was running

5:10's or so and was very surprised to see my time at the finish."

The race fit in well with her preparation plans for the Bolder Boulder

10K on May 26, and the Track Nationals June 11-15. It was an

indication that Libbie's fitness level had reached a new high.

Libbie followed that effort with another indication of her fitness

level. She set a new course record (33:02) at the Nations Bank River

Run 10 K in Wichita. Next up would be the Bolder Boulder.

As Libbie talked about her plans before the Bolder Boulder, her voice

grew excited. "I've been dying to do it, but it usually doesn't fit into

my schedule."

"How long has it been since an American woman has won that race? I

don't even know," she wondered. In fact, it was in 1983 when Ellen

Hart won. "I'd like to see an American winning some races."

When informed that Rich Castro, the man in charge of recruiting elite

talent for the race, picked Libbie as the favorite, she said, "he really

said that?" She then rattled off a few names of top runners likely to

be in the race and humbly indicated that she was not sure how she

would fair against such a tough line-up. Finally, she laughed and said,

"I hope he's right!"

Boulder provides an excellent opportunity for an altitude trained

athlete. She planned on using that to her advantage.

"The worst thing is to go out too fast at altitude. It's an extremely

tough course. I plan to be with the leaders at the end and kick."

Those three sentences turned out to be the script for the race. Early

on, Libbie was behind the leaders by seventy meters or more. Frank

Shorter, doing the commentary for local television, counted her out of

the race. She kept the leaders in her sights, however, and picked off

one runner after another until she caught leaders Delillah Asiago and

Jane Omoro just past the four mile mark.

Soon, Omoro couldn't keep pace and it was just Libbie and Delillah,

with Libbie hanging on the Kenyan's shoulder. It began to look like

the two would be running in tandem straight to the finish, but just as

the two passed under the 9 kilometer banner, Libbie put in the

afterburners and it looked like Asiago was running backwards.

Running smooth and strong up the final hill leading to the stadium

finish, Libbie looked like she was on the track and kicking home. The

crowd was going absolutely crazy as she did the final half lap of the

stadium infield. As she crossed the finish she threw her arms in the

air and a smile appeared on her face and seemed to remain there for

the rest of the day.

Her time of 33:25 was impressive in the high altitude of Boulder, but

more impressive were her bold tactics and awesome fitness level.

How does an athlete continue to develop, and even make a huge step

forward, at age 32?

"I have patience and a well rounded life. My husband, Walter, has

added stability in my life. He has helped me both with the training

and emotional part of my running." Libbie is quick to add, "he's also

really cute!"

Another part of her new focus is a move up in distance on the track.

When she travels to Indianapolis for this year's track and Field

Nationals, she will attempt to make the world championships team at

10,000 meters instead of her traditional 3-5,000 meter distance.

"I've always seen my destiny as a longer distance runner," she tells

us. "I'm glad to have run shorter distances early in my career to

build for longer races. Look at Ingrid Kristiansen, she was a 8:31

3,000 meter runner and she turned out to be a pretty great

marathoner!"

Marathon, you say?

"In the back of my mind I think about the marathon. I'm planning on

running the Chicago Marathon this fall."

While it's clear that Libbie is focused on some major goals this year,

her ultimate goal will be the 2000 Olympics in Melbourne. After that,

she says she'd like to get into coaching, perhaps at the college level.

Whatever may be in the future for Libbie Hickman, don't look for her

to hesitate once she takes the lead.

ED: You can visit Libbie's world wide web site at <www.libbie.com>.

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RUNNING IN KOREA

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By Rick McKinty

I arrived in Seoul, Korea seven months ago to teach English (and

French if possible). My friends and running partners back in Canada

said it's nearly impossible to run in Seoul for a litany of reasons:

pollution, unsafe drivers, pollution, no green areas, pollution,

crowded sidewalks and did I mention pollution?

I was bound and determined to continue running for both my

physical and mental health. True, it has been trying at times getting

used to different smells and the curious stares of the locals seeing

the weird looking "waygook" or foreigner running up an icy hill

wearing shiny "leotards". Running in Korea has provided me with a

balance between all the commuting and teaching 35 children in a

class who knew no English (initially of course!)

I even decided if I was going to run here I may as well train for my

first marathon. It was tough trying to figure out a training program

but some tips from Runner's Niche and back issues of Runner's World

helped me out immensely. I ran the Dong A International marathon

on March 16 in Kyonju Korea. It was an excellent experience. The

spectators were fantastic and the on course staff were very

encouraging. Unfortunately, the overall race was poorly run. There

was no water for the last 10 Km. and the clock was turned off by the

time I arrived at 3:42. I never did receive an official time, certificate

or finisher's medal. I know that I did it and that's all that matters. I

look forward to more marathons and chalk my first one up to

experience.

I would like to encourage you all, wherever you may find yourself, to

keep running.

ED: You can contact Rick at: <mckenty@net.co.kr>

 

 

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ANAEROBIC TRAINING: HILLS ARE OUR FRIENDS

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By Woody Green

This series of articles has explained the importance of the anaerobic

energy system in distance running. Now, we will take a look at some

of the forms of anaerobic training and what they might do for your

running. First, we will look at hills.

Famed running Coach Arthur Lydiard was one of the loudest

proponents of hill training. Lydiard favored doing hills early in the

preparation phase of training as a lead up to fast interval training on

the track.

Hill work does many good things for a runner. First hills provide a

method of overloading the muscles not unlike weight training. This is

especially good for the quadriceps muscles, which are the large

muscles on the front of the thigh. These are very important muscles

to keep strong. Among other things, they stabilize the knee and are

thus very important in injury prevention. Some distance runners

tend to develop the hamstring muscle more than the quadriceps, and

hill running helps to prevent that imbalance.

The idea of doing hills in preparation for fast track work is sound. It

permits your body to adjust to faster leg turn over, and builds the

correct muscles, without going quite as fast as on a level surface. By

doing hill work before hitting the track, your track sessions will be

less likely to cause injury, and you will find them to be less difficult

than without the prior hill workouts.

When looking for a hill to do your workouts on, find one that is

moderately steep. Working on a hill that is too steep will not permit

you to get fast turn over of your legs, which is part of your goal. A

hill that provides minimal challenge, on the other hand, offers few

benefits differing from simply running on the track.

There are many variations possible in a hill workout. You might start

by running between 200 and 400 meters uphill hard, followed by

jogging back down at a very easy pace. Repeat this only 4 or 5 times

the first time you attempt such a workout. Eventually you can

increase the number. Every individual will be different in the

number of repetitions they can handle. A rule of thumb would be to

stop when you feel you could still do one more at the same pace. This

will assure that you have worked hard, but have not overdone.

You can vary your workout according to desired results. A marathon

runner looking to increase anaerobic capabilities and strength may

wish to do longer hills (400 to 800 meters) with shorter rest periods.

A middle distance runner, who will be in greater need of raw

strength and the speed advantages of hill training, will be better off

doing shorter repeats (100 to 400 meters) with somewhat longer

rest. Sprinters will sometimes do bursts of only 30 meters at top

speed. Keep the workout within the boundaries that YOU can manage,

and don't worry about what anyone else may be doing in their hill

workouts.

Expect to be a little sore after your first hill workout. Plan on an easy

run or rest the following day. As you get used to the hills, your legs

will also. You can increase the number of repetitions and your

intensity as you get used to this type of training.

Check in next month for another exciting episode of Anaerobic

Training!

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

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A list of the top times for 10 K women's road race times in 1983:

1. Wendy Sly (GB) 31:29

2. Grete Waitz (Nor) 31:33

3. Joan Benoit (US) 31:37

4. Mary Decker (US) 31:52

5. Dorthe Rasmussen (Den) 32:06

6. Betty Springs (US) and Anne Audain (NZ) 32:23

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NEW SISTER PUBLICATION

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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 in the

Boulder or Fort Collins area, look for it at Runner's Roost in Ft. Collins

and the Boulder Running Company or Runner's Choice in Boulder. We

hope to expand or circulation in the future.

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WEB SITES OF INTEREST

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*Exercise Physiology Page*

Interested in the science of sport. Take a look at this page:

<http://www.krs.hia.no/~stephens/exphys.htm>

 

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READER'S MAIL

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*Matters of the Heart*

Dear RUNNER'S NICHE,

I look forward to your newsletter.

It may not be as slick as some of the runner's magazines, but you can

tell it is from the heart.

It sure helps keep me motivated.

- Mark London

 

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ODDS AND ENDS

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*Time Marches Forward*

Believe it or not, 1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit

just celebrated her 40th birthday. Happy birthday, Joan!!!

 

*Match Making*

First, on May 31, it was the Haile Gebreselassie against Noureddine

Morceli in the big 2 mile show down in Holland. Morceli was out of it

early, and pace making was a little slow for Geb. Add in a touch of

wind and it seemed unlikely that the eight minute barrier (2 sub-4

minute miles in a row) would fall. In fact, it didn't, but it was very

close. Geb ran 8:01.1, which is the fastest time in history.

The next day, June 1, was the prize fight like match-up between

Michael Johnson and Donovan Bailey in Toronto. This race was a flop

in terms of competition. Bailey took the lead early, then Johnson

pulled up with about 60 meters to go holding his leg. Donovan turned

around and made a show at the finish, running 14.99 for the 150

meter distance. Bailey gave new meaning to the words "ungracious

winner" after the race, claiming that Johnson faked the injury and

was a coward. Ungracious or not, Bailey won a cool million for the

race.

 

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RUNNER'S NICHE IS ON THE WEB!

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RUNNER'S NICHE has a web page! We have some cool links, and past

issues can be downloaded there. Also, we have a Macintosh training

log program for free download. Features are continuously being

added. If you'd like to visit, the URL is:

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

Pass the address on to your friends!

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