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RUNNER'S NICHE

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Vol. 5 No.3 March, 2000

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NOTES FROM THE EDITOR

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I finally did it. After 29 years of running, I followed my own

advice at last. I ran a workout without looking at my watch the

whole run. I never even started it. This was an easy 3 and a

quarter mile route that I do frequently, and that I often use on

days when I want to just get in a little bit of a workout at an

easy pace. It's a nice run around a lake near my home, often

providing a good dose of stress release as I watch the geese

swim and fly about the water. In the past I have always timed

this run, and I have a measured mile around the lake so I can

know exactly what pace I'm running. The problem is that there

are days that no runner should be worried about what pace they

are running. I've said that for years, told my athletes that

when I was coaching, and I have even told people they were too

compulsive if they were too wrapped up in their split times

during a race. All along, though, I've been a Timex junkie. This

was the first time that I had purposely failed to time a run

since I was 13.

It all started innocently enough. My dad bought me a new

wristwatch when I first started running. It had a dial around it

to make it easy to time things. It wasn't a stopwatch or

chronometer, just a plain old wristwatch with an hour, minute

and second hand. I would set the "o" on the dial, which was a

ring around the watch face, to the position of the minute hand,

wait until the second hand got to twelve, and take off. I think

this was good for my math skills, and I got skillful at

memorizing my split times. Plus, it was fun because so few other

runners had this kind of watch. I used this style of watch for

many years until the digital liquid crystal display watches came

out when I was in college.

Digital watches became so cheap that soon everyone was timing

all their workouts. Today, most runners have a chronograph. We

can set timers to tell us how long to rest between intervals,

how long to sustain surges and even when to get up in the

morning to get in our early runs. If the technology is there, I

like to use it. I like toys.

I also like keeping close tabs on my training. I have been

rationalizing my timing of easy workouts, including split times,

all these years as an important feedback system. On easy days if

I was running faster than I felt like I was running, that meant

that my training must have been going well. If I was going

especially slow, I saw that as a sign that I was too tired, and

that I needed to ease off on my training. This is a good

feedback mechanism in theory, but I know full well that in

practice it can be counterproductive.

The problem with timing every workout is that it dangles a

carrot in front of the runner. Even on our easy days we want the

watch to show us a faster time than last week when we did the

same run. We want to see progress in the form of increased

fitness, and the best measure of fitness to runners is how fast

they are running.

Running without a watch takes all the pressure off. There is no

need to push it "just a tad" to run the time you are expecting.

By paying attention to how you feel, you can ignore the speed

you are running at and concentrate on the intensity instead.

Many days that means low intensity, which means holding back. A

good plan might even be to run with a heart rate monitor, but no

watch. This way you have the feedback you really need on your

easy days, which is keeping your effort within the proper range,

not your time.

Another reason to consider taking your easy runs sans timing

device is to avoid depression. What depression? The blue feeling

you get when you realize you just ran a particular training

route slower than you've ever done it before. Even though you

can tell yourself it was supposed to be an easy day, even if you

know you were especially tired from a tough workout the day

before, slow times can be quite depressing. If you don't know

your time, though, how can you be depressed?

All that said, I still time most of my workouts. It's hard to

break a 29 year-old habit. I try to make it a rule, though, that

once a week I forget about minutes and seconds and concentrate

on taking it slow and easy.

- WG

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RUNNER'S NICHE / MARATHON & BEYOND TRIVIA CONTEST

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Congratulations to last month's trivia winner, Frederick Krewson.

Frederick receives a free issue of Marathon & Beyond Magazine 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: 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. For which Olympic Marathon team did Benji Durden qualify?

2. What is the running related nickname of Eugene, Oregon?

3. Who was Seb Coe's coach?

4. Who was Jim Ryun's coach?

5. What does "fartlek" mean, and what language is the word from?

6. In what track and field event did Emil Zatopek's wife compete?

7. Who was the first woman to break 2:50 in the marathon?

8. Everyone knows that Abebe Bikila won the 1960 Olympic

Marathon, but who was second in that race?

9. What corporation currently sponsors the Chicago Marathon?

10. Hicham El Guerrouj was the first man to break 3:44 in the

mile. Who was the second?

 

Last Month's Answers:

What university did the following elite runners attend?

1. Vicki Huber - Villanova

2. Mark Croghan - Ohio State

3. Todd Williams - Tennessee

4. Sonia O'Sullivan - Villanova

5. Mike Musyoki - UTEP

6. Julie Shea - NC State

7. Mary Shea - NC State

8. Betty Springs - NC State

9. Annette Hand - Oregon

10. Reuben Reina - Arkansas

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novelty gifts, t-shirts, bracelets and many others items.

www.ontherun.com/runningdelights

Our entire catalog is now online with secure ordering.

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THAT'S LIFE IN THE BIG TEN

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Book Review by Woody Green

It started quite promisingly, with a heart-felt prologue that

will surely grab at the heartstrings of anyone who is serious

about their running. This prologue speaks of a young man, driven

to perfect his running, chasing his shadow and finally outrunning

and mastering it. If only the rest of the book lived up to this

wonderful bit of prose.

That's Life In The Big Ten is the story of a man who was a

serious runner at the University of Iowa, and is returning ten

years later to present awards to current Iowa runners at the

annual awards banquet. Now a successful corporate lawyer, T.K.

Rivers finds himself with more money than he had dreamed of ever

earning, a beautiful wife and the perfect suburban home. He also

finds himself longing for the kind of life he had as a runner in

college, when he worked for himself instead of a "sweatshop" law

firm.

The book describes various chapters in his college career, both

running and social, and examines just where he stands today.

While he worked hard to attain his current status, having been a

simple country boy when he started college, he finds little

consolation in a life that is too busy and hectic to enjoy.

From there the book takes some strange twists and turns, at times

seeming to be an essay on the rigors of being a corporate lawyer,

at others an almost surreal look at his college years.

Parts of the book are page-turning fun, especially those

describing the crazy antics of his teammates. Others are

confusing and even downright dull accounts that seem to have no

tie to the rest of the story.

The unevenness of the book could be excused if the ending tied

everything together, but not only was nothing tied up in the

final chapter, it seemed as if the writer never understood his

own dilemma. Nothing happened, the book simply ended with no

conclusion or resolution to the central theme. Strange, indeed.

I won't tell anyone not to buy the book, though. To his credit,

author Dan Waters is donating the proceeds of this book to a

University of Iowa Foundation to help fund a scholarship in honor

of his college track coach, Ted Wheeler. That's a good reason to

pick up the book. And who knows, maybe the ending will make sense

to you.

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FLEXIBLE FIVE

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By Woody Green

Stretching should be a key ingredient in anyone's fitness

program. Ideally, we should all do a good 20-30 minutes of

stretching each day. Realistically it can be tough for some of

us to find 2-3 minutes of free time on a really busy day.

Certainly our priority when budgeting time is to make sure we

can get our daily run in. Still, neglecting flexibility

exercises can lead you down the road to deteriorating

performance or injury.

On those really busy days try setting aside just 5 minutes to do

these five key stretches:

1. Hamstrings. Tight hamstrings are a notorious problem for

runners. Lying with your back on the floor, lift one leg keeping

it straight at the knee and pull with your hands toward your

body. Alternatively you can lie in a doorway and use the

doorframe to rest you heel on, then position your body to a

comfortable stretching position.

2. Pretzel stretch. This one is good for your hips and butt.

Sitting, bend one leg at the knee and rest the foot on the other

side of the opposite leg. Then place the elbow of your opposite

arm on the outside of the leg and apply pressure toward the

middle of your body.

3. Quadriceps. These are the muscles on the front of the thigh.

Standing, use one arm to steady yourself by a wall, chair or

other object, as you will be standing on one foot. With the

other arm pull and ankle up behind you and toward your rear end

while allowing your knee to bend fully. It is best to pull on

your right leg with your left arm, and vice-versa.

4. Groin. It may not be obvious that we use the muscles on the

inside of the leg much as we run, but these muscles actually

work with each running stride to keep our feet in line. The

butterfly stretch is a good gentle stretch for this part of your

body. Sit with a straight back and put the soles of your feet

together in front of you. Pull them close to you, then let the

weight of your legs stretch the inner muscles of your thigh.

5. Calf. Tight calves contribute to many possible injury

problems, the most notable being Achilles tendonitis. Try the

wall stretch to keep those calves supple. Face a wall and put

your hands on it for support, then put one leg back, with the

knee straight, as far as is comfortable with the foot being

flat, heel down and toes pointed straight forward. Do each leg,

then repeat with the knee bent to stretch a different part of

the calf muscle group.

Things to keep in mind: This is meant to be a minimal list of

stretches, not a comprehensive one. Do more and your body will

be happier. If you have particular "hot spots" you will want to

stress stretches for those body parts above all others. Finally,

remember only to push to a comfortable level. Stretching should

never be an exercise in pain, but rather in relaxation and

tranquillity.

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While Supplies Last, Uflash is offering a 30% discount to

Runner's Niche subscribers. Include *Special Offer* when ordering

at: http://www.Uflash.com

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THIS AND THAT

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*RRCA Convention

The annual RRCA Convention will be in Peachtree City, Georgia on

May 11 through 14, 2000. The Wyndham Hotel will be the site of

the convention. For more info email: EastDir@aol.com

*Women's Olympic Marathon Trials

The women's Olympic Marathon trials, held in Columbia, South

Carolina on February 27, resulted in a surprise victory. A 37

year-old Cinderella by the name of Christine Clark was able to

overcome the 80-plus degree heat, the weather of her native

Alaska, and the time constraints of a full time job and two

children to win the race. Her time was about a seven minute PR.

The only problem with her 2:33:31 victory is that her time was

not fast enough to meet the Olympic Marathon standard. She can

still go to the Olympics, but she will be going by herself. This

is due to the fact that all nations can send one runner in the

Marathon, but to send more than one, they all must have bettered

the qualifying standard.

Kristy Johnson, who placed second, had this to say about critics

of American distance running after the sweltering race. "Anyone

who says American runners suck, I'd like to see you run a 2:33

in this heat."

A dream come true for Chris Clark, it must be hard for her to

read all the headlines saying that the worst nightmare had

occurred at the trials race. Out of all of this, one thing is

clear, Chris Cook ran the race of her life on exactly the right

day when no one else could.

 

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WEB SITES OF INTEREST

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* 24 Hours of Le Mans for Runners

For info on this ultra race go to:

http://www.sarthe.com/UDDSB72

 

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