Vol. 5 No.3 March, 2000
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
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.
RUNNER'S NICHE / MARATHON & BEYOND TRIVIA CONTEST
Congratulations to last month's trivia winner, Frederick Krewson.
Frederick receives a free issue of Marathon & Beyond Magazine and
Trivia contest entrants are limited to one prize per calendar
When answering, email your answers with the subject "trivia
contest" and answer the questions in the order they appear below.
Mail to: email@example.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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THAT'S LIFE IN THE BIG TEN
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
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
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
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THIS AND THAT
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.
WEB SITES OF INTEREST
* 24 Hours of Le Mans for Runners
For info on this ultra race go to:
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