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RUNNER'S NICHE

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Vol. 3 No. 2 March, 1997

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NOTES FROM THE EDITOR

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"Those are some butt-ugly shoes," a friend told me as he pointed at my

new Nikes. These shoes are bright neon green, and I have to admit that

they are rather obnoxious. Still, they are beautiful to me since they are

the first running shoes I've purchased in years that I have been fully

satisfied with.

Okay, you're thinking I finally coughed up the big bucks and got the

latest in shoe technology. These must be the new shoes with triple air

soles, a quadra-density midsole, carbon titanium outsole, built in

computer chip and day-time running lights!

Nope.

Well, then, they are probably special trail shoes with three layers of

water proof upper material, aluminum alloy laces, a built-in water

bottle and two inch lugged treads on the bottom.

Nope.

Oh, sure, they are hand-built Iguana skin race shoes with helium inserts

that actually make them float out of the shoe box when you open it?

Nope.

These particular shoes are a basic, no frills, well built but non-space-age

model for $64.99. They don't correct for a biomechanical problem that I

don't have. The midsoles are firm, yet flexible. The outsole is a simple,

waffle pattern without any special cut-out sections or breaks in the

tread. For me it's a less is more situation.

Don't get me wrong, these are modern running shoes, with evidence that

this is not an old pair of Tiger Cortez from the 1970's. The lacing system

is a modern style that permits better fit control, the insoles are durable

and removable, and they do have air soles.

Still, some modern innovations in running shoes are actually detrimental

to certain runners, myself included. Stiff, firm arches can be good for

people who seriously over-pronate, but the lack of flexibility in an arch

designed this way can give many runners plantar fascitis. I've been

there and done that.

Shoes with a significant heel lift will help some folks avoid Achilles

tendinitis, and will provide extra padding to absorb the shock of each

foot strike. For others, though, putting the foot in this position will cause

the Achilles tendon to shorten and lose flexibility. This can really cause

problems with your calves or Achilles when you switch to racing flats

with very low heels for speed work and races. I've been there and done

that.

Running shoe technology has come a long way in a fairly short amount

of time. Shoes today are better in almost every respect than they were

twenty years ago. Still, don't assume that spending more and getting all

the "bells and whistles" automatically means you are getting better

shoes. Everyone is different.

Runner's Niche recently received two letters from readers about a new

Nike trail shoe (See "Letters From Our Readers"). One loved them and

one hated them. This happens all the time.

The key is finding the right shoe for your individual needs. For you that

might mean a firm arched, high heeled anti-pronation shoe. In my case

it happens to be a pair of butt-ugly, neon green Nikes.

- WG

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BEING ALL HE CAN BE

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Interview By Woody Green

NOTE: This interview (now slightly edited) was done for and first

published on the Runner's World Daily web site. It is used here with

permission. Make it a habit to check the Runner's World Daily site at:

http://www.runnersworld.com

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Dan Browne, a 22 year old graduate of West Point Academy, currently

looks to be one of the most promising young distance runners in the

country. He made two big splashes on the national running scene

recently with a victory at the 4,000 meter World Cross Country Trials in

Orlando on February 1, and a second place finish in the Millrose Games

3,000 meters on February 14th. His 7:51.52 at Millrose rose some

eyebrows, but close observers of track and field will remember his

fantastic double at the World University Games last summer where he

took third in the 5,000 and second in the 10,000. His current army

assignment is to live and train with two other army runners in Boulder

under the supervision of coach Rich Castro.

Runner's World Daily: 1997 was a great year for you. What was your

personal highlight?

Dan Browne: Competitively it was the World University Games, of

course. Another was running my first sub-four-minute mile at the

Army-Navy meet. Then, I participated in a month long study on high

altitude training at Park City, Utah. I made twenty-five new friends

there.

RWD: How did you feel about your run at Millrose?

DB: That’s the biggest indoor meet I’ve ever done. It’s the first time I’ve

run indoors this year, and it really brought back the excitement of

running indoors. I ran 7:51, which is a PR for me.

RWD: What about your win at the 4,000 meter World Cross Country

Trials in Orlando?

DB: I went in not knowing how I would do, but at the half way point I

had the lead and I knew I had some great runners like Marc Davis

behind me, so I decided to make a move and make them catch me. It

just went really well from there.

RWD: What do you think about adding the 4,000 meter race to the

World Cross Country Championships this year?

DB: I think it’s great, of course. It draws a lot of new runners to the cross

country scene, it brings the milers in. For most of us the trials race was

the first time we’ve run that short of a cross country race since high

school. It’s exciting.

RWD: Before you travel to the IAAF World Cross Country meet (March

21 and 22) you will be going to the World Military Cross Country

Championships in Ireland on March 8. What can you tell us about that

meet?

DB: It is a 5 K and I’ll be running with Eric Mack, who is an Air Force

Academy graduate, and my two Army teammates Mike Bernstein and

Jason Stewart.

There will be military teams from all over the world. I’m really hoping

the Kenyans will be there. The more exposure I have to them, the better

I’ll be able run against them later. I’ll use this meet to get ready for

Worlds.

RWD: The army has assigned you to Boulder to train, what are your

other responsibilities?

DB: Other than running my job is basically to do PR for the army. I’m

also attached to an ROTC unit at the University of Colorado.

In order to stay in the training program we have to hit bench marks and

show potential for making the 2000 Olympic team. We can be cut at any

time if we don’t make the bench marks. Right now I’m doing well.

Hopefully I can make the army really proud of me. I really mean that,

I’m not just saying it because I’m supposed to.

RWD: What are you looking for in the future?

DB: My long term goal is to run in the Sydney Olympics in 2000. I don’t

know what distance yet, either the 5,000 or 10,000.

My short term goal is to keep making as many international teams as I

can. I hope to make the Goodwill Games team and travel to Europe this

summer. If I make several teams and get used to it, then making the

Olympic team in 2000 won’t seem like such a big deal that it’s

impossible.

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I CANNOT TELL A LIE

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By Michael Selman

When I was growing up, we used to have two days off from school in

February. We celebrated Lincoln's birthday on the 12th., and

Washington's birthday on the 22nd.. Somewhere along the way, the two

birthdays were merged together, and moved to a Monday, and, now, we

don't get it off anyway, so it's really easy to forget what we're

celebrating altogether.

The stories I remember about both of these to great leaders alluded

around their honesty. We learned about how "Honest Abe" walked the

marathon distance to return a book to the library, lest anyone might

think he stole it. George, as the story is told, confessed to chopping down

the cherry tree, while still a tot, which, in a twisted sort of way, leads

me to this month's article/confession.

I cannot tell a lie. I am shamelessly a cherry picker. My friend, who I'll

call George, is worse than I am when it comes to that subject.

You may have your own name for it, but whatever it is called, it defines

the question of how far someone is willing to go in order to pick up a

piece of running hardware. We're not necessarily talking distance,

although that may be part of the equation. We're referring to unabashed

extremes. Us cherry pickers will do just about anything to legitimately

place in a road race. We may travel hundreds of miles to find a

secluded, low key race because we already know our main competition

is running somewhere else. We may run a race that offers awards

several deep, instead of the traditional three deep, thus increasing our

odds. We may choose a race due to the demographics of the area. That's

precisely how I won my first ever award, and I didn't even know it at

the time.

My work has involved quite a bit of travel in the past. One such road

trip took me down to Tampa for a couple of weeks one February. Since I

had to stay over for a weekend, I decided to visit my aunt and uncle

who live in West Palm Beach, about four hours away. I also resolved to

run a five mile road race at John Prince Park while I was there.

I had been fighting a stomach virus the whole week before, and was not

at top strength for the race. In addition, it was 82 degrees at race time, a

far cry from the teens I had left behind at home. I barely averaged a

7:30 pace for the race, which was run simultaneously with a half

marathon. There were tons of people ahead of me, and what seemed like

only a selected few stragglers behind me. I left the race disgusted at my

performance and didn't even give it a second thought.

Two months later, while looking over my Running Journal, I noticed the

race results listed under the Florida section. I had won my age group.

How could this be, I wondered? It was about the worst race of my life,

and everyone else seemed to be ahead of me. Then I thought of

something. West Palm Beach is basically a retirement community. All

those people who had kicked my butt were probably in their 70's and

80's. There were hardly any people in my age group. I had finally

picked a cherry, and hadn't even stayed around long enough to enjoy it.

It wasn't too long before I had picked another cherry, and again, I

couldn't bask in the glory. It was in another five mile race, this time at

Carolina Beach. In this race, they presented hand carved, wooden

pelican awards based on the number of people in each age group. I had

a much better race than the one in Florida, clocking 34:25. Awards went

seven deep in my age group, and my time was good enough to place me

eighth. To add insult to injury, I stepped in some dog poop not three

minutes after my mother had warned me about it. I listen to her more

often now than I used to.

She called me the next week to say they had decided to go eight deep in

my age group, and she would pick up my award for me. "No" I thought.

"Lets get everyone who was at the race back there, so they could all

applaud as I accept my eighth place pelican." She picked up my prized

pelican, put it in the trunk of her car, and promptly closed the door on

it's head. Now, a headless pelican adorns my den. Two cherries, and,

still, no adulation. I had not yet refined my cherry picking skills.

I was finally handed my first award the following spring at a handicap

race. That January, a cross country race had been scheduled. It poured

rain for three solid days leading up to the race, and as a result, very few

people showed up. There were tons of T-shirts left over, so a race was

created to get rid of them. The format of the race went like this. In

order to enter, you had to figure what your average 5K time was for the

year before, and enter that information on the application. The start of

the race was staggered, so the slowest people started first, and the

fastest ones started last. In theory, if everyone ran their average time

from the year before, we would all finish at the exact same time.

Awards went to the first 25 overall finishers. There were 28 people

entered. I came in 24th.. We all applauded each other as the awards

were handed out. Finally, I was there to receive my hard earned award.

My cherry picking skills have become quite refined over the last year or

so. I actually place about a quarter of the time now. My crowning jewel

came on the first Saturday of May, 1995. I was still living in my two

bedroom corporate apartment at the time, and a guy from El Paso had

been here on business and was staying in the other bedroom. He kind of

looked and acted like Curly from the Three Stooges.

There were about a dozen races to chose from that day. I looked them

all over carefully. After a lot of soul searching, I decided on the 5K Run

for Education in Buchanan, about a two hour trip from home. Awards

were only two deep, and the age groups were kind of strange, so I

figured maybe a lot of people would choose one of the other races to run

that day. Mr. El Paso thought I was crazy leaving the house at 5 in the

morning just to run a race, but my gamble paid off. I took second age

group award in the 36-40 year age group. (I told you the age groups

were weird.)

I came back to my apartment proudly displaying my award. Curly just

looked at me in amazement. "You just wasted you time." he said. "You

got up early for nothing. While you were gone, there was a race that

went right past our apartment." I just smiled. I knew at that moment

that I had perfected the art of cherry picking.

A while later, I was recounting this story to my friend George, the

Cherry Picking King, seeking his approval and adulation. He just looked

at me and sadly shook his head. "Son," he said. "You missed the boat on

that one. Not only did I run that race and win my age group.

Immediately after that, I hopped in my van, drove to Cedertown, ran

another race, and won my age group there, too. Two cherries in two

hours. You still have a lot to learn about cherry picking."

I cannot tell a lie. I am a cherry picker. But you, George, my friend, you

chopped down the tree.

 

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STEVE SCOTT THE MILER

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Book Review By Woody Green

Steve Scott, being the man with the most sub-four-minute miles in the

history of track and field should, you would expect, be respected and

admired as one of the greats in the sport. The same man has owned the

American record for the mile since 1982, and has nine national

championships to his credit. None the less, this runner is also known as

one who never quite ran up to expectations, and never won "the big

one."

Scott's new autobiography reveals a great deal about his personality,

and helps to explain his somewhat up and down career. We discover the

kind of pressure he felt as a bright American medal hope going into the

Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, the anxiety of trying to hold a marriage

together while traveling all around the world to compete, and the terror

of facing a battle with cancer that threatened not only to end his career,

but possibly his life.

Scott paints a picture of himself as a carefree prankster who takes little

in life seriously. It often seems he is permanently stuck in adolescence.

This book is filled with anecdotes involving water balloons, prank phone

calls, and "getting horny."

Still, Scott was always dead serious about his running. He trained very

hard through his entire career, always trying to work a little harder

than everyone else. Each day the jokes and kid stuff stopped long

enough to get in his two workouts.

I couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for Scott as I turned the pages. The

pressure of the big races seemed to doom him frequently in his career.

His fastest times and best races were often in meets that didn't matter

so much. After setting the American record in the mile in 1982, the

pressure to win gold at the Los Angeles games in 1984 rattled him

badly. Reading the chapter on those games left me wondering if the

pressure he felt there didn't leave a permanent scare on his psyche.

Still, even though he never won an Olympic or World Championships

race, there are few runners in the history of the sport who so regularly

came to meet after meet ready to perform. His 136 sub-fours is

testimony to that fact. And, when reading about his courageous battle

back from testicular cancer, it is clear that there are few people who

could ever match this man for pure physical and mental toughness.

Marc Bloom, the ghost writer for Scott, has done an excellent job in

putting this work together. It is an easy read and difficult to put down. I

would highly recommend this book to anyone, not just track and field

fans. Marc Bloom has put together a very entertaining package filled

with universal human interest.

 

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WEB SITES OF INTEREST

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*RUNNING PAST*

"Running Past" is a commercial site that sells running memorabilia and

provides historical info. This is a site any runner with an interest in the

history of our sport should visit.

http://www.balfer.com/asp

 

*THE RUN IN SPAIN*

Running from Spain at:

http://www.weblandia.com/atletisme

 

*BELMORE STRIDERS*

Bellmore Striders Club site (Bellmore NY) at:

http://members.aol.com/ahd999/striders"

 

*RESTON, VA RACE*

USGS 5K Race and 2K Fun Run, April 25, 1998, USGS National Center,

Reston, VA: INFO: 703/648-6565, usgs_race@usgs.gov,

http://www.usgs.gov/openhouse/race.html

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LETTERS FROM OUR READERS

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*ACHILLES LAST STAND*

Dear RUNNER’S NICHE,

I have a question regarding an injury and how I should balance healing

with maintaining some level of fitness. My particular problem is

inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which manifests itself as a burning

sensation and pain. I'd like to ease up on running (perhaps stop entirely

until the injury is healed), but I don't want to give up on physical

activity. I have access to a fitness center (complete with weights,

stationary bicycles, stairmasters, tennis courts, pools, etc.) but I don't

want to aggravate this problem and prolong the healing process. Can you

recommend the best course of action (and explain your rationale)?

Thank you very much,

Laurel Crosby

ED: Achilles tendinitis is a very common injury, unfortunately it is also

quite persistent and can be very serious. We have all heard about

someone who ruptured their Achilles and spent months just trying to

walk without crutches, let alone run again. Fortunately, a ruptured

Achilles is fairly rare.

The key to healing an ailing Achilles is to get the inflammation down

and reduce the stress on the tendon. Running, unfortunately, places a

fair amount of stress on the Achilles. Each time you push off the ground,

your Achilles is yanked on by a strongly contracting calf muscle.

You are right to consider alternate forms of exercise for a while. One of

the best is pool running. Get into the deep end of the pool and mimic

running motion in the water. It is best to use some sort of flotation vest

when doing this. Pool running will be a close replacement for running in

terms of the muscles used and cardiovascular value. But, since there is

no toe off with each stride, there is no stress to the Achilles.

Additionally, there is no jarring from contact with the ground, so this

aids the recovery process as well. If running in the pool becomes boring,

swimming is the next best choice.

Depending on the severity of your injury, you may find you are able to

cycle without Achilles pain. If you elect to cycle, avoid pushing the gears

and getting up out of the saddle to sprint. This will certainly force the

calf muscles to work harder, and will likely cause your Achilles to

protest.

I would avoid the stairmaster and aerobics classes for a while. These

both involve getting up on your toes and making ballistic movement

with your calf muscles. Again, your Achilles will likely complain.

Measures should be taken to decrease inflammation. Ibuprofen works

well, if your body tolerates it. Twenty minute icing session 2-3 times a

day are, perhaps, the greatest aid in brining down swelling.

Stretching your calf muscles will help prevent Achilles injuries, but

stretch only very lightly while you are trying to heal. Too much

stretching can aggravate your tendon rather than soothe it.

Good luck and be patient. Achilles injuries tend to take their own sweet

time to heal.

 

*JUST A COTTON PICKING MINOT!*

Dear RUNNER'S NICHE,

I was reading the January Runners Niche and I came across a letter sent

in by a reader about the Air Minot. Please, if at all possible, in a future

Niche explain the jury is still out on that shoe. I bought a pair in October

and it is terrible to run in! The idea is great but the upper support digs

into your ankle and gives you huge blisters. I have spoken with a Nike

rep and he said that they were aware of the problems and they were

working them out. Please do not allow your readers to shell out the

$100 plus for these sneakers! Not yet.

Thank you,

- M Panasuk

P.S. I have a pair of new Minots with about 75 miles on them (9 1/2) for

anyone who does not believe me, take them for a ride.

ED: RUNNER'S NICHE isn't in the business of stopping anyone from

shelling out their money on shoes, but we appreciate opinions, both pro

and con. So far our readers votes are one for and one against.

 

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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!

Also visit The COLORADO RUNNER'S NICHE site at:

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

This publication is a print version of The electronic RUNNER'S NICHE,

with an emphasis on Colorado running.

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