Vol. 4 No. 3 March, 1999




Runners believe in science. For many of us science dictates much of our

training program. The pages of running magazines are filled with data

from various studies on the affects of different training methods. Many

of us have several books on training advice, and these are generally

very science based. I know one of my favorite columns each month in

Running Times Magazine is the Pfitzinger Lab Report, written by

exercise physiologist and two-time Olympian Pete Pfitzinger.

We all read the latest scientific evidence about nutrition, baffled

though we may be by the conflicting evidence between various studies.

Many of us look into what the research says about various herbs, or

maybe just how much that morning cup of coffee actually helps our race


You don't think science has made a big impact on runners? How many of

you regularly use heart rate monitors?

I believe in science, but I do get a bit cynical about all the various

studies that I read about. Too many conflict with each other, and many

contradict common sense and personal experience. I see too many people

who believe anything they read if it has the words "scientific study"

attached to it. Science should be used as a tool; you shouldn't be a

slave to it. God gave us all independent minds, but we forget to use

them, sometimes.

I recently saw a scientific study about running that was a true breath

of fresh air, though.

The school I work at, Nativity School in Broomfield, Colorado just had

their science fair. One student's project really interested me.

Jessica, a third grader, attempted to prove that the cheap department

store sneakers she could buy for less than ten dollars would work just

as well as the more expensive Nikes which were "supposedly" designed

just for running. It seems, as a third grader, she was already cynical


Jessica and her friend, Anne, ran several trials in the two different

shoes. When the evidence was all in, her hypothesis was proven to be

incorrect. Both girls ran consistently faster in the Nikes than in the

cheap sneakers.

I loved this school science project partly because this little girl was

not afraid to admit that her hypothesis was wrong. Too many runners

keep up a particular workout plan, or use certain equipment, and

continue to do so even when they don't get good results. They are so

sure of what they believe that they don't even look at alternatives.

Apparently, truth still wins out over ego for a third grader.

I guess what I liked the most Jessica's project, though, was that it

wasn't funded by a huge corporation, wasn't published in any scientific

journal and will never appear in any national running magazine. (Oops,

I guess it just did.) No, instead it was simply a little nugget of

plain truth in an awfully complicated world. She wanted an answer and

she figured out how to get it with her own, practical experience. We

should all be so intelligent and ambitious. Nice job, Jessica!



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Point your browser to: http://home.netone.com/~woodyg3/bookstore.html



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Congratulations to last month's trivia winners, Jane Tompkins and Mike

Lundgren of Fairway, Kansas. Steve receives a free issue of Marathon &

Beyond Magazine and FAME!

This month's winner will also get a free issue of the running

periodical that goes the extra mile - Marathon & Beyond Magazine.

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


This Month's Questions:

1. Who has the record for the fastest one mile time ever by a high

school athlete in the United States?

a. Marty Liquari

b. Tim Dolan

c. Jim Ryun

2. Who won the gold medal for the men's 1500 meters at the Mexico City

Olympics in 1968?

a. Kip Keino

b. Tim Dolan

c. Jim Ryun

3. What top U.S. runner fell in the preliminary round of the 1500

meters in the 1972 Olympics and thus failed to make the finals?

a. Steve Scott

b. Jim Spivey

c. Jim Ryun

4. Top British middle distance runner Seb Coe was coached by...

a. Tim Dolan

b. Jumbo Elliot

c. Peter Coe

5. Former one mile world record holder Filbert Bayi was from...

a. Tanzania

b. Kenya

c. Mexico

6. John Walker, also a former one mile world record holder was from...

a. Australia

b. New Zealand

c. Tanzania

7. Former indoor world record holder for the mile Eamon Couglan is


a. England

b. Ireland

c. Tanzania

8. Eamon Couglan was coached by...

a. Tim Dolan

b. Jumbo Elliot

c. Peter Coe

9. Mary Slaney is currently married to Richard Slaney, but had a

previous marriage with marathon runner...

a. Tim Dolan

b. Alberto Salazar

c. Ron Tabb

10. Mary Slaney, then Mary Decker, set a world record in 1982 at an

all-comers meet in Eugene, Oregon for what distance?

a. 1000 meters

b. One Mile

c. 10,000 meters

Last Month's Answers:

1. Who was the highest placing American woman in the 1996 Olympic


Answer: Ann Marie Lauck

2. Middle distance running star Gabriela Szabo is from...

Answer: Romania

3. Sonia O'Sullivan is from...

Answer: Ireland

4. Boston champ Fatuma Roba is from...

Answer: Ethiopia

5. Collegiate distance running star Amy Skieresz attends...

Answer: University of Arizona

6. Priscilla Welch, the world masters marathon record holder, is a

citizen of what country?

Answer: United States. Sorry, this was a trick question. Pricilla and

her husband, Dave, very recently became United States citizens.

7. In what 1987 race did Welch set the masters marathon record?

Answer: London

8. How many times did Portuguese star Rosa Mota win the Boston


Answer: 3

9. How many times has German star Uta Pippig won the Boston Marathon?

Answer: 3

10. Australian distance runner Lisa Martin attended what American

university in the early 1980's?

Answer: Oregon




A recent study by Dr. David Pearson, coordinator of Ball State

University's Human Performance Laboratory, sought to discover if

gelatin in concentrated amounts may have a positive effect on joint

pain and stiffness in athletes. The study was conducted using athletes

with knee pain, and it revealed that those given a gelatin supplement

mixed into orange juice (Nutra Joint) could exert significantly more

pressure on their knee without pain after two months. The subjects also

indicated an overall decrease in knee pain.

Since gelatin contains high amounts of proline and glycine, two amino

acids that are used for forming cartilage, it is possible that taking

large doses of gelatin will aid overall joint health.

The amount of gelatin taken in by test subjects was much higher than

one might get by eating gelatin desserts. A daily serving of peach

Jell-O with a dollop of whip cream isn't going to do it.

It is important to note that this study is considered preliminary and

should not be considered conclusive. Still, it might be worth a try for

those of you with chronic joint soreness.




Suzanne McGrath of Independence MO was hit and killed by a hit and run

driver on Friday January 29. Suzanne died about 4 hours after being


According to both TV and newspaper accounts, she and her dog, who was

also killed were hit from behind at about 11:00 PM, only a block from

her home. McGrath was a runner, mother of 3, race director, and nurse

for the last 22 years. The road she was running on was a narrow two-

lane road with no shoulder at all, and she had her back to the traffic.

Runner's Niche would like send our deepest regrets to the McGrath

family, and to remind runners to always face traffic, especially at


(Thanks to Jane Tompkins and Mike Lundgren for this report.)




The human body likes to follow a routine. One of the common triggers

for people who have migraine headaches, for instance, is a change in

routine. We are healthier, for example, when we eat regularly and sleep

a good amount every night. Spotty sleeping and eating patterns are an

invitation to illness.

The same is true when we look at our running routines. It's not that we

should run the exact same workout each day, and we don't have to run

each and every day to have a routine. Instead the key is consistency.

Running every day one week, then only once the following week, for

example, is not a very good way to increase fitness or manage weight.

If you are comfortable running five days a week, try to run five days

every week. Running six or four won't be a big deal, but suddenly

running every day for a month or taking a couple of weeks off

completely certainly could.

Of course, it's important to know that there are times when it is more

important to heal an injury or recover from illness than it is to stay

with your workout plan. Rest is forced upon us at times. It's also

important to understand that increases in training load are fine as

long as they don't come too suddenly. Your body is used to a particular

status quo and it won't be happy if it is changed to suddenly.

The key is to attempt to avoid unplanned interruptions in training. Map

out your training times during times of the day when interruptions are

least likely to occur. Try to run with other people, too, since that

will get you out the door on days when your lack of enthusiasm might

tempt you to skip a workout. Perhaps the biggest thing is to simply

make your training a priority. It's too important to leave to fate!





*Epilepsy Benefit*

The 6th Annual Fun Run/Walk for Epilepsy will be held in both Boston,

MA and Warwick, RI on Sunday, May 16, 1999 to benefit a camp for

children with epilepsy. For more information, call 888-576-9996.





*Bill Rodgers Running Center*

Boston Billy's web site:


*Virtual Races*

The running web site KICK has a special type of race for you to enter -

- the Virtual Race! Simply submit your time from any certified

racecourse and see how you stack up against other runners around the


Go to: http://www.kicksports.com/virtual/

*Top Swedish Runner*

Robert Renman, a top runner from Sweden, has his personal web site at:


*LA Trailrunners*

Check out their site at:









*Family Support Overcomes Weather, Work Schedule*

Dear Runner's Niche,

My name is Chris Bennett, and I live in North Dakota, where I fly KC-

135s (tankers) for the Air Force. I'm 27 now, and have been running

since I was 14 years old. I am currently preparing for my first

attempt to run the Boston marathon in April, and am certainly looking

forward to that. However, the weather up here forces me to do a fair

amount of training on treadmills. I have a wonderful wife, Molly, who

is very supportive of my running addiction and gives me plenty of foot

and leg rubs after I abuse my body. I also have a 10 month old

daughter, Kaitlin, who we are teaching to clap so she can cheer me on

through the streets of Boston.

- Chris

ED: Good Luck at Bean Town!





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