Vol. 7 No.3 May 2002




A 12-pound dog can fill a whole house. I know this because after the death of our little dog, Amelia, our house is so very empty. She filled our home with energy, enthusiasm and love. She served as a constant reminder of what is really important in life; and no matter what worries or stresses I was dealing with, she could always make me smile just by looking at me with her big brown eyes and wagging her tail.

Our little buddy was too small to take running with us, but that doesn't mean she wasn't a runner, and she was certainly a good role model for a runner to follow.

For example, Amelia was always stretching, especially after naps or first thing in the morning. She didn't do it because a coach or fitness expert prescribed it. She did what felt natural and good. She followed her instincts. That's something we could all do a better job of.

Bedtime was an exciting time for this little dog. There was no reluctance to go to bed, no desire to get one more thing done or stay up worrying about something. Sleep felt good to her, she knew it was good for her, and she looked forward to it. Every night I would "tuck her in" by taking off her collar and scratching the "itchy spot" on her neck. That little ritual was very satisfying to her, and it helped me, as well. It kept my perspective clear and reminded me that rest and a healthy routine are important. Dogs are smarter than people, they listen to their bodies.

Even though Amelia didn't run with us, she loved to run. When she ran, it was for pure joy. How many times have I dragged myself out and slogged though a training run just because I felt I had to get it in? If Amelia was running, it was always for fun. She loved to play a sort of keep away game with my wife, Lorraine, and I. We would toss her rope toy back and forth between us, and the dog would run after it, trying to get the rope before we could. She would play this game longer than either Lorraine or I could keep going. Another running game she loved was the "chase game." I would sneak up on her, tap her on the bottom and run away. She would chase me all around the house until she caught me. This was followed by me showering her with attention and praise, while she licked me and snuggled.

Our dog, like most canines, loved to go on walks. This made up a good part of her daily exercise, but she made sure that she smelled every interesting smell along the way. She had favorite loops, but was never afraid to deviate a bit to check out something new or interesting. I know I am guilty of often running the same routes, over and over, and even if there is something interesting to look at or investigate, I tend to run on without departing from my standard route. I do this despite the fact that running is supposed to be fun. Dogs are smarter than people.

This isn't to say that Amelia wasn't competitive. Every now and then she wanted to prove that she could run faster than us. On a walk, she would get a wild hair and start running. We would run behind her, and if we caught up she would race off ahead again, looking back to see if we were keeping up. This would go on for a block or two, then she would find a really interesting spot to smell, or see another dog or person that she wanted to meet. These little races were fun for her, but life was very multi-faceted for our little dog, and she couldn't get too hung up on any one thing. Again, this was a good reminder for someone like me who tends to drag himself into a depressed state after every bad race.

Amelia gave good perspective to us as runners, but she was also a very good model for living life in general. I never saw that dog happier, and never saw her run faster, than when she ran toward us with her tail wagging, eyes bright, happy to see us. She was never afraid to show us how much she loved us.

Perhaps dogs are better at paying attention to the things that really matter in life because they somehow know that their time on earth is relatively short. But, do any of us really know how long we will have to enjoy this life? Again, dogs are smarter than people.

The day that Amelia died, Lorraine and I took a run on a favorite trail. It helped us both to be out running, giving us a small relief from our heartbreak. I believe Amelia was there with us, running along, just a little bit ahead, and looking back to see if we were keeping up.

- WG

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MARATHON & BEYOND MAGAZINE - Marathon & Beyond, the only magazine that focuses on the specific needs of marathoners and ultrarunners. M&B offers in-depth articles on training, race strategies, injuries, nutrition, race profiles, running history, and more. Visit their web site at: http://www.marathonandbeyond.com

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Marcel Burla of Israel was our winner last issue! He wins a free issue of Marathon & Beyond and fame!

To enter the current trivia contest, just email your answers to: runnersniche@toucantrackclub.net

The FIRST person to answer all of the questions correctly wins. If nobody answers each question correctly, we will award the prize to the person who answers the most questions accurately. Trivia contest entrants are limited to one prize per calendar year. Good Luck!

This month's questions:

Jim Ryun Trivia:

1. What high school did Jim attend when he became the first high school runner to break the 4-minute mile?

2. How many world records did Ryun set?

3. Everyone knows about Ryun's world records in the mile and 1500, but what other distance did he set a world record at?

4. Who was Ryun's coach while at Kansas University?

5. Who was his high school coach?

6. Ryan's fastest mile as a high school runner came at the 1965 nationals in San Diego. What famous, non-American Olympian did he beat in that race?

7. What was Ryan's fastest time in the mile as a high school runner?

8. Ryun's one mile record of 3:51.1 was set at Bakersfield, California on what date?

9. Who defeated Ryun in the 1500 at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics?

10. What tragic event ended his participation in the 1972 Olympic Games?

Last month's answers:

1. Who recently set a new womens World Record for road race 5K at the Carlsbad 5K? - Deena Drossin

2. Which nation was second in the womens 8K World Cross Country Championships? - USA

3. Which nation placed second in the mens 12K World Cross Country Championships? - Ethiopia

4. 50K is longer than a marathon, true or false? - True

5. 20K is longer than a half marathon, true or false? - False

6. Elite track racers never wear spiked shoes for distances longer than 1500 meters, true or false? - False

7. The New York Marathon is the oldest marathon event in the United States, true or false? - False (Boston is the correct answer.)

8. The fastest womens marathon time for the year of 1997 was 2:22:07 by Tegla Loroupe. Who had the second fastest time that year? - Catherina McKiernan (IRE) 2:23:44

9. Superstar Haile Gebrselassie had only the second fastest 10,000 time on the track in 1997, Who had the fastest time for the year? - Paul Tergat (KEN) 26:27.85

10. A top distance runner for many years, Domingos Castro comes from what nation? - Portugal

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Of 231 respondents on the Runner's Niche Web site poll, the following is a breakdown of runners' preferred type of racing:

55% Road Racing

24% Cross Country

10% Track

6% trail

5% Multi-events (triathlons, duathlons, etc.)

The current poll question asks who our readers think is the top female distance runner in the USA. To cast your vote, go to the Runner's Niche web site at:






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Book Review by Woody Green

Matt Greenwood, a sub-2:40 marathon runner and former college cross country captain, has authored the book "Secrets of Smart Running," which may be of interest to a variety of runners. His advice centers on those interested in the 10K to Marathon distance, and the program he lays out is simple and would be easy to follow and understand.

Don't expect detailed scientific explanation of the physiology of exercise, here. This is a "common sense" approach to running, with Greenwood giving advice that he has seen work with both his training, and the athletes he advises.

Greenwood's book has some very strong points, such as a detailed section on running safety for women and how to get back into running after a long lay-off. His sections on 10K and marathon training are set up by ability level and, as stated above, would be very easy and straightforward to follow. Also, his advice on developing mental toughness is an important and often neglected aspect for serious runners.

I feel there are some downsides to this book, though. Greenwood makes some gross generalizations about each of the major shoe brands, and I must note that not only do I disagree with these generalizations, I find them to be counterproductive to someone looking for the right shoe. Many runners might rule out a shoe that would work well for them based on this biased brand label advice.

Greenwood's training advice, while easy to understand, includes no mention of a main staple of modern training: the AT run. He does advise advanced runners to do one run about 30 seconds per mile faster than the others each week, but this would not qualify as a true AT run. For my tastes, his explanation of farlek and interval running, all lumped together as "speed training," is a little too rudimentary as well. Perhaps this is okay, though, for the majority of runners who are looking for easy to follow advice, especially if they don't want to worry about the science behind training theory.

The other side of the coin here is that there is always something to be learned by studying alternative viewpoints about training. The author indicates that his program has worked well for a variety of runners, and I have no doubt this is true. A smart runner takes bits and pieces from a variety of sources and puts them all together to form a unique training plan geared to that individual. "Secrets of Smart Running" is worth the read if for no other reason than to get a different viewpoint on training.




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