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RUNNER'S NICHE

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Vol. 1 No. 2 May, 1996

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NOTES FROM THE EDITOR

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I was thinking recently about this publication's name: RUNNER'S

NICHE. When I was studying ecology and biology in college, the

professors would talk about biological "niches." Runners are clearly

different than the majority of the citizenry. Just what biological niche

does the runner occupy, anyway?

Many runners subsist on a diet of greens and fruits, maybe the

herbivore niche can be claimed by runners? No, too many of us

gobble hot wings and hamburgers.

Certainly some would fit the scavenger category. I've seen my

running friends eat, and there can be no doubt they will eat anything

that they can find. Some are pretty good at discovering money or

useful items on the ground while they run, too.

Other runners fit in the predator niche pretty well. I know I've been

eaten alive more than once.

And then, there are runners who some of us felt belonged in the

vegetable category. Rooted plants can't run, though, so maybe that

doesn't fit.

Recently, I was timing at a college track meet in 35 degree weather

with drizzle and snow. You would expect most athletes would stay

home, but they didn't. In fact, two guys broke 4 minutes in the 1500

at 5400 feet altitude in this weather. It was then that I realized that

runners do not occupy any of the standard "niche" categories. They

occupy their own, highly specialized niche: the RUNNER'S NICHE!

Nothing else can be said. We are all insane!

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I'd like to thank all of you for your positive response to our first

issue. I know there were some problems with the text format, so that

some people had some unusual characters displayed on their issue of

RUNNER'S NICHE. I think that is fixed in this issue.

- Woody Green

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RUNNER'S NICHE IS ON THE WEB!

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RUNNER'S NICHE now 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. We will add features as

RUNNER'S NICHE continues to "grow up." If you'd like to visit, the URL

is: http://members.aol.com/woodyg3/web/runiche.html . Pass the

address on to your friends!

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100th BOSTON MARATHON - A PERSONAL OLYMPICS

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By Angelo Aragon

April 15, 1996, 3:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight time. The realization of a

dream come true: running the Boston Marathon, my Personal

Olympics! Like the estimated 40,000 runners, I am in Boston on this

day to be part of something special, the 100th running of the Boston

Marathon. Each runner with his/her own personal story as to why

and how they qualified for this historic race. My story is about

finishing what I started three years ago.

*The Dream*

It is spring time in Colorado, 1993. The specific date, I don't

remember! But I have been running consistently for about five years

now, improving my 5k and 10k times. But I am missing something, a

reason to step out the door each day and put in the miles. I need a

goal, a dream, a personal Olympics to focus my attention, my

dream:Boston! "That's nice" my friends and family would politely say

as I enthusiastically shared my dream. "But what do you have to go

to Boston?" they would ask. Great question! I would need to run my

first marathon that fall.

Over the next six moths I would prepare for the first, and only,

Denver International Marathon in October. On race day I would make

a common mistake for all first-time marathoners. I ran too fast over

the first half of the course. It felt so easy! I hit the wall at mile 18,

but I was determined to finish and qualify for Boston. The last 8

miles were pure hell! It was hot, I was being passed like I was

standing still, and I was having no fun at all. I endured long enough

to finish in 3:05, I had qualified for Boston.

*The Dream on Hold*

Satisfied with my performance in Denver, I mailed my application to

Boston. I was accepted, but did I really want to go? I hated my first

marathon experience, and I rationalized to myself that I could at

least say that I qualified. Over the next 18 months I was happy with

this reasoning. But did I really finish what I set out to do? My family

(especially my kids) and friends wanted to know if I would ever go

to Boston. Poor marathon experience or not, I finally decided that I

couldn't live with myself unless I finished what I started.

*Boston Bound!*

Spring, 1995 in Colorado. I am recommitted to my dream, even more

motivated than before. I trained for another qualifying marathon in

October, The Rivertrail in Pueblo. I made the same mistake and hit

the wall again, but I hang on and qualify. There is no stopping me

now, no turning back. I'm going to Boston!

*Marathon Weekend in Boston*

Can it be raceday already? Someone please pinch me, I can't believe

that I am at Hopkington High School waiting for the gun to go off! It's

after 11:00 a.m., and we finally get the call to the starting line. This

amazing, 40,000 people lined up for one event, and I count nine

helicopters overhead for all of th TV coverage.

The gun goes off, I can't hear it from my position one-third of the

way back. It takes nearly eight minutes to reach the starting line, we

sure are moving slow! In fact, I'm running slower than my training

pace for the first 10 kilometers.

Wellesy College, half way finished. These people sure know how to

cheer, their energy is electrifying! By now I'm running faster,

however much of it is weaving in and out.

As we approach to Newton hills, I overhear another running give

advice to a friend: "Better save it for the hills!" "Not me!" I say to

myself. I'm feeling great, and I'm going for it today. In fact, I feel so

good that Heartbreak Hill felt like a bump in the road. All those hills

back home prepared me for today.

Mile 24, I'm almost there! But wait a minute, I want this feeling to

last forever. But I know that all good things must come to an end,

besides I am very tired.

As I make the left turn out Boylston Street, I can see the finish line

ahead. What a great feeling! As I cross the finish line, I feel a great

sense of pride. I am thankful to have been blessed with the honor of

competing in THE BOSTON MARATHON. I have finally finished what I

set out to do.

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THE RUNNING OF THE 100th BOSTON MARATHON

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By Diana Shannon

We got into Logan airport on Wednesday afternoon in a snowstorm

and headed down the coast to spend a couple of relaxing days on

Cape Cod. Snow you say, no way! Way! Hopkinton, where the race

starts got over 15 inches of the white stuff. Tens of thousands of

anticipating runners, as well as hundreds of race officials, watched

the weather with great uneasiness. Much of the next few days saw

rain and blustery weather. The high school field nearby the starting

line was getting muddier by the day.

The race was an event to remember. For us, because the weather

was perfect, but for others, it may not have been the best day.

Sometime the night before the race, the rain stopped and morning

brought bright sunshine and breezy weather. Ideal running weather

- never getting above 55 degrees. The winds may have bothered the

front runners, but 25,000 runners back, it was just perfect.

We didn't have to get as early a start as the runners boarding buses

in downtown Boston, so we watched the news race coverage. It was

not such a perfect day for some of these early risers. The buses

heading into Hopkinton were led on the narrow country roads by a

smoking, choking bus that struggled along at 10 mph. Some folks

spent over 2 hours en route to the starting line. The race officials

brought in kitty litter and wood chips before the race to cover the

mud. They also did an exceptional job providing tents and tarps to

keep the runners dry, but the cool morning and winds were not ideal

for hanging out the hours before the race.

The weekend of the race we stayed in Framingham, about 6 miles

from Hopkinton, so it was a short drive to a friends place not far

from the start. We watched more news coverage, while we chatted

and relaxed before the race, in the warmth of the house. Walking to

the start was no problem, but once in Hopkinton, it was amazing how

many runners were there. There were over 38,000 registered

runners and some guess another 2,000 bandits, streaming down to

the clothes drop-off and the starting corrals. The Boston race

officials did an outstanding job getting all the runners to the start

line. And, once the race started, it only took 30 minutes to get all the

folks off and running - quite a feat.

The running crowd looked impressive when you start all the way

back in corral number 25; that's 25,000 runners back! The stream of

runners moving along with us never stopped from beginning to end.

Running involved dodging between and around slower runners, but

the crowds that lined the raceway for the 26 miles made it all

worthwhile. For those that have had the pleasure of running Boston

before, the course is still the same - oh, joy! The same rolling hills,

descending over the first half of the race, and the bigger hills

beginning about mile 16 going through mile 20.5. But this 100th

running was more fun, hardly noticing the hills with all the runners

and full of energy from all the cheering fans. It was truly an event!

 

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THE OVERTRAINING TRAP

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By Woody Green

Part two of a training advise article...

"How many miles are you putting in these days?" What a common

question for one runner to pose to another. The answer will probably

come in the form of "miles per week" since that is normal protocol

for talking about mileage. Articles on elite runners often state the

average number of miles they do per week. Running log books are

printed so you can total your mileage every seven days. Training

articles will often give examples in terms of miles a week. You get

the point.

Certainly the miles a week measure is a convenient one. Perhaps too

convenient. The fact is, how many miles are covered in a week is

only one of several factors that should be considered.

Let's take the marathon as an example. Most runners understand

that they will need to put in more weekly miles to run a marathon

than a 5 or 10 K. Weekly mileage is only one factor, though. The most

important factor is how long the longest runs are. Runs around

twenty miles or more are needed to properly prepare for the

marathon. A runner could be putting in a ten mile run every day and

totaling seventy miles per week. This runner will probably not be as

ready for a marathon as someone who was putting in a weekly run

of, say, 20 miles, but who was totaling "only" forty or fifty per week.

Similarly, someone preparing for a 5 K needs to do short, quick runs

and track work to best prepare for that distance. This will mean

lower weekly mileage than marathon or 10 K training. When done

properly, 5 K training is too intense to do high mileage at the same

time.

Several studies on running injuries have indicated that the leading

cause of injury is not speed work, as is commonly thought, but high

mileage. Often, people assume that when their mileage is up, they

must be in better shape. It's the old "if one is good, two must be

better" mentality that we all get stuck by from time to time. Trying

to get a certain number of miles in per week may be the most

common road to overtraining there is.

There is a magical phrase in training lore, it is: "100 mile weeks."

Those athletes putting in 100 mile weeks really get our attention.

These are the really serious guys and gals, the elite. Many people

think if they can just get up to that magical 100 mile level, they can

attain their best possible fitness level.

The truth is that athletes who can sustain 100 mile weeks are freaks.

Genetic freaks, that is. Somehow, they have a body that can take the

punishment of such high volume training. They are like a Timex that

"takes a licking and keeps on ticking." I read recently that Uta Pippig

was putting in 180 miles a week in preparation for Boston. The

absolute fact, however, is that the majority of runners cannot handle

100 mile training weeks. Many try, and many fall to pieces, wishing

to attain that magic number in their training log.

One very good runner I know used to pound out 100 mile weeks. He

was always tired, his muscles were tight, and he didn't race as fast as

he knew he could. Still, he felt sure he HAD to do those 100 mile

weeks. Then, he got lucky. He became so busy at work that he had to

cut his training way back. Now, he is running better than ever. He

feels a lot better, too.

No runner should feel inadequate because they don't sustain a

particular weekly mileage. Everyone responds differently to training.

There are no magic formulas, because each runner needs to find their

own. Some of us are simply going to race better and stay healthier by

running 50 miles a week, or 25. Remember, the most important end

product of your training is your fitness level, not an impressive

training log.

 

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REINSTATEMENT

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British middle distance runner Diane Modahl was banned from

competition by the BAF in 1994 when her urine test results came

back showing high levels of male testosterone. That ban was lifted by

British officials last year when an appeals board decided there could

have been an error in the testing process.

Now, the IAAF has cleared her name as well, stating that there was a

"serious element of doubt" about her guilt.

The whole case centered around problems in lab procedures, which

could have given erroneous test results. Mondahl will now give a

urine sample before every race, and have it stored safely, so as to

have back up proof of her drug free status.

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BLAST FROM THE PAST:

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There was a time, not so long ago, that runners had not yet broken

27 minutes in the 10,000. In fact, in the 70's, a sub-28:00 was still

quite a feat! In the Coca Cola meet in London on September 9, 1977,

there was a magical 10,000 meters.

Brendan Foster (UK) won, burning the track up with a 27:36.6. At the

time that was the 3rd fastest time ever recorded. This was hardly

the end of the story, though. Close behind was legendary Henry Rono

in 27:37.7. Upcoming Dutchman Gerard Tembroke made a name for

himself in this race with a 27:37.6. Following was a list of hall of

fame track stars with Dick Quax (NZ) 27:42.0, Jos Hermans

(Hol)27:43.0, Ian Stewart (UK) 27:43.0 and Bernie Ford (UK) 27:43.7.

Several more good times followed. So many, in fact, that Track and

Field News reported the times were the fastest ever for places 2-12

and 17-21. Maybe we can see a race with similar depth sometime

this summer? Maybe not, with egos and big money on the line.

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A CLASS ACT

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In a recent Runner's World Daily interview, Mark Coogan was asked

what he will do if he qualifies for the Olympic 5000 on the track.

Mark, who has already qualified for the Marathon, said he would not

run in the 5000 at Atlanta even if he does qualify. He doesn't want to

take the opportunity of another American to participate in the

Olympics when he knows his best shot will come in the marathon.

It's sure nice to see a top level athlete with such an unselfish

attitude!

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26 MILES AND THEN KICK?

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Usually a marathon winner crosses the finish line well ahead of the

next finisher. 26.2 miles normally spreads finishers out pretty well.

Interestingly, there have been several curiously close marathon

finishes over the past few months! Examples:

*OCTOBER*

Christine McNamara led most of the race, but just held off a late

charging Jennifer Martin in the Columbus Marathon. McNamara ran

2:38:46 with 2:38:47 for Martin.

Rolando Vera (2:11:30) beat Hwang Yung-cho by only 2 seconds in a

marathon in Chunchon, South Korea.

*NOVEMBER*

German Silva (2:11:00) beat Paul Evans by only 5 seconds at the New

York Marathon.

How about the Tokyo Women's Marathon? Several of the leaders

collided and fell at 35 K, but they got up and finished strong. The top

4 finished within a 10 second span. Junko Assari of Japan won with

2:28:46, then Valentina Yegorova (Russia) 2:28:48, Hara (Japan)

2:28:50, and Yoshida (Japan) 2:28:56

*DECEMBER*

Not to be outdone by the women, the men at the famous Fukuoka

Marathon in Japan staged their own spectacular finish. Three men

were still together with 100 meters to go. Louis Antonio dos Santos

of Brazil sprinted to win in 2:09:30, followed by Serrano (Spain)

2:09:32 and Ohya (Japan) 2:09:33.

*JANUARY*

At Houston, Ethiopian Tumme Turbo made a bad turn and gave the

lead to Steve Brace, but managed to come back and win in 2:10:34.

Brace was a single tick of the clock behind.

*FEBRUARY*

In another race that came down to the last 100 meters, Wanderley

de Lima of Brazil held off Antonio Pinto of Portugal in the Men's

Tokyo Marathon (A completely separate race from the Womens

Tokyo Marathon). Both runners were credited with 2:08:38.

*MARCH*

At the Dong - A Marathon in South Korea, Martin Fiz of Spain edged

Bong Ju-Lee of South Korea 2:08:25 to 2:08:26.

With all these exciting finishes, what can we expect to see in Atlanta?

The IOC's decision to move the mens marathon to the morning will

certainly help!

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MORE ON OVERTRAINING

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By Andrew Crook

This is a follow-up to the Runner's Niche article about overtraining in

the last issue of Runner's Niche.

Steve Scott: Overtraining Led To Cancer.

In his recent visit to Boulder, Olympic runner Steve Scott

claimed that his testicular cancer was due, in part, to

overtraining (Colorado Daily, April 25, 1996).

"Cancer occurs when your immune system is down, and if you

consistently weaken your immune system, something like this

can happen," said Scott who recently had an operation to

remove one testicle.

Further proof that overtraining can be dangerous to your health?

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WAY TO GO!

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RUNNER'S NICHE has learned of an outstanding achievement by one

of our subscribers. Janice Cohen, of Boulder, Colorado, recently set

her PR in the Flavor Flash 5 K in Longmont, Colorado. Not only that,

she won her first race ever! A PR and first win in the same day! WE

ARE VERY PROUD OF YOU, JANICE!!! Clearly, all that hard training has

paid off.

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READER'S MAIL

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Thanks for the issue over E-Mail. I really like what you've done with

RUNNER'S NICHE. I found the OVERTRAINING TRAP article very

timely. Keep up the good work! By the way, I'll take a Lifetime

Subscription.

Best,

Jules Swickard

Provo, Utah

Ed: Thanks, Jules. Your lifetime subscription is assured!

Readers, we want your mail. Fire it off to: woodyg3@aol.com !

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NEXT MONTH IN RUNNER'S NICHE

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- English Relay Racing.

- How to Get the Most of Your Training.

- Blast From the Past: Mary Decker.

- More Readers Contributions.

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