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www.peakrunningperformance.com THE NATION’S MOST ADVANCED RUNNING PUBLICATION JANUARY • FEBRUARY 2006 Volume 15 /

www.peakrunningperformance.com

THE NATION’S MOST ADVANCED RUNNING PUBLICATION
THE
NATION’S
MOST
ADVANCED
RUNNING
PUBLICATION

JANUARY • FEBRUARY 2006

Volume 15 / Number 1

IN THIS ISSUE

Alberto Salazar

p. 2

Training All Systems of Your Body

Training Strategy

Matt Taylor

p. 5

What I Learned From 11 of America’s

Best Cross Country Coaches

Personal Experience

Brian Bradley

Are Your Feet Leading You Towards Injury?

Injury Prevention

p. 7

Frank Mungeam

p. 9

Snowshoeing to Faster Running Times

Creative Cross Training

Scott Tinley

p. 12

Competition & Relaxation: Finding the Delicate Balance

Reflection

TRAINING STRATEGY Training All Systems of Your Body by Alberto Salazar A few months ago

TRAINING

STRATEGY

TRAINING STRATEGY Training All Systems of Your Body by Alberto Salazar A few months ago the

Training All Systems of Your Body

by Alberto Salazar

A few months ago the editors of Peak Running Performance asked if I would be interested in writing an article or two discussing my training programs and philosophies. My response was that while I could easily accomplish this, one or two articles would never allow me the space and time to clearly explain myself and the training methods that I would address. My proposal was to instead begin with an article that outlined the main components of my training programs, and then follow this introduction with 5 articles to further clarify each component and the workouts necessary for success in running.

Part 1 of 6

I was fortunate to be influenced by some of the great minds in the history of distance running from a very early age. In 1972, when I entered my freshman year in high school, I began to hear about the University of Oregon – Bill Dellinger and Steve Prefontaine, from my older brother Ricardo, who was a freshman on the Naval Academy’s cross country and track teams. His coach, Al Cantello, was a former world record holder in the javelin and had been an Olympic teammate of University of Oregon coach Bill Dellinger. Al Cantello used to get distance training ideas from Bill Dellinger, and those were passed on to me. The next influence on my high school running career was Don Benedetti, the Wayland High School coach, who was successful while not overtraining his athletes. Equally important, he allowed me to train with Bill Squires, coach of the Greater Boston Track Club, starting my junior year. At the time, the Greater Boston Track Club was the preeminent distance club in the country. It included Bill Rodgers, who was soon to become the world’s dominant marathoner of the time. After graduating from high school, I was coached directly by Bill Dellinger during my tenure at the University of Oregon. My training programs and philosophies are a culmination of what I learned from all of these great coaches, as well as the knowledge I have gained in my capacity as a Nike employee. Since 1992, I have had direct access to all of

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the top Nike distance runners in the world and their coaches. Through them, I have continued to learn and modify workouts and overall training regimens for my athletes. People often ask me what the biggest change is in training from my era in the 1970s and 80s, to the training that takes place in the 21 st Century. My answer is always that the primary reason why the athletes are running so much faster as a whole is not a result of drugs, but rather because of the advances in training knowledge. The training programs for the most elite distance runners in the world is not just one of higher volumes, but programs of much greater complexity, breadth, and scope. In the old days, running high miles, fast intervals, and small amounts of weight work were considered to be the only necessary components of a successful distance training program. We now know that there are dozens of different elements, exercises, and activities that one must incorporate if optimal performance is to be achieved. Training for two to three hours a day was once considered to be a maximum amount of time that could be devoted to one’s career. However, it is now known that an athlete can clearly spend five or more hours per day doing all of the possible and necessary activities to maximize their performance. The object of this first article will be to briefly outline the different systems of the body, and the different training programs and activities necessary to fully develop the body as a whole. Obviously, the

P e a k

to fully develop the body as a whole. Obviously, the P e a k Training programs

Training programs for the most elite distance runners in the world is not just one of higher volumes, but programs of much greater complexity, breadth, and scope.

majority of the people reading this article probably will not have the time to fully engage in the training of all the systems in the body and complete all of the necessary workouts that I am outlining. However, all runners can decide which of these components they have the time, energy, and inclination to develop. It may be that within the time available for training, the reader may be able to incorporate another 4-5 exercises or programs that they can use on alternate days to get better results.

LOOKING AT THE BODY AS A WHOLE Twenty years ago, when I was competing, the primary emphasis was on the cardiovascular system. The main concerns were to strengthen our hearts, increase blood pathways, and make our bodies more efficient at transporting oxygen to our muscles through training. Success in distance running was a function of a continuously improving cardiovascular system. Doing sufficient amounts of aerobic work meant high mileage run at a slow pace. The anaerobic work consisted primarily of long or short intervals at race pace or faster. Even tempo runs played a much smaller role than they presently do. The concern was with simulating the exact cardiovascular requirements of races through one’s training. The heart rate, lactic acid levels, and oxygen consumption had to be driven up to match the levels that they would reach during a race. The key was to find the right amount of short and moderate length intervals to allow one to run long intervals, ranging from 1200 meters to 1600 meters at a pace just faster than race pace for 5000 and 10000 meters. Once that was accomplished, it was believed that by doing more intervals at that pace, or more mileage, one would encounter great improvements. Now we know that there are many systems within the body that need particular workouts to optimize their individual performances and your overall running performance. Similar to an Indy racecar, there are several systems in the body that need to be evaluated, monitored, and trained in

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Similar to an Indy racecar, there are several systems in the body that need to

Similar to an Indy racecar, there are several systems in the body that need to be evaluated, monitored, and trained.

order to have optimum performance on race day. An Indy racecar’s mechanics might be concentrating on the fuel system, the engine’s horsepower, aerodynamics, chassis, suspension, tire pressures, heat regulation, hydrolics, and a myriad of other systems in the racecar. Like the systems of a racecar, all systems of the body must be honed to their optimum level and compatibility. Having too much power without adequate flexibility can lead to injuries.

1. Musculoskeletal System: Often I have heard and used the analogy that the cardiovascular system can be likened to the engine of a racecar, while the musculoskeletal system is similar to the chassis, suspension, and wheels of the car. As I detailed earlier, we at one time were mainly concerned with the “engine” and paid little attention to the car “body.” Rather than constantly trying to improve the cardiovascular system to handle higher workloads, why not also try to improve the musculoskeletal system so that a given workload, such as race pace intervals, will cost less energy because the musculoskeletal system is strong? Using the car analogy as an example, this can be done by improving the suspension, drive-train, and wheels, as well as ensuring that they are properly maintained and aligned so that the car will be more efficient at a given speed. Specific types of musculoskeletal training can include weight training, flexibility enhancement, plyometrics, core strengthening exercises, agility drills, and power drills. Distance runners, contrary to athletes in other sports, often train only by running straight ahead. This can lead to great increases in strength in the primary movers for straight ahead motion, but can subsequently cause an imbalance due to the weakness of muscles used in lateral movement. The result is often tightness and injury. It is necessary to keep the entire body flexible, supple, muscularly balanced, coordinated, and athletic. Throw a basketball to many distance runners and they will embarrass themselves on

attempting any sudden movements or change of direction. Becoming a better all-around athlete by concentrating on the above indicators of musculoskeletal health will make a runner much more efficient, quick, and powerful.

2. Cardiovascular System: The cardiovascular system is comprised of the heart, lungs, and blood pathways. The cardiovascular system also is involved in the subsequent ability of the body to transport and utilize oxygen, as well as process and remove lactic acid. Specific measurements of the system are maximum heart rate, sub maximum heart rates, max VO2, sub max VO2, maximum lactate levels, and sub max lactate levels. Max

2 , maximum lactate levels, and sub max lactate levels. Max Runners often train only by

Runners often train only by running straight ahead.

Max Runners often train only by running straight ahead. VO 2 was felt to be a

VO2 was felt to be a culmination of years of training, in terms of the amount of miles one has run, and wasn’t considered to be exceptionally changeable in the

short term. Sub max VO2, however, was felt to be very quickly effected by the type of interval training within

a season, because that training

could rapidly affect one’s efficiency at different paces. Lactic acid levels

were similarly affected in the short term through specific training methods. If one was more efficient, they would develop less lactic acid at a given pace.

3. Anaerobic System: The anaerobic system is an energy system which is primarily focused on the use of glycogen to fuel exercise. There are

limited glycogen reserves in the body, so it was felt that by training the anaerobic system as frequently as possible, one would enhance their ability to use less glycogen while running. More was considered to be better, as long as injury was avoided. Recalling the car analogy, the anaerobic system can be compared to the use of high octane gas, or nitrate laden fuel by

a racecar. There is a limited supply,

not a full tank.

4. Aerobic System: The aerobic system

is the energy system that focuses on

the use of oxygen and fatty acids, which are both plentiful in supply. The idea was that through the use of long, slow mileage, one would enable the aerobic system to function for a long period of time,

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delaying the use of the limited anaerobic system. While this technically was correct, we did not realize that more mileage at a slower pace did not effectively enhance the aerobic system. Using the car analogy once again, the aerobic system can be likened to diesel fuel: it is very efficient but does not facilitate the faster speeds that are needed for optimum performance.

5. Lactic System: The byproduct of anaerobic metabolism is the production of lactic acid. Lactic acid is very much vilified as being the cause of race “slow downs” and feelings of pain, discomfort, and soreness. Whether it really causes those symptoms is still widely debated among knowledgeable people involved in the sport. Instead, lactic acid should be looked at as a necessary byproduct of intense training and race performance which the body reprocesses back into energy by means of the Krebs cycle. Therefore, rather than viewing lactic acid as an enemy, one should look at it as an ally if the body is trained properly to utilize it. If the body is not trained properly, lactic acid levels will rise drastically during training, revealing that the short supplies of glycogen are quickly used up. Lactic acid does not necessarily cause any muscular damage or hurt performance; it is simply the body’s reaction to losing all of its glycogen stores. Back to the car, lactic acid would be the equivalent of excessive smoke leaving the exhaust of a car, indicating that fuel was being consumed too rapidly or inefficiently.

Rather than viewing lactic acid as an enemy, one should look at it as an ally of the body.

as an enemy, one should look at it as an ally of the body. 6. Psychological

6. Psychological System: One of the most neglected systems of the body is the psychological, mental, and emotional systems of the body. Back in the 70s and 80s, it was felt that one’s mental toughness, resilience, and ability to focus were God given and could not be enhanced. This, however, has been proven otherwise by athletes and coaches at the highest levels of all sports. Psychological training can

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always enhance performance and make even the most naturally tough performers even better. We felt that the only people who completed psychological training were those that did not have natural mental gifts, and were “head-cases.” Now, common sense tells us that even the naturally toughest competitors can become more relaxed and more focused through the use of mental and psychological training.

7. Nutrition: One of the greatest advances over the last 20 years has occurred in the application of a healthy diet. In the old days, us distance runners felt that we could eat anything we wanted because we would always burn it off during training. We did not understand that just because we weren’t gaining weight, regardless of what we ate, that eating better would allow us to train harder, recover faster, and ultimately perform at a higher level. The main focus on nutrition had to do with adequate carbohydrate intake, especially prior to competition. Protein was considered important, as long as one took in the amount normally advised for the normal population. We now know that even distance runners, not just sprinters, need a higher protein intake than the average person. This is necessary to help the muscles recover from and rebuild after strenuous exercise. For power athletes, the rule of thumb is 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. For distance runners, however, .75 grams of protein per pound per day is recommended. In today’s world of fast food and junk food, it is not uncommon for a distance runner to fall quite short of the recommended daily amount of protein. For a 160 pound distance runner, an intake of 120 grams is necessary (this is about the equivalent of 3 full size chicken breasts). In sports drinks, the importance of having a glucose/glycogen drink was only starting to be realized in the 1980s. In all of my New York and Boston races, I drank whatever was handed to me by the race management or even more unbelievably, by people in the street! It is now accepted that at the elite level, a proper sports drink of about 6% glucose with a smaller amount of protein included can give a runner approximately a 2 minute boost at the marathon distance. Equally important is the post-workout drink. Again, a 6% glucose solution with protein and other essential amino acids and

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solution with protein and other essential amino acids and 4 In all of my New York

In all of my New York and Boston races, I drank whatever was handed to me by the race management or even more unbelievably, by people in the street!

electrolytes can hasten recovery significantly if taken within a half hour of a completed workout. This has been proven by numerous studies and even more significantly, through the results that top athletes get with this protocol. It has been said that you are only as good as the food you put into your body. Using our car analogy, fueling yourself properly can be likened to using the correct grade of gasoline in your car. Your car may run on several different types of gas, but it will only run optimally on one specific grade.

8. Hormonal System: There are numerous hormones within the body. The stress hormones, such as cortisol, are most affected by exercise. However, all these hormones are so interrelated that fluctuations in one can cause many changes down the line. It has been learned that the actual physiological reason for “burnout” is due to the adrenal glands losing their ability to react to stress any longer. After a long season of training and racing, the adrenal glands have reacted so often to the fight or flight syndrome that they become fatigued and are no longer able to provide “the lift” necessary for competition. After an adequate rest, the adrenal glands recover and are once again able to produce the adrenal hormones necessary for top level training and competition. It is therefore necessary to give your body the downtime it needs at least twice per year to allow the hormonal system to get back to normal. Even though one may feel healthy, uninjured, and ready to train hard, it is necessary to have at least a month per year of very little or no exercise where the heart rate is low and the production of adrenal hormones is limited. In addition, although adrenal hormones allow one to train and compete at a higher level, cortisol in particular is catabolic. If it is at a raised level too often, the destruction of muscle tissue is accelerated.

9. Blood Chemistry: It is generally accepted that even the average person should have a general blood chemistry workup done every year as part of a physical checkup. So a distance runner pushing to the limit should have blood work done 2-3 times per year. Often, problems can be directly related to deficiencies only identified through a blood test. This can range from hormonal imbalances to ferratin deficiencies. When a problem occurs in a runner’s health, one can compare the current blood tests to previous tests to identify differences. If one only gets the blood work done while sick or injured, it is hard to determine what the normal levels are when healthy. I was shocked to learn that in the last year the 2004 US Olympic team members have not had a single blood test in over a year. Even among our best runners in this country, the importance of monitoring an athlete’s blood chemistry is still not understood by all.

TRAINING EACH SYSTEM If you’re going to be serious about distance training and racing, it is important to realize that there are several systems in the body which are important in influencing results. You have a limited amount of time, energy, and interest that you can invest in your running. By knowing all of the above, it will allow you to pick which systems you are willing to try to optimize. The more of the systems that can be addressed and controlled, the better your results will be.

All of the preceding information can give you an idea of how beautifully complex the human body is and subsequently how extensive, comprehensive, and varied the training can be in the quest to maximize performance. My future articles will cover these different systems of the body more extensively and in depth to further reveal the keys to a successful training program. Until then, good luck and we’ll see you on the roads.

Until then, good luck and we’ll see you on the roads. After leading Oregon University to

After leading Oregon University to the 1977

NCAA Cross Country Title, Alberto went on to

become a running legend.

the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, Alberto competed in the 1980 & 1984 Olympics, won the 1982 Boston Marathon, won 3 New York City Marathons, and went on to set one World and 6 American Records.

A member of

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P ERSONAL E XPERIENCE There is No Right Answer– Only Guiding Principles by Matt Taylor

PERSONAL

EXPERIENCE

P ERSONAL E XPERIENCE There is No Right Answer– Only Guiding Principles by Matt Taylor What

There is No Right Answer– Only Guiding Principles

by Matt Taylor

What I learned from 11 of the best NCAA cross country coaches.

Part 1 of 3

and Virginia Intermont (NAIA). The project started with a trip to Portland. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I assumed that I would uncover some secret training philosophies, special workouts and cutting-edge recovery regimens. I imagined there would be a “right” answer to training theory, that the answers would be complex with multiple variables such as a scientific formula is, but always leading to one concrete, undeniable solution that was universally implemented. I was wrong. I learned there isn’t one right answer, but there are several guiding principles that every elite coach seems to follow. In this article - Part 1 of 3 - I’ll lay out those principles which I discovered to be deeply entrenched in each of the prestigious programs I visited. In Part 2 we’ll look at how each coach adapts those principles to fit within their specific training environment (athletes, terrain, available time, goals, etc). And in Part 3 I’ll evaluate the different techniques and styles and combine the knowledge of the colleges’ top coaches into a sample training plan for high school coaches looking to prepare their athletes for a collegiate running career.

There are four principles that I observed at each of the eleven programs I visited.

that I observed at each of the eleven programs I visited. THE GUIDING PRINCIPLES There are

THE GUIDING PRINCIPLES There are four principles that I observed at each of the eleven programs I visited. The specific training regimen varied, but the overriding principles remained constant. First, though, let’s take a minute to consider “training environment” and “training time”; these are important concepts that will reoccur throughout the article. Training is a stress to the body. Exercising too hard and too often will cause your body to break down. So

It was a typical hot and humid July afternoon in Washington, DC. Despite the heat advisories I went for a run through Rock Creek Park. Big mistake. Ten minutes into the run my heart was racing and I was sweating profusely. My skin was literally burning from the heat and humidity! But I trudged along running at a much slower pace than normal - a pace that allowed my mind to wander. When I run hard, I don’t think well. Deciphering what pace equals a 2:18 marathon or how many points I accumulated in my fantasy football league is next to impossible when running at high-speed. A slow pace permits my brain to work better, especially the creative side. This is when my crazy ideas are normally hatched - a running magazine, a running television network, a professional running league - and today was no different. Today was the day I thought about chasing tradition. Almost five months following that fateful July run, I am back in Washington, DC. My last 11 weeks have been immersed in the culture of the nation’s top distance running programs, and I now possess an invaluable wealth of running knowledge. I ran, ate, slept and hung out with today’s elite distance runners, picked the brains of the most renowned coaches, and soaked up the tradition that brought these teams to the top - and keeps them there. For one week at each school, I documented the 2005 collegiate cross country season; in essence, I chased their tradition. My journey included the following schools:

University of Portland, Adams State (DII), Colorado, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Wisconsin - LaCrosse (DIII), Iona, Dartmouth, William & Mary, Georgetown,

I ran, ate, slept and hung out with today’s elite distance runners.

slept and hung out with today’s elite distance runners. P e a k R u n

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a k R u n n i n g P e r f o r m

There isn’t a “one size fits all” training plan. Georgetown can’t copy what Colorado does and Colorado can’t mimic what Notre Dame does.

when we look at training always consider your own training environment and your athlete’s training time. There isn’t a “one size fits all” training plan. Georgetown can’t copy what Colorado does and Colorado can’t copy what Notre Dame does. Why? Because they’re in different training environments. I’m not talking solely about geographic location or climate. I’m talking about all the variables that make each program unique - altitude, training surfaces, individual ability levels, schedule, coaching staff, goals, etc. On top of the training environment you also have to consider training time - how much time the athlete can devote to training. Remember, training is a stress, but so is studying, writing for the school newspaper, belonging to a fraternity, traveling to a meet, etc. At the high school and college level you’re dealing with student-athletes and have to take into account the entire day - not just the 2-4 hours that you’re with your athletes. So the question that coaches and real world runners face is, “How do I adapt certain training philosophies to my own training environment and my athlete’s training time to optimize performance?” Consider the four principles coached and preached at each program: aerobic fitness, race-pace intervals, psychological training, and recovery.

I. Aerobic Fitness Cross country running is ultimately about aerobic fitness. Even the most talented runner can’t “gut” their way through a cross country race. Maximizing aerobic fitness is the top priority for every coach. Without a solid aerobic foundation an athlete will never reach their peak. The top programs maximize aerobic fitness by running hard and often. It starts in the summer and continues right up to the National Championship. Mileage and pace vary, but the key is to include as much aerobic running as possible within the allotted training time. Specifically, there are three types of aerobic running that I observed: Recovery Running (easy running to help speed recovery), Maintenance Running (a harder run, but still short of threshold pace) and Threshold Running (running at threshold pace). The majority of the aerobic work was done in the Maintenance range. How each program incorporated these types of runs

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The majority of interval training during the cross country season should be done at or

The majority of interval training during the cross country season should be done at or close to race pace with short rest.

varied, but for the most part they did one threshold run per week, one long run (at maintenance or faster pace), several maintenance runs of varying distance, and a few recovery runs. Aside from threshold runs (where the pace was very specific), the coaches didn’t dictate the pace for each run. Instead, they dictated an effort. This is an example of how good coaches adapt to their training environment. We know scientifically that heart rates and lactate levels are the most specific variables we can use to direct training effort, but no college coach has the resources necessary to train 15-40 athletes with that type of equipment. The cost and logistics are overwhelmingly prohibitive. Instead, they use the underlying physiological principles to guide their training - “I want you to run easy this afternoon” or “Start out easy, but gradually increase the pace to where you’re running hard, but controlled; maybe 5:50 effort.” Today’s running culture seems to have adopted a “don’t run too hard” mentality. But the truth is, aerobic running is the least stressful type of running. Sure, if you’re constantly running right at your threshold (~85% of MaxVO2) your body will break down. But if you focus the majority of your aerobic running in the Maintenance range (~70-80% of MaxVO2) you should see gradual improvement and recover quickly.

II. Race-Pace Intervals with Short Rest When we think of intervals we tend to envision fast 400’s on the track. While there is a time and place for that type of work, the majority of interval training during the cross country season - mile repeats, kilometer repeats, 400 repeats - should be done at or close to race pace with short rest. The goal of this type of interval training is very specific - to get as comfortable as possible running race pace. Many times coaches try to disguise interval training with ladders or other varied-distance segments in an effort to take the athlete’s mind off of the work. That’s counterproductive. One of the main reasons race-pace interval training is effective is so the athlete can feel exactly what it will feel like during a race. Take that away and you’re missing a key element of interval training. Coach Wetmore of Colorado instructs his runners to “pay attention to your sensory data” while Coach Gibby at William & Mary stresses his runners to feel the “sensation of the interval.” Aside from pace and rest, the other

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important variable for interval training is volume - total distance covered in the session. Excluding the last few weeks of the season when teams were tapering, the volume usually equaled race distance. So for the men a common interval workout was 5-6 x 1 mile. For the women it was 5-6 x 1000m. Depending on the time of year and pace of the interval, the rest ranged from 90 seconds to 3 minutes. Of course there were plenty of variations - such as Colorado’s 2 x 3600m, Virginia Intermont’s 25 x 400m with “hammers”, and William & Mary’s race- simulation workout. The specifics of these variations will be covered in Part II of this article.

There is a point in every race when you’re faced with a decision - do I push harder or just try to hang on?

with a decision - do I push harder or just try to hang on? III. Mental

III. Mental Toughness Cross Country is mentally tough. Aside from the myriad variables not in your control (weather, course conditions, number of runners, etc), there is a point in every race when you’re faced with a decision - do I push harder or just try to hang on? This is where races are won and lost. This is the point where - when two athletes of equal ability are battling each other - the athlete who is tougher mentally breaks their opponent. Great coaches know this and use different techniques to try to teach race-specific mental toughness. I’ve already mentioned one tactic - same-distance intervals. Why attempt to mask the pain that a runner will feel in a race by disguising intervals? As a coach you want your athletes to know exactly what to expect when that gun goes off. If they can focus and push through the fifth of six mile repeats, then they’ll be able to do the same in a race. In every sport we practice skills specific to the game - running should be no different. This aspect of coaching takes some creativity and a good understanding of what motivates certain athletes. The same approach won’t work for every athlete and I noticed that each coach implemented athlete-specific variables into the training that were aimed at building mental toughness. For example, Alex Gibby (William & Mary) doesn’t tell his athletes the workout until right before it starts. “I want them to be mentally flexible and prepared for whatever I could potentially throw at them.” Although every coach doesn’t use this same strategy, they all give credence to the mental aspect of running.

IV. Proper Recovery Physiology tells us that adaptations to training (i.e. improvement) occur during recovery, not the actual workout. This concept wasn’t lost on these coaches - proper recovery was a focus of the training week. Unfortunately for our athletes, resources oftentimes dictate the degree of recovery aids available, but let’s look at the basics. Aside from sleep, nutrition is probably the most important recovery aid, yet it’s often overlooked. Replenishing your body within 30 minutes of a hard effort is vital. Portland and Ohio State would always take large coolers of Gatorade when they traveled off campus for practice, and Colorado offered Powerbars and bottles of Gatorade in their weight room. At Dartmouth and Adams State, athletes would bring their own preferred recovery drink and energy bar. While not every coach adhered to the same nutritional recovery products, they each encouraged their athletes to bring something to eat and drink to every workout. Icing is probably the easiest recovery aid to provide. An ice bath or cold pool is ideal, but bags of ice, or even ice cups, work just fine. A more recent trend is the contrast bath - rotating between ice and heat in an effort to flush the muscles of waste products. Proper nutrition and icing are easy ways to speed recovery between workouts. Massage and/or active release therapy are two other tools that coaches are starting to implement into their program. I was lucky to get a few massages and some active release work at Ohio State and William & Mary, two programs that utilize these treatments and swear by their effectiveness. If these therapies are outside of your team budget athletes can compliment their recovery routine with The Stick, foam rollers, or dynamic rope stretching.

LUCKY NUMBER FOUR There are many factors that make a cross country team successful, but they vary depending on your training environment and training time. I have found, though, that the four key principles outlined above are essential in every great coach’s training philosophy - aerobic fitness, race-pace intervals, mental toughness and proper recovery. How these principles are incorporated depends on many factors (personality of the coach, team goals, school location, etc.), but these pillars provide the foundation for all

successful cross country programs.

successful cross country programs.
successful cross country programs.

Matt Taylor is a running entrepreneur who recently completed an 11-week project called “Chasing Tradition”. He has coaching experience at the high school and college level and is USATF Level I and II certified, but his passion is providing unique and innovative coverage of the sport. Taylor is in the early stages of a new venture that he hopes to announce early in the New Year. For more information, go to www.chasingtradition.com or email him at matt@chasingtradition.com.

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I NJURY P REVENTION When we violate the correct design, we will eventually pay the
I NJURY P REVENTION When we violate the correct design, we will eventually pay the
I NJURY P REVENTION When we violate the correct design, we will eventually pay the

INJURY

PREVENTION

When we violate the correct design, we will eventually pay the consequences in the form of injury.

will eventually pay the consequences in the form of injury. design can be achieved. The first

design can be achieved. The first essential step is to participate in activities that reposition your hips, knees, ankles, and feet. This is accomplished by utilizing corrective exercises, all focused on the goal of peak performance. We’ll examine postural corrective exercises later in this article, but first let’s take a deeper look at your body’s design and how you move.

YOUR DESIGN We all know that on a daily basis we are required to move. However, most of you are accomplishing day-to-day basic movement with compensation patterns that will lead to chronic or acute pain symptoms. This natural tendency places postural stress and wear-and-tear on your musculoskeletal system, a system which was not designed to handle this type of strain. The end result is an inefficient running pattern and future chronic pain symptoms. When a muscle or muscle group is

Running the Straight Line

by Brian Bradley

In order for you to run efficiently, your feet must point straight ahead.

Stand up and look down at your feet.

Do your feet point outward?

If so, you

are likely among the 21 Million runners (2/3 of the running population) that will be forced to the sideline in 2006 with injuries. It is astonishing (and widely unknown) that the majority of running injuries can be traced to the misalignment of a joint or set of joints. Consider the fact that running involves unyielding stress on your joints; more specifically, a pressure 2 times heavier than your body weight is transmitted through each leg with every stride, a stride that is repeated 1700 times per mile. If your joints aren’t aligned properly to accommodate this force, injury is inevitable. The good news is that, contrary to popular belief, postural alignment is not fixed or unalterable. There are active stretches and exercises that can amend your postural deviations and lead to more efficient and less injury-prone running.

A LOOK IN THE MIRROR To start, we’ll take a closer look at the body’s normal standing position, that is, your posture. To give you an idea of the body’s “blueprint”, the correct posture is with feet pointed straight, knees facing straight, hips level, shoulders level, and your head centered. (See Figure 1). Next take a good look at yourself in the mirror (for best results when observing static posture, you should be dressed in shorts and a t-shirt). What you are examining is your body’s deviation

Contrary to popular belief, postural deviations are all correctible.

to popular belief, postural deviations are all correctible. from the design constant. This is a true

from the design constant. This is a true representation of the old saying, what you see is what you get…function or dysfunction. You will likely observe a myriad of dysfunctional posture symptoms which may include one shoulder lower than the other, a pelvis that appears to be elevated, or your knees knocking together. These postural deviations are all correctible. For the sake of this article, we will be focusing in and around the lower extremity, especially the foot and ankle. You probably noticed that your feet are pointed outward or that one foot points out more than the other. The blueprint design (Figure 1) has the hips and knees telling the feet where they should be pointing. When we violate the correct design, we will eventually pay the consequences in the form of injury. Over the last thirty years of assisting competitive athletes in their training, the Egoscue Clinic discovered that through the appropriate exercises, the original postural

Figure 1
Figure 1

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With incorrect positioning, you’re not efficient in getting from point A to point B. functioning

With incorrect positioning, you’re not efficient in getting from point A to point B.

functioning properly during running and according to the correct design, it helps evenly distribute the shock to your joints as the heel of your foot strikes the ground. But if there are abnormal patterns in your gait, the wrong muscles are active and the shock is no longer evenly distributed. Instead, the shock is focused on one or two points; the subsequent friction begins to wear the joint away. Taking a look at the bottom of your running shoes is an easy way to determine if you are victim to this posture and gait imbalance. If your gait and posture is normal, you’ll notice a wear pattern across the heel that is centrally located across your shoe bottom. However, if you notice a wear pattern on the outside edges of both or one shoe, you can assume that your gait and posture is abnormal and is leading you down an inefficient (and potentially painful) running path.

HOW YOU MOVE Let’s begin by going over some key events in normal walking that may help you understand how and why correct posture affects your running efficiency. Ideally, for the human body to walk/run efficiently with proper foot mechanics, you must move through the different phases of the gait pattern by incorporating correct hip, knee and ankle movements. Walking and running use a repetitious sequence of leg motion to move our bodies forward while maintaining stability. As our bodies move forward, one leg serves as the support mechanism in contact with the ground as the other leg swings to the next support point. At this stage the legs reverse their roles. This movement should be repetitious and smooth allowing for an upright torso throughout your entire workout. In normal walking, there are five phases that your foot and ankle go through when you begin to strike the ground. Each phase has distinct markers needed to achieve correct foot and leg movements. The moment that the foot strikes the ground is called initial contact. The critical event in this phase is the center point of the heel contacting the ground. If there is a deviation in how the heel is contacting the ground, the ground force reaction is compromised. This force is better

8

known as the “pounding” that occurs with walking and running. So, essentially, if contact occurs deviated

positioning can have severe consequences. With incorrect and compromised positioning, you’re not

 

from the straight-ahead position, this

efficient in getting from point A to point

force becomes a negative stressor, firing

B,

not to mention setting yourself up for

compensated musculature throughout

injury.

 

the leg from the foot to the hip. This will eventually lead to chronic or acute

TAKE ACTION:

pain symptoms, beginning a domino effect of inefficient running. The next event is the loading response. This is the movement prior to your weight being placed on one leg.

OK! Now that we better understand the importance of correct foot mechanics, it is time to do something about it. Begin by manually typing or copy/pasting the link provided below,

The critical event in this phase addresses

and then follow the four exercises (keep

the ankle and foot and the progression

in

mind the tips listed). The exercises are

of the body over the heel. This is accomplished by what is called the “heel rocker.” In this movement, the ankle and foot make accommodations to allow for a normal load bearing. To accomplish this, the position of the lower leg bones must be aligned with the foot to allow for the correct muscles to fire and control the movement. This occurs over the central portion of the heel bone as the weight transfers from

focused on re-aligning the entire lower leg with the upper leg and hip. Once you complete these exercises, you will notice that your pain has lessened and that your balance improves while standing and moving. Also, take another look in the mirror and notice that your shoulders, hips, knees and feet are better positioned. Your feet are straighter, your shoulders are more level and you feel more comfortable

the rear to the front of the heel, readying the body for the next phase. The next phase is the mid-stance. In this phase work that was mainly

standing. Finally, take this newly positioned machine into action. It is time to walk or run that straight line time to move. Remember, your body is

is

it

centered on the knee and hip is transferred to the foot and ankle

a

remarkable machine.

Your body is a remarkable machine.

a remarkable machine. Your body is a remarkable machine. directly. The critical event is the ankle

directly. The critical event is the ankle rocker allowing for progression from the rear of the foot to the ball. As the foot is planted on the ground, this progression initiates hip extension. With a compromised foot position, one that is turned outward (over pronated) or inward (over supinated), the normal progression over the heel rocker is negated and the result is eventual pain or soft tissue breakdown. Hip extension (the leg traveling behind the torso in walking and running) is an integral part of the terminal stance. The forefoot rocker (the body rocking over the ball of the foot) allows the body weight to move forward. The foot then begins the heel rise in anticipation to push off the toe. Prior to the “toe off,” the body readies itself, called the pre-swing phase, by using the knee and hip musculature to unlock the knee joint. As iterated, the mechanics of walking/running are complex. With a correct foot position, this mechanism is smooth and efficient. On the opposite end, incorrect and compromised

DO’S AND DON’TS

• Do remember the four socket position; shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles in line; feet pointed straight ahead. Figure 1 - the body’s blueprint.

• Don’t forget to breathe with your diaphragm when doing these exercises. You should feel as if you are breathing with your stomach coming up and down.

• Do remove your shoes for all exercises except for the Airbench (to prevent slipping).

• Do the exercises in the sequence provided.

THE CORRECTIVE EXERCISES (Type in the link below) http://www.egoscue.com/htdocs/ pperformance/

the link below) http://www.egoscue.com/htdocs/ pperformance/ Brian Bradley is the Vice President of Therapy Protocol at

Brian Bradley is the Vice President of Therapy Protocol at the Egoscue Method world headquarters in San Diego, CA. Having treated the finest professional athletes such as Jack Nickalus, Junior Seau (Miami Dolphins), and Abde Bile (Olympic Runner), the Egoscue Clinic is world renowned as “The Leader In Non-Medical Pain Relief”. Brian basically sits in his office all day waiting for you to contact him with postural training questions or concerns at the email address and phone number listed below. Phone: 800-995-8434 Email: Bbradley@egoscue.com www.egoscue.co

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C REATIVE C ROSS T RAINING Olympic Marathon champion Frank Shorter was one of the
C REATIVE C ROSS T RAINING Olympic Marathon champion Frank Shorter was one of the
C REATIVE C ROSS T RAINING Olympic Marathon champion Frank Shorter was one of the

CREATIVE

CROSS

TRAINING

C REATIVE C ROSS T RAINING Olympic Marathon champion Frank Shorter was one of the first
C REATIVE C ROSS T RAINING Olympic Marathon champion Frank Shorter was one of the first
C REATIVE C ROSS T RAINING Olympic Marathon champion Frank Shorter was one of the first

Olympic Marathon champion Frank Shorter was one of the first runners to embrace snowshoe running.

was one of the first runners to embrace snowshoe running. Snowshoeing to Faster Run Times: How

Snowshoeing to

Faster Run Times:

How Making Tracks Increases Your Running Performance

by Frank Mungeam

embrace snowshoe running. Today, countless elite athletes turn to snowshoeing for off-season cross- training. Research has confirmed what these athletes have discovered through experience. For example, at the University of Vermont, researchers followed two groups during six weeks of training. One group only ran, while the other group trained by snowshoeing. After six weeks, VO2 MAX scores for those who ran improved by 7% while VO2 MAX for snowshoers improved by 13%. Those who trained by snowshoeing also improved their time-to-exhaustion performance by 50% more than the running participants. These tests were completed on fit subjects (average VO2 MAX of 50ml/kg/min), not elite runners, but the results demonstrate clinical evidence of what many top athletes already know - snowshoeing is an intense cardiovascular workout. “You don’t need to worry about getting a killer workout,” says Nikki Kimball, two-time Ultra Runner of the Year and reigning U.S. Snowshoe Association Champion. “You just have to find a way to keep your heart rate under 200 beats per minute!” Cross-training on snowshoes also increases strength. The sinking effect of running on soft snow requires more power from the legs for each stride than running on roads or trails. Runners often compare snowshoeing to running in soft sand. “Snowshoeing helps a runner develop great running-specific lower extremity strength,” says Kimball. A physical therapist in Livingston, Montana, Kimball is a true believer in

Dave Dunham was in the lead in his very first snowshoe race. Then his snowshoe fell off. He put it back on, charged back into the lead, and lost

a

shoe again. He’d won the snowshoes as a prize

in

a race and admits: “I didn’t realize

how tightly you had to strap the shoes on.” Dunham, the 2000 USATF Mountain Runner of the Year, finished second by a couple of seconds. No matter: “I was hooked,” says the Bradford, Massachusetts runner, who went on to strap his shoes tighter and win the inaugural 2001 U.S. Snowshoe Association National Championships. He’s been cross-training in winter by snowshoe racing ever since. For many runners, winter is the cruelest season of the year. Cold, wet, short days result in hazardous conditions; oftentimes we encounter

a loss of enthusiasm and,

subsequently, fitness levels. This winter, don’t despair – make tracks. Research has increasingly affirmed that cross-training on snowshoes can help runners increase performance in Spring. First, the physiological benefits are impressive

in Spring. First, the physiological benefits are impressive Research affirmed that cross-training on snowshoes can help

Research affirmed that cross-training on snowshoes can help runners increase performance in Spring.

– snowshoeing maintains and enhances aerobic capacity, strength, balance, VO2 MAX and lactate threshold. The psychological benefits may be just as important. Snowshoeing offers a mental break from repetitive road running and a winter escape that’s just plain fun. “If you can walk, you can snowshoe. There’s really no learning curve,” says Mark Elmore, president of the U.S. Snowshoe Association, an organization whose ranks have swelled in the past half- dozen years as more runners discover the sport.

past half- dozen years as more runners discover the sport. Innovations in snowshoe design have also

Innovations in snowshoe design have also fueled the boom. Those bulky old wooden snowshoes have now become wall ornaments as today’s snowshoes are sleek, lightweight and nimble. Made of aluminum and titanium, the modern snowshoe weighs as little as one pound and can be as compact as 22 inches in length. Traction cleats and flexible toe plates enable runners to retain their natural gait in snow.

TRAINING BENEFITS Olympic Marathon champion Frank Shorter was one of the first runners to

champion Frank Shorter was one of the first runners to P e a k R u

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“You don’t need to worry about getting a killer workout, you just have to find

“You don’t need to worry about getting a killer workout, you just have to find a way to keep your heart rate under 200 beats per minute!”

the clinical benefits of snowshoeing. “I like to see my running patients increase their strength and take periodic breaks from the pounding of straight-plane running,” says Kimball. “I strongly believe that taking at least one month off from running each year has helped my race results,” says Kimball, adding: “I really don’t like not running. Snowshoeing keeps me sane during my yearly hiatus.” Cross-training on snowshoes can also improve balance and control, valuable benefits for trail runners. Danelle Ballangee, 2004 Adventure Racer of the Year and four-time member of the U.S. World Mountain Running Team, runs on trails from spring through fall. Come winter, she looks forward to snowshoeing. “Snowshoeing is like running on a balance bar. It helps develop some of the smaller muscles in the legs around the ankles,” says Ballangee. “After snowshoeing in winter, I feel really confident running on trails in the spring.” For the Dillon, Colorado adventure racer, snowshoeing is more than just an off-season maintenance program. “I feel like I have gains in both strength and also cardiovascular fitness,” says Ballangee. “Come spring I feel stronger.” Research studies validate that snowshoeing at speeds less than half of normal running pace will accomplish the same results in expended energy; and this is without the customary pounding of road running. For example, a University of Wisconsin - Lacrosse study found that men snowshoeing in powder on flat terrain at 3.3 miles per hour burned 985 calories per hour. By comparison, running on similar terrain at 7.5 miles per hour burned 890 calories. The

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final benefit to runners cannot be measured in any lab, but runners who snowshoe universally agree – cavorting in powder with floppy shoes is just plain fun! “Snowshoeing opens up a whole new world of winter,” says Kimball. “The hours just fly by for me out there.”

motion. The “Catalyst” by Tubbs features an asymmetric design that insures you won’t overlap snowshoes. Redfeather’s “Race” features a turned up, tapered tail. A quality running snowshoe costs about $250 and most snowshoe companies offer lifetime warranties.

GEARING UP Getting geared up for snowshoeing is refreshingly simple. All you need is snowshoes. Teri Smith of Wilsonville, Oregon has introduced more than a thousand outdoor enthusiasts to snowshoeing. As the director of the Atlas Snowshoe “Experience Winter” Women’s Clinic, Smith suggests looking at four features when choosing snowshoes: floatation, articulation, comfort, and traction. “The greater the surface area of the snowshoe, the more floatation you get,” explains Smith. Conversely, smaller snowshoes will be lighter and more nimble – but you’ll sink deeper.

be lighter and more nimble – but you’ll sink deeper. Cavorting in powder with floppy shoes

Cavorting in powder with floppy shoes is just plain fun!

The snowshoe bindings should articulate naturally - “the way your ankle would rotate without snowshoes,” says Smith - and the bindings should attach your shoes comfortably to the frame. For traction, “there should be a toe crampon or cleat under the ball of the foot, used for climbing,” explains Smith. “Also look for traction under the heel, which gives you descending control.” The best way to find the shoe that works for you is to rent first. Most outdoor stores rent snowshoes for about $15 and some running stores offer rentals of running-specific snowshoes. Each of the top snowshoe manufacturers has designed a snowshoe for runners. The Atlas “Dual -Trac Super Lite” weighs less than a pound without compromising traction or range of

SNOWSHOEING TECHNIQUE The technique for walking and running in snowshoes on flat terrain is the same as for trail running. “Just put them on and go,” promises Teri Smith. Control on uphill and downhill inclines is achieved by shifting weight over the corresponding cleats underneath the snowshoe. “For uphill running, shift your weight more forward, digging in with the crampons under the ball of the foot,” says Smith. “Drive your arms and use shorter steps, similar to running uphill on a trail.” Going downhill can be thrilling. To stay upright, Smith suggests keeping your weight back over the heel cleat, while keeping arms up and out for better balance.

WALK BEFORE YOU RUN When you take your first snowshoe hike, start slowly. Ray Browning, author of Serious Training for Endurance Athletes recommends four strategies to ease the transition from running to snowshoeing:

1. Use a heart rate monitor. It will help you manage the intensity of your workouts.

monitor. It will help you manage the intensity of your workouts. Peak Running Per f o

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2. Start slow. In the beginning, keep your intensity low while you get acclimated to the sport. Your heart rate should be between 55% and 70% of your maximum.

3. Use time instead of distance to measure your workout. Snow conditions and terrain will dictate how long it takes to complete a distance. What counts is the amount of time your body is aerobically exercising.

4. Add intensity by increasing either your speed or the difficulty of the terrain. Hills and deep powder are both great for intensity training. Be sure to warm up and cool down for at least fifteen minutes if you’re participating in intensity training.

Be prepared to be surprised by the demands of snowshoeing. It may take several trips to the mountain to fully acclimate.

may take several trips to the mountain to fully acclimate. Nothing builds strength and tests stamina

Nothing builds strength and tests stamina like snowshoeing through deep powder.

SNOWSHOE TRAINING A great introductory snowshoe workout (a personal favorite) is called: “You’ve Got to Walk Before You Run.” Pick a snowy trail with rolling terrain. Jog the flat stretches, walk up the hills, and run down the hills. This approach keeps the heart rate consistent and moderate while allowing you to experience the varied tempos and techniques of snowshoeing. Once you’re comfortable with the sport, snowshoe workouts can be designed to mimic the core elements of a standard running training program. Danelle Ballangee has won more than 100 snowshoe races in her career. Here are four workouts used by the ten- time Beaver Creek National Snowshoe Champion that have

enabled her to maintain and even improve her running fitness during the winter months.

1. Aerobic Base and Strength Training: “I do a lot of long hikes on snowshoes,” says Ballangee, “anywhere from two to five hours.” She keeps the intensity down, mimicking a long slow distance run without the pounding. “I build a lot of endurance and also strength because you have to walk through snow.”

2. Hill Repeats: “I’ve got this hill by my house and I snowshoe up pretty hard,” says Ballangee. “It takes about four minutes to the top, and I’ll do repeats on that.” To come back down, she uses a sled. “I squeal all the way down – that’s my reward,” she says, laughing. Hill repeats are a training staple for top snowshoe racers. The workout can also be inverted, starting with an easy uphill hike then sprinting downhill to work on leg speed and turnover.

3. Intervals on Flats: Finding suitable terrain for interval training is more challenging on snowshoes because most trails are in the mountains. Improvising and creativity might be a necessity to create the desired workout. Ballangee uses a frozen lake to do her “fartlek” style intervals.

4. Strength: Nothing builds strength and tests stamina like snowshoeing through deep powder. “It’s hard - it takes forever to get anywhere, punching through just one step at a time,” says Ballangee. “But I think it makes you mentally tough. Plus you can go anywhere. In winter I make trails all over the woods!” Snowshoe strength style conditioning will prepare you for your spring endurance runs.

MAKE YOUR OWN TRACKS Hiking and cross country ski trails make ideal snowshoe routes. Just be

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Snowshoe races are the ultimate test of winter fitness.

sure you don’t tromp on the ski tracks. To locate nearby trails, you can log on to www.tubbs- trailnet.com or the American Hiking Society at http://www.americanhiking.org. Snowshoe clubs are another way to find about local trails and also snowshoe races. The U.S. Snowshoe Association offers links to regional clubs and races at www.snowshoeracing.com. Snowshoe races are the ultimate test of winter fitness. Races typically range in distance from 5K to 10K. Elevation, snow depth and terrain combine to determine race pace. These conditions usually add 50% to a runner’s pace, so a 6:00-per-mile 10K runner might average closer to 9:00- per-mile in a 10K snowshoe race. This year, 21 regional races in January and February will serve as qualifiers leading up to the 6th annual U.S. Snowshoe National Championships held March 24th-26th at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont. The sport’s future looks golden. “It is the U.S. Snowshoe Association’s ultimate goal that there will be snowshoe athletes marching in an Olympic Opening Ceremony one day,” says USSSA president Mark Elmore. Efforts are underway to introduce snowshoe racing as a demonstration sport at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. This winter, take a break from repetitive road running and head to the mountains to make your own tracks.

running and head to the mountains to make your own tracks. Frank Mungeam is a five-time

Frank Mungeam is a five-time member of the Atlas National Snowshoe Racing Team, a 2003 All American in snowshoe racing, and placed 16th at the 2005 U.S. Snowshoe Championships. A lifelong runner, Frank competed in cross country and track at Harvard and has completed seven marathons, including a top-25 finish in the Portland Marathon. Frank writes about fitness, travel and the outdoors from Lake Oswego, Oregon.

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R EFLECTION The Lazy Boy Archipelago By Scott Tinley “Today’s bare landscape is always the

REFLECTION

R EFLECTION The Lazy Boy Archipelago By Scott Tinley “Today’s bare landscape is always the arena

The Lazy Boy Archipelago

By Scott Tinley

“Today’s bare landscape is always the arena where I contend with myself. I say my prayers and go into combat.” – George Sheehan, 1987

I believe in the twin philosophies of the arm wrestle and the armchair; that the most insightful and enlightening thoughts might come to you at mile twenty of a marathon or on a Sunday afternoon, while plopped down in an over-stuffed Lazy Boy with the New York Times in one hand and a cold Budweiser in the other. It wasn’t always this way. When I was young and full of the stuff that seems in short supply these days, I was more of a process-only thinker, learning on the go. I’d think, “How fast can I process this little lesson on life before my workout is over and I have to go back to work?” If I was nearly splattered by a beer truck while running a red light on a bike I’d think, okay, don’t drink beer before riding. If I gave a homeless man with a cardboard sign a ten dollar bill because it’s all I had in my pocket, then hit the wall and had no money to buy a coke or call for a ride home, I’d think, next time, ask for change. If I was Captain Ahab, training was my Moby Dick. And making sense of the world had to be done while making dinner or making tracks. But after a few years of that fly-by- night pedagogy, I got stuck on some

transcendental plateau. I knew just enough to be dangerous, which is to say that on the big scale of real knowledge, I carried no weight at all.

the big scale of real knowledge, I carried no weight at all. I believe in the

I believe in the twin philosophies of the arm wrestle and the armchair.

the twin philosophies of the arm wrestle and the armchair. Who ever knows? Humans, and young

Who ever knows? Humans, and young athletes in particular, just can’t see six months down the road. We keep our feet on the gas all through our teens and twenties, but after the big Three-0 and an injury-induced wake-up call, an inventory check shows that we’ve picked up some baggage along the way. Then what? We’ve got tendonitis in the knee, a family that hates us because we’re always training, our job is in jeopardy, and our pants hang on us like a skeleton. But, damn, we’re hitting PRs every time out and can see the veins in our stomach. Just a few days rest and we’ll be solid until we hit the Master’s circuit. Yep, victimized by your own obsession disguised as courage. In our minds, this is all good. More is better and what not, why not. Never

if not. Addiction? So what, we

convince ourselves. If we have to be

a slave to something, well, it might as

well be a master that can offer some tangible benefits. It’s really not that hard to reach a point where we

believe that we don’t have to slow down to learn what counts. Drive-thru restaurants, church services on tape or CD, email to avoid those pesky time bandits who only want to know how we’re doing—hey, lay your patience at the alter, rest when you’re dead. If you think about it, in an unordered universe where most people have a hard time cultivating rest, passion or anything real and raw, plowing straight ahead is a way to keep from choking in the seaweed of details. Like growing up.

*** I don’t know what it was that finally sat my ass in a chair. I suppose that I slowed down long enough to come up for air and found that I couldn’t quite break through the surface. A kind of battle began inside me—one leg scratching the side of the chair, itchy and frenetic, the other lying there lifeless, barely attached to my hips. Up top it was even worse. I could hear them arguing in my sleep. Brain: Man, you gotta’ get out of that chair and DO something. What if

a photographer from Runner’s World

happens to peer in the windows? You won’t be able to show up at the Thursday track work ever again! Heart: Don’t listen to that blowhard. You need the rest, you need to think, to learn and grow – and read

something other than Track and Field News and the SI swimsuit issue.

Humans, and young athletes in particular, just can’t see six months down the road.

in particular, just can’t see six months down the road. 12 Peak Running Per f o

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You’ve been running away, little brother. Now, relax and let the world catch up. These two would not shut up. It was caffeine or incense. Mozart or MTV. A sweet-smelling evergreen in the den for Christmas or a ten foot chrome and glass special with a disco light where the angel is supposed to go. This was not a battle to be fought within the human body. This was a form of psycho-Darwinism—kill or be killed. Depending upon the day, one had its hand placed gently on my forehead while the other was squeezing my testicles. Something had to give.

I realized that my peak as an athlete had come and gone.

I finally gave in to the Lazy Boy on

a

trial basis after I’d broken my neck

in

a mountain bike crash. It was a

type of forced introspection. Like some yuppie having to pick up trash on the side of a freeway after his

third DUI. Something else happened as well. I realized that my peak as an athlete had come and gone. In fact,

it had gone, like, five years before.

Whatever, it’s never too late for revelations in life, including that you just ain’t that fast any more and your future mentions age groups and fun runs. That being the case, I thought about what I was, what I did. You know, like the way we judge people by what they do, not who they are. When you meet someone at a party they don’t ask what makes you happy or if you’ve read Nabokov or did you go to Woodstock. They ask you what you do so they can affix a label and pour you into the occupational mold. If I was sitting in a chair and not out training to be a

If I was sitting in a chair and not out training to be a Addiction? So

Addiction? So what, we convince ourselves.

professional athlete, then I wasn’t doing anything. And if we are what we do and we’re not doing it…than what are we? It’s the tyranny of the chase, the promise of its glow. It is like the mirage on the hot desert highway— an ever-moving body of water just over the horizon. You know it’s not a cool lake but that doesn’t stop you from driving on into the night until it finally just goes away. Still, the busted bones and aging legs weren’t quite enough. I think it was when I applied solid training theory to my armchair-chill that things began to make some sense. Hard day, easy day, right? You wear your body down and then lie around or go easy (that oxymoronic term— active rest) and it adapts to a higher level. Then you start the whole thing over again. Days, weeks, months, years…it doesn’t matter. All the exercise physiologists and people on the infomercials say it’s true, so how could it not be? I think I heard Oprah talk about tapering once. That’s like reading it in the Old Testament. And so, on my easy days, after my neck healed and I realized I wouldn’t win the Ironman again, I did two things. I got a good running dog and I started to read. I started right in with Genesis, skipped all that Moses stuff, played around with Psalms, loved Proverbs, went Eastern for awhile, dabbled in the Upanishads, the Tao, Sid-something, and since I had been a competitive bastard, Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” Between chapters, I’d take the dog for short runs and walks. Interval stuff. Study breaks. He was fast. I could keep up with him for awhile. I kept traveling east in my chair, was surprised by what I found in the

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Koran and then took a break in Europe. All this cerebral training and trying to bring the divisions of my attention into focus was hard work. I needed something easy, like a ninety mile bike ride. In truth, I was looking for a role model, somebody athletic who had gone down this path before. Turns out there were more than I could count. Being a closet patriot and like most runners worth their smelly socks, I loved the American, George Sheehan. I’d gotten to hang with him at his peak once, drink a few beers and run a funky 10k somewhere in Colorado. Sheehan was one of those individuals whose enlightenment curve steepened as he got older, reaching a ridiculously impossible angle near his death that he so calmly chronicled in his writings. But George, as simple as his messages on running and life were, was a tough read. He had this thing about constantly referring to his own influences; heavy hitters with impossible names and long, mind- numbing quotes attached. In a one- page essay from the late eighties, Sheehan either quoted or referenced, God, Robert Frost, Eric Gill, A.E. Houseman, Jose Ortega y Gasset, Soren Kierkegaard, Norse legend and someone he called, “one critic.” But somehow George would tie all these cats into the act of running. I’d just follow the ribbons, desperately trying to straddle the narrow chasm between heroics and naiveté.

If we are what we do and we’re not doing it… than what are we?

When Sheehan would speak of the German philosopher, Schopenhauer, and his long afternoon walks along

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the banks of the Main near his home in Frankfurt, his beloved poodle in tow, I’d either have to go find the man’s work in the university library or skip it and take my own dog out for a crisp six-miler in the local canyon. I had to remind myself of the concept of balance, of that hard/easy doctrine. But Old Schop had some cool ideas on The Will and how it is fundamental to other actions (like reason and sensation) that would follow. I could certainly be willful in my harder events, sensing the rewards of pushing through the pain. But the reason for it all? That might take a few days in the chair to conclude anything worthy of mention. Money and chicks didn’t seem to hold enough Will. Meanwhile, my dog was standing at the door. Poised. On occasion, my friends would come by and see me surrounded with books, notepads, Power Bar wrappers and dog bones, unshaven and with a far away, stoned look. You’ve lost it, Tinley, they’d say, shaking their heads and purposely leaving the door open when they left so that I’d have to eventually get up to close it. They were still finding their purpose at the Church of the Sunday Morning Run. If I was jealous, I tried not to show it. “I’m mid-way through a 12 step program,” I’d scream after them. “Why are you tempting me so?” Of course, we all know how lots of answers can appear while we plod or pace our way through a workout. Blood flow to the brain, we’d call it, the neuronal pathways cleared of debris, endorphin enlightenment. I won’t discount that. I was just trying to get answers to more than what’s for lunch or when to roll out the new product line. Sheehan had become a wonderful conduit to other great-

14

thinking people with an athletic twist to their doctrines. But trying to follow the thread was like a Hash House Harrier run—you had to go from one clue to the next. Skipping a check point would put you at great risk of getting completely lost and having to suffer the ignominy of asking directions from a local jogger. I decided that in my quest to figure it out, whatever that was, I couldn’t follow someone else’s path. Schopenhauer had done his best work before he turned twenty six. I was nearing forty and had never liked poodles. In any case, Freud (another dead white guy I thought was misguided at first), had called Schopenhauer one of the six greatest men who’d ever lived. That’s it, I thought, sitting in my Lazy Boy after a five thousand yard swim session, now I’ll have to see if any of the other five had anything to say about sport. That’s when Nietzsche and I got into it.

say about sport. That’s when Nietzsche and I got into it. As athletes, by definition we

As athletes, by definition we are physical, active and engaged in all the elemental forces inherent to movement and play.

Here was another German who’d died in 1900, almost exactly 100 years before my inner journey was at its peak during the celebrated millennium. His most famous and prophetic work revolves around the idea of the Ubermensch, The Superman. The connection to (formerly-considered) insane athletic contests such the Ironman was palpable. The increase in ultra- distance competition and corresponding barrier-breaking performances were the twenty-first century embodiment of Nietzsche’s philosophy. If I followed Nietzsche’s

teachings, I would be able to justify in arrears many years of nihilistic thinking and narcissistic training. He could’ve been my Pontius Pilate of missed birthdays and forgotten anniversaries. But I couldn’t follow his irrationality, even as he hammered home the concept of man as individual, the loneliness of the long distant runner and all that. The pessimism was too thick. I’d stick with AA for over- trainers.

*** Most of the world’s great religions, ethnic groups and cultures have their own tales, myths and storied legends of heroic figures retreating into the wilds and into their deeper selves:

Buddhism’s Gautama under the Bo Tree, Christianity’s Jesus’ withdrawal into the Judean desert to fast and resist Satan’s temptations, Judaism’s Moses atop Mt. Sinai for forty days and nights, Mohammed retreating to the cave to feel the presence of Allah, Greek mythology’s story of Endymion, a son of Zeus, who never awoke from his long sleep on Mount Latmus after a kiss by Selene granted his wish to avoid growing old, and the Australian Aboriginal tale of how the Pleiades, the Seven Sister stars, came to be through acts of virtue and sacrifice. Each tale, regardless of its perceived level of truth, has borne significant lesson and impact toward its culture’s ideologies. And for centuries, those peoples have looked to these figures and their actions as model and impetus for their own retreat from the daily regiment of living. While often remembered for what they did, their truer and immutable identity must be found and remembered for more than that. For whom they were. As athletes, by definition we are physical, active and engaged in all the elemental forces inherent to

Peak Running

Per f o r m a n c e

VOL. 15 / NO. 1

Speed and effort appear to have no correlation to what we think about while we

Speed and effort appear to have no correlation to what we think about while we run.

movement and play. There is much to be learned in that kinetic force, that simple act of placing one foot in front of each other for reasons that vary with each step and each athlete. We can solve the world’s problems on an after-dinner walk around the block or fall into bottomless confusion while watching a wondrous sunset. The phenomenologists, Brentano and Husserl spoke of finding meaning through experience. And every experience must be taken in context, flat on your back or flat out flying. What does it mean to us, the participant, must remain our constant self-test. I’ve been on snappy trail runs with doctors who would offer emergency surgery consults by cell phone without dipping below a six-minute mile pace. And I’ve sauntered gently down familiar avenues with brilliant college professors who’d get lost in conversation on their own block. Speed and effort appear to have no

correlation to what we think about while we run. I am convinced though, that we all need serious and prolonged breaks in our routine, regardless of its nature or intensity. A break from the nine to five cube-farm, a break from eighty-mile running weeks, a break from isolation and a break from mankind. Hard day, easy day. Habit can kill the spirit inside us all and reduce us to the banality of mere existence. We need to hunt the tiger but we need to celebrate our return to the cave as well. My dog taught me this.

our return to the cave as well. My dog taught me this. Habit can kill the

Habit can kill the spirit inside us all.

There was a brief period when I lived on the cusp, on the edge of many things. Thoroughly confused in my big, fluffy chair, one day I noticed that my one leg wasn’t twitching any more. And the lifeless one had somehow reattached itself to the rest of me. They were symmetrical, not bent and skewed or propped up. And when I looked at my faithful dog sitting next to the chair, his eyes searching mine as if to ask, “Are you

making any progress? Because I’m getting a little bored sitting here waiting,” I noticed his legs were quiet but ready, trim but relaxed. He was breathing patience but at some point, I imagined, he’d find some young thing who could give him the balance that he needed. Okay, Boy, I said after we looked right into the core of each other, right down to what Nietzsche called, “that granite stratum of spiritual fate.” Let’s go for a run. And when we returned several hours’ later, cold, tired and hungry, I put the books on a shelf. It was low and accessible. My dog went for food and water and then found a nice spot near the window to look out on the world. He seemed as if he was reading the passing clouds and the wind moving the birds like string- less kites. He seemed at peace, balanced. My dog looked happy. He was a great teacher.

balanced. My dog looked happy. He was a great teacher. Scott Tinley teaches Sport in Society

Scott Tinley teaches Sport in Society at San Diego State University and Cal State San Marcos. A Two Time World Ironman Champion, and a member of the Ironman Hall of Fame, Scott has finished over 400 races in more than 20 Countries.

 

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