So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Ask Coach - March 2008

When I took over the coaching position for ECRT, I originally wrote the club's newsletter. Since I'm a typical guy (literal translation: lucky to do one thing correctly at a time) multitasking - it was a choice between writing communications and writing workouts. So, I chose workouts and told the new club secretary he would write the newsletter. He decided to throw rhetorical/actual questions he thought of and heard from folks asking about our training, etc., at me each month. Here's a sample of the ones from this month...
Which books on running do you recommend? Sometimes I need a little motivation to come work out on these cold nights.
I have good news and bad news. We won’t have too many cold nights after this month… that’s the good news. The bad news is we’ll have 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity. But I digress. I’ll give three non-training-focused books I think every runner should read at least once, or once a year.

The first, ‘Once A Runner, is a classic, a book you search for your entire life, then read at least once a year (Stacie Rockhill has my copy, and I want it back!) during those dreary days when you cannot get out to run. John Parker wrote this novel loosely based on his time at the original Florida Track Club, back in the days when Olympians Jack Bacheler and Frank Shorter were there. I had the supreme pleasure to meet (and train with) the inspiration for a couple of characters in the book during while in college. I asked my wife to read it when we were first dating to help her understand the idiosyncrasies runners possess. However, if it comes to the choice between purchasing warm technical gear to wear on cold workouts and buying OAR, the price might be equal, as this book is out of print and hard to find. If you are fortunate enough to get Parker’s follow-up, ‘Again To Carthage,’ wait to read it until you read ‘Once A Runner.’

The second, ‘Running With The Buffaloes,’ chronicles a season with the University of Colorado cross-country team and their coach, Mark Wetmore. Chris Lear’s development of a team dynamic and the trials of collegiate athletics are only two of the major themes in this book. Reading Wetmore’s philosophy of coaching and the method by which he develops training plans will help you understand some of the challenges as you look at your own training.

While I want to recommend Lear’s follow-up book, ‘Sub-4:00: Alan Webb and the Quest for the Fastest Mile,’ I think Dean Karnazes’ ‘Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner’ is better motivational material. “Karno” runs the gamut from talking about his passion for Starbucks, to describing his first (failed) effort at running the Badwater 150-Mile Run, to balancing corporate life with family and running. Two visuals come to mind as I recall the book: First, the starter who climbs a boulder to read the soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Henry IV (the “band of brothers” speech), before firing a shotgun to start the Western States 100-Mile Run. Second (and there’s a photo on the back cover), the photo of Karnazes at the South Pole showing what it takes to run in Antarctica…makes me laugh out loud. The dietary list from his 250-plus-mile run that frames this book (It’s an appendix, but don’t read it until you get to the end, okay?) is enough to make you topple. Or input the number to the nearest Round Table Pizza on your cell phone. I disagree with Outside magazine’s description of Karnazes as ‘America’s Greatest Distance Runner,’ but he definitely has a rare and special quality.

I’ve read that a serious runner should get in interval miles, long miles, tempo miles and easy miles. At the track, aren’t we overemphasizing interval training at the expense of the other types of training?

I‘ll start with the rhetorical question, ‘what is serious? And what does that mean to me as a runner?’

What we do at the track should only be a small part of your training, with long miles, (more) tempo miles and easy miles on the days you aren’t there. For example, I run easy on Monday afternoon, do interval work on Tuesday and Thursday, and a long tempo run on Wednesday. Sunday is my day to do either a long, easy run or a long bike ride (I also swim and ride a stationary bicycle as cross-training and to train for multi-sport events.). Some of what I have been reading says (in contrast) older or less-experienced runners will benefit more from increased aerobic-pace training than from interval work; after a time the younger runner needs interval work to continue speed development. But, don’t get hung up on what you read and consider it as the norm. Remember what works for the local running stud (or stud-ette) or the elite runner might not fit your needs. If you need help in developing a training plan to meet your running goals and touches all of those elements, (and includes rest,) please speak to me at the track, at the Deli on Friday night, or any time you can dial my phone.

This isn’t a question, just a comment – I am so glad that we are running the trail for our warm-up instead of two miles on the track!

I’m as glad for it as you are. We all need a little bit of diversion, and the trail warm-up allows that. You’ll get to run out on the trail as warm-up for a longer period this summer: I draw the line after I receive a bite from those nasty yellow flies.

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