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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The One Book

My wife, Suzanne, received an e-book reader for her most recent birthday. She naturally was pleased to have the new acquisition, graciously offered to let me load books on it, and use it at my convenience.

Ah, but that's the way she is.

She's downloaded a couple of business and marketing books and a few biographies from the Barnes and Noble site. She's able to tuck the reader in her carry-around bag, mark passages she likes, and have hundreds of books - all that information - in one little place.

I, on the other hand, like paper and binding and glue and thread. I am 'old school.' I like the heft of a good history text. It doesn't necessarily mean I'll carry it with me the entire semester but it will stay opened on my work desk until I've taken all the notes I need. It then fills up another bookshelf and makes people think I'm more of an intellectual than I truly am.

There is at least one book, however, I would love to have available everywhere I am but don't want to risk damaging my paperback copy.

If I were forced to buy (again!) only one book (either for downloading to an e-reader, or in paper form) it would have to be Daniels' Running Formula.

Dr. Jack Daniels has been described as "America's Greatest Running Coach." There are great athletes - including several Olympians - who have made a successful transition from athlete to coach. But the list comes few and far between. Not every gifted athlete makes a great coach. Sometimes the smart, physically-limited athlete knows how to tap into the head of their charges. That's what makes a great coach, in my humble opinion.

But where many coach-turned-authors seem to lack bonafides, Daniels brings both personal performance - two Olympic medals as part of the US team in the modern pentathlon (a combination of swimming, equestrian, pistol shooting, fencing and cross-country running), academic credentials - a Ph.D. in exercise physiology, and outcomes - team and individual national championships, and All-American distinctions in cross-country - to the table.

If a self-coached runner is willing to take the time and effort to carefully read through Formula - don't be scared by the mathematical calculations for VDOT at the front end - they can put together a reasonable training plan based on several past race performances, as well as their goal event/s. I like to use the VDOT chart to divide my own training group into smaller ability groups based on a 5K or 10K time. The VDOT chart not only helps to predict performances at other distances (once the other variables are equalized), but provides insight to proper pacing efforts for long runs, threshold runs, and interval workouts. I like to borrow from the pace charts for my "longer repeat" workout day of the week: I might assign an early-to-mid-season workout to a runner with a VDOT score of 38, (a 3:29 marathoner), of 6-to-8 400-meter repeats at "threshold" pace...which is 1:51 for a 400, or a 7:25 mile, with a minute recovery.

Daniels provides plans for runners who are focused on short track racing (800 to 1500 meters), as well as the 5k, 10k, half-marathon and full marathon. Naturally, the plans can be adapted to fit the schedule of the (often) time-constrained runner; don't have enough time to run all those 'easy' paced runs? Schedule the quality training efforts first, then fill in the remainder of the week with the easier efforts.

Regardless of whether you download a copy to an e-reader or you purchase a hard-copy for your library, Daniels' training and racing guidance is probably the next best thing to a coach's advice a runner can have at their fingertips.

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