Monday, June 30, 2008


Luckily, most mornings I’m able to get up and get my run in without much fanfare. Then there are mornings like this morning. As I backed my car out of the driveway at 4:40, all I could think was, "WTF am I doing? Amy and the girls will be sleeping for 2 more hours and I’m going out for a hard workout."

No, I didn’t pull back into the garage, but that would have been sweet. Instead I got in a great workout; 16 miles in 2:07, including a 2 mile warm-up, 2 x 1.5 miles at tempo with a 2 minute rest, 1 hour easy, 2.25 miles at tempo, 1.5 mile cool-down.

I made a conscious effort to start a little quicker so that my first mile wouldn’t be like 7:00 as it has been in other workouts lately. It ended up being around 6:35, which is better but could still stand to be a little faster. While running the easy hour portion of the workout I was really dreading dropping back down to tempo pace. I was thinking I’d be lucky if I manage 7:00 pace, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself running 6:31 pace.

I closed out last week with a 12 miler on Saturday giving me 59 miles for the week on 6 runs. This morning’s workout was actually supposed to be run Sunday, but sleep and family stuff got in the way and I ended up just running an easy 8 miles yesterday.

All this means that I closed out June with 265 miles on 27 days of running, including 3 double days. While that’s down a ways from my 301 in May, I’ve also added in a lot more workouts during the last 5 weeks.

I can’t end this post without addressing the women’s 10,000m. Around 8 PM on Friday I realized the race was on TV. I set my alarm and crashed for an hour. I was glad I woke up because it was a great race. Of course I hated seeing Katie McGregor finish 4th again, but Amy Begley ran an incredible race. She had to run sub-31:45 to make the team and she ended up running 31:43.6 and did so by running a huge negative split, like 16:11/15:32, including a 67-second last lap.

Be sure to check out the men's 5,000m tonight from 8 - 10 PM Central on USA.

Quote of the day;

“Amy really is the story of the night. She ran amazing. We have been together every step for the past year and she is the perfect example of hard work paying off.” – Kara Goucher, referring to Amy Begley

Friday, June 27, 2008


I actually have lots to cover today. Of course, I think it’s all interesting, so I hope you’ll stay with me here. First off, I want to talk about women.

I thought that’d get your attention.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, in general, men like to look at women – the cute ones, pretty ones, beautiful ones and, of course, the hot ones.

I have an on going debate with one of my high school friends. He claims that less than 10% of women – we’re talking like 18 – 40 years old – are attractive. I told him the percentage is higher than that. Part of the ‘problem’ behind my reasoning is that my running lifestyle is made up of beautiful, very fit women.

Sure I’ve known this for a long time, but it really occurred to me at the Grandma’s Marathon and half awards ceremony. I should have brought my high school buddy, so he’d know where I was coming from.

With all that said, I’m happy to report that it’s my 10th wedding anniversary today. While it’s always fun to look, I really couldn’t be any happier than being with my wife. She’s a perfect 10, for me. She’s the kindest, most caring, patient person I know – traits she gets from her mom, which hopefully she’ll pass on to our girls because I’m sorely lacking them.

And as they saying goes, I definitely “out kicked my coverage” in terms of the looks department. It makes me wonder why she’s stayed with me so long – 13 years total.

Normally I like to get all sweet and mushy, but since she’s probably not even reading, I’ll get back to the topic of running.

Speaking of hotties, the women’s 10,000m finals are tonight. The race starts at 9:20 Pacific, which means we’ll know who’s made the team by about midnight Central. Here are some previews from The Final Sprint, Letsrun and Down the Backstretch.

As everyone else is saying, Flanagan and Goucher should be one and two. I’m picking Goucher because I think Flanagan won’t be as concerned with winning because she’ll want to run well in the 5,000m too. Third place should be very interesting. I’m going with Katie McGregor because she’s the most experienced and she’s had her 4th place finish in 2004 eating at her for four years. Plus, she’s a Minnesotan and I’m a big homer.

Last night I was reading the latest Track & Field News and I came across some changes that I wasn’t aware of regarding who makes the Olympic Team. I figure there are other who aren’t aware of them either.

Remember 2004 when Carrie Tollefson won the 1500m at the trials, but didn’t have the A-standard? Well she was able to go to Europe and eventually earned her A-standard before the Games. This year they are not allowing for the chasing of standards. If you don’t have the A or B-standard by the end of your event, you won’t be going to the Olympics – even if you win the trials.

Also, there are 4 possible permutations regarding how many athletes go to the Olympics in an event, based on if they have the A or B-standard; A, A-A, A-A-A and B. That means we can send 1, 2 or 3 athletes with the A-standard or 1 athlete with the B standard.

And since maximizing team size takes priority, should a B-standard athlete win their event, they would be passed over for the Games by 2 or 3 A-standard athletes. That means someone like Katie McGregor could finish 4th and still make the team if one of the gals in front of her only has the B-standard. On the other hand, it means Carrie Tollefson will have to drop her season’s best 1500m time from around 4:15 to the A-standard of 4:07 in order to make her second team – finishing in the top 3 without the time standard means nothing.

I know it’s all confusing – the letsrun article linked above explains it pretty well – but it should make for some very interesting distance races. Look for the runners without the A-standard to push the pace early if they want any shot at representing the U.S. in Beijing.

Quote of the day;

“By necessity you take 10 days off your job to do the Trials properly. You give your whole life over to running, jumping and throwing. Both the watching and the discussion thereof… Your family and normal friends don’t understand, but who cares? This is your passion. Your reason for being laid out bare for all the world to see. Revel in it, my friends, for it only comes around once every four years.” – Garry Hill, editor of Track & Field News

Thursday, June 26, 2008


When I blogged yesterday the plan was to run an easy 5 last night, and then meet up with Scott for a more moderate paced run today and then a harder workout tomorrow. I emailed Scott and found out he’s out of town and I decided to switch things around a little. Rather than an easy 5, I just went to bed early so I could get up at 4:30 for a hard workout.

The workout called for the following;

12:00 warm-up
40:00 at marathon pace
5:00 at tempo pace
20:00 at M
5:00 at T
10:00 at M
12:00 cool-down

I’ve kind of been inter-mixing my workouts – some sections are based on time others are based on mileage, which makes the Garmin a little more helpful. So I took the above workout and ended up doing this (times are off the top of my head);

2 miles warm-up – 17:10
6 miles at M – 41:15
¾ miles at T – 4:50
3 miles at M – 20:55
¾ miles at T – 4:55
1 ½ miles at M – 10:30
1 mile cool-down – 8:15

Total workout 15 miles in 1:48 (7:12 pace)

Overall it was a pretty solid workout. One of the things I keep in mind when looking at this on paper before running it, is that after that initial 6 miles at M, the pace gets quicker. Normally after a hard section you back off the pace and recover. That’s not the case with this type of workout. Maybe that keeps me from pushing too hard too early. I’m not sure. In any case, the last 1 ½ miles at M is tough – especially starting at 5:00 and running solo.

This seems to indicate that I’m in about 3:05 shape right now – give or take 5 minutes. Where I go from here is the big question mark.

Quote of the day;

“I think I’m prepared for it. That’s the number-one thing. You have to be confident in your training and ability and feel like you’re ready for anything. I definitely think I’m ready.” – Katie McGregor

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Another day without much to say. Just an easy 5 miles this morning. I plan on running another 5 miler this evening. It’s always weird when you feel fine the day after a workout, but two days later your legs are tired.

All right, we’re only 2 days away from the start of the Olympic Track Trials. If you’re like me you’ll be following as closely as possible and trying to stay on top of all the action. Reading serious articles and results is great at all, but it’s important to have some fun along the way. To help with that, the guys at LTOB are taking on a new project titled; 3000 Miles to the Trials: Incomplete and Irrelevant Coverage of the 2008 Olympic Track Trials. It looks like it'll have articles, videos, photos and more. Check it out.

Quote of the day;

"I ran, I didn’t race. I didn’t get any action until the last couple of miles." - Jeremy Polson, describing the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in which the leaders were strung out

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Training seems to be kind of sporadic lately. Being on vacation for 3 days and going to Duluth for another 2 days didn’t help much. It seems like I’ve been moving workouts around, pushing them back or skipping them entirely. Yesterday I had a nice tempo ladder workout;

2 mile warm-up
3 miles at T
4:00 easy
2 miles at T
3:00 easy
1.5 miles at T
2:00 easy
5:00 at T
2 mile cool-down
I’m still not hitting the paces that Daniels suggests, but I feel like I’m listening to my body. Part of the problem is that my body is telling me that I need more time to get going. I should be running sub-6:30 pace for my tempos and the first mile of my initial pickup was like 7-flat. So there’s some work to do.

There are days when you want to wake up, but you can’t. And then there are days where you want to sleep in – typically, few and far between – but you can’t. After staying up till nearly 10 PM last night, I tried to sleep in today. However, since I was wide awake at 4:50 I just got up and went for a nice 10 mile trail run. I felt surprisingly good, given yesterday’s workout.

I’ll close today with a couple of links. Kristen Lehmkuhle has updated her journal. In it she describes her frustration with a stress fracture and trying to squeeze in a 10,000m qualifier before the trials.

And speaking of the 10,000m trials, the women’s final is this Friday night at like 9:40 Pacific. Katie McGregor, who finished 4th in this event in 2004, has a nice interview HERE.

Quote of the day;

“I eat whatever the guy who beat me in the last race ate.” – Alex Ratelle

Monday, June 23, 2008


Well it’s sad; another Grandma’s Marathon has come and gone. At least it looks like I dodged a (weather) bullet by not running. For the second year in a row (maybe more) conditions were perfect on Sunday. Unfortunately, the race is run on Saturday. Temps were in the low 60s at the start, the sun was beating down hard on a course with basically no shade until it’s too late, and there seemed to be a fairly steady cross wind.

It turns out I basically provided no coverage for DtB. First off, it’s hard to do much when the athletes don’t come into the Media Tent because they “forget” or they get carted off to drug testing. Plus, it’s a whole new experience for me. My “reporting” consists of taking as much time as necessary to come up with good questions. I’ll have to be a little quicker on my feet in the future. Anyway, it was still a great opportunity.

It might seem strange that someone with a site of interviews considers himself an introvert and doesn’t really enjoy being around people – or at least large groups of people. One of the goals I stole from my friend Eric is to meet at least one new person at each race. Seeing that Grandma’s is different than most marathons because people actually stay and party Saturday night, it was easy to meet a lot of new people. I’m always amazed at how many great people there are within this sport and how cool their stories are.

It’s not every day you get to meet an Olympian, as in the half marathon's namesake. I even met an Australian Olympian (hopefully I can work an interview out of that). Plus there was Aaron, Bobby, Charlie, Gregg and his wife (who probably thinks I’m crazy), Katie and her husband Jess, and even Jimmy from Montana, who only recognized me because I look like Brian Sell - or at least my feeble 'stache looks like his. Besides meeting new people, I got to hang out with some other cool people too, including Tony from my Saturday morning group. When we decided that the youngest person had to buy the next round of beer we found out we were born on the exact same day – and year. Someone not named Chad or Tony claimed to have already known this, but I’m not buying it.

A couple other comments; it was nice to see the half marathon increase their prize money structure this year. It brought out a lot of great runners. And I’m all for Masters runners winning some money too. It just seems odd when the 8th guy overall only gets $150, which was less than the third place Masters. I mean we’re talking about a professional runner. I hope he gets more money for his articles than that.

This weekend I learned not to stop in Hinkley on the way up. A quick stop for gas and a burger turned into a 30 minute or more stop. The gas station and burger joint are right off the Interstate, but there are about 4 of each, 2 stop lights and 100,000 cars. I'm sure you can do the math.

Quote of the day;

“Greed is a terrible thing; I wanted to get faster and faster.” – Alex Ratelle

Friday, June 20, 2008


Just two easy 5 mile runs today, including some strides during the second run.

Normally I don’t bother registering on a website in order to read an article. However, when the Duluth News Tribune published an article on one of Minnesota’s all-time great runners, I went ahead and registered. Chances are you never heard of Dr. Alex Ratelle if you live outside of Minnesota. That’s because he didn’t begin running seriously until he was 40 years old. But you can bet when someone runs 2:30:40 at the age of 56, people will take notice. Hopefully, you’ll check it out. If not, you can expect 3 great quotes from the article over the next week or so.

Anyway, it’s that time of year again, time for Grandma’s Marathon. Is it just me or does the weather in Duluth always look the same on Gma's weekend? 55 for the low, 75-80 for the high, clear skies, and a N/NW wind that never seems like a tailwind. Considering we’ve had about 2 days in the 80s this year, hopefully it won’t be too bad for the runners.

Although I’m not running, I’m heading up late tonight in order to watch and provide some coverage on Down the Backstretch. The course layout – basically a straight line – will make it difficult to spectate and report, but I’ll do my best.

Thanks to Jim for this article regarding the pressure on the Chinese athletes to perform well in Beijing. No thanks.

Oh yeah, after complaining yesterday about the difficulty in finding a good list regarding who's in the trials, the USATF began updating their site. Provisional names aren't listed as qualified or not yet, but it seems up to date regarding who has declared and who has scratched.

Quote of the day;

“During the first half of the marathon you’re afraid you’re going to die and during the second half you’re afraid you’re going to live.” – Alex Ratelle, talking about the effort to run 2:30 at age 56.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Yes, he’s back yet again. Evan moved about a year ago and he’s been back 4 times already. And it’s not like he just moved to Wisconsin. He’s back in New Zealand! Anyway, we met yesterday for a 10 mile trail run.

One thing about Daniels’ program is that he provides 2 key workouts per week and then lets you fill in the rest with easy days. One thing I like about Pfitz’s plan is his medium-long mid-week runs. Whenever possible, I want to incorporate those into Daniels’ plan. So today I was up early for a 15 mile trail run. It was a beautiful morning; 55-60 degrees, low dew points, clear, no wind – just me and the latest podcast from the Toni & Matt Show.

The trials are just over a week away, so you’ll probably read more about that here. Yesterday I read the Jen Rhines is going to focus on the 5K. That’s interesting because she made the Olympic Team in the 10K in 2000 and the marathon in 2004. Being able to drop down in distance at the age of like 34 would be very impressive. It’s nice to see her out of the 10K because it makes it somewhat easier for someone like Katie McGregor to make the team.

Yesterday I should have mentioned that Carrie Tollefson still has to wait and she if she’s invited to run the 1500 and/or 5000 at the trials. She’s on the tail end of provisional qualifiers, so she could be in or out based on the number of runners they allow in each event. I’m not sure when that final decision is made, but it’d be nice to see an updated list of athletes that’ll be at the trials. I’ve seen a USATF list that doesn’t weed out who’s not running in an event. And I’ve seen a Track & Field News list that was not accurate.

Scott Bush and the folks at Mile Split had this nice photo of Rob Finnerty after his 4:01 mile. That’s an interesting shirt that he’s wearing. And does anyone else wonder why they even bother giving athletes flowers after their victory? Every time I see it on TV the athlete just chucks them into the stands.

Quote of the day;

“It really gives me a sense of belonging. For a long time I felt like with the top guys in the country, I was just outmatched. But this changes things a little bit.” – Rob Finnerty, after running the 7th all-time fastest mile in the U.S.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Well my bike ride home on Friday was a lot better – other than a sore ass from the morning’s ride. I found a side street and was able to avoid the majority of the busy road. Plus the 20 mph tailwind helped push me along.

Saturday’s workout called for an easy 18 mile run. Seeing that nearly everyone in my Saturday morning group is tapering for Grandma’s or the half, I decided to get there early and run solo for 45 minutes before hooking up with the group for the last 12-13 miles. I closed out the week with 69 miles (plus 35 miles on the bike).

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were spent at a water park in The Dells. Sunday was a zero, Monday was an easy 5 and last night I ran 8 miles with 4 at 6:41 pace. I was planning on 6 at tempo pace, which is a little faster than 6:41s, but was struggling, so I shut it down. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I just sort of feel so-so lately. Maybe adding in workouts has thrown me out of whack.

If you're not familiar with The Dells, here are the lyrics to Dream Vacation by one of the best bands ever.

Been saving now for over a year
Let's pack the kids get outta here
We'll leave behind our troubles for a week

We'll borrow the pop-up from Phyllis and Steve
Just tell the boss I gotta leave
Be the best week of our lives as I can tell
We'll take our dream vacation in the Dells

We'll see the robot world and the water show
Go anywhere you wanna go
Circus world Museum in Baraboo

We'll play mini-golf at the Jellystone
And we'll finally see that house of foam
And if the kids wanna buy a t-shirt what the hell
It's our dream vacation in the Dells

And at night when the kids is all asleep
Then off to the lounge for a nightcap we can sneak
I know our lives they ain't the stuff of dreams
But for one full week we can live like kings and queens

So let's board the dogs lock the door
We'll roll down Interstate 94
Be the best week of our lives as I can tell
We'll take our dream vacation in the Dells

Gonna take our dream vacation in the Dells

Hopefully you’re visiting Down the Backstretch on a regular basis. If so, you already know that, Madison-bound Rob Finnerty (4:01:09) broke Garry Bjorklund’s 39-year-old record (4:05.1) for the mile/1600.

You should also know that Carrie Tollefson (finally) got her 1500m qualifier on Saturday. Oh yeah, the qualifying window closed on Sunday. Hopefully her racing legs will continue to improve right through the trials.

Finally, if you’ve been following the marketing of our sport discussions lately, you may be interested in seeing this post stating that the USOC is demanding that the USATF change its structure or risk sanctions. It’s exciting news, but the timing seems a little odd as the Olympic Trials are 2 weeks away and the USATF is currently without a CEO.

Quote of the day;

“The tone of the letter is a reflection of just how seriously we take this.” Darryl Seible, USOC spokesman

Friday, June 13, 2008


I made it – barely. I decided to park at Lake Nokomis and follow the Parkway to the lakes and onto the Greenway. That was all a piece of cake. Heading down Shady Oak Road was another story. Anyone who’s run the Ron Daws 25K knows this road. Well, picture that with road construction. It’s only about a 2 mile stretch, but it was dicey. I guess at some point you have to trust the motorist around you. Luckily at 7 AM there weren’t a lot of cars. 5 PM could be a different story.

The bike portion was like 17-18 miles. If I look at biking to work as just another mode of transportation of getting to work, it doesn’t make any sense because the whole process is very inefficient. I had to drive 15 minutes in order to bike 1:15. However, if I think of it as any easy day of exercise, it seems to make sense.

Fridays I’ve been trying to post links to what’s going on in the sport, but I don’t have much today. I have been visiting this site and watching the videos as they track the professionals training in Madison. Maybe it’s more interesting if you grew up in cheese land. Anyway, I find this type of blogumentary really interesting. Given the way our sport is set up, it seems like a great way for athletes to generate interest in what they’re doing and connect with fans better.

Finally, here’s a link to my latest interview.

Oh yeah, I’ll be in The Dells from Sunday to Tuesday, so who knows how much blogging (and running) I’ll be doing.

Quote of the day;

“The single most horrible thing that can happen to a runner is to be beaten in the stretch when he is still fresh. No matter who I was racing, I tried to force myself to the limit over the whole distance. It makes me sick to see a superior runner wait behind the field until 200 meters to go, and then sprint away. That is immoral. It’s both an insult to the other runners and a denigration of his own ability.” – Ron Clarke

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Two weeks in and I missed my first workout. I just couldn’t bring myself to run 10 miles last night with 6 at tempo. The thought of doing that workout at 8:15 and then getting up at 5:00 to run with Scott just didn’t sit well. So I ran an easy 5 last night and a moderate 10 this morning. I guess with 16 weeks to go, I shouldn’t be too concerned – but I don’t want to make that a habit either.

I have to be a little careful not to determine how my run is going to go before I get warmed up. Last night I felt kind of crappy at first and talked myself out of the workout. By the time the workout would have started, I felt okay. It’s situations like that that I think separate the good runners from the very good runners. The very good runners would say, “Screw it! There’s a workout planned. Let’s do it.” Instead I come up with a list of excuses that help justify bagging the workout.

I brought in my clothes for tomorrow in case I decide to ride my bike. Nathan, who commutes to work, provided some google maps. They contain a lot of turns on roads I’m not familiar with, so I may just try ‘my way’ first and see if it’s even worth it.

Right now I drive about 22 miles to work. By my calculations, I’d still have to drive 12-14 miles just to get to a convenient place to park and ride. Then the ride would be about 16 miles.

Adam mentioned using the Bloomington Ferry Bridge to get across the Minnesota River, but it’s an even long drive to get to that side of town and then the bike ride from there would be shorter. I guess the ideal situation would be to get near the Mall of American and then ride from there. I need to look at some more bike route maps.

Quote of the day;

“Ah, with the talent comes the temperament.” – Bill Bowerman on Steve Prefontaine

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Work always sucks this time of year as we re-forecast of budget. I had to come in early this morning which means I have to re-work my running schedule too. I planned on doing a track workout of Ks and 400s. My wife has Ladies’ Nite Out tonight and my treadmill only goes 10 mph, so I can’t do this workout tonight. So my plan is to do a longer tempo run on the treadmill and then move the intervals to next week.

Monday I ended up doing another easy 5 mile run in the morning. Tuesday I ran 11 miles on the trails, along with 6 strides.

With gas prices around $4.09, I have been considering biking to work once a week – at least to start. Mondays or Fridays make the most sense, because they’re my easy running days. I figure if I bike an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, that’d substitute for a recovery day. The problem is there’s no real easy way to get across the Minnesota River. I’m thinking of two options; 1) Drive to Lake Nokomis and then bike along Minnehaha Pkwy, around Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun and then hook up with the Greenway and head west. 2) Drive to Minnehaha Falls and then bike to the Greenway and then head west.

Anyone out there familiar with these options? Any suggestions? It looks to be about 16 miles for both options. Option 1 probably makes more sense as far as driving there, but option 2 would probably be an easier bike ride.

Finally, Eric sent me this NYT article on a Japanese guy who has made shoes for a bunch of Olympic marathon champions.

Quote of the day;

“Samurai cannot fight without their swords. It is the same for runners and their shoes.” – Hitoshi Mimura

Monday, June 09, 2008


Maybe the hardest part about following Daniels (or any other program) is trying to figure out how to manage a group run on Saturday and a hard workout on Sunday. Right now I can’t hang with the group at 7:00 pace and expect to have a solid workout the next day – especially when I feel like crap, as I did two days ago. So after running 6 miles with the group, I backed off the pace and shuffled the last 5 miles alone. I finished the week with 65 miles.

Yesterday the family was gone and track was on TV for two hours, so I jumped on the treadmill for a hard workout; warm-up, :15 at tempo, 1:00 easy, :15 at tempo, cool-down. I’m still trying to figure out how my body handles these new workouts. I made the mistake of trying to do the second tempo run as fast as the first. After 12 minutes I began my cool-down. Still a solid 15-mile workout.

I think I’m to the point where I either feel really good (hopefully that’s a workout day) or really crappy (hopefully a recovery day). This morning I was really tired and just slogged my way through 5 miles. I bet I was barely running under 9:00 pace. But I gotta listen to my body and get in my recovery runs.

Quote of the day;

“Lynn Jennings is one of my idols. I saw her and thought, ‘Is that Lynn Jennings cheering for me?’” – Kara Goucher

Friday, June 06, 2008


Just a quick note to say be sure and check out my latest interview, this one is with Luke Watson.

Also, a couple of weeks ago I was talking about the marketing of the sport and said that there was an article in there somewhere. Here it is;

Marketing Our Sport by Chad Austin

I admit I’m a running geek. A lot of my free time is spent surfing running websites, scouring the internet for race results, reading running magazines and books, and listening to running podcasts. This is how I get a lot of my ideas for articles that appear on these pages. During the last year and a half I’ve written about a variety of different topics, including special interest stories, the Olympic Trials Marathon, and silly ideas that pop into my head when I’m out training.

One topic that’s received a lot of attention lately is the state of our sport and how it’s being marketed, or more accurately, its lack of marketing. A relatively new website,, has a weekly podcast where they talk about the state of distance running and track and field and how it can be improved. At first I was upset with how critical they were all the time, but then it occurred to me, they’re right. I used to get excited when a track and field meet was shown on TV. Now I find myself skipping over such meets because they don’t hold my interest. If a big running geek such as myself won’t tune in, then how can they expect the casual observer to tune in?

If it took me five podcasts to finally agree that there’s a problem, I’m guessing there are other runners that are unaware of the shortcomings of our sport. In a recent Running Times article, Jim Gerweck wrote about the lack of buzz surrounding our sport. He ended his article by stating, “It’s a responsibility we all must bear, from runners and clubs to race directors, coaches and agents.” That quote immediately made me want to write this article in an effort to explain some of our sport’s shortcomings and offer some solutions.

When I think about the marketing of our sport and the enthusiasm of the fan-base, I’m left with a chicken and egg dilemma; is it lack of marketing the sport correctly that leads to the low enthusiasm or is it low enthusiasm that leads to poor marketing? It’s probably a combination. I mentioned how my interest in track and field meets has waned lately, but why? One reason is that track meets are very rarely shown live on TV. By the time the meet makes it to the TV, I’ve already seen the results on the internet. Ever try to watch an NFL game after knowing the results? It’s just not the same, as all the suspense has been removed. The same goes for a track meet. So, step one is making sure track and field meets are shown live. However, this is not enough. In May the Adidas Classic meet was shown live on TV and it left a lot to be desired in terms of the amount of action showcased and how it was showcased.

When was the last time you saw a change in the way track and field meets were covered on TV? Other sports have seen advances such as onboard cameras, better access to the sounds of the game, and in the case of bike racing, physiological data that provides information on how hard the bikers are working. Track and field could learn from these examples. How about using the same overhead camera that allowed us to watch Big Brown pull away from the field at the Preakness, or trackside cameras that follow athletes all the way around the track? Picture in picture would be a great way to show fans more action. This would allow for more coverage of distance events and field events, rather than watching 20 minutes of false starts by the sprinters. Personally, I like the simple idea of interviewing coaches during the events. This would give us better insight into the athletes and their performance than the commentators can provide from the booth.

Better coverage is certainly key, but our professional athletes – yes, that’s right, these athletes make their living in the sport we know and love – need to be marketed more effectively. Many of them are sponsored by companies selling shoes, nutritional supplements or electronic products. However, pick up any running magazine and you’ll see that these same companies often opt to have models promote their wares, rather than the athletes they’re paying to use their products. The sad thing is that these athletes are smart, attractive, articulate, and obviously fit people.

I’m sure it doesn’t help that the governing bodies of the sport regulate such things as the size of a sponsor’s logo that appears on an athlete’s uniform. Imagine NASCARs speeding by at 200 MPH with their sponsor’s names not exceeding two inches in height. Sponsorships would dry up and the sport would quickly follow. Companies need to have their name and logo visible if they hope to have any sort of return on their investment.

Speaking of USA Track and Field, in this day and age of over-information, it seems odd that their website doesn’t have a single video on it. Luckily for us, running is a sport that is covered much better at a grassroots level than it is by the mainstream media. There are a lot of websites (see sidebar) that provide videos, interviews, podcasts, links to articles, and photo galleries. All of these sites have been started by runners who just love the sport and took it upon themselves to give it more exposure – something you’d think our governing body would also be trying to do via their website.

One thing that has occurred to me lately is that maybe we need to change the mindset of our athletes, at least in terms of how much emphasis is placed on the Olympic Games. Every four years we hear our athletes talk about how focused they’re training has been on making the Olympic Team. We hear things like “lifetime goal” and “childhood dream”. But what athletes in a mainstream sport think like that? Heck, even after the first two Dream Teams, NBA players began declining opportunities to play in the Games because it became too big a hassle compared to their real job. Yet track and field athletes place the Olympic Games in the highest regard, even though only a very small fraction of athletes actually make the team. If you think about just those athletes running 1500 meters to the marathon, it’s, at most, 15 runners per gender. While making the Olympic Team is great for those 15 runners, what about all the other professional runners that didn’t make it? Because the Games only happen every four years, these athletes will go back to fighting over a few thousand dollars here and there at other events. It seems like, from a financial standpoint, more athletes would be much better off by placing more emphasis on remaining in the public’s eye year in and year out, rather than on an event that happens once every four years. Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially when there’s currently no system in place to help the athletes remain in the public’s eye. I think the athletes are either going to have to step up and ask for/demand changes to be made or they can wait for someone with deep pockets to come along and finance something like a track and field league or a road racing series. With the latter, they may be waiting a long time.

Track and field is a great sport in the U.S. The problem is that it’s only great once every four years, when the Olympic Games roll around. The other three years, most people don’t know the difference between Carl Lewis and Carol Lewis. Now is the time to strike. Recreational running is on the rise, competitive running in the U.S. has made tremendous progress in just the last 4-5 years, and it’s an Olympic year. Hopefully by making people aware of some of our sport’s shortcomings, it will get people talking and it may even lead to changes being made. I’m not expecting every runner out there to become a running geek like me. And I don’t expect running and track and field to contend with football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. However, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for improvements that will help to develop a stronger fan-base than say, bull riding, which can be found on TV more frequently than running.

Think about it, how many runners do you know? Now compare that to the number of bull riders that you know. Something seems out of whack.

SIDEBAR – Probably the most recognizable of the sites listed here. Sure their “world famous” message board can be sophomoric at times, but they do a great job covering the hot topics in the sport, as well as recapping many of the key events. – Features two weekly podcasts; Runnerville Weekly focuses on what’s happened in our sport during the last week, while the Toni and Matt Show discusses how we can market the sport better and often features ideas by today’s top runners. – Here you’ll find over 150 podcast interviews, as well as blogs for many professional runners. – Your source for links to anything and everything running related. Also includes numerous interviews and photo galleries. – The best source for video interviews, as well as race footage. – Simply the best site going for all things related to running and track and field in Minnesota.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Here’s the data from yesterday’s workout. It turns out I was off regarding what I ran my second and last mile in. As a result, I ran 39:36 for 6 miles which is exactly the 6:36 pace I had intended. This training stuff is easy.

Roughkat commented that it lately it seems like I’m worried about using technology. I wouldn’t say I’m “worried”. Maybe I’m just skeptical. That probably stems from using a HRM in the past and not seeing any significant improvement. Part of my problem I have with HRM training is that there are so many more variables than just HR. Even Daniels mentions them in his book. He states something like if you back off your workout due to HR, your muscles may not be getting the required workout that you’re aiming to achieve.

And I think VDOT is interesting. However, right now I’m basing my training paces on a VDOT score I achieved during my last 5K. In reality I could probably move up another VDOT ranking just because I ran a dumb race. I wish Roughkat were kidding about having VDOTs down to the tenth of a point, but I’m sure he’s serious. For me, I think I can “do the math” if VDOT 54 is an 18:40 5K and 55 is an 18:20 5K. I don’t need 10 more data points that vary by 2 seconds a piece. If I get that techie or anal – please shoot me.

I just ran a very easy 6 miles this morning. Maybe I’ll run another easy run tonight – maybe not.

Quote of the day;

“I was elated and relieved. I didn't feel too physically exhausted, which is the way it is when everything clicks that way. Breaking 15 minutes has a lot of meaning. It's like the 4-minute mile. Not too many people do it.” – Lauren Fleshman

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I’m happy to report that workout number two (or Q2, for the week, as Daniels would say) went better than I thought. It called for a warm-up, 40 minutes at tempo pace (adjusted per Daniels based on the length of the workout), plus a cool-down. Given that I was supposed to be running 6:36 pace based on my VDOT (yes, I’m getting all technical now), I planned on just running 6 miles at tempo which, if done correctly, would result in 39:36 of tempo running.

When I’ve done these longer workouts in the past, they’ve been on the treadmill. And to be honest, I’d have to run 2-3 of these to get down to that kind of pace for that long of a distance. Hence, my apprehension heading into this workout. To makes things more interested I basically ran 2 loops of the Minnesota Masters 15K (or whatever it’s being called now). The layout of this course meant miles 1 and 4 would have rather significant up hills, 2 and 5 would be down and 3 and 6 would be mostly flat.

I wore both my Garmin and my HRM for this workout (yes, I’m getting all techie). While I don’t have the exact info handy, here’s what I remember; 6:54, 6:40ish, 6:22 (oops), 6:33, 6:35, 6:36, which equals 39:40ish. It took about 2 miles to get my HR up to 175. I thought I’d need to be around 180 to run 6:36 pace, but I couldn’t even get that high.

Finally, after 3 miles I was able to relax more, rather than worry about my pace and my HR. By that time I figured I would be able to make it the entire 6 miles at the required effort – without my heart exploding.

Quote of the day;

“Why no ‘On top of the world’, why no ‘Finally, the goal after years of struggle’? The reason has to be that I always thought I was capable of more. So even 3:56 by then didn’t seem like that much to celebrate. God, I want to go back and operate that body with a fifty-year-old head! It was always my head that set me back.” – Dave Wilborn, upon reviewing his logbook years later and seeing only names and times after he ran 3:56.2 in a race where Jim Ryun set a WR of 3:51.1

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


In my mind, I’m a ripped 25-year-old professional runner doing everything possible to squeeze out every second of every race. In reality, I’m a frumpy 38-year-old who thinks about doing ancillary training more than actually doing any sort of ancillary training. Proof of the latter can be found HERE. I’m the first two photos on the page – in the red shirt.

Results are now posted too - you'll have to page down through the 5K and 10-mile results to get to the 30K. It looks like I finished as high as I would of with the strategy I used; 10th place was 2:05:35 and then me in 11th 2:11:19. I’m just glad they didn’t tear down the finish chute while waiting nearly 6 minutes for me.

It’s no surprise that a 30K has left me tired. I ran a very easy 5 miles on Sunday. Monday I was able to get in 11 miles, but split it into runs of 6 and 5. Although I did double in terms of skiing and running during the winter, this was my first running double in nearly 6 months. This morning I ran 11 miles on the trails with 7 strides.

Tomorrow will be workout #2, which I believe consists of a 40 minute tempo run. I’m trying to figure out where I want to run this; roads, trails or treadmill. The treadmill would probably make the most sense for monitoring pace and effort. But really – it’s June 4th and it’s been beautiful outside – I can’t see that being an option. I’m leaning towards the roads right now – at least for my first solo workout.

Quote of the day;

“I tried not to think about time at all. It’s not a good motivator. I don’t run well when I think about time.” - Lauren Fleshman after winning the 5000m in NYC last weekend

Monday, June 02, 2008


So it appears over 500 people didn’t mind paying $65 (early registration) to $95 (race day registration) for the new local half marathon. It looks like I missed another opportunity to win a race. I guess I’d rather see a woman be the overall winner in 1:26, rather than a guy. Here are the first 6 places;

Place No. Name Age Sex City State Time Pace
1 5012 Ariella Gottfried 21 F Minneapolis MN 1:26:17 6:36
2 5017 Brian Crotteau 41 M Minneapolis MN 1:26:55 6:39
3 5100 Rick Jackson 49 M Minneapolis MN 1:27:26 6:41
4 5195 Paul Horan 47 M Minneapolis MN 1:27:41 6:42
5 5497 Doug Wiesner 51 M Eden Prairie MN 1:28:05 6:44
6 5346 Jessica Pink 28 F Monticello MN 1:28:40 6:47

Still no results posted for the 30K I ran. Well there is a 2008 results link, but it takes you to the 2007 results. I thought the police/sheriff did a great job of directing traffic during this race. The one small thing I had a problem with is that they said there would be water every 2.5 miles. I planned on taking a gel at 7.5 miles, but when I came around a corner before even hitting the 7 mile mark, the water stop was right in front of me. Not a big deal, as they had plenty of water stops – they just weren’t exactly where they said they’d be.

I looked back in my logbook for the results of the last time I ran this race. In 2001 (when my marathon PR was still 3:17), I used this race as a training run for Gma’s and ran 2:11:52. Then I went on to run 3:02:56 and PR by over 14 minutes. That was the first time I followed any sort of training program and it was straight from Daniels’ Running Formula.

Basically, all signs – Boston, my recent 5K, and this 30K – point to me being in about 3:03 – 3:04 shape right now. That’s okay since I still have 18 weeks to go. It just helps explain why I wasn’t running 6:40s for MP on Saturday - not that I was expecting to run 6:40s.

Quote of the day;

“I wasn't looking for a WR but it came to me today and I'll take it.” Usain Bolt after his 9.72 world record in the 100 meter last weekend

Sunday, June 01, 2008


I mentioned in my last post that my first hard workout for TCM fits in nicely with a 30K. Actually it probably would have fit in better with a half marathon, but I wasn't going to pay $95 for the new half marathon in town. Instead I headed to White Bear Lake and paid only $34. That way I can tell my wife I saved $61 dollars.

The workout was supposed to be;
2 mile warmup
6 miles at MP
1 mile at tempo
5 miles at MP
1 mile tempo
1 mile MP
2 mile cooldown

It turned out being;
.4 mile warmup before the start
3 mile warmup
6 miles at MP
1 mile at tempo
8.6 miles at MP

The reasons for the slight alterations were, 1) I wanted a longer warmup, 2) 1 mile at tempo pace is a bitch after 6 miles at MP - actually the tempo mile isn't that bad, it's the moving back to MP without any rest that's a bitch. So the thought of throwing in another tempo mile after 5 more miles at MP (and still being nearly 4 miles from home) didn't sound appealing, and 3) with about 5 miles to go I was in 16th place and could see a bunch of runners in front of me, so I thought I'd just maintain MP and reel in as many as possible. I ended up catching 5 people and finishing 11th.

Besides getting in a solid effort, I wanted to learn a few things during this race that will help me with the rest of my workouts leading up to TCM. One of the reasons I bought the Garmin is that I'm hoping it will help to motivate me to run more/better workouts. I have no problem getting out the door and getting in my miles, however, I often find it hard to pick up the pace. It's like I'm the king of LSD base-building mileage. That's great, but I need to add some MP and tempo workouts into the mix. So for the 30K I wore my Garmin and even dusted off my HRM.

I tried to keep my HR at 175 during the MP section and 180 during the tempo. I think I did a pretty good job. When I saw 177-178 I tried to remind myself of what Daniels says about working the least to get the maximum benefits - basically it means if 175 is optimal for what I'm trying to accomplish, why run at any higher of a HR. Of course, that's assuming that you know 175 is optimal. This has always been my problem with HRM training.

Anyway, I now have a benchmark for the rest of my workouts.

Thanks to Ryan for directions on how to post my data;

During the race a couple of spectators cheered for me and then one said she loved my alibis article which was just published in the last week or two. That's kind of ironic because in the article I talk about "training through" races and using them as workouts and that's exactly what I was doing. Anyway, that was cool to hear.

I ended the week with 74 miles and the month ended up being my highest May ever with 302 miles on 30 days.

Quote of the day;

"A great alternative, if you can avoid the temptation of racing all out, is to enter a race or two of anywhere between half marathon and 20 miles, and commit to running the race at marathon pace." - Chris Lundstrom, in the July/August
issue of Running Times