Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Wow, mention the word “Garmin” and suddenly I’m the most popular blogger around. I wonder what would happen if I started throwing words like “Heart Rate Monitor” around. Responses would probably crash the blogger server. Seriously, thanks for the feedback. I did end up ordering the 205. I’m sure it’ll help my running tremendously and that I’ll be setting PRs left and right pretty soon because of it.

I managed to run 10 miles each of the last two mornings. Yesterday morning we had perfect weather; 50 degrees and calm. Bottle it! I was joined by Nathan for about 6 miles on the trails. This morning I decided to give my wet/muddy shoes a break and just run on the roads. Plus I figure, based on my achy legs at Boston, I need to run on the pavement once in awhile.

I spent most of this run thinking about the state of our sport and how it’s marketed. I know I’ve ripped on Runnerville because it seems like they harp on this subject during each and every one of their podcasts. But you know what, they have a point. Recreational running is on the rise, competitive running in the U.S. has made tremendous progress in just the last 4-5 years, it’s an Olympic year, etc. Yet our professional runners still fight over a few grand here and there.

It seems like now is the time to strike and improve this aspect of our sport. However, I’m not really sure if people even care. I know the general public doesn’t care – well maybe a little once every four years when the Olympics roll around. But I’m talking about runners not caring. It seems like most people are happy with the participatory aspect of running – more specifically, their participation and how they can get better. The fact that there are professional runners – yes, these people make their living by running – doing the same activity that they know and love doesn’t concern them. A case in point would be 8 comments regarding Garmin and 0 regarding the Stanford meet, including Shalane Flanagan beating Deena Kastor’s 10,000m American Record by 15 seconds.

Any thoughts or comments on this? Do you follow what the professionals are doing? Do you check out sites like Letsrun, Runnerville, The Final Sprint, or Elite Running?

Anyway, there’s an article in there somewhere that I plan on writing soon.

Finally, check out this mostly accurate press release for the Medtronic TC 1 Mile that I helped write. And I just saw that Letsrun had this posted on their homepage. Note that Carrie Tollefson is planning on racing, so if you’re local, be sure to head to downtown Minneapolis tomorrow Night (May 8th) and watch the action live. If you do, you'll be able to see studs like those pictured above compete.

Quote of the day;

"We could not be more pleased with the level of competition for this year's mile. The fields include two Olympians, a three-time NCAA Champion, an age group world record holder and nine men who have broken the four-minute barrier. We have a couple of athletes in both fields who like to push the pace, so we expect a fast race on the 8th." - Brian Mastel


crossn81 said...

I was gonna comment on your Garmin post but won't add anything except that I reviewed my 205 and I really enjoy all the data. I consistently follow The Final Sprint and enjoy their elite athlete blogs and random podcasts.

I would agree that most runners could care less about what is going on the elite realm and the amount of money that they earn, etc.

I think personally it gets a little overwhelming trying to keep track of so many different athletes, meets, etc - which is a good thing about The Final Sprint and DtB that help synthesize the information for you. It can still be overwhelming though. I appreciate the stories about the meets - so keep them coming!

brent said...

frankly its a little hard to relate to a professional runner. i want them to do well, i really do, but i have no idea if their sponsorship by a major athletic shoe actually pays dividends. do kids buy shoes because of the gouchers? i do enjoy listening to the final sprint podcasts and it helps me to get to know some runners better (i have no background in competitive running). i follow some of the local studs mostly because i got to know them through your interviews at the other site. i read running w/buffs so i check in on those from the book that remain in the sport because i'm curious. first and foremost, i can't see how the financial equation would make any sense for a company to sponsor a pro runner, but i am looking at the sport from the outside in / casual fan.

Anonymous said...

I hear what you're saying about the lack of recognition for our elites. I love reading about their success, their training, and generally just being amazed at how fast they are, but I'm 35. I don't buy a pair of running shoes because Ryan Hall wears them and runs fast. I don't buy garmin because Deena tells me to. Other sports are driven by the spectators who watch the event, see the advertising, and purchase the stuff. I'm not saying it's right.

Out of all my running friends I know only 1 who could name more than 1 top runner at any distance. And yet they know a ton about running. It's just that none of them got into running because they saw someone run fast at a given distance.

Chad said...

cross, is it "could care less" or "couldn't care less"? I always get the mixed up. Thanks for the 205 review, I'll check it out.

brent said, "i can't see how the financial equation would make any sense for a company to sponsor a pro runner." Why does it makes sense for a company to sponsor any athlete?

How many pairs of running shoes do you go through in a year? At 500 miles a pair, I'd guess 2-6 for most runners.

Now, if you participated in other sports, how many pairs of those shoes would you go through in a year? About .25?

anonymous, I think part of the difference is that runners don't have lots of gear to hawk. There aren't any golf clubs, bike (pedal, saddle, helmet, etc), wet suit. Basically, just shoes, maybe a watch and some nutritional products.

crossn81 said...

To clarify - I don't think many people really care about the elite runners.

But this could be changing as it gets easier to follow them with all the blogs, flocast, etc.

Jeremy said...

I feel like there are two avenues through which the recreational/fitness runner/jogger might care about the pros:

1 - a sense of living vicariously through them. I think that's the hope many have when they look at the thousands-deep marathon and see a latent fanbase. these people know how tough one 5:00 mile is, let alone 26 of them. shouldn't these folks be thinking, "Wow, it's so cool what Ryan Hall is doing... I wish I could do that and I'll live vicariously through him..."? This is where I think Runnerville does most of its harping -- very few in those thousands-deep marathons know he exists. Will they care? Hard to say until some first effectively markets him and makes them aware.

2 - a sense of relatability, which may or may not be a word. I cannot relate to what Ken Griffey Jr does because I have never tried to hit a 95-mph fastball in front of 50,000 people. But EVERYONE who runs any sort of race experiences the same nerves, the same self-doubt, the same aches, the same pre-dawn Grind-It-Out-runs on 25-degree winter mornings. I would think that this common ground would make the sport of running appealing to runners because they "get it."

keith said...

I don't think running is 'marketed' like other sports because of it's kind of cult-appeal. Running isn't the thing young men do to win chicks in high school. You join the football team if that's your aim. Running is also (superficially) a very simple sport which in it's purest forms is relatively difficult to broadcast or 'watch,' and therefore more difficult to showcase the performance of one particularly gifted athlete as opposed to the overt displays of brute strength exhibited in football or basketball.

I don't know if recreational runners follow the pros because not every recreational runner seeks to emulate the performances of the pros. It's interesting to geek around and see how certain people train, but beyond that, it all comes down to the solo effort and how the individual relates to running. Your so called "participatory" involvement in it. It's kind of hard NOT to watch the news and see the major league "ball and puck" scores, but I honestly can't remember the last time I saw anything regarding a state or national meet win the same coverage. Does one need to follow the big leauges in order to still love an activity? I don't think so.

Maybe the marketing firms haven't made running "sexy" enough to capture the imagination of the masses. Thank goodness that isn't why I choose to run. Marketing to runners seems much more subversive. Getting a runner to want to buy something because it will help them 'not hurt' or to make the time pass by faster (i-plod) as opposed to 'buy this and be like MJ.'

I'm kind of glad running hasn't gotten so sullied by the influence of sponsors - of course, I probably don't know how much it is actually sullied at the professional level...

Chad said...

Jeremy and Keith, thanks for the input - good points.