Saturday, November 1, 2008

Remembering George Sheehan

Dr George Sheehan

Dr George Sheehan passed away on November 1, 1993 four days short of his 75th birthday.
Sheehan was a cardiologist, runner and running author who counted among his many accomplishments a successful cardiology practice, and founding Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft NJ. At the time of his passing Sheehan was easily Runnings best selling and most accessible author. He has not been replaced.
One of Doc Sheehan's best selling books
Dr Sheehan authored a number of best selling running books including "Dr Sheehan on Running", "Running and Being", "Running to Win" and "Going the Distance".

After he retired from his practice and became a best selling author, Dr. Sheehan continue to race and to travel across the country to speak at all the major races. He also wrote a weekly newspaper column, on running, a monthly column for Runners World and yet still found time to write personal letters back to the many runners that contacted him with questions on their own running and injuries. I received a note from Dr Sheehan the week he passed away from Prostate Cancer urging me to keep coaching because "so many kids are being turned off to a great sport-- running when they should just be getting started."

Here is one of Dr Sheehans essays about one of his favorite activities-- the race:

The Beauty of the Race

"The race is the beauty part. Practice is fun and laughs, even with those interval halves. And there are those days when you don't even know you are running, like when you drive to work and don't remember passing familiar places along the way. Practice can soothe you or exhaust you, but it's never the same as the race.

The time you put it all together is the race. For one thing, there's the anxiety, the apprehension At age 50 Dr Sheehan set a world age record in the mile of 4:47that must be minimized but not avoided. Or else you come to the starting line completely flat. But you can get too much of that peculiar empty feeling-the tightness in the stomach, the urge to yawn. The answer is enough adrenalin but not too much.

Next comes the warmup. An easy six minutes and the sweating starts. You search for indications. Will the day be good or bad? The warmup tells nothing.

On the starting line for that one silent moment. Then the start. Always faster than you remembered. The mind goes through the instructions. Relax. Push off with each stride. Run from the hips. Belly breathe.

At the half-mile mark, you settle for a pace that keeps breathing just bearable. Everything makes a difference. Every change in footing-grass, cinder, dirt, or stone. A grade that would escape a surveyor adds its toll. The environment occupies you completely. Wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity can either aid or hinder. Forget the watch; the course runs different every time.

A mile past and the first hill. Quite suddenly every step is an exquisite effort. The slope steepens and each foot takes its interminable time. The top comes and there is relief to burning chest and aching legs. Now they come in series. Toil up and fly down. Then out onto the flats for the three mile mark. There are the stop watches and your friends-an occasional face sharply seen. The hearing is keener than the eye. "They're dead up ahead. Get tough."

You're alone again, remembering now is the time to make your move. Relax, the race is in front of you. So you push off. Run with your thighs. Use that trailing leg. And now comes Cemetery Hill with its easy winding approach. And then 100 yards straight up. The legs are gone, the breathing impossible. Your face is at your knees. Your thoughts turn to survival. But finally there is the crest. But not before an additional rise not seen below. The incredible oxygen debt is finally paid off in a halting downhill stagger.

The flats once more. The finish in sight but you are beginning to come apart. Pain is now your companion. It warns you to a point that must not be passed. So you wait and endure until the moment for the final drive to the finish. Now! Now there is no tomorrow. The world and time have narrowed to this agony. Where the legs hurt, you hurt them more. But the chest can't be helped. The light is starting to go out. And then you're over the line.

Ten minutes later, you wonder why you didn't push harder going up Cemetery Hill."

To read more about Dr. Sheehan including more of his essays:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Phillies 2008 World Championship Parade

2008 World Series Champions Phillies Parade
October 31 Philadelphia Pa

Friday, October 10, 2008

Phillies Announcer Larry Andersen

Larry Andersen had a fine 17 year career pitching in the major leagues including 6 memorable years for the Phillies. He was one of the main contributors in the bullpen for the beloved 1993 National League Championship team that captured Phillies fans hearts while featuring the likes of John Kruk, Darren Daulton, Jim Eisenreich and Curt Schilling.
But Larry is best known for being one of the genuine nice guys in baseball and one of it’s funniest men . Larry was always a lover of practical jokes.
When his playing career was over Larry progressed through pitching coach and then announcer career paths-- but his sense of humor remained. During a minor league game someone fitting Larry’s description was seen remotely activating the sprinkler system when the visiting coaches and players met for a conference at the mound sending everyone scrambling for cover at a Reading Phillies game when Larry was pitching coach.

Larry is currently one of the Phillies most popular broadcasters. When Larry started his broadcasting career he would start each broadcast with his popular “Shallow Thoughts” philosophical reflections.
Some samples of Larry’s shallow thoughts include:
“If I’m one for one and I’m batting a thousand does that mean if I bat two for two that I’m batting two thousand?”
“Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?”
"Why do we sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" when we're already there?"
and of course the classic:
“You are only young once but you can be immature forever.”

Elsewhere in this blog we interviewed Shane Victorino, who pointed out how running and his speed discovered while running track in Hawaii eventually led to a major league baseball career. Larry’s career was a little different.
In the spirit of equal time we recently interviewed Larry, a militant self proclaimed non runner for his feelings on running:

When was the last time you ran?
Larry: 2 days ago actually. After eating chili I had to run to the bathroom.

Did running help your pitching?
Larry: No, but my pitching helped the outfielders running.

What is your favorite post run beverage routine?
Larry: An adult beverage of any kind.

What is the longest distance you have ever run?
Larry: 6 miles, I was being chased by the police.

What is your favorite running route?
Larry: Circles, it helps my sanity or lack thereof.

How long have you been a practicing non runner?
Larry: Since I learned how to walk.

Do you have any running superstitions:
Larry: Yes, don’t do it!

Are there any things that would ever cause you to run?
Larry: Yes, see my answer about long runs.

At what distance are you faster than Shane Victorino?
Larry: Beer can from hand to mouth.

Which of your 93 Phillies teammates could you have beaten in a race?
Larry: Only John Kruk when he was out sick with cancer (from which he later fully recovered).

Is it wrong to wear an Ipod when you run?
Larry: For me it is, I hate music.

And finally, what is your favorite meal while in training?
Larry: Surf and turf! It’s a Big Mac and Filet of Fish Sandwich together.
Courtesy of Runners Gazette Magazine Written by Jack Heath

Interview with Phillies Shane Victorino


Shane Shines on the Field and on the Track

A Conversation with Shane Victorino from Runners Gazette Magazine


On Sunday, September 30 2007, the Phillies clinched the National League East Championship and their first trip to the National League Playoffs since 1993. Many of the Phillies players said that one of the keys to the Phillies season was a bunt by Shane Victorino a few days before against Atlanta Braves ace John Smoltz that had propelled the Phillies to a 4-0 lead. Victorino’s 20-foot bunt was the key hit and the catalyst in a must-win victory over the Braves as the Phillies closed on the faltering Mets. Victorino celebrated the Phillies improbable comeback--down 7 games to the Mets with 17 games to play in September by squirting the fans with a fire hose. They didn’t seem to mind. The story of how Victorino went from a small school in a small town in Hawaii to one of the most popular members of a championship Phillies team is a story every bit as inspiring and unexpected as the Phillies magical march to the Playoffs this season.

Many of us have had a coach or parent or friend tell us that running would lead to greater things. For Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino this is literally true. Running led Shane Victorino to the Big Leagues. This year five ft. 9 in, 180-pound Victorino led the Phillies with 10 assists and 34 stolen as well as leading the Phillies to one of their most exciting seasons in at least 14 years--since the exciting 1993 team. The 26-year-old Victorino grew up in a tight-knit family in an unusual place for a baseball player?Wailuku Hawaii. In fact, Shane is only the second Hawaiian born in Maui (Tony Rego, 1924 St Louis Browns) to make the major leagues. The first Hawaiian player to make the Majors was “Honolulu Johnnie” Williams, a pitcher who had a “cup of Kona” with the Detroit Tigers in 1914, appearing in only four games.

Shane’s mother, Joycelyn, explains: “Shane running track was directly responsible for him getting drafted. He won the 100, 200, and 400 in the Hawaiian State Track Championships. It was the first time he had run the 400 and he was only entered because a teammate couldn’t run that day. I remember looking at the starting line of the 400 and thinking, my little Shane, what is he in for here? He was smaller than everyone else in the field and has never run this distance before. Coming around the final turn he was the first one and he had a big lead.” Victorino flashed through that 400 in 50.35.

Growing Up
Victorino lettered in four sports at St. Anthony’s: baseball, football, soccer, and track and his mother remembers him changing from his baseball to track uniform and spikes when he had both on the same day. Victorino was offered a full ride to the University of Hawaii for football as a kicker, punt returner, and defensive back, and he also caught the eyes of the Dodgers who selected him in the sixth round of the draft that June based largely on his speed. It was around this time that Shane picked up his first nickname “the Flyin’ Hawaiian” for his speed.

Shane, who led the major leagues in assists (throwing out a runner from the outfield) for much of the season, joked with writer Jayson Stark that he developed his strong arm throwing coconuts in Maui. Shane did not throw the javelin in high school but one can’t help think that with his strong arm he would have won that event as well.

Ironically, Shane’s father, Michael, didn’t play baseball, but basketball, growing up: “I was pretty busy on the farm in Wailuku but being tall for an Hawaiian (a shade over six ft.) I did play basketball for the University of Hawaii in Maui and I was the center.
“At one tournament I bumped into Robert Parish the seven-foot Celtic great who was playing for Centenary College of Louisiana. He asked me who our center was and when I said ‘me’ I could see the shocked look on his face!” Michael Victorino is now a councilman in Wailuku.

Joycelyn recalls the closeness of Shane and his brother, Michael Jr., growing up: “They are four-and-a-half years apart but are as close as twins. When one is going through something the other one feels it too. They are very close.”

Because of his speed and his propensity to sometimes bowl over opposing players Victorino progressed through the Dodgers and Padres systems earning another nickname-- “the Maui Masher.” His dad recalls Shane running over a first baseman on a close play at first. The first baseman looked around first for Shane who was already standing on third.

From the Dodgers, Shane made his way to the Phillies first as a “Rule 5” draftee and finally as a starting right fielder. This year Shane had a “bobble hip” doll giveaway in his honor. (The hula doll features Victorino in a traditional hula costume with bare feet, a grass skirt, holding a ukulele, and flashing the “shaka” or hang-loose sign—Shane said that he liked the doll and it was a fairly good facsimile.) Fittingly, Victorino sent the crowd of 44,000 people home deliriously happy with a walk-off home run on his day to win the game. Shane also managed to give the “shaka” sign to his teammates before crossing home plate for the winning run.

The high-energy Victorino, who always steps up to bat at Citizens Bank Park to the rousing tune of Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldiers” took time out to talk to Runner’s Gazette before a recent home game at Citizens Bank Park.
Shane at bat
JH: Shane, Can you tell us a little about your family and where you grew up and went to school?
SV: I grew up in Wailuku, on the island of Maui Hawaii. It’s a small plantation town in Wailuku. I went to school in Wailuku Elementary school then to St Anthony’s High School, a small Catholic high school.

JH: What sports did you and your brother Michael play growing up?
SV: My brother Michael and I were both involved with many sports: Football, baseball, and soccer.

JH: When did you realize you might become a major league player? Was it a goal of yours as a kid?
SV: I always wanted to play a professional sport. But growing up it didn’t really matter which one.

JH: How (and when) did you first get involved with track? What events did you do?
SV: I ran a little Kiwanis in middle school, but I really didn’t get involved in track until high school at St Anthony’s. St Anthony’s is a small Catholic school—there were only 64 graduates in my class. VICTORINO RUNNING FOR ST. ANTHONY AT THE YAMAMOTO TRACK AND FIELD FACILITY IN WAILUKU, HI MAUI NEWS PHOTO
JH: What have your parents taught you about sports?
SV: They taught me to set goals, work hard, and never give up!

JH: You set the Hawaiian state 100-meter record in 1999. An editor at Track and Field News said you were one of the top high school track men in the country--which other events and times did you run?
SV: My fastest times were a 10.5 in the 100 and a 21.3 in the 200 meters. I did both relays (the 100 and 400) and also long jumped.

JH: How instrumental was running track in starting your professional baseball career?
SV: Running track kept me in shape and I would definitely say it also helped my speed.

JH: What’s the longest distance you’ve ever run?
SV: The 400 meters is the furthest I ever ran in an actual event.

JH: How much do you run (miles a day) pre-season and during the season?
SV: I do much more running in the off-season than during the season. There is a lot more time to run after the season.

JH: Do you run on the roads or at the ballpark during the season?
SV: I run on a treadmill a lot and on occasion I run on the streets.

JH: Do you think you may be interested in running some 5K or 10K races some day?
SV: Never—those races are too far for me!

JH: What are some of your goals for this season?
SV: My main goal is just to be a better player at the end of the season than I was at the start.
(Note Shane has had a common runner’s injury?a calf strain for much of the last third of this season.)

JH: If you had to pick 3 of your teammates (besides yourself) to round out a 4 x 100 meter Shane's Bobble Hip DollPhillies relay team who would they be?
SV: I would say Jimmy Rollins, Michael Bourn, and Ryan Howard !! (Note: big first baseman Ryan Howard, not known for his speed, had stolen his first major-league base right before the interview and Shane had presented him with the actual base afterwards as a souvenir).

JH: Can you tell us about your favorite Hawaiian food?
SV: Lau Lau. It’s pork, beef, and chicken wrapped together in taro leaves which is then placed in the center of ti leaves, steamed and then baked. It’s good.

JH: What do you miss the most from Hawaii while playing in Philly? Shane's second Bobble figurine-- The Flyin' Hawaiian
SV: I’d have to say I miss the food from Hawaii the most.

JH: Many baseball players and runners are superstitious before their games/races. Do you have any superstitions?
SV: No, I am not superstitious. I have zero superstitions.

JH: How does your dad like being a councilman in Wailuku so far?
SV: He is very happy. He likes doing things to help people and to better our country.

JH: As a track coach I hate to see players dive for first in a foot race to the bag. It seems to me be a lot faster to run through the bag (or runners would be diving at the finish of the 100 meters) Do you agree?
SV: I agree. I dive only to avoid a tag on a bad throw!

Shane, Here’s hoping you, your family, and the Phillies have only “Pomaika`I” (good luck) and “Olakino Maika'I” (good health)!

This article formerly appeared in Runners Gazette Magazine- A very special thanks to John Brazer of the Phillies, Brad Sherman the Sports Editor of the Maui News, the Maui News, and the Victorino family for their kind assistance.
Here is a link to Shane's blog

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Harry Berkowitz July 06, 1940 - September 30, 2008

Note: Harry Berkowitz , 68, passed away September 30 after tragically being hit by a car the week before while walking across a street in his hometown of Piscataway, New Jersey. One of Harry's best friends Tom Osler reflected: "Harry was like a brother to me. We were brothers through running. We both had an unspoken love of running and racing that somehow transcended all other Harry Berkowitz, center in red cap, runs a race in Gloucester, NJdifferences. Harry and I met in 1955 running track in Camden New Jersey. We often strongly disagreed about many things, but in the end, we both loved each other like brothers."

Harry Berkowitz, had been a fixture at south jersey races for over 50 years.
He was also a close friend of Browning Ross since his days running for Browning at Woodrow Wilson (Camden, NJ) in the 50's.
Videos of Harry running in the early 60's with Browning Ross can be found at
Vera Stek wrote an article about Harry this summer. Ironically, Harry never had an incident with a car while running for 54 years. In the article Harry looks back on his running career, and his retirement from running with typical humor. Harry will be deeply missed by the running community in South Jersey and by all those who knew this gentle, witty man.

by Vera C. Stek, Courier News

Sometimes, a runner comes to the end of the road and knows that it's time to quit.

That's what has happened with Harry Berkowitz, 68, of East Brunswick, a lifelong avid runner who announced to his wide circle of running pals several weeks ago via e-mail that he was quitting.
"Both Justine Henin (tennis) and Annika Sorenstam (golf) have announced their retirements this week. Since it is often felt that big events occur in sets of three, I am joining them. I will no longer run in races," Berkowitz told his friends.
"I stopped being competitive in the early 1990s, when my hamstrings kept going pop-pop. I have reached the point where, when standing at a race start, my right foot feels so out of balance, that I might topple over. Last week my right hip was very painful. This past week my back has been aching. I think that I am better off avoiding races."
The decision didn't come easily. Berkowitz, born and raised in Camden, had started running in high school in 1956 and was Camden County and City half-mile champion in 1958. He competed as a teenager on the mile relay team in the Penn Relays.
"I was hoping to become a national class runner. I was never more than mediocre," he said.
To combat his lack of speed, Berkowitz turned instead to distance.
"I completed 178 marathons between 1965 and 2000. I finished at least one marathon a year. My fastest was 2:53:56 in Atlantic City, 1972.
"I also ran 168 ultramarathons. I finished a 50-miler in the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s. That streak is finished. I ran all the Philadelphia to Atlantic City races from 1980 through 1990 and was the only person to accomplish that.
"I believe I have run over 2,000 races, although I haven't kept a log of all the races that I've run. During the 1980s and '90s, I was running between 60 and 85 races a year."
Berkowitz lived in Camden until he went to graduate school at Rutgers in New Brunswick in 1963. He graduated from Drexel Institute of Technology, which had no track or cross country teams.
"So I competed as an AAU athlete, running in Road Runners Club (of America) races, which were organized by my high school coach Browning Ross. Browning had competed in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics. I once asked him if he considered running in the Olympics or coaching me to be his greatest accomplishment. We argued about this several times over the years. Often, when he saw me in races, he would ask if I needed any coaching," Berkowitz said.
During his 10 years of college and graduate school, culminating in a doctorate in 1968, Berkowitz ran about 45 races a year.
"I ran my first marathon in Boston in 1965, finishing in 3:04:28, wearing $2.99 tennis shoes. Tiger shoes became available from Blue Ribbon Sports, now Nike, in 1966. I wore them for all racing and training."
While he was a post doctoral fellow at the University of Georgia in 1968-69, Berkowitz ran his best ever 50-miler in Poughkeepsie, N.Y, in 6:37:33, plus marathons in Boston, Atlanta and Grandfather Mountain, N.C.
He taught mathematics and computer science at several colleges before working for AT&T and IBM and retiring in 2002.
Devoted to his roots in South Jersey, Berkowitz is an active member of the Pinelands Striders running club and an ardent volunteer at the club's racing events, which he plans to continue.
"I joined the Striders in 1997 when I was helping Dawn Kempton, a member, train for marathons. In 1996 she ran Philadelphia in 3:35:00 and qualified for Boston, which she ran the following year. That was my most successful coaching experience."
Throughout his long career, Berkowitz met and befriended all the names in running from Ted Corbitt to Ross and Tom Osler. In 1964, at a meet in New Brunswick, he first saw high school runners Jim Ryun and Gerry Lindgren run.
He has a large circle of running friends with histories nearly as long has his with whom he frequently reminisces about the old days of running via e-mail.
"You are going out on top. You have epitomized good sportsmanship and have blazed a few trails on the way. You have proven that runners can be true gentlemen," one of his friends replied to the retirement announcement.
Berkowitz may be quitting racing, but he plans to continue running.
"I plan to continue training, which amounts to a moderate walk."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Visualization for Runners- an Interview with Dr. Gisela Chrisman

Many of the world's best runners use guided imagery-- relaxation and visualization to picture in their minds what they want to accomplish before their competition.

Guided imagery is said by sports psychologists to be effective because the mind can't tell the difference between reality and visualized images.
That is, the mind cannot tell the difference between something that actually happened to you and something you vividly imagined. In fact, numerous studies have shown comparable results for visualizing an activity (such as successfully shooting foul shots) and actually practicing it.

After working with Dr. Chrisman one fall a few years ago, the Gloucester Catholic cross country team reported PR's across the board in the remaining two meets of the season.
We recently talked to Dr. Gisela Chrisman a Hypnotherapist from New Jersey about visualization and why the process works.

Dr Chrisman do you recommend visualization for runners?
"I think visualization is great, however you are only using one part of your senses and you could use 5. So, I strongly believe in imagery in which you use all your senses to accomplish a goal. In another words, start with Gloucester Catholic Cross Country team practicing visualization with Dr. Chrismanguided imagery and then auto - or self hypnosis.
Any time you are imagining things, the unconscious mind does not understand that that is not real and initiates a response from the body.
Happy images can initiate a relaxation response, instead of a flight or fight response, which is a stress response and speeds everything up. Dr. Gisela ChrismanHence, in this case, it sends a message to the parasympathetic nervous system to release endorphins and a thought of decrease in heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. The result is physiologically a decrease of oxygen consumption, so the runner is less short of breath and needs less oxygen, so can run longer and faster.
Words like: drift, float and glide are extremely helpful and always remember imagining a goal is very important. So a daily affirmation like: "I can do this, this is easy, I have done that before, I will succeed, I will be at my best, this day I will show my inner strength, my wisdom, the believe in myself "ect, ect, ect-----are very important."
For more information on Dr. Gisela Chrisman DCH. RN of Hypno Therapy for You:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dick Patrick the USA's Track Writer

Update: Sadly, Dick Patrick, one of the foremost track writers in the country, and a number of other writers were let go by USAToday in December 2009 in a cost cutting move.

In the 1980's, before the internet and blogs, there was no place like Dick Patrick has covered Track and Field for the USA Today for 22 years
The USA Today for those interested in the latest track and running news. The national paper's coverage of the sport was top notch from the start-- featuring the top ten finisher listings for each state for the Boston and New York marathons and the knowledgeable, crisp writing of Dick Patrick. Twenty two years later the state by state listings are a quaint thing of the past, but luckily for track fans Dick Patrick is still a staple at the paper.

We caught up with Dick after he returned from covering his fifth summer (also 2 winter) Olympics in Beijing for his thoughts on the most recent performance of the USA Track and Field team and the sport in general.
Question: What are your favorite memories covering track and running?
Patrick: There are too many to count or even remember, but I'll give you a couple.
--A recent one: Being in NYC May 31 to see Usain Bolt's first 100 world record. It wasn't so much that it was unexpected, but I was awed by how good he was and how good he could become.
--Seeing Rich Kenah win a bronze medal in the 800 at the 1997 world championships in Athens. I'd known him since his freshman year at Georgetown and saw all his ups and downs while trying to build a post-collegiate career. It was nice to see such a good person and dedicated runner get rewarded.
--London Marathon, 2002. Khalid Khannouchi, Paul Tergat and Haile Gerbrselassie going at it the last six miles or so, the greatest marathoner, cross country runner and track runner of their times. Khalid won in a world record. What made it better was that I helped him connect with the Whartons, who worked their magic on some hamstring and other leg problems he was having.
--Hooking up with Bill Rodgers during a run in Central Park and having a brief conversation before he dropped me. Along with that all the nice visits over the years with runners such as Joan Samuelson, Ingrid Kristiansen, Grete Waitz, Kim Jones, Khalid, Billy, Frank Shorter, Steve Holman, Kenah, Pat Porter, Juma Ikangaa, Steve Jones, Arturo Barrios, Alan Webb. I know I'm leaving a lot of people out -- how could I forget Deena Kastor, Meb Keflezighi, Eamonn Coghlan, John Treacy and Bob Kennedy -- but you get the idea.
--A trip to Kenya in 1998. Spent several days in the Rift Valley and came home with a sense of how the land and lifestyle shape the runners and how much talent exists there.

Question: Do you think we are in a distance running resurgence in the USA?

Patrick: I see positive signs. In recent years sometimes we had trouble finding three guys with the A standard in the 1,500. This year we left some good people home, including Webb. Bernard Lagat has had an incredible career and raised the bar for U.S. runners. I think Ryan Hall can so some great things in the marathon. It's important for the young kids to see veterans having success so there's optimism and enthusiasm among the emerging elites.
Question: In general do you think there is less coverage from the US media for track and running than there was?

Patrick: Unfortunately that's true at least in the mainstream media. What will be interesting to observe is how niche websites such as will affect the sport. Still you need TV and newspaper coverage. We have to find a way to turn all the kids participating in track and cross country (over 1 million and 411,00 respectively this year) into fans of the sport.

Question: Was that diminshing coverage a factor or a by product for a period of less competitive US runners?

Patrick: Partly. I think the biggest reason goes back decades when track didn't adapt to the changes in sports marketing and television and got left behind by pro football and other major sports. It always helps coverage to have a superstar. It was easy to talk editors into coverage when Bill Rodgers was winning Boston and New York. The best thing to happen to the sport now would be to have a homegrown middle-distance star. An Alan Webb or someone who could beat the Africans and Europeans regularly and win medals would energize coverage.

Question: Do you think there would be enough interest in a major summer meet in the US before or after the European circuit?

Patrick: That's being talked about now. We have Prefontaine, before the Euro circuit gets going. Eugene did a wonderful job at the Trials and may lobby to make the Pre meet part of the Golden League.
I've seen European meet promoters gush at the site of the Penn Relays. However, I think that if you tried to stage a major meet in Philly the crowd would be lousy. The Penn Relays are as much a cultural event, heavy on the Jamaican influence, as a track meet.
(The famed Penn Relays gets 100,000 spectators in Franklin Field in April and was mentioned as a possible location.)

Question: Can you tell us about your, family and interests, hobbies etc.?

Patrick: I've been a track fan for as long as I can remember. My mother's side of the family was into the sport. I had a cousin who was the captain of the track team at Notre Dame and then was a high school coach in NJ for close to 40 years -- he coached 1968 400 medalist Ron Freeman and Ed Grant (legendary NJ track correspondent) loves him. We used to spend summer vacations at this beach house when I was a kid. I was captivated by the old issues of Track & Field News and all the track equipment around the house.
I ran in high school but with no distinction. Then I started running again in the mid-70s, shortly before I started journalism in 1975. It's been my fortune that at every paper where I've worked nobody else was interested in track or road running. I was only too happy to fill the void. I have gone around the world covering a sport that I love. My only disappointments are my own running -- on hold for a few years now because of a left leg that goes numb 5 minutes into a run -- and the fact that the newspaper industry is going through tough times.
Question: Finally how you became interested in track?

Patrick: I was born in Baltimore in 1950, moved to Upstate NY at 10 and to Louisville, Ky., at 13. I was a track junkie by 10. My uncle the priest took me to my first Millrose Games in the '60s. In 1987 he accompanied me to the World Championships in Rome and said mass with the pope.

Question: By being in Beijing you missed the television (NBC) coverage of track-- plenty of beach volley ball but track was hard to find and almost seemed to be an after-thought and not the centerpiece this year. As a coach we counted on the "bounce" of track coverage every four years to get kids out-- we may not get it this year, thoughts?

Patrick: Your complaints about the NBC coverage echo those of my friends and family. I have an uncle, an 89 year old priest who long ago made me a track fan, and he was fed up when I called him a couple of times from the Bird's Nest. He was tired of beach volleyball and frustrated the track coverage was on so late.

I have seen a couple of items about swimming getting a bounce from Phelps. I think track might have to hope that Alan Webb hits it big some day-- maybe Alan Webbthat would encourage/motivate kids in the middle distances. By the way, Webb's high school is about 10 miles from our office and I've been watching him race and train for several years now. His high school workouts were incredible-- he already had a professional approach and discipline.

A quick story: On his graduation day , which came when he was still wiped out following his 3:53 mile, he cut his workout short-- a good decision by him and his coach, reading his body. As he was finishing his warmdown, he remembered it was a day he was supposed to do his hurdle drills. The hurdles weren't on the track so he had to drag them out of the shed, set them up and go through the Alan Webbroutine. After he put the hurdles back in the shed, he also realized he should ice his legs. We finished the interview in the training room with him waist deep in a trash can of water and ice. Then he went off to graduation a couple of hours later. Not many kids would have had that kind of discipline and attention to detail. (Those qualities are why I haven't give up on him yet.)

Question: This was hailed before the games as the greatest US Track and Field Team since 1968 but the overall performances seemed to be disappointing-- thoughts?

Patrick: As far as disappointments, I don't think there is any unform explanation. Ther more I see at this level-- this was my fifth summer Games-- the more I realize that chance and bad luck can override careful planning. Several US athletes who went to the training camp in Dalian wound up getting Shalene Flanagan, Bronze medalist 10,000 meterssick. Flanagan (bronze medal winner in 10k) wasn't even sure she'd be able to enter the 10k because of gastro-intestinal problems. I think her performance , a U.S. record in those conditions, has been overlooked. I think she was wiped out for the 5k later. If she's 100%, I think she would have been more in the mix for that race.

Dick shared some other observations on the Olympics:
--Allyson Felix wasn't the athlete she's been the last couple of years. I wonder if excess travel might have hurt her. After the trials, she made two round-trips to Europe before going to Beijing. She ran a couple of races on the circuit and returned for a friend's wedding. Then she went back and had a couple sub-par races. She probably should have bagged the second trip.
--Not sure what happened to Sanya Richards. She says her right ham cramped with about 80 to go. Michael Johnson discounts that and says she ran too tight and too hard the first 200 and then paid the price coming home.
--Tyson Gay had bad luck. He just didn't have enough time after the Trials to heal the hamstring. Not that it would have made a difference in the winner -- Bolt is just too good. (I hope he's clean.). Walter Dix had a good meet. He had a hamstring injury in April and was fourth in the NCAA 100. Then he manages two bronzes. I think that Trials/Olympics double is tough for our sprinters. Bolt didn't have eight Trials rounds in his legs before China.
--Another ill-timed injury was Adam Nelson pulling an intercostal muscle a few days before the shot. You make a point that might apply to those guys. The competition to make the U.S. team is so tough that it's tough to peak again a few weeks later for the Olympics. None of the three U.S. guys performed well.
--Jeremy Wariner's race was a disappointment. I still think he made a mistake in leaving Clyde Hart.
--Bernard Lagat seemed another ill-timed injury victim, though this year he has never seemed as strong as he was last year when he did the 1,500-5,000 double at worlds. After the U.S. trials, he followed his usual plan and went to Germany, his headquarters during the Euro season. But he had left Achilles problems that hampered his training. On top of that he came down with a sore throat/respiratory problems in Beijing.
Last year I felt he had an answer for any type of strategy -- hard from the gun or sit and kick. This year I never sensed he had the strength or speed of last year.
--Lolo Jones. What a heartbreak. Not sure what happened in her race. She may have had the thought "I can win an Olympic gold" that distracted her just enough to hit the ninth hurdle. Or maybe she was running so fast she just didn't have enough time to get that lead leg up.
--Don't know what to say about the 4x100s. We've tried to address some of the problems of the past but it doesn't seem to make any difference. But two dropped sticks on the anchor leg was tough to watch.
With all of these disappointments, there might be some teaching points for your runners. For the most part, those disappointed athletes were extremely classy, particularly Jones, Lagat, Nelson, Gay, Felix and Richards. At their lowest moment and under a lot of pressure, they maintained their poise and sportsmanship. I was impressed.

Thanks Dick for your time and for all the years of great coverage!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ocean City Coach Bill Moreland

Coach Bill Moreland, Ocean City, NJ

Coach Moreland with Ocean City team and Yoga Instructor Teri O'Connor of NJ Beach Yoga

Great coaches are rare in any sport. Because running is both an art and a science, a great running coach may be even harder to find. Win loss records are only the first and most ephemeral consideration.
The best coaches are not simply taskmasters, but they do have some common traits—
  • First, they must be experts on running physiology, yet must also be willing to learn more.
  • They must inspire and be good motivators for runners of varying abilities. They must be good listeners, and effective communicators.
  • They must be disciplined but flexible.
  • Finally, they must set a good example and display the commitment and discipline essential for a runner to reach their goals and potential.
    A coach who has all of these traits and one more-- humility-- is Bill Moreland the track and cross country coach of Ocean City, New Jersey High School. Moreland lives in Ocean City with his wife Debbie. They have been married for 35 years. Bill and Debbie have 3 children (all runners of course!) daughters Colsey (who graduated from and ran for TCNJ), Allie (a senior, running for the Naval Academy) and Bill (who will attend Rowan to study Mechanical Engineering and may run track in the spring).
    The first thing that strikes you about Coach Moreland is his ability to inspire all of his runners from senior Brett Johnson the fastest (4:08) high school miler in the country, fifth fastest in New Jersey history, to the novices with no running experience that join the Ocean City team each year and quickly become hooked on the sport. Coach Moreland makes running fun. He is also an outstanding runner who leads by example. We recently caught up with Coach Moreland for his thoughts on a variety of subjects including his personal running streak:
How long have you been running?
I’ve been running seriously for 34 years, I ran sporadically before that.

How did you start your running career?
I started running to get back into shape. I had put on a few pounds after getting married (went from 150 to 160 pounds).

Where did you go to high school, college?
I went to Abington High School in Abington PA, Elizabethtown College in PA and grad school at the University of Delaware.

What is your favorite race?
Probably the Fenton Carey Half Marathon in Ocean City.

What is your favorite place to run?
The beach at dawn or a run through the woods.

How long is your running streak—when did it start and how far do you usually run?
It’s over 26 years. I started on January 15, 1982. I average just over 9 miles per day.

Where have you run the most during your streak?
Before we moved back to Ocean City (four years ago) the trails in Upper Township, now on the beach in Ocean City.

Were there any close calls for the streak?
Yes, the closest was when my oldest daughter Colsey was born. I ran about 11 pm.
Some minor injuries have limited the distance to only 2 miles which is the shortest I’ve run.

How many years have you been a teacher?
I’ve taught mathematics for 38 years. The last 18 years I’ve taught AP Calculus and Honors Precalculus.

How long have you been coaching? (boys/girls):
I’ve been coaching for 38 years. For the first 9 years of teaching I coached basketball and the last 29 years cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.

What are some of your coaching accomplishments?
10 Cape Atlantic League Championships in Cross-Country, 2 South Jersey Group III Championships in Cross Country. 1 South Jersey Group III Championships in track and a Girls Distance Medley Relay national championship team.

Who are some of the best runners you’ve coached?
Brett Johnson, John Fennekohl (both were South Jersey runners of the year).
Matt Cowhey, John Richardson (won Penn Relays mile and the only NJ male to win 1600 meters and 800 meters at New Jersey Meet of Champions).
Erik Geisinger, Eugene Watts, Rich Vinnacombe, Dan Lowden (1st male to make all Cape Atlantic conference 4 years), Bruce and Jeff Welch, Brian McDonald.
Brittany Sedberry, Rene Tomlin, Allie Moreland, Erin Walsh (these 4 girls won national championship).

What is your running philosophy:
Run but don’t strain.

What is your coaching philosophy?
I have always felt my teams were healthier if we under trained rather than over trained.
Our seniors get to about 50 miles a week coming into their senior year. Four healthy years in high school will be more productive for them when they reach the next level.

Can you tell us about your race directing, some of the races you put on?
We put on fun runs every Thursday night in the summer in Ocean City. This is the 30th year and there are 5k cross country and 1600m and 3200m track races each week. (Note, the races are free). Also the Firefighters Memorial 5k in Sea Isle City (this will be the 35th year) and the Longport Bridge 5k which is a fund raiser for the Cross Country and Track programs. (Bill Moreland also put on the popular Hot Foot half marathon and 5k races in Upper Township for years).

What are your recommendations for avoiding injury?
Too much fast running leads to break downs. Change surfaces when you can and alternate your running shoes. 08 Shelby

What are some of your other hobbies/interests?
My mustangs (cars). I just got an 08 Shelby.

It has been said the most valuable gift you can give is your time. Coach Bill Moreland has generously given his time and talents back to running. The sport is better for his efforts. All who have ran for and with him, or in one of his races are extremely grateful for his generosity.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Owen Anderson, The Educated Runner

Owen Anderson, Phd.
It's been 16 years since Owen Anderson was named best running journalist by the Road Runners Club of America. During that interval Anderson has traveled to Kenya (5 times in all) to study Kenyan runners, has published 3 books with a fourth in progress and has contributed to a number of publications including Running Research News, Runners World, Running Times and National Geographic Adventure Magazine. Anderson has developed a peerless reputation for discovering the latest scientific research in exercise and physiology, processing it, and writing about it with enough humor and concrete examples to make the findings both useful and enjoyable to interested runners and coaches. In addition, Anderson is a good enough runner to experience first hand what he is writing about. For example, in an article "In the Halls of the Mountain Kings" published in April 1993, Anderson lived and trained with the Kenyan national cross country team in their national camp at St. Marks College near Embu Kenya to research his article. The result was a remarkable article that made the reader feel like they too were resident in the camp during the lung burning sessions. Andersons latest project is a new website dedicated to giving runners "an advanced degree in training, sports nutrition and injury prevention" called "The Educated Runner": In addition, Anderson is is also currently coaching other runners and working on a fourth book for Human Kinetics Publishing entitled "The Science of Running". Anderson believes the 700-page, 45-chapter volume will serve as the ultimate reference for runners who are "interested in upgrading their training and performances."

We recently talked to Owen for his thoughts on two of the most popular topics of discussion for cross-country runners-- hills and developing a kick.

Owen, you've always been a big proponent of hill training, can you tell us why?
Hill training is great because it is the most-specific form of running-specific strength training. You're working against gravity with your own body weight as resistance, and you are actually running, making the gains in strength very specific to running. The neuromuscular patterns are not exactly the same as those which prevail during flat-ground running, but they are closer than those associated with most traditional strength-training movements. In addition, hill training raises oxygen-consumption rate and elevates blood lactate significantly during the uphill surges, effects which should lead to higher VO2max and faster lactate-threshold running speed. Hill training has also been connected with enhanced running economy. Combined, the upgrades in economy and VO2max should lead to an upswing in VO2max, one of the best single predictors of running performance.

What do you think is the best way for a runner to improve his or her kick?
Anderson: To improve kicking power, the most-basic thing a runner can do is to improve his/her fitness. I'm not trying to be a wise guy: If your lactate threshold, vVO2max, running economy, and fatigue-resistance have been upgraded properly via high-quality training, you will be able to sustain quality paces for longer periods of time - and you will have more reserve when you want to "turn on the jets" at the end of a race. You can specifically train to kick, too, by carrying out longer, fatiguing, high-quality intervals (600s, 800s, maybe even 1000s) which then have a blistering 200 tacked on at the end. Fundamentally, of course, you improve your kick by upgrading your maximal running speed (your average pace over, say, 100-300 meters, during a maximal effort). This is something that most endurance runners simply don't do. When their race times get faster, it is because they can sustain paces with which they are already familiar over a longer period of time, not because they have raised the "top end" running speed to the sky. To augment max speed, it is necessary to carry out lots of very intense running, to follow a program of running-specific strength training which progresses into explosive strength training with lots of high-speed drills which mimic the mechanics of running, and also to carry out downhill sprinting (which shortens the deceleration phase of contact and gets runners into the acceleration phase of stance more quickly; this elevates stride rate without hurting stride length, a key way to raise max speed).

Written by Jack Heath

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Erin Donohues Blog from Beijing

Erin Donohue
Erin Donohue writes from Beijing in a Courier Post Blog
*** Update from Erin on her race***
I have an update on my race: the first round on August 19th was CANCELLED, due to lack of entries. Actually, there are 36 girls entered, enough for 3 rounds, but the local organizing committee decided to cut it out anyway. So now, my first race will be August 21st at 7pm China time, 7am EST. There will be 3 heats of 12 runners and the top 4 in each heat and the next 2 fastest times will advance to the final on August 23rd.

Since leaving Haddonfield, I’ve been busy traveling and settling into the Olympic Village. I arrived in Beijing on the 7th and checked into one of the US Team’s apartments. We’re a big team, so we take up several of the apartment buildings in the Village. I’m staying with five other girls from the track team, including one of my training partners, Shannon Rowbury and my former UNC teammate, Alice Schmidt.

Athletes from all countries live, eat and train in the Village. It’s got a dining hall (featuring a McDonald’s), workout facilities, shopping areas, lounges, and other meeting areas. It’s surreal to see all of these athletes from countries around the world in this place. For instance, I saw Yao Ming, who is fairly easy to spot, casually grabbing a drink in the dining hall.

The day after I arrived, I marched in the Opening Ceremonies. This was a memorable experience, filled with great excitement and lots of sweat. The US Team wore Ralph Lauren Polo suits, which looked sharp, but were a little heavy for the Beijing heat and humidity. Aside from the perfuse sweating, the Opening Ceremonies were amazing. Walking into a stadium of 90,000+ people and watching the torch lighting is something I’ll never forget.

The day after the ceremonies, I left the Olympic Village and flew with some other members of the track team to a training camp in Dalian. Dalian is port city on the Yellow Sea, and the US Track and Field team is staying at a golf course resort hotel north of town. Security around the hotel is tight, and we’re the only group actually allowed in the hotel area. Police block major roads and escort us anytime we leave the hotel. I feel very VIP, but I also feel a little embarrassed that we may be inconveniencing this city of 6 million people every time we need to go somewhere. I know I’d be mad if police shut down Route 70 or 295 because some runners needed to get to a track.

Partially due to this security, the Dalian training camp is much quieter than Beijing, and I’m finding it easier to relax and focus on training here. Since the first round of the women’s 1500m is still over a week away, I can get in a few more quality workouts. Today, I did a tempo run and some drills, and tomorrow, I’ll do a harder interval session on the track. I’m feeling good, and I’ve completely adjusted to the time difference. I’ll let you know how things go here in Dalian and back in Beijing.

Click here to access Erin's Blog Page from the Courier Post:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Favorite Workouts

Olympian Browning Ross was my coach in high school and then again for some of my post-collegiate running years. Like most runners with a great coach, I felt like I had a real edge when I went to the starting line with Browning in my Coach Browning Rosscorner. In fact, I did my best running during this period. A good coach, like Ross, can provide a real psychological boost, helping you to maximize your ability-- possibly even giving you an edge over another runner with the same ability.

If you are not presently working with a coach, but are looking to improve your performance, the next best thing may be a great workout you haven't thought of that can still help you take your running to the next level.
In the words of Coach Ross: "I'd like to find something new in training. Something the others haven't got… The same elixir, perhaps, which all the athletes of the world are seeking. When training clicks it is a joy."
We contacted some great runners and coaches for their favorite workouts.

First, two sample workouts from my days running for Coach Ross:

~Browning Ross workout for March:

Every a.m. do an easy 3 or 4 miles.
Monday: Easy 4 miles 8 x 165 yards (straight aways) about 24 seconds. 50 yd jog interval
Tuesday: 3 x 660 at 1:42 6 miles steady 6:30 to 7 minute pace 4 x 110 at 7/8
Wednesday: Same as Monday Olympian Browning Ross running for Villanova
Thursday: Long steady run 15 miles at pace that feels comfortable, accelerate last mile.
Friday: same as Monday and Wednesday
Saturday: same as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Sunday: Race or 8-10 miles at 6:30 to 7 minute pace

~Browning Ross workout for May:
Monday: 4 x 3 laps at 3:32 with 400 jog interval; 5-6 miles at 7:00 pace 6X110 strides at 7/8 effort.
3 mile jog in grass or woods. 6 x 220 jog interval
Wednesday: 2x 220 at 30 seconds with 220 jog interval; 3 x 660 (1:40) 4 x110 (15 seconds); 4 miles easy
same as Tuesday
Friday: 5 miles at 7:00 pace
Saturday: Competition-3 miles afterwards if possible
Sunday: 10-15 miles easy
3 days a week 3-4 miles before breakfast at 7:00 pace.
Note: Monday's workout following competition on Saturday same as Tuesday's.

Here are the favorite workouts of some great runners and coaches:

Johnny Kelley, Olympian, Boston Marathon Winner
Johnny Kelley (Former Olympic roommate of Ross in 1948 and 58-time finisher of the Boston marathon who passed away in 2004 at age 97): "My favorite workout -- on a track, run repeat miles twice a week. What can you lose??!"

Coach Benson
Coach Roy Benson, noted Heart-Rate training expert: "I favor big volume workouts at anaerobic threshold. I like 4-5 miles of intervals at slower than current 5K pace. It's slower than the usual speedwork at 90-95 percent of max and keeps kids fresher and from peaking too soon."

Tim Noakes, Author, Physician, and author of The Lore of Running:"Distance runners spend far too much time doing low Tim Noakesintensity training and not enough high-quality peaking-type training."

Ron Hill, Olympic marathoner, and holder of the world's longest running streak since 1964: " My favorite workout is to run hard and count Ron Hilldouble strides, i.e., each time your right foot hits the ground. Start with 10 double strides, jog for 10. Push for 15 double strides jog 15 etc., until you get to 55. After 55 I come back down to 10. Then I run easily for ½ mile and then repeat. Fifty-five is usually the maximum. The beauty of this workout is that the sprints come in all types of terrain and that teaches you how to accelerate."

Alberto Salazar, Former Olympic marathon world record holder and presently a coach:"Here is my favorite workout: 4 x ¾ in 3:05 to 3:08, 3 x mile in 4:15 to 4:25. Or a fartlek run of 1mile in 4:30 Greg Meyer, Alberto Salazar, Bill Rodgers  Lep Kulinski Jr Photoand 4 miles at 5:05 pace, 1 mile in 4:30, 4 miles at 5:05 pace. The 3 fast miles were run on the track, the 4-mile segments on a wood chip trail 1-mile long. I'd go straight into 5:05 pace after finishing a 4:30 mile. Times can be adjusted; but it makes a good marathon workout too."

Bill Rodgers, Boston, New York marathon winner and Olympian: Bill Rodgers, Leo Kulinski Jr  Photo
"I like running 6 x800 + 6 x 400 repeats mixed together with my 4th repetition my hardest effort. It simulates a mid-race surge. I also used to do that on some of my 20-mile training runs, up the pace for a minute -- or a mile -- than ease back. I also believe light weight lifting for the upper body helps, along with stretching and massage. Train well, but rest well. Learn when to cut back your effort-training and racing throughout the year."

Bill Squires Former coach of the Greater Boston Track Club (Rodgers, Benoit, Meyer et al.): "First workout: A ladder at 10K race pace Coach Bill Squires Photo by Leo Kulinski Jrconsisting of the following (about 2 ½ miles): A 330 with 1:30 minute rest, 660 with a 2:20 rest, 1000 with a 3 minute rest; 330 with a 1:30 rest, 660 with a 2:20 rest, 2 x 1200 with a 5 minute rest. Or this second workout: Do a 10-mile run; every 10 minutes do a 2 minute pick up; at 30 minutes do a 5 minute pick up; at 60 minutes 3 minute pick up."

Of course these workouts will need to be adjusted to fit your present fitness, experience, and goals. But hopefully they can give you a fresh perspective on your running-just like a coach.

Written by Jack Heath, This article formerly appeared in Runners Gazette Magazine: