Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A conversation with Chris Callinan

Cherokee Coaches Steve Shaklee and Chris Callinan
One decision can make all the difference. Chris Callinan decided to try out for the cross country team his sophmore year at Gloucester Catholic. It was a tough decision-- Callinan had played soccer in Washington Township since the time he could walk. It was a decision that would pay dividends immediately. Callinan quickly became an outstanding distance runner-- becoming just the second Gloucester Catholic runner to qualify for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions in cross country. He also broke longstanding Gloucester Catholic school records in the 1600 and the 3200 meters (which were later broken by his younger brother Ted). Next he moved on to Cabrini College where he continued to run and to break Cabrini track records.
After graduation Callinan's love of running led him to a career coaching and teaching. He presently works at Cherokee High School where he has coached numerous state Chris on starting line with his brothers on this wedding day.and Olympic Conference champions with Steve Shaklee. Callinan also has been a successful meet director hosting the Cherokee Challenge meet: http://www.ccctf.com/ch_chal_main.html , one of the biggest high school cross country invitational meets in New Jersey.

Cabrini Coach Tom O'Hora reflects on Chris: "I still remember when he visited Cabrini. His older brother was already a student and we were very happy to have him attend.
Chris made an immediate contribution to the team. He was a top five runner in his freshman year and quickly became the number one runner by his sophomore year.
This was done by working hard despite having some back problems almost from birth. He never made excuses or complained. In fact he always seemed to be in great spirits. Had it not been for this nagging problem, I am convinced that Chris would have been a National NCAA qualifier. In XC his most impressive race was at the Dickinson Invitation where he finished in the top ten against some of the best runners on the East coast. He still has three Cabrini track records. They have been on the books since 1992. Chris probably would have lowered these marks himself if he made more opportunities to run in his senior year. The most impressive mark is the 10 K record of 31:00.47. Runners like Chris are few and far between. He was pretty much a coach's ideal runner."

Callinan now 39, was raised in Washington Twp, NJ and now resides in Haddon Township NJ. He was married last Nov. 29th to Aime nee Marshall a graduate of Paul VI High School (NJ). He recently spoke to us about his running career.

When did you start running?
Chris: I started running in 6th grade when my uncle got me a pair of running shoes. I ran my first race later that year, the Washington Twp. 10K

What do you consider as some of your highlights in your running career?
Chris: Breaking the Gloucester Catholic HS records in the 1600 and 3200. I remember the first time that I broke 10 minutes at the Camden County meet. Winning the Olympic Conf. championship @ 3200 meters on a kick. In college breaking the 10,000 meters, 5,000 meters, 3,000 meter SC, and Decatholon. 2 times a Conference Champion in XC. Post College. Running PR's @ 5,000 and 10,000 Meters and being a member of the Philadelphia Running Club.

When did you start teaching/coaching?:
Chris: I started coaching and teaching at Sacred Heart HS (Vineland) in 1992. I coached there for 5 years and then taught in the Archdisoces of Philadelphia for 2 years. Then I moved on to Cherokee HS (Marlton NJ) in 1999. I have been coaching XC, Indoor and Outdoor Track ever since I moved on the Cherokee. How did you become interested in Coaching. Always liked helping my brothers in their running. When I graduated from Cabrini Tony Mancini was leaving Sacred Heart and gave me a call to coach his team.

Do you have any running goals at present?
Chris: Not sure right now. I will turn 40 this year (December 22) so the masters age group will be my next step.
What is your "philosophy of running"?
Chris: You need to enjoy running and do everything correctly. There is no substitute for hard work. Running is a tough mans sport and there are no shortcuts.

Do you have a favorite place to run:
Chris: I love running anywhere there are trails. I also love running in new cities. When my wife and I travel one of the first things that I will do is go for a run. It really makes the layout of a new place easier to understand.

How about a favorite food:
Chris: PIZZA. I Love it. I also love seafood especially sushi.

How about a favorite movie, book, music?
Chris: My favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption. I love almost all of John Grisham books and really don't have a particular music preference.

What are your memories of running at Gloucester Catholic?
Chris: I remember the people that I ran with at GC. I enjoyed the times that we got to travel and run together. I remember the times that I got to run with my coach (Jack Heath). I also Gloucester Catholic standouts Ann Wodarczyk and Chris Callinan before the New Jersey Cross Country Meet of Champs at Holmdelenjoyed meeting and spending time with Browning Ross. I still see some of the people that I ran with at Gloucester Catholic.

What do you like best about coaching?
Chris: I enjoy spending time with the kids that I coach and the coaches that I work with. Our XC team has won 5 state titles in the last 10 years. Out track teams have won a sectional title, and the last 2 Burlington County Championships. We have grown our track team from 30 boys to this year over 100 boys on the team.One of the best things that has happened as a coach is having a Foot Locker National Qualifier and also a runner who was invited to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista CA. (We went out and spent a week there, it was amazing).
Chris Callinan and best men in wedding day race
How about something not many people know about you?
Chris: I love teaching math and computer science. I also was the teacher of the year this year for Cherokee High School. The pictures here are from the race that I did with my groomsmen the day of my wedding.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Matt Taylor, GCHS Cross Country Hero

Rodger and Matt Taylor"A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer." Ralph Waldo Emerson ..

Besides being braver five minutes longer, a hero has to be in the right place at the right time.
Captain Rodger Taylor and his son Matt were both in September 2008. Matt an All Parochial and Tri-County First Team All Conference cross-country runner at Gloucester Catholic High School class of 2007, now attends LaSalle University and continues to run at a high level. Here is an account of their brave Delaware River rescue from the September 2008 SeaFarers International Union:
Freedom Ferry Crew to the Rescue September 2008

As Captain Rodger Taylor guided the Freedom Ferry away from Penn’s Landing for the next part of its regular run between Philadelphia and Camden, N.J., he noticed something in the water which obviously didn’t belong there.

Specifically, he saw a woman in distress in the Delaware River.

Within minutes, Taylor and Deckhands Matthew Taylor

(Rodger’s son), Zachary Tannoia and Kevin Fisher had teamed up to safely pull the woman from the water, administer first aid and get her to shore. Local fire and rescue personnel arrived a short time later and transported the unidentified person to Thomas Jefferson Hospital, located about five blocks away.

Capt. Taylor said the Seafarers didn’t learn the woman’s name, but did receive word that she was in stable condition at the hospital. It wasn’t known whether she had jumped or fallen into the river.

A 1979 graduate of the Paul Hall Center trainee program, Capt. Taylor praised his crew members for the rescue, which began shortly after 1 p.m. on August 5. He also credited the mariners and the ferry operator, Hornblower Marine, for their serious approach to the weekly safety drills conducted aboard the Freedom Ferry – exercises which undoubtedly helped save the woman’s life.

Gloucester Catholic Cross Country Captain and All Parochial Runner Matt Taylor

“The drills really helped out,” he said. “This operation really felt like our basic rescue drill, except it was an actual rescue. The crew members did exactly what they were supposed to do. I was really impressed with them and I’m really proud of all three of them.”

Capt. Taylor said that when he first maneuvered the ferry into rescue position, one of the deckhands threw a life ring into the water, but the woman didn’t respond. Matthew Taylor then jumped into the river to save her, just as she appeared to be going under the water. A rescue ladder, davit and sling also were deployed from the ferry.

Rodger Taylor said the victim, upon being brought aboard the boat, “was conscious but very pale. She was white as a ghost, actually, and may have been going into shock. She was moaning but didn’t talk. The guys performed first aid and, luckily, we saw a policeman walking along Penn’s Landing” (which hastened the arrival of shore-side rescue personnel).

Only 15 minutes elapsed from the moment Capt. Taylor first saw the woman to the time the fire and rescue crew transported her to the hospital.

He concluded, “I just can’t say enough about how the guys handled this situation. They were totally professional and really got the job done. It was a unique situation because my son was involved, but again, I commend all three of the guys. They all deserve recognition.”

The ferry is part of the RiverLink system overseen by the Delaware River Port Authority.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ice or Heat?


One of the most common questions injured runners have is whether to use ice or heat to treat their injuries. Here is a guideline:

When to use ice: Immediately after an acute injury like an ankle sprain. After activities that irritate a chronic injury that you already had like shin splints. Ice reduces swelling.
When to use heat: Before activities that irritate chronic injuries (like muscle strains) that have no inflamation or swelling. Heat can help loosen tissues and relax injured areas. You should not apply heat immediately after exercise or to areas that are swollen. Moist heat is best.
How to apply ice: The best way to apply ice is to keep paper cups filled with water in your freezer. Peel the top of the cup away as it melts and massage the ice cup over the injury in a circular pattern. Do not keep the cup on the same spot and never ice longer than 15 minutes due to the risk of frost bite. Allow at least 45 minutes before icing again.
Ice can also be applied in a ziploc bag of ice cubes or crushed ice. Adding a little water to the bag helps it conform to your body.
You can also apply a bag of frozen peas or corn from your freezer. You can put the bag back in your freezer to be reused (or eaten!) when you are done icing.
How to apply heat: You can soak in a hot bath. You can also use heating pads or hot towels or a washcloth soaked in hot water applied to the injured area. Again, moist heat is best-- if using a heating pad, you should use a moist towel between the heating pad and your skin. Do not apply heat for more than 20 minutes. Be sure not to fall asleep with a heating pad on.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Runners and Sleep

Bill Rodgers and George Sheehan

Cardiologist and Famed Running Writer George Sheehan often talked and wrote about the overlooked ingredient in most runners training-- sleep: "Do not cheat on your sleep. Add an extra hour when in heavy training. Also arrange for at least one or two naps a week and take a long one after your weekend run."

Bill Rodgers, one of America's all time greatest runners (#1 ranked marathoner in the world 3 years, winner of the Boston (4 times) and NY Marathon (4 times)) also talked about the importance of sleep in his training when he said:
“No one who works a 40 hour week will ever beat me.”
More recently Rodgers said: "Sometimes it would be a better idea to use your workout time to sleep rather than run. I started napping in my late 40's."

Recent studies have confirmed what Rodgers, Dr. Sheehan, knew and what coaches and many runners have discovered the hard way-- getting extra over an extended period of time improves performance mood and alertness. Here is the study as reported in Science Daily:

"Participants in this ongoing study were five healthy students on the Stanford University men’s and women’s swimming teams. For the first two weeks of the study, the students maintained their usual sleep-wake pattern. The athletes then extended their sleep to 10 hours per day for six to seven weeks.
Athletic performance was assessed after each regularly scheduled swim practice. After obtaining extra sleep, athletes swam a 15-meter meter sprint 0.51 seconds faster, reacted 0.15 seconds quicker off the blocks, improved turn time by 0.10 seconds and increased kick strokes by 5.0 kicks.
“These results begin to elucidate the importance of sleep on athletic performance and, more specifically, how sleep is a significant factor in achieving peak athletic performance,” said lead author Cheri Mah of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory. “While this study focuses specifically on collegiate swimmers, it agrees with data from my other studies of different sports and suggests that athletes across all sports can greatly benefit from extra sleep and can gain the additional competitive edge to perform at their highest level.”
The study also monitored daytime sleepiness and weekly changes in mood. Daytime sleepiness decreased significantly with extra sleep, while mood improvements related to getting extra sleep included higher ratings of vigor and lower ratings of fatigue.

“Typically, many athletes accumulate a large sleep debt by not obtaining their individual sleep requirement each night, which can have detrimental effects on cognitive function, mood, and reaction time,” said Mah.These negative effects can be minimized or eliminated by prioritizing sleep in general and, more specifically, obtaining extra sleep to reduce one’s sleep debt.”
Mah and her colleagues reported similar results in a previous study of six players on the Stanford men’s basketball team. Performance measures such as sprint times and free-throw shooting improved after extra sleep, as did ratings of mood and alertness. The research abstract was presented at SLEEP 2007 in Minneapolis, Minn.
Over the years Mah also has worked with the football, tennis, golf, cross country, and track and field teams at Stanford. Now she hopes to expand the project to work with athletes at other colleges, as well as professional athletes who are seeking a unique competitive advantage.
“It is interesting to note that many of the athletes in the various sports I have worked with, including the swimmers in this study, have set multiple new personal records and season best times, as well as broken long-standing Stanford and American records while participating in this study,” she said.

According to Mah, coaches at Stanford have been paying close attention to their athletes’ involvement in the ongoing study. “Many of the Stanford coaches are definitely more aware of the importance of sleep,” she said. “Coaches have even started to make changes to their practice and traveling schedules to allow for proper sleep habits. For many athletes and coaches, this study was the first time they truly understood how large of an impact sleep can have on their performance and results.”
Mah offers these 5 tips to help athletes improve their performance by maximizing their sleep:

  • Make sleep a part of your regular training regimen.

  • Extend nightly sleep for several weeks to reduce your sleep debt before competition.

  • Maintain a low sleep debt by obtaining a sufficient amount of nightly sleep (seven to eight hours for adults, nine or more hours for teens and young adults).

  • Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same times every day.

  • Take brief naps to obtain additional sleep during the day, especially if drowsy. "
American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2008, June 10). Extra Sleep Improves Athletic Performance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 4, 2009, from

A recent study demonstrates that poor sleep and susceptibility to colds go hand in hand. Scientists believe sleep plays a major role in maintaining the body's defenses. In the study http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/169/1/62 those who slept 7 hours a night were almost 3 times more likely to catch a cold than those who slept at least 8 hours a night.

And in a June 2009 study, sleep was also found to improve performance and mood for tennis players who extended their nightly sleep hours and reduced their accumulated sleep debt http://www.aasmnet.org/Articles.aspx?id=1291

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Steps for Beginning Runners

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Lao- Tzu

There is a reason why running is such a natural activity for children. It's fun and a form of play.

Running requires no special equipment except for a good pair of running shoes.
Running is fun for everyoneChildren who run in grade school or high school have been shown to do better in physical and cognitive tests than their inactive peers.

Another benefit to running is that kids are not dependent on the participation of others in order to exercise, so even if friends lose interest or are unavailable, kids who run can maintain their fitness. Running is a life sport; people of any age who discover running and keep it fun are likely to run for the rest of their lives, making it an especially good choice for aspiring fitness buffs of all ages.
After all, life long health and Everyone is a winnerfitness should be the ultimate goal for everyone.

For new runners joining the Gloucester Catholic Cross Country team we stress 3 things:
1.Goal Setting (what makes you want to get out there and run every day?)
2.Progression ( you have to work your way up to being able to race 3 miles from the fitness level you are starting at) and
3.Consistency (we use training logs to track daily summer training etc.)

Olympian and Running Author Jeff Galloway http://www.jeffgalloway.com/ recommends absolute beginners start by alternating walking and running for about fifteen minutes, increasing the time spent doing both by 3 to 5 minutes until you reach 30 minutes. Then gradually increase the time spent running Christ the King Kids, Run Haddonfield NJuntil you can eventually eliminate walking from the session. "Regularity is extremely important during the first 8 weeks. If you run, even a little every other day your body makes the adaptations and starts to look forward to the experience. If you wait 3 days between runs, you start to lose the adaptations and your body complains at the beginning of each run. Getting into a habit is the most helpful way to make it past 3 weeks." Jeff Galloway's Getting Started

With a little bit of consistency and patience, you will be surprised how quickly you will become a runner. Keeping a running log or diary to chart your progress helps. After you start to feel comfortable Joe Henderson's Running Logrunning you may be interested in running a race or possibly joining a cross country or track team. Here some racing tips from Runner and Author Joe Henderson: http://www.joehenderson.com/
Browning Ross Bob Kupcha Run Mt Ephraim NJ
1) Run your own race. The other runners are there to help you run better than you could alone. You compete against yourself, the distance, the conditions and your previous times.

2) Race for PR's (your own personal records). This gives you a chance (but no guarantee) to win everytime.Kids Beach to Beacon run
3) Pace yourself evenly. Hold back early and hold on later. Your times will improve quickest this way.
4) Use races as training. You get better at racing by racing. No form of speed training is more effective than a race itself.
5) Run "overs-and-unders". Train for your race distance by going a little longer but at a slower pace. Train for your race speed by going a little faster but at a shorter distance.
6) Train hard-easy. You can't run hard all the time. More days of the week must be easy than hard.
7) Run regularly. You get back from this sport almost exactly what you put into it. If you run most days of the week and most weeks of the year--even easily, you will get better. If you don't you won't.Ross Kupcha races features a free kids race
Ross Kupcha Kids Run
Beach to Beacon Kids Run

Finally, here are some tips from some runners fairly new to the sport-- runners from the Gloucester Catholic Cross Country Team:

"Running is a great sport because you get out of it what you put into it." Catherine Kain
"Try your best everyday, don't walk and do the best you can." Tommy Flynn
"Try your hardest all the time and always stay hydrated." Joe Usher
"Running is all about dedication. A beginning runner should know that you have to work from the ground up. It's like any other sport, to be good you must practice. If you don't practice you will do poorly. The difference is that in running nothing goes to waste. You can shoot 1000 free throws and may not grow noticeably in skill. But if you run 1000 miles the work will pay off-- your running skills will increase greatly." Alex Hickman
Coach Sidoti

"The will to succeed comes from within. When you hit the wall, dig deep and run through it." Joe Lafferty

"As Jack (a cross country coach) told me when I was starting out: "It's just as easy to run as it is to walk-- and you get done a lot quicker!" Coach Tony Sidoti (who ran a marathon after only a little over a year of running.)

Tom Osler Born to Run and Teach

It All Adds Up: Running, teaching and math.
September 16, 2009, Rowan Today

The year
1961. President John F. Kennedy is sworn into office. Yankee Roger Maris bests Babe Ruth for single-season homers (61 in 61!) And Rowan math Professor Tom Osler teaches his first class.

Dr. Osler, a soft-spoken, good-natured instructor approaching his 50th year in the classroom, started teaching just as the Cold War was heating up. In fact, his career was propelled by it.

“The Russians had sent Sputnik (a beach ball-sized satellite) into space in 1957 and the U.S. was pouring money into technology to catch up with them,” recalled Dr. Osler, then a physics major at Drexel University in Philadelphia. “That created a vacuum in teaching.”

A Camden native who’d been considering a career in engineering, Dr. Osler suddenly had an opportunity, while still an undergraduate himself, to teach his first calculus course.

“After my first week of teaching I knew I was not going to be an engineer,” he said.

Five decades in, still running strong

A 1957 graduate of Camden High School, Dr. Osler earned his bachelors degree in physics in 1962, his MS in mathematics at New York University in 1969 and his Ph. D. in mathematics at NYU in 1970.

Fit and seemingly younger than his 69 years, he’s been an avid runner since high school and won his first national championship, a 25k race, in 1965. A second national title, for a 30K race, came two years later. In 1967 he finished 19th in the Boston Marathon and, later that year, self-published a highly regarded manifesto, The Conditioning of Distance Runners.

“It’s probably the best thing I ever wrote on running,” Dr. Osler noted on his personal web site. “Only 32 pages and still circulating underground.”

Like most things, running was different then, he said. Exercise, especially serious, competitive exercise, was somewhat of a fringe activity and high-tech clothing and footwear was unheard of.

“I won my national championships in street shoes,” he said.

Born to Run (and teach)

Dr. Osler, who continues to run about 50 miles a week, is humble about his accomplishments both as a runner and a mathematician. (He’s competed in more than 2,100 races and was honored last spring with a prestigious teaching award, the MAA New Jersey Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. In an interview he mentioned neither.)

He’s popular with students in part for his humility and demeanor but possibly more accomplished for his work in the classroom than on the track.

Now in his 49th year as a mathematics professor (two at NYU, four at St. Joseph’s University, two at Rensselaer University and the balance at GSC/Rowan), he’s published more than 120 mathematical papers and helped more than 40 undergraduate students get published too.
“I’m not the world’s greatest mathematician but I really love mathematics,” he said. “I’m not the world’s greatest runner either but I was born to do both.”Married for 41 years, he has two sons, one of whom is a carpenter, the other a math professor at Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing.

Tom Osler running the numbersDr. Osler fully recovered from a stroke at 63 and now, approaching 70, sees no reason to retire.

“I like being on stage, standing in front of a class,” he said. “And I like being around young people. I could spend my time around older people, but I like being around young people.”

Dr. Osler said the Rowan math program is a popular one with about 20 full-time faculty members and some 350 declared majors. As for career paths that start with a math degree, it’s a very big field.

“The greatest percentage probably become teachers,” he said. “But engineering is popular, as are other areas of science, and some become actuaries. A bachelor’s degree in mathematics is highly regarded even in fields like law. Law schools like math majors because they think very precisely.”

Matthew Oster, a 2007 Rowan graduate who studied with Dr. Osler, is working on a Ph. D. in Operations Research at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

While at Rowan Oster published two mathematical papers in academic journals under Dr. Osler’s tutelage.

“He has a great interest in the material he presents,” Oster said. “He’s animated about the material and that gets the students excited as well.”

To read an interview about Tom Osler and his running career:

To read an interview about Tom Osler and his views on running today:
To read Tom Osler's first book: http://ramscrosscountry.blogspot.com/2008/02/running-wisdom-of-tom-osler.html
To watch a video about Professor Osler on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJPvfq4lB6A

Posted by Coach Heath at 5:19 AM Labels: Tom Osler Runner and Rowan Math Professor.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sports Nutrition for Runners

Here is the latest nutrition information for runners from the American College of Sports Medicine website: http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=28 as reported by Nancy Clark.
  • About 25% of athletic trainers are now using pickle juice to treat muscle cramps. Some report 1 to 2 ounces of pickle juice relieves cramps withing 35 seconds.
  • It takes ten minutes for the water you drink to end up as sweat-- so keep drinking to stay hydrated, even near the end of a run.
  • Carbohydrate should be the fundamental source of recovery fuel. Chocolate milk is a great source of carbohydrate with a little protein. Cyclists did an exhaustive bike ride and recovered with chocolate milk or a commercial recovery drink and the next day did a time trial. The commercial drink offered no additional benefits and was much more costly.

  • Exhausted cyclists offered a choice of recovery drinks that they all Chocolate Milk the best post run recovery drinkenjoyed and tolerated well chose chocolate and vanilla milks more than water, sports drink or a watery chocolate drink.

  • Salty snacks and chicken noodle soup consumed after a run encouraged runners to drink more and become hydrated quicker after the run.

  • Fatigue is related not only to glycogen depletion and dehydration, but also to body temperature rising higher than 104 degrees-- another reason to keep cool while running in hot weather.
  • Eating an energy bar 15 minutes before exercise is as effective as eating it an hour before. (This one surprised us, still think we'd rather race short distance races like 5k's on an empty stomach!)
Nancy Clark's Nutrition Guide for Runners
Does running make you smart or do smart people like to run?
In recent studies movement and physical activity in third graders has been linked with higher scores on tests involving problem solving. Among college students, those who have a GPA of at least 3.5 are more likely to be physically active than students who study less and get lower grades.

Nancy Clark, RD is always a great source of up to date nutrition information for runners . Nancy has written some excellent books for runners and her website is: http://www.nancyclarkrd.com/about/index.html she also appears in New England Runner magazine. http://www.nerunner.com

Peaking for Runners

"And If I thought it would do any good
I'd stand on the rock where Moses stood."
The Band "When You Awake"

Most runners hope to make their last race of the season their best race.

Finish runner Lasse Viren and his coach Rolf Haikkola stand as the gold standard for this ability to peak at the right time-- Viren won gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races at both the 1972 and 1976 Olympics and treated other races before the Olympics strictly Lasse Virenas preparation. For many New Jersey runners this would be the New Jersey State Cross Country Championships held in hilly Holmdel New Jersey in November. The question is what should you do to peak for your most important race that will maximize your chances for success? Some coaches advocate packing in some hard last minute training. Others a reduction in volume, still others rest.

Many runners have experienced the feeling of not running at their best when they really wanted to. Even some of our 2008 Olympians did not run their best race in their last Olympic race. While some runners like Shalene Flanagan (bronze medal in the 10,000 meters) were able to peak at the right time in the Olympic final, others ran much faster in less Shalene Flanaganimportant races earlier in the season. Did they just have a bad day or is there something they could have done differently to peak properly for their race? To get an insight, here are some thoughts on peaking from some top coaches and athletes:

Tom Osler, running author and former AAU national champion: Runner, Rowan U Mathematics Prof Tom Osler
I think peaking is one of the most ignored ideas in running. It's not new. Arthur Lydiard http://www.lydiardfoundation.org/training.aspx was the first coach to clearly state what it was and how it worked. This was about 1960. Most runners and coaches continue to ignore him.
(Note: Lydiard believed you cannot train hard and race well at the same time.)

Coach Jack Daniels, Currently the Head Distance Coach at the Center for High Altitude Training at Northern Arizona University:
I learned this lesson when I went to the Rome Olympics and decided to really get in some good training in those final weeks -- what a disaster that was. What you need to do is exactly what you have been doing, but just a little less of it. Definitely nothing faster or in any way more stressful than usual. You are not going to get in any better shape in those final Coach, Olympian Jack Danielscouple weeks; what you have to benefit from is a better frame of mind, not harder training. To not run in the Olympics as well as you ran in the trials is a sign of poor final preparation, and I always try to have my runners look back at what they did leading up to a particularly satisfying performance, and consider that approach again. We are not doing so well in preparation these days and it's hard to say where things need to be changed.

Greg Meyer, US World Record holder 10 miles, last American male to win Boston Marathon, Vice President of Aquinas College:
Greg Meyer wins 1983 Boston MarathonMy personal philosophy is peaking is more between the ears than Greg Meyer, photo by Lance Wynnanything...except swimming where they shave and go crazy!
I believe in resting enough to feel recovered, doing enough short hard work to keep the muscles firing and the feeling of being fast in your legs...

But the main thing I've focused on with the high school kids is their head. I'm building them up the last two weeks. Telling them how well they've worked, how fit they are, how it will all come together on race day ...just go have fun and race. I try to help them build a mental image in their head of them being successful...in small bits, talk about where they'll be at a certain point in the race...how that will feel...how they will respond. If their head is right, and they believe in their training, my guess is they'll run well.

Steve Scott, one of the greatest American milers of all time (136 sub 4 minute miles) and presently Head Track Track and Cross Country Coach at Cal State San Marcos:

Peaking is the hardest thing to get right. Also, if everyone is on the same Steve Scottprogram, some peak and some don’t depending on how they react to VO2 work. I start our peak at 3 weeks out from our Nationals, I drop one workout, hills, give an extra days rest between workouts, and drop the volume slightly. For example, our pre-peak week at Cal State looks like this:
Mon long run 12-14 miles
Tues LT* workout 6-8 miles of work
Wed mileage
Thurs Hills 16-20 x 350
Fri mileage
Sat race or LT workout or race simulation (late in season)
Sun mileage

Mon long run 10-12 last 2 weeks
Tues mileage
Wed LT workout 5-7 miles
Thurs mileage
Fri mileage
Sat race or race simulation
Sun mileage
* LT = Lactate Threshold

I hope this helps, the thing to remember is, the lower an athlete’s aerobic base, the shorter the peak. That is why high school coaches keep them training hard to the end.

Emily Ward, former Gloucester Catholic and University of Richmond distance standout:
It seems like everyone has a taper method that works best for them. I Emily Ward with U of Richmond Teammatetend to do well on a great reduction in volume but a week that "mimics" a heavy training week....meaning a mini tempo, a mini speed session and 4-5 miles each day in between.

Swimmer Michael Phelps of course peaked perfectly in the 2008 Olympics winning 8 gold medals. His coach Bob Bowman, has said: "When you taper for a meet it's like getting a haircut, you never know if it's any good until it's too late. If we trained horses like we did people, we'd kill them."

Deciding on the correct peaking method is tricky because you must rest-- but not rest so much that you lose fitness. It is obvious however that too much hard training before your race may leave you too tired to run your best. Besides, last minute hard training is often counter productive-- it will not improve your fitness and is sometimes done for a coaches psyche that you have done everything possible before your race. It appears that a combination of rest with faster reps and a diminshed workload and a positive, focused mental outlook enables the body to give a peak effort on the day that you want.

Written By Jack Heath Appears in October 2009 Runners Gazette Magazine http://www.runnersgazette.com/features/

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Goal Setting for Runners

Sample Goals
Before each season, each runner on the Gloucester Catholic cross country team sets down their goals for the upcoming season on an index card. These goals serve as a road map to personally motivate each runner for the season ahead. Goals are a great way to show you where are and where you want to go. Setting and achieving goals builds self confidence. To be worthwhile, goals must meet the following criteria:

  • Goals must be positive.
  • Goals must be specific or precise.
  • Goals must be something you really want.
  • Goals must be consistent with your own values.
  • Goals must be reevaluated from time to time.
  • New goals should be set if some goals have been met.
  • Areas of improvement should be addressed if shortcomings are identified in pursuit of your goals: i.e.,"I need to get more sleep in order to reach my goals".
  • You should set some low level goals that are incremental and achievable. You should also set a stretch goal that is tough to achieve but possible-- and some goals in between that will be moderately difficult.

For runners, performance goals are the best--goals you have control over, rather than outcome goals that depend on other people or conditions out of your control.
"I would like to come in the top seven runners in todays meet" is better than "I would like to win the most courageous award at this meet today".

After brainstorming goals and picking the goals that motivate and mean the most to you, remember to keep your goals SMART:





Time Bound

Setting goals could lead to a season of great running accomplishments you never thought possible.