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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Breakfast Run

I should be blogging about the first day of the World Athletics Final. It was on WCSN at 7:30 this morning, but I was otherwise occupied at the time and the on-demand video hasn't been posted yet.

I took over coaching the boys' cross country team at my school. This weekend has traditionally been an off-week from racing, and I wanted to keep it that way (partially so I wouldn't miss out on the Black Swamp Arts Festival). The previous coach had done a "breakfast run" at his house on this weekend, offering the kids a 7-mile or 10-mile run. We kept that, but I put a twist on it.

We drove 10 miles from my house, parked at a rail-trail, and I told them "My house is that way. See ya!"
A bad achilles has kept me from running for the last two weeks, otherwise I would have run with them. I met them a number of times along the way.
While I live in a college town surrounded by farmland, the school where I teach is situated some 25 miles to the north, in a mixed middle-class/working-class area of Toledo. Few of these kids have ever seen this much corn.
This year, there was no 7-mile option. There was a 14-mile option, which no one took (one was ready but hurt a calf earlier this week). All went 10 miles, and I think 5 out of the 9 boys had never run that far in their lives (although 8 miles is a weekly occurrence). For a developing program, 10 miles is decent. I'd like more, but you've got to start somewhere.

The big thing I'm trying to teach these kids is one of Arthur Lydiard's mantras: You can run too fast to develop aerobic efficiency, but you can never run too slow. This is the opposite of what we Americans have been led to think, which is "long, slow running leads to long, slow runners". In fact, I have a hard time believing the old Kiwi myself sometimes, but so far their times are generally a whole minute faster than last year at the same meets.

Not that it's all just jogging around. We do plenty of that, but they also do plyometrics, strides, repeats and races. Everything has its place and time. Tinman is of the opinion that aerobic training is the cement that holds everything else together, and one major mistake runners make is dropping their milage too early in the season. It's as if we're afraid of aerobic running, like we don't trust it. Well, I'm going to put my trust in it, and we'll see how it goes for the rest of the season.

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