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Thursday, July 12, 2007

SI's Tim Layden on Alan Webb

Layden is one of the few mainstream big-time sportswriters that consistently covers track in depth and he does a nice job here.

While everyone seems high on Webb these days, I'm still a bit skittish, taking a wait-and-see attitude. After all , it's merely been good results in a couple of back-to-back high-speed time trials; unrabbitted racing which requires thinking has been his downfall. Nobby Hashuzime, Arthur Lydiard's right-hand man for more than a decade, doesn't think either his racing or training shows much brainpower, and his opinion should carry some weight.

A particular passage in Layden's article struck me.
We talked about some other young runners in the U.S., and I mentioned some heavy workouts that one of them had been doing. Raczko shook his head. It seemed like this particular runner -- who I won't name because he's doing just fine now and there's no reason to embarrass him or his high school coach and besides, Raczko and I were just BS-ing -- might be doing a lot of junk miles. "Where is the value in that?'' Raczko asked. "How is that going to help him in the future?''
It's terribly obvious that runner must be Dathan Ritzenhein, whose issues since then have been injury related, and I'm certain those injuries were brought on not by too much milage but the milage being done too fast. Ritz is the only other high school runner Webb or Razcko could have cared about at all in 2001, as he torched Webb at the Foot Locker XC the previous fall.

But the really weird thing is Raczko's point about "junk milage" being useless. The Let'sRun crowd (along with Hashuzime, Renato Canova, and Lydiard from beyond the grave to mention only a few) would disagree most vociferously. "Junk miles" as a term can't even be found in running literature until the 1980s, and we all know what happened here in the USA at that point in time. I'm waiting for the peanut gallery to weigh in on that one.

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