Tuesday, 13 March 2012

March 12 - News & Notes

Welcome back to another edition of Going Pro! Where I try to bring professional (& the top university) running news and stories to the amateurs... the weekend warriors... to those that rack up countless miles on their shoes but need a little motivation... and those that actually keep the sport going!

I took a two week hiatus from writing the blog for two reasons:
1) I was nearly buried alive with school work and life scheduling that I just didn't have enough time to sit down and construct something worthy of posting.
2) That was easier to do as there wasn't much news to write about for an entire blog piece in those weeks. But you better believe I have some serious ammo now! It's hard to know where to begin.

This week I'll cover:
Let's begin shall we:

I was looking forward to tell you all through this blog that Canada had officially qualified its 3rd male marathoner for the London Olympics this summer. Alas, I cannot do that. Two weekends ago Dylan Wykes ran the Lake Biwa Marathon in Japan in hopes of making the standard of 2:11:29.

However, stomach problems got the best of him and he had to drop out of the race at 26km. On facebook Dylan posted: "Unfortunately I was unable to finish today as I had some terrible stomach issue that put me on the side of the road several times before stopping for good around 26k. A very tough day. But thanks to all for your support I really appreciate it."

He has also confirmed the he will not try to run another qualifying marathon before the olympics. Instead... he's going after the 10,000m! We wish him all the best! More to come on Dylan in the workout recovery section of the blog.


This past weekend in Istanbul, Turkey some of the world's top runners took part in the World Indoor Track and Field Championships. Indoor track and field is bit of a different beast... First off, the track is 200m long with banked turns which means double the amount of laps than for the equivalent distance on a normal outdoor track (400m).

Also, the distances are a bit different, for example the 100m is shortened to 60m
  •  110m hurdles --> 60m hurdles
  • 5000m --> 3000m (which is the longest distance)
In anycase, like any world championships, each nation had their own qualifying races sending 3 runners per event (assuming they met the international standard).

The two main events of note were the men's and women's 3000m.

Mens 3000m

On the men's side our old friend Bernard Lagat (USA)was chasing his 3rd consecutive world indoor meter title at this distance. If he was to win he would tie the famous Haile Gebrsellasie with the most championships in history! don't forget that he is 37 years old!!!

He was up against the fastest man in 2010 in 3000m Kenyan Augustine Choge and the UK's Mo Farah, the 2011 world champion in 5,000m.

Mo Farah leading the pack.

As the raced unfolded that passed the mile in a pedestrian 4:14 and 2km in 5:16 (both 2:37/km) until they really ramped it up at the end. With one lap (200m) to go it the 3 men mentioned were neck and neck until the 37-year old unleashed a devastating kick that buried the pretenders. They never stood a chance. Lagat covered the last 200m in blistering ~24s!! That is absolutely outrageous.

After the race someone asked him how he still does it at his age, he responded with: 'I've been injury free and that is the key to staying strong.' So Bernie, is that all I have to do to run 2:35/km for 3km?

Finally as my go to site for running news, www.letsrun.com, said: "Lagat was born to run the 3000m. The perfect combination of speed and distance. Winning the gold in the 5000m in London will be tougher."
Below is the final 60m or so where you can see how no one else was even close to him.

Womens 3000m  There is truly only one name to mention when it comes to the womens 3000m:

Ethiopia's Meserat Defar

She has won this event in four  consecutive years. Needless to say she was the favorite going in, however Kenya's Hellen Obiri planned on halting the streak.

This was actually the fastest women's 3000m race I've seen! They went through the mile in 4:48 (2:58/km) and became progressively faster as the meters ticked off. With 400m (2 laps) to go they were averaging 2:55/km and then it really got going. Defar started her move running 32 seconds for the penultimate lap, but still have Obiri hanging on. With 100m to go Obiri found something extra, passed the indefatigable Defar and won convincingly - running the last 200m in 29.3 seconds!

The NEW 3,000m world champion Hellen Obiri!

Here's a video of the last 100m where Obiri leaves Defar in her dust. Absolutely amazing to watch.

*One thing of note: All of the male 3000m finalists ran within 17 seconds of the winner. However, the women's final was spread over 38 seconds. As you can see runners getting lapped at the end!

Up next is the NCAA Indoor Championships

NCAA Indoor Championships

Not only were the world's best on display this weekend, but so were the best collegiate runners in  NCAA indoor track and field championships in Idaho.

The main reason why USA produces such high quality runners is... well.. their high quality collegiate athletics system. I absolutely love the NCAA system for many reasons. First of all, NCAA athletes can race all year round if they so choose. In the fall, XC season is underway from August to November. From December to March is indoor track and field and from April to June there is outdoor track and field. This constant racing with the best of the best keeps athletes in consistent competition and at their best. Secondly, it is totally a team event: from the 60m sprinters to the pole vaulters everyone plays a part.
2010, 2011, & 2012 Male Champions - Florida State Gators

Finally, before you can even make the championship weekend of races you have to run as fast, or faster, than the qualifying time which are:

               Women    Men
400m         52.60     46.00
800m        2:04.5   1:47.3
1 mile       4:37      3:57.9
3000m      9:10      7:52.3
5000m    15:57     13:44.6


I want to share two stories from this weekend for you - two of which are some serious Canadian content:

Story #1) Rudy... Rudy... Rudy...

My 'Rudy' chant should immediately give away which school I'm about to discuss: the famous Notre Dame (and their 'Fightin' Irish'). In particular lets focus on the DMR which stands for Distance Medley Relay. This is a relay race where each person runs a different distance (1200m, 400m, 800m, 1 mile). It's a phenomenal event to watch and is usually the last event on the schedule as so many people and teams are involved.

This year the winners of the men's DMR was none other than Notre Dame. Now why bring this up? I mean someone has to win right? well it's because the anchor (or mile) leg was run by one of the fastest Canadian milers: Jeremy Rae.

Jeremy Rae
Rae is a 21-year old lightning bolt from Fort Erie, Ontario. In the weekend before NCAA championships, he ran sub 4:00 for the mile to qualify his DMR team.
*When I was running at Trent University in Ontario, I remember hearing a LOT of talk about him because he was trying to break 4:00 in high school which has only been done by a handful of people. I believe, if memory serves me correct, that he came pretty darn close!

Congratulations Mr. Rae, you are a national champion.

Story #2) Chris Derrick vs. Lawi Lalang

The most antipated race(s) of the weekend were by far the men's 3,000m and 5,000m. Why? well because the fastest 5,000m collegian EVER Arizona State's Lawi Lalang (from Kenya) was racing against the America's #3 fastest indoor 5,000m runner ever, Stanford challenger Chris Derrick.

Lawi Lalang
Chris Derrick
Lalang PBs:

3,000m: 7:44 (4:10/m 2:35/km)
5,000m: 13:08 (4:14/m 2:38/km)

Derrick PBs:

3,000m: 7:46 (4:10/m 2:35/km)
5,0000m: 13:19 (4:17/m 2:40/km)

Advantage: Lalang.

But would Derrick make it interesting?

Quick note: In both of the events it was a two horse race but we had another worthy competitor, a guy you've never heard of...Canadian Cam Levins. ha! He's only been on the front page of this blog in the last 3 posts. But he ran two incredible races but was simply outmatched by the class of the field in Derrick and Lalang.
First, the 5,000m... It was never really a question who was going to be 1st and 2nd (although Lalang's teammate Stephen Sambu was a close 3rd with Cam Levins in 4th). But who would pull it off?

They were neck and neck until 800m when Derrick decided that he needed to up the ante and he took the lead. Which Lalang battled back for the lead, and with one last push at 300m Derrick made one final surge opening a slight gap between the two. However, with 200m (one lap) to go Lalang pulled away for the win thanks to a 28 second final lap. Winning by 0.23s in a time of 13:25 (4:19/mile or 2:41/km). An absolutely incredible effort from Derrick.

Soooo.... close. Even Lalang didn't know he got him.

In the 3,000m, it was a similar story Derrick, Lalang, and Levins. The lead pack were still together with 600m to go until Lalang and Derrick surged created a gap between the eventual third place finisher Cam Levins (7:49). With 400m to go, Derrick and Lalang exchanged the lead and were neck and neck at the bell (1 lap to go). On the final turn, Derrick went wide to pass Lalang but just couldn't close the game. Lalang was victorious again... by 0.17s in a time of 7:46.64 to 7:46.81 (4:10/mile and 2:35/km).

This is probably how you feel after reading this... much like Derrick did after the two events. Incredibly performances by both athletes.

What do I have to do to beat this guy?

Up next is my two cents on: workout recovery and smart training.

Workout Recovery

As I assume 95 - 99.9% of people reading this blog are either runners or athletes in trainings (say for a triathlon), you all probably fall into the same trap: over-training + under-recovering.

Probably how you feel all of the time if overtraining.

It's just the way of life for runners in training. We become obsessive and compulsive about our training. We always feel like we should be doing more and feel guilty when we take time off (and we wonder why people think all of us runners are crazy). You may see short-term improvements in workouts and races. But, you are dramatically increasing rate and severely of inuries as well as burnout. There are countless stories of people who have over-trained, lost the love of the sport, and gave it up all together. I personally had this happen to one of my good running friends and part of is always checking race results in his area to see if he has come back, but nothing yet. 'Running OCD' reared it's ugly head again.

With all of that being said I want to share 3 pretty solid articles with you (one of them is the main reason why I'm training full-time now, we'll save that for the end).

1) Our good friend Dylan Wykes offered up his thoughts on what he does after a hard workout to ensure proper recovery. (Note: he has access to a few gadgets that all of us don't, but the concept is there).

Click here to read his blog article. Very interesting.

2) Ryan Hall is currently on his way to London as USA's 2nd fastest marathoner at the January Olympic Trials. In the recent years he has left his coach and went own his own 'faith-based' program. He went from running 120 miles per week down to 100 miles and with a day off each week. The majority of runners at his level or aspiring to be at his level would a) never settle for 100 miles per week or b) be ok with a day off. So how do he go about making this decision?

He talked to this guy: Matt Dixon.
Hall on left, Matt Dixon on Right
Dixon is a former competitive triathlete who suffered the a serious case of over-training.

Here are some quotes from www.runningtimes.com article:

"Dixon helped Hall see anew the benefits of recovery, encouraging him to incorporate more rest into his training and to eat more post-run to aid recovery"

"Dixon isn’t a 21st century wizard with secret knowledge; he just believes that recovery is under-valued and under-utilized. “Our goal is not to train as hard as we can, but to perform well,” Dixon says. “And to perform well you have to be very fit, but not fatigued.”
 Recovery, however, shouldn’t be confused with easy. “Recovery is the thing that enables hard training,” Dixon says. If you’re rested and fueled, you can you push yourself to new heights in key workouts and increase fitness.
I suggest you read the uber informative article, found here.

3) Hands down the best article I've ever read on training properly / smartly with almost a guarantee of getting faster (assuming you aren't already injured) was written by the co-founder of www.letsrun.comWeldon Johnson.

The article is called 'Why I Sucked in College'. It talks about Weldon's rise from a fairly competitive 10k runner with a personal best time of low 30 mins for 10k to one of the top 5 American times for the year in 28:06 - 4:31/mile or 2:49/km. Another cool note about Weldon was the fact that he paced Paula Radcliffe, the female marathon world record holder to her first world record of 2:17.18 in Chicago in 2002.
Paula Radcliffe with Weldon pacing

The whole article is essentially one big quote. I can guarantee you there is nothing you will read about training that is more true than this. Some highlights (all of the bold and capital letters are part of the article):

"Running is a very simple activity. It is largely an aerobic activity (and more so the farther you run in distance). The better aerobic fitness you have, the better you'll do. The more you can train and the more consistently you train the better you'll do. Most of us however, especially college runners, are out there running ourselves ragged, pounding away at intervals, without taking a step back to see what we really should be doing."

"The goal of every interval or every workout is not to run as fast as you can. Let me repeat that, THE GOAL OF EVERY INTERVAL OR EVERY WORKOUT IS NOT TO RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN"

" In running however, there are not bonus points for running "hard." The point is to run fast. There is a difference. Don't forget that. Too many people confuse "hard" with fast. The next time you see Bernard Lagat running, tell me how "hard" it looks like he's running."

Happy Running!