The Week That Was In Running: March 19-25, 2012

To read last week's LRC Week That Was, click here.

March 28, 2012

Last week, South Africa's 800 stars opened up at their specialty with resounding victories and we tell you what their wins mean (which means our incessant update on Nick Symmonds' medal chances), we do the same for Shalane Flanagan's impressive win in Lisbon, plus free coaching advice from Lauren Fleshman (do as I do) and Chris Solinsky (don't do as I do), and quotes from Mo Farah, a happy Nick Willis, an angry Ron Hill and a happy Olympic janitor.

South Africa's 800 Stars Open Up With Wins - What Does That Tell Us?

Caster In 2009
*'s Caster Semenya Video That Has Been Viewed 850,000+ Times - Help Push It Over 1 Million

Last weekend, 2009 world champion Caster Semenya opened up at 800 in South Africa and ran 2:03.60. Now, we know many of you are probably thinking, "For someone with a PR of 1:55, 2:03 is really slow."

That's what we thought until we did a little bit of research.

Last year, Semenya opened up even slower - 2:04.12, and yet she ran 1:56.35 at the World Champs (it should be pointed out that her 2011 opener came in February and this is the end of March).

In 2009, when Semenya won Worlds, she opened up in January at 2:09 and only finished 5th. By the end of the year, she was 1:55.45.

So our main conclusion is - she'll still be a force to be reckoned with this summer.

On the men's side, 2009 world champ Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (as well as 2004 Olympic silver and 2003 Worlds bronze medallist) opened up with a win in 1:46.41.

Lear year, Mulaudzi didn't compete due to injury after June 30th. As a result, he was very pleased to have run 1:46 in his first race since in almost 9 months.

We were very impressed as well. Our thoughts were the same as they were a few weeks ago - Nick Symmonds' chance at medalling got harder again.

More: S. African Yellow Pages Meet: Caster Semenya 2:03.60 Win, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi 1:46.41 Win, LJ Van Zyl Is Rusty In 400 This was former world champ Mulaudzi's first race in 8 months, so that's a pretty good performance. LJ Van Zyl only ran 46.50.
Mulaudzi Says The Only Person To Worry About Is David Rudisha He says he's "not really concerned" with anyone else.
Simon Magakwe Leads Two Others To Olympic A Standard In 200m With 20.38 Magakwe has a tattoo that says "Pleasure Boyz" which he qualified for in his younger days by having 10 girlfriends.
*IAAF Recap L.J. van Zyl's fiance Irvette van Blerk tuned up for the London Marathon with a 9:27 victory/PR in the 3k. *Results

Shalane Flanagan Wins EDP Lisbon Half - What Does That Tell Us?

One of the reasons why track and field isn't a more popular sport is that in this day and age of increasing specialization in the marathon, hardly any long distance runners race very often anymore. And in a day and age of World Champs or majors, other races seemingly are nothing more than glorified practices. Many of the top American stars have contracts to run races put on by the Competitor Group (responsible for the Rock N Roll series of races) where literally they know that barring a DNF, they are going to be the victor as there is no legitimate opposition. Thus the race literally is a public practice.

It was therefore refreshing last week to see 2012 US Olympic Trials Marathon Champ Shalane Flanagan in Portugal to compete in one of the top half marathons in the world - the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon which was recently purchased by the Competitor Group and their first European race. So a Thumbs Up to her for competing and for Competitor for putting on a world class half marathon (Competitor's Philly Half is pretty good, too).

But not only did she compete; she ran 68:52 and won the race.

A win is Lisbon is certainly a confidence booster. Her time is pretty close to her PR of 68:37 and the temps were a little high as they reached 74 Fahrenheit.

What does this all mean?

A Happy Shalane Flanagan
*More Lisbon Photos

Well, our opinion on Flanagan is exactly what it was before the race. She is a legitimate medal contender for the London Olympics.

Flanagan emerged with an Olympic bronze 10,000 four years ago in Beijing and she could do so again in London.

Flanagan is clearly a talent who is obviously healthy and in good form. Moreover, she's in her marathoning prime as she'll be 31 when the Olympics take place. Deena Kastor was 31 when she won Olympic bronze in 2004.

Yes, we know Flanagan's marathon PR is "only" 2:25:38, but we can't hold that too much against her as she's only run two marathons and both were very good performances (in addition to her OTrials win, she was 2nd in NY in 2010). It will be interesting to see if she's got the guts to go out with the leaders if they jet out in 70-flat in London.

Being able to run 2:20 is a lot different than being able to run 2:25, but the win shows Shalane is on the right track and most importantly healthy leaving the Olympic Trials.

More: *LRC 2012 Lisbon Photo Gallery
*Shalane Flanagan Wins Lisbon Half, Tadese Three-Peats The American got the big upset win (just as we predicted) and Zersenay Tadese got the win but not the world record (just as we predicted). Flanagan ran 68:51 for the win.
Flanagan wins Lisbon. Lock for Olympic gold?
*Will there be an official Lisbon half-marathon thread?
*Letsrun...seriously your picking Shalane Flanagan to win the 2012 Lisbon Half Marathon?
*LRC Lisbon Half Marathon Preview

Weekly Free Coaching Advice - Be Yourself & Progress Logically In Your Training

There wasn't a lot of action last week, so we'll entertain you with two free aspects of weekly coaching advice. The first comes from US 5,000 Olympic hopeful Lauren Fleshman. The following excerpt from a Running Times feature on her talks about how she didn't hit her stride post-collegiately until she stopped trying to be like everyone else and decided to do what works best for her:

    "It was this light bulb [going off]: 'You will run faster if you're just yourself and stop trying to be someone else.'" She gave herself permission to enjoy life away from the track and to indulge interests other than running faster. The lesson she'd learned in Europe finally paid off ... In 2005, while racing in Europe, she noticed that every athlete had a unique approach. The formula that worked for a Paula Radcliffe wouldn't work for a Lauren Fleshman. She just had to figure out what that meant. "In order for me to put my foot down and say, 'I'm doing things my way,' it takes a lot of confidence," Fleshman says. "I didn't have that for a few years. I was still fumbling around trying to figure out what worked for me."

The second piece of coaching advice is more related to training and gets at the heart of one of our key principles of training. To us, running is very simple. The easiest way to improve in your running is to progress in your training each year.

Now for most, to progress in your training means to run a little bit more each year, as the vast majority of distance runners don't run enough. But that doesn't have to mean that a high schooler should go out and run 100 miles per week or a pro should go out and run 120 per week. The key is to progess in a logical amount each year. Most people can safely handle a 10-15 miles/week increase in a given year. Often after a particularly bad or a particularly good year, people overdo it and try to do way too much.

Case in point - Chris Solinsky. Solinsky is on the comeback trail after having surgery to reattach his hamstring to his pelvis. How did he get hurt? Well, he overdid it, as explained by the following excerpt from a Runnersworld feature on him.

    "My hamstring had basically ripped off my pelvis," said Solinsky ...

    The reason for all of this, Solinsky says, was that his 2011 self tried to out-do his 2010 self. In 2010, he had five weeks over 120 miles, and 30 weeks over 100 miles. In 2011, his goal was to double or even triple the number of weeks over 120. He got in 12, counted in the famous "Badger Miles," where all miles are 7:00 miles.

More: The Professional: Lauren Fleshman Finds herself In Oregon *Rehabbing Chris Solinsky Racing For Time

Spearmon Runs Fast & We USATF Tells You About It

LRC Wallace Spearmon Runs 19.95 In March! We usually don't talk about sprinters too much in March, but a 19.95 this early in the year deserves mention. We did some research and realized that no one in the history of the world had run sub-20.00 in the Northern hemisphere in March until now. Spearmon's Achilles injury is clearly behind him. And we noticed USATF made Spearmon Athlete of the Week and cited all the stats from our article about this being the earliest sub 20.00 in the Northern Hemisphere and Spearmon now having run 22 sub-20-second 200s, tying Usain Bolt. Now they didn't link back to little* LRC, and these are just facts, but next time maybe we'll cite them incorrectly and see what happens. Because we and you always have cool little pranks people are falling for.

*Actually, we shouldn't call ourselves little LRC, as our site is way bigger than theirs if is to be believed.

5 Quotes Of The Week (That Weren't Quotes Of The Day)

#1 -
"I feel like I've put in the training a gold medallist would need to do, but that has to continue over the next couple of months. I'm just really thankful to be in a position where I can say I've had some of the best training of my life over the past six weeks. As that continues, the sky's the limit in terms of what can happen in London."

- 2008 Olympic silver medallist at 1,500, Nick Willis, talking to the New Zealand Herald last week prior to backing up his bold statement with a resounding 11+ second victory at 5,000 over training partner Will Leer, who himself has already run 13:37 this year.

More: Nick Willis Crushes Will Leer - Wins NZ 5,000 Title & Says He Can Run 13:10 & Do 1,500/5k Double At Olympics MB: Can Willis medal at 5k? *Willis Eases To 5,000m Title *Willis Pre-Race On 1,500 Chances: "I feel like I've put in the training a gold medallist would need to do." "The sky's the limit in terms of what can happen in London."

#2 -
"Sports generally are not spending enough on anti-doping agencies and not putting enough blood testing forward. That being the case, I suspect HGH cheats are getting away with it. What is an effective and robust program? It's a hell of a lot more than 2 percent of the samples being blood samples. It's probably got to be 15 percent, or maybe 20 percent blood samples to be effective."

- World anti-toping president John Fahey reacting to the news last week that came out that only 5,000 of the 258,267 (1.9%) drug tests that were conducted by WADA last year were blood tests. We agree with Fahey - that's an unacceptably low number. We'd rather they do 50,000 tests but include blood tests in all of them.

More: Anti-Doping Chief Calls For More Blood Testing To Catch "Cheats"

#3 -
"I was disappointed (to not be selected to carry the Olympic torch). In my area it seemed to be about charities. These people ought to be recognised, and are, for the work they do. But this is about sport and Olympians, for heaven's sake. I cannot see any other country in the world celebrating having the Olympics on home soil in this way. My sentiments are the same for the treatment of Olympians in the tickets saga."

- 2:09:38 marathoner and former European and Commonwealth champion Ron Hill, talking to Athletics Weekly about being left out of the thousands who were selected to carry the Olympic torch in the UK. Making Hill's snub all the more bitter is the fact that London Olympic chief Seb Coe has admitted that Hill is one of the men who inspired Coe to go into athletics.

More: Running icon Hill overlooked for torch honour

#4 -
"I've spoken to Alberto and he thinks I am a lot better than I was this time last year. I got 3,000m gold at the European Indoors last March. But the time I won it with (7:53.00) wouldn't even have made the final this year (7:52.35 was the last time qualifier).

That shows you the difference in the level you step up to at the worlds."

- 2011 5k world champion Mo Farah talking to The Sun about his failure to win a medal at Worlds this year. Farah's quote reveals something about the nature of running that is often forgotten. A race shouldn't be labeled as "bad" or "good" just based on whether someone wins or not. The level of competition varies widely. co-founder Robert Johnson has a rule he uses when coaching guys at Cornell. If they run a PR and are beaten, he doesn't let them be too upset about it.

More: I cannot rest on my laurels

#5 -
"When it snowed, I kept trying to catch the flakes but it always melted in my hands, but after three days the excitement was over and it was just very, very cold."

- Norway's 2:09 Olympic marathoner Urige Buta, who immigrated from Ethiopia, talking in a fantastic piece on him from Reuters about the first time he encountered snow. Buta is worth reading about because he works a full-time job as a janitor.

More: Running janitor set for Olympics

Recommended Reads

*Meet Norway's Full-Time Janitor Who Is About To Be An Olympic Marathoner
*With 4 Titanium Screws Holding His Hamstring To His Pelvis, Chris Solinsky Will Try To Not Overdo It In 2012 After a sensational 2010 which saw him become the 1st white man under 27:00, Solinsky went crazy in 2011 and overdid it. Now he's on the comeback trail from the 1st significant injury of his career. We almost certainly will use this as QOD for Thursday.
*Meet Eulace Peacock - The Man Who Owned Jesse Owens Until He Tore His Hamstring (Note: The dates appear to be off) Even Owens doubted he could beat Peacock. Owens: "It's going to take a special man to beat Eulace Peacock. You see, I've already reached my peak. Peacock is just now reaching his. He's a real athlete. I don't know whether I can defeat him again."
*Marc Bloom Asks: What Makes A Great HS Coach?
*23 Years Ago, Tim Hutchings Got Silver At World XC In Boston & Now Hutchings Laments Current Bi-Annual State World Cross-Country Hutchings: "the IAAF have a lot to answer for as they reduced it to a virtual track race with manicured lawn-like courses around the world being used for the world championships and the real skills of cross country - being able to cope with changes in surface and inclines and twist and turns - being stripped away so that the event has become more like a glorified road race or even a track race on occasion."
*WSJ India Asks: Should Poor Countries Face the Same Doping Bar in Sports?

Other News Of Note From The Last Week

LRC Wallace Spearmon Runs 19.95 In March! To Crush Jeremy Wariner No one in the history of the world had run sub-20.00 in the Northern hemisphere in March until now. Spearmon's Achilles injury is clearly behind him. Doc Patton ran a 10.04 on a perfect 80-degree day and La Shauntea Moore ran a WL in the women's 200m. *Discuss
FW Star-Telegram: Spearmon: "I'm back." Spearmon trains with Doc Patton, who ran 10.04.

B Of A Shamrock Shuffle: *Results (link fixed) *Discussion Abdelaaziz Atmani won as Abdi was 3rd. Julia Lucas won over Delilah Dicrescenzo.

Austin: Leo Manzano Runs 3:55.98 At Manzano Mile Congrats to Leo on the Texas state record, which was in essence a solo effort with rabbits. *MBoard Thread

Another New Doping Scandal Emerges
Spanish Police Secretly Arrested 10 People 2 Months Ago In International Doping Ring That Is Linked To Positive At Beijing Games
The arrests were hidden presumably so authorities could try to catch others as the group is responsible for positives also at the 2010 Vuelta a Espana, the 2009 Volta a Portugal and the 2010 Spanish athletics championships. The article says the mastermind is only known as "Dr. Alberto BN." Think Morocco is full of cheats? Well, "the shop is also alleged to have delivered EPO to two Moroccan brothers in Madrid who administered doping substances to cyclists."
*Alberto BN Is IDed As Former Liberty Seguros Dr. Alberto Beltran Nino

Quotes Of The Day From The Week & Last Week's Homepages:

Note: To see a particular day's homepage, click on the hyperlink of the date on the left. The quote's hyperlink will take you to that particular article - not that day's homepage.

Monday 3/26: "Honestly, I think it's great for American middle-distance running to be where it's at. But at the end of the day, I'm a selfish person. I want to be on the podium, and I don't really care about other Americans getting [there]. I just know that's where I want to be."

- An honest Morgan Uceny talking to the LA Times in this article about the optimal altitude training in Mammoth Lakes. They had a second longer article focusing on Meb Keflezighi and others who take advantage of Mammoth's location to do "high-low" training.

Sunday 3/25: "Houston wasn't only the deepest Olympic marathon trials marathon ever; it was the deepest marathon for American runners, period, including any race from whatever definition of the good old days anyone wants to put forward. Still, the rest of the world is a lot faster. In 2011, the year the marathon went crazy, only Hall showed up in the top 100 in the world, and that was largely due to his 2:04:58 finish in Boston, nearly 2 minutes from the top of the list."

- Parker Morse writing about the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon and where the Americans stand on the world stage.

Saturday 3/24: "I start work (as a janitor) at 6 a.m. and go maybe 5 or 6 hours without a break, and my legs just ache by then. (Then I train) but I have to be back at work by three so there is no time to rest. You can't always have what you want. Maybe it's been difficult but my dream has always been to run in the Olympics and that is about to come true. Even if your body is tired, your mind can be strong."

- Urige Buta, Norway's 2:09 marathoner, talking about the difficulties of being a full-time janitor as well as Olympic marathoner.

Friday 3/23: "You don't ask people, 'Hey, how many 1600s did you run today?' You ask them, 'Hey how many miles did you run today?'"

- Leo Manzano in an interview with Bring Back the Mile answering the question why his event tomorrow is called the "Manzano Mile" and not "Manzano 1,600." The alliteration probably doesn't hurt either.

Thursday 3/22: "Hyper-intelligent athletes tend to gather so much knowledge, but that doesn't always get converted into logical programming."

- Oregon Track Club coach Mark Rowland on the multi-faceted Lauren Fleshman (and a lot of you at LRC). The long Running Times profile was written before Lauren got injured again. Lauren's blog post on her injury has some interesting comments a lot of us can relate to as well: "Why do I live in this God forsaken rain-soaked shit hole?! Why am I doing this stupid sport?!"

Wednesday 3/21: "I saw Ronaldo on TV yesterday and I noticed how fat he has become. I don't want to finish like him, I really do not. So I keep running and competing ... (But) my time is almost four minutes slower than the fastest Ethiopian and no one would accept that I return from London without a medal."

- The great Haile Gebrselassie explaining while he will continue to run and compete, but not at the Olympics.

Tuesday 3/20: "I've been waiting for this summer for four years so I'm going to enjoy every moment and put on a show for everybody around the world ... This year I feel good."

- Usain Bolt resurfacing and talking to Reuters, downplaying fears that anything is wrong with him in this Olympic year.


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