The Secrets Exposed:
Debunking Some of the Myths Surrounding My Training.
by: Weldon Johnson
Wow, little did I know the impact one
race would have on the running geekdom. In my preparation for
the Olympic Marathon trials, I ran a 10k pr of 1 minute and 22
seconds, to improve to 28:27. And with that I have become the
talk of the running community. Well, maybe not the talk, but
considering that I never used to be talked about at all, it seems
a bit ridiculous. So let me shed light on some of the rumors
I have heard that attempt to explain "the secret" to
Living in a Cabin on the Side of a Mountain
1) I live on the side of a mountain
in a cabin with my twin brother.
While flattering, this Paul Bunyan tale can easily be dismissed.
I actually thought about trying to live in cabin on the side
of the mountain (to live at a higher altitude), but it's almost
impossible to do, in the winter in Flagstaff. So instead, I lived
in a vacation rental apartment, equipped with cable TV and a
cable modem (I've got to be able to track my stocks on CNBC and
surf the net).
2) All we (my twin brother and myself)
do is run:
This rumor is closer to the truth, but not true either. First,
no one can only run, because you can only run for about 3 hours
a day. Perhaps, they were alluding to the fact that I was not
working. However, this is not even technically true, because
I would do occasional contract work for my company (a few hours
a week). And besides from what I understand most top runners,
"work" very little in the traditional since. Putting
in a few hours a day in a shoe store really does not count.
And no I was not running 180 miles per week as rumored. Although,
I tend to run really slow on my easy days so, I guess maybe some
guys could have run 180 miles during the time I spent running
3) I run up and down mountains every
day,and workout barefoot on a dirt track.
There is some truth here. My coach does prescribe specific runs
at least 5 specific elevations (8000 -10,000 ft, 7,000 ft, 4,500
feet, 3000+, 1000) and "mountain runs," where predominantly
I'll run uphill half the distance, and then back downhill. However,
these mountain runs were not too frequent. I'll admit to one
day running up and down a mountain in a snowdrift of a few feet,
covering 8 miles in over an hour and 40 minutes (there's some
fodder for the folklore), but my coach didn't specifically tell
me to do that. As for the dirt track, that part is true. One
of the places I do workouts is on a dirt track, but I wear shoes.
More people should try running on trails, and on dirt tracks, I think the varied terrain
is beneficial. (See my top 10 reasons for my success below)
3) a) I have no life and b) purposely
avoided contact with women:
Well, I guess point a) is in the eye of the beholder. As for
my ever so vibrant social life in Flagstaff, I know the names
of 9 people in Flagstaff besides my brother (3 runners, my realtor,
3 massage therapists, the head guy at the Altitude Center, the
preacher at the church I went to, and that's it), all who were
associated with running or parts of my every day life. But probably
95% of my time was spent with my brother. But honestly, I don't
think I've ever enjoyed myself more. Seriously, every day my
focus was on my running, and I was doing it in as beautiful setting
as one could imagine.
As for b), the focus is on intent. Admittedly, I do not know
the name of single, single woman in Flagstaff, but I had no intention
of this when I moved out there. I just started focusing on my
running and had no desire to get out and meet people. You know
what they say running does to the old sex drive. If the lack
of contact with women is the explanation for my success, soon
I should have all of the world records. But it's obviously not
the explanation, because look at my twin brother, who knows the
same people I do, yet ran a 10k 3 minutes slower than me.
4) I'm on drugs.
I laughed when I heard this one. In a way it's the ultimate compliment
that can be given to a runner. For basically, whoever says it
whether they believe it or not, assumes your performances are
almost super human, so they might as well concede defeat at the
starting line. However, then I became upset because I pride myself
on being very ethical. I believe drugs are rampant in the top
levels of the sport (sub 2:08 marathons), and want to do something
about them (go to Frank
Shorter's site to see what can be done).
I am a strong advocate of blood testing. And I have a standing
offer to be blood tested whenever anyone else wants to test me,
unless its like a few days before an important race (I don't
know enough about it to know if the lack of blood would effect
my performance or not). But you can test me right after the finish.
For the record, I take a multi-vitamin, pycogenol (an antioxidant)
and vitamin C, and when at altitude feosol (liquid iron). My
hermatocrit level was 47.8% and 48% the two times I've had it
tested in Flagstaff. Evidently this is very high which is good
for me, but it doesn't necessarily explain my recent improvements.
First off, I'm not sure if this is any higher than it was when
I lived in Washington, DC as my identical twin brother had his
tested there and it was 48%. Plus he just got his tested in Flagstaff
and it's 49.3% but he's running poorly (although we just found
out he might be a bit anemic).
So,now that I've erased some of the
myths, please see my top 10 training
tips and explanations for my newfound
success. I believe 9 of the 10 can be achieved by all runners.
PS . Click here to
see a sample week of my secret workouts.
this is the week of April 1st)
to return to the Wejospeaks page.