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The Week That Was March. 16-22, 2009
March 23, 2009
*Last week's week in review can be found here.
By LetsRun.com

From Ryan Hall getting us excited about Boston to Kara Goucher confusing us as to what to think, we cover The Week That Was in running. Along the way, we talk about everything from the serious (A Japanese legend retiring) to the not-so-serious (the toilets on the Boston marathon course and the toilets on the Canadian XC team's flight to Amman, Jordan). And lastly, we end by giving you a posisible solution to the post-nuptial shutoff if it's afflicting you and you are a man.

Ryan Hall Training Update - Let's Get The Bandwagon Going Again
Plus Not Everyone In Boston Is Thrilled With The Marathon
The biggest race of the week came at the Lisbon Half marathon. We'll talk about that fantastic race later but we wanted to start our Week That Was with talk of the guy who skipped a big half marathon showdown last week with Haile GebrselassieRyan Hall. If you are one of the many that has been salivating recently at the prospect of seeing an American male cross the finish line first in Boston for the first time in 25 years, then it might have concerned you that Hall skipped out on the City-Pier-City Half Marathon last week.

Well this week Running Times had a great interview of Hall that is full of great info. The good news is it's clear that there is no need for Hall fans to panic. Hall eased everyone's fears by saying succinctly, "My training's been going way better than before Beijing, that's for sure. It's been just as good as any of my marathon build-ups."

In some ways, Hall's training may be better than ever, as he said he's had more marathon specific work than in the past. Normally he said he'd do a couple of 12 mile tempos runs and one 15 mile tempo run and this year he's already done two 15 milers and an 18 miler and he's still planning on doing another 18 miler and 15 miler prior to Boston.

In Hall's interview, he also gives our 1st Free Training Tip Of The Week.
#1 Free Training Tip Of The Week - You Don't Necessarily Need Or Even Want To Be In PR Shape For The 10k And Even Half Marathon To Run Your Best Marathon.

It's clear that Hall has learned that if you are training to run a fast half marathon or 10k, you may lack the endurance needed to excel at 26.2. He cited 2009 NYC marathon winner Marilson Gomes dos Santos in support of this theory as dos Santos won this year in NYC after running 63:14 for the half at the world champs whereas the year before he finished 8th at New York after running 59:33 for the half at the world champs.

"What I love about running is training specifically for a race. I'm a very focused guy. My training is very marathon-specific, meaning that I'm not going to be great at 10Ks and half marathons, but I know that once I get out there for the marathon distance, I'm going to be in the best form possible because I've sacrificed fitness at 10K, even the half marathon, so that I can be totally A game for the marathon distance. That actually gives me more confidence than, say, running 27:30 a couple weeks before. I'd rather not go out and do that, in the same way that Khalid [Khannouchi] and some of these guys will go out and run 61 minutes for a half. I mean, [Marilson] Gomes dos Santos, he was coming off his 62:whatever he ran at world champs (LRC editors note: dos Santos actually ran 63:14 at WCs), compared to the year before, he ran 59:something and didn't win New York, and then last time he's in 62 shape and comes to New York and looks great. That's been my experience, too. You gotta choose your battles. So for me, that battle is the marathon in Boston."

The Running Times piece is full of useful info and is a must-read in our mind. It's certainly got us excited about Boston again as it's clear Hall is happy with the way things have gone and most importantly seems to be in a confident frame of mind.

Oh yeah. One more thing. And while we're talking about Boston, apparently not the whole city gets excited for the marathon. This week we were made aware of something we'd never thought about before. Apparently, this time of year the homeowners near Heartbreak Hill are deluged with runners urinating (and we imagine far worse) on their property as they try to get in a last long run or two on the Boston course. The solution? How about a temporary porta-john that will be there between now and the race. The shoe company Saucony installed one last week and for that they deserve a Thumbs Up. Certainly our Good Deed of the Week and most clever expenditure of marketing money ever.

Unless you really get running, we can see how that would be hard to justify in some marketing meeting. We can see some marketing manager talking to some running nerd who came up with the idea, "Let me get this right, you want us to spend a few hundred bucks on a toilet that we are going to put in the middle of residential neighborhood?"

Race Of The Week - The Lisbon Half
Lel Gets Win Over Stacked Field, Wanjiru Fizzles Yet Again and Goucher?????
What a race. On the men's side, you had arguably the four finest marathon racers on the planet (we're calling Haile G a time trialer), as you had the entire 2008 Kenyan Olympic marathon team of Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (4 time Boston winner, 1 time Chicago winner), Martin Lel (3-time London winner and 2-time NY winner) and the Olympic champion (and half marathon world record holder) Sammy Wanjiru. Throw in Olympic silver medallist and two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib and slew of other Kenyans, including Emmanuel Mutai, and you have a hell of a race. In the end, it became a 3-way battle between Cheruiyot, Lel and Gharib and then a two-man battle between Lel and Gharib, with Lel getting his 3rd victory in Lisbon in 59:56 to Gharib's 59:59. Lel won previously in Lisbon in 2003 and 2006.

And to support our point about Ryan Hall saying you don't necessarily want to be in tip top half shape as you are getting ready for a marathon, we want to point out that Lel didn't win either of his spring marathons in 2003 or 2006. He was 3rd in Boston in 2003 and 2nd in London in 2006.

Cheruyiot ended up 3rd in Lisbon 1:01:05. A very solid showing for him. Don't think the fact that he didn't win in Lisbon will make anything remotely easy for Ryan Hall in Boston. Cheruyiot has 6 times been on the podium in Lisbon but never actually won the race. Somehow he's managed to win Boston 4 times.

The big surprise was the faltering of the Olympic champion and half marathon world record holder Wanjiru, who only ran 61:25 - his 2nd straight half marathon over 61 minutes as he ran 61:13 for the win on February 1. What is wrong with Wanjiru? That is the question.

Could it be that he's paying the price for racing too much. Last year, his Japanese coach Koichi Morishita (1992 Olympic silver medallist for Japan) didn't even want him to run a spring marathon, as he told the IAAF,

"If Sam is going to run a spring marathon, he has to start the marathon training before he fully recovers from his last marathon and he could be exhausted by the spring. Instead, I am thinking of him running his next marathon in the fall. He ought to run two more marathons as an experience, and then go for the fast time in his fourth or fifth marathon."

Wanjiru ended up running both London and the Olympics. The heavy race schedule may not have got up with him last year but no one is invincible - not even 22-year-olds. Last year, he raced 15 times, including 12 times at 10k or longer. Maybe he's paying for it now. Additionally, there was talk about Wanjiru moving his training base to Kenya from Japan. We're not sure if that's happened but that could be playing a role as well. We'll certainly find out in London in a few weeks.

On the women's side, expectations were very, very high for Kara Goucher as her coach Alberto Salazar did what coaches almost never do - he talked up her chances.  "I wouldn't be surprised if she broke 66 (minutes), She is in so much better shape now (than when she ran her pb of 66:57), she easily is a minute faster."

In case you didn't realize it, the women's world record is Lornah Kiplagat's 66:25, so that's some serious bold talk.

And the result? Well, as is normally the case whenever something is hyped as a possible world record attempt ... disappointment. The conditions weren't ideal, a little warm and a little muggy, but Goucher was never on record pace. She was on American record pace for much of the race as she hit 15k in approximately 48:20, but Deena Kastor's American record is 67:34 - a far cry from 65 minute territory. In the end, Goucher cratered a ton and finished in 68:29.

We're sure she's disappointed but what does it mean? Hard to say.

On the one hand, it might mean very little as we did start the Week That Was by using quotes from Ryan Hall to assert our assumption that you don't necessarily want to be in tip top absolute PR form in the half marathon during your marathon buildup. 68:29 is still pretty fast and women's marathoning is nowhere near as deep as men's, so if she'd just showed up at this race and run 68:29 without all the hype, we probably wouldn't have been to concerned about it.

On the other hand,  it's certainly disconcerting that someone who is coming up from the shorter distances (remember Goucher just won the Millrose Mile in January) and clearly had big, big goals for this race would run significantly slower than she had hoped. From a psychological perspective, the race certainly didn't help Goucher.

Prep races are weird things because if they go well, they can give one a great boost of confidence but if they go poorly, things get interesting.

More: Kara Goucher In Great Shape Heading Into Lisbon Half, Salazar Happy For His Athletes' Success
LRC Recap Of 2009 Lisbon Half
LRC Preview Of 2009 Lisbon Half
IAAF Recap Of 2009 Lisbon Half

A Japanese Legend Retires
The greatest Japanese distance runner of the current era and arguably the greatest ever has called it a career. During his career, Toshinari Takaoka set national records at 3k, 5k, 10k and the marathon and most of those records still stand. He leaves the sport with PRs of 7:41.87 (NR), 13:13.40 (NR at time since broken), 27:35.09 (NR), 61:07 for the half marathon and 2:06.16 (NR) for the marathon.

It's a bit ironic that while he's probably best known now as a marathoner, as his 2:06:16 national record there is most competitive on the world stage, Takaoka never competed in the Olympics in the marathon. He was 7th in the 5k at the 1996 Games and 7th in the 10k in the 2000 Games but missed out on the marathon in 2004 and 2008.

Takaoka is retiring at age 38 with very few regrets. "Since I started in junior high school I have been a runner for 26 years. There are dreams of mine which didn't come true, but I have always given everything to be competitive at the world level. I still think about 'Being in the Olympic Marathon,' but I know that I was able to set my [marathon] record because I stayed focused on getting as fast as I could on the track until I was 31."

A simply unreal career. He was sort of the Bob Kennedy of Japanese distance running in the 1990s but, unlike Kennedy, he got to really explore what he could do at 10k and above. He will be missed.
*Toshinari Takaoka Calls It A Career

Said Aouita Forced Out As National Coach Yet Again - This Time For Being Against Drugs
What an  interesting turn of  events. A few years ago, 1984 Olympic 5k champ Said Aouita a was pushed out as a coach in Australia because it was alleged he asked athletes to take HGH. Given the amount of illegal PED use by distance runners somehow tied to Morocco over the years, all we can say is that didn't really surprise.

Well now he's been pushed out as coach in Morocco but this time he says in part because of his strict anti-drug message.

Very interesting. The rest of the world is finally clamping down on drug cheats and Aouita is claiming that part of the reason he got sacked in Morocco is because he's so anti-PED. Wow.

Tyson Gay Reveals He Had Knee Injury Over Winter But Is Back Training
Each week we gotta give a little love to sprint fans and this week we'll go catch up with the man who seemingly has been forgotten with our recent love affairs with Dwain Chambers and Usain Bolt. At a promotional shoot for his sponsor adidas, 2007 100m and 200m world champion Tyson Gay revealed last week that when he resumed training in November, he overdid it a bit and he had a slight knee injury that has caused him to be about six weeks behind schedule. He was quoted by  track and field news as saying, "What a lot of people don't know is that I had a knee injury last fall "a little bit of inflammation under my tendon. It was kind of swollen a little bit."  The good news is he is now 100% pain free and training well.

The better news also is he has a wild card into the World Championships and thus doesn't have to rush things.

Bolt certainly is phenomenal, but people forget that only one person on the planet has ever run 9.68 and his name isn't Usain Bolt.
*AP Article On Tyson Gay's Comeback

2nd Free Training Tip Of The Week (And Proof Yet Again The #1 Tendency Is To Overtrain In An Olympic Year)
In recapping the past week in running, we here at LetsRun.com often try to give you free training advice. We gave you some earlier from Ryan Hall but we wanted to use a great quote from Mo Farah this week to repeat a message that we often give. In an Olympic year, nearly everyone has a tendency to force things and overtrain. Anyone wonder what happened to Alan Webb last year? We've got a very good idea he did exactly this.

Anyway, you don't have to be an Olympian to listen to this advice as we think it applies at all levels. If there is a big race coming up that you've basically trained your whole life for, there is a tendency to try to force it too much. It very often happens with seniors in college as they think "This is my last chance, I've got to go for it," and normally it backfires.

We talked about it a few weeks ago at the end of February with Ryan Hall forcing things before the Olympics last year and we'll talk about it again this week with another athlete, as we can't emphasize this point enough.

So the free training advice this week comes from Britain's Mo Farah: "That's the biggest lesson I've learned from Beijing: you have to listen to your body. It takes time to learn that skill and last year I didn't really have it. Four weeks before the Olympics my body gave me signals to take it easy. But I didn't listen. By the time we got to Macau [the British team's pre-Olympics base] I felt flat and tired."

Listen to Mo and try to relax in the month before the big race!!!

2009 USATF Masters Championships
There is always a lot to love about Masters championships. You'd have to be a very jaded individual to not be inspired by feats like 95-year-old Bob Ward throwing the weight 21 feet and 65-year-old George Matthews chucking it 62 feet - both world records.

But the story of the day that got a big article in the Washington Post was Joan Benoit Samuelson's 10:22 3k at the age of 51 (young people - Benoit was the 1984 Olympic marathon champ), which was a new American record. Other performances worth noting include 43-year-old Alisa Harvey winning both the mile (5:04.02) and 400 (59.05) in the same day. Harvey is basically unbeatable at the Masters level.

And speaking of Masters, we loved the Runnersworld Brief Chat with masters world champion Ralph Souppa who revealed the key to success as a master. This is our Best Quote That Didn't Make It As A Quote of the Day

"Most masters runners have some injury, I find. You only have to beat half the runners because the other half are injured." - masters world champion Ralph Souppa.

More: *Results
*Brief Chat With Masters World Champion Ralph Souppa
Day 3: Leland McPhie, 95, Steals The Show With More Age Group World Records
Day 2: 4 World Records Set, Alisa Harvey Runs 5:04 Mile
Day 1:
Washington Post Feature On Joan's Run
*Joan Benoit's 10:22 3k At Age 52 Highlights 1st Day Of US Master's Championships

Weekly Drug Update
Some interesting developments last week on the anti-doping front. All of them pretty self-explanatory. The French definitely want to nail Lance Armstrong.

*French Doping Agency Surprises Lance Armstrong With Hair Follicle Drug Test
Interesting Article On Surprising Number Of Deaths In Horse Racing
French Test Their Own Athletes, Find 15% Of Them Using Illegal Steroid DHEA!
New Gene Doping Test Developed In Germany
Italian 9th Placer In 2004 Olympic Marathon Busted For EPO

Looking Ahead / Getting Ready For World XC
For true distance fans, the World Cross-Country Championships are always one of the highlights of the year. It's running in it's most elemental form. Line up the most talented guys and girls from around the world and at all distances, fire the gun and see who comes out on top.

Sadly, with the race having been split into two races for a while, World XC lost some of it simple appeal. Thankfully, that is now back as there is only one race for each gender for the 2nd year. If only the financial $ucce$$ of the marathons wasn't so great, then we'd have a perfect world ... but that's another story.

We're excited about this year's race which takes place on Saturday in Amman, Jordan. How will the US junior men led by German Fernandez do? Can Kenya get a male individual winner with Bekele out? Who will step up in Dibaba's absence?

We're so excited that we are going to Amman to cover it for you.

(Side note: The Week That Was is actually being typed on a flight from London to Amman. LRC is on the same plane as the Canadian worlds team. Glad to see the Canadians appear to be coming with a large squad.

LRC's seat is right near the toilet and literally there has been a line at least 5 deep the whole flight. At least the conversations that we have basically been forced to eavesdrop on have been pretty interesting. Earlier, we  listened to a random 75-year-old American who just happens to be on the flight talking to a Canadian coach about Galen Rupp. Apparently, the old guy went to Rupp's high school. Didn't realize Central Catholic was that old.

Then we heard an American say to a Canadian team member, "Good luck in that race. I look forward to seeing in USA Today that Canada dominated." Very funny.

Clearly, we are tired of being on this cramped plane).

To get you excited for Saturday's race, we thought we'd share some of the articles from last week that were related to this Saturday's race. To us, the most interesting article from last week about the race was an opinion piece from Runnerstribe.com where they analyzed US junior German Fernandez's decision to skip NCAAs to prepare for World XC. While in our minds, they were a little too much into the hype as to what Fernandez can run on the track later this spring, we thought they were right on the money with the following point about his decision to skip NCAAs and what it meant:

"A runner who wants to be the best in the world needs to be able to make extraordinary sacrifices. These range from the day-to-day lifestyle sacrifices you make to the short-term opportunities you forego in the course of pursuing your long-term goals. The ability to say no to the NCAA Indoors shows a willingness to make those sacrifices."

Very true. And that advice goes with what we've been saying all article long. In distance running, you normally have to pick and choose your battles. We're sure Ryan Hall would love to have the challenge of toeing the line with one of the all-time greats Haile Gebrselassie in a half marathon prior to Boston or even compete at World XCc prior to Boston. But training-wise (or at the very least from a mental fatigue point of view), he felt they didn't go hand in hand.

If anyone could get away with trying to do it all, it's normally the young guys. Does anyone remember when Khalid Khannouchi used to win every summer road race in sight and then still crush Chicago? But later in his career, this wasn't possible. As we pointed out earlier, Wanjiru's coach was adamantly opposed to him running so many marathons. It certainly didn't hurt him at the Olympics, but maybe it has caught up with him now?

When you are young, you think you are invincible. Ultimately, reality sets in. Certainly something worth thinking about.

*Opinion Piece On German Fernandez's Decision To Skip NCAA's And Focus On World Cross
*List Of Team USA World XC Squads
Recap Of This Year's IAAF Permit XC Meets Without Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba, multiple winners basically didn't exist.
*Spanish Team For World XC Announced
*IAAF Gives Some Love To USA Juniors, Heats Up Gregson vs. Fernandez
*Tough Squads: Bahrain's Junior Squads And Senior Individuals Will Be Tough To Beat In Amman
Qatar And Shaheen Ready For Amman Challenges If he wins without the services of his former coach Renato Canova, we'll be a little surprised.
Twell To Lead British Team In Amman
Florence Kiplagat Is Inspired, Confident Heading To Amman As Kenyan Team Leader
Prize Money Payout Structure For XC Worlds

And Lastly ... Suffering From Post-Nuptial Shutoff? Here Is The Solution
Recommended Reads From Last Week
One of the more popular threads in LetsRun.com history is about the post-nuptial shutoff - the tendency for sex to decrease after marriage. Well, if you are suffering from this affliction, we may have a possible cure at least a few times a year - assuming your wife is a marathoner.

Sex And Sport: RunnersWorld Magazine Claimed An Orgasm The Night Before A Race Helps Women Marathoners
More Recommended Reads:
Great Ryan Hall Interview
Great Brief Chat With US Junior XC Team Leader Neely Spence
*Great Article On Brian Sell As He "Runs Under the Radar" Heading Into Boston
Katie Waits Brief Chat Adjusting to her 2nd year as a pro quite nicely. USA indoor champ.


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