The Week That Was In Running - March 21-27, 2011

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By LetsRun.com
March 31, 2011

Quote Of The Week #1 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)

"(Paul) Tergat's sentiments were supported by John Ngugi, another former five-time winner (1985-1989, 1992), who averred that without the men's 12km title, it was like killing the animal but not bringing home the most important parts of the carcass."

- A FeverPitch reporter writing for Kenya's The Standard about how former World Cross-Country champions Paul Tergat and John Ngugi felt about the fact that Kenya didn't win the individual senior men's title at the 2011 World Cross-Country Championships. In male-dominated Kenya, the individual men's title is the biggest title of them all - the one that goes to the lion of cross-country running.

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Quote Of The Week #2 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day) / Alan Webb, Read This

"The 1,500m is such a tactical event and it is not necessarily about being in the best physical shape but about making the right decisions at the right times.

For that you need to sharpen your mind. One of the challenges of the 1,500m is that a lot of the races on the circuit have pacemakers whereas in championship races there is none of that."

- Great Britain's Lisa Dobriskey talking about the difference in championship 1,500s as compared to time trials.

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Quote Of The Week #3 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)

"I have always run without shoes. I got my first pair of running shoes last year. But they did not fit me and would slow me down because they were big. I tried to train in them but there was no difference ... I run freely and fast without shoes. The spikes underneath make me uncomfortable and I lose balance."

- 2011 junior World Cross-Country champion Faith Chepngetich, who won the race barefoot, talking about her World Cross-Country win (and possibly killing her future shoe endorsement contracts). Maybe Born To Run author Chris McDougal will sign her to an endorsement deal.

Chepngetich deserves some sort of deal. Imagine if she were American. Many people don't realize this, but in addition to winning the race barefoot, Chepngetich also has overcome some major adversity. In January, she was allegedly beaten unconscious by the head of her school.

More: Faith Kipyegon Chepngetich Won Girls Juniors Barefoot *Two Of Kenya's Brightest Junior Prospects For World XC May Not Be Able To Race, As They Allegedly Were Beaten By Their Teacher For Not Passing Tests

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Quote Of The Week #4 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)

"No pro track athlete ever died from a workout. Post-career regret sucks."

- Former sprint star and current television announcer Ato Boldon tweeting one of 10 pieces of advise for today's current track and field pros. He also urged pros to be wary of the shoe companies, saying, "No one from that shoe company you love so much loves you. Romance with no finance is a nuisance. The more in love you are, the less you make."

More: Ato Boldon's 10 Pieces Of Wise Advise That Current Pro Track Athletes Don't Understand (But Retired Ones Do)

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Quote Of The Week #5 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)

"When you get into your thirties, the question you keep getting asked is: 'When are you stopping?' You don't get asked about what's next. And then you see friends from the sport retiring around you.

But I didn't want to finish. Even during the down times, my husband, Neil, and my coach would say: 'Are you sure you want to stop because once you finish, that will be it. You won't be able to go back.'"

- 37-year-old Helen Clitheroe, who won European gold for the first time in her career earlier this year. More: 37-Year-Old Helen Clitheroe Had European Gold And Is Running Better Than Ever But Is Still Struggling Financially

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Quote Of The Week #6 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)

"Based on this, I'm probably not going to change things up before Boston. It's only four weeks away and twice the distance. I can go a long ways out there, and that's pretty typical for my buildups. My halfs always feel tough coming into a marathon because I'm doing such long work.

Running 4:50 pace feels so easy right now but when you get down to 4:30 pace it doesn't feel so good. But I'm not too concerned. I'm not going to be running 4:30 pace in Boston. It's going to be more like 4:48 pace. If I can run that in Boston, I'll be thrilled."

- Ryan Hall, the fastest American born marathoner in history, talking in a Universalsports.com article about what he'll do in training prior to Boston after his disappointing New York half-marathon performance.

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Weekly Free Training Advice

Even though his performance at the 2011 NYC Half Marathon was disappointing, we'll let the self-coached Ryan Hall dish out our weekly free training advice this week.

Results will come and go, but the character it takes to do your very best independent of your results brings lasting joy and satisfaction.

We loved the advice that Hall blogged last week, as far too many runners focus on the results, when in reality the sport is entirely in our minds about the process. And while it's easy to give a great effort when things are going great, it's much harder to give your best when they aren't.

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Message Board Thread Of The Week - Could Oklahoma Have Won The 2011 NCAA Indoor Title?

There was an interesting topic on the message board last week, entitled: Should the Oklahoma Men's Team Be The NCAA Indoor Champions for 2011?

When one first reads it, many probably are thinking, "Why would someone be asking that about a team that scored 14 points, when the first-place team scored 52?"

And then one remembers that Will Claye scored 18 points for Florida (as he won the triple jump and was the runner-up in the long jump at NCAAs) and that Claye competed last year at Oklahoma.

Had Claye not transferred and had he done as well for OU as he did for Florida, then there is a 36-point swing and final score reads. Texas A&M 40, Florida 34, Oklahoma 32. With only two points separating OU and Florida, then it's conceivable to think OU could have won, although truth be told Florida had some injuries at NCAAs that prevented them from scoring even more).

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The Real Message Board Thread Of The Week - Renato Canova Strikes Again - He Coached 2011 World XC Champ Imane Merga

The above thread on OU was interesting but when we realized that LetsRun.com's favorite coach other than John Kellogg, Renato Canova, coaches the man who shocked the world and took the individual XC championship away from the Kenyans and that Canova wrote about it on LRC, that thread became an instant classic on LRC. Canova talks about his coaching of Imane Merga here:

*Renato Canova, Who exactly is Imane Merga and how did you develop him to get his win at World XC?

In that thread, Canova gives out a great quote:

"Training is not only what you do in the official workouts. Training is also how you work, how you eat, how you rest. In other words, how you live.

Top champions are more talented, but also have all the interest in focusing at athletics full time. This means that their training is very much more consistant, as volume and intensity, because they have big advantages in running faster."

Speaking of Merga, how ridiculous is it that he must now go chase an IAAF A standard for the 10,000? If the IAAF wants to pump up World XC, they should say anyone in the top 20 is automatically granted the A standard in any and all distance events (hell, they ought to have a rule that Kenya and Ethiopia can send any three athletes in any distance events regardless of whether they have the standard or not).

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Sara Hall: Olympic Steepler?

Last week, our friends at trackfocus.com had a long piece on Sara Hall's 9:50 steeple performance at Stanford, where she won in dominant fashion and lowered her PR by nearly 10 seconds. They wondered if the steeple is her best bet for the Olympics.

Without much thought, most people probably would instinctively say, "Yes it is," as so many people don't even attempt the event. However, the answer isn't that simple.

To make the Olympics for the US in 2012, one first is going to have to hit the Olympic A standard. The Olympic A & B standards haven't been released yet - they come out in April 2011 - but one can assume they'll be stiffer than the standards for the 2011 World Champs, and Hall's lifetime bests at 1,500, steeple and 5,000 are slower than the A standard for the 2011 WChamps.

The stats show that she's actually farther away from the steeple A standard than she is in the 1,500 or 5,000 on a percentage basis. Moreover, way more US women who have hit the A standard in the steeple over the last two years will be gunning for the Olympic spot in the steeple as their #1 priority than in the 1,500 or 5,000, as shown by the following chart.

Event

IAAF A Standard

Hall's PR

% Off A Standard

# Of USA Runners With A Standard Since 2009

# Of USA Runners With A Standard Since 2009 Who Likely Consider It To Be Their Premier Event

1,500

4:05.90

4:08.55

1.08%

7 - Wurth-Thomas, Rowbury, Uceny, Donohue,  Pierce, Bowman

6 - Wurth-Thomas, Rowbury, Uceny, Donohue, Barringer, Pierce, Bowman

Steeple

9:43.00

9:50.68

1.32%

8 - Aguilera, Franek, Bush, Barringer, Pierce, Anderson, Allen, Lawrence

8 - Aguilera, Franek, Bush, Barringer, Pierce, Anderson, Allen, Lawrence

5,000

15:14.00

15:20.88

0.75%

8 - Huddle, Flanagan, Koll, Begley, Rowbury, Fleshman, Barringer, Rhines

2- Huddle, Flanagan, Koll, Begley, Rowbury, Fleshman, Barringer, Rhines

(In making the chart, it's kind of hard to say for sure what Barringer and Pierce consider to be their main event, but we took a stab and put Barringer in the steeple and Pierce in the 1,500)

Of course, as we explained last month, many Olympic doubles are very doable in 2012, including the steeple/5,000 (which is what we think Barringer might end up doing) and the 10k/5k (which people like Huddle, Koll and Begley could all do). The 1,500/steeple double is also somewhat conceivable for Barringer/Pierce. If people double back to the 5k, then it's much harder to make than the far right column indicates, but as it looks now, people with the A standard in the 5k might have the easiest shot of all.

It certainly will be interesting to see what doubles end up being possible at the 2012 Trials when that schedule is released.

Also, we know Hall has only run three steeples in her life, so her time may very well come down to under the A standard in that event as compared to the 1,500 and 5,000, which she has been running for years. Hall has come down in the steeple roughly 10 seconds each of the last two years as she ran 10:10 in 2009, 10:00 last year and now 9:50. That being said, people who take up the steeple late in life clearly are people who didn't gravitate to the somewhat wacky event naturally and often those people end up not sticking with it, as it can be very frustrating. Don't believe us? Read our Recommended Read a few sections down about 37-year-old Helen Clitheroe.

Did you look at the above chart? Take a look at it, as those with the A standard are the ones most likely to end up on Team USA in 2012.

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A Few Quick Thoughts On Some Random Things From Last Week

Not a whole lot of big-time action last week, but a few things worth noting:

  • Someone who might be an Olympic contender in 2012 is Colorado's Jessica Pixler. Pixler, who was a sensation at NCAA Division II's Seattle Pacific but  is now running a fifth year for the University of Colorado, absolutely crushed it last week in her first race in "about eight or nine months," as she chopped more than 18 seconds of her PR by to win the 5,000 at Stanford in 15:25.58 on a night that featured less-than-totally-perfect conditions (which one normally finds at Stanford). *More + Stanford Results: Men's Distance Events *Women's Distance Events
     
  • Last week, high schooler Kaela Edwards (Littleton, CO) ran 2:11.59 for 800. That's pretty good for a high schooler in the 800. That's really good for someone who was running what was believed to be the first 800 of her life. *Kaela Edwards 2:11.59
  • It was sad to see that the track and field world lost someone in the tsunami in Japan, although we guess it's not surprising, as the tsunami killed thousands: 104-Year-Old Masters World Record Holder Killed In Tsunami
     
  • Sometimes we get annoyed when celebrities get in the news for running but we must admit we were pretty impressed with former Dallas Cowboy QB Troy Aikman's half marathon last week. He ran 1:48:11 for the 13.1 distance, which comes out to 8:15 pace, which isn't that bad, as one has to run the whole thing at a legitimate gait for a time like that. Plus, we were impressed to learn that this wasn't a one-off event, as he had a previous PR of 1:49:47. *More On Troy Aikman's 1:48:11 Half Marathon
     
  • Anyone who thought Imane Merga's win over the the slew of Kenyans that surrounded him the sprint for home at World Cross-Country probably is questioning that assertion after he backed up that win last week with another win in a sprint finish against silver medallist Paul Tanui in Sardinia. Tanui was third in the race, as 18-year-old and 2010 World Jr. XC and 1,500 champ Caleb Ndiku beat Tanui to finish 2nd. It's pretty easy to spot who is going to be a future star and Ndiku seemingly fits the bill. One thing we were wondering is, does anyone know what he'd been up to early this year? We don't see any other 2011 results for him listed in the service we subscribe to and wonder why he didn't try out for World XC. If anyone knows, please email us.

    (Editor's addition: We received an email from an LRC visitor from France who wrote:

    "To reply to your question about Caleb Ndiku and why he didn't try out
    for world XC.

    Actually he did try out but didnt make the team for Spain after finishing 47th at the trials.

    After running some 5ks on the track in Japan for his corporate team
    from October to December, Caleb was injured all the beginning of this
    year; so no training and ran the trials in not good shape. Now he is
    back!)

    More: *
    World XC Champ Imane Merga Ends XC Season With Another Win Over World XC Silver Medallist Paul Tanui

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Other Happenings Of Note

*Agent To Some Of The Sport's Stars, Mark Block, To Appeal 10-Year Ban From Sport
*"Blade Runner" Hits 400m Olympic "B" Standard Oscar Pistorius continues his quest to become the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics by running a PR of 45.61 (his previous best was 46.02), which gives him the 2011 outdoor world lead.
*Will Brazil Actually Be Ready To Host The Olympics In 2016? At This Rate, No
*
World XC Champ Imane Merga Has One More XC Race This Weekend, Then Will Turn Focus To Track And with our sport's emphasis on time, he still has to go out and get a 10k qualifier.
*Naturalized US Citizen Janet Cherobon-Bawcom Wins Azalea 10k & $4,000 (33:22)
*Usain Bolt & Tyson Gay Probably Will Not Race Until World Champs And apparently UK tax laws are partially to blame. Tyson Gay is racing in London and Bolt would like to as well, but UK laws would tax him a ridiculous amount if he did.

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Recommended Reads/Clicks/Watches

*Interview With 2008 Olympic Marathoner Blake Russell, Who Finished 19th At World XC Champs Last Week
*37-Year-Old Helen Clitheroe Had European Gold And Is Running Better Than Ever But Is Still Struggling Financially
*Academic Says There Is No Proof Success In Sports Is Genetic
*Villanova Coach Marcus O'Sullivan Says Old Path Of US Scholarship For Irish Athletes Has Changed

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Looking Ahead (Time To Start Getting Excited For ...)

April 10: Paris & Rotterdam Marathons
Aprl 17: London Marathon: 9 Japanese Women Who Were Going To Try To Make Worlds At Nagoya Marathon Will Now Run London Next Month Instead
April 18: Boston Marathon
April 30: Drake/Penn Relays: Olympian Webb To Run Mile At Drake Relays

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Quotes Of The Day From Last Week

Monday: "To her credit, Hall was the 2000 Foot Locker champion and went on to have successful collegiate career at Stanford, including a few individual NCAA runner-up finishes. Despite a high level of success on the prep and collegiate level, Hall has been unable to achieve similar success on the professional scene. So far, there are no outdoor world championship or Olympic teams on her resume."

"And to be honest, once you become a professional track athlete, those are the events you're gunning for. Countless training sessions, cross-training workouts, dietary discipline, and personal sacrifice are a prerequisite to achieve such high level of success. Sure fast times are nice, winning the Milrose mile is nice, but making the team and competing at a major championship is the ultimate goal."

- Jim McDannald of TrackFocus.com explaining how even someone who has had a running career as successful as Sara Hall's can still have trouble making it on the elite level; it's just that hard. Hopefully, as McDannald suggests, Hall's 9:50.68 steeplechase world lead means a new opportunity for her and she can turn that into a World Champs or Olympic berth.


Sunday: "But Iíve been home this week, and all I've been hearing on the radio is rugby, soccer. Cricket even. There is a lot of sporting activity going on here, and athletics is not emphasised like it was 20 years ago. That's not just an Irish thing."

"And I wouldn't say kids here have gotten soft. Youngsters today have so much more going on in their lives, everywhere, America included of course. Mobile phones, iPods. It's great stimulus, don't get me wrong. But I think our energies have been somewhat diluted. The space between where you are, and where you want to go, I call that the 'gap of motivation.' It's what you fill that space with that gets you to the end result. We didn't have much in that gap, say 20 years ago. So nearly all our drive and energy went into running. But quite frankly I don't think we fully appreciated what we had either ... We didn't realise just how golden an era that was. That's not saying it wonít come back again. Because we're still well capable of producing it."

- Villanova coach Marcus O'Sullivan talking about Irish and American distance running now versus the past and what might be holding the current generation back.


Saturday: "Think of this American team - Bernard Lagat, Chris Solinsky, Matt Tegenkamp, Galen Rupp and Dathan Ritzenhein. The American dream team could take on the world's best and do very, very well. The only way it's going to happen, however, is if Nike decides to do a marketing campaign around it and pays them to run World XC. Two years from now, that team may not be as good as it would have been this year, and four of the five showed they are very fit within the last month. Too bad they didn't do it this year, but hopefully some Nike Marketing Exec is reading this."

- From the LetsRun.com "Week That Was In Running" for last week, talking about how the US could perform well at World XC if we actually brought our top runners and how Nike needs to put this together. On their front page XCnation.com quoted us and proclaimed: "Letsrun.com posted the greatest week that was all-time."


Friday: "On a track in Kenya, say, you have a great number of Olympians and major athletes all there at one time. They're all watching each other and pushing each other all the time. Some of them are earning lots of money, but they're living in camps with no electricity, no water, that are horrible, dirty, awful. I remember saying to one of them 'Why are you staying here? This is a pretty awful place.' He said: 'See that beautiful house up there on the mountain? That's my house. If I live there I'll become fat. Here, I'm sharing a room with a 17-year-old who wants to kick my backside. I'm not going to let him do that.'"

- Glasgow University lecturer Yannis Pitsiladis, who has argued that success in sports is not linked to genetics, but rather other environmental/living factors.


Thursday: "(Five-time-in-a-row World XC Champion Paul) Tergat's sentiments were supported by John Ngugi, another former five-time winner (1985-1989, 1992), who averred that without the men's 12km title, it was like killing the animal but not bringing home the most important parts of the carcass."

- Kenyan Standard article about Paul Tergat and John Ngugi lamenting the fact the Kenyan men, despite dominating the World XC team competition, did not win the men's individual title.


Wednesday: "I think with something like the marathon, Iíve noticed year on year that your endurance gets better and you get stronger. Itís just a question of getting it right on the day. I donít think my chances are any less just because Iím 38. Thereís just that thing about being healthy."

"Itís all very well people saying that I need to back off in training as I get older, but I know what to do to perform at the top level and itís all about that balancing act. Yes, I can be as clever as I can about looking after my body, but you do have to put the work in at the end of the day to get the results."

- Paula Radcliffe talking about the challenges of training at a high level and staying healthy at 38 years old. She thinks age may be a factor in training, but come race day, if she's put in the work, it won't hold her back.


Tuesday: "There was also a day in February when I had an epiphany. I had lived my life without regrets. I had loved with my whole heart, lived each day for all it was, done my best while doing the right thing, and I was at peace. I realized that by living without fear, I wasn't afraid of what the future may or may not hold. If my time was up, then I could leave this earth satisfied. If I was to live another day, then I would continue according to plan."

- US marathon star Serena Burla, who in the course of a year was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her hamstring, had it removed, and returned to the pro ranks. She was supposed to race Sunday's NYC Half but suffered an injury to her other hamstring.

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Last Week's Homepages
*Mon (March 28) *Sun (March 27) *Sat (March 26) *Fri (March 25) *Thu (March 24) *Wed (March 23) *Tue (March 22)

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