Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My Running Secret

If there was a secret to running and you miraculously stumbled over it, would you tell anybody?

So you've been running for years and have found that no matter how hard you train you just can't break into that class of runners who make it all look so easy. They are the ones who pass you talking glibly amongst themselves as they bound ahead and out of sight while at their "slow" long run pace. That pace btw is your current 5km pace on a downhill course with a tail wind behind you and 3 cups of coffee in you. You have wondered how they do it? Is it how they train, what they eat, their bone structure, muscle fibres, mental cunning, emotional fortitude? Demographics? Genetics? Or maybe all the above or a mixture of some but not all of them? God knows you've done all you could and to no end. Well I suggest to you that it is none of that.

For the most part I have come to believe that it is quite simply statistical luck of the draw. Of course to even consider this argument you have to agree that there are at least two different ways of running and that one of them makes some people much faster then others without added effort or training. So let's assume that there are at the very least two ways to run. The Right Way(TRW) and The Wrong Way(TWW). The right way is how the top 20% of runners run and the wrong way is how everybody else does it. So how did this top 20% of runners learn to run correctly when everyone else did not? Statistically, when they learned to run they would have had a 50/50 chance of doing it right or wrong like everybody else. However their chances of running TRW increased if their parents(who they would model themselves after) also ran TRW. It may also be possible that there are more then two ways of running in which case if there were four ways of running then each person would have a 25% chance of running one of those four ways and again their chance of running one way or another might be further influenced by those they modeled their running patterns after. If it is statistics which determine how we eventually run then statistically I would also assume that a certain number of runners could relearn their running patterns.

In fact of all of the scenarios, relearning a running pattern seems more doable then changing ones bone structure, muscle fibres, demographics or genetics so if you do hope to someday run TRW then you certainly hope that my statistics theory is true. If it was true and you figured out how to run The Right Way one day while charging down a hill and everything just clicked then consider what might follow. All of your dreams suddenly come true. You begin "running like the wind" in all of your races. You win a local 5km breaking your PR by 2 minutes, you win a big National marathon, qualify for Boston and set an Age Group World Record. Then you tell everyone how you did it and they all cheer and thank you for discovering the secret to running. Then what? Well now everybody knows how to run, just like you do and you go right back to being just another runner in the race.

So I ask again, if there was a secret to running and you miraculously stumbled over it, would you tell anybody?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Technical Difficulties Please Stand By

Remember when you use to get your TV signal from an antenna on top of your house. If the picture was a bit off all you had to do was fine tune it and the squiggly faces were miraculously revealed. However if the picture was entirely snowy the fine tuning couldn’t do much to help and a total repositioning of the antenna was called for. So that is where I find myself. I have fine-tuned the hell out of my antenna and still my reception doesn’t amount to much more than a ghostly image behind flickering snow. Certainly it is nowhere near the HD "Elite" quality I have been striving for.

There are many reasons why one’s antenna might not be picking up a good and proper signal. It could be that it was set up incorrectly, or a strong force blew it off course. Perhaps the signal changed position or ceased to be broadcast altogether. In my case I believe that my antenna was set up incorrectly to begin with. No matter how much I fine-tuned it I would never be able to find a good signal because my alignment was off beyond the limits of my fine tuning. In this instance my fine tuning refers to my attempts at conditioning. I could have the best coach in the world(and I did) but no amount of conditioning(fine tuning) could ever bring a clear signal because of the physical limits that conditioning can achieve. Every coach knows this fact. A seasoned coach can pick out of a crowd of runners those that have their antennas in position to hit a crystal clear picture and those that are destined to watch a fuzzy screen no matter how much they fine tune.  

If a coach doesn’t know immediately what a runner’s potential is then a season of dedicated training would surely reveal it i.e. local, regional, national, world class etc. Take me for instance. At the age of 46 my coach told me that I might be capable of a 36 min 8km. This was his best hope for me and at the time I was thrilled because I had only just run under 40 minutes. However, 5 years later and with a 36:56 8km PR I realise that not only was he pretty spot on but that his assessment ranked me a mere regional class runner. On an age graded scale a 36 min 8k ranked me at 72% at 46 years of age. So out of a 100% signal quality the best I could ever hope to receive is 72% clarity.

It is my feeling after many years of this running stuff that most running coaches are indeed “running conditioners”. Give them a local class runner and they will condition them to win local races. Give them a regional class runner and they will work the hell out them and make them top 3 at a regional competition, give them a national class runner and their girl or guy might be top 10 in country. But in no instance can a coach turn a local class or regional class runner into a national class champion. Nope not gonna happen. But Why? They can’t do it because they aren’t running coaches, they are running conditioners. They can’t change the antennas position they are only capable of fine tuning it to within a maximum variation of 10%(of age graded ranking).

I have followed many local runners whose history of training I am familiar with and compiled data from races dating back 10 years from SportStats.ca  I converted their results to age graded percentage of world record time on a graph and each runner’s own personal pattern/ranking/signal quality emerges. EM(me) as a new runner had a spike between the first and second year of running, than a gradual rise followed by a leveling off and a decline. Most of the runners on the graph had been running for many years prior to the results I could find so they had no spike in their results. Note AT and AN had a spikes in their later years when they began training with a high level coach who fine-tuned them to their maximum 10% limits. Each runner's ultimate signal quality was revealed as, none as 60% local class, EM, AT and MB as 70% regional class, AN and SM as 80% national class, and none as 90% world class.

So what does all of this mean??? It means it’s time for me to climb the antenna myself and begin some serious repositioning!!

Stay tuned J

I'll Now Resume Your Regularly Scheduled Programming