Track is killing itself- Dual meets, Team Scoring, and Bye-Bye non-collegian racing


They’ve got it backwards.

Yesterday, the news broke that the NCAA is consideringlegislation that would end post-collegiate athletes competing in college meets. Two weeks ago, our CC regional rep, who does a fantastic job, sent along the new legislation for us to look over. After confirming with him that indeed this would eliminate non-college athletes from competing in college meets (Think Stanford, TX Relays, Florida Relays, or almost any meet really), I sent the info to the TFAA to get the word out because as someone who coaches 5 post-collegiate athletes in addition to my college coaching duties, this would effectively kill sub-elite racing, destroy the field events, and hamper all but maybe the top 10 in the U.S. in their events.

Why is there a move towards this direction?

Put simply, it's an attempt to grab "fans." To make track more popular.

As best as I can tell, it’s part of a trend that is coming from within some track coaches and also the NCAA. There is a trend towards trying to make track like “other sports.” That trend includes emphasizing scoring every single meet. It makes sense to the non-track orientated person that every sport is scored. So why shouldn’t track be the same?

The same trend has created a push for dual meets, which is perhaps a yearning for back in the day when dual meets reigned supreme. Us young folk are regaled with stories of Oregon vs. UCLA or whatever other historic team you want to talk about. We hear about the glory days and about how people showed up to watch track.

To get to the heart of the matter we need to explore these two premises before finishing off with the rule changes.

Measuring Lactate Threshold without being pricked? BSX Insight

      I have a love/hate relationship with the latest technology. On one hand, the science geek in me loves all of the latest gadgets. I have a make shift lab of gadgets in my house. I've got all the acronyms you could dream of, including a few make shift EMG and EEG devices, GSR, HRV, and you name it. I love experimenting with and figuring out ways to measure the bodies response and adaptation to training.

      On the other hand, I'm a skeptic to the practical application of many of the same gadgets that the science nerd in me loves. Why? Because often their practical application to coaching is limited. Yes, they can give some really cool data, and perhaps confirm some theories, but from a practical standpoint they don't often translate. It doesn't enact meaningful change for the most part. As coaches, we don't alter anything we are doing because of the data.

      This inner struggle then is to find measurables that enact meaningful change. In my own coaching, I've used lactate tests to this effect. It's a little expensive and a tad invasive, but it still provides some good data when used every once in a while. If used correctly, you get a good snapshot of the aerobic and anaerobic profile of a runner.

      So when I stumbled across a new company, BSX athletics, that was claiming to be able to measure the lactate threshold, non-invasively, I was intrigued, but skeptical. My initial reaction was that it wasn't possible (yet..) with technology and that there had to be some sort of catch.
BSX Insight

      Being that they were in Houston, I reached out and they were gracious enough to let me stop by and check out what they had to offer.

Why "Gladwell's" 10,000 rule is just plain wrong.

The battle over nature versus nurture in expert performance is a never-ending one.  It seems as we have shifted back and froth between seemingly extreme views of deterministic gene views and Gladwell popularized 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Of course no one believes it is an either/or question, even if they frame their stance that way, and we are arguing over how far towards nature or nurture  to go. The problem though, with the popularization of gene-centric views in the 90’s and then deliberate practice in the 2000’s, we’re simply perpetuating a myth.

It sounds good, especially as a coach, to tell a kid that if he simply practices deliberately for 10,000 hours that will determine his performance. Okay, perhaps it’s not 10k hours exactly, but the message is clear that if one practices more then “talent is a myth”, and that person can overcome their “talent” and reach expertise. It’s a wonderful myth to grasp onto and sell. It speaks to the human ideals of hard work paying off and the determining factor of success. It’s human nature to hate the idea that someone can simply be successful because they hit the genetic lottery and had a good bit of luck. Who wants to be the parent that says, “if you work really hard you can be a really fast runner, but probably not as good as Bobby even though he only runs 40mpw and you run 100mpw.” Put simply, it sucks to deliver that message. The beauty is though that we don’t know. We don’t know someone’s genetic potential or how they respond to training/learning.

Why Breakthroughs can be dangerous? The Set Point Theory of Fatigue

First off, Thank you so much to all of you who have continued to make my new book, The Science of Running, a success. I cannot express how grateful I am for all of you who helped make it a success and wrote, emailed, or tweeted at me. I'll have more on that in a week or two.

Why Breakthroughs can be dangerous?

It’s happened to us all. We’ve had that momentous breakthrough race where we glide along effortlessly, waiting for that pain to rear it’s ugly head, but it never does. We smash our personal bests, feel no pain and marvel at how “easy” it was. Excitement builds in our minds as we begin to realize that there may be more left in the tank. That if only we had pushed to that point of pain, we’d be able to run even faster. Anticipation builds until the next race, where we know that next time we can run faster. It simply makes sense, why wouldn’t we be able to. It came so easy to us the last race.
            More often than not, we are knocked back. Perhaps we run close to our PR or perhaps we settle back towards our previous norm, but inevitably the next race hurts a whole lot more. How could this be? Why do our fastest races, our breakthroughs, often feel so much easier? And why can this be a dangerous thing?

The Consequences of a Breakthrough
            The reason a breakthrough often feels easier is a topic in and of itself. We could delve into the psychological state of flow, or attribute it to a release of opiods or other such hormones. We could delve into the activation of certain brain areas, or we could take an integrated approach and talk about how breakthroughs feel easier simply because it’s a building of feeling better than expected as we progress through the race, combined with a high degree, and perhaps ever increasing, degree of importance.

The Science of Running Book NOW AVAILABLE! 48hr special giveaway!

The Science of Running book is available NOW!
Buy Hard Copy!

Buy Kindle Version!

What it looks like:

Why you should buy?

I hate doing the "sales" thing. But one of the reasons I'm asking readers, who are interested, to buy the book is because I'm passionate about it. I poured as much knowledge as I could into this book, and did not hold back. It's the result of a multiyear process. I give away tons of free information on this blog, so this is one way of earning a small bit back to keep the blog going.

Beyond that, my biased opinion is that it's a unique book. If nothing else, I promise you that this book will make you think and ultimately be a better coach, scientist, or athlete.

To sweeten the deal, I'm giving away some rewards. I've delved into my collection of information compiled throughout the years and pulled out some gems. I'm offering my go to training documents, notes I've compiled, exclusive training logs of world class athletes, and even a Skype conversation if you want to talk running. These are only good for purchases within the next 48 hours though, so keep that in mind.

What people are saying about it?
"The Science of Running sets the new standard for training theory and physiological data. Every veteran and beginner distance coach needs to have this on their book shelf."

-Alan Webb
American Record Holder-Mile 3:46.91

"For anyone serious about running, The Science of Running offers the latest information and research for optimizing not only your understanding of training but also your performance. If you want to delve deeper into the world of running and training, this book is for you. You will never look at running the same."

-Jackie Areson, 15th at the 2013 World Championships in the 5k. 15:12 5,000m best

Spread the word:
Given how much time and passion I put in to writing this book, I really want it to be a success, so please spread the word on twitter, Facebook, or just good old fashioned word of mouth. Also, after finishing the book, please write a review on Amazon.  It all helps, thanks!

48 Hour Special Giveaway!!

For readers of my blog, I'm doing a 48 hour giveaway to show support for those who have supported the blog through the years. Buy just one copy in the first 48 hours and you can get some really cool bonus material.

Deals Expires: February 20th at 1am EST.

Countdown Clocks

How?  Buy the book online! Then fill out the form at the bottom of this page, with your Amazon purchase or Order # for verification purposes.

Buy Here on Amazon!

Buy Kindle Version!
(Is also available for Kindle on Amazon UK, AUS, and many other international sites.)

Loyalty Reward- Buy 1 Book- Get:
1. My Cheat Sheet Training Guide- 46 pages of my condensed guide to training. It's what I use as a reference when I am creating training programs. Includes everything from workout to strength to supplement guides.

2. Training Notes- 28 pages of notes I've gathered through the years on the latest info on Physiology and training programs. highlights of some of the best running/science reading out there.

Science Nerd Giftpack! Buy 2+ get:
1. Cheat Sheet Training Guide- 46 pages
2. Training Notes- 28 pages
3. Lactate Data-  See data from 6 actual lactate tests for me during my collegiate years.
4. Lactate Data- Jackie Areson- Ever wanted to see what lactate data looks like for a world class athlete? Here's your chance. See the actual numbers for 2 of Jackie Areson's lactate data during the year leading to her 15:12 5k PR.
5. Training Philosophy Presentation- 25 slide powerpoint on My Training Philosophy.

The Coaches Package! Buy 4 +get:
1. Cheat Sheet Training Guide- 46 pages
2. Training Notes- 28 pages
3. Lactate Data-  Steve Magness
4. Lactate Data- Jackie Areson
5. Training Philosophy Presentation- 25 slide powerpoint on My Training Philosophy.
6. Coaches Interview Notes- 56 pages of notes I've taken from interviews with some of the top running coaches in the world! All the great wisdom collected in one spot!
7. Canova Notes- 80+ pages of notes on Renato Canova's training. These are personal notes taken of the key points from his writings, book, presentations, and personal conversations with Renato!

Ultimate Package- Buy 8+ get:
ALL OF the notes listed above. PLUS:
8. Jackie Areson Training- A complete copy of everyday of training Jackie did leading up to her 15th in the world.
9. 45min long Skype conversation with me! Ask anything you want!

Reward Form:

Staying in an Altitude Tent after workouts- What are the consequences?


A large part of my training philosophy lies in the simple realm of stimulus and adaptation. My mind has returned to these ideas for the past year as I've tried to flesh out these ideas. In writing my book, I had to really work to try and turn the ideas in my head into something useable. I even took to my home painted whiteboard wall to try and figure out how to make sense of it all.

Recently, I was working on a piece on defining amplifiers and dampeners of adaptation. Altitude is an obvious factor that can affect adaptation. We always think of it in terms of going to altitude to train and/or sleep so that we can get some nice aerobic plus  red blood cell adaptations. The majority of altitude or hypoxic related ideas are related to getting this nice boost in Red Blood Cells. There's a large market for people who want to attempt to get a heads up on that by buying an altitude tent so they can sleep and spend a large amount of time at altitude. Some people even make their whole house at simulated altitude to gain a larger training affect. While we can debate whether or not simulated altitude is the same (and there's some recent research that it isn't quite the same), the question that popped to my mind is the following.

If we go do a hard workout at sea level then come back home and spend time in our altitude tent what's the effect? You are essentially stressing the body by running and then going into a different stress of simulated altitude, which will change certain hormonal responses upon entering the tent. Could we change adaptations based on spending time at altitude? Perhaps it would change cortisol levels and reduce recovery, or maybe doing a tempo run followed by recovery at altitude would supercharge the hypoxic activation of a pathway like PGC-1a.

Exciting Announcement: New Book out February 18th!


I'm excited to announce that I'll be releasing a book next month. In earnest this project began in 2009 and went on hold for a few years as life got in the way. It's finally time to release my little passion project, an all encompassing book. The idea was to write the training book I always wanted. So, that's what I did.

The Basics:

Title: The Science of Running-How to find your limit and train to maximize your performance
Length:  344 pages of packed content.
Premise: A thorough high level combination Science and training book.

I've read hundreds of books on training, and am always left with a slight dissatisfaction, no matter how good the book is. While, I don't expect my book to be perfect, I like to think it fills a void. It's for the serious runner, coach, and exercise scientist, who is neglected. That doesn't mean the fast runner, but any who wants to understand how to get better. It's a combination book that almost acts as two books in one. The first section is pure up-to date science, with my particular favorite chapter dissecting fatigue. The second half of the book is on training. It's not a simple this is how you train dissection though. Instead it's what I consider to be a philosophical take on training. Meaning that I dissect the process of coaching and training. It's not a paint by numbers book, but instead aims to give you all knowledge necessary to help take your running to the next level. I like to think it offers a new spin on a tired old message.

Quite simply, it's a passion project for me. It's my attempt to assemble and share the best information on both the science of running, but more importantly how to train. It's been a long process of assimilating and then putting into words everything I wanted to get across. 

When and Where?
The book will be available February 18th, 2014

Receive Updates and Exclusive Deals:
As we get closer to the release date, I'll be sending out more in depth book information and give exclusive advanced deals to all of you who have stuck around and been loyal readers throughout the years. I've got some pretty sweet giveaways for those of you looking for more knowledge drops!

Please sign up for e-mail updates to take advantage of these deals and keep up to date! (I promise your email inbox won't be spammed!!)

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Chapter titles:

To get a glimpse of what it will look like, here's the chapter titles from the training section of the book.

Chapter 14: The Philosophy of Training
Knowing the Adaptation
Amplifiers and Dampeners of Adaptation
Balancing Act
The Goal of Training

Chapter 15: What are we trying to accomplish when training?
Models of Fatigue
General to Specific: A classification system
A different kind of Base: Training intensity interation

Chapter 16: Creating and Manipulating Workouts
Steps for workout design
Choosing the right direction

Chapter 17: Individualizaing Training
The Slow Twitch vs. Fast Twitch model
How fiber type impacts each training workout
Finding your fiber type the easy way

Chapter 18: Defining the Workouts

Chapter 19: Bringing it All Together-Periodization
The big picture- Periodization within a Career
Within Season Periodization
Within days/weeks Periodization
Finalizing the plan

Chapter 20: Training for each event
800m, 1,500m, 5k, 10k, marathon

Chapter 21: Special Workouts and Strength Training
Strength Endurance- The Key to kick development
Creating a MaxLASS at Race Pace
Strength Training for the endurance athlete

Chapter 22: The Biomechanics of Running
Appendix: Workout examples and progressions

Back cover description:
                If you are looking for how to finish your first 5k, this book isn’t for you.  The Science of Running is written for those of us looking to maximize our performance, get as close to our limits as possible, and more than anything find out how good we can be, or how good our athletes can be.  In The Science of Running, elite coach and exercise physiologist Steve Magness integrates the latest research with the training processes of the world’s best runners, to deliver an in depth look at how to maximize your performance.
                  It is a unique book that conquers both the scientific and practical points of running in two different sections. The first is aimed at identifying what limits running performance from a scientific standpoint. You will take a tour through the inside of the body, learning what causes fatigue, how we produce energy to run, and how the brain functions to hold you back from super-human performance.  In section two, we turn to the practical application of this information and focus on the process of training to achieve your goals. You will learn how to develop training plans and to look at training in a completely different way. The Science of Running does not hold back information and is sure to challenge you to become a better athlete, coach, or exercise scientist in covering such topics as:

·           What is fatigue? The latest research on looking at fatigue from a brain centered view.
·           Why VO2max is the most overrated and misunderstood concept in both the lab and on the track
·           Why “zone” training leads to suboptimal performance.
·           How to properly individualize training for your own unique physiology.
·           How to look at the training process in a unique way in terms of stimulus and adaptation.
·           Full sample training programs from 800m to the marathon.

How you can help!- Media, Bloggers, or anyone with a following.
In helping spread the word, if you'd like an interview, a guest blog, a sample chapter or anything along those lines. No matter how big or small your blog is, I'd love to help spread the word as we get closer to releasing the book. Contact me 
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