Crappy Information, crappy training, crappy running resources, crappy races, crappy coaches

This is my Crap rant if you can't tell... (Disclaimer: I know there are some very good resources, people, coaches,etc. out there and I salute you.....this is for the rest of them)

I never really realized how much bad information there is out there. Alright let's try something. Wash out all of your information that you know about training. Imagine you are a total beginner who has coached football or something and is just starting coaching distance. Let's look at the cycle you go through:

Football Coach Joe gets the distance job. Let's assume he cares somewhat, so what does he do. He searches out for information. Remembering that we have no knowledge of distance running, the logical sources for him are:
1. He picks up the most read running magazine, Runners World.
2. He goes to the bookstore and looks for distance running training books. Well at the local Barnes and Nobles he finds RW's guide to jogging, books by the Penguin, and other such crap.
3. He goes on the internet....There's so much bad crap on the internet it's crazy.

So basically all he learns is crap. But he has it indoctrinated into his head and thinks it's great because it's published stuff so it must be!

So you see, there's problem #1.

But no this doesn't just go for no knowledge football coaches. This knowledge problem extends to supposed experts or life long track people! Don't believe me. Let me give you some examples off the top of my head from listening, reading, or attending clinics.
-Lactate/lactic acid is incredibly misunderstood by way too many people on both extremes of the lactic acid debates. I've listened to exercise physiologist who I want to shove the latest research in there face and say "we learned that was proven wrong 40 years ago!"
-Running mechanics, jumping mechanics, hurdling, throwing, etc. Basically all technique stuff, there is so much bad information it's a joke. A ton of these HS sprint camp/clinics are so off it's not even funny. I almost worked for some place but told them no because I couldn't teach there way of sprinting because it was wrong....that didn't go over too well...
-Even some of the presenters teaching our coaches are teaching the wrong ideas. I've got clinic notes that I read and look at and my only reaction is what the heck?! Where the heck did this guy come up with this!

I'm just rambling now. So I'll stop for now and return when I can write coherently again. But my point is not to bash people. It's to question the system of learning for our coaches/athletes in this country. It just seems to me that the same misinformation gets based on from coach to athlete over and over again and it's not getting us anywhere. Yes, there are many who have broken out of this mold and they are generally the coaches you see who are producing results at the upper level. But instead of listening or trying to learn from these coaches who have coached numerous olympians or American record holders, we go with the ones who have written a fancy sounding article or book.

Drugs only further complicate the problem because how do you know if the coach of a great athlete is really knowledgable or if he just cheats. But in fact, maybe it doesn't. You want to know how to figure out if a coach is a drug/steroid coach or not? It's probably a more effective method than drug testing. Here's the steps:
1.Learn proper mechanics/training systems.
2. Go listen to X coach speak or watch a video he produced or read his book or training articles.
3. See if X coaches teaching is somewhat "correct" or makes sense.
4. If it is completely off and the coach is still producing incredibly fast people (more than 1 so that talent isn't the issue), then the likelihood of X coaches athletes being a drug coach is probably pretty high.

Alright I'm done. I ackowledge that I am no expert and again my intent is not to put down anyone. There are lots of great coaches/athletes/etc. in our sport.

Quick thoughts

"Don't believe a thing is true just because some famous baseball player says that it is." -Billy Beane

Just because someone is world renowned or in a position of power doesn't mean they are correct.

Two sayings. Both correct. Don't just readily accept some experts opinion because he is labeled an expert. That's my advice for the day.

Just because something is written down or in a book or on a video don't think it's absolutely correct. This is one of the most important things to learn when you become a coach or read training articles. Be critical of everything you read.

One of the worst sports that these quotes apply to is baseball. Baseball is so heavy set in tradition that they do stuff just because that's how it is always done or that's how some great player did it. They are very very slow to change. A good example of someone willing to change is Leo Mazzone. The way he works his pitchers makes a heck of a lot more sense than the traditional way from a physiological point of view (hmm interesting that he consults an exercise physiologist) and the results speak for themselves.

Anyways, just a thought to ponder. You see pitchers warm up in the bullpen. You ever see a pitcher cool down?


Below are a sampling of presentations I've given. If you'd like for me to present at a coaching clinic or other function on any of a variety of topics (training, Physiology, Biomechanics, strength training, etc.). contact me

In addition to the ones below, I've also given presentations on Strength Endurance Training for Runners (or Endurance events), Cross Country Training, Barefoot running, and What's wrong with Running Shoes.

Running Form and Mechanics

Okay enough about drugs.... Onto a post about just one of the many reasons Americans fail on the international level.

Running form/mechanics...

Now I know a lot of distance coaches will say things like "oh with more training it will fix it self" or runners form is natural and shouldn't be changed. I think these are just excuses given because it's hard to change form and takes a ton of knowledge and work. And as for runners mechanics are natural. Well that's true to a sense, but as we grow up other outside forces influence it and change it for the worse. You don't hear pitching coaches say that arm mechanics are entirely natural and they won't mess with anyones arm do you? Also, try this experiment, go film a really young kid , look how he runs he'll run pretty good although probably with too much of a forward lean. Watch as he grows. His form (if he's american) will probably get worse as he sees old joggers slamming their heel into the ground or the bad mechanics of some baseball player running to first. Add that with the addition of our shoes with our high heels and you get a big change in that natural running form. Of course this is a long experiment. So you'll have to take my word for it. I have video of my sister running when she was young (she's 10 yrs younger than me). She runs pretty much correctly, getting her feet down underneath her. Kids run right before they get an outside influence.

I think more focus needs to be put on form development especially in the younger years.

Most Americans assume that more miles/more training will your running mechanics..

However, after observing tons of HS kids, and lots of college kids, I think this assumption is totally incorrect. In HS your lucky to find 1 or 2 guys in a distance event on the track (at pretty dang good meets) who run relatively correct. After watching just about every Olympic final/world championship 800/1500m on tape, and every WR in the 800/1500 or near WR, I've come to the conclusion that more time needs to be spent on this. Almost all the greats run correctly. maybe there are one or two slight things wrong but thats individuality and to be expected. In the US, even at college meets I've taped where there are 10 or so guys whove run sub 405, a ton of them run pretty bad.

I think this happens because:
1. our shoes
2. the image in americans heads (i.e. they never grow up seeing a role model who runs greatly like all the kenyans do. Plus the market and commercials portray horrible running mechanics.)
3. Lack of knowledge on what correct form is.
4. Lack of knowledge on how to safely and correctly change someones running mechanics.
5. A reluctance to do so because it takes a lot of work and you don't see the major progress for years sometimes.
6. A feeling that it's just not important.

As I said earlier if you compare most americans to most kenyans or even most guys in the olympics or world class athletes, the majority of Americans have pretty poor running form. It's just another piece of the puzzle to add to why we aren't competing at that level.

doping dopes

And my thoughts on drugs continue...

I was browsing and came across a link to this:

Take a minute and read some of the things posted on that web site. In many cases you have average cyclists who are talking hard core about all these doping regimes. Let that sink in....average cyclists who will never be able to make the Tour de France or anything close to that doping. Read some of the stuff they have posted about their drugs of choice, the schedule and amounts taken, and how long it stays in their system and how to avoid tests.

Is that just scary or what? If you have guys who won't even make a couple thousand from cycling going this far, what about the guys who stand to make millions? Look at some of the quotes from the page:

I'm under 25, I cycle, and have been for years. I have had some pretty decent success, and have risen through the ranks. I'm quite satisfied with my career, so am mainly doing this out of curiosity. It's been eating at me for quite some time. I want to see just what it's like; much like children with cigarettes. I know it's bad, my mommy can tell me it'll rot my lungs, but I want to try it anyway. Besides... everybody who's anybody is doin' it"

Gives you a glimpse of the mindset some of these dopers go through. They justify it with themselves.

It also gives you an idea of how sophisticated this stuff really is. I know my fair share about Exercise Physiology and have read two text books on Biochemistry of Exercise and I had to go back and reread things several times just to get some sort of grasp over the things they were talking about. However, there was some in correct information on their in regards to blood work and such which led to some posters giving drug advice which would be even more dangerous and might not enhance performance.

But anyways, I just thought that that site was scary in a way. Drugs are real and they are out there, and it's jerks like these that are ruining our sport. One last note is that if you search you will find that there are some track athletes on there. One that caught my eye was an 800m runner in college.....Now if that doesn't depress you I don't know what will.

If you have guys like this willing to take that kind of stuff (there talking about vetenery drugs in some cases?!?!?!) in track and cycling, what the heck do you think they do in money sports or high up in sports when you have team doctors and all sorts of sophisticated testing available.

Oh well, let the idiots cheat, I'll still do my best to kick their ass. And if I don't, I can live with the fact that I pushed my own body to it's limit and found my own limit in the sport without any artificial aids.

Drugs, Drugs, Everywhere-part 1

It seems like drugs are the only reason that Track and Field is in the news anymore. No meet results or reports of eye popping times turn up in the papers, just who the latest athlete is who tested positive for drugs.

I've gotten a couple e-mails and IM's from people asking me about my opinion of how bad drugs are in our sport, as if I'd give them some magical insight into the issue. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) up to this point I haven't competed at a level high enough to be fully immersed in the elite track and field culture. So don't expect any new revelations from my blog, but I've been lucky enough to compete on the fringe of that level and be connected with some athletes, coaches, trainers, etc. who have been around the top level circuit. Below are a couple of incidents that stand out in my memory (names withheld for obvious reasons):

Throughout most of HS I was pretty naive about the whole drug/steroids thing. I knew they existed but it wasn't close enough to home to really hit me. Sure as I progressed from a small freshman totally unaware of drugs, I'd heard the normal rumors of HS football players taking a little something "extra" for their performance. I didn't think much of it though as there wasn't much talk about what it was or anything like that. That all started to change as I progressed through the sport to a higher level. My outlook on sports being a clean utopia where the people who trained hardest were the ones who made it slowly began to crack. I can still remember the first time it home.

I was 17 or 18 at the time when I one of my friends dad started talking to me about track and field in the old days. I was only half paying attention and responding with the odd "oh really" thrown in there to be polite and create the illusion that I was interested. Then he threw out a couple of names I knew that caught my attention. I thought to myself that this guy must actually have a clue about track which was rare to hear, especially from someones dad. Then he threw out the word. The word that immediately switched all of my attention to him and made me sort of scared of him at the same time. At first I wasn't sure if I heard him correctly, but sadly I had. For the first time I'd heard someone say "steroids" and "I took them" in the same sentance. With me in a state of shock, he then proceeded to rattle off a couple of other guys who took them, some names I definately recognized, some I had no clue, like it was no big deal. Of course he added the "It wasn't illegal back then. We didn't know much about them, just that they helped our performance. So everyone did it without feeling guilty." With that, my idealistic notion of track had taken a big blow.

Following this incident, I became more inquisitive and began to ask questions. My view of track and sports in general as a generally clean sport would slowly fade, almost deppressingly so.


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