Baseball and running?????

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-Training update
-Congrats to give out
-Baseball- what can we learn from other sports?

Training/Racing:
Going very well. I'm starting to string together some good workouts and the most important part is I am feeling good doing them. It's been mostly strength based stuff but I'm now starting to make the transition to specific work. My outdoor season will start this weekend as I'm headed out to LSU. Should be fun to get into a race again and see what I can do!

Congrats:
Awesome races this week by the HS boys. They came away with several PR's and ran great races at the Klein Relays. Jeremy came away with two bronze medals running 9:45 (~14sec PR) and 4:21 (10 sec PR). Ryan ran 9:51 (7sec PR), just missing my freshman 3200 record by 1sec, and 4:37 (2sec PR). Bryan had a breakthrough this season running a solid 4:41 and finishing strong. Only a second off his PR but a big season best so he's coming around.


Baseball-
I am an avid baseball fan and have been for most of my life. One of the things that I like to do now is look at how other sports train their athletes and compare that to running. I think this is essential because sometimes in training we get caught up by tradition and doing things just because that's the way they've been done for years. By looking at other sports, you get a different viewpoint. Of course most of the time I do this by looking at similar sports (Swimming, cycling, rowing, speed skating, etc.) but it really applies to almost any sport.

For instance there was a great article written by Tom Verducci for Sports Illustrated on the Japanese phenomenon Daisuke Matsuzaka. He goes against baseball tradition and throws a whole ton of pitches.

For the article go here:
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/tom_verducci/03/20/matsuzaka0326/index.html

Normally, baseball is very far behind in how they train their athletes. The sport itself is so steeped in tradition that it resists change. This can be seen by how long it took weight lifting to become widespread in baseball. There are numerous other examples of stupid drills, ideas on mechanics, etc. that baseball players or coaches have that are so out of date that it is rediculous.

If you break things down physiologically or think of them in terms of running training, some of Matzusakas approach make perfect sense. Maybe he will cause a revolution and wake up baseball people.

The amount of pitches he throws is akin to running mileage. Think about it, a starter throws 100 pitches at high intensity for a game. Does it not make sense to build up the endurance and fatigue resistance of the arm? In addition to this, does it not make sense to slowly adapt the muscles,tendons, ligaments to the stress load they are placed under to reduce injuries? It is similar to slowly building up the mileage so that your legs adapt to the load and become more resistant to stress fractures, among other things. In running, the pounding acts as a stimulus to make the bones of the leg stronger. The vast amounts of pitches and the long toss he does probably goes a long way to giving him arm strength/endurance that American pitchers seemingly lack.

One thing that has always made me wonder is, do you ever see a pitcher "cool down" after a start? No, he usually goes and ices his shoulder or heads to the shower. I'd think some easy soft tossing or even stretching and range of motion exercises after a game would make a heck of a lot of sense.

Another thing in the article that caught my eye is that he never ices. Now, I know all about the benefits of heat/ice and I would be the first to recommend them, but it is something to think about. I haven't iced anything since probably my junior year in HS. (after many years of injuries/being in the training room, I swore off entering the training room my Sr. year no matter what). It's just personal preference, but I don't think I'm missing anything from icing any part of my body.

Lastly, the article mentions his mechanics. I had a brief discussion on baseball pitchers and how they throw with an expert in biomechanics a couple months ago and it was very interesting. Basically, he broke down all the wrong things that he's seen baseball coaches over the years try and teach their pitchers. It was amazing how wrong some of the ideas and then how much sense the explanation of what is right was. For example, there was a craze for a couple years where coaches would teach pitchers to make their arm, on the follow through, swing across their body and basically try and get it to the opposite leg or around there. The key is they tried to MAKE pitchers do that. They saw pitchers in the majors follow through and tried to copy it. But they did not know that that motion was a consequence of correctly throwing/releasing the ball. They weren't making themselves do it, the body did it automatically. Without getting all scientific, it's similar to the stretch reflex mechanism in running. You don't actively make your leg cycle through on recovery, it does it naturally (and faster than if you tried to do it) because of a correct hip extension/push off phase.


The braves of the 90s, early 2000s and there pitching mastermind similarly went against the norm and look at their results. Glavine and Maddux are still pitching strong at "old" ages. This could be because the braves had their pitchers actually pitch more than other teams. They didn't take days off from throwing after games and the like.

For example, the day after Tom Glavine pitched 131 pitches in a game, he threw long toss from 60 to 120 ft at 75-80%, then 20min off the mound, 20 min of running, then leg exercises, stretching and arm strengthening drills with a 2.5lb baseball.

Stuff like that makes perfect sense to a runner but it took decades for people to do things like that in baseball.

Why am I mentioning all of this? Simply to remind everyone that it is important NOT to just do something because someone who is world renowned does or says they are correct.

For example, in the 1950's, the Dodgers doctors pulled teeth to restore a pitcher's sore shoulder. Another team's renowned orthopedist told pitchers to pitch through the pain of shoulder injuries to break adhesions (they just ended up breaking their shoulders).

Just something to think about.

Marketing of Track and Field- Team track?

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Topics:
-Training update
-Congrats handed out
-Marketing of track: Team Track?


Training update:
Training has been going very well. I've started to work a little more towards race specific workouts and that transition is going well. What that basically means is I've added in longer reps at 3k-5k paces. For example, the other day I did mile repeats in 4:28ish w/ 3:15 jog rest.

I'm trying something a little bit different this year. In the past I think I went "over the edge" or to the well to often during workouts. It wasn't rare that after track sessions you'd see me laying on the ground for a long time or throwing up after a workout. While I think that you need to do some sessions that test yourself like that, I think they should be used more judiciously and only at select times during training. I think in the past I went to the well a little too many times in practice and it just broke me down instead of building me up. We'll see how it works out.

Props and congrats to:
-HS kids, jeremy running PR's in the 8 (1:59) and 16 (4:31) and Ryan running 4:39 and 9:58. Awesome performances especially at this point in this season. I'm hopeful that Ryan can knock another 9sec off his PR to take down my freshman 3200 record.
-My sister won her 5th grade class mile on the girls side and......she threw up afterwords haha. I guess it runs in the family.

Marketing of Track and Field:
Flocasts.com has a good series of video interviews with Craig Masback, head of USATF, about the state of the sport.

He makes some good points in his interviews. I like the idea of the head to head shot put.
There's got to be other ways to make track more entertaining/marketable. One thing I've always thought about is how do we get that excitement of cheering for a teammate or friend in a High School or College race to translate on the professional side of the sport. Remember back to when you were competing in HS and think about how excited you would get when one of your friends was racing, or if you are a coach think about how exciting it is to watch the kids you coach race. Somehow we need to bring that connection to the professional side of the sport. I'm not sure how you do it, but that is one thing that seperates our sport from many of the other professional sports.

For instance, in the big 4 (NBA, MLB,NFL, NHL) fans connect to a particular city/ team and intensely follow that team. They root for all the players on the team almost as if they were close friends. We don't have that kind of dire hard rooting interest present in track. You may like a particular athlete who competes, but never to the extent of say a fan of the Boston Red Sox likes his team. No one lives and dies with how Dathan Ritzenhein races. Sure if he races well, you are happy for him, but it's not the same kind of excitement or connection that you get with other sports.

I have no idea how to get that connection, but it seems possible. My guess is that some sort of team structure might help to aid the situation. It wouldn't take that much work. You wouldn't have to divide them by cities or anything like that. For starters, I would divide it by companies that sponser athletes. If you are sponsored by a shoe company than you are on their "team" and compete against other sponsors. It would be similar to what cycling does with it's Tour de France teams. To keep from one company simply buying up all of the athletes, you limit the number of athletes on each "team" and allow the shoe company to have several different teams with various names. For example, Nike sponsors a ton of athletes, so they could have the Nike A team, B team, C team, etc. (of course with actual names). Each team could have a designated # of spots that scored "points" with wins,times, etc. at the big meets. For instance, maybe having two guys per event on each team. It wouldn't just be shoe companies either. Anyone could sponser a team if they wanted to. Like in Nascar, the team would have that companies logo on their jerseys.

As far as the details you could make it where each team has two people per track event that can score. They then can earn points based on placings at major meets or times at smaller meets. You could also bring in select Cross Country and Road Races into the mix to count. You tally up the points for each team throughout the "regular season" and then have a 4 team dual meet playoff where team A competes against team B in a track meet, while team C competes against team D. Then the winners compete in a championship for the best team.

That would bring some excitement like the old college dual meets back in the day used to. Also, it would bring a college or HS championship feel to it as teams would be competing for a team victory. In essence it would turn professional track into more of a team sport.


I think this would be good for the athletes too because bringing in more sponsors than just shoe companies would expand the money available to the athletes.


Ya it's not perfect, but it might bring something new to the sport.
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