Posted by Steve Magness
This past weekend, me and my teammate, Jeff, traveled out to Rhode Island to race in the USATF road 5k championships. I really had no idea what to expect, as we have been really hitting the strength work. Because of that, we had really no indicator workout or anything to go by. Even our coach told us not to expect much, as the training we've been isn't condusive to a fast 5k. To further complicate things, I mildly strained my hamstring on monday, so I wasn't able to do much before the race. It altered my stride a bit, so I was worried about that.
Regardless of that, we wanted to get in a good early season race, test the wheels out a bit, and give us something to compare to later in the season. In November, we are most likely doing another road 5k (Seagate 5k) so it will give us a good indication on how much we've improved.
Having said all that, the race went pretty well. I ended up placing 14th overall (13th american) and running 14:40. The field was pretty stacked, so I got dragged out pretty fast and faded a little bit more than I would have liked, but overall it was a solid performance. The start of the race has a downhill in it the first 400m, so it leads to going out pretty fast. If it were'nt for the downhill part, the first mile wouldn't be considered fast, as there are a ton of turns on the course, some pretty sharp. I really didn't have a defined race plan going in, except to not go out too fast to hurt my hamstring. I just wanted to get out on the back end of the pack or the front of the second pack and just try and feel it out. So after about 800m in when things started settling down I tried to latch onto Ben Bruce and Phil Reid. I'd met both of those guys the day before, and had raced Phil a couple times in college, so at the moment it seemed like the best option to try and hang on to them for as long as I could.
That last until about 1.75mi or somewhere in that range. The middle part of the race has a couple of long straightaways in it, so you can see everyone in front of you and kind of guage the distance. I was starting to hurt pretty bad at about 2mi and kind of had a lapse in concentration for a bit. I finally started to regroup with about a half mile to go and picked off a couple of people.
To get to the finish you make a couple of turns, the last being a turn onto the finish line street that has about a 100m hill on it before flattening out for the last 75m or so. I didn't pay enough attention the day before when we were jogging the course, so I kind of mistimed my kick. I passed another runner in the last 100m, but had too much left.
So overall, it was a solid opening. I definately think that I could have run 14:30-35 if I had run a little bit smarter and my hamstring wasn't bothering me. It was tough having such a big race being the first race of the year. I still had some kinks in the system.
This is definately one of the best races I've run. The elite coordinator and meet director do a great job with the race and it really is a first class event. They do a great job of taking care of all of the athletes.
We had probably the longest flight plans from L.A. to providence. On the way out, we spent 12 hours traveling. On the way back, about 19 hours. That's longer than it has taken me to get to Europe when I've gone there. The only good thing is we had a layover in Houston on both ways, so I got to eat dinner with the family, which was really nice.
Other than the horrible travel, the trip was a blast. It was cool hanging out with other elites and getting to know some of the other runners. We jogged the course the day before with Ben Bruce and Phil Reid. The night after the race, I roomed with Dan Browne and we went for a run with him, christian hesch, and sean brosnan. In fact, we kind of got lost on the run...
But anyways, it was a great trip and a solid race. I'll save some of the stories for later posts.
I got a comment asking what my plans are exactly and I know I've given bits and pieces of info throughout my blog but I'll try and sum things up here. Also, I got a couple e-mails on the letsrun thread on myself. Really, I think those threads are hillarious. When I was younger, it would bother me a bit, but now I just kind of laugh it off. So I'll answer some of the questions raised in there too.
I'm in Chino Hills, California training and living with a couple of other guys who are trying to accomplish the same thing I am, to see how good we can get. We've been offered the opportunity to basically live the running life to see what our potential is. Right now, my teammates are Jeff Caron and Carlos Handler. Me and Jeff are on similar schedules this fall, while Carlos has been training for the Twin City's marathon.
So, yes I basically eat, sleep, and run. I'd like to do graduate school at some point, but for now I am going to take this opportunity and give it a go. Since I have lots of time, I do watch too many movies (since we don't have cable) and read too many books. A lot of the time I read two books at a time. One being for entertainment, and one running related book.
I get a lot of flack for learning about my sport. Some people say I'm too engrossed in the science of it and it negatively effects my running. I can certainly see how it comes off as myself being too concerned with the details, but I think the opposite is true. I KNOW and learn about all the details, but that does not mean I constantly apply or worry about them in my own training. Most of the reading I do is because I enjoy learning about the sport. It's a passion.
But contrary to popular belief, I'm not sitting here worrying about my lactate levels in every workout or hitting X,Y, or Z time. In fact, I think I'm the opposite. I mostly run by feel and try and listen to my body much more so than most people. I coach the same way. I keep my running simple. I run a lot, I work hard, I try and rest/recover the best I can, and I do whatever workouts my coaches give me.
Which brings me to my next critcism. I am not coaching myself right now. I am coached by Marco Ochoa (2:13 marathoner). At times after I left Rice (which was not for grades- I graduated suma cum laude from Houston), I coached myself on and off, but not consistantly. Only the last year did I coach myself. I think I did a respectable job, especially considering the health problems I had. I came within .03 of qualifying for NCAA in XC and then managed to run 3:47.08 despite not being able to breathe half the time in races. That being said, coaching yourself is a whole different ballgame than coaching others. At this point in time, I am very confident I can coach others. However, I do not know if I can be completely honest with myself when coaching myself. I am too stubburn and can not be objective enough. In ways, I think being your own coach is at odds against trying to be a tough runner. As a coach, you have to continually adjust and adapt the training program. As a runner, you never feel good cutting a workout short or changing up the week. You just want to put your head down and hammer through it. It takes a person who can seperate the coaching and running part completely to be able to have tremendous success going the self coached route.
I do however coach some HS kids. Each one has improved from where they started, many significantly. In the little over 2 years I've been helping out, one runner has already moved on to the Div. 1 running level, and the rest of the guys are on the brink of being nationally ranked as a team in Cross Country. I mentioned this not for tooting my own horn, but to show there is a reason that I spend so much time writing about running. In coaching runners, I feel it's my responsibility to give as much as I can to them if they are willing to put the work in. Having gone through a very rough college career, I want my runners to continually improve and reach the levels that I know they can. There's no worse feeling than having a runner peak too early or run bad at the time he should be running fast. I try and do everything possible as a coach to figure out how to get each individual runner to run up to his potential at the right time. And if I don't accomplish that goal, then I accept that it was my fault and look for a way to fix it. Which is something that a lot of coaches don't do. If the runner runs poorly, they usually blame the runner first. I'm the opposite, I blame my training program first, and see what mistakes I made as a coach.
Anyways, the point of that off shoot is that all the writings and such I do, is to flush out my ideas as a coach. It's the best way I know of to get all of my ideas in my ahead sorted out. It helps me refine my training ideas and kind of flushes everything out.
Lastly, you can't measure talent. Every runner, even the elites, like to think of themselves as having little talent and being where they are because of hard work. Newsflash, you all have talent. We can not measure talent at all. There is no scientific measurement that can come anywhere close to measuring talent. I have no idea how talented I am. Just because I ran 4min in a mile in HS does not mean I am loaded with talent. I could be, I could not be. Who knows, who cares.
And I got an email asking what my health problems have been. This is going to sound like an excuse or a pitty party, but it's not. Rather I hope it shows those who read this blog to never give up and keep going at it, no matter the obstacles. Find a way to do what you love.
So here's my brief list of my diseases/problems that have effected my running: Hashimoto's disease (thyroid), Vocal Chord Dysfunction, Exercise induced asthma, a hole in my heart, and horrible allergies. That's about it, with a couple other things here and there, but basically mix them together and when things are going bad that means no breathing during races for me. So it's quiet the pain. But hopefully that's in the past.
That's all I've got. I'll get criticized for responding to whoever in this post, but that's no big deal. I just wanted to write a little bit of a response once, so that I can just link whoever emails me bashing me or whatever this post. That's the last I'll say on this subject.
I'm just a guy trying to explore his limits. I feel I have a lot of improvement left in this sport and I plan on finding out. Whatever happens, at least I can look back and have no regrets as I gave it a full go. Not many people can say that.
P.S.- for you letsrunners...
I hate core stuff. I think most of it is overblown and useless. There is benefit of course, but it's a fad. Running is running. There's not much transfer. I've never written 11pgs on core, but I might some day. If I do, I'll post it for you.
at 1:12 PM