I’m in California now training with Carlos Handler and Jeff Caron. Together I think we can all take the next step forward and do some great things on the track this spring. The coach is Marco Ochoa, who was one of the top marathoners in the U.S. in the 90’s (ran 2:13ish). He also trained under Joe Vigil, so his training is very much influenced by him. We’ve got a 2 bedroom apartment to live in free, and Reebok is stepping up with a gear sponsorship so things are coming around pretty nicely to set up a good group.

As far as training goes, it’s been good. I’m up to about 85mpw. Most of it is distance runs with some strides thrown in. Everyonce in a while, we’ll let things go a little bit, like on our 13 miler this week we dropped 5:30s for about 4mi with most of the rest at 6min or better.

The hills are tearing are getting to me though. We’ve got a good amount of nice dirt trails here, but most of them are pretty hilly, or at least hilly compared to back home. That’s going to take a little bit of getting used to, but in the end it will make me a whole lot stronger.

Since I’m basically a bum, I’ve had a lot of time to return to researching running, phsiology, etc. and to write some new stuff. With the explosion of strength and core work for distance runners out there, I’ve been delving into that a bit. Writing is a good way to flesh out the ideas in my head and to develop my beliefs on the subject. In the end, it makes me think things through. I’ve got a long thing on the development of strength endurance for a distance runner. It’s about 11 pages right now and I’m still not done. I’ve got to flesh it out a little bit and finish up some ideas/concepts and then I’ll probably post it.

Also, with the focus switched to some concepts generally reserved for sprint coaches, I’ve delved back into sprint and mechanics a little bit. Everytime I do that, it makes me realize that in the end running and training for running, no matter the event, is essentially a neural thing. The nervous system controls everything and I think, as distance coaches, we sometimes forget about Neural training.

And just to create some controversy, here’s my latest two thoughts I’ve been pondering on for the past couple of days:

-Technique drills used for improving mechanics are basically useless. Drills can be used for other reasons, but for improving running mechanics they are pointless.

-The key to running is the elastic properties of the body. The body has so many reflexes and such that energy transfer and return should be a focus of training. Many parts of the body function as a rubber band. It really astounds me that more time isn’t spent on exploring this concept or trying to improve it. That is one of the reasons for optimizing running mechanics. If you do it correctly then you can maximize this elastic effect, and thus minimize energy loss. Less energy lost, means less work that needs to be done.

– THERE IS NO PAWBACK!!!!!!! Sorry, actively pawing at the ground to try and get quick is not effective and does not happen. I was thrilled to see that Dr. Weyand who does a lot of research on sprint technique (and who’s views I sometimes disagree with) confirmed my and others belief. I found this on Vern Gambetta’s blog: “He (Dr. Weyand) made a couple of real key point regarding two myths that keep being passed around…The other one was in regard this idea of pawing. It does not occur; you can’t do it, so forget it. “

I’m sure I’ll get plenty of heat on the boards or through e-mails for those statements, but in my experience and research I think they are key concepts.

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