Posted in Coach's CommentsOctober 31, 2008
While I thought my recent commentary about Cross Fit would generate some conversation, it was actually the post about the Nike Women's Marathon controversy that got everyone talking. That topic elicited more reader comments than my posts about cheaters, race victories, or hookers and blow. Since the race and is still a topic of discussion, I thought I'd post the response from USA Track & Field.
Perhaps the quality about competitive running that people most love
is its purity: the first person to the finish wins. Normally, the first
to the finish has the fastest time. Simple enough – right?
October 19 at the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco, that purity
was muddled a bit when it was determined that the first person to the
finish line wasn't actually the fastest person in the race: a woman who
had started with the "pack", in an official gun start 20 minutes later,
ran a time 11 minutes faster than the person who had won the "elite"
race. Race officials didn't know it until the "chip times" – the times
as recorded by electronic chips in each competitors' shoes – revealed
it to be the case.
This raises an important philosophical
question: In any given race, who should be considered the winner? Is it
the first person across the line, or the fastest person in the race?
How do you define victory?
Posted in Coach's Comments,MythsOctober 30, 2008
I was just alerted me to this video from Crossfit Endurance. I could hardly control my laughter and was about to forward it to all my friends with the subject line ROTFLMAO, when I realized that it wasn't a joke. For those of you who can't be bothered to click through to watch and read, here's a summary of what you're missing.
The website shows three elite endurance athletes – Haile Gebrselassie (the greatest distance runner ever), Paula Newby Fraser (the most accomplished female triathlete ever) and Pam Reed (winner of the Badwater Ultra, and multiple world record holder) – and contrasts their appearance with that of a single Cross Fit athlete who is apparently their senior, but looks younger and healthier. They blame the appearance of the world class athletes on "oxidative stress", ignoring a couple of minor technicalities. Geb was born and raised in Ethiopia – a country at altitude with a tropical climate. Pam Reed lives in Tucson and refuses to wear sunblock. Newby Fraser also spent countless hours training in the sun, and presumably didn't always take good care of her skin. Despite all this, CFE claims that all the training and the associated oxidative stress is why these athletes look the way they do. Are the geniuses at Cross Fit aware of the concept of a confounding variable? Let's make it simple for them. Over the last few weeks I've lost some weight, and the stock market has dipped. That doesn't mean that there's a causal relationship. If I make a few extra visits to Krispy Kreme does Crossfit think that our economy will rebound? (I'm happy to try it as a public service.)
The video gets even funnier. The speaker says "Ryan Hall is doing 100-110
mile weeks, last I've heard on a report…. I would never in a
million years have an athlete doing that. Not anymore." Considering that Hall is an Olympian, a sub 60:00 half marathoner and 2:06 marathoner, it seems odd that anyone would hold him up as an example of what not to do, yet this comedian CFE spokesman does.
There's no doubt that Cross Fit workouts are hard. There is doubt that they're safe. There is doubt that they're effective. (CF and CFE have no peer reviewed science to support any of their claims that their methods are any more effective than more conventional means, and it's important to note that just because a workout is hard, it does not mean that it's good at anything other than making you better at doing the workouts.) More to the point, it's interesting that CFE would take four of the world's greatest athletes and hold them up as an example of what not to aspire to. Apparently Cross Fit is only concerned with aesthetics, and performance is irrelevant. Winning a race isn't important. Setting a world record or winning a gold medal isn't important. Having show muscles and smooth skin when you finally cross the line – that's important. Hilarious.
Posted in Coach's CommentsOctober 29, 2008
9th Annual Nautica New York City Triathlon is America's premier Olympic
distance triathlon. Last year's race sold out in 7 hours 46 minutes.
Log on at 12:01 am EST so you don't get closed out.
Posted in CheatersOctober 28, 2008
Johanna just alerted us to the following information which is listed in the official NYC Marathon handbook:
Additonal (sic) chip mats from mile 16 to finish: Chip mats will be located at the start, every 5K from 5K to 40K, the half-marathon mark, and every mile between mile 16 and the finish.
The good news is that I won't have to spend a few hours on Sunday night sifting through the results looking for cheaters. The bad news is, there will be far fewer amoral slackers to publicly humiliate.
Posted in UncategorizedOctober 28, 2008
In NYC, most marathon cheaters miss the 30k and 35k mats (and sometimes the 40k one too) and then miraculously return, having managed to get markedly swifter while they were absent. That means that when the exit the Queensboro bridge at 1st Avenue, they cut over to Central Park, skipping the annoying trip up 1st Ave, into the Bronx, and down 5th Avenue. Last night while talking to Ross and Scott at RUN NYC, I threw out the idea of having a surveillance team to photograph those who make the early exit off 1st Ave. The idea of "mugshots" of the runners off the course had me positively giddy. The flaw to this plan is that we'd pretty much have to station a photograper between 1st and 2nd Avenues on every block along the length of the course. Of course, when I'm King, we'll just set up timing mats and cameras at 2nd Avenue, so that any runner who tries to take a shortcut is detected there. Until then, we can only ask that if any readers of our humble blog manage to spot a runner off the course, please take their picture with the number visible and send it to me. We can compare it to the list of folks who magically leap over two or more conscutive timing mats. BTW, when I'm King, I'll have a staff to spend hours going through the 35,000+ results so that I don't have to do it myself.
Posted in MythsOctober 27, 2008
Anyone who has spent more than 15 seconds in a gym with me knows how much I hate the many myths and misconceptions about exercise that are perpetuated through esteemed publications like Men's Health (a/k/a Cosmo for Boys) and Muscle & Fitness (a/k/a Muscle & Fiction). While I can't do an experiment to see if a Chevy with a rocket engine can get airborne or if Pop Rocks and soda will make your tummy explode like the TV Mythbusters do, I will begin to shine the light on some of the biggest nonsense that goes around the fitness world. In the future, we'll address circuit training, heavy weights – low reps vs light weights – high reps, "specificity", plyometrics and explosive training, and lots more topics. For now, since we're nearing the off-season and it's time to hit the weight room, I figured I'd start there.
Back in my days as a personal trainer, the most common apprehension I'd hear from women was that they didn't want to look like the freak on the cover of a bodybuilding magazine. This ignored the fact that these women were genetically blessed (or cursed depending on your POV), have spent countless hours in the weight room for years and years, and in most cases are more heavily medicated than your average thoroughbred racehorse. Unless you have the testosterone level of a champion bodybuilder you probably don't have to worry. In other words, hitting the weight room 2-3x/week isn't going to force the average weekend warrior to get a new wardrobe to accomodate your "guns" any more than running on a treadmill a few times a week will have them breaking the tape at the 2009 NYC Marathon.
Fortunately, most athletes can reap the benefits of increased strength without any significant muscle mass increases to weigh us down when racing. For endurance athletes, the most significant benefit to added strength is related to injury prevention, as well as recovery after an injury or crash. By addressing muscle weakness and imbalances in the off-season, an endurance athlete can perform better, and help stay injury free during the racing season.
Next up – will covering your bike with aluminum foil make it invisible to speed radar guns?
Posted in Coach's CommentsOctober 22, 2008
Kevin Starkes has scolded me for spending all my time studying Beer Mile stats and neglecting interesting outcomes at the Chicago and San Francisco marathons.
In SF, the 'winner' (crossing the line 1st), finished in 3:06 yet another woman ran the same course in 2:55 and was not the overall winner! The reason
is that she was not the the 'elite' start basically saying that
there were two different races going on. In Chicago, the man who ran
the 4th fastest time did not place 4th because he did not start with the
So…are folks being penalized for not starting with the elites? Does the fastest runner deserve the award, or are they effectively in a different race, and therefore not eligible for the prizes? Of course at first glance it seems that the non-elite runners are being penalized, but then again might the winner of the elite race have been able to run faster if they knew there was competition.
Posted in Coach's CommentsOctober 22, 2008
After much deliberation on the part of our guest judge, NSQ, she has awarded the prize to Shane, for his entry "the most comfy bike crash ever".
It should be noted that I lobbied hard for Billy Simmons’ submission of "
Additionally, NSQ was disappointed to learn that she was not allowed to vote for her own entry, "
Posted in Team Race ResultsOctober 13, 2008
We had a formidable crowd of City Coach, Nike Run NYC and Jack Rabbit runners at the Staten Island Half today. Most of the crew added 7-9 miles before the race in order to get their last pre-NYC Marathon long run, but we had a few notable performances among those who raced it. Lauri Young was 3rd out of 44 runners in the increasingly tough 50-54 AG, and Agnes Zblyut set a PR. Both ladies are Staten Islanders, so it’s nice to see the strong showing on their home turf.
Posted in Team Race ResultsOctober 13, 2008
Looks like a good time was had by all at yesterday’s Get to the ‘Point 5k in Greenpoint, BK. Rumor has it that in addition to Johanna finished 2nd in the women’s field, and Nate was 8th overall, but most importantly he was the winner of the Billie Jean dance off. Read all about it at Johanna’s blog.