Interesting, potentially controversial, article on marathoners

Welcome! Forums Running Forum Interesting, potentially controversial, article on marathoners

This topic contains 37 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  GTF 12 years, 4 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #5579

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I saw elsewhere a discussion of this Slate article about marathoners. If you just read the article, it's needless to say that some people have very strong opinions about the article.

    While I agree with some of the criticism of the article I've seen, I have to say I don't think it's totally off base. The thing I most agree with is something that should be no secret, the injury concern. This is something I've preached for as long as I can remember discussing marathons. To put it bluntly, people who rush into a marathon with little or no prior running experience are greatly increasing their risk of injuries due to the fact that they haven't taken the needed time to build up their musculoskeletal strength, something that can't be rushed. They get hurt, they decide running is nothing but a pain filled pursuit, they quit running right after the marathon and tell all their friends how painful and unpleasant running is. This, of course, isn't true universally but it's true more frequently than some people realize. If these people set smaller goals like a 5k, 10k or even half marathon to start and saved the marathon for when they were more adequately prepared, I have no doubt that more would find the joy in running and would stick to it, whether they did so as fitness runners or developed into competitive runners.

  • #21582

    GTF
    Member

    I doubt the criticisms you cite could be terribly valid.  The author is essentially spot-on throughout the entire piece.  This happens with anything which has inherent original qualities that find growing popularity among the unversed masses, the mainstream basically waddles in and tramples down the intrinsic qualities and leaves it a watered-down gimpy ghost of its former self.  The article may amount to so much (unconstructive) kvetching, though, as there seems to be nothing that can really done to reverse the on-going slump in the sport — only a societal or significant underground shift in the right direction can restore the luster than has been lost.

  • #21583

    After reading the article on marathoning I understand the concern about the here today gone tomorrow runner. I've worked hard for the past 3 years  to get to where I am today, not that I'm in a class with many of the runners on this forum, never ran xc in HS or college. I just run because I want to. If you really love to run then why be concerned about those who come and go. I don't concern myself with those walkers or those that are to slow to keep the pace, I worry about how to improve and catch someone better then me. Set some goals and leave the rest behind. As we get older I think we should try to move up the ladder in our age group then try to maintain that position because there is aways someone out there trying to catch you. You have to continually work hard to gain the rewards and keep them. Ski

  • #21584

    GTF
    Member

    If you really love to run then why be concerned about those who come and go.

    Perhaps you do not understand.  For quite a few of us, our interest in and enjoyment of running goes well beyond merely our own participation as athletes.  How rare is it for people to consider things greater than themselves?

  • #21585

    r-at-work
    Member

    the author of the article had some valid points  that have been beat into the ground and that I agree with… however, he makes a big deal about having run 6 marathons, if you check out marathonguide.com, none of them recently…he just seemed mighty full of “whine” to me… like HE misses being able to run his sub-3 races and therefore it's the slowpokes fault…

    the other thing he talks about are those glorious '80s as if Shorter & Rodgers were rock stars, I'll bet they were almost as anonymous as Deena & Meb… that's just the nature of marathon running in America…yeah, it would be nice to be the world power in marathoning (again) but I think we have to be gracious to those at the top who ARE rock stars in their country, where running is more recognized…

    -R

  • #21586

    GTF
    Member

    he makes a big deal about having run 6 marathons

    He does not.  It is extremely evident that he mentioned his background in marathons in a single, short line to give context for his views.

    if you check out marathonguide.com, none of them recently

    So?  It seems sadder that someone would bother searching to find out how fast the author has run his marathons and when, seemingly as if the reader wants to take it to a personal level that has nothing at all to do with the main idea. 

    …he just seemed mighty full of “whine” to me… like HE misses being able to run his sub-3 races and therefore it's the slowpokes fault…

    What passages implied that even the slightest bit?

    the other thing he talks about are those glorious '80s as if Shorter & Rodgers were rock stars, I'll bet they were almost as anonymous as Deena & Meb…

    How many SI covers have either Deena or Meb been on?  Just realize this: Shorter and Rodgers were NOT overrated, and incidentally the same goes for Joan Benoit Samuelson.

    that's just the nature of marathon running in America…yeah, it would be nice to be the world power in marathoning (again) but I think we have to be gracious to those at the top who ARE rock stars in their country, where running is more recognized…

    Nice non sequitur.  ::)

  • #21587

    rehammes
    Member

    I guess I personally don't care if 9 of 10 first time marathoners never run again.  If that one decides running is something he can no longer live without, wouldn't that be a victory?  I ran my first marathon on a crash course, half-a**** three week program and it hurt quite badly.  I did not check any list when done but rather figured that with some actual training this might be fun. 
    With the exception of those who set out to walk a marathon, I think anyone should feel a sense of accomplishment after completing 26.2 miles, fast or slow.  I don't hold it against them if they chose not to run again as I don't think it affects me.
    However, if the increase in inexperienced runners causes a surge in the registration fees for marathons (which maybe it has now that I think about it) that might change my opinion somewhat.  I have not personally experienced this surge in fees as I have only been running road races for four or five years.
    Good topic though.

  • #21588

    r-at-work
    Member

    How many SI covers have either Deena or Meb been on?  Just realize this: Shorter and Rodgers were NOT overrated, and incidentally the same goes for Joan Benoit Samuelson.

    true… they got SI covers… so did Secretariat & Funny Cide, but they probably would still not be recognized by the average person in this country, or even the average sports minded person, maybe not even the average (horse)racing enthusiast…

    while you were right to bring me to task for considering that marathon runners are like rock stars in other countries I'm not sure that just because an athlete gets their picture on the cover of SI it means they are recognized by many in this country… I really do agree with what the author said about celebrity marathon pariticipants getting more “media buzz” for just finishing as opposed to the winners/top places…

    and yeah, it's sad that I look up peoples times… but I have found that occasionally it can give some insight into their point of view…
    -R

  • #21589

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Out of curiosity, what does being gracious to those who are succeeding at a high level have to do with being disappointed with the precipitous drop in performances by those from our country? Heck, if we had done nothing but maintained the performance level Americans were running at in the early to mid 1980s, we would still have nearly the same number of sub-2:20 marathoners right here from this country as you see from Kenya and more than any country but Kenya.

  • #21590

    r-at-work
    Member

    Out of curiosity, what does being gracious to those who are succeeding at a high level have to do with being disappointed with the precipitous drop in performances by those from our country? Heck, if we had done nothing but maintained the performance level Americans were running at in the early to mid 1980s, we would still have nearly the same number of sub-2:20 marathoners right here from this country as you see from Kenya and more than any country but Kenya.

    being gracious has nothing to do with being disppointed with the precipitous drop in American performances… but possibly realizing that trends in performances hold for America just as for the rest of the world… other factors, like the money an athlete can make at another sport, wars, boycotts of events can make it appear that this country has lost it's 2:20 runners… we do have a huge & diverse gene pool in this country… I am saddened by the lowering of standards from fast to finish…

    I do think that we need to separate the race & event/walk for fitness/celebrity issue… It's a shame that Volksmarches couldn't get the media attention that races do… then at least all those 'slowpokes' would stop annoying those who want to race…
    -Rita

  • #21591

    sueruns
    Member

    I guess my complaint and how it affects me, is that marathons are filling up way too quick.  I'm registering for fall marathons before I've run my spring marathon.  It's hard to know if I'll be non-injured and peaked 8 months down the line.  Some of the faster marathons are lottery or closing within days.  It would be nice if some of the “fast” courses would leave an open door for late entrants that meet some type of time standard.  It doesn't affect the elites because a race will gladly take them at any point.  I think it affects competitive age-groupers that hit a “snag” and need to find a marathon a month or two after their goal marathon and can't find any open.  :'(

  • #21592

    GTF
    Member

    true… they got SI covers… so did Secretariat & Funny Cide, but they probably would still not be recognized by the average person in this country, or even the average sports minded person, maybe not even the average (horse)racing enthusiast…

    Yet another non sequitur.  8)

  • #21593

    GTF
    Member

    I guess my complaint and how it affects me, is that marathons are filling up way too quick.  I'm registering for fall marathons before I've run my spring marathon.  It's hard to know if I'll be non-injured and peaked 8 months down the line.  Some of the faster marathons are lottery or closing within days.  It would be nice if some of the “fast” courses would leave an open door for late entrants that meet some type of time standard.  It doesn't affect the elites because a race will gladly take them at any point.  I think it affects competitive age-groupers that hit a “snag” and need to find a marathon a month or two after their goal marathon and can't find any open.  :'(

    No, it also affects 'elites' as well, not all races welcome them with open arms at all times.  It certainly is an issue among better runners, there have been cases where OT qualifier chasers got shut out of one favorable marathon or another because the TiT penguin crowd went in and gobbled up a huge chunk of entries.  In one particular instance, a fellow who was in the top 5 (2nd, IIRC) in a certain marathon tried the next year to get a comp'ed entry for just the half-marathon the following year and the obtuse organizers of the shufflefest in question quickly dismissed the query.  It may be time for faster runners, many of those who actually care about performance, to quasi-unionize (perhaps on a regional level) and target smaller races on favorable courses with their support rather than continually acquiesce to the ostensibly greedier event organizers.

  • #21594

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Sue, that's actually an idea I raised when the topic of rapidly filling up marathons came up before. I suggested the idea that they could allow open entry for everyone that would close once filled up. Then, keep a certain number of entries open for a longer period of time.

    For example, Chicago gets roughly the same number of people entering with competitive or faster seeds every year. Let's say they get roughly 5000 people every year qualifying as competitive or faster. They could then open up registration for 35,000 slower than competitive entries that would still be first come, first serve. In addition, they could say anyone who qualifies for a competitive or faster seed can register up until a certain date, say 1-2 months before race day. This would reward those who have reached higher standards of performance, lead to less no shows on race day, and probably over time increase the number of faster runners they get because people would choose to enter Chicago rather than a marathon they had to register for several months in advance.

  • #21595

    flightless
    Member

    This topic is always dangerous to wade into, but I will. If I had to be concise I'd say it's not about speed, it's about sport. We shouldn't criticize individual people for the speed they run, but it is completely OK to worry that in the aggregate the sport is being depleted by not enough individuals treating running as a sport.

    We have to acknowledge that running is both a recreation, and a competitive sport. One of the great things about the activity is that it is open to everyone, it is easy to start, and you can continually choose how much you make running a recreation or a competitive activity.

    I think it is great that lots of people are participating in running as a recreation. For the most part so long as they enjoy it that's all for the best. It's also mostly true that individually the people chasing times and places are not that put out by the rise in recreational non-competitive entries (though the complaint about races filling up early is legitimate).

    But for running to be a competitive sport you have to have sufficient numbers that are taking it seriously as a sport. There is abundant evidence of the drop-off in competitive depth in western countries (this is not unique to America) even though at the absolute top end of the sport internationally competition is deep and wide.

    I don't think it's totally unreasonable to connect the promotion of running as recreation only to the fall in competitive depth (below the international level). People who come through the sport as high school and college runners know that it's a competitive sport. But there are lots of people who take up running later in life, and if what they see in race promotion and the media is the message that running is just a recreation it's not surprising that people don't take it seriously as a sport. For example, the Star Tribune yesterday had a full-page spread on 5 people running Twin Cities next weekend. Only one had a time goal. Perhaps they'll have more on the top end of the field later, so I will reserve some criticism. But this was the public face of our sport.

    Sometimes analogies are useful. I don't think that cycling, swimming, triathlon or cross-country ski-ing (which are comparable sports to running) have been as diluted as running by recreational runners who aren't interested in the competitive side. Certainly they have proportionately more races in those sports which are races for the sake of races, and not vehicles for charity fundraising. 

    If we were to make analogies to other sports, one could compare the numbers of sub 2:X0 marathoners in the 80s with now, and make some comparison with the number of minor league ball players hitting some decent average. That's how other sports fans will understand our concern. If the number of players hitting 0.300 in the minor leagues had more than halved in twenty years that would be a huge decline in baseball standards. That's what has happened with America's sub 2:20 male marathoners if we take that as an imperfect index of competitive depth. Its quite likely the decline has been even worse between 2:20 and 3:00 since people around 2:20 have some financial incentive to keep going.

    I think that people would enjoy running more as a recreation if they built up to marathons slowly, and that more would become competitive runners if they slowly increased their race distances. If you're going from 0 to 26.2 in 6-12 months it's difficult for most people to also learn to race.

    There's a lot of money invested in, and to be made from, the current focus on recreational marathoning. It ain't changing anytime soon unfortunately. 

  • #21596

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Flightless, consider me one person who is glad you took the risk to wade into the topic. Your post was extremely well articulated and actually a much more clear explanation of the point of view that I share with you than anything I could have written.

  • #21597

    Chris
    Member

    I think I can see where this article is coming from 100%.  Two things stick out that I disagree with.  First, there are runners who run hard to run 4:00.  Why criticize them.  Second, synthetic fabric is the best thing since sliced bread. 

    I agree on the injury thing.  I am almost never injured.  Since running Grandmas this spring and training more than normal I have had 3 knee injuries and nagging back pain.  Some may not be running related, but I'm sure it's not coincidence.  I'm a 60mpw guy on a normal year and don't get injured doing that.  70mpw and long runs must have got the best of me!

  • #21598

    GTF
    Member

    First, there are runners who run hard to run 4:00.  Why criticize them.

    Why, indeed — better yet, where was such criticism found? 

    Second, synthetic fabric is the best thing since sliced bread.

    Again, where was it claimed otherwise that would allow you room for disagreement?

    70mpw and long runs must have got the best of me!

    Perhaps not a coincidence though likely not any causation, outside of perhaps the long runs being too high of a % of that '70mpw' — of course it likely might be something else entirely that has been overlooked or not given proper consideration.

  • #21599

    GTF
    Member

    Excellent message post.

    This topic is always dangerous to wade into, but I will.

    Apparently it is only as dangerous as how typical are misinformation and misinterpretation. 😉

    If I had to be concise I'd say it's not about speed, it's about sport. We shouldn't criticize individual people for the speed they run, but it is completely OK to worry that in the aggregate the sport is being depleted by not enough individuals treating running as a sport.

    It does not seem that the author's point of contention is necessarily about speed, either.  The slowing of average finish times is simply a (highly predictable) outgrowth of both the rise in popularity of the marathon as a one-time activity goal and the related decline in popularity of treating the marathon as a serious sporting event and respected competitive athletic endeavor.  The slowing is simply an obvious and easy symptom to which to point — the times are not what denigrates the sport, it is the general attitude of those who end up needing 6+ hours and thus contribute to the ballooning of average finish times.

    It's also mostly true that individually the people chasing times and places are not that put out by the rise in recreational non-competitive entries (though the complaint about races filling up early is legitimate).

    There is also the issue of rising costs arising from keeping the course open beyond 5.5-6 hours (street closure, EMT & PD wages, etc.) that are passed along to everyone in the race, regardless of whether they need the course open that long or not.

    I don't think it's totally unreasonable to connect the promotion of running as recreation only to the fall in competitive depth (below the international level). People who come through the sport as high school and college runners know that it's a competitive sport. But there are lots of people who take up running later in life, and if what they see in race promotion and the media is the message that running is just a recreation it's not surprising that people don't take it seriously as a sport. For example, the Star Tribune yesterday had a full-page spread on 5 people running Twin Cities next weekend. Only one had a time goal. Perhaps they'll have more on the top end of the field later, so I will reserve some criticism. But this was the public face of our sport.

    Event organizers/race directors also have some say in how their race is marketed, whether they will reserve blocks of entries for TiT, et alia, ad nauseam, whether race funds are spent on bands and finisher's paraphernalia or on performance-rewarding prizes, and so forth.

    Sometimes analogies are useful. I don't think that cycling, swimming, triathlon or cross-country ski-ing (which are comparable sports to running) have been as diluted as running by recreational runners who aren't interested in the competitive side. Certainly they have proportionately more races in those sports which are races for the sake of races, and not vehicles for charity fundraising.

    To wit, cycling has become rather inundated with recreational riders, at least if I am to believe the promotional materials I see published, compared with the competitive side.  At least in cycling as a competitive sport there is a structure (categories to slot riders of like ability, and through which to ascend, descend, or maintain) that serves to encourage competition much better than what can be found in running road racing today.

    Its quite likely the decline has been even worse between 2:20 and 3:00 since people around 2:20 have some financial incentive to keep going.

    It is doubtlessly so.

    I think that people would enjoy running more as a recreation if they built up to marathons slowly, and that more would become competitive runners if they slowly increased their race distances. If you're going from 0 to 26.2 in 6-12 months it's difficult for most people to also learn to race.

    Definitely.  The general population, which likely includes a good majority of the one-and-done crowd, seems to lack the level of understanding and patience to take a significantly wiser approach.

    There's a lot of money invested in, and to be made from, the current focus on recreational marathoning. It ain't changing anytime soon unfortunately.

    This is also the author's contention.  My term for such people looking to cash in while doing nothing to help the sport (if not actively aiding the denigration of the sport) is “running leeches”.

  • #21600

    JCWrs
    Member

    I see this same topic (in various incarnations) over and over these days.  It seems to me that we, as runners who like to compete and try to better our times rather then simply run as recreation or social event, can only do so much. 

    Things we can do include:

    Vote with your dollar.  Run races, whenever possible, that cater to the race at least as much, if not more-so, then the event.  There are so many people now that will run races just to do something that their market-share overwhelms the hardcore runner market-share.  We must then make an effort to support those races that give us what we are looking for.

    Encourage those on the cusp.  Instead of ignoring those that are not as fast as we are, look for those people that show signs of becoming a competitive runner (more a mindset then a certain speed) and encourage them.  The more people that start to run races for the race, the more our market-share grows and the more race directors can afford to cater to our type of runner.

    Organize your own race.  If you cant find enough races that give you what you want…organize your own.  You know whats important to you in a race…who better to make sure that happens then you.  I realize this isnt an option for everyone, but if you have 10 running friends and you all organize one race a year then that will provide many options for the more serious runners.

    I'm sure there are other things that you can do, but at some point you have to stop and say, just do your thing and let the chips fall where they may.  It is the economic climate of running right now that dictates a catering to the less then serious crowd.  We can do things to change that, but it will take time to change and probably will never be fully reveresed.  At the end of the day running is about you and it is what you make of it.  If you dont enjoy races with thousands of walkers then dont run them.  If you hate the fact that there are fewer 2:20 guys then their used to be, train harder or become a coach.  DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!  Or just shut-up, train your @$$ off and use it as motivation to PR at your next race (after-all, if you dont run fast all the fun-runners will eat all the post race food).  ;D

  • #21601

    GTF
    Member

    Good post, for those of us not already walking our talk.  8)

  • #21602

    sueruns
    Member

    excellent post.

    I need to mull this over. 

  • #21603

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    JCWrs, great points. We can complain about the situation all we want. However, if we don't do anything about it, then we're just part of the problem. Organizing races can be difficult but, if you talk to a local high school track coach, you can most likely pretty inexpensively set up a track meet. A 5k, a 1500/1600, a few other events in other disciplines, and you can create an event that caters to the competitors and keep the entry fees very low.

    There's also the angle of encouraging people to try competition and educating them on how to train for competitions and how to compete. This is something that I like to think this site is about. Encouraging competition and helping to explain to people on how to compete. In a way, I think by participating in this forum, a lot of the people here are doing something because we are spreading the word on the benefits of competition and on how to compete. I don't think most people who post here realize how many people who never post read what is posted here and take things from it. I've gotten e-mails expressing interest in competition that was either picked up or expanded on through reading this forum or other parts of the site and asking how to take the next step. Don't think your words here don't make a difference. I have seen that they do.

    One thing I would add. We not only need to encourage and support those on the cusp of becoming competitive, as I believe we are all doing in some way by posting about competitive running here, but we need to encourage and support those on the cusp of being competitive at high levels. Think about the best runners in your area. How much support do they receive? Could they train harder and run against better competition if they received more support from the local running community? Could those factors take them to a higher level?

  • #21604

    Chris
    Member

    First, there are runners who run hard to run 4:00.  Why criticize them.
    Why, indeed — better yet, where was such criticism found? 
    Quote
    Second, synthetic fabric is the best thing since sliced bread.
    Again, where was it claimed otherwise that would allow you room for disagreement?

    Quote
    70mpw and long runs must have got the best of me!
    Perhaps not a coincidence though likely not any causation, outside of perhaps the long runs being too high of a % of that '70mpw' — of course it likely might be something else entirely that has been overlooked or not given proper consideration.

    You coming after me or what?

    The article states 4:00 marathoners are “slow pokes” and in danger of overhydration.  If someone called me a slow poke I'd take that as criticism.

    On the synthetic fabric, the article states that runners wearing this attire look like something out of NASA.  Once again I'd say the author is suggestion this stuff is a joke….criticism. 

    On my training.  My 70mpw program is 100% Pfitz.  I missed ONE day in 18 weeks due to INJURY.  Are you questioning his program?

    IMO this article is 100% criticizing the recreational runner.  The thing is those recreational runners are the ones dumping $$ into the running economy and keeping this already waning sport alive.  Maybe if even more slowpokes would take up running there would be enough interest to televise a T&F event once in a while.  Maybe even a nationally televised Marathon??

    I haven't taken the time to read this entire thread…maybe I'll do so now. 

  • #21605

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    On my training.  My 70mpw program is 100% Pfitz.  I missed ONE day in 18 weeks due to INJURY.  Are you questioning his program?

    I think I mentioned to you that I thought your easy days were too fast. If the easy day paces were suggested by Pfitz, I'll question those paces.

    IMO this article is 100% criticizing the recreational runner.  The thing is those recreational runners are the ones dumping $$ into the running economy and keeping this already waning sport alive.  Maybe if even more slowpokes would take up running there would be enough interest to televise a T&F event once in a while.  Maybe even a nationally televised Marathon??

    IMO, he was criticizing the “one and done” marathoner more than the general recreational runner. Also, I would question who's subsidizing whom. If the slower runners are subsidizing the faster runners, why are entry fees skyrocketing as we get fewer faster runners and more slower runners? Finally, I would question whether we would get T&F on TV just because there are more recreational runners out there. T&F was on TV more in the 70s and 80s than it is now from what I've heard. Also, how many people do you see in their 40s and 50s playing organized football games and basketball games? Other sports don't rely on people who participate in their sport for an audience, they rely on people who are only concerned with watching the sport as a form of entertainment. The key to getting T&F on TV is to market it as a competitive sport that is entertaining to watch.

  • #21606

    GTF
    Member

    You coming after me or what?

    What?

    The article states 4:00 marathoners are “slow pokes” and in danger of overhydration.  If someone called me a slow poke I'd take that as criticism.

    Where is that?  Quote the passage, I have read the article multiple times and that was not stated even implicitly.

    On the synthetic fabric, the article states that runners wearing this attire look like something out of NASA.  Once again I'd say the author is suggestion [sic] this stuff is a joke….criticism.

    That does not make it correct.  The context was apparently missed and thus so was the main idea.

    On my training.  My 70mpw program is 100% Pfitz.  I missed ONE day in 18 weeks due to INJURY.  Are you questioning his program?

    How you train is a mystery to me; a rather common possible problematic issue was simply suggested, it is left to you to decide whether or not it might fit.

    IMO this article is 100% criticizing the recreational runner.

    Only if one goes out of one's way to interpret that way.  The author's object of criticism was outlined early on and should be easy enough to keep in mind as one reads further into the article. 

    The thing is those recreational runners are the ones dumping $$ into the running economy and keeping this already waning sport alive.

    Despite senses of entitlement, the sport was in no way “waning” before one-and-done just-get-to-the-finish participants (most are seemingly not runners) swelled their ranks and as a group they in fact take more from the sport than they contribute to it, their participation is subsidized by the vast majority of marathoners who hit the starting line with performance aims. 

    Maybe if even more slowpokes would take up running there would be enough interest to televise a T&F event once in a while.

    Despite the fact that televised T&F has worsened since the ballooning of the marathon ranks and subsequently the average finish time? 

    Maybe even a nationally televised Marathon??

    Boston is annually televised.

    I haven't taken the time to read this entire thread…maybe I'll do so now. 

    Better late than never.  8)

  • #21607

    sueruns
    Member

    I don't question Pfitz's program.  The problem is that it isn't “tailored” for you specifically.  Maybe you followed too closely by missing only one day.  It's one of the best guidelines out there…but it is only a guideline.

  • #21608

    Chris
    Member

    GTF, apparently we interpret the article differently.  Let's leave it at that.   

  • #21609

    Chris
    Member

    Ryan you are correct in that my easy runs were generally too fast.  We certainly aren't talking 30 seconds per mile too fast, but still too fast. 

  • #21610

    GTF
    Member

    I don't question Pfitz's program.  The problem is that it isn't “tailored” for you specifically.  Maybe you followed too closely by missing only one day.  It's one of the best guidelines out there…but it is only a guideline.

    Precisely, 'Pfitz 70' (which I doubt that Pfitzinger ever followed himself, even proportionately) is simply a suggestion, a rough guide, and like any plan it is only as good as its fit to a given individual at a given point in time and progression — a better fit might be 'sueruns 84' or 'Chris 68' or 'Ryan 143' (just to use blindly random examples) as one should not be afraid to mold the training to one's own strengths, weaknesses, and history rather than trying to work it in a rather opposite manner.  The proportion of one's volume comprised by the long(est) run is just one (easily identifiable) facet, another is the effort level of any given run or workout, as Ryan suggested.  Throwing all the blame at the mileage is simplistic and commonly suggests physiological ignorance — injuries should be minimal if one takes the smartest (often synonymous with most/more patient) approach in building aerobic development through volume.

    Chris wrote:
    GTF, apparently we interpret the article differently.  Let's leave it at that. That is your choice to freely make.  I stand by my assertions – I have no problem defending them – though I have zero interest in dragging anyone to a place he or she is unwilling to go.  8)
  • #21611

    rehammes
    Member

        Everytime I read this article I get a somewhat different impression of what Mr. Sherman is trying to say.  I agree with Rita to a point in that he touts his six marathons as evidence of his membership in a club for 'real' runners.  By saying 'this growing army of giddy marathon rookies is irksome to me' tells me that it is not the speed of the first-timer, rather his mere presense at the event that is bothersome.  I think a person running his first marathon will be 100% excited/giddy/nervous etc. regardless of whether he intends to run 100 or 0 marathons after that one. 
        Also, what exactly is the problem with not checking out your time as you cross the finish line.  You can participate in any number of sports for the enjoyment rather than for some validation of athletic ability.  I play football with friends, but after a complted pass I don't stop to measure how far the ball was thrown, or how many yards after catch I ran for.  If I'm playing one-on-one in my driveway, I don't keep track of how close I am to dropping a triple-double on my opponent.  Clearly, many people participate in different sports for different reasons.  To criticize new runners for not wanting to improve themselves at the sport is very arrogant.  I may not understand why my neighbor runs the same 20 minute loop through our neighborhood four times a week, but I do not fault him for it, at least he's out there doing it.  My goals differ from his and that is fine.  I considered the point that it is annoying to serious marathoners to have to plan for a race many months in advance because they have been filling up so fast.  I am not however, prepared to fault new runners for this.  In a free market such as ours, the consumer will ultimately dictate the rules of the marketplace, with the marketplace being the available marathons to enter.  Meaning, if the problem persists, we will see more and more marathons with qualifying times, or garuanteed spots to competitive runners.  While that may lead to a greater likelihood for me to get into a particular race, it will likely be a different atmosphere than is currently taking place at major marathons, or 'circuses'.  I, for one, enjoy seeing bands and throngs of supporters and college girls willing to marry marathon runners on the side of the course.  It is entertaining to me.  Not that I would be bored otherwise.  It's fun, it keeps me motivated.  I find that I perform best at the races where there are the most entrants, regardless of the skill level of the event as a whole.
        His mere mention of heart-rate monitors and space-age clothing just seems ridiculous to me.  I have both, I love both, and I am glad that both exist because I believe they help me train at a higher level.  Might I suggest that both are important to first-timers even more-so.  Consider someone who has never run a marathon.  Would it not be benefitial to use his heart-rate as a gauge of health during the race.  A new runner would probably not be able to understand what his body was trying to tell him after 15 miles.  I can't even imagine running 26 in old basketball shorts and a cotton t-shirt, wait, yes I can.  I ran my first marathon in that exact outfit and my nipples, legs and underarms were chaffed to the point of bleeding.  I don't know this to be true, but I can only imagine the best runners in the world use these same advancements to aid their training.  Now, if a new runner, or any runner for that manner, buys the latest technology for the sake of vanity, well that's another story.
        If you were to apply his beliefs on first-time marathoners to any other sport, I don't think the argument holds water.  Unless, that is, that person's existence affects my enjoyment or performance.  For instance; I golf, but I am not a golfer.  If I were continually hitting my ball into a group of scratch golfers or holding up their pace of play, I would be out of line.  Much like a first time marathoner jockeying for position at the front before the gun only to run 10 minute miles, or sporting the ipod and paying no mind to the conditions or runners around him.  If my golfing had no affect on those same scratch golfers they would way out of line as to say that I shouldn't be out there.  And let's say that I got a whole in one and vowed never to play the game again, would that be wrong?  Why should anyone else care?
        Towards the end of his rant, he gets to the motivation for writing this piece, 'running was once a purists sport….' based on the assertion that all you needed was shoes.  Well, again, I believe the same could be said for any other sport.  Kids used to play baseball with broomsticks, NFLers and NHLers used to wear leather helmets with no face protection and golf clubs from only ten years ago are almost unfathomable compared to today's.  So what is the point?  If he doesn't want to participate in this wave of new technology or chooses not to benefit from it, so be it, but why condemn those who do.  Does that make us non-purists?  The beauty of running is that you can toe the line at any race you like wearing as much or as little technology as you like and still compete.  To assert that one manner is better than another is arrogant.

  • #21612

    Wilson
    Member

    I'm glad to see this discussion on a running forum. I've been slumming at Coolrunning, where the topic was met with a lot of whining and call outs to “elitist” runners. It was fun to taunt them with some Galloway and Penguin are tools of the devil rhetoric, but they took it far too seriously and started putting words in my mouth that I didn't even say, like I was personally offended by having slower people in the race.

    My sincere thoughts are pretty close to what people have been saying here. That everybody who wants to run a marathon should, and that slower folks shouldn't be disparged per se, but the marketing of quick marathon training regime, the filling up of races, and extended time on the course were legitimate concerns. So I suggested that we could have a multi-tiered marathon option. A few “elite” races, with qualifying standards and cutoff times. Something for the more serious runners to aim for. We already have Boston, so how about a regional circuit that could include established marathons, say Grandmas or Twin Cities (which always fill up quickly), a west coast marathon (mabe the new one in Eugene) and something in the south or southeast? In addition, a portion of marathons could have medals or shirts for incentive (sub 3, sub 4, sub 5 etc.). Anyway, this was met with predictable scorn, with people saying that the slow runners are the ones that bring sponsorship and interest, “good luck having a couple hundred people in your twiddly marathon…”

  • #21613

    r-at-work
    Member

    … So I suggested that we could have a multi-tiered marathon option. A few “elite” races, with qualifying standards and cutoff times. Something for the more serious runners to aim for. We already have Boston,…  something in the south or southeast?

    Th National Marathon in Washington DC has qualifying standards, not that big a deal unless you have never run a race… so even for the half marathon you have to have at least one race… Keith Dowling is the RD (elite runner credentials & a truly nice guy)…but it takes time to build a following…it was a nice 'little' race last year, I hope it catches on…
    -R

    Qualification:
    You must have previously completed:

    a marathon in 5:00 or
    a half-marathon in 2:30 or
    a ten-miler in 1:50 or
    a 10k in 1:05 or
    a 5k in 31 minutes or better (half-marathon only)

  • #21614

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Wilson, I think your proposal could be an interesting idea. The first thing people have to realize is that the slow runners are not the ones bring in the sponsorship and interest. LaSalle Bank would not sponsor Chicago, ING would not sponsor New York, Hancock would not sponsor Boston if these races consisted of 40,000 slow runners. Sponsors are looking for international media attention, which comes from world leading, if not world record, performances.

    Maybe a few small sponsors are brought in because their names will be on 40,000 t-shirts or seen by a couple hundred thousand people on race day but the big sponsors are brought in by the draw of having your name or logo seen around the world by millions of people.

    I do like the idea of a circuit of qualify-only races. Actually, from what I've heard of Boston, they would have to change things there. I've heard a lot of slower people still get in there through charity groups. However, a circuit like Boston, Grandma's, Houston, and a fall marathon on the west coast would give you a national circuit of four marathons, one during each season of the year, that could be focused on the competitive aspect.

    Actually, I found out after Chicago that they do give out calendars to sub-3 runners as an incentive. I think it's a great idea. New Balance slaps their logo on the calendar, includes a few promotional lines for some of their shoes, and all sub-3 runners get free “personalized” calendars on New Balance's dime.

  • #21615

    Mark
    Member

    My son recently started running in cross-country at school. When I attended his first meet, I was shocked by the fact that there were only 3 parents there to watch. Over 60 kids were running and only 3 parents. In contrast, the next week there was an early S/F football game and there were over 100 people in the stands to watch. Many more later when the varsity teams played.

    I do not think that newbie’s have ruined anything. Yes, they get in the way at races. Yes, they are probably causing cost to go up. But not ruined it.

    I think that the problem is that too few people want to watch running races. People are just not interested in the sport of running. Running has a very small fan base, there are a lot of runners, but not many fans. If more people attended races and got enthusiastic about running & runners, then we would have a higher caliber athletes competing. Although many great athletes complete in running, the majority of athletes are involved in other sports. Where there is greater fan participation and more money to be made.

    We need to do what the sport of soccer did. They started getting kids involved in soccer when the USA soccer teams were some of the worst in the world. By getting kids and parents involved the level of ability grew. It took years but now we are truly competitive in the international community.

    Mark

  • #21616

    r-at-work
    Member

    Over 60 kids were running and only 3 parents. In contrast, the next week there was an early S/F football game and there were over 100 people in the stands to watch. Many more later when the varsity teams played.

    I do not think that newbie’s have ruined anything. Yes, they get in the way at races. Yes, they are probably causing cost to go up. But not ruined it.
    Mark

    this is a GREAT point… though I love to watch cross country and probably will continue to go to meets after my kid graduates…

    and Ryan…I really hate to differ with you about LaSalle, ING  or any other big sponsor… I think that they really don't care how fast the majority of runner finish, I would venture to say they might A-like a WR so they do invite some elites (and give prize money to tempt the best) and B-want a HUGE race so lots of people(including the media) talk it up… that's why the Super Bowl commercials are so expensive/important… lots of people watch, the sponsors don't care who wins… but that's just MHO…
    -R

  • #21617

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Rita, I don't know who's misreading whom but I think you're saying the same thing as me. The likes of ING and LaSalle are more concerned about getting world records and big names so they can get millions of people around the world checking in on their results. Sure, they like a big race but the world media doesn't talk up 40,000 slow finishers. The world media talks up fast times and big names. That's why the Super Bowl commercials are so expensive and pick-up football games all over the country don't have any sponsorship. Lots of people will check in to see what Paula Radcliffe or Paul Tergat do, only family and friends will check in on 40,000 slow runners.

  • #21618

    GTF
    Member

    Looking back and pausing to consider it further, I have to disagree with you, Ryan: the article is not really interesting.  8)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.