THE QUESTIONS OF A GREAT MARATHON

Boston, MA. – How’s the weather going to be? Will my foot hold up? Have I done enough long runs? The questions before a marathon add up like the string of long miles that stretch off into the gathering distance. And if you think those pre-race ponderables are numerous, just wait till the starter’s command sets you to the course itself.

In the face of such a devilish test one’s intentions become paramount. For as trained and resilient as the body may be, it is always the muscle, blood and bone that will be first to succumb when the questions mount faster than their answers, and wits grow short in their hour of greatest need.

“People who’ve dabbled in sports psychology say, ‘Well, the kid who’s the better performer, they think differently’,” says sports psychologist Dr. Stan Beecham in an article in Forbes Magazine speaking of the ‘secrets to a powerful mindset’.

But the reality, according to Dr. Beecham, is not that they think differently, it’s that they don’t think at all.

“It’s the absence of thought that defines sporting excellence, the absence of cognition, the absence of emotion. That really is the advantage.” Continue reading

FOOT LOCKER 2013 – WORLD CLASS REUNION

Champion Tessa Barrett, Waverly, Pennsylvania senior sprinting to the tape

Champion Tessa Barrett, Waverly, Pennsylvania senior sprinting to the tape

San Diego, Ca. — It is all grist for the running mill, this Nike Cross Nationals versus Foot Locker Cross Country Championships debate:  Which high school championship is better? Which one will outlast the other?  Who wins?  Who loses?  Goodness me.  For as in all things running, it seems, the sport has found a way to engage in an internecine battle rather than work as one to take on the outside world which is where the real fight should be waged.

Of course, Nike and Foot Locker were once partners in the Foot Locker Championships until Nike departed to create Nike Team Nationals in 2004 after Foot Locker turned down the offer to add a team element in San Diego. The competition then really heated up when Nike introduced an individual championship and renamed its meet Nike Cross Nationals in 2007.

But whichever high school national cross country event you may prefer, NXN or Foot Locker, this much is true, the sport at the high school level has all the passion and energy that is missing at the professional level.  And one important reason is the built-in rooting that comes from a fan-base that is actually attached to the athletes they care so deeply about.  Continue reading

WILL 1500m SPEED DETERMINE MARATHON LIMITS?

Wilson Kipsang, world record grin

Wilson Kipsang, world record grin

The ink isn’t even dry on Wilson Kipsang’s new marathon world record (2:03:23) from last Sunday in Berlin, and already speculation has begun over what might be next for the iconic distance event.

Golfing legend Gary Player, winner of nine major titles and countless others world-wide, believes we have yet to see the best golf there is to play, notwithstanding Tiger Woods and the now more athletic generation that Woods has inspired.

“We haven’t seen a Jordan or a Shaq on Tour yet,” Player told ESPN’s SportsNation recently.  “And when we do they will hit 420 yards, and courses will be obsolete.”

Like golf, running has dipped its toes into a new pool of talent where we begin to question the definition of endurance.  This past Sunday in Berlin Kipsang broke countryman Patrick Makau’s two-year old marathon world record by 15 seconds on the same course that has hosted the last five marathon world records. But with double Olympic track champion Mo Farah of England about to give the distance a full go in London next April, are we on the cusp of a brave new world? Continue reading

WEEKEND THOUGHTS

Proud Father

     Everyone was happy for Meb Keflezighi’s 62:46 win at Sunday’s Dodge Rock `n` Roll Half-Marathon in his hometown of San Diego. Though he’d run the nearby Carlsbad 5000 before, technically, it was Meb’s first race at home as a pro, and first since competing in the Aztec Invitational as a UCLA student 15 years ago – at least as best coach Bob Larsen could recall. And though matters turned into more of an exhibition run than competition for the hometown hero after Kenya’s Martin Lel dropped out after 10K, with so many old friends cheering him through the picturesque bayside course, and his proud dad Russom holding him aloft at the finish, it was a priceless day, nonetheless.  Continue reading