Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter Indoor Running to make you faster!

This article on indoor winter running options was written for MDRA by George Fulp.
It is a good overview on how you can stay in shape and even get faster over the winter months.

Let’s face it. Running and racing outdoors in the Minnesota Winter is tough. Putting on two layers of pants and three layers on the upper body, plus two pair of socks, hat, gloves, face mask etc. just to run outside is never fun. For the first five minutes you are cold, and after that overheating. Racing? Five pounds of snow and ice stuck to your shoes, it feels like your running in molasses. What’s a poor runner to do?

There are some options.

Indoors. I’m not talking treadmill (or dreadmill, as some refer to it). I’m talking running in shorts, singlet and racing flats. You’re running all out, nothing but your own training and limitations.

When I show up at the first big race of the season in March…The Human Race 8k…the first comment I usually hear is “I haven’t raced since October”. Why?

There are places to run where you can get in a quality race or workout.
1. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. 600 Meter to a lap upper concourse. Show up and pay your $1.00. Okay, it is concrete, it can be hard on the legs. The price is right. Lots of familiar faces. Best of all you can run your slow laps on the outside lane, then jump to the inside lane to run your pickups. My favorite: 2 laps hard on the inside (where very few run), then do my recovery lap on the outside. Bring water (it’s dry and warm in there) and a towel to wipe the perspiration. Every Tuesday and Thursday during the Winter.

2. The Meet of the Miles, January 10, 2011. University of Minnesota Fieldhouse. Okay, it’s only one mile. Few are in shape to run a hard mile in January. In 2010, 109 men and 28 women toed the line. Fears? What if I finish last? What if I get lapped?

Number One. It’s run in heats. If you feel you are in shape to run a 6:00 minute mile, you can run in a heat with others of the same ability. I remember distinctly in past years jumping into the 6 minute heat. For the first two laps, I was dead last. I’m a slow starter, by lap 3 I caught a few runners, and I actually finished 2nd or 3rd in my heat. Nobody expects you run fast in January, so there is no pressure.

A good suggestion. Use your Meet of the Miles as a base time. See how much you can improve between your January indoor mile and your “Twin Cites One Mile” outdoors in early May.

3. Challenge Races at Bethel College. Not just one race, not just one day, but a series of 5 races. It’s the closest thing we have to a indoor racing season. Starting on Dec. 5 and ending in February, you can race every other weekend for 5 solid weeks. 1500 Meters, 1 Mile, 5k, 3000 meters, 5k. Best of all, the track at Bethel College is awesome!!! They also have 200, 400 and 800 events if you really want to work on your turnover.

The field house on the Bethel Campus where these events are run is opened for an hour before the first event. You can get there early, run some nice warm-up miles, run your event, and do a leisurely cool-down, all while dressed in singlet and shorts.

Competition? Plenty of it. Watching 70 year old Rick Kleyman dueling with 72 year old Thom Weddle on the back-stretch of lap 5 proves that the competitive spirit never dies, no matter what the age.

Two years ago, I ran one of these events, and 8 year old Benjamin Olson was in front of me for 6 of the 8 laps in the one mile. This year, he show up and ran a 5:07 1500 meters. “I’m glad I didn’t run in his heat”, I thought to myself, as I watched him speed around the track. The little prodigy finished 5th in the heat of 12 runners.

Then the second heat lined up, and his younger sister, 9 year old Sarah, took off as soon as the gun sounded. She was in front of me for the first few laps. Remember these two names, if they keep improving the way they are, they will be forces to reckon with as soon as they hit their teen years.

The link to find these races:

Okay, you’re probably saying to yourself “1500 meters…one mile…5k indoors? It takes me 7-8 miles to warm up, my race would be over before I got going”

Welcome to option 4: Indoor marathons, the latest craze to hit the Midwest. On Jan. 9, there is the Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor marathon in Northfield, Minnesota. This is run on 282 meter second level jogging track in the field house at St. Olaf College. If you were hoping to run it this year, you are out of luck. It’s a lottery now to enter, it has gotten so popular Put it on your schedule for next year and make the attempt.

If you don’t mind traveling a bit, the 443 meter Pettit National Ice Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has a whole series of races in late January, 2010. Jan. 21 (Friday) there is a 5k (11 laps), a half-marathon on Saturday (48 laps) and a full marathon on Sunday (96) laps. Again, due to popularity, this race is sold out, so put it on your MDRA race calendar for next year, and sign up early.

I ran the half-marathon/marathon last year. You receive one finishing medal for completing the half-marathon, another medal for finishing the full marathon, and a 3rd medal for doing both. The best part is, you don’t have to count your laps; every time you cross the time mat, a chip around your ankle records your current lap and cumulative time and are projected onto a screen. All you have to do is run. With a water stop available on every lap, comfortable air temp (about 50 degrees), you never have to worry about getting too hot or too cold.

Finally, a new contender is entering the fray in February of 2011. The Sandbox Indoor Marathon, taking place in New Richmond, WI Feb. 11-13. According the race website “We have designed a 1/4 mile running surface in the arena which will require marathon participants to run about 110 laps, half-marathon 55 laps, etc.” It will be a chip timed race, run on a facility that is normally used for motorcross.

When the Twin Cities marathon or 10 mile is finish in early October, it doesn’t mean my desire to compete is finished. My dream is for some day there is a true indoor racing season in the Twin Cities: two races in November, two in December, two and January and two in February. That would transition nicely from the Twin Cities marathon week in October to the Human Race 5k/8k in March. Until that comes to pass, I guess we can only dream.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Join the Polar Bears at the Lake Harriet Bandshell for a Saturday Run!

Short of friends?

If so, then why not make some new ones at a Polar Bear run this Saturday? We'll be meeting at the Lake Harriet Bandshell at precisely 7:30am for a run somewhere in the 7-12 mile range. You don't need to be fast. Newbies are always welcome.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Long Distance Running Coaching Clinic Registration Open

Have you ever wanted to emulate one of the great MDRA coaches? Or, have you always wanted to learn more about the science of running and developing training plans? Then Running Ventures has a clinic for you.

The coaching clinic is available in two parts. Part I teaches coaching basics including coaching environment and skills, as well as physiology. Part II is a plan development workshop that teaches training components and theory, supplemental training such as core stability and strength training, as well as hands-on-design of plans for 5k, half marathon, and marathon.

Both sessions will be conducted at Marathon Sports, 2312 W. 50th St., Minneapolis. Part I takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 19th from 6-8pm. Part II is on Saturday, Jan. 22nd, 8-11am.

Class size is limited so be sure to register early if you're interested! Please contact Barb Leininger at:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Join the Polar Bears for a Run at Lake Calhoun this Saturday

Finally! Finally, the weather gets cool enough to actually warrant the name "Polar Bears." Speaking of which, how about some polar bear trivia? Did you know polar bears can run as fast as 40 kilometers per hour—but only for short distances. Younger, leaner bears are the best runners. They can cover two kilometers without stopping. Older, larger bears quickly overheat.

Unlike the real polar bears you're invited to join us to run slightly more than two kilometers; we'll run somewhere between 6 and 12 miles. You don't have to run 40 km per hour either. All paces are invited and you're sure to find someone who'll run with you.

We're meeting Saturday, November 20th, at the Lake Calhoun Executive Center, located at the northeast corner of Lake Calhoun. Start time is 7:30am.

Newbies are always welcome! See you there!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Join the Polar Bears for a Run at Fort Snelling This Weekend!

What up, running peeps?

If you're looking for 6-12+ miles of running action this weekend, you have to look no further than Fort Snelling at 7:30am Saturday, Nov. 13th. We'll be meeting in the parking lot near the intersection of Hwy 55 and Hwy 5. What's a good sign you're in the right place? There will be lots of runners standing around waiting

All speeds are welcome so join us!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Join the Polar Bears for a Run at Lake Nokomis this Saturday!

Tired of running alone? Looking to run with some new friends? Run with the Polar Bears this Saturday morning, Nov. 6th.

Location: Lake Nokomis Community Center parking lot, 2401 E. Minnehaha Pkwy.

Time: 7:30 a.m.

Distance: 6 -12 miles

All runners are welcome!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Come Run with the Polar Bears!

Just because the fall running season is almost behind us doesn’t mean you need to retire your running shoes for the long, cold, Minnesota winter. Instead, come run the Polar Bears!

The Polar Bears are a group of runners that meet every Saturday morning for, you guessed it, a run. All paces are welcome. Distances typically range from about 6 miles to 14+. Locations change from week to week. Here’s a quick list of why you should join us:

  • · What better way to get in a workout than with some new friends?
  • · We’ll help you get your long run in from October to February.
  • · If you haven’t experienced running with the group dynamic, you should try it. It’s free!
  • · You’ll meet some MDRA regulars, who are more than willing to talk about running, racing, sports, politics or…just about anything.
  • · It’s a great way to become familiar with the MDRA

So how do you sign up? Simply go to and select either “Sign in and apply for membership” if you’re already a Google Group member or select “Apply for Group Membership” if you’re not. You’ll need to become a Google Group member one way or the other, but that’s relatively pain free. When applying for membership be sure to mention a few words about how you heard about Polar Bears. It’ll help us differentiate you from the spammers.

Once you’ve joined you’ll receive an email during the week about where we’re meeting the following Saturday. It’s that easy!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wanna 5K, or perhaps 10K?

MDRA has partnered with the Twin Cities Marathon to offer a training program aimed at preparing runners to race the TCM 5K or TCM 10K run on the day before the marathon, Saturday, October 2, 2010. If you are new to racing, or you want to improve your time, this is the class for you!

The first class met this past Wednesday, August 11, however, there are still 7 weeks left! The class meets every Wednesday evening in Edina from 6:00 to 7:30 pm (the next class meets at TC Running Co in Eden Prairie). Each class will focus on a different aspect of running and training including injury prevention techniques, proper nutrition, core strength and race strategies!

The cost of the class is $60, which includes a special training program designed for you, USATF-certified coaching, a running singlet AND MDRA membership. MDRA membership entitles you to major discounts at local running stores, the official Run Minnesota MDRA magazine and the always popular training log book (retails for $15). This is an incredible deal!

The four coaches represent the best and most experienced Minnesota has to offer:

Kathryn Benhardus A USATF Certified Level One Coach and competitive masters runner, Kathryn is captain of the MDRA grand masters women’s USATF team circuit team and the grand masters women’s relay team, Do Not Go Gentle. They run ultra relays all over the country and have set age group course records. She has run many local races including 25 marathons, and won her age group in the MDRA Grand Prix for 2007. She coached track at the middle school level and has coached beginning runners for 11 years. Kathryn is currently the secretary of the MDRA board.

Nobby Hashizume Co-founder of the Lydiard Foundation ( to promote the Lydiard method of endurance training. Please check out the website or Google if you’re interested. A former professional running coach for Hitachi, Ltd. in Japan, he is currently coaching several ladies including a 2:50 female runner from Albuquerque, NM, and a couple of young ladies in Chicago via email/phone. He has been involved in running for over 35 years.

Gloria Jansen USATF Certified Level One Coach and a nationally recognized masters runner from White Bear Lake who has been running since 1986. She has completed 49 marathons and participates in many road races of all distances. She started coaching beginning runners in 2000 and has served as MDRA president.

Phyllis Stokke Phyllis is living proof that the MDRA beginning running program works! She started running with us five years ago. Inspired by the camaraderie and love of running that all the runners have found through this program, she keeps coming back. A cancer survivor who lives and works in Eden Prairie, Phyllis focuses on 5K runs.

If you're interested, check out the website for more information! If you would like to sign up, contact Heidi at hmiler (at) hotmail (dot) com. Or you can just show up to the next class which is meeting at TC Running Company in Eden Prairie at 6pm, August 18.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Christopher McDougall, Author of Born to Run, To Visit Gear West

To claim Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run is a popular read among runners would be a serious understatement. McDougall tells a fantastic story about the running secrets of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon. This story alone is enough to read the book. But, it's one of their secrets has had a huge and dare I say controversial impact on the running community – that, according to McDougall, running with minimalist shoes or barefoot (or in the case of the Tarahumara, in sandals) is the key to enjoyable and injury free longevity. Since then, countless coaches, shoe companies, and runners have weighed in on the topic. So you want to join the discussion?

Here’s your chance.

Gear West and The Bookcase are hosting Christopher McDougall to the Gear West Store in Long Lake on Wednesday, September 15th at 6:30 in the evening. The store is located at 1786 West Wayzata Boulevard. Tickets are only $5.00 and are available at either Gear West or The Bookcase.

Check it out and see what all the fuss is about!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday Trails: I'll be back in 2 weeks

This week and next week I need to devote my full attention to my other job (the one that pays). I'll be back in 2 weeks with another trail report!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday Trails: Book Review - Minnesota Running Trails

Hello loyal Tuesday Trails readers! I'm still recovering from my light ankle sprain, and while I ran Hyland and Lebanon Hills this past weekend, overall, I've been doing less mileage as I try to heal. Less running = more time for reading! And so that makes this the perfect week for the first (and probably last) Tuesday Trails Book Review! (my English teacher would cringe at that transition).

I counted 9 Minnesota trail books in my own library (7 of them pictured above)

There are many guidebooks to trails around the state of Minnesota. Some focus on certain regions (North Shore, Metro Area) while others look at the most popular trails around the entire state. A quick search on Amazon found that most focus on hiking (69), some on walking (which may be different than hiking?), some on cross country skiing (21), several on bicycling (9), but there's only one guidebook that is dedicated to the trail runner.
Truth in advertising, it IS a great guide for hikers too
"Minnesota Running Trails", by Kate Havelin, a St. Paulite, is the only book that I've found that gives trail reviews from the perspective of a trail runner. You may be wondering why that is important distinction from "hiking". There are at least 2 major differences in running and hiking reviews:
  1. Distance. This is the big one. To a day hiker, 5-6 miles is a nice, long hike, worthy of a trail review. To a trail runner, 5-6 miles isn't worth the drive. We're looking for 8, 10, 15, 20+ miles of scenic trails.
  2. Surface. A rooted and rocky surface on a trail may not even warrant a mention in a hiking trail review, but that is an important feature for a trail runner. 2 years ago, after reading a hiking trail review of Cascade State Park on the North Shore, I decided to check it out. I found much of the trail unrunnable due to the heavy roots throughout the trail, while just a few miles away, the state parks were just as scenic, without all the ankle-turners. (Confession, I'd run Cascade again, it just would have been nice to know about the trail surface ahead of time.)
"Minnesota Running Trails: Dirt, Gravel, Rocks & Roots" was published in 2006. A disclaimer on the inside reminds the reader that they are to run trails "at their own risk"! I'd add that we are to run trails to our own enjoyment as well! I picked up a copy of this book 4 years and have used it several times.

The book (like most guidebooks) is organized geographically: North Shore, Headwaters (Itasca area), Red River (NW MN), Prairie (SW MN), Bluff (SE) and Twin Cities trails. As with most guidebooks, the North Shore and Twin Cities areas have the most trails listed, with 13 and 15 respectively.

Each trail review starts out with the basics: Mileage, surface type, hilliness, races, directions, other uses for the trail, and directions. While Kate then suggests a single route for the park, there are often many other routes in the parks too. Those extra routes are shown on the map, but not specifically reviewed. For the selected route, the book gives pretty much a turn by turn review of the park. Kate ends each chapter with her personal reflections on the trail.

My favorite part of the book comes at back of the book. Each trail has a small index card that can be cut out and carried on the trail during the run to help with directions. My biggest frustration with running unfamiliar trails is getting lost or the fear of getting lost, which causes me to stop every half mile at EVERY trail map and reassess my location. I can't count how many times I have stared at a trail map online for a new park, trying to memorize 8 different turns so that I only run 15, not 50 miles. Usually by mile 5 I miss a turn and have to readjust. Running blind like that can be fun when that doesn't result in running way too long, or when one has enough time to get lost. Unfortunately. I don't usually allow myself enough time to get lost. I probably should simplify my life a little, but that's a topic for another blog post!

Tear-out, turn-by-turn directions set this book apart from all other guidebooks

As I eluded to above, one thing that really sets this book apart from the other guidebooks I have is that these are running routes, not short hikes. I understand that the hiking guidebooks are trying to serve a larger market of hikers with all levels of abilities, but even when I'm out for a hike, I don't care about the 0.8 mile round trip route from the parking lot to a waterfall overlook. I want a substantial hike/run with some challenging terrain. So whether I'm running or hiking, I use Kate's book to help plan the route. I may modify her route when I want to run a little longer, or cut a bit out if I'm out for a hike, but her suggestions are the best first cut at routes I have seen.

If you want great trail reports that are perfect for running (or hiking - I've given this book as a gift to hikers too), you can't do better than "Minnesota Running Trails". It is far better than any other trail guidebook I've seen, and is a more consistent and comprehensive resource than anything I've seen online, including this blog (OK, ESPECIALLY this blog).

There are only a few things I will caution you about regarding the guidebook:

  • The book is REALLY light on trails in southwestern and northwestern Minnesota, so if you're specifically looking for trails in that area, you may be disappointed.
  • The book has only one edition that I'm aware of, so some trails may have changed slightly since 2006 when the book was published. I know that the Africa Loop at Afton has changed some and the directions in the book aren't exactly as you will find them at the park.
  • The book doesn't review every trail in every season. For example, there may be times (spring) when a trail is waterlogged, but Kate may have reviewed the trail in late summer and so all trail conditions may not be in the book. I know that 4 years ago I used the book for some runs on a camping trip to Itasca State Park over July 4th weekend. I was not prepared for the apocalypse being ushered in by biting, black flies. Obviously, the book doesn't cover every possible trail condition.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy! I know Amazon, Borders, and Barnes and Noble have them. I've seen copies at running stores too. Maybe you can even get a signed copy like I have!

Enjoy the trails!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday Trails: Afton 25K Race Report

Happy (belated) Independence Day! What did you do with your extended holiday weekend? Did you shoot off fireworks? Watch fireworks? Roast a pig? Read the Declaration of Independence?
With my extended weekend I decided to run the longest trail race I've competed in to date: the Afton 25K in beautiful Afton State Park. The race was held Saturday, July 3 in conjunction with the Afton 50K. I opted for the shorter distance.

Beautiful Prairies and Wildfires Steal the Show in Afton

I have run at Afton a few times and I love it there. The rolling prairies, steep ravines and sweeping vistas of the St. Croix River are breath-taking. Their hike-in campsites are some of the best and most-remote feeling in the Twin Cities.

Here's my promised race recap:

I made a series of errors leading up to this race (errors I'm sure I'll repeat again). The first was that I ran a marathon only 2 weeks prior.

I set out for Afton with my lovely wife Friday evening to meet some non-running friends for some summertime camping. We hiked in the 1 mile of steep terrain with all our gear and set up base camp. I then realized error #2: I had neglected to read all the email communications and didn't realize that everyone else had dinner before we went to Afton. So my pre-race dinner consisted of trail mix and S'Mores. Not too far off from my normal dinner, actually.

Our campsite was at Mile 10-ish

So then my wife takes off to sleep in our comfortable bed, and I decide that sleeping under the stars sounds like a great idea. So while all my friends pile in tents, I stretch out to gaze at the sky. However, that was hard to do since my view was blocked by hordes of angry mosquitos. So I crawled deeper in my sleeping bag. Problem was, it was still about 80 degrees at midnight. I had to decide whether to A) Be cool yet eaten alive B) Avoid the bugs but roast or C) Crawl into a friend's tent. I chose B and roasted all night. In spite of that, I still woke up in the morning with my face covered in mosquito bites (including one bite INSIDE my mouth.) We'll call that collectively error #3.

Error #4 came moments later when I'm trying to put my contacts in and decide to use my friend's saline solution. Which turns out to be hydrogen peroxide. So now, I can only see out of one eye, and I have a race in 45 minutes!

I wince and jog down the hill to the start. I bump into some racers I know, and meet some others for the first time. Soon, we're off and racing!

I quickly settle in about 15th place or so and attack the hills. There's a TON of tough uphill in the first 5-6 miles, and this is where I excell. I attack the uphills, press hard on the flats, but then, the really, ridiculously steep downhills come.

This was WAY steeper than it looks in the photo, I swear!

Now people are flying by me on the downhills, and I'm passing them again on the uphills. For the most part, I'm coming out ahead on this, as only one person of many that I was playing leapfrog with beats me. Unfortunately, my timidness on the hills starts to quickly wear on me physically. By about mile 7 of gingerly stepping down the hills, my left ankle is tense and feeling sore. From then on, I'm practically walking the downhills.

At the 10.5 mile checkpoint, I'm around 1:15, a 7:10 pace. The next 1.5 miles are the flattest and straightest section and I start to fly again. I'm thinking that I have sub-2 hours in the bag! No WAY can I not break 2:00 with only 5 miles to go! In fact, with 3.5 miles to go, it's looking darn near impossible that I won't be breaking 2:00.

Well, hubris on a dreadfully hot day and on a ridiculously hilly course will come to bite you, and it did me in quickly. After mile 12, the race ascends from the river up the "Meat Grinder". I know this is bad, and I'm ready for it, and I walk faster than others are running. I'm still looking good.

Then I get to the last 2.5 miles of the course, a single-tracked, super hilly and twisty section in the SW part of the park. Again, I'm attacking the hills, but now there are no more flat spots to cruise, and the downhills are obscene and very dangerous. I am walking parts of EVERY downhill. At this point, honestly, I'm limping. My left ankle is hating me and I have zero stability.

That is not the facial expression of a happy finisher

I limp across the line in 12th place, just a few seconds over 2 hours. I grin through the pain and greet my friends who have come down from the camp to see me finish. Then I cheer on my other friends racing, grab the best tasting hot dog I've ever had and... start the sloooow walk uphill to get back to camp. (let's call that error #5).

MDRA's very own Andrea looks like she enjoyed this race WAY too much!

Highlights of the race include:
  • Seeing (at least) NINE hawks flying over the ski slopes around mile 3. Inspirational. At mile 14 they would have appeared to be vultures.
  • Cheering on the 50K runners. These are people who ran the same sick course I did and thought, "That was nice, how about another lap?"
  • Seeing my friends at the finish after I missed them by the campground because I thought I was faster than I actually was!
  • The AWESOME wicking race shirts that look like a concert t-shirt for a death metal band. My father-in-law thought I was pretty cool in that one.
  • Meeting a bunch of die-hard trail runners and getting a glimpse into the trail-racing culture that is quite different than the road-racing culture. The Finn-Sisu runners are awesome! If you're interested in trail running, check out their class!
  • Setting a PR at 25K, a PR for a TRAIL 25K and a PR for the Afton Trail 25K. The best part about racing trails like this is that no time is transferrable to another race. It's just you and the course. I'm hooked!

Sweet shirt! Rock on!

  • Spraining my ankle. It's a mild sprain and you'll still be seeing me pound the pavement the next month or so, but I'm off of uneven terrain for at least a few weeks. Look for me, I'll be the guy running around the lakes in an ankle brace.
  • My downhill running is terrible. I lost literally minutes of time on the downhills and ultimately hurt myself by running tensed up. Any suggestions out there on downhill trail running form?

One last look at the St. Croix River! Afton SP, July 2010

Enjoy the Trails!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday Trails: Afton Trail Photo

Your Tuesday Trails blogger is taking the week off due to work commitments (this blog doesn't quite pay my mortgage. Heck, it doesn't even buy me a beer!)

Next week I will return with a race/trail report for Afton State Park. I'll be there to run the Afton 25K. Looks like there are about 80 spots left in the field, so hurry and sign up quick!
As promised, here's a photo. See you next week (which will probably be late as well due to the holiday!)

Afton Hills at sunset (taken by me in July 2008)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Race Numbers

As in musical numbers.  You know it's a good pun when you have to explain it.

This morning I was going for a slow laboring run, because that's what I do lately.  And as per usual my mind began to wander.  And as I ran past Minnehaha Falls where Get In Gear starts I got to thinking about music.  Specifically, pre-race music that is blared over the loudpseakers at races like Get In Gear.

I like the fact that they play music.  It gets people excited and makes the whole race more of an event.  But when I think of lining up for a big race and the music that is being played, only two songs come to mind.  It reminds me of that Blues Brothers scene where they only know two country songs as they pose as the Good Old Boys.

But instead of the Rawhide theme song and Stand By Your Man, the only two songs I can think of hearing at races are the Chariots of Fire theme song and that Dixie Chicks song, Ready to Run.

Now the Chariots of Fire opening music is a great song.  A beautiful, inspirational opening scene, but we are coming up on the 30th anniversary of this movie's release.  I was ten when this movie came out.  Plus, the movie is about a couple of sprinters, not distance runners.  And the opening scene is lost on a generation of runners.  I say, time to freshen it up.

And then there is the Dixie Chicks song.  Watch the video.  No really, watch it.

Three ladies in wedding dresses... what does this have to with running?  And who has a triple wedding?  Talk about a logistical and financial nightmare.  Okay wait, they are running after awhile.  But this isn't about racing.  It's about leaving the altar.  And trespassing.  And stealing kids bikes.  And vandalizing cars.  And assaulting mascots.  And ruining kids' birthday parties.  

Breaking hearts and committing petty and/or mean crimes?  This isn't about running at all.  Halfway through they're not even running.  They're riding bikes.  And I can't even figure out the end.  They start a food fight and suddenly everything is okay?  I need to remember that next time my wife is mad at me.

Just because a song has "ready to run" in it, doesn't mean it is about running.

Plus that video annoyed me because it seems like a direct ripoff of one of the greatest parodies of a chase scene ever, the one in Raising Arizona.

Anyway, I got to thinking on the latter half of my run, "okay wise guy.  It's easy to criticize someone else's job than do a good job on your own."  So I asked myself, what pre-race set list would I make if I were a race director?   And then I realized what a tough job that would be.  You can't just play music you like; you have to find something with a broader appeal.  But why try to tie it to running? When you do, you end up on the same two songs every race director is stuck with.  Tom Petty's Running Down a Dream gets a lot of play too.  

At Twins games I like to ask the people I'm with what song they would choose to play as they get introduced to bat.  Now I have a new question to ask at races.  If you were the race director, what five songs would you play before the race?  It is a much harder job than I initially thought.

I would pick older mainstream songs just to make sure they have wide familiarity.  Off the top of my head, my list for the pre-race crowd would be....
  1.  KISS' Rock n Roll All Night.
  2.  Aerosmith's Sweet Emotion, which would lead naturally to...
  3.  Run DMC and Aerosmith performing Walk This Way together.
  4. John Mellencamp's R.O.C.K. in the USA.
  5. And to round out the five, I would add one song about running (sort of) Intergalatic by The Beastie Boys because they do claim they "run the marathon to the very last mile."
The close reader will note that these are not my favorite songs and have nothing to do with music I listen to when I run.  They are just songs we all know and are widely liked; and they would be a nice break from the Chariots of Fire/Tom Petty/Dixie Chicks playlist.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Looking to Fall

And by fall I mean autumn, not the falling like I do at least monthly on my runs.

So, now that Grandma's and the bulk of the spring marathons are behind us, it's time to look ahead to fall autumn.

Twin Cities Marathon anyone?  How about Chicago?  Or Des Moines?  Whistlestop?  The Belize City Celebration of Central America Fall Marathon?  So many choices this fall, and yet we have one class to meet your needs.

It doesn't matter what marathon you run this fall, MDRA has an affordable option for you.  The MDRA Fall Marathon Training Program.

Click here for more information. 

In summary, Heidi from the office says:

Fall Marathon Class starts on June 22, 2010 (tonight)  with an informational session at the ECC at 7:00 p.m. in room 351 (no run that night).

The first run is on Saturday, June 26 from the Sears Building in St. Paul off of Rice and University. Registration at 6:30 a.m., run at 7:00 a.m.

New this year, MDRA is offering a $20 class discount for anyone who has taken the class before and is bringing  a new runner to the class. They can send the form in less $20 and make a note on their registation form the new runners name.

WE DO have TCM entries available! Up to 50, we should be able to accomodate anyone who needs one. Had a few inquiries on that this week.

This year I will be coaching the class again with Marty Humphrey and Anne Walztoni.  So please come and join us.  If you can't sign up tonight, we will be registering people on Saturday and throughout the class.

Our class meets every Saturday morning and Tuesday evening.  We provide a training schedule based on experience and background mileage.  We can also personalize your training plan to meet your performance goals.  And while this class is targeted around TCM, we do have runners training for Whistlestop, Chicago, and other fall marathons.  As coaches, we tweak your plan to meet your target marathon date.

The class offers a nice range of repeat class members and rookie marathoners.  In general the ability of our class members ranges from sub 2:50 to 6:00.  There really is room for everyone and we welcome all comers.  So come and join us for a fun summer and fall of running!