Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Are modern runners just soft pussies

Back in the 80's when I was cycle racing I was inspired by the epic deeds of THE TOP TOUR DE FRANCE champions, I also remember reading my brothers running magazines and being impressed by the incredible training the likes of Steve Jones and Mike Gratton were doing!
Even the top veteran's [ read master if you live in the U.S.A.] were putting the average elite 2009 runner to shame!
Something happened in the 90's and the running magazines went soft! Giving us headlines such as train less run faster, run a great marathon on 3 days a week training and the classic ; eat more lose weight!
Running is a hard sport, it takes great sacrifice, dedication, commitment and plain hard work!
There are no short cuts and that is why it is such a great sport!
Pete Phitzinger [2.11 Marathon runner and Olympic coach] says
During the 90’s there was a bit of a backlash against the more-is-better approach to training, and a preoccupation developed for avoiding “overtraining.” Unfortunately, in the running press, the normal day-to-day fatigue associated with training was often misrepresented as “over-training.” This over-reaction thankfully missed most elite runners and appears to have waned in the past few years.READ MORE


Mike said...

Interesting article Rick.

My feeling is that you probably have as many or more hard core runners as before, especially in the Masters categories. It's just that the total number of runners out there nowadays dwarfs the number back then, and yes the majority of these people aren't hard core runners. They're perfectly happy doing a few easy miles here and there and that's about it.

But if you look at the Masters records, almost all of them were set in the past 8 years. That tells me, the hardcore 40+ crowd today is much better than the 40+ crowd of the past.

So before you had x runners, 90% of them hardcore, and now you have 20x runners (or whatever) with still only 1-2x hardcore.

Ewen said...

I think in the 90s there was a fad to make training for running "efficient" and to eliminate the so-called "junk miles".

I know over here there were more "hard core" runners in the 80s, off the back of the running boom (and no diversions such as triathlons). I can remember running 4:43 in a Masters' 1500 and placing 17th. These days such a time would place in the top 5.

Also, I think you were being a little hard on yourself about the 15k trail race. That was a pretty good result so close to the marathon!


Thanks guys for comments, Its worrying for the sport that the average age of senior runners is going up and there are few 18 + runners coming through into the senior ranks!
My own club has a thriving junior track squad! but they never seem to make it through into the seniors!
Mike yes its great that the masters are pushing back the limits [ back in roger banisters time you were past it at 24!] I myself thought when I turned 30 when cycling that my best days were behind me!
But I wonder how we can get the younger guys and girls back into the sport!
Ewen, thanks for comment I guess I was expecting a little to much from myself after a tough marathon!

Mike said...

You two guys have been running for infinitely longer than I have, so your personal experiences certainly trump my observations.

Wow Ewen, 4:43 getting you 17th!? I was just looking at the top times - I guess Masters Track was a lot deeper back then, and perhaps only the guys at the very top are better now?

Ewen said...

Mike, in Canberra track was much deeper back then. We had the former masters WR holder in the mile (4:12) - sub 4:40 1500s were common. The Sydney and Melbourne scenes are still fairly deep, but not as much as before.

The top guys/girls in the different age-groups are still breaking records, although now, Moneghetti holds some of the M40 records!

Triathlons (and now 'adventure' and trail racing) have taken quite a few runners from traditional track/cross country. Not sure what the answer is to lure them back or make track more exciting.

Ewen said...

Actually, it must have been the 17th fastest time. Surely they wouldn't have had 17 starters? I probably ran in heat 2. Masters in Aus starts at 30, so there are/were some good runners competing.


Ewen, check out my new posting on great Australian marathon runners training!