Many years ago, I lived and worked for a spell in Perth on the West Coast of Australia. There, I fell in with a group of runners who met every Thursday for track workouts that were led by a bloke by the name of Rob de Castella. Deek, as he became universally known, was destined to be one of the world’s greatest marathoners in the 1980’s. He represented Australia four times in the Olympics, won a World Championships, two Commonwealth Games titles as well as Boston.
But back then, Deek was just another struggling runner hoping to make a name for himself. He had run in the 1980 Moscow Olympics and that fall, was training in Perth for the Fukuoka Marathon in Japan. He was already the top marathoner in Australia and as the lead dog in Perth, he dictated the speed stuff we did every week at Perry Lakes Stadium (since demolished) which once hosted the Commonwealth Games.
The first time I ran with the group we warmed up with a few miles through gorgeous parkland above the Swan River and then got ready on the track for what I thought would be this monumental workout. I was just praying that I could hold on to the back of the pack, but all we did was 6 x 800 meters. Needless to say, I wasn’t as fast as the best guys, but this was half of what I usually did back then. No worries. This was it and then we were off to a nearby pub.
OK, maybe I thought, it was just an easy workout for them. But we did the same thing the next Thursday–6 x 800 meters—and the next week and the following week after that. Maybe one Thursday we did 8 x 800, but this de Castella-led group essentially did the same workout week after week. Nothing more, nothing less and always 800s.
As it turned out, de Castella had been doing the same speed workout every Thursday for 10 years and didn’t see any reason to add mile repeats, cruise intervals or anything else that was standard fare for world-class marathoners at the time.
After a few sessions of this, I summoned enough courage to ask him why he didn’t do longer stuff on the track like everyone else was doing. “Because it doesn’t matter what I do,” he said, pissed off at the question from the stupid American. “What matters is that I do something fast every week.”
Since then, I’ve been a firm believer that all the various incarnations of speed we do aren’t as important as the fact that we do something fast every week and outside our comfort zone. Are mile repeats, 1000s, 5 x 10 minutes, structured fartleks (or whatever) inherently better than the simple 800s de Castella did week after week?
I don’t think so. Especially as we age and PRs become ever more elusive, just holding onto our speed and leg turnover is the challenge. Speed still matters. So does consistency.
O As we have reported, the Schlotzsky’s Bun Run is—after 30—years no more. But, the Young Men’s Business League of Austin, which has organized the Bun Run for years, is starting up its own spring race: The Run for the Sun (5-K or 10-K). It will be held the same time as the Bun Run was (April 27) on the same out-and-back course (from in front of Palmer Auditorium on Riverside and then along Cesar Chavez) and for the same beneficiary (the Sunshine Camps of Austin). Silicon Labs has come on board as the title sponsor. The new website and registration isn’t quite ready, but will be up soon. Great news.
O Leo Manzano, who is off on his annual training camp in Mexico, will make his ’14 racing debut on February 8th at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix at the Reggie Lewis Track in Boston. Leo the Lion will duel Nick Willis of New Zealand in the mile. BTW: Manzano will also be part of a panel discussion on bringing more diversity to running on February 11th at the Running USA convention in San Diego.
O As usual, the field for the Chevron Houston Marathon next week Sunday is loaded. Bazu Worku (2:05:25 best) returns to Houston to defend his title against fellow Ethiopians Dadi Yami, Getachew Terfa and Geb Adhana. Fastest woman in the field is yet another Ethiopian—Abebech Bekele with a 2:23 PR. Top American is Patrick Rizzo of Boulder. Most of the top Americans are in the USA Half Marathon Champs, including ’13 champ Adriana Nelson, Serena Burla (twice a runnerup in Houston) and Renee Baillie, originally from Flower Mound, who was fourth in 2010 when she last ran a half. The US men include ’12 Marathon Trials champ Meb Keflezighi, Luke Puskedra, Shadrack Biwott and Fernando Cabada. Austinites David Fuentes, Rio Reina and Rory Tunningley—Team Mizuno teammates—are running. (This will be Tunningley’s first half.) Allison Mendez and Scott MacPherson of Rogue are running as is Jared Carson. The wild card among the women could be Becky Wade of Houston. Jose Munoz and Emily Daum of San Antonio are also running.
O Daum, who ran at Trinity University in San Antonio, is hoping to run 1:20, slower than the 1:17 she ran two years ago. She has been coming back from a stress fracture, reports Chris Serra, and has been supplementing her running with swimming, aqua jogging and bike workouts. Her husband and coach Jeremy Daum has been averaging 120 miles per week as he preps for his first marathon in Houston. He’s shooting for a sub-2:30.
O Sarah Mark and Brian Periman have decided to make things official and get hitched. No date has been set and if I know them (and I do), they’ll first figure out the most fun, exotic place they both want to go to and work out the details of the wedding later. Congrats!
O The most prestigious award in men’s collegiate track is the Bowerman Trophy (named for iconic University of Oregon coach Bill Bowerman). Two UT athletes—Ryan Crouser and Johannes Hock—are on the preseason Bowerman watch list. Crouser, who was a semifinalist for the award last year, is the defending NCAA champ in the shot put and is also one of the top guys in the discus. Hock was also a semifinalist last year for the Bowerman and is the defending NCAA champ in the decathlon. Two Aggies also made the watch list: Wayne Davis, the NCAA 110 hurdles champ, and Deon Lendore who was second in the NCAA 400 last year.
O Warren Brown of Rogue Cedar Park organizes something called the Endorphin Book Club. Members read a designated running book and then get together to shoot the breeze about it. The book this month is “Run or Die” by Kilian Jornet and interested parties will meet at Whole Foods (5th and Lamar) on February 3rd at 6:30 to talk about it on the outdoor plaza on the second floor. The meeting is free and open to anyone who reads it.
O The Bandera trail races are set for Saturday (January 11) at 7:30 a.m. The race distances are 100-K, 50-K and 25-K. The 100-K also serves as the USA Championships. Some of the best ultra runners in town are running, including Paul Terranova and Erik Stanley who both warmed up for Bandera with the Rogue 30-K last Sunday. Bandera is about 40 miles northwest of San Antonio.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “Pieces of You“, by Jewel. Her first album and still her best.
Have any news for me? If you do, send it to wish@texasrunning post.com.