Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

V 12 N. 35 Children Running: Can v. Should - Russ Ebbets

 Our previous post dealt a bit with an incident of a six year old child running a marathon.  It inspired Russ Ebbets to send us this piece he wrote recently.  


Children Running: Can v. Should

by Russ Ebbets

The World Records for distance running from the mile to the marathon for 10-year-olds is a graveyard of talent. Those poor guys and girls never do much past that point. Unfortunately, this is a story repeated again and again and again.

Right off – I have strong opinions on this subject. I was a pretty good child runner. I mention this not to brag but to frame my argument. I started running “officially” as a 12-year-old in the New York Road Runners Club back in the days when an event drew 30-40 runners. I remember the unique and famous Fred Lebow being there. He was just unique back then. I was undefeated in the 12 and under ranks. You can look it up if you want. 

I always beat the same kid. He was 10 or 11 years old and came up to my hip. Even though I always won he seemed to get all the “atta boy’s,” it was David v. Goliath and I was Goliath.

I remember talking a number of times with the kid’s father. He was a husky guy, maybe 5’9”, about 180 pounds and ran in the adult races. He was enthusiastic about his running but never beat anybody. I remember thinking how somebody could know so much and not be so good. I was learning about adults. 

I had no coach. The father used to tell me how hard he trained his son. I distinctly remember one workout he said they did – 8x 880 in under 2:40 wearing a 20-pound weight vest. The kid didn’t weigh 100 pounds. This probably explained his height. 

My training seemed to consist of bike rides, some extended walk-jogs and sprint races at practice to see who was fastest. I felt a little guilty winning the races without “really” training.

All I ever heard about was how great this kid was going to be yet week in and week out I beat him like a drum. He had a little brother and I beat him too. Goliath had no mercy. 

In high school I ran a 4:30 mile as a 15-year old and eventually got down to 4:24. Things stalled out there, but I was still running well at ages 30-31. Although the accomplishments never quite caught the hopes, I have much to be thankful for. 

When I was coaching I used to get calls 2-3x per year with the voice asking me to coach their son or daughter. The one-sided conversation would go on for five or 10 minutes with the parent rambling on about all the races their kid had won, this 5k, that 10k, town champ, gold medals and on and on. When they stopped to catch their breath, I’d jump in.

“How old is your child?”

“Ten,” or eleven or younger. 

My advice was always the same. “Buy them a soccer ball, put them in the backyard and call me when they are 15.”

There was silence while I gave the parent my two cents. Kids aren’t meant to run long distance. Develop their other skills. It is too early to specialize. It wasn’t what they wanted to hear. The conversation soon ended, sometimes politely, sometimes with a, “What do you know!”

I know. I was there. 

I also know my freshman teams won three league championships in four years. We would have gone four for four but my first year my #3 guy missed the bus the day of the championships. More importantly the teams I left behind by senior year were both the top ranked high school programs in New York State and the Shen team won it all.

Success in the athletic arena hinges on the organization of a “system,” talent identification and talent development. It is easy to succeed with the “Box of Rats Method” where all you do is train everybody hard and eventually the top rat emerges. One great rat and a lot of dead rats. The challenge of good coaching is to save the other rats. 

Talent identification may be the easiest step. High school recruiting is limited to in-house efforts. I went for numbers. I needed 10 freshmen for cross country. If you had a pulse and could fog a mirror you qualified. I had confidence in my development plan. 

The Development Plan – One of the greatest fears of a freshman is – can I do this?

My first words to my freshman teams were, “You will be champions.” My practices started the end of doubt. I segregated the frosh and gave them things they could do. We did “destination runs” – run to that tree and back, run to that pole and back, for about two weeks. We rested between runs. We counted heartbeats. I got a clue who had the “engines.” After 6-8 of these destination runs, we walked and did push-ups and sit-ups. That was practice until the first race. Oftentimes we ran the first race never having run the full distance. We were usually top five. You can develop from there. 

After about two weeks the frosh would start to feel comfortable with it all. They could see they were getting better, a rank order was starting to form and both the quality and quantity of their workload created a momentum on the team that generated enthusiasm. They were developing faith in their abilities – I can do this. A coach can do a lot with a little faith. 

This is all well and good you might say but what do you do with a 10-year old? The best program I have seen is the one championed by the British, the “Five Star Award Scheme.” It set the events up with point values and at competitions athletes had to compete in three events. If they hit the pre-determined point values, they won a merit badge. The charts were progressive, could be used for various age groups and promoted goal directed behaviors. Incidentally the charts could also be used to identify talent and develop it through an organized system. 

Some other points to ponder:

Multilateral development – let kids try many different sports and activities. Up to the age of early specialization, 14 or 15, kids should be exposed to many different physical activities. It helps them in their socialization process, emotional development and problem-solving skills. 

Teach fundamentals – I once had a friend who was a great hockey player. He had a friend who as a child was trained as a figure skater, his family would not let him play hockey. As a child he was ridiculed for figure skating. When his parents finally let him play hockey, he became a great hockey player too. He could skate better than anyone on the ice, in fact he could skate circles around them.  Movement fundamentals.

The ability of skip is a skill that transfers to many sports and events. Use of baton drills and relays keeps practice fun. Use of hops, skips and jumps makes practice fun. Kids like to do fun stuff. 

Train for short distances 400/800m – Short distances prize speed. That is what racing should be about. Shorter races develop tactical sense and decision-making skills in the heat of the battle. Longer endurance runs foster a “grind it out” attitude, obstinance and compulsion – not necessarily the most attractive attributes for a 10-year old.

Attend events – and not just competitions. Have your youngsters watch the warm-ups and training sessions of better athletes. How does work get done? How do good people act? Carefully pick your role models. 

Foster learning – What is the most important thing you learned today? Don’t badger the kid with a cross examination but create some introspection. How can they apply that knowledge to the future?

Arrested development – The skeleton of a child is not developed until the late teen years and for some people full growth and development doesn’t stop until the early 20’s. Excessive exercise or repetitive motion activities can negatively affect the growth of a child. Throwing too many curve balls as a little league pitcher is a prime example. They even have an orthopedic condition called “Little League Elbow.”

The very nature of distance running is that of a repetitive motion activity. A thousand steps per mile, mile after mile on a hard surface hitting the ground at 4-7x body weight could potentially damage the growth plates of a child. Nationally they have stopped keeping long distance records for little kids.

There is also the issue of growth. Although I have never seen any studies on this point, intuitively it makes sense to me. If a child trains to excess the energy that the body would use to grow and develop is shunted towards training or competitive efforts. High school rules that allow runners to compete in four events per competition several times a week are short sighted and irresponsible. You can quote me. 

Childhood should be a time of exploration and discovery. This includes the introduction to many different activities both social and athletic. Early participation and early success can be both a blessing and a curse. 

The entry to high school closely mirrors the recommended age for introduction of serious competitive efforts. A generalized introduction to shorter distance running at that time can begin. At this point the chance of debilitating growth plate injury are lessened. The comradery of being on a true team offers the chances of participation and decreases the chances of burnout. 

A crying, terrified three-year old with a full diaper makes for a lousy competitor. While the parents might get a laugh at the histrionics I wonder if this develops a psychic association of “new” always being “bad.”  I can’t v. I can.

Once I graduated from the 12 and under class I never heard of the kid in the 20# weight vest again. His road to obscurity was paved with great workouts. The childhood superstars pushed from the start never seem to make it. 


Russ Ebbets Biographical Information


Dr. Russ Ebbets has a lifelong involvement in sport as an athlete, coach, administrator and healthcare provider. He had been a Lead Instructor and Level 3 Coach in the USATF Coaching Education Program since 1983. He has lectured at Level 1,2,3 Schools, authored the curriculum for the Level 2 Youth endurance, biomechanics and race walk. He has spoken  at the High Performance Summits on Improving Distance Running in America on two occasions. 


Since 1999 he has edited Track Coach, the technical journal for USATF. He has lectured nationally, in Scandinavia, the Caribbean and at the Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs and Lake Placid on health and sport related topics. Additionally he has presented at the FICS World Conference on Sport and Training Theory and had a poster presentation at the 2014 WFC Conference on The Athletic Triage Model. He has served as the US National Team Chiropractor to three IAAF World Championships. 


On two occasions Dr. Ebbets traveled to the Soviet Union to study athletic development and track and field at the Soviet Institute of Sport and Physical Culture. His first master’s thesis was on the Olympic Development Programs of the Eastern Bloc countries. His second thesis was a seminar project at Ithaca College where he studied the impact of emergency medicine, athletic training and chiropractic care services at the Syracuse Festival of Races, one of America’s top distance runs. That project laid the foundation of the Athletic Triage Model that has been used throughout the Northeast to deliver on-site sports health care. In December 2020 he earned a third master’s degree in Exercise Science from SUNY-Cortland. His thesis was on how spinal manipulation aids endurance efforts by changing the body’s biomechanical efficiency and physiology.


He is the author of two novels, a trail guide to the Adirondack 46 High Peaks and his 2019 A Runner’s Guide was a finalist for the Track and Field Writers of America Book of the Year Contest.


Dr Ebbets founded the nationally recognized sports outreach program at NY Chiropractic College that has provided complimentary care at 250+ events (2000-2015) including the Millrose Games, the National Scholastic Indoor Championships and Freihofer’s Run For Women treating some 15,000 patients. He is currently in private practice in Union Springs, NY on the northern end of Cayuga Lake. His is involved with a number of community projects including serving as a regional officer for the Lions Clubs and as president of the Niagara Association of USA Track & Field.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

V 12 N. 34 When is Too Much, Too Much?

 Lately I've been having online conversations with old running friends, sometimes with myself, occasionally God forbid on Facebook.  The theme has generally been, what is too much training? That dilemma has always been a part of coaching oneself and others.  In the distant past I think we can all agree that in the late 50's and 60's many of us  did way too much.  Maybe not on any one day, but definitely from day to day, we really didn't take much rest.  The philosophy was often, "If I'm going to beat somebody, I've gotta out train him."  I remember when a week of training meant a day of 440's, a day of 880's, a day of 1320's and a day of 220's, .  The more the better, the faster even better.   Friday we travelled, Saturday we raced (sometimes two and three races at two-day meets) and came home, and Sunday we rested or did a 4 mile jog.     I also remember by the end of my third year of college, I was a total burnout and it took almost 9 years to get over it.  In my early racing years I  did very little distance training.  It was too hard and our shoes were shit, to quote Bill Bowerman.    An 8 mile run in the summer was tops.  Hardly anything like that once back in school in September.  

Now in my/our 'golden' era, ( some don't want to use the terms 'elderly, old" or other condescending terms for those humans over 70),  and I guess I should respect that,  I'm wondering how we know when enough is enough in our  plodding over tracks and trails.  Some have had too many joint replacements, injuries, or illnesses to be concerned anymore.  But for the fortunate few, the question still remains.

I mentioned in a letter recently to a few guys that I ran a couple of mile time trials lately after getting over the Omicron variant which had left me with blood clots in one leg and both lungs.  Got placed on blood thinners and told to take it easy.  What's easy?  Hard to define.  

You will shortly see some responses from several former competitive runners and coaches.  And additionally I will also bring up the topic of young children running marathons (too much too soon?) as a six year old recently ran a marathon in Cincinnati and Children's Services came knocking on the door.   

Okay so here's the bit on what's enough for a senior runner.

May 9

Since getting Omicron in February and picking up; blood clots in right leg and both lungs, I've been trying to come back slowly to exercising without blowing a gasket.  No way really of telling what would be too much.  But recovery between exercise bouts has been slow, even from long walks.   Anyway last week I did virtually nothing for four days travelling up to Alert Bay on Cormorant Island off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. 

When I got back I went for a walk and felt incredibly strong in the legs compared to how I had been feeling for the last three months.   So I decided to run a mile yesterday on a flat trail I had run some previous 'time trials' on.   Both of those efforts had been slooow.  12 min.  then 10:25 about a week ago.  Yesterday I hit 9:35, so maybe it was  insufficient rest that was the problem.  Isn't that what I've been telling myself for years about my training as a 19 and 20 year  and 30 year old?    Last summer at the 'peak' of my running I had an 8:55 on a similar course.  I plan to take some more time off and do this again.  It wasn't easy, but it was enjoyable.  The trail is straight and flat between two roads that are a mile apart, following an old logging railway path.  I'm still intimidated getting on a track to run time trials.  Through a beautiful green forest is a lot more relaxing.    George


From Roy Mason (knee replacement has kept him off the trails and roads but he is still a workout maniac)  

Good to hear you are on the mend.  I have experienced the same thing in my workouts.  As I have been able to maintain intensity through age 81, I thought there was no reason I couldn't continue hard workouts into my nineties.  In the last year, reality hit.  Could still do tough weightroom workouts (24 stations, half at max, half concentration, depending on the day) and get the occasional PR at one of the flat out stations, but the price was feeling like shit for the next 2-3 days.  Started taking days off and immediately felt better.  My workout frequency dropped from 91% in 2020 to 82% in '21 to 68% this year and I feel better although there are some guilt pangs over missing a day.  I have three workouts - the big boy flat out weightroom routine, 30 minutes of fairly intense work on the exercise bike and a lighter routine with dumbbells at home.  They are done with equal frequency. I have a Mr. Roger's Neighborhood tee shirt, probably 40 years old, that I wear in the weight room.  Twice I have been asked.  Mr. Rogers?  Who's that?  Roy


from Bill Schnier former U. of Cincinnati head coach (30+ years)  and competitive runner

   Thanks for the update.  The fact that you are timing yourself indicates a trend toward too much.  However, better times continue to be motivating, even though we compare ourselves against our worst self.  Sounds as if you are still keeping it at the right tempo.  Bill


from Bruce Kritzler former coach U of Louisiana Monroe and U North Carolina Wilmington and long time Master's runner.

good run (time trial) George. 

i haven’t been on the track yet this year. built up to 16x100 barefoot once or twice/week. had minor skin surgery two weeks ago on my back. surprised the surgeons requesting them to remove some splinters from my feet.  My wife couldn't dig them out.  Bruce


From John Perry (former member of Oklahoma State WR 4x880 team and a 1:46 man and 4:04 miler)

George 

Don’t ever say the “elderly” word again! I still think I’m young and tell myself that everyday when I get up!  We’re just not as fast! 

In addition, if you are not planning on competing again, throw the watch away! I have no idea what my time is for my one mile jog and the only reason I know my 8x100m (19-21 sec) times is that my training partner carries a watch. He also pulls muscles trying to run too fast (16-17),  usually a hamstring, when I’m not there to keep him under control! He’s 75! 

Intervals are the way to go! If you can run 6 minute mile pace for 100 M just striding along, you feel like a runner! My goal is to get the “float”, not go out and kill myself training for a sub 3:00 800m. It’s possible, but I’d rather play golf, fish and drink wine! 

John Perry 


from Sylvia Gleason (ER doctor, ultra runner, competitive cyclist, medical missionary in war zones like the Congo)

I have been using my mountain bike a lot more. The whole gravel riding thing has taken off in popularity, and I have come to appreciate why.  Almost no traffic on gravel , dirt and one lane back roads and some of the best scenery you could wish for. I like the muti-day bike trips I have done over the last few years, one of my favorite remains  " Heart of Appalachia: which took us on gravel and forest service road through western Virginia and parts of Tennessee. 

and finally from Bill Blewett in Maryland.   Bill was an incredible 'walk on' at Oklahoma 4:02 mile and sub 14:00  3 mile.   Won the Peach Tree Road Race back in the 70's.   He's now on a lifetime regimen of  chemo every three weeks for a form of leukemia.  

George, that's an interesting perspective on work-rest balance for us elderly (I don't like that adjective) runners.  Of course, Billy Mills took a year and a half off after graduating from Kansas, and when he began to run again, he found himself so surprisingly strong that he went on to win gold in Tokyo a year into his comeback.  I suspect he overtrained in his college days under Bill Easton and the long hiatus allowed his body to heal the cumulative damage.
I feel that at age 74, I am getting stronger as my therapy continues, even though I cannot yet get back to jogging.  My workouts are 1/2 to 1 mile a day of walking, mostly on the treadmill, 2.5 mph, and I find that can now go down stairs faster, that I am no longer stiff and sluggish when I get up from sitting for an hour in front of the computer.  I am starting to do pushups again, and they are getting easier each week.  There is hope.


George again:   So I'm inclined to believe the harder we work, the more rest we need.  Work easy, rest easy,  work hard, rest a longer time.   Experiment and find what works for you.  I like John Perry's running repeat 100 meters.  You can do it at a pretty good clip and back off before you get tired.  Check what you did for the workout  16 x 100 and you've got a pretty good mile under your belt.  You raised you heart rate, let it come down and pushed it up again.    Talking to Bob Schul once (very Igloi trained) he said nothing over 400 meters ever did him any good for running 5,000 meters.   Also when I was a grad student at the Human Performance Lab at Ball State,  Dave Costill the very well known director of the lab had an axiom of 20 minutes, three times a week at about 70% of max heart rate was enough to keep an adult fit.  Dave, if you read this, please correct me on this if I've erred.  

I would love to hear readers' thoughts on this and will add them to the article.

Now, go get a beer and get ready for Part Twol


Okay, so you're on your second beer.

Yesterday  I shot my mouth off on FB on a totally different subject and scrolled down and noted that some folks were "shocked, Louie, shocked" to quote Adolph Menjou in "Casablanca" that a six year old had run a marathon in Cincinnati,  and his father had given him some Pringles to continue when the child started to cry.   Apparently Children's Services made a house call when the story got out. I doubt that the child was removed from the care of the parents.  It was Kentucky.    It usually takes a lot more like the parents are whacked out druggies and the child has crawled out the second floor window and is on the roof or riding his trike down the Interstate against the flow of traffic, or unfortunately a lot worse.  I was curious as to whether there were records for young kids running marathons.

I found that 9 year old Wesley Paul on January 25, 1969 ran a 2:56:57 marathon in Huntsville, AL.  Wesley lived in Overland Park, KS, so Mom and Dad were definitely into this travelling that far for a race.  Also at age 7 Wesley had run a 4hr 4 min. marathon.  Mom and Dad were working on their PhD.'s in math.

So what is your feeling about kids running marathons?   Doing a bit of internet trolling I found that approximately 75 kids  8-13 years old had run in the NYC Marathon before the organizers raised the age limit first to 16 and now to 18.  Age of consent? (age of consent in Alabama 12, 13 in Tennessee). 

Should it be considered abuse if you train your kid to run a marathon if he or she is 6 years old?  I guess it depends on what the child likes to do.  Would it be better if he sat in front of a video screen all day or as I've often seen in coffee shops, some neglectful parents on their cell phones while a toddler is desperately trying to get their attention from its stroller?   There's a vague line somewhere and I think each case of a child running a marathon or walking a tight rope has to be individually evaluated.  

Wesley Paul in NYC

Wesley Paul, mentioned earlier, continued running until age 15 when he was hit by a car and broke a knee cap.  Now he's a lawyer, jogs some and is into rowing.  He also doesn't regret a day of his childhood marathoning according to another article about him by Debra Cassens Weiss in the American Bar Association Journal, Oct. 25, 2009.   link:  https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/these_lawyers_ran_the_nyc_marathon_at_the_ages_of_8_and_9

For the girls,  nine year old Julie Mullin ran a 2 hr 58:01 on August 30, 1966 at Seaside Oregon.  I could not find what has become of Julie.  I somehow doubt that she is living under a bridge.

Both these kids did these times, many years ago.  If kids were still doing marathons I'm sure the records would be somewhat lower, so the interest seems to have waned.   We as parents all like to see our kids succeed.  That's why we have age group records.  The question is where to draw the limits.  I doubt now that marathon camps for toddlers would be very profitable.  There are other ways to help your child shine.  I have witnessed this with my own eyes at dance studios.  We make young girls stand on the points of their toes and look 'beautiful' for doting mothers, fathers, and grandparents.  They practice for hours, some 5-6 days a week.  They dream of being prima ballerinas, and when they reach puberty, many are shown the door because nature has been unkind to their figures and they cannot walk through that template that gets a woman into a famous ballet school.  Is that any less arrogant than a parent encouraging a child to run a marathon?  But we seldom if ever ask this question  about the arts.  

It is sometimes preached at sports banquets that sport prepares you for life.  The highs and lows and the need to change often come the way of the aspiring athlete.  But the confidence to persevere in hard times is also one of the great lessons of sport even when it sometimes robs us of our childhood .  In the Ukraine today, thousands of people are being tested in the most insidious of ways.   I truly believe that the athletes and dancers have the best chances of survival.

 For more on thesubject, see this article by Bob Anderson on Mary Etta Boitano who ran a marathon at age 4 and the Dipsea before she was 10.   

   This has to be your longest post ever.  Could it be because you cannot train as usual?  The 6-year old Cincinnati marathoner has been big news with plenty of supporters or detractors on both sides.  When he started crying was when others started yelling at his parents.  I think it came down to parental pushing and a desire to please your parents.  Nevertheless, running a marathon at age 6 is quite an accomplishment and I hope that continues to motivate the child as he grows older.
   The comments from your "elderly" runners went from A to Z so maybe the same principles for training continue when you age.  We are all still exercising in some way or another.
Bill Schnier

Yep, sometimes the only things we have left to exercise are our 'rights'.  George

George, 

8x100m is perfect! 16 is overtraining! 1 mile jog, stretching and very slow walk between 100’s gets your heart rate up to 150+ and down to 90-100 for over 30 continuous minutes. You even get a distance running “high” without doing a 5 miler and killing your legs! 

My only competition is with myself when I run my annual birthday striders in July! I feel faster every year but I guess I will start timing to validate and document that. 

Take care,

John Perry

A Bier (or two), a cold soak and sleep.   
by Richard Mach
Frequently, the aftermath of  over-training back in the day was retarded, slow recovery and little return of energy along with an aftermath of soreness and stiffness.  At a running camp a friend, Jim Carter, and I sponsored outside of Frankfort MI in the late 70s to early 80s, Herb Lindsey from Reed City, MI and Michigan State University, then the best man on the roads in the world just before the advent of the Kenyans, suggested after an extensive training session to bring a beer with you while soaking in a later spring, early summer lake.   

The first time I tried it was after a 22 mile run on the dusty hot back dirt roads in SE Michigan and was blitzed by a combination of both heat stress and dehydration because back in the day no one carried water on them.  And I foolishly went out somewhat dehydrated. Bringing  H2O back then would have  anathema to the Terminal Macho Spirit that then pervaded the serious running community.  But, I lived on a lake, if was late spring, cold water in abundance right out the back door; and a good German beer in the fridge.  Soaked up to my neck.  Wasn't for the faint hearted, but actually, the bier seemed, somehow, to ease the entry in such waters.   And you have been living in a world of discomfort and so this isn't much different.

What is happening internally is the cold is gradually penetrating the sore muscles and the inflamed area around the joint centers and effectively shrinking and sedating them.   Ice baths today are de riguer in the NFL and other sports where the body takes a lot of punishment.  Meanwhile, the beer you have been  drinking is doing more than dulling your senses enough to try such a challenging venture.  The alcohol the beer carries is but a single chemical step from being fully metabolizable energy, Glucose, for the body.  That beer or two is shunting energy into fatigue and exhausted muscle including the heart muscle.   It is very ready energy and the body in its energy deficit right then is anxious to partake of it in refurbishing its energy stories.  

The beer, again, makes it easier to enter the water.  This can also be done anytime in your own bathtub.  The temperature of the water?   Something you are slightly out of your comfort zone.  In the tub, you can start with warmish water.  And gradually once in the tub cool it down with gradually accruing cold water.   Until you hear your body protesting, saying no, that is your temperature.  For the day.  Stay in there until you have a strong, but not overpowering urge to get out.   By that time you should be cold through and through.  And the beer has done its job.   

Then it is time to rest and stay horizontal instead of trying to plough through the rest of your day immediately; acknowledging the body has been challenged, has given back value to you and now in its present state is in need of rest.  Honor it with the rest it needs.  

This simple formula shared with me back a half a lifetime ago has served me every time -- without fail. Richard.

editor's note.   Local First Nations culture in Pacific Northwest practices this cold water immersion as a cleansing ceremony but without beer.  They also do the sweat lodges. 

Russ Ebbets writes about the child running question.

 George - I wrote the endurance curriculum for the Youth Level 2 of USATF's Coaching Ed back in 2012...it was one the most difficult things I ever did...I researched all the great coaches and to a man they had nothing to say about children running...on one slide in the presentation I had a split-screen with the title "American Record holders"...on the right side of the screen were all the American record-holders for distances from the mile to the marathon...names you would know littered the list like Webb, Lagat, Bob Kennedy, etc....there were 120 coaches in the clinic...I asked them who were all the athletes on the right side of the slide?...no one could identify even one of the names ...they were the American record-holders in all the same events for the 10-year-old age category...they never did anything after that...when I was prepping the lecture the first "record holder" in the JO's that had an adult career was Tom Hunt from Arizona as a 16-year-old.

Below is the link to Budhai Singh, the Indian child who set all the youth running records...there have been several movies done on him you can find on Netflix...I forced myself to watch them...they will make you sick to your stomach...I realize India has a cultural fascination of the "biggest, longest, best" with their own version of the Guinness Book of World Records (Limca Book of Records) but there gets to be a point where these things lose sense (i.e. world's longest fingernails, etc.)...articles attached are my thoughts on children running and my solution (Destination Runs) how I succeeded in transitioning the untrained to runners pretty quickly and successfully...stay well...Russ


Thursday, May 5, 2022

V 12 N. 33 Kenny Moore Died Yesterday R.I.P.

May 5, 2022

I saw the brief note  of Kenny Moore's death in Walt Murphy's This Day in Track and Field yesterday.  It struck hard, because the world is now without one of it's really wonderful individuals.  Kenny Moore was a star in so many ways both as an athlete and a writer, as a human being,  even a film star who might have been.  After his role in Personal Best, Kenny was offered the male lead in the upcoming  Flashdance,  but he turned it down.  

An average runner in high school in Eugene, he became a teammate of Pre, a disciple of Bowerman, a national champion and a world class runner.  While strolling through Bill Dellinger's home several years ago, I remember seeing a picture on the wall of Bill finishing a race at Hayward Field and Kenny, a high school student with flattop, watching intently from the infield.  

 

Bill asking us ,  Guess who?   The high school kid on the sideline?   Kenny Moore

                                   That's Dellinger's hand.


                                                           Roy and George at Bill's place





My blog partner Roy Mason and I were in Eugene one weekend for the Prefontaine meet in late May and went to two special invites through Rick Lower, my grad school  friend who has been with Nike since it was a startup called Blue Ribbon Sports.  First he took us to Dellinger's house where Bill showed us the picture seen above.

Later that day we went to the pub where Pre had once worked as a bartender and found ourselves in a gathering of the old Men of Oregon, former UO distance runners.  We met Kenny that afternoon and had a brief conversation with him.  By then Kenny was experiencing the debilitating effects of Parkinson's Disease and his speech was not easy to understand, but boy did he have a sense of humor and willingness to share thoughts with us.  Roy, in his ubiquitous nonchalance paid him a compliment about his acting in Personal Best which Kenny co-wroteIt went something like when the lead female was manipulating Kenny's private parts, that it was the greatest piece of acting that Roy had ever seen on film.   Kenny started laughing and almost fell off the stool.  When I asked him to sign my copy of his book  "Men of Oregon",  he signed it "Thanks for understanding.  Kenny Moore"  No doubt a reference to the speech difficulties he was having at the time.  

The last anecdote we have about Kenny as told by Rick Lower  was when Rick drove me up north of Eugene  to the town of Coburg and showed me the spot where Kenny broke down one Sunday on a training run. It was a filling station now called Blingy Barn Antiques about 5km from Eugene.   He had just come back from winning a couple of events at the Pac 8 Conference meet and was really fired up.  Bowerman told him to either take Sunday off or just jog a very short way.  Kenny went north on a hard ten and got injured no more than three miles out.  He called his mom from the gas station, but she wasn't available to pick him up, so he called Bowerman who was really pissed at Kenny's reluctance to following orders.  After lifting him off his feet, by the collar, Bowerman then asked him about the shoes he was wearing.  When he saw them, he didn't like them and tore them in half on the spot.   That may have been what led Bowerman to design the Oregon Waffle Trainer or a precursor.  He just said, "These shoes are shit." and drove Kenny back to campus.

                                                 The Blingy Barn Antiques Store, Coburg, OR
                                                                Where the Dream Began



Kenny on the left with Canadian Andy Boychuck at the
Springbank Road Races in London, Ontario mid 1970's

So much has been said already about Kenny Moore that we can add very little except these few short events in his life.   

May you have found peace and a great route to run like the wind, Kenny.  


Roger Robinson has written an excellent review of Kenny Moore's life which we encourage you to read at the link below.


So sad to hear about Kenny Moore.  I saw him run at Springbank, probably the day of the picture you posted.  I also talked with him in Eugene at a booth for T&F books at the Trials in 2008.  He was having trouble speaking at that time and I was thinking it might be dementia but evidently Parkinson's.  He was a self-made runner or probably a Bowerman-made runner who wrote extensively, mostly about other people.  I remember reading one of his articles, I believe in Sports Illustrated, about standout runners in their youth who could not beat runners who started later in life.  It was his and others' opinion that they had not used up their ability to run as much as their ability to compete.
Bill Schnier

Hi George,

Thank you for this post about Kenny Moore; sorry to hear of his passing, but it sounds like he lived a very full life.

Although I did not get to meet Kenny Moore, I did get to know his writing fairly early in my athletic journey.  Back in 1988, I was fully hooked on track & field; I was soon to be a freshman in HS, and duking it out on the summer track circuit with some guys I’d compete with for years to come.

The Summer of 1988 was an exciting time for a T&F fan, especially for a youngster.  Steve Cram was young and fast, and was in a back-and-forth with Said Aouita of Morocco in the mile/1500 as they both tried to beat each other and set world records in the process.  Dad had found some books about HS training in Europe, and Steve Cram was mentioned, and had run some amazing times, even as a young teenager.  So I considered myself a big Steve Cram fan.


So we were on vacation in Summer 1988, and I brought along a copy of Dad’s Sports Illustrated.  I got to the above article, and read it very intently.  Pretty sure I read it word-for-word to Dad; I was really hoping Steve Cram would be in top form for the Olympics - the above article sounded like Cram might be rounding into form at the right time.

After I finished reading, Dad said “did Kenny Moore write that article?”
Dad explained that Kenny Moore was a great writer; years later I learned he was a great runner, too.

Thanks for all the background in the blog.  I watched Without Limits years ago and thought it was a great movie; I didn’t realize Kenny Moore was behind that movie until yesterday’s post.

We hope you and your family are well.

John Mizell

Monday, April 18, 2022

V 12 N. 32 First Pictures in from Boston 2022

 As promised, from Ned Price, here are those pictures from Ned Price today at the 7.9 mile mark.  Looks like great weather as promised.







First results :

Men                                                                      Women

1.  Evans Chebet  (Ken)       2:06. 51                   1. Peres Jepchirchir*   (Ken)   2:21.01

2. Lawrence Cherono (Ken)  2:07.21                   2. Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH)     2:21.05

3. Benson Kipruto (Ken)       2:07.27                   3. Mary Ngugi (Ken)              2:21.32

4. Gabriel Geay (Tanz)          2:07.53                   4. Edna Kiplagat (Ken)             2:21.40

5. Eric Kiptanui (Ken)           2:08.47                   5. Monicah Ngige (Ken)           2:22.13

6. Albert Korir (Ken)             2:08.50                   6. Viola Cheptoo   (Ken)           2:23.47

7. Scot Fauble (USA)            2:08.52                   7.  Joyciline Jepkosgei (Ken)    2:24.43

8. Jemel Yimer (Eth)             2:08.58                   8.  Degitu Azimeraw (Eth)        2:25.23  

9. Elkanah Kibet (Ken)         2:09.07                   9.  Charlotte Purdue (GBR)      2:25.26

10. Kinde Atanaw (Eth)        2:09.16                  10.  Nell Rojas  (USA)               2:25.57

                                                                              *Olympic Champion 2022

Women's Wheelchair

1. Manuela Schar (SUI)**           1:41.08

2. Sussanah Scaroni (USA)       1:46.20

3. Madison De Rozario (USA)  1:52.48

4. Yen Hoang (USA)                  1:55.27

5. Jenna Fesemyer (USA)          1:55.59

** 4th Boston win


See Video analysis of the race by Total Running Productions:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb2JrpCVfOc

Friday, April 15, 2022

V 12 N. 31 A Response to Scoring Dual Meets With 5-3-1 or 3-2-1 Systems

 I'm sure this response from Gary Andrus on scoring dual track meets with 5-3-1 or 3-2-1 will enlighten many of our readers and stir up the cobwebs in the brains of the rest.   Ned, do you remember Gary?  Did he pass your course?  I'm reading this as a student who squeezed through my only undergrad math class with a D.  However on the broader spectrum that same semester I also got a D in ROTC, although I did learn to use a compass and read a map.  But militarily I  placed my machine guns in the wrong positions.    George

Hi George, Gary Andrus here. 
Love the site, thanks for your fine work.

Back in the late 60's/early 70's Ned Price was a professor in the
math department at Wayne State University in Detroit. At that
time I was a Ph.D. student in math at Wayne. Ned and I frequently
went on training runs together. I can still smell the fumes from
the beer distillery we often ran by on our way down to Cobo Hall.

Anyway, regarding your recent post in which Ned gives a case of
a duel meet where one team loses using a 5-3-1 system of 
scoring, but wins using a 3-2-1 system. To expand on Ned's result,
(given 10 events, no relays) there are a total of 10 cases in which
that phenomenon exists. I wrote a simple Java program to 
compute the cases.

x = number of first places for Team A
y = number of second places for Team A
z = number of third places for Team A

x = 1 y = 9 z = 10
Scoring under 5-3-1
Team A: 42
Team B: 48
Team B wins

Scoring under 3-2-1
Team A: 31
Team B: 29
Team A wins

x = 1 y = 10 z = 8
Scoring under 5-3-1
Team A: 43
Team B: 47
Team B wins

Scoring under 3-2-1
Team A: 31
Team B: 29
Team A wins

x = 1 y = 10 z = 9
Scoring under 5-3-1
Team A: 44
Team B: 46
Team B wins

Scoring under 3-2-1
Team A: 32
Team B: 28
Team A wins

x = 2 y = 8 z = 9
Scoring under 5-3-1
Team A: 43
Team B: 47
Team B wins

Scoring under 3-2-1
Team A: 31
Team B: 29
Team A wins

x = 2 y = 8 z = 10
Scoring under 5-3-1
Team A: 44
Team B: 46
Team B wins

Scoring under 3-2-1
Team A: 32
Team B: 28
Team A wins

x = 2 y = 9 z = 7
Scoring under 5-3-1
Team A: 44
Team B: 46
Team B wins

Scoring under 3-2-1
Team A: 31
Team B: 29
Team A wins

x = 3 y = 6 z = 10
Scoring under 5-3-1
Team A: 43
Team B: 47
Team B wins

Scoring under 3-2-1
Team A: 31
Team B: 29
Team A wins

x = 3 y = 7 z = 8
Scoring under 5-3-1
Team A: 44
Team B: 46
Team B wins

Scoring under 3-2-1
Team A: 31
Team B: 29
Team A wins

x = 4 y = 5 z = 9
Scoring under 5-3-1
Team A: 44
Team B: 46
Team B wins

Scoring under 3-2-1
Team A: 31
Team B: 29
Team A wins

x = 5 y = 3 z = 10
Scoring under 5-3-1
Team A: 44
Team B: 46
Team B wins

Scoring under 3-2-1
Team A: 31
Team B: 29
Team A wins

Total cases = 10

I might as well throw in my source code too. It's not the most
efficient algorithm, but the numbers are small so, execution-wise,
it doesn't make much difference. Also, one can imagine many
generalizations. Maybe your readers would like to work on some.

/**
 * A dual track meet between Team A and Team B. 10 events.
 * x = number of first places for Team A
 * y = number of second places for Team A
 * z = number of third places for Team A
 *
 * Gary Andrus
 * Version 1.0, Date 4/14/2022
 **/
public class TrackScore
{
    /**
     * Output: All possibilities with Team B winning under the 5-3-1
     *         system of scoring but losing under the 3-2-1 system.
     **/
    public static void main (String[] args)
    {
        // points for first, second, and third for two scoring methods
        int f1 = 5, s1 = 3, t1 = 1;
        int f2 = 3, s2 = 2, t2 = 1;
        int x, y, z;
        int count = 0;
       
        for (x=0; x<=8; x++)
            for (y=0; y<=10;y++)
                for (z=0; z<=10; z++)
                {
                    int a = f1*x + s1*y + t1*z;  // Team A points under 5-3-1
                    int b = 90 - a;              // Team B points under 5-3-1
                    int aa = f2*x + s2*y + t2*z; // Team A points under 3-2-1
                    int bb = 60 - aa;            // Team B points under 3-2-1
                    if (a < 45)
                    {
                        if (aa > 30)
                        {
                            System.out.println ();
                            System.out.println ("x = " + x + " y = " + y + " z = " + z);
                            System.out.println
                            ("Scoring under " + f1 +"-" + s1 +"-" + t1);
                            System.out.println ("Team A: " + a);
                            System.out.println ("Team B: " + b);
                            System.out.println ("Team B wins");
                            System.out.println ();
                            System.out.println
                            ("Scoring under " + f2 +"-" + s2 +"-" + t2);
                            System.out.println ("Team A: " + aa);
                            System.out.println ("Team B: " + bb);
                            System.out.println ("Team A wins");
                            count++;
                        }
                    }
                }
        System.out.println ();
        System.out.println ("Total cases = " + count);                
    }
}
       


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

V 12 N. 30 Boston Is Coming in Five Days (Monday April 18) and Ned Price Will Be There

 After a three year hiatus  Boston will be run again on Patriots' Day April 18, 2022.

Our colleague Ned Price (Univ. of Chicago 1960 something) lives a few streets from the 7.9 mile mark.  He likes to take pictures there and forwards them to us to put on the blog the same day.  He'll be doing it again this year.  If you wish to see some of Ned's work in previous years  here is a link to the last four or five races.  There is also a posting in there of pictures he took in 1962 at the UC track when the United States competed in a dual meet with the Polish national team.  Just keep scrolling, you'll be impressed.  Lots of good stuff including Ted Haydon's list of excuses by runners when things go wrong in a race.  

Here is the link:     Ned Price Archives


Now to keep your minds sharp,  here is a query and discussion that Ned and I had last week precipitated by way of the internet.  Warning this is not for the minds of dilettantes and delvers into the Riemann Hypothesis.  

Riemann Hypothesis?  Fermat's Last Dual Meet.   You are putting pressure on an old man. I will probably forget to take off the lens cap.   Ned

Ned Price

Sun, Apr 10, 11:17 AM (2 days ago)
to me

 I was thinking about math weirdness and running.

1. There is a situation where 5-3-1 scoring in a dual track meet produces a different winner than 3-2-1 scoring.

2. Out East we used to have  three team meets called "double dual"  x-country meets where you crossed out the runners from the third team and separately scored a-b, b-c and a-c.

It can lead paradoxically to a>b, ,b>c, and c>a.     ">"  means "is greater than" (ed.)

Ned,

How can I respond to a question like this from a U. of Chicago grad?  I'm sure there is some very obscure mathematical premise hidden in 
here somewhere.  We used to have those double dual meets in track and cross country, even three teams scoring as three duals.  Always gave everyone a chance to come home with a win teamwise or individually.
This may have been the precursor of giving every kid a trophy on the last place team.

George


George:

You are an eclectic fellow     It took  me a while to come up with an example.   If there are 10 events in  a dual meet and a  team  has 2 firsts 9 seconds and 7 thirds    A loses the meet 44-46   scoring  5-3-1    but wins 31-29 scoring 3-2-1.

Regarding the 3 duals , if (in Cross Country)  Oklahoma beat Oklahoma Baptist 27-28 and Oklahoma Baptist beat  Oklahoma State 27-28 and Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma 27-28 wouldn't  you wonder too?

Don't blame the University of Chicago for my mutterings.

Ned


Ned,

How would you score the relays in those dual meets?    5-0    or 3-0 to the winner?  Who ever said the relay was not important?

Perhaps you have seen Jim Fixx's less well known book  "Games for the Superintelligent"?  Here is an easy one from that book.
Ch II  No. 14.   Ups and Downs     A snail is at the bottom of a well 30 feet deep.  It can crawl upward three feet in one day, but at
night it slips back two feet.  How long does it take for the snail to crawl out of the well?

Answ.   Twenty-eight days.  On the twenty eighth day it reaches the top of the well and doesn't slip backwards. We are of course assuming that the snail has enough energy stored in it's body to keep up this struggle for 28 days, or perhaps it was able to lick off the slime on the walls of the well.  Of course we must also assume it has a tongue. I think I may have posted some of these on the blog a few years ago.  Don't ask me if there are three snails at the bottom of the well, whether each can be a winner.  

George

George:

Yes you have pointed out something I had not considered. You are sly like a fox.  Ned


If there were two relays, a win and a loss could nullify any change in team scores.    My colleague Roy Mason will enjoy this, and I shall put it on the blog.

I hope you are physically  as well as you are mentally and will be out along the street for the Boston marathon next week.  And of course we will expect a photographic report.   

Here is a link to a set of Fixx's questions in another posting in 2016 with additional discussion about the Rio 1500m and other commentary from the readers.  The answers to the questions are at the end of the post.


Take care,
George


Ned,
Nowdays in cross country with the chips in the shoes they calculate the 'running score' as the race progresses which adds to the fun of doing a post race analysis.
"At the 8.5km mark we were national champs, but alas by the end we were fifth." 
George


George:

I knew you were a nerd at heart.  With 10 events and 3 scoring places, there are 11x11x11=1331 separate possibilities . About 98% produce consistent winners or ties.    I didn't consider relays.

If all goes well I will try to be at the 7.9 mile mark Monday.  Ned


Finally Roy Mason wades in:  My first reaction was "interesting" and then moved on only to return.  Probably play with this when the day's chores are behind me. 


Not familiar with 3-2-1.  Have always thought the 5-3-2-1 scoring used in the meets with the Soviet Union, where there are only four competitors, was odd.  You get a point for finishing last?  How can you not finish last?  Yes, I know, Bob Soth, but still.    (For those of you who forgot, Bob Soth overheated in the US Russian dual in the 10,000 and DNF'd. in Philly 1959)  link:  Bob Soth
Be warned some of these images are graphic and disturbing.  


V 12 N. 35 Children Running: Can v. Should - Russ Ebbets

 Our previous post dealt a bit with an incident of a six year old child running a marathon.  It inspired Russ Ebbets to send us this piece h...