Tag Archives: new balance

What’s Wrong With These Kids? Part I

I get questions. Seriously. People actually ask for my opinion. If you are not shocked by this I can assure you that my brothers, sister and parents are. I give them my opinion pretty much all the time on all sort of things. I don’t think they have asked for my opinion once in 38 years. I can’t really blame them – I’m the kid that stuck a Battleship game piece up my nose during the awesome 1980 Wimbeldon final between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. I’m still paying that one off. I was four years old! It fit. What’s the problem? The problem was getting it out. The whole family went for the hospital visit. No 4th set tiebreaker for the Bennett Family. No epic 5th set battle for the Bennett Family. No DVR back then either. Again, I was 4. We need to move on…as a family.

So, occasionally I get questions – mostly about running – How should I train for a marathon – what should I be having my 11 year old do – how much speed work is too much speed work – how long should a long run be – when did you start losing your hair?

One question that I get more than the others has to do with the quality of high school distance running. Why are these kids running so fast? Or, if you were like me and raced during the Dark Ages of US distance running – the 1990’s – then the question is one laced with a little bitterness – What’s Wrong With These Kids?

I figured it was time to at least attempt to answer this question, and a great question it is. I have to first say that I hold the right to add to this list as I see fit. I write off the top of my head. Which means I often leave things out and I tend to ramble. So, for the safety of your eyes I have decided to break this into 2 parts – #’s 1-5 and #’s 6-11. I imagine that this list will seem sufficient to me as I publish it and will seem lacking after I read it again a few days later. Let’s simply consider this a list as opposed to the list of reasons why I believe kids are so much faster and faster in such greater numbers than at any other time in US history.

We had way better music in the 90’s though. Like, way, way, way better.

Without further ado, I give you 1-5…

#1 – The Internet – The fact that teens can read about, hear about and watch other teens racing from around the country is in my estimation the most significant reason for….ready….I have a great word….ready….the RUNAISSANCE! Seeing is often believing and seeing a kid from New Jersey or Illinios run 8:45 for 3200 means the kid from California needs to get out the door and hit the trails if he believed 8:50 was going to get the job done. Reading about that State Meet 8:45 race 6 weeks later in Track and Field News while relaxing on the beach on July 4th did not have the same effect. Thank you Flotrack, Dyestat, Milesplit and Runnerspace! (And thank you Track & Field News for treating our sport like it was a legitimate sport and not just an activity to lose weight like some magazines did in the 90’s)

#2 – NXN – Man oh man did we have some great runs when I was in HS about a mythical national championship for XC. The Harrier Magazine and its US Top 25 list edited by Marc Bloom was the closest thing we had to that imaginary race we prayed for. We’d talk trash about Mead HS of WA and York HS of IL, and wonder aloud and angrily why someone didn’t put together a TEAM championship like Foot Locker had done for individuals. Enter Nike. This would have been #1 on this list (which is not in order of importance) but I realize that much of the press and coverage and build up in terms of excitement for NXN is done online. The quality of HS teams on the Boys and Girls side has risen dramatically in the last 10 years. NXN is to blame (if your team is falling behind) or to be commended (if your team has moved ahead) for being an integral part of that rise in quality.

#3 – NBIN and NBON These meets have been around longer than NXN. The New Balance Indoor and Outdoor National Championships have become the Track & Field meet of the season. In the past, like ancient history 1980’s, there were a series of Invitationals around the country where the elite of the elite HS runners competed in June. They have for the most part disappeared. The NBON and NBIN have now given a date, time and place for the elite athletes to have their showdown. If you get enough studs together you can make some real noise. Ask Oppenheimer.

#4 – Coaches that listened to Pearl Jam – If you ran during the 90’s there are a couple of traits that you picked up. One, you listened to Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Two, you ran slow but thought you were good. Three, you developed an inferiority complex about runners from the 70’s and early 80’s. Four, you went to college and got tired of Americans sucking on the world scene. Five, you eventually learned that you did not work hard enough in HS. Six, you realized that you could coach kids to work harder than you did and not make all the mistakes that the guys in the 70’s and 80’s made. Seven, you have an affinity for making lists.

#5 – Bob Kennedy He kept the light on when all around him the night was creeping in. Thank you BK. If you don’t know who he is shame on you. If you do but really don’t then take the time to learn. You can’t truly be great in this sport at any level if you are not a fan and a knowledgeable fan at that.

That does it for PART I. Click here to read PART II of What’s Wrong With These Kids

 

Blue is the Trackest Color

A little over a month ago I asked someone that I believe is one of the smartest and funniest people I know to write a guest column for RUNonsense. He agreed. I cheered. Then I waited. A little over a month later I get an article on the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix meet that took place a little over a month ago. It was worth the little over a month wait. Tyler Hopsnatz (not his real name) gives you his critical take on the TV coverage, the meet itself, track & field and a number of totally (un)related subjects. I hope you enjoy and I hope you and I both won’t have to wait, yes, a little over a month longer for another. Cheers, CB

 

Bennett asked me to write something for his netsite. Presumably his servers can’t handle the overwhelming traffic and he needs to offend off some readers.

Not really. Please keep reading. We need the hits.

The one condition was I had to write about running. But running is kinda boring. Someone should really figure out how to make it less boring. Bennett, get on it. In wracking my brain, I couldn’t come up with an interesting running-related topic, much less an interesting angle on that interesting topic. So I took the easy way out and wrote a diary of the Boston indoor meet. I can blatantly steal a Bill Simmons column idea if it’s about a Boston event, right?

Sunday, 9 February 2014

6:00 PM – What, you thought I was going to spend my Saturday afternoon watching track? It’s Sunday night, I’ve got some laundry on and my landlord and the plumber are working on unclogging the pipe that drains my sink (that’s not a metaphor, I swear. My sink really is clogged. Why won’t anyone believe me?). A perfect time to pull up the meet on TiVo. One of the great things about track’s fledgling popularity is it took zero effort to avoid seeing results. ESPN partially ruined the men’s downhill by telling me Bode Miller didn’t medal, but all I had to do was not pull up Letsrun to not find out Rupp ran 3:47.

6:01 PM – Since I’m writing a meet diary, I told myself I wouldn’t fast-forward except commercials. My resolve is immediately tested when they lead with the women’s 60.

6:02 PM – Fast-forward

6:03 PM – I brought it back to real speed for the commercials. Just wanted to note that these appear to be real commercials, not the infomercials they normally show for track meets and World’s Strongest Man re-runs at 3 AM on ESPNU. This means someone is paying to advertise for a track broadcast. The sport is doing fine. Bennett, what the hell are you complaining about?

6:04 PM – Men’s 60. Joe Morris in lane 3. Bennett has his poster so we know he’ll be rooting for him. The Rock in lane 7. Loved him in Pain and Gain, but not sure if the upper body mass he gained for the roll will translate well to the dash.

6:06 PM – Tim Hutchings behind the mic, huge improvement from the guy behind the mic for every other track and field broadcast of my life. Track will never have its own Phil and Paul, but Tim is a step in the right direction.

6:08 PM – Hey Bennett, I just saw a clip of Rupp signing some girl’s shirt after a race. Again, what the hell are you complaining about?

6:10 PM – Here are the Oscar movies I’ve seen so far:

• American Hustle

• Her

• Philomena

• The Wolf of Wall Street

• Blue Jasmine

• Inside Llewyn Davis (Okay, it wasn’t nominated, but it was better than American Hustle)

Here are the Oscar movies I still want to see:

• 12 Years a Slave

• Dallas Buyer’s Club

• Captain Phillips

• Gravity

Here are the movies that make every one of those movies seem like a high school A/V club project:

• Blue is the Warmest Color

Before I saw Blue is the Warmest Color, I thought Cate Blanchett was great in Blue Jasmine. Now she seems like a cartoon character. When she wins Best Actress, I’ll be rooting for Adele Exarchopoulos to Kanye her.

6:15 PM – When is Trautmann running? That article by Bennett has me pumped up to see him run 4:20. Who do you think would win between Trautmann and Cain? I’m glad we can’t bet on Track & Field. Gambling doesn’t make anything more fun.

6:20 PM – Rupp. Talking head with Rupp. Why don’t they do a talking head with Alberto, but after Hutchings takes him out for 6 beers? Bennett wants ratings, I’m just trying to help.

6:21 PM – Hold on, I’m going to go out to my local track and run once around in 60 seconds.

6:22 PM – The sad thing is I’m not sure I could do that anymore.

6:23 PM – <Pause> Is there any doubt Manzano is going to get shellacked here and then do the shellacking when qualifying spots/medals are on the line? <Play>

6:24 PM – Crack!

6:24:45 PM – What’s with the pace? I thought they were going after the world record?!?

6:25:50 PM – Galen, can I call you Galen? Mr. Rupp, with all due respect, what are you doing? You think you can outkick Willis off a slow pace?

6:26:05 PM – Oh. Nevermind.

6:26:50 PM – “Manzano right out the back door”. Well-called, Hopsnatz (and Hutchings)

6:27:30 PM – One of these guys has a silver medal. One of these guys is doing his own thing.

6:28 PM – Nice win by Willis, but let’s be honest. That race was a colossal letdown. Time for a 16 year old to redeem the telecast.

6:30 PM – Cain out in good position. Showing the field of veterans no respect. Love it.

6:33 PM – Cain is gonna rip the last 200

6:34 PM – OK, Bennett. I give. Mary Cain is awesome. I’ll get you a poster.

6:38 PM – Nice awkward step away by O’Brien after the Cain interview.

Greatest O’Briens of All Time (GOOATs….or GOBOATs?)

1. O’Brien from 1984. Don’t talk to him. Don’t even look at him. He will fu€¥ing break you. Then when you pledge allegiance to The Party, he’ll pull a sack of rats over your head.

2. Conan O’Brien. Lost his fastball with the Tonight Show fiasco, but lately seems to be back in good form. He’s pumping low-90s and painting corners. Meanwhile Fallon is dropping conversation turds every night and somehow he gets The Tonight Show. I guess if you’re looking for a Leno replacement it’s a good fit.

3. Pat O’Brien. Member of South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

4. Dan O’Brien. Olympic Gold medalist, Decathlon/Awkward Conversation Ending.

6:40 PM – 4 x 800 World Record Attempt™

6:42 PM – Scherer, you are killing Symmonds. 1:55?!?

6:44 PM – What’s with the different uniforms from guys on the same team? I bet it’s the shoe company’s fault. Bennett, get ‘em.

6:49:15 PM – WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

6:50 PM – They definitely should not have the 4 x 8 in the Olympics. Nothing exciting about it. The DMR would suck, too. As would betting on it.

6:51 PM – That’s it from The Reggie. Yes, I’m in on The Reggie.

In – The Reggie, Cain, 4 x 800, Hutchings, Willis

Out – Rupp, Brooks Beasts, O’Brien interviews, not showing Trautmann’s race

– Tyler Hopsnatz

Warning! Read Before Running!

When my wife and I were expecting our first child I’m pretty sure we read just about every book and magazine article we could find on being a parent, the baby, the birth, the months leading up to, the months immediately after, the must have products, the must nots, and so much more that I can’t even remember. We were not nervous. We were not ignorant. We were just excited. Almost all the information was bunk, as it usually is, but we did enjoy reading about it all. Over the last 11 years I have joked with my wife, half-joked really, that we should write a book about what really happens when you become a parent. Guaranteed best seller.

Someday.

For now I am content with writing something for those people out there contemplating becoming a runner. So I asked myself what a non-runner needs to expect if he or she takes those first steps, if she does, in fact, become a runner. I’m going to steer clear of post-long-run-endorphin-crazed ramblings or talk of running highs or magical final straightaways right now. I believe it is best for newbies to experience those in the moment, in shock. I think it is best to let them know what happens, really happens, to all of us runners when we are not floating through glorious sun-drenched trail runs. If they think they can stomach this kick-ass sport after reading what comes next then give them their star and deputize.

They obviously could have taken on a far easier sport but have chosen instead to run. At least they will have been warned.

Here we go:

Sometimes people will crap themselves when they run. That person may be you.

Your new shoes will get dirty. Dodging puddles is a waste of time. Get your shoes dirty. Be done with it. This is not a Road Runner Sports Catalogue.

This is not a fashion show. That being said, it is also not a basketball game or the family backyard Thanksgiving touch football game. Buy some running shoes – real ones, from a running store for crying out loud. And ditch the knee length shorts. If you want to be a runner then be a runner! There are some really great companies out there that make some really great running clothes. They can make you look as cool as you can possibly look while basically suffering for extended period of time. You will feel better about yourself and you will feel like a runner when you wear the clothes made for runners by companies that cater to runners. Buy from those companies and from those stores.

So you may need to change your shopping and viewing habits. Support the sport by supporting those that support the sport. Universal Sports. Oiselle. New Balance. Brooks. Nike. Running Times. Track & Field News. Balega. Flotrack. Running Specialty Stores. They have all stepped up to help running and Track & Field. By paying them back you will be paying your sport back and in turn yourself. Champion and Wilson and Izod can have your business when they start doing business with your sport.

You will get aches and pains. Alot of them. Actually, it is rare that you will not have something bothering you at least a little bit. You don’t always have to take off because something is hurting either. Remember, there is a difference between hurting and being hurt. Knowing the difference is essential. So, realize now that YOU know yourself better than anyone else. Use running to learn about your body.

It’s usually your inability to understand yourself that gets you injured. It’s probably not the shoes, or the road, or the trail or the pace or Alberto Salazar or the hill or the wind or rain or snow or the article or the song that was on while you were running on the treadmill. Getting hurt is usually because of you. Staying healthy? You can take credit for that too.

A good massage for almost anyone other than a runner feels good. A good massage for a runner hurts. It does not hurt good no matter what John Cougar Mellencamp says. It is deep and painful and does not involve the massage therapist talking about Odwalla drinks while Enya is being played.

Sometimes you will pull a muscle except you won’t. It will only be a cramp. You will scream and embarrass yourself. You will be carried back to your car. You will contemplate quitting the sport. You will sheepishly be back running with the crew in a few days.

Ice baths are not fun. If the water is the correct temperature then your toes should feel like they are about to explode until they go numb. Ice baths may not be fun but they are worth taking.

You will get in shape to get in shape quicker than you will get in shape.

When you are finally in shape you will have runs that make you feel like you are in the worst shape of your life.

You will have a hard time dealing with the fact that improvement should be measured by the improvement on your crappy days and not the improvement on your good days.

Don’t run to lose weight. At least not the weight you measure on a scale. Running will not work for you unless you love it and if you are running for any other reason other than your love for it then running just won’t love you back. Try to use running to be a better runner. Believe me, you will become a better person in the process. And if that happens then those weights you want to lose both on the scale and off will disappear. Jacob Marley was not a runner. He should have been.

When you at your best you will be running on a thin line between greatness and sickness/injury.

Many of the runs you go on you will not want to do.

Many of the runs you want to go on will become runs you don’t want to finish.

Still want to be a runner? After all of this? Do ya?

I hope you do

We runners know these things because we learned these things over miles and miles and through aches and pains and the flu and bad races and terrible runs and goals not met. We’ve been through all of this. We kept running. We want you to know that we kept running. You need to know that. And if you really, truly want to be a runner, then you will need to learn these things yourself as you run your own miles.

No one said it would be easy. That was the one thing about running you already knew.

And isn’t that why you showed up in the first place?

Sympathy for the Devil

Shouted out who killed the Kennedys?

When after all

It was You and Me

-Sympathy for the Devil, Rolling Stones

If you count yourself as a fan in any way, shape or form then you probably have heard about the controversy at the USATF Indoor Track Championships surrounding the Women’s 3000m. Gabe Grunewald of Brooks Running won the race after some seemingly innocuous contact with Jordan Hasay with 170m to go. A yellow flag went up meaning the official on the turn saw contact. The head official discussed the call with the turn official and they agreed it was not worthy of a DQ. Anyone who has ever raced, especially indoors, already knew that. Grunewald was clearly the class of the field over the last 200m contact or not. Long story short as many of you I’m sure already know (and those that don’t can do your due diligence here and here and here) Grunewald’s victory was then protested by Alberto Salazar and the protest was denied. Somehow a third protest was made and the DQ was handed down to Grunewald.

I don’t want to write about yesterday. What I really want to do is make the point that yesterday was merely the harvest coming in. We have sown this crop over decades and now we are dealing with it. We, the fans, are to blame. So, I would like to apologize to Gabe. It has been year after year of apathy by all of us that has led to this.

We bitch to each other about TV coverage and never call or email anyone who can do something.

We complain that the Millrose Games left MSG but we did that from our couch instead of from a seat in MSG.

We complained about Americans never being any good on the World stage but we never thought to help fund the few teams that existed in the 90’s to support them.

Now we are good on the World stage and we question every fast time that gets run.

We want more coverage online but we scream in protest when someone lays the money down to do that coverage and has the audacity to charge us to watch.

We scream when we find out someone is guilty of PED use but we stay silent when they coach the next generation.

We wonder why past generations had the Jim Ryuns and Steve Prefontaines on magazine covers but we are too cheap to subscribe to a magazine like Track & Field News that actually covers the sport and too lazy to write to a magazine like Sports Illustrated and tell them to cover the sport.

We sat back and watched the sport die. We watched and we did nothing. We never gave a sponsor a good reason to be involved.

So, Nike stepped up. They became the lifeline because there was no one else who could, because no one else wanted to. Without them we would not even have a sport to bitch about. Then we handed them the keys because we no longer cared to drive the sport ourselves. Soon, we were not even sitting shotgun. We’re hitch hiking now.

All of this is our fault.

But, now, we need to get up off our asses and do something.

The USATF has always been a JV organization tasked with doing a Varsity job. They need to be held accountable. Now is not the time to let that USATF membership lapse. Now is the time to renew or join. Then open your mouth as a member.

Now is not the time to throw away your Nikes. Now is the time to let Nike know that if they want to keep you in the swoosh they need to change the way they wield their power. Let them know they have the power to fix so much of this and if they do, well, they will have your continued loyalty. If not….

Now is also the time to see if Brooks Running or New Balance or upstart Oiselle are willing to take on a larger role. Are they? If the last twelve months indicate anything it is that they are.

Now is not the time to turn off your TV set. Now is the time to watch the coverage and then email, tweet, write, call NBC and truly voice what is wrong with the broadcast.

But before all of that, NOW is the time to apologize, all of us, the fans. We’re sorry. We have let this sport suffer. We fell asleep.

But, now we’re awake.