Sunday, May 26, 2013

Steeple Advice

A few people have asked me about advice for the steeplechase.   I have no sports science or much of a coaching background, but here are the three things I think are unique and important to the steeplechase:

1.       Muscle.


Strength is an essential part of distance running, but I think it is especially important for steepling (This is not a word according to Microsoft Word, but let's make it one).  Some distance runners seem to float through their races without large muscles.  But with the steeple, I think a couple of good weightlifting sessions a week is necessary for reaching full capability on the track.  Yes, you are doing far more running than jumping, but those last couple of laps are going to be really hard if you don’t have strong enough muscles to get you efficiently over the barriers. 


I believe part of the reason I was able to have such a large PR earlier this spring is I put more of a focus on weightlifting, especially during the fall and winter.  I did a lot more Olympic lifts than I ever have before.  Not necessarily with a huge load, but enough to fatigue me.


2.       Technique.


Most of us distance runners are not known for our technical skills.  Otherwise, I think we would have been more likely to play team sports…the kind of sports people like to watch, and the ones where you get a break every once in a while.  The first time I went over a hurdle I looked like a chicken whose head had just been chopped off.  With lots more practice, I eventually became a decent hurdler, but I am still far from mastering the movement.  When I talked about really wanting to work on my hurdling technique a couple years ago, I was discouraged by a couple people, since improving my technique may only make a small difference in my time.  But I think the potential for even a little bit of gain is worth it.  This year I was able to get some individual help from former University of Minnesota teammates who had sprint hurdled, and I think the advice has helped a lot.


3.       Eating. 


Weight.  Calories.  Body fat percentage.  These are difficult issues to think about and discuss in relation to distance running.  Yes, having a low fat percentage will make you faster – to a point.  And that point is very difficult to determine.  You may cross the line and not feel the repercussions for a few months or even a couple years, but if you are too lean for too long, your body will break down.  


In the steeplechase, I think it is particularly important to stay on the healthy side of that line.  The pounding of hurdling, especially from the water pit, can make an athlete more likely to get injury.  This issue is exacerbated if the athlete is not eating enough.  The Americans I know who have had the longest and most successful steeplechasing careers are usually very fit, light and athletic, but also healthy looking.  The bottom line is your body has to be healthy enough to be able to take the impact of hurdling 28 times each race and often countless times in practice.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Scratch #2

I’m scratching for the second week in a row from a track race.  I was so excited to steeple at the Grand Prix in New York City.  It would have been my first Diamond League race, and I was looking forward for an opportunity to run a steeplechase before U.S. Outdoors, just to make sure my first race wasn’t a fluke.  But my ankle was still bugging me at the beginning of the week, so I decided not to run on an ankle that was less than 100%.  Thankfully, with lots of help from chiropractors and physical therapists, my ankle is feeling better mid-week.  I’m trying to figure out when I can get in a race before Outdoors.
At least I got some sweet furniture while hitting up garage sales this past weekend.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Late Scratch

I’m supposed to be in Los Angeles today for the Oxy High Performance Meet, but instead I’m stuck at home.  It was the smart thing to do – let a little injury heal before it gets any worse, but I want to race.  I’m hoping I’ll be ready to go for New York next weekend, especially since it would be my first Diamond League race, but I know the Outdoor Championships are what truly matter, so I have to continue to think long term.

Tonight should be fun anyways.  I’m planning to watch some Oxy action on FloTrack Live with my dad on his birthday.   

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Nicollet Mall Speed

As expected, the TC 1 mile was a lot of fun.  The night before the race, the Fazzio’s (Charlie is the TCM Head of the Board of Directors) had all the elite athletes over to their beautiful Lake Calhoun house for dinner.  It was entertaining to meet other runners and catch up with others.  The day of the mile, the elite athletes gathered again for a technical meeting and press conference.  I got to be part of the women’s panel for the conference, which was an honor, but also made me nervous.

The race itself was also as expected.  I knew going into the race I should be able to run a strong 1200m with the leaders, but would probably be left behind the last 400m, when everyone else would be able to switch into another gear.  I’ve been doing a lot of strength and long interval workouts so far this year, with only one speed workout.  From that one speed workout, I knew I do not have the speed endurance I have had in other season.  The race went exactly as I thought.  I lined up next to my teammate Heather Kampf, who was the defending champion.  I stayed even with her for the first 3/4, feeling good, and even pushing the pace a couple times.  But as soon as we passed the 1200m mark, game over.  I managed to hold off my roommate, Elizabeth Yetzer, who had a great race.

Next up, 1500m at Oxy!  Hoping the mile served as a good prep.


USA 1 Mile Road Championships                     



                       Female Awards List






    1    27 Sarah Brown              Atlanta        GEO  26   F    4:33.3

    2     4 Nicole Sifuentes         Plymouth       MIC  26   F    4:33.4

    3     1 Heather Kampf            Minneapolis    MN   26   F    4:34.1

    4     5 Gen Lacaze               Gainesville    FLO  23   F    4:35.0

    5     6 Phoebe Wright            Knoxville      TEN  24   F    4:36.7

    6    11 Kellyn Johnson           Flagstaff      ARI  26   F    4:37.5

    7     8 Jamie Cheever            Minneapolis    MN   26   F    4:39.7

    8    13 Elizabeth Yetzer         Lakeville      MN   25   F    4:40.7

    9    36 Hannah Wanjiru           Coon Rapids    MN   25   F    4:47.8

   10    10 Ashley Miller            Lincoln        NEB  24   F    4:48.2

   11    14 Clerc Simpson            Maple Grove    MN   26   F    4:49.4

   12     9 Meghan Peyton            Richfield      MN   27   F    4:52.8

   13    37 Laura Paulsen            Minneapolis    MN   24   F    5:05.7

   14    25 Andrea Rediger           Plymouth       MN   24   F    5:15.6


                    USA 1 Mile Road Championships                     



                        Men's Awards List                    






    1    51 Nick Willis              Ann Arbor      MIC  30   M    3:56.1

    2    57 Garrett Heath            Winona         MN   29   M    3:57.1

    3    62 MacKlin Chaffee          Boulder        COL  26   M    3:58.1

    4    52 William Leer             Wayzata        MN   28   M    3:58.5

    5    60 Craig Huffer             Boston         MAS  23   M    3:59.4

    6    50 Craig Miller             Colorado Sprin COL  25   M    3:59.7

    7    98 Duncan Phillips          Johnson City   TEN  23   M    4:04.2

    8    58 Scott Smith              Flagstaff      ARI  26   M    4:05.9

    9    54 Boaz Lalang              Tucson         ARI  24   M    4:06.2

   10    56 Jonathan Peterson        Roseville      MN   24   M    4:08.6

   11    90 Nahom Mesfin             Flagstaff      AZ   23   M    4:08.8

   12    61 MacK McLain              Golden         COL  24   M    4:09.6

   13    80 Elly Sang                Coon Rapids    MN   22   M    4:16.9

   14    97 Jordan Carlson           Inver Grove Ht MN   23   M    4:19.5

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

TC 1 Mile '13

I'm getting excited for a second crack at the TC 1 mile tomorrow evening (Thursday, May 9th) on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.  My University of Minnesota teammates and I would always enjoy biking to watch the race during college.  We loved watching the elite women and hoping someday we would get the opportunity to run so fast in the middle of a bustling city. 
Two years ago I got to run my first TC 1 Mile.  It was my first season running with Team USA, and I didn't run very fast, but I remember having so much fun running past some of my favorite restaurants and sights in the city.  Plus, my dad got to brag about beating me to the finish line since he ran in an earlier heat.
2013 Medtronic TC 1 Mile
Women’s Professional Start List
7:51 p.m.
Bib #     Name    Personal Best
1          Heather Kampf           4:27.3
4          Nicole Sifuentes          4:29.33
5          Gen LaCaze                4:32.19
6          Phoebe Wright            4:28.76*
8          Jamie Cheever           4:39.5
9          Meghan Peyton          4:40.5
10        Ashley Miller               4:39.51
11        Kellyn Johnson           4:34.41
13        Elizabeth Yetzer          4:43.12
14        Clerc Simpson            4:42.20*
25        Andrea Rediger           4:53.27*
27        Sarah Brown               4:29.72
28        Laura Paulsen             4:51.74
29        Hannah Wanjiru          - - -
Men’s Professional Start List
8:03 p.m.
Bib #    Name    Personal Best
50        Craig Miller                  3:56.41
51        Nick Willis                   3:50.66
52        William Leer                3:56.39
53        Boaz Lalang                3:52.18
54        Jon Peterson               4:00.05*
57        Garrett Heath              3:55.24
58        Scott Smith                 4:06.9
59        Duncan Phillips           4:00.02
60        Craig Huffer                3:53.5
61        Mack McLain              4:02.70
62        Macklin Chaffee         3:58.80
80        Elly Sang                     3:59.1
89        Jordan Carlson           4:03.81
90        Nahom Tariku Mesfin             4:01.34
* Denotes converted 1500-meter performance
I like cupcakes:
Photo: Two for the road.