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Showing posts from April, 2011

Teaching and Training

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It's the end of the semester, and it's time to reflect on the work that one does as a teacher. My running has suffered a bit this spring, but it's because I've been working a lot on my other passion, which is philosophy.

Though I know that most of the folks who read this blog are runners, I thought that some reflections on teaching wouldn't be inappropriate, as connections can be drawn between the sort of intelligence that it takes to train well and the sort of intelligence it takes to teach well. Both are difficult and vague tasks, they require listening as much or more than knowing. Both also take a sort of faith that things really are working. The material that the teacher works with is much like the body--dark, resistant to intelligent control, possessed of wild and diverse instincts. Just like students, our bodies have minds of their own, our relationship with them has to be as receptive and open as it is controlling and directive, and the best training depen…

"Both/And": the science and soul of running

I was inspired by the tremendous running by friends, elites, and virtual training buddies in Monday's Boston Marathon. The event was a perfect storm of marathon geekery, as Americans Desi Davila and Ryan Hall ran well, a world's best was run, and there was that wonderful tailwind that added a little twist to everything.

The tailwind has been analyzed now for a few days. Two accounts of the effect of the tailwind stand out for their excellence. They each capture a side of the sport--its "double barreled" nature as William James would have put it.

The first is from the always reliable Science of Sport blog. I encourage you to read it. They argue that the wind gave the top runners a 3-4 minute advantage. In particular, the scientists there do an excellent job of talking about their method of analysis, which is actually historical, rather than "empirical." Philosophers, take note!

The second analysis I will copy here below. It was written by the anonymous poster …

Gilmore and Squires

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Peter Gilmore is retiring.

For some reason, he always struck me as the runner's runner.

Here's the link to his blog. It's got the nice line:"My running heroes have always been the soul runners, who love running for nothing more than the feeling of the wind in their face. Guys like Bill Rodgers and Dick Beardsley who still run every chance they get."

Bill Rodgers and Dick Beardsley were both coached by Bill Squires. There was a nice article on Coach Squires in the recent Running Times. I read it with interest, as I used his book Speed With Endurance to prepare for my last marathon, and I ran a PR. It's worth a look.


I've never met Squires, but from what I've heard he was in a certain sense the anti-Salazar. He wasn't obsessive or concerned with the latest gizmo. His athletes had a hard time even understanding what his workouts were. I guess this was because he knew that true distance runners are a flighty bunch. You could tell them what to do or not …

Musings on a Competitive Culture

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From a local message board, the common criticism of participation medals:
"Everyone's a winner... we are raising a nation of mediocrity."
While a "nation of mediocrity" may be the result of our intentions, I think that the message culture sends to individuals and especially young folks is loud and clear. If there is a cultural dogma today that everyone believes, it is they must achieve at the very highest levels in order to be a successful member of society. In my practice as an academic adviser, it has become clear to me that young people today hear adults talk about competitiveness and winning ad nauseam, and they are afraid that they won't be strong enough to survive. See, for example, the trailer for the movie "Race to Nowhere."

The effect of dogma, all too often, is contrary to the intentions that motivate it. The young person, upon hearing this lesson, rationally and intelligently surveys his abilities. When these abilities turn out to be more …