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I’m very behind in my reading, there’s no hiding it. I’m not even going to pretend I’m current with this one. Soooooo…did anybody else see the article on Renato Canova in the September issue of Running Times (Canova 101, pg 38)?

I’ll admit I didn’t know much about him or his methods until I was putting together the Negative Splits piece featuring Brandon Newbould. Coincidentally that was also included in the latest issue of Level Renner, so the timing couldn’t have been better. Anyway, that’s a good example of someone implementing Canova’s methods into their own training. There’s input from Dan Hocking is definitely worth reading, and there are also hyperlinks to even more information in the original Negative Splits piece that we couldn’t include in the magazine.

Anyway, back to the Running Times article, if you don’t get The Times you can see it here. It’s definitely worth a read. In doing more searches it seems there’s quite a bit of information out there on Canova.

As I’ve mentioned over and over again, I’ve been unable to run for some time now but should get clearance to soon. The time away has given me a moment or two to analyze my own training and look for ways to improve it. I’m eager to get back at it and implement a lot of what I read here. It just makes more sense to me than Lydiard’s approach and periodization. Not to say there’s nothing to it, because it’s clearly worked for many people. There were a few times that I tried to follow Lydiard’s plan but could never follow through. Maybe I just lacked the patience to do the base phase the right way? I’d like to say there was some intricate plan where I used (what I thought to be) the best of Lydiard’s and Canova’s approaches, but in reality it was more of an impulse-driven attempt at self-coaching that worked to varying degrees.

So now I throw it out to you , Level Legion. Has been training using Canova’s philosophy? Did anybody read the article feel the need to change what they were doing? Chime in on the comments below, of Facebook or on Twitter.

Speaking of which, have you liked our FB page? Are you following us on Twitter? Every click helps, even if you’re just doing it of sympathy. We’ll take it! Our goal is to hit 1,000 FB page likes and 500 twitter followers by the end of the year. We’re within striking distance of those goals, so thanks for all the support!

Level Franchise in Kentucky?

I run into mini-bouts of insomnia from time to time. Okay, maybe not full blown insomnia, but the sleep is hard to come by. Combine that with my healthy love of the movie (and book) Fight Club, and it makes my imagination run wild. I’d be lying if I wasn’t secretly hoping to find other Level Renner cells set up when I got to Kentucky to cover the club cross country nationals. “Have I been here before?” I’d ask. They’d reply with, “is this a test, sir?” Yes!

I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

Okay, I’ll ease up on the Fight Club references in the off chance that there are any non-Fight Club fans out there reading this. Assuming Tyler Durden hasn’t been making trips to KY and setting up shop, I’ll be out there (solo) taking care of business. That doesn’t mean I’ll be alone. As you can see from this list here, there are plenty of local teams and runners that’ll be out there. In fact the number is much greater than I initially thought as I was reminded that a couple more of the Greats will be out there: Greater Lowell Road Runners (aka the Angry Chickens) and the  Greater Springfield Harriers.

While everyone is going out there focused and determined, we’re only human and naturally some fun will be had after the race. As one anonymous Wolfpack member so eloquently put it:

“Please make the Level piece something that tells the tale from the start line, to the finish, and far beyond. I’d say some Saturday night video interviews would prove useful for future referencing while painting the true picture of what taking part in Nationals is all about. After all, aren’t we all just Galen Rupps who drank in college?

Side note: since I offered the Saturday video idea I would appreciate no videos be captured of my night, but if KY is anything like Charlotte I’d imagine some Facebook defense will be required on my part come December 9th.

This should be a good one.

Oh, and the nightlife after Nats is the only time when not respecting the process is actually respecting the process. The meaning inverses somewhere between 8k and 10k depending on how your race is going…

In the meantime; respect the process.”

– #AnonymousOnTheLevel

You can’t see it, but a single tear just rolled down my cheek. That…was…beautiful. He (or she?) couldn’t have said it any better. An epic post-race gathering could get more people thinking about getting involved in cross and making the trip to Nationals. How could it not? We might not be able to totally transplant the Whip City vibe all the way out there, but I’m sure there are suitable alternatives.

Now, to the ugly side of the business. Every year hundreds of journalists freeze or starve to death while covering club nationals. Please don’t let EJN become another statistic. For about the cost of an airline ticket, a hotel room and a couple of reasonably priced meals, you could adopt a struggling “journalist” and provide him with an airline ticket, a hotel room and a couple of reasonably priced meals. If your business steps up, you’ll get credit on all posts we do for this event (even throw in some status updates and tweets). To sweeten the pot, it also comes with an ad in the next issue of Level Renner.

Leduc Explains It All

We put up a couple of links to some health-related articles on our Facebook page yesterday. Rob Leduc provided some excellent comments on those links. For the effort that went into those comments, they seemed worthy of their own blog post. So here are the article links accompanied by Rob’s take on them.

First up was this article on the possibility of chiropractic treatments increasing speed in runners:

Can Chiropractic Improve Running Speed?

Rob’s comment: By trade, I’m a clinical trials statistician. While I’m not a medical professional of any kind, nor do I have experience in chiropractic studies, I do have a lot of experience in general methodology and the interpretation of studies.

First, I want to say that this study is particularly well written. It is very easy to gather from the article what the authors were trying to do and how they went about it. The authors are clear that this is a pilot study to see if it is worth doing a larger study, but not likely to establish good evidence for the treatment due to the small numbers of participants relative to the amount of variability in the variables to be measured. Their practices in conducting the study as described are first rate.

Secondly, this study is of healthy runners, and relatively good ones (1500m in just over 4 min). It is not about treatment for injury. The question under study is whether manual chiropractic treatments designed to improve hip extension performed on healthy participants will result in greater running velocity; in particular, velocity measured over 30m when the participants are already moving at top speed (they had 30m to accelerate first before the 30m that were measured). So this study won’t say whether chiropractic treatment to rehabilitate injury or dysfunction is useful or not – it’s not the point of this study.

Third, the effect measured by the study is not that large unless you’re a pretty competitive runner already. Here I may be disagreeing with the authors, in spite of their Cohen’s d-statistic. A larger study may produce a different result, but we have some idea of efficacy from this pilot study. On average, the treatment group in the study improved their times over 30m at top speed by 0.06 seconds, which was not significantly different from the control group who did not receive therapy. However, if that change held constant over a 5K, we’re talking about a 10 second improvement. At best, based on the .135 second decrease at the edge of the confidence interval, we’re talking 22 or 23 seconds; a bigger effect, but an optimistic projection. These changes would be of interest to someone running sub-20 5K’s, but not for the average running boom duffer. Additionally, we actually don’t know that we can extrapolate to 5Ks like this; the actual measurement was of sprinting 30m and the effect on distance running was not measured by the study.

Finally, the authors do point out that there may be risks to such a treatment. In the introduction, they state that chiropractic treatment of asymptomatic individuals is not considered appropriate or justified by evidence, although many athletes seek such treatment. They also point out there can be too much of a good thing – too many of these treatments in a short time period may be risky. For this reason, in their inclusion/exclusion criteria for the study, they do not allow any participant to enroll if they have had such manual therapy. It would take a larger study and possibly longer term follow-up over repeated treatments to identify these kinds of problems.

I am confident from this article that the researchers are capable, but what they have shown so far is that their treatment increases the range of motion in the hip. The difference in change in 30m velocity between the two groups was consistent with chance variation, i.e. was not statistically significant, and larger studies are required to give concrete evidence of even this level of benefit.

Next was the much talked about WSJ article on how too much running could kill you:

One Running Shoe In The Grave

Rob’s comment:  I’ve read this in the popular press, but haven’t seen any of the real research. The WSJ is not a good source for scientific information. They have a well established agenda against requiring randomized trials for health claims, for example.

I’ve checked Heart online, and it doesn’t appear that the editorial is available yet; even if WSJ has an advance copy, they don’t give a reference to what the “other study” is. But I’m highly suspect of the results as reported – it smells a lot like cherry picking of the data.

It’s possible that there can be too much of a good thing, but I doubt they have the numbers of participants at a high enough ability to make these kinds of claims; even if they did, association is not causation.

And let everyone be assured, I am no elite marathoner with an axe to grind here.

Lastly, there was an article that came out as a response to the WSJ piece:

The Too-Much-Running Myth Rises Again

Rob’s comment: I’ll be interested to see the Heart editorial next month and look up the other studies it refers to. At best at this point in the research there is a statistical association, but association is not causation. Additionally, these associations can be spurious, subject to confounding variables and biases caused by the method of selection of study participants. It’s a very tricky business.

We love it when members of the Legion get involved in what we do, keep it up!

A Dictionary for Talking to British Runners

Guest blog by Diana Davis

Here is a quick guide, in case you happen upon some British runners and wish to make yourself understood, or wish to understand what they are saying to you.

American: My goal is just to finish.
British: My aim is just to get ’round.

American: The course is hilly, with a muddy part.
British: The course is undulating, with a boggy bit.

American: Wear your team singlet.
British: Wear your club vest.

American: Good job!
British: Well done!

American: How did you do?
British: How did you get on?

American: I was fifth.
British: I came fifth.

American: That race sucked.
British: That race was rubbish.

American: There’s a workout on Tuesday.
British: There’s a session on Tuesday.

American: They gave me lots of running clothes.
British: They gave me loads of kit.

American: Race against Cambridge
British: Take on the dirty Tabs.

Merely so that others will understand what I am saying, I now talk like this as best I can. I will try to change back when I return to the U.S., or else I’ll be both trendy and annoying.

Originally appeared in Diana Davis’ blog on 11/1/12.

Crawley Going to Nationals!

Trevor Crawley (Cumberland, RI) is going to Footlocker Nationals! This one damn near slipped by us, but thanks to Jim Dandeneau we can give Trevor a little credit. I guess enough time has passed where this former Smithfield Sentinel can give some credit to a runner from a division rival (Cumberland High).

According to Jim, “Trevor’s dad Mike Crawley was an Allstate runner in high school for Shea high school (Class of 1981) and was one of the best RI road runners of his generation (went on to run for CMS). Chris Magill works out with Trevor occassionally…real good kid. Only five RI kids have ever qualified (Haupt 1980, Pieroni 1984, Magill 1989, Springer 2008).”

It looks like Cumberland coach Tom Kenwood keeps cranking out the winners. Back in my day (class of ’97 baby!), he had solid guys like Tom Reedy and two time state champ Jay Champi (’95 & ’97). In fact, if it wasn’t for a knee injury during the ’96 season (if memory serves me correct) then maybe Champi would have been a three time champion. Jerry Bonner picked up where those guys left off and won it all in ’98. I believe the win for Bonner was in his freshman year, but then he sadly had to walk away from the sport for health reasons. We were lucky to have all three of those guys run for our club team, the Sentinel Striders (for Junior Olympic competitions).

Anyway, enough about the old days, it’s Crawley’s time now! Here’s an excellent article on Trevor:

Clippers’ Crawley prepares for Foot Locker Nationals

For a write up more about the Northeast Regional race, click here. You can also find complete boys results here and girls results here.

Qualifiers from New England (boys):

2nd – Jonathan Green – Berlin, MA – 15:36.8
6th – Trevor Crawley – Cumberland, RI – 15:47.3
8th – Chris Alvarado – Fairfield, CT – 15:49.1

Qualifiers from New England (girls):

1st – Catarina Rocha – Peabody, MA – 17:49.5

A nice write up on Rocha can be found here. The top ten made it in each race. Only one qualifier of the ten girls was from New England, but if you’re only going to have one then you can’t do much better than the regional champion!

Cover shot is courtesy of Kimberly Chilinski (not from the Footlocker race, but another high school race).


Guest blog by Josh Ferenc

It’s like being single again. Thinking about what I’m going to say and how I’m going to say it. I decided to rev up my repertoire and enlighten the cyber sphere. You’re welcome.

The past month has been a cussing cuss show. I was sicker than I had ever been in my existence on earth in this lifetime and I’m just starting to feel bits and pieces like me. It wasn’t so much the Lyme’s disease that cussed me, it was the spinal meningitis, I hate that guy. Once I started to look NOT like Sloth from the Goonies (“Hey you guys…”) and the paralysis went away (I was still too pretty), was when I made the turn for the better. Twenty-one straight days of intense IV meds blew!!! Although, I won the hearts of a few middle aged nurses and they fed my crackers of graham and saltine and supplied me with as much apple juice I could throw down in the 40 min it took to leak all the IV into my temple.

Supposedly I need to take it easy, but if I did things the easy way, it wouldn’t be me.

Ferenc finishing up at the 2012 VCM, courtesy of Scott Mason

I’d like to thank all those who sent their thoughts my way, it was much appreciated and valued. I truly believe in transcendental energy and it helped. For any haters, that helps just as much, so thank you and cuss yourself. For the 6 people that read this, spread the word: Ferenc is motivated.

I was able to run the day before Thanksgiving, a whole GD cuss mile. Results were immediate: I thought I was going to die by my heart pounding out of my chest.

Day 1: huge success.

I then took the day of thanks off and relaxed with the fam. Black Friday was a decent day and probably the happiest day I had by myself this whole last month.

I took the girls to Grafton, and hit up the power lines with the mountain bike. It’s wicked hilly but a fun run. I was praying that the power lines would sent waves to my brain and kill off the rest of the cuss that’s giving me headaches (results are inconclusive). I rode 10 miles in around 2 hours. It was cussing awesome. It was a great day and brought a months worth of self reflections and life thinking to a new level. The girls were great and loved every second we shared outside.

Day 2: Bangarang

Sunday brought a morning without a headache, so naturally, it was a run day. I laced up my new La Sportiva Vertical K’s (which will get your life hard they are so awesome) and hit the trail behind the house for a “test trial” 3 miler.

My main goal was to go very very very slow. I checked my watch at the end of the first hill and I was wildly fast. Cuss yea! I ended up running normal pace and was relaxed. I thanked the holy of holiness in the universe for a great day.

Day 3: mashed potatoes kind of party.

Today, Monday, brought me feeling good (slight headache) to GP for some trails with the girls. I was going to do 3, but once I was out there I didn’t want to stop. Breathing was tight, but the air was cold, and everything else was in place. I hustled the Lady of the Wood to let me have 5 miles and she was down (Mother Nature is rooting for me, never betray her).

Day 4: Tom Bombadil would be proud.

Overall, I got over my being ravished and I’m slowly feeling more like me… More confidant in my abilities than Kim Jong-il’s at golf, prettier than Brad Pitt in Fight Club, more magical than Hermoine Granger in the bedroom working with MY Ollivander’s and sexier than SK ;) ! BOOM! That’s what’s happening in the wilds of VT…

Words just can’t describe how awesome that was. Thanks to Josh for letting us use this. It was originally published on his blog here. If you like this, be sure to check out Josh’s Q&A session in the latest issue of Level Renner.

See Y’all in Kentucky

We’re going. That’s it. Plane tickets have been purchased. Level Renner can not be contained, can not be stopped. We will be at cross country club nationals in spectacular Lexington, KY on December 8th, covering the runners of clubs such as Greater Boston Track Club, Western Mass Distance Project, Boston Athletic Association, Dirigo RC, New Balance Boston, and possibly even Central Park Track Club.

It was just too great of an opportunity to pass up. Who wouldn’t want to go to Kentucky…in December…and freeze? Sounds bleepin’ glamorous to me! Our razor thin budget doesn’t really allow for things like airfare, hotel rooms and food. To make up for that, I will be jammed into a large dog crate and stowed away with all the checked bags on the flight. For food, I’ll consume nothing but packets of oatmeal and raman noodle. As far as sleeping goes, well, let’s just say that sleeping in a bed on the road would be akin to selling out. No, no, no, that just won’t do. We need to adhere to our punk rock style, which means most likely I’ll end up sleeping on the floor of someone’s hotel room. Rock ‘n’ roll!

Start of XC NE’s (Men’s Open), courtesy of Joe Navas

Expect a lot of updates on this, including posting and tweeting from the road whenever possible. The coverage should be epic. There needs to be a plank-off happening at some point during this trip (chugging optional?). If there’s wifi in the hotel, maybe we can do a live feed via some sort of internet wizardry? Who knows? The Kentucky sky’s the limit.

Attention any businesses, stores or people who look and act like the monopoly man, this is your chance to be part of it all: we are looking for someone to sponsor all of this. The race is Saturday, December 8th in Lexington, Kentucky. The sooner we can reach an agreement, the sooner that your business can name can start getting plugged. Even this one could’ve been sporting somebody’s logo. Yup. Just think of all those viewers that could’ve been alerted to the sale at Wilson’s Widgets at the same time that they learned of the Level’s trip. To sweeten the pot, whoever sponsors this will also get a complimentary ad in the next issue of Level Renner. We’re surprisingly affordable, contact us to talk details.

Willard’s Wild Adventure

Guest blog by Lindsay Willard

This past Sunday, Lindsay Willard (BAA) ran in the Tough Ten Mile Turkey Trot in Marlborough, MA. It ended up turning into one of those days that many of us fear, but fortunately only few of us (relatively) have experienced. A Facebook post caught my attention:

After seeing that I needed to find what exactly happened and Lindsay was nice enough to submit her story to The Legion.

A large troop of BAA club members headed out to Marlboro early Sunday morning to run for a great cause, the Tough Ten Mile Turkey Trot. The race was put on by the Highland City Striders in true old-school fashion: no bib numbers or prizes, just stickers with your name and town, and an entry fee of 10 canned foods to be donated to a local food pantry. It was the perfect time of year to gather with friends, give back to the community, and explore some beautiful New England neighborhoods.

Incredibly chilly at the start, many of us stretched in our cars, or just opted out of a formal warm-up to instead stay inside and away from the wind. We were bundled up to our ears instead of wearing traditional race jerseys, and it was supposed to be more of a fun tempo run day. But anyone who knows me knows that I have trouble holding back. And when the race director mentioned it would be a speedy first few miles before we headed into the painful hilly section, I decided to go for it. I knew the course record pace and thought I’d give my bum knees a test-drive. We cruised out of the park driveway and up our first hill. Although the race turned out record numbers compared to the usually small crowd of 100 in years past, we were all very spread out.

I sat between the 6th and 7th place runner the entire time. We plugged away under 6 minute mile pace for the first 6 miles – never changing order, and always a good minute spaced between each of us. I put my head down over the hills from miles 4-6 and just looked up to vaguely see another runner turn left or right. I got a bit concerned as I was crossing traffic lights and even a rotary without noticing any signs or volunteers after mile 7 on my watch. I thought I saw 2 runners pop into a gas station around mile 8, but I followed a distant green jersey that went right instead. I was actually thinking to myself at mile 9, that gosh I’m lucky I can just scarcely see the runners ahead to direct me. But then I was all alone as my watch hit the 10 mile finish mark…and I was nowhere near the park in Marlboro where we had started. I ran to 10.2, 10.4, thinking how some courses run long, but at 10.8 miles on my Garmin, I walked off the road and into a circle of houses and began ringing doorbells. The cold, the wind, the lack of water, losing the course record since I wasn’t on the course anymore…all of this set in. No one answered their doorbells, so I jogged further down to an off ramp and flagged down an SUV. A kind father from Chelmsford was on his way with his son to a hockey tournament. I told him my story and he was unfamiliar with the area, but offered to drive me to the rink to get directions. So off we went.

At the hockey rink ticket office a gentleman googled the race name for me to help get an address and help me get my bearings. Another driver offered to drive me closer to town before the next hockey game ended. So I took a ride down Route 20 to a traffic circle, where I ran over to a Mobil gas station. No one at the 4 pumps was familiar with the park I was looking for, so I ran inside the Mart. I got some strange looks in my tights and all, inside the gas station, but the patrons were very helpful. A young man listening to my story knew exactly where I was headed, and delivered the unfortunate news that I was about 6 miles off course. The look of cold, sadness, and worry must have been very clear across my face, because the attendant at the Dunkin Donuts counter offered to take her 15 minute break to drive me back. I was overwhelmed with guilt, but extreme appreciation. These people didn’t know me, and I sure didn’t feel great taking rides from strangers – but I had to get there somehow.

Our speedy trip back to Marlboro was warm, dry, and filled with brief introductions between strangers. I felt such relief as we started to drive by runners finally. I asked this new friend to pull over anywhere, and I thanked her profusely. And there at the finish was my Dad, so thrilled to find me safe. I also learned that sadly, but less embarrassing, our entire lead pack of runners had gone off course and gone missing. Another runner limped in just after me, having dragged himself and extra five miles. It was a rough day for sure, but it ended with everyone getting home safe.

Once again, Dunkin Donuts to the rescue. Only thing that would’ve made the story even more remarkable is if the Dunkin employee whipped up a batch of hash browns for Lindsay for the car ride. Mmmmmm…hash browns…. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, things were certainly easier for Lindsay than they could’ve been. That’s a tough situation, for sure.

Cover shot on main page is of Lindsay in action at the Kerouac 5k back in September, courtesy of Krissy Kozlosky.

The 2012 Jingle Bell Run

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Rant against USATF NE “slates”

Guest Blog by Dave Dunham

The process of selecting the USATF New England Road Running Grand Prix is flawed. A few select individuals decide three equally unpalatable “slates” for us to choose from. Great races like the James Joyce 10km, the Canton 10km, the Lenox marathon, and the Middlebury Maple run ½ marathon aren’t even considered!

A few years ago the slate system was adopted because USATF NE thinks the general population will select races that may “conflict” with other races. I call bullshit on that! Each and every person who votes for the GP has their own agenda and their own list of races that they want to run. Why is some elite group sitting down (on an afternoon during the Veteran’s day holiday of all things) and deciding what is best for the membership? How many “Iron-runners” were invited? Was your club represented? Were the “active and top scoring clubs” invited? I think I know the answer to those questions.

Heck, the slates we’ve been given have conflicts with OTHER USATF NE events!!! The potential exists for a couple of weeknight races, talk about conflicts…I’m sure a lot of people out there can’t justify a weeknight race. How about a Thursday night downhill 5k 39 hours before the start of the Mt Washington road race (which is a perennial Team Event)? Yikes, that is going to hurt!

It really comes down to choices and each of us will make those choices based on our individual priorities. It would be great if we had ALL of the choices. If a race goes through the trouble of bidding for a championship we should all be allowed to at least consider the race.

What I’m calling for is for everyone who reads this to contact USATF NE (email addresses below) and tell them that you want OPEN VOTINGHave them do away with the slates and allow the most popular races as selected by the membership of USATF.

If we generate enough email traffic maybe USATF will listen to the members and make this important change.

Let USATF New England know that you are smart enough to vote on EACH distance. Tell them that “slates” are a bad idea. Let your voice be heard and maybe we can get this fixed for 2014.

Email the powers that be:


This was originally published on Dave Dunham’s personal blog on Friday, November 23, 2012. Original post can be found here, along with some additional comments by readers. You can also follow the Facebook thread on this that has some additional commentary this is also worth reading.

It’s good to see a discussion on this and hopefully it results in more people getting involved in the process.

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