CROSS-COUNTRY

Posted: March 25, 2021 by coachwestbrook in Uncategorized

My high school alma mater, Trion High School, had it’s CROSS-COUNTRY AWARDS NIGHT on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. The above were the recipients of program’s first “THE RUNNER” AWARDS. The awards are explained by the following inscription:

IN RECOGNITION OF THOSE INDIVIDUAL CROSS-COUNTRY RUNNERS WHO HAVE DISPLAYED A LOVE OF THE RUN, DEDICATION TO THE SPORT, CAMARADERIE WITH TEAMMATES, AND HAVE GONE THE EXTRA MILE AND MORE TO MAKE THEMSELVES A BETTER RUNNER, AND IN SO DOING, WILL BECOME PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY AND SPIRITUALLY…A BETTER VERSION OF THEMSELVES.

The award winners were (left to right): Eli Hutchins, freshman; Briana Lathem, sophomore.

Congratulations to Briana and Eli on being awarded the program’s first “THE RUNNER” AWARD!

***A note on the awards: I was able to attend just a few of the school’s cross-country meets. When at the meets, I usually position myself out on the course somewhere in the middle of the race distance. The runners are usually out-of-sight of coaches and parents in that “middle.” As I did in my 44 years of cross-country coaching, I can see what runners are giving their best while away from the crowd. I can observe which runners have that drive to keep pushing themselves to move up in the order or to defend their present position. A lot of runners will just “maintain” or “survive” that middle mile until they get back into view of the coaches and crowd and closer to the finish. “The Runner” will be better than that.

I had two names in mind for these awards from observing those few meets. But, I left the choice to the coaches since they knew their runners better than I. I didn’t want to sponsor an award and then choose two non-deserving runners as recipients because of my lack of observing most of the racing season.

But, the coaches picked the runners that I had in mind from my minimal meet attendance. The two runners obviously kept their determined running throughout the season. That makes for two runners with a good future with only themselves limiting their improvement.

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“For when I run, I am the hunter, and the prey is my self, my own truth.”

Dr. George Sheehan: Running and Being

CHATTANOOGA TRACK CLUB 2021 RESOLUTION CHALLENGE

Posted: March 10, 2021 by coachwestbrook in Uncategorized

Granddaughter, Braylee Westbrook, age 7, met her first challenge at 25-miles. Today, on her 7th birthday, she met her second challenge at 50-miles running to 50.47 miles. Happy Birthday, Braylee!!

Knees scarred but finished her 50-Mile Challenge!

Made the turn on the out & back course and picking up the pace!

Running home!

Image  —  Posted: March 1, 2021 by coachwestbrook in Articles

STREAKING…FULLY CLOTHED

Posted: February 22, 2021 by coachwestbrook in Articles

FEBRUARY 21, 2021 (SUNDAY)

I saw my first “streaker” at the Florida Relays in the early or mid-70’s. I had a track team competing in the high school, middle school, and elementary school events. As I sat in the bleachers waiting for an open distance race to start, a blonde woman came running down the front straitaway wearing nothing but runnng shoes. The crowd starting cheering upon seeing her running toward the first curve. Meet officials were caught off guard and were hesitant getting into action to stop her. She took advantage of the situation and picked up speed once in the curve. She left the track on the backside running through an open gate and onto a road that led to dormitories. We never knew if she was caught or ran to safety, but we were hoping for safety.

But, that is not the gist of this article about streaking. This is about running streaks…and, I’m pretty sure the runners involved in this streaking are clothed. Here, a running streak is consecutive days running at least 1-mile per day…not quite as glamorous, but steady and solid.

Believe it or not, there are various organizations whose sole focus is run streaking. The United States Running Streak Association (USRSA) established a national streak group for runners in 2000 and maintains a registry of active and retired streaks. According to them, a run streak is defined as running “at least one mile (1.61 kilometers) within each calendar day.”

Maintaining a regular running schedule can seem like a daunting task. Most average runners hit the roads between three and five days per week. If you’re not familiar with the popular “run streak” trend, running every day may sound like something reserved for elite athletes and dedicated professionals. But thousands of amateur runners have joined the movement, logging miles every day to keep their streak alive.

From losing weight to setting a new PR, there are a variety of different reasons that drive runners to start a run streak. Making a commitment to run every day requires dedication and drive, not to mention time management skills. For some runners, logging miles every day is a way to replace the excitement of races that were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Committing to a run streak can help you stay motivated and force you to get off the couch. No matter what your motivation is, running a streak is a fun and rewarding way to challenge yourself. Checking the days off on the calendar can provide you with that exciting feeling of achieving something awesome.

My running streak started on December 29, 1973 on a bet with a friend and rival cross-country and track & field coach with the new year, 1974, fast approaching. We both ran and traveled to some races togther. On one trip, we were discussing various aspects of distance running, and the conversation turned to running streaks. Now, this running streak thing was his idea, and that was for both of us to start a running streak on January 1, 1974 to see who could run the longest streak. I actually started a few days earlier to warm up for the streaking.

Well, my friend and rival, Don and family, drove to Minnesota to his in-laws’ home for the Christmas holidays that lasted through New Year’s day. Of course, there was a lot of snow that piled up into large drifts because it was Minnesota after all. That forced Don into the basement to run a ridiculous amount of laps around the furnace to get a mile completed. Those short laps with constant turning resulted in an inflammed hip that prevented him from running at all for the rest of January.

While Don was trashing himself in a basement, I was at home in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida with no snow to force basement running, and then, spent the holidays in Trion, Georgia…again, with no snow. So, my streak was anchored in December…a few days before the New Year. Don had nothing else to do with streak running. Me? I’m still streaking (clothed).

Everything is better in moderation, and this saying rings true for running as well. Running too much can have adverse effects on the body. Too much stress on your muscles and joints can cause fatigue and injury, and the mental energy required to run every day can be overwhelming. So, how does a run streak affect your body? The answer isn’t as simple as you may think.

Recovery is a crucial part of any training regimen. In order to get stronger and faster, your body needs rest after the stress of a hard workout. If you’re running every day, it might seem like there’s no room in your schedule for rest. But it is possible to participate in a run streak while allowing your body to recover. “Active rest is a real thing. You can go for a short run at an even easier pace than most runs, which allows you to have the benefits of endorphins and keep the rhythm of your previous runs going,” explains Nick Stump, owner and run coach at Fleet Feet Delray Beach.

According to a 2018 article published in Frontiers in Physiology by Dr. Oliver Dupuy, active recovery is shown to decrease the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Going for a one to two mile run at an easy pace the day after a tough workout can help get blood flowing to your muscles, reducing soreness and inflammation. As long as you break up your hard sessions with some easy runs, you can still recover adequately while run streaking. Foam rolling, stretching and massage will also help to ensure a thorough recovery.

I’ve had a few problems while pursuing my streak. The most daunting one was being hospitalized for a day-and-a-half a few years ago. I had to scout out the hallways and stairways in the hospital so I could have an escape route to the outside. Once there, I could run (actually jog very slowly) in the parking lot and knock out a mile and keep the streak alive.

I found an exit door, but it had an alarm that would sound when opened after a certain time…and, that time frame included my escape time. So, I dressed in my clothes with the hosptial gown underneath and calmly walked out through the lobby and returned when the run was over. No problem! Well, one little problem was jogging with that gown bunched up under my clothes, but I survived. The next day I was dismissed, so that problem was conquered.

Since then, there have been very few problems since I usually run first thing in the morning before any interference comes up. Minor injuries and such just reduced my runs to one mile to keep the streak alive. Weather presented its own kind of problems, but I just had to run into it and get it done. That has included blistering heat, energy draining humidity (those sound like Vol State), hurricane winds, lightning, flood waters, and other stuff.

I’ve had the aforementioned DOMS condition several times after marathons and ultras. That convinced me to run less in the next couple of days. But, the key there was that I did run at least one mile. Actually, I found that running 4 to 6 miles helped more with recovery than slogging through just 1 or 2 miles.

Lately, I’ve read a few articles concerning streaking and declaring that it isn’t a good thing for smart runners to do, that a well-placed off day should be interspersed. Streak runners tend to run despite other priorities. They tend to run when not feeling well which may enhance an oncoming illness. They tend to run in the lead-up before a race when an off day or two before the race could result in better racing. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Well, I also remember reading in high school that running a lot of distance would shorten one’s life span. In college, I read that distance running would enhance one’s life span. So, whaddya do? The present evidence seems to agree with the latter, and I agree with the present evidence.

So, I’ll just keep on going every day. I’ll probably read later that streaking is a pretty good thing to do mentally, physically, emotionally, imaginatively, and spiritually.

But, I know that already.

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Running is that big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?’”

Peter Maher: Olympic marathoner

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(Richard Westbrook) (Italicized section by Caroline Bell, writing for the Fleet Feet Journal)

REFLECTIONS FROM A ’47 ROADSTER

Posted: February 15, 2021 by coachwestbrook in Uncategorized
May be an image of child, standing and road

Granddaughter, Braylee Westbrook, age 6, runs to 25-mile goal in the 2021 CTC Resolution Challenge with her 25.37 miles reached yesterday, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, Valentine’s Day. It was the 23rd day of the 50-day challenge.

REFLECTIONS FROM A ’47 ROADSTER

Posted: November 18, 2020 by coachwestbrook in Blog, Daily Runs & Reflections, Uncategorized

FEBRUARY 10, 2021 (WEDNESDAY)

METEORS IN MY HEAD

I run…every day. At times, I get asked, “What do you think about when you do all that running?”

Good question. I wish I knew the answer. Actually, my answer is usually well thought out and meticulous and backed by science including physiology and psychology. So, my usual response in a very intellectual manner is, “Oh, just all kind of stuff.”

That is actually very close to the hard truth. Upon starting a run, I will go through mental checks as to how I feel compared to the planned mileage and effort. Such “stuff” like footplant, running form, pace, and weather conditions come to mind. Adjustments are made depending on the feedback to those elements of thought. All this usually happens in the first mile to a mile-and- a-half distance.

After that, it’s every thought for itself. It is survival of the fittest…thought-wise. And, it is a hard fought battle for those thoughts to survive.

A great thing about running distance is that it opens the mind. Whatever I was thinking about before the run started seems to become insignificant during the run. It fades and fades, and fades…

Then, as I run into more mileage, BOOM!!! All these fragments of thought invade my head. First, it’s one thing, and an eighth-of-a-mile later, it’s something entirely different. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

Just as I think I’ve come upon an idea or a thought to mentally explore…it changes. And, so it goes as the run continues and the miles pass. It may not happen to everyone who runs, but it often happens to me. But, that’s just me.

I continue running with an easy effort in a relaxed stride, and, I’ve got to say it…very slowly. In fact, I seem to be getting slower as I get older. Oh, well.

I run mile after mile with a seemingly open mind with thoughts beginning to invade. They generate quickly and then burn out like a meteor burning out in our atmosphere. These “meteors” shoot through my head bouncing off the inside of my skull. The thoughts are sometimes remembered and expanded. Mostly not. So, the ’47 roadster reflects and usually has only bits and pieces of thoughts such as today’s in my 15+ mile run of which I will sprinkle here.

The thoughts today (or, meteors inside my head) sparked on…

HEADWIND…ONCOMING TRAFFIC…COOL AIR…CASEY…SHOES…FOUND MONEY…RACES… DOGS…CLOUDS…VOL STATE…COKE…GPS WATCH…BACKPACK…GEORGIA COUNTIES RAN…ROAD SHOULDER…RAINBOW… MASK…WEEKLY MILEAGE…BICYCLE…TRUCK BRAKE PADS…TRION CROSS-COUNTRY…NCAA CROSS-COUNTRY NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS…NAIA CROSS-COUNTRY NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS…COVID-19…MOTOR SCOOTER…TELESCOPE…RECORDER…CONVENIENCE STORES…SOUTH GEORGIA…U.S. HIGWAY 411…SOUTH CAROLINA…KAREN JACKSON…WHAT-A- BURGER…LYERLY, GA…ROADSIDE TRASH…NORTHWEST GEORGIA… JONESBORO…DEAN THOMPSON…BOOKS…PACE…SHOULDER PAIN…JANICE… SEASON…RAINBOW AGAIN…SHANE…WENDY AND FAMILY…“TRAIN WRECK”… TURTLES…CHATTANOOGA TRACK CLUB…RESOLUTION CHALLENGE… TRANS AM…REVOLUTION RUNNING…’64 FORD FALCON…COVID-19 VACCINATION…COACHING…GEORGIA COASTAL RUN…CANCER…SPRING… SUMMER…ARFTA…DIRT TOWN…POLITICS…PRESIDENT…SOCIALISM… CONSERVATISM…KENDRA STALLINGS…18-WHEELERS…FRIENDLY DRIVERS… SKUNKS…TRACK & FIELD…EVOLUTION…DEATH…WARADY…NURSES…FLIP BELT…UFO’S…TENNESSEE NIGHT SKY IN VOL STATE…LAZ…STROLLING JIM…GERMAN SHEPHERDS…BJ TIMONER…CROSS-COUNTRY COURSE…JOHN PRICE…JERRY’S…WINTER…WEEKI-WACHEE…CHIROPRACTOR…TRUMAN SMITH…FLEXIBILITY…WEBSITE…JOURNAL…LYNDA WEBBER…HOTS…TOWNS…ANNIE RANDOLPH…PUSH-UPS…IOWA…THAT DAMN DOG…NEW BROOKS GHOST 13s…OLD BROOKS GHOST 12s…OLDER BROOKS GHOST 12s…CTC RACE SCHEDULE…YOUTH RUNNING…TARA TURTLES…RAINBOW’S RESOLUTION CHALLENGE…JOHNNY…DOUG…OLD CARS…TECHNOLOGY…WHY WE DRIVE…GOLF COURSE…CROSS-COUNTRY AWARDS…SLOW RUNNING…JOGGING…CAMERA…WILDLIFE…MOUNT VERNON…WAR MONUMENT…THE OLD ROAD…RIEGEL…BONES IN A TUB…MOONLIGHT DRIVE-IN MOVIES…COACH CHANCE…SMALL TOWNS…DOC HOLLIDAY…MONUMENT VALLEY…CUMBERLAND ISLAND…SPEED PLAY…LONG SLOW DISTANCE…SLOW RUNNERS COMMUNITY… NIETZSCHE…GEORGE SHEEHAN…RUNNER’S WORLD…C&O CANAL TOWPATH…STEVE SMALLING…MONTEAGLE…

AND THE LIST GOES ON AND ON LIKE METEORS THROUGH MY HEAD, SOME LODGED IN MEMORY, MOST BURNED OUT, BUT THE RUN CONTINUES.

(Richard Westbrook)

REFLECTIONS FROM A ’47 ROADSTER

Posted: November 14, 2020 by coachwestbrook in Daily Runs & Reflections

NOVEMBER 13, 2020 (FRIDAY)

In reference to yesterday’s REFLECTIONS FROM A ’47 ROADSTER and with the timeline leading to today (Friday 13, November), it’s “Bash on, regardless.” The injury may be a thing in the past. Today’s 13.41 miles were good. Questions were answered in those 13 miles.

Bash on!

REFLECTIONS FROM A ’47 ROADSTER

Posted: November 13, 2020 by coachwestbrook in Blog, Daily Runs & Reflections

NOVEMBER 12, 2020 (THURSDAY)

On a cool and slightly wind-swept November day in northwest Georgia, I ventured into my morning run headed for the eastern edge of the town of Trion. As usual, I stopped briefly while crossing the Chattooga River to check on the turtle population. Three turtles were visible, two on the rocks, one treading the water near the middle of the river. After that, I ran through “frog town” and onto the U.S. 27 by-pass and turned north into the wind.

This run was the best I’ve had since October 14, 2020. Then, I injured the intercostal muscles between the ribs in the right side of my back. This was done while moving some large, heavy rubber mats in the back yard. I felt a twinge while doing it but continued anyway. The next morning told me that the continuing was stupid. As Forrest says, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Since the rubber mat fiasco, I’ve been forcing myself to jog at least one mile, sometimes a little more…for the running streak if nothing else.

Today, I was no longer a jogger. I was a runner…or, at least, I felt like it. My stride was longer and faster (but not much faster) and I had no back pain when my left foot struck the ground as it had been in the last 29 days. That was a sure sign of progress from the jogging phase, the result of the injury. So, I ran a little longer. The eight miles plus that ran north of town and re-entered on the old road excited me to look forward to longer runs just as the weather was turning cooler.

Mid-November was now looking good, and December is looking even better. But, I am behind in reaching this year’s mileage goal. I hope I can make it up in order to reach the goal. That will require runs that are quite a bit longer than the present daily average. Maybe I’m now ready to do that. Maybe not.

Tomorrow’s run will let me know a lot more about that.

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Bash on, regardless.”

Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873)

AUTHOR: Adharanand Finn
PUBISHER / DATE: Pegasus Books / 2015

REPORT:

Since the glory days in the 1980s of the Japanese runner, Toshihiko Seko, and his extreme training for the marathon, I’ve been a fan of his and was eager to find out more about Japanese distance running. Seko held numerous world records and had a marathon best of 2:08:27 at the Chicago Marathon in 1986. He won the Boston Marathon in 1987 with 2:11:50. From 1978 to 1988, he won 10 major marathons and was second at Boston in 1979. It was evident that distance running in Japan was big, and Japanese distance runners have been running big ever since.

This book gives a good picture of Japanese distance running. It tells us of a way of life in which distance running is a major part of the culture. This is reflected in the country’s biggest sporting event which is the Ekiden, a 135-mile relay which is run annually. It is filled with thousands of professional runners representing corporate teams. It is a major spectator event each year.

The marathon monks do their thing apart from the Ekiden. All they do is run a thousand marthons in a thousand days. This is not a race. It is to find spiritual enlightenment, and they usually run in complete solitude.

The author, Adharanand Finn, is a runner and author who spent six months in the Japanese running culture finding out about the sport and the country. This work tells us of the teamwork, competition, preparation, diet, form, attitude, dedication, racing, youth running, training, and a culture and a way of life.

Finn informs the reader about the intricacies and the mind-meld of running in Japan. He has lived and obviously completely researched the project. His writing reflects humor, wisdom, the art of story telling, and the delving into the psyche of Japanese distance running and its bonding of its runners.

This is a book of which a serious (or not so serious) runner can learn more about his or her own running.

It is an interesting and a well written and enjoyable book.

(Richard Westbrook) (Nov. 5, 2020)

COURAGE OF THEIR CONVICTIONS

Posted: October 30, 2020 by coachwestbrook in Uncategorized

It was an overcast day in northwest Georgia. The event was a high school region cross-country meet for the smallest school division in the state. Nine schools were represented although not all nine schools fielded a full team of at least five runners.

The runners were in grades nine through twelve, freshmen through seniors. The meet held a varsity girls race and a varsity boys race. After those races, a combined girls and boys junior varsity race was held. But, the meat of the meet was the varsity race in which the top four teams and top six individuals, irregardless of their team’s finishing place, qualified for the state meet in early November.

The course was a 5000 meter distance at Georgia Highlands College and good for the spectators to see most of the race. But, the general level of excitement in the runners seemed to be mired down a bit. Perhaps, it was because it was a weekday meet compared to the usual Saturday competitions. There was little evidence of runners “warming up” for the races. They walked to the starting line as if they were going to be punished.

Where were the warm-up accelerations from the starting line to get the blood into the working muscles? Where were the verbal encouragements and support to teammates immediately before the start? Where was the nervous fidgeting, jumping, stretching, drill movements by the runners that usually happens before the starter calls the runners to the starting line????

Nowhere.

The runners were there, albeit in a quiet and repressed mood, and this complacent cloud seemed to hover over the parents and spectators also. But, the meet was about to start with the starter announcing the starting procedures to the runners on the line. He spoke, they listened while standing still and quiet…not jumping, bouncing, running in place.

I scanned the starting line to see which runners seemed ready to race. The different body shapes gave a realistic clue. The appearance of smooth running musculature told a story that the upcoming race would not go well. But, there were runners interspersed on the line with defined leg muscles that were carved by miles upon miles and interval training. Thin bodies were spread throughout the teams, but all body types were represented at the line. How they would do in the race would soon be determined. It would be strongly influenced by their off-season and seasonal training. The real runners would soon become evident.

The others…they would run to survive the ordeal. Some would start too fast because they did not have the proper preparation specifically for that purpose. Some would finish with an exceptional and long “kick” to the finish line perhaps picking up a place or two only because their pace in the previous miles was too slow. They had too much left at the end and, usually, they were too far back in the order of finish.

Overweight runners would find themselves at a slow jog or, perhaps, walking certain parts of the course as would those runners with very little training up to this date. They were scattered throughout most of the teams. Their fitness level would betray them.

Those who had laid down the off-season miles, had disciplined themselves to morning runs, had not experienced “off” days in the season, had enough mileage to support the pace of the race from start to finish…those runners had a better race day that may have included a course PR or a better tactical race. They were THE cross-country runners.

Tall, short, thick, thin, muscularly defined, smooth. That was the appearance of all the runners combined. But, as young runners tend to do, they gave their all in trying to do their best.

They had the courage of their convictions, even if their training didn’t quite measure up to those convictions. They had courage under fatigue…when everything in their immediate world was telling them to slow down, let that runner go, just make it to the finish line, just get this over with for the day.

But, they kept pushing even when they were out-of-sight on the other side of the lake and behind the trees…out-of-sight of the coaches and mom and dad. They kept trying to make themselves a better version of themselves and, thus, a better person. Most succeeded. Some did not. Those successful runners extended their season into November at the State Meet, the “should be” goal of the runners.

Will they be ready for the State Meet? What was learned from this season? What has to be done to make themselves a better runner? What does the individual have to do to make his or her team stronger?

On a cross-country course in northwest Georgia, the answers were found somewhere in those miles. Those smart runners who were serious enough about their running found those answers and will lock them in their minds and hearts in order to be a better runner and person in the future. They will run and run and run. That would be dedication to a goal…the essence of a runner.

How much better? Only the heart and mind can determine that.

(Richard Westbrook)

(Oct. 30, 2020)