December
16
Posted on 16-12-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

In recent months, much ado has been made about a September Wall Street Journal article called “The Slowest Generation: Younger Athletes are Racing with Less Concern about Time“. It claims that there are fewer “super competitive” runners in their 20’s and 30’s than there were when the baby boomers were in their 20’s and 30’s. The article even suggests this is the reason that the United States hasn’t won a medal in the marathon since 2004.

median-times

Median marathon times for U.S. men and women from 1980 – 2012. Source: Running USA annual marathon report (http://www.runningusa.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.details&ArticleId=332)

 

Last I checked the official baby boomers ranged in age from 40 to 58 years old in 2004. Those silver medals were won by 29 year old Meb Keflezighi and 31 year old Deena Kastor. Meb’s silver medal was the first medal in the marathon by an American male since Frank Shorter took silver in the 1976 Montreal games. Deena’s bronze medal was only the second medal ever for an America woman. The only other was Joan Benoit’s gold medal for the first ever women’s Olympic marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The baby boomers have hardly been more successful at the marathon than the younger generation.

I think the article’s focus on median times overlooks an important point as well. There are a whole lot more people participating in endurance sports now than there have ever been in the past. Marathons were places where only elite runners dared toe the line. Back in the day, if you couldn’t run under 3 hours you didn’t bother showing up for the Boston marathon.

marathon-participation

United States marathon participation 1980-2012. The New York City marathon was excluded from the 2012 data since it was cancelled due to Super Storm Sandy. Source: Running USA Annual Marathon Report (http://www.runningusa.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.details&ArticleId=332)

 

So, yes there are slower people running races now and that has made the median times slower, but having more participants is nothing but good for the sport. More runners means more races and more equipment sold. That translates into more sponsorship dollars and bigger prizes for the elites. It also translates into a healthier general population.

I don’t buy the argument that there are less “super competitive” people in the younger generation either. The American records for all running distances keep getting lower. New American records in the marathon, half-marathon, 10,000 m and 5000 m have all been set in the last 6 years. Galen Rupp won silver in the 10,000 m in London. Shalane Flanigan got Bronze in the 10,000 m in Beijing.

At the end of the day, everyone has their own goals. There are those who run just to finish and those who run to PR. There are elite runners who run for money and to break world records. We’re all runners and we all coexist. If a race is well organized, slower runners will never get in the way of elites so why does it matter if they run slow? The race organizers have figured out how long it is profitable to close the streets for the course and they set their required paces accordingly. If there’s any difference in the younger generation it’s that they’re willing to participate in a race even if they have no chance of competing for some sort of victory. I’ll take that over people who are afraid to enter a race because they think they’re too slow. It’s better than not running at all, and that’s what was happening in the 80’s.

Different strokes for different folks, I say. None of this is really a comment on any generation. There are just more options available today and different people are enjoying different forms of recreation. Sometimes that happens to be in the same event. I can agree that if you sign up for a race that has a finisher’s medal than you need to finish the race to get the medal. That’s a rule of the game, but if you sign up for the color run you should probably run slow because the whole point there is to be covered in as much colors as possible. Who care’s if it’s not timed? It’s not a race!

Were recreational bowling leagues of the 60’s an indication of that generation’s laziness? How about beer league softball? Every culture has its favored form of recreation – its way to unwind from the rigors of everyday life. For more and more people, that is running. It is fueling a running boom and it is a good thing at any pace.

What do you think?

 

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December
06
Posted on 06-12-2013
Filed Under (Races) by Brian

In 2013, DigitalRunning.com hosted 1 challenge. 150 people signed up for the 2013 Interstate Challenge and 126 people have completed it to date. I’m not one of them.

hattrick-medal-actual

I might have 500 of these stored away, but I’m actually going to earn 1 of them!

I did run a full marathon and a half marathon in 2013, but they were both in Florida so I didn’t qualify for the challenge. In 2014, I’m going to change that. In fact, I plan on completing all of the 2014 DigitalRunning.com Challenges.

I’ll need to run a 5K or longer race every month March 2014-February 2015 (for reasons that have not yet been announced), I’ll need to run a marathon or half-marathon in two different U.S. States or Canadian Provinces to earn the Interstate Challenge medal. I’ll need to run a 5K, 10K and a half marathon to earn the Hat Trick Challenge medal and I’ll need to add a full marathon to those three to get the Grand Slam Challenge medal.

Now, a little known fact is that races can count for multiple challenges. So, the half marathon I run in Florida in January counts toward the Interstate Challenge, the Grand Slam Challenge and the Hat Trick Challenge. Here’s my current plan to complete all of the challenges as efficiently as possible:

January 11th: Walt Disney World Half Marathon – Lake Buena Vista, FL

2010-half

The last time I ran the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, it was 30 degrees and sleeting.

March 1st: Suncoast Classic 10K – St. Petersburg, FL

April 19th: Hare Racing Experience 5K – Tampa, FL

May 10th: Miles for Moffitt 5K– Tampa, FL

June 1st: Bay 5K for Kids – St. Petersburg, FL

July 3rd: Kiwanis Midnight Run 10K – Dunedin, FL

August 18th: Sea Dog Brewery 5K – Clearwater, FL

September 6th: Miles for Men 10K – Clearwater, FL

October 12th: Chicago Marathon – Chicago, IL

November: Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon – Lake Buena Vista, FL

December: Ties & Tennis Shoes 5K – St. Petersburg, FL

January: Walt Disney World Half Marathon – Lake Buena Vista, FL

February: Best Damn Race 10K – Safety Harbor, FL

Of course the schedule is subject to change but assuming I complete all of the above races, I will complete the Hat Trick Challenge and Mystery Challenge #1 in May, Mystery Challenge #2 in August, The Grand Slam and Interstate Challenges in October, Mystery Challenge #3 in November, and Mystery Challenge #4 in February 2015. I’ll also receive something special for completing all of the Mystery Challenges. That’s all I’ll say for now about the mystery challenges, except that we will reveal them in January 2014!

If I don’t get into the Chicago marathon, I’ll likely replace it with the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis marathon on October 19th.

What do you think of my race schedule? Who wants to join me?

 

 

 

 

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December
01
Posted on 01-12-2013
Filed Under (Digital Running) by Brian

This has been a long time coming.

Since I first dreamed up DigitalRunning.com in 2007, I’ve been waiting for the moment when I would be able to pull on a DigitalRunning.com jersey for a race. In the grand scheme of things, it’s really kind of silly compared to everything that goes into developing a community of runners online. So, the available cash went to more important things like a more robust infrastructure for the website, fronting money for the challenge medals and travel expenses for our many events since launching the site in 2011.

Finally, our advertising budget and strategic plan came together, allowing us to recruit ambassadors to spread our message to a wider audience. Of course, those ambassadors need gear. Here’s what we came up with:

shortsleeve

longsleeve

singlet

jacket

All of the gear is fully dye sublimated, meaning that the fabric itself is dyed. That keeps everything light while maintaining the wicking and ventilating properties of the garments.

We also came up with a fun vintage style casual cotton t-shirt:

tshirt

Who gets to wear this stuff? I do! Of course, they were actually made for our ambassadors. In addition to Raffi, they are:

Megan from Running Toward the Prize.

Jennifer from My Frugal Wife

Gigi from Running on Candy

Kim from Barking Mad About Running

Tammy from Ginger Mantra

Laura from Running for Kicks & Giggles

We have extra T-shirts available for purchase for those who’d like one, but (for now at least) the tech gear is exclusive to the ambassadors. If you see one of them at your next race, stop and say “Hi”!

What do you think of the gear?

 

 

 

 

 

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