Friday, March 30, 2007

The track and field diaries

In a recent interview about trade secrets, Templeton High runner Garrett Cowan let me completely inside the mind of a distance runner.

Cowan wasn't shy about giving away some of his best race strategies, adding that runners are normally so paranoid about what other runners say and do, they probably wouldn't take his advice anyway.

One of the most unexpected quips Cowan got off was about how he sizes up the field pre-race. In a 2-mile race, Cowan likes to stick with the runner who starts out fastest and overtake him somewhere near the end of the final lap.

One of the keys to that strategy is trying to determine who the fast starter will be before the gun sounds. Cowan says he's guessing right 80 percent of the time. Here's one of his tipoffs.

"If you look at the guy in the line that has shaved legs," Cowan said, "you can tell he's taking it very serious. He thinks he's the best runner, and he's going to go out really fast."

Apparently, there's a myth out there that shaved legs make you faster. Cowan said some runners shave just to intimidate the other competitors.

I think the same might be true for rush-hour traffic. That might explain why I always see so many female passengers in shorts with their bare feet up on the dashboard.

Well, let me tell you ladies, neither Garrett Cowan nor I will be intimidated!

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