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July 30, 2009

Running Tweets

I’ve made an observation to several friends recently that bears repeating here: I would SUCK at Twitter.

All it takes is one look around this place to know that brevity isn’t exactly my thing – so living in a “140 character or less” world would be something akin to the tenth circle of Hell when it comes to my writing proclivity.

However, it’s impossible to ignore the impact Twitter is having on modern athletics – most notably, in the form of high-profile athletes (such as Lance Armstrong or Shaquille O’Neal) who dispatch several tweets per day to hundreds of thousands of admirers who subscribe to their feed. Amateur athletes – including a fair number of bloggers - have embraced the trend as well, using the medium for both rapid, spontaneous communication and to bolster their social networking prowess.

So while I’ll never embrace Twitter, I certainly recognize its impact on the endurance sport community – which was the idea we applied to our latest Monterey Herald column.

My friend Mike and I sent an e-mail to every local runner we know – including coaches, current and former Olympians, and a whole lot of regular Joes – and asked for their best “Twitterized” running advice. (And since we told them it was for publication, I feel OK including their names here.) The result is the article that follows.

Running Life 7/30/09 “Running Tweets”

First things first: We’re not on Twitter. We’ve never tweeted. We’ll never make anyone’s top feed list.

However, we were curious as to whether Twitter has any value when it comes to dispensing sage running advice – so we asked many of the best local runners and coaches to tell us how to be a better runner. We only gave them one rule: their answer had to be 140 characters or less.

Here are our favorite responses from the experts …

Former Olympic marathoner Nelly Wright from Pacific Grove: “It is all about attitude. Be positive. Be a good sportsman. Be consistent. Be passionate. Don’t let setbacks get you down. Have fun.”

Professional triathlete Alexis Smith from Seaside: “Set a goal. Write out the training plan. Follow through with your workouts; consistency plays a major role in becoming a better runner.”

North County coach Gus Ibarra took the team approach: “Everyone is a winner. Running takes work. Expect the best. The Team/Family concept overrides any individual achievement.”

Chris Zepeda, Hartnell College coach: “As you get older focus less on the mileage and go back to your youth and hit the track. Train like you did in high school and college.”

Jeff Magallanes from Marina was very specific: “Get Fast! Mon. do 3 to 7 one mile repeats at 10K pace. Weds. do 16 one minute “pulls” at 5K pace. On Sat. a four to 10 mile tempo run at half marathon pace.”

Jim Scattini from Salinas showed impressive versatility, as his answer qualified as both a tweet and a rhyme: “You want to run fast? Just get off your behind or you will place last!”

Matt Clayton, a former 2:14 marathoner from Salinas: “There are no secrets or shortcuts in this sport. Train hard, but be smart enough to listen to what your body is telling you. Don’t let your ego get in the way.”

Some local runners didn’t even need the full 140 characters to dispense their wisdom …

Olympic Marathoner and former Runner’s World Magazine runner of the year Maria Trujillo: “Run fast and work hard.”

Patty Selbicky, former winner of the Big Sur Marathon: “Intervals, intervals, and more intervals…..and listen to Glynn Wood.”

Of course, we then went straight to Glynn Wood, the dean of local runners, with over 65 years of competitive running and coaching experience. His tweet? “Run Run Run!” It’s kind of eloquent in its simplicity.

We were actually fairly surprised to discover some valuable lessons in these short bursts, and considered our Great Twitter Experiment a bona fide success. Each individual tweet is interesting on its own, and when we put all the recommendations together, an ideal overall strategy emerges:

* Be positive and optimistic.
* Be consistent in your training.
* You have to be thoughtful and have a plan.
* To be fast you have to practice running fast.
* There are no secrets and there is no substitute for hard work.
* Enjoy the process and every part of the running life.

Sounds like great advice.


robtherunner 7/30/09, 10:15 PM  

There's something to this twitter thing. Maybe you can work on your facebooking skills and make it a goal to be a tweeter in 2010 or maybe 2011.

Mark 7/31/09, 4:18 AM  

Good post! I enjoyed the tweets!

21stCenturyMom 7/31/09, 7:53 PM  

Twitter is just way too ADD for me. I just can't hang.

Rainmaker 8/2/09, 10:50 AM  

That's a very cool and creative article. Funny how the general theme of 'work hard' seems to resonate through all of them. There is no easy way.

ant060207 8/4/09, 5:31 AM  

Enjoy the blog, want to share your latest post, "Calaveras Big Trees State Park," so I decided I'd post a link to it on twitter with you handle. Scanned the blog, found this post, and here we are. So I'd suggest using twitter to share your work.

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