May 19, 2013 - 06:08 PM
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Running and the Internet
Running and the Internet
The following article is designed to be printed out and used in your local clubs running newsletter. Feel free to use, modify and educate your fellow runners. - Paul
Runners have an insatiable lust for information. This can range from how to run faster or longer, through recovering from injuries to how other runners are fairing. Many people find answers from other runners, coaches, magazines, doctors and books, but now there is another way that can help and enhance traditional means. The Internet.
This brief article won't tell you all of the best sites or even provide a long list of running related material. It will introduce you to how the Internet can be used to help you in your running and provide you a few starting points. It will also briefly describe what the Internet is and some of the more useful services for runners.
The Internet is a vast interconnected series of computers that have chosen to use a common language to communicate with each other. Nobody controls it and there is no central body. The common language specifies how you can join, how to let other computers find you and how to talk with the other computers. There are many different applications or programs that can run on a computer connected to the Internet which can make use of this linkage.
The most popular is email (electronic mail). This allows people to send messages (words, pictures, sounds, video etc) to anybody else on the Net. The next most popular is the World Wide Web. Think of the Web as a series of pages which can contain anything (words, pictures, sounds, video etc) that are connected to other pages anywhere in the world based on how relevant that the writer thinks the connection is. It is like a spider's web of related information. You follow a link (connection) by clicking on an area of the page of interest. It is easy to spend a lot of time surfing these links. The final application I will mention here is Usenet. It is a series of ongoing discussions on just about any topic you can imagine. The various discussions are called newsgroups and there are many related to running. There are hundreds of other applications on the Internet but email, the Web and Usenet are the most relevant to running.
Looking at some issues that face runners we will see how the Internet can help.
This is the most common area where runners ask for help. The Internet can be of great help in this area. Firstly there are many doctors who have placed information about running injuries online. An example is Dr Steve Pribut's Running Injuries page (http://www.drpribut.com/sports/spsport.html). He has good advice on preventing and treating most running injuries. He also is available by email to answer specific questions. As a bonus he also includes information on biomechanics, sport shoes, physiology, weather and running and overtraining. There are many other sites. As an example I found 181 sites that had information relating to "runner's knee".
You may also want to talk with other runners about an injury. How did they get over it, what worked for them. With the Internet you are almost certain to find someone who has had the same injury as you. Many sites have discussions on all aspects of running. An example is the Runners World forums (http://rwforums.rodale.com/). Here you will find a specific discussion about injuries. The rec.sport.running newsgroup also has many discussions on running injuries. One of the best ways of getting in touch with other people is, after checking that there is no current discussion that you can join, is to just ask if anybody can help. Both the Runners World forums and the rec.sport.running newsgroup have ten's of thousands of people looking at them each day, so it is quite likely that someone will answer.
There are also many descriptions of alternative remedies (eg http://www.alternativemedicine.com/) on the Internet. It is best to remember in these cases that there is no guarantee of the validity or accuracy of any information you find on the Internet. Anybody can claim anything. You need to make your own judgement based on who is saying it, whether it can be verified and whether it stacks up with your current view of things. There are many quacks out there.
Finally you can get information about the latest research and treatments even before many doctors. There are many peer reviewed journals that publish to the Internet. For example "Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise"(http://www.acsm-msse.org/) the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. There is also access to Medline (http://www.healthy.net/library/search/medline.htm). This provides a full text search of the abstracts from most of the medical journals published worldwide. There is of course danger in interpreting much of this information without the appropriate background.
Many of the common questions asked of coaches relate to running faster or longer and how to train for a particular event. The Internet has a wealth of information relating to training and performance. Firstly there are many sites with tips and advice. Each area (track, distance, marathon, ultramarathon, hash, cross country, orienteering, rogaine, triathlon, duathlon, adventure sports etc) has sites dedicated to them. Some examples of advice pages are Online Sports Coaching (http://www.sportscoach.com.au/), or Runners World (http://www.runnersworld.com/) or Kick Sports (http://www.kicksports.com/).
There are also many sites that, based on information you supply, can generate personal plans, interval paces, race pace charts, VO2max prediction, target heart rates, body weight, predicted race times, etc. A large selection of these can be found at the Runners Web (http://www.runnersweb.com/). These widgets are always available and can run on any computer that has a Java enabled web browser(almost all browsers).
There is also software that you can download from the Internet that will enable you to generate individualised training plans. Three of these are as follows:
RunCoach - (http://www.sportscoach.com.au/)
PCCoach - (http://www.pccoach.com/)
UltraCoach - (http://www.fitcentric.com/html/body_uc.htm)
A large list of logging and coaching software can be found on the Runners Web (http://www.runnersweb.com/)
There are also many personal coaches who have put their shingle up on the Internet. These people will coach you via email. You provide them some information, they then produce a training plan and guide you through it. They are there anytime to answer questions you might have. An example is Jack LeGrand (http://www.unistar.net/coach/info.html).
Most of the world's major running events are on the Internet (eg London Marathon http://www.london-marathon.co.uk/). These sites have details about the race, registration information and forms, course maps and details etc. After the race they often have the results as well. Many of the smaller races run by clubs are also available as well. My local club (West Australian Marathon Clubhttp://www.wamc.org.au/) has a race calendar and results available. Your club may do so as well. If you are travelling anywhere in the world it would be useful to do a quick check on the Web. You will likely find information about local races, club training runs and contact information.
There are many people out there who love running and like to talk with like minded individuals. The Internet is a great place to do this. There are many discussions that are a place for like minded individuals to get together and chin wag. A few examples are as follows:
Dead Runners Society - (http://storm.cadcam.iupui.edu/drs/drs.html)
UltraMarathon World - (http://www.ultramarathonworld.com/)
Run the Planet - (http://www.runtheplanet.com/)
There are many small groups that also just get together to give each other support. Most of the time these people are located on different continents but form friendships based on common interests and close contact that the Internet provides.
The Internet is a great place for people to find others which have like minded interests. In a city of a million people there might only be a couple of people who like six day racing but in a community of 100 million (current size of Internet) you might find a hundred or so. If you have a particular aspect of running you enjoy and can't find too many people who are interested locally then the Internet is the place for you. Some examples are as follows:
Rogaining - (http://rogaine.asn.au/ara/)
Adventure Racing - (http://www.usara.com/)
Clydesdales - (http://www.teamclydesdale.com/)
High School Cross Country - (http://www.cs.uml.edu/~phoffman/highs.html)
Gay and Lesbian Runners - (http://www.frontrunnersphila.org/)
Pregnant Runners - (http://lifematters.com/rofintro.html)
There are many many more.
Many people who are fitness minded are involved in running as well as other physical activities. Multisport enthusiasts are well catered for on the Internet. There are many sites related to triathlon training and results (eg http://www.triathletemag.com/). There are also sites which support the non-triathlon multisport events (eg Girl Teams - adventure training for women http://www.adventuretrain.com/girlteams/adventure.asp)
Many individual tri and multi sport athletes maintain their own home pages. You can find out what they are doing and how they train.(eg Sharon Donnelly http://www.sharondonnelly.com/, Sara Odell http://www.ultracch.com/html/sara_odell.htm). The best way to find these sites is by using a search engine (eg Infoseek, Excite) and typing in the name of the athlete you are interested in. Search engines index much of the Web and so allow you to quickly locate the page you want. For instance searching google for "Ray Boyd" (a local West Australian athlete) found his profile in the club he currently runs forClub Helena of which Ray is a member and another page with his results for the 1999 Canberra marathonSydney Striders.
This article has hopefully given you a glimpse of the wide variety of useful information available on the Internet. It is a fantastic place to get advice and help on all aspects of running. It can also give you immediate feedback on race results and running news. Finally it is a great way to meet like minded people and just talk about one of your favourite pastimes.
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