Thursday, June 28, 2007

A First Half-Marathon Experience

So you want to run a half-marathon. Maybe you've already signed up. Maybe you've never gone further than eight or ten miles at this point and you're a little worried. Or maybe you're not worried, and you just want to know more about the experience. If this is you, then read on because two years ago, I never would have dreamed I could run a half-marathon.

Up until that point it had been a fantasy. But not really. I knew I couldn't really do it. I didn't have a trainer. I didn't belong to a running group. I didn't even subscribe to a running magazine. I was just running for myself probably three to five miles a few days a week.

Then one day, while chatting with my son's teacher, I told him I wanted to run this half-marathon, but there was no way I'd be ready for it.

Mr. French squinted in the sun, raising his arm to shield his face. "Nah, you're ready," he said. "If you can run ten, what's three more?"

And I had run ten miles--once in my entire life and that was two full months prior, my biggest running achievement ever. I tried to back out gracefully, but he said he'd been thinking about running that race himself, and that he'd take me with him to register. I couldn't back out now.

That's how it came to be that I would run a half-marathon with my son's teacher. I expected that he would go ahead because I'd be slow, but Mr. French said he was going to run the race with me.

"I'm not running this race for speed. I need the mileage," he said.

I could tell we were at two different spectrums when it comes to physical fitness. Mr. Ironman tri-athlete approached this thing the same way I considered walking to the mailbox. But none of that mattered. I was thrilled that he was willing to run it with me.

"Okay, so my goal is just to finish even if I have to walk a while."

"That's right," he said. "But you're going to make it."

"Yeah, but in case I don't, I want you to keep running."

He didn't answer, and I was relieved because I figured he agreed with me. Then he me gave some pre-race advice.

"The night before, eat carbs for dinner, spaghetti, bread, something like that. Eat light in the morning, and don't run anymore between now and the race."

Was I crazy? What am I doing, I thought. I'm just going to slow him down, and possibly irritate him, make him give my kid bad grades. But it didn't happen that way. Not at all.

It seemed like a million people were there, waiting in the early morning fog, stretching, jogging in place, doing runner-type things and wearing runner-type clothing, eating running nutrition bars. I felt out of place, like I'd come to a costume party and I'd forgotten my costume. Lines flowed a mile long from rows and rows of Port-o-Potties. I'm not going in there, I thought. Think again, I found out.

We walked toward the end of the line because he said the faster runners go first. He also said it was best to start out slow to save energy for later. We stayed slow for a couple of miles. At mile three, we took a drink and increased our speed a little. He suggested we take a drink at every aid station.

I started to feel tired at mile five, but I knew part of that was in my own head which was confirmed when Mr. French looked at me and said, "You're not even sweating. Let's pick up the pace." He glanced at his watch. "Plus, you look way too happy."

I was happy. Running a half-marathon is FUN. We talked like we were just hanging out, and there were so many interesting and nice people. All walks of life were represented!

He said something about our split time. That's running lingo. My brain dismissed it immediately. Who cares about time? I was having fun.

"We'll see a little hill in a bit." He warned. "It's going to last until the end of the race."

Not long after that we ascended this "little hill." Yeah, it seemed to go straight up. Around the middle of it, I thought I was going to throw up.

Mr. French said that was normal. We only needed to slow down and "Here, take a piece of hard candy."

Sometime, around forever, I saw banners in the distance.

"Okay now, you go, if you have anything left. Go!" He said.

I found out I did have something left. I picked up and ran hard right through the finish for a time of 2:14. Mr. French followed. It struck me even at that moment. He had let me go ahead, had pushed for me to finish for time. Generous to the end.

Me. I did it. I couldn't believe that I had it in me all along. All I needed was a little encouragement, a little company, and someone to believe in me.

Even though, when we got to the car, Mr. French said, "I can't believe you ran the whole way. I thought we were going to have to walk for sure."

Amazing. He had never let on before.

"You know, you did so well," he added, "you could run a full marathon, no problem."

Yeah, and I could be President too, I thought. But guess what? It's been two years since that first race, the San Diego AFC. And I have run a couple of marathons. I also signed up with a running club and I subscribe to a running magazine. I guess I'm one of those "runner-types" now. Thank you, Mr. French, wherever you are, for making that a wonderful first half-marathon experience!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Soccer Success

The most lucrative sport in the world is soccer, or better still football with great players like Michael Ballack, Ronaldinho, Rio Ferdinand and a host of others earning a weekly bonus that will pay a Law or Medicine graduate for at least a month. The richest club in the world is Manchester United (MU) having revenue of over 700 million pounds. Are you talented looking for how to get started and start making exploit in football, this will help you get started. This are tips to getting started.

Develop a habit of playing with the team. In reaction to Cristiano Ronaldo excessive leg -over, wasteful dribbling and unethical crosses in his first season with MU, Alex Ferguson told C Ronaldo that only him cannot make a team but only him can make an impact's make success you must play alongside the team. It is only team that works together wins together. Do not play to impress the coach or observer in a trial test. Play alongside the team, no player gets contract trying to please the coach with dribbles but teamwork does it. Play to the team's taste, please your team; you will be a great player if you do this.

Another thing. Get a FIFA registered agent that will help you build your career, advise you and help you get a club. Be careful in choosing your agent because an agent may either build up or build down your career. Look for responsible agent or manager that will help your career and advise you in achieving your goal or aim. John Obi Mikel chooses John Shittu, Okocha chooses peter schelhaas choose one for yourself. Donot forget John Shittu was there for Mikel in the controversial deal that involved Chelsea, MU and Lyn Oslo. Peter Schelhaas also help Okocha in securing the most expensive deal that involved an African in the last millennium – a $20 million deal. Great did I hear you say! Get a good agent and you will be involved in a deal greater than Zidane's most expensive deal in the world.

Don't be money conscious. In essence, do not think you are getting a million dollar at the beginning of your career things happen gradually and you will surely get to the pinnacle of your career at the appointed time. Nevertheless, you are an outstanding player and no one deserves to get you freely. so don't sell yourself cheaply. That is why you must have a responsible agent.

If you follow the steps above, you will great fame and money. Remember all this will work if you are an already made player and maintains your fitness. Be wise play with the team,get a FIFA registered agent, do not be money conscious.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Nets Are No. 6 Seed - Warriors Make It To Playoffs While Bulls Fall To No. 5 Seed

The Golden State Warriors grabbed their first playoff spot since 1994 when they beat the Portland Trail Blazers 120-98. With this win, the Warriors beat the Clippers to take the No. 8 seed.

Guard Jason Richardson said that he was happy that the fight for the playoff spot was finally over.

However, the Warriors cannot rest as yet as they have to open the playoffs against the best team in the league, the Dallas Mavericks, which is seen as a matchup between coach Don Nelson and his former team.

In another game, the New Jersey Nets beat the Chicago Bulls 106-97, to take the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference and this win also ensured that the Bulls do not finish second.

The Nets will take on Toronto Raptors in Toronto in the first game of the postseason. The Raptors are the Atlantic Division champions. Vince Carter will be subjected to a lot of boos each time he touches the ball. Carter played for the Raptors for more than 6 years before he was traded to the Nets in December 2004.

The Raptors are looking forward to taking on Carter and the Nets. Toronto's Chris Bosh, Carter's former team mate, said that he was looking forward to the matchup and was certain that Carter wanted to play in Toronto. Raptors could ask for nothing better than taking on a player who helped to build the team.

If Chicago had won against the New Jersey Nets, there would have been a rematch in between the two teams in the first round. Now the Bulls have fallen to No. 5 seed and will take on the defending champions Miami Heat in the first round.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Clippers Miss The Playoffs

There was so much excitement last season when the Clippers made it to the playoffs. However, this year there was no cause for celebration as the Clippers did not have a second straight postseason appearance.

The Clippers were eliminated from playoff contention after the Golden State Warriors defeated Portland Trail Blazers to clinch the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference. The Warriors won before the Clippers lost 86-83 to New Orleans Hornets.

Clippers star Elton Brand said that he did not want the season to get over for the Clippers and when it did, it really hurt him.

This elimination was worse as the Clippers were considered to be serious contenders for the Pacific Division title and for making consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since the 1992-93 season.

Guard Cuttino Mobley said that he was not feeling too good about his team not making it to the playoffs and he expected the feeling to stay with him for a long time.

Earlier in April 2007, the Clippers lost three games on the trot and they knew that they would have win the final five games if they wanted to make it to the playoffs.

The Clippers game from behind with a 10 point deficit to beat the Lakers and they followed it up with a decisive win over Portland what was their fourth game in five nights. But when it came to the Sacramento Kings, they could not muster up a win and it was this loss that did them in.

Brand was disgusted with effort put by his team and criticized some team mates after the game. He said that the team did not come out with the energy required to win the game and he thinks that the Clippers have realized how hard they would have play every single game.

The Kings are the worst team in the Pacific Division and the Clippers trailed by 23 points in the first half against them and by 24 early in the third quarter before finally losing the game 105-100.

The Clippers finished the season with a 40-42 record after they forced Phoenix to a seventh game in the conference semi-finals.

Coach Mike Dunleavy has asked the Clippers players to forget about the draft, free agency and trades, and just concentrate on individual improvement during the summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Free Youth Soccer Drills Can Transform Your Soccer Team

Most youth soccer coaches are both parents first and as we all know supporting a family and balancing work and home life is becoming increasingly difficult. It would follow that most youth soccer coaches would benefit from a resource that would save them time and make coaching less of a hassle.

Putting together a plan for training a time right takes time and knowledge about soccer. The best coaches have plan for what they want to teach their team, and they have a vast supply of drills to draw from that helps them cover each topic.

The drills at soccer practice should be fun and informative for players. A good practice plan maintains a certain excitement level for players at all times, rather than boring them to the point of not showing up. These free soccer drills would be great for any team between the ages of 11 and 18. They feature numerous small-sided games and some basic skills drills that your team would absolutely love.

Each of these free soccer practice designs comes from a soccer-coaching manual I have put together called "Soccer Season Outsourced." The book is designed to do a few different things for any youth soccer team, but most specifically it is designed to make sure that players learn and improve their game, regardless of how much knowledge the coach brings to the table.

Another goal of the book is to level the playing field between inexperienced and experienced coaches by giving the novice coach various pointers and coaching points, plus all the practice and drill designs the team will need to improve. In essence, the drills in this book are designed to be the teacher, while the coach is there to basically guide the team along, as opposed to over coaching them. It is all about letting them play!

Youth soccer leagues always need more volunteers to help coach. If you are a soccer parent who has not yet coached, I am confident that this soccer-coaching manual can help you become a great coach, even if you know nothing! If you are already a coach, this book will save you much time and heartache, giving you valuable drills that will turn your team into a dominate powerhouse.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Perfect Marathon Pacing Formula

I have run 15 marathons and finding the perfect pace has always been a problem. I believe that I have a formula for marathon pacing that works. I will explain how to calculate your pace using a heart rate monitor.

The major problem running marathons for me has always been starting out either too fast or too slow. When I start out too fast, by mile 18 I am in serious trouble. With eight miles to go and my body in bad shape things get real ugly. When I start too slow by mile thirteen my legs will usually not respond to the faster paced. I believe this happens because as the legs become tired your stride length and turnover will not increase to a faster pace.

To determine your marathon pace run a half marathon at your best effort during the first week of your marathon training program. Wear a heart rate monitor during the half marathon and record your average heart rate of the entire race. By subtracting 5 beats from this number you will know your marathon pace heart rate.

Example: average heart rate of 150bpm – 5bpm = marathon pace heart rate of 145bpm
Training at this heart rate once a week during your marathon buildup you will learn to run at marathon pace and the correct effort. Start your marathon pace runs at 5 miles and build up to 15 or 20 miles in length.

Your long runs can be used as marathon pace runs as well. Every other week running a long run and adding marathon pace to the second half will improve you fitness tremendously. Once a month use one of your long runs exclusively as a marathon pace run. After a longer marathon pace run over 15 miles use the next week to recover.

At the midpoint of your marathon training run another half marathon and record your average heart rate. Doing this will allow you to monitor any changes in your average heart rate. If your average heart rate increases or stays the same you will know that your training is going well. If your average heart rate goes down, you will have an indication of over training.

As your marathon race date approaches run a half marathon at your best effort three weeks before race day. Use a heart rate monitor during the race to record the average heart rate of the entire race. After the race is over save this number for future reference. Take the average heart rate of your half marathon and subtract five beats from it. This number will be the maximum heart rate for running you're upcoming marathon.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Beauty of Hills

I just love the results that hills give to my running. No other workout gives more to my running than hills. Want to run fast, run some hills. Want to increase your leg strength, run hills. Want to work on your running mechanics, run hills. Want to increase your mental toughness, run some hills. Want to get in shape fast, run some hills.

Every time that I stop running hills for an extended period of time I start to run slower. I'm not sure why I always stop. Probably the pain that I feel when I run hills hard. The shear agony that running up a half mile long hill at 5k effort can bring, is this why?

When I am running my best it has always happened after running hills once a week for a couple of months. The increased leg strength that I develop and my increase in lung capacity are just a few of the reasons for running so well.

Our running club meets once a week to run a course that is called ball busters. This is a 7 mile course of 12 hills that increase in difficulty. Each hill has a different grade and length. And at the top of each hill there is a flat section leading to the next hill.

I can run many different types of hill workouts on this one course. One time I will concentrate on running the uphill sections hard. The next time I might run the hills and flat section hard. Or another week I can run the whole course as fast as I can. There are so many ways to run this course that I shouldn't become bored with hills.

What can a person do that lives in an area were hills are not available? Options can include running stairs, hill workouts on treadmills, stadium bleachers. I have heard of runners using beach areas.
Treadmills are an excellent way to run hills. A common injury caused by hills is running back down. Using a treadmill you can correct this problem. After running the hill reducing the incline back to zero during your rest period. By not running downhill the landing shock reduced.

Treadmills can simulate most any hill. The length or speed running up the hill can be varied to meet your needs. A good treadmill hill workout could be ¼ mile uphill repeats with a ¼ mile jog. Choose a speed that might seem a little slow at first. As the incline increases the intensity will also increase.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Is the Premiership Really That Good, or Just Part of BSkyB's Successful Marketing?

To British subscribers of BSkyB, and in particular Sky Sports, you might have noticed that the message that the Premiership is the place to be has been hammered down your throat on more than one occasion. Is the Premiership really that good, or is this just part of BSkyB's attempt at successfully marketing their brand?

The Premiership is arguably one of the wealthiest leagues in the world, in part thanks to BSkyB's massive TV deal, which eclipses any other league in the world. BSkyB recently agreed a new three year deal with the Premier League, and Sky will pay £1.314 billion for 92 games. Other revenue comes from Setanta, who are paying £392 million for 46 games, and foreign TV rights have been sold for £625 million (even Internet and Mobile Phone revenue will generate £400 million). This new deal will mean that the clubs in the Premiership will receive £50m (which includes prize money and TV revenue).

With such lucrative sponsorship deals, the Premier League has been able to attract some of the finest players in the world, mainly due to the high wages on offer. In turn better player enables clubs to compete more in the various European competitions, like the UEFA Champions League, and UEFA Cup. If the Dutch Eredivisie had such lucrative sponsorship deals, would the leagues various clubs see an exodus of talent each year? The question is undoubtedly no, as it would be able to compete with La Liga, the Premier League, and Serie A, in terms of attracting players, and offering them financial incentives.

More finance in the top tier of England's league pyramid, is steadily creating a gulf (in financial terms) between teams from the Premier League, and teams in the lower divisions. This means that when a club is promoted from the Championship, they will generally struggle (with a few exceptions), and end up relegated back to the division where they have just come from. This statement seems a bit absurd, but you only need to look at the past few seasons in the Premiership to see the facts for yourself.

The gulf in finances is gradually seeing the rich get richer, and it is also seeing them pull more and more away from the rest of the pack, who are trying to keep up (and is some cases some have gone into administration as a result). If you think this is another absurd statement, just have a look at which clubs have finished in the top four (Champions League qualification places) over the past four seasons. Only one club (Everton in 2004/05) has managed to break into the top four, from outside the so called Big Four (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United).

Sky's argument and constant marketing that the Premier League is the best league in the world, to me seems a bit far fetched. Clubs which gain promotion into the Promised Land generally struggle, as they can not compete financially, and generally end up relegated within a season or two of promotion. The gulf between the rich and poor is getting bigger each season, and clubs outside the so called Big Four, are finding it harder and harder to gain a top four finish. At the start of each season, clubs outside the Big Four have their own mini league, and compete amongst each other for a UEFA Cup place, and trying to avoid the relegation places. Sound like an exciting league?

If you listen to the constant advertisements on BSkyB regarding the Premier League and also to their football commentators, you will get a different story. Towards the end of the 2006/07 season, each week the matches involving Manchester United and Chelsea (the two teams competing for the league title) were hyped up to an unbelievable level. The fact that there were only two clubs competing for the title after Christmas, was brushed conveniently under the carpet. The clash between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge (towards the end of the season), was being billed as the match of the season, and one you just could not afford to miss. Unfortunately I wished I missed that match, as by that point the title was already at Old Trafford, and both teams played their reserve sides in a drab 0-0.

In contrast the Bundesliga, Eredivisie, and Portuguese Liga titles went down to the last match of the season, and proved to be more entertaining then the Premiership title race. Going into the last round of fixtures in the 2006/07 Eredivisie, AZ, Ajax, and PSV were all tied on 72 points; and their goal differences were +53, +47, and +46 respectively. During the course of the last matchday, the fate of the title swung between all three clubs, as the scores changed constantly. AZ only needed to win to clinch their first Eredivisie title since 1981, but they surprisingly lost 3-2 away at lowly Excelsior. Ajax beat Willem II away 2-0, but they lost out on the title due to goal difference. PSV thumped Vitesse 5-1 at home, to finish level on points with their fierece rivals Ajax, but clinched the title courtesy of a goal difference of +50, compared to Ajax's +49.

The 2006/07 Portuguese Liga also proved to be just as entertaining, with Portugal's Big Three (FC Porto, Sporting, and Benfica) all within two points of each other going into the last matchday. They all duefully obliged with wins on the last day, and the title was retained by FC Porto. A similar story to the end of 2006/07 season in the German Bundesliga was also unfolding, with VFB Stuttgart, SV Werder Bremen, and FC Schalke all battling for the title heading into the last rounds of the championship. Werder slipped up in their penultimate match losing in a shock 2-1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, knocking them out of the title race. On the last matchday, there were only two points separating VFB Stuttgart, and FC Schalke, and they both obliged with wins, meaning the title returned to VFB Stuttgart for the first time in 15 years.

BSkyB failed to mention in any of its programmes the exciting climaxes of the Dutch Eredivisie, German Bundesliga, and Portuguese Liga championships. This is understandable as BSkyB are solely interested in marketing their own brand - the Premiership; and to mention how entertaining other leagues are, could be seen as damaging to their product.

One of the most entertaining, and competitive leagues in the world is the Spanish La Liga. La Liga is similar to the Premiership, in terms of big clubs, and star players, but the main difference is how competitive the league is, and recent history has shown this. Unlike the predictable Premier League, were you find the usual suspects claiming a top four finish each season, La Liga have had eight different teams claim a top four finish in the past few seasons (compared to five from the Premiership).

La Liga had four clubs competing for the title with three matches to go (at time of writing) towards the end of the 2006/07 season. Valencia suffered a home defeat at the hands of Villarreal which knocked them out of the title race going into the penultimate match. Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Sevilla (with 72 points, 72 points, and 70 points respectively) are all still gunning for the title, and La Liga looks set for one of the most exciting climaxes in recent years.

La Ligas strength is also shown in the UEFA Cup, were mid table clubs fair well in the competition. At the 1/2 final stage of the 2006/07 competition, Spain provided three of the four clubs (Sevilla, Espanyol, and Osasuna). You can argue that England provided three of the four clubs at the 1/2 final stage of the UEFA Champions League during the same season (Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United); but they all failed to claim the trophy (in comparison to the Spanish clubs who claimed the trophy for the third time in the past four seasons).

There is no arguing that the Premier League is a good league, and it is a joy to watch, but it is not the place to be. The league is becoming very predicable, with the same clubs competing for the same honours each season (in reference to the league and FA & League Cups), and some fans are starting to become restless due to this. This is evident in the drop in attendances for some clubs during the 2006/07 season (and some had to even slash ticket prices to attract fans).

Part of the Premier Leagues success worldwide is down to BSKyB's successful marketing, and not solely down to football. You will find numerous people who will argue this point, but a leagues true strength should be judged on how well their teams perform on the European stage. Sadly since the formation of the Premiership, English clubs have failed to perform on the European stage, claiming only two European Cups, and one UEFA Cup. In comparison Spain has claimed five European Cups, and three UFEA Cups, whilst Italy has claimed four European Cups, and five UEFA Cups during the same period.

For BSkB to claim that the Premiership is the place, first the gulf between the Big Four and the rest of the league needs to close, and English clubs need to start performing on the European stage more regularly - once this is done, then BSkbyB can truly claim the Premier League is the place to be.