Episode 153 Tom Derderian

The RunRunLive Podcast Episode 153 – Tom Derderian 100 years of the Boston Marathon

[audio:http://www.RunRunLive.com/PodcastEpisodes/epi153.mp3|titles=Episode 153 – Tom Derderian]


Show intro by:

Rik Brenton



Hello and welcome to episode 153 of the RunrunLive Podcast.  No silly introductory comments for you today – it’s a short week and I’m trying to get it done so you can have something interesting to listen to for the weekend.  This is Chris, your host, and today we have an interesting interview with Tom Derderian who literally wrote the book on the Boston Marathon.  He’s got a decidedly interesting perspective on out sport having been involved in it since 1966.

His book “Boston Marathon: The First Century of the World’s Premier Running Event” covers the genesis and the first hundred years of the race with a chapter on each race.  I found it fascinating to learn some of the history and the characters.  It’s a bit of a monster at 600 plus pages but the individual chapters are short  and you can pace yourself.

The interview is a little long so I’ll add some tips and tricks around it – but try to keep it short enough for you to manage.

I’m still training away, this week was a rest week for me and I missed a couple workouts dealing with the snow blizzard we got over the weekend.  I’m racing on Saturday morning.  Coach told me to let the horses loose at the Hangover Classic 10k up in Salisbury MA.

This is my traditional kick off to the spring racing season.  It’s a nice fast flat course and I’m interested to see what I can do if I hammer it.  And, of course, there is the “ocean plunge” after the race where if you jump into the 36 degrees Farenheit embrace of the Atlantic Ocean after the race you get a special commemorative ‘plunge mug’.

It’s the first of the year so let’s recap.  What can I count as my accomplishments?  Well I pushed out 52 podcasts, I interviewed some awesome people who have enriched all our lives.  On the athletic front not as busy as previous years, but I did squeeze in 3 marathons, checked Utah and New York off my states list and had a nice fast 3:22 Boston.  We pulled off another Groton Road Race and didn’t kill anyone in the process.  I finished my target 100 mile mountain bike ultra.  I raced 4 ½ marathons and am progressing towards my 1:30 finish time goal.  I participated in the Mojo Loco.

Looks like I managed to log just over 2000 miles for the year – even with taking off a couple months for mountain biking, but, I got to be honest with you I really don’t obsess or pay attention to any of that stuff.

I got some things done on the business and family front too, but that’s my business!

I’m not bragging – far from it – I always think I can do more and accomplish more.  I’m a kinetic personality – always moving – I need to be knee deep in a campaign to be happy.  And I usually am both.

What’s the new year hold?  Who knows?  But I’m ready for it.

On with the show!

Audio clips in this episode:

Skits, commercials and parodies in this episode:

Story time:

Equipment Check:

With the winter running season upon us, and the spring marathon season starting how do you prepare to do those long runs in the cold weather?

As I’ve said before I much prefer to run outside if at all possible because I think it simulates race-day condition better and I think it’s just healthier to get outside and smell the air.

If you’ve got a long run you’re going to be outside for 2, 3, 4 or more hours.  You have to remember some things.

Of course you are going to dress for it – see my previous recommendations on winter running gear – but you have to be careful not to over dress.  One of the tricky things about multi-hour long runs this time of year is that the weather and temperature can change during your run.

That’s why you should dress in layers.  Try to wear hats, gloves, zippers and other things that you can put on or take off as necessary while you run.  You don’t want to be hot because the sweat will freeze and give you the chills.  You have to try to regulate your core temperature as appropriate with clothing options.

I usually don’t do a ton of walking when I’m doing my long runs, but if you’re not sure, you need to be able to answer the question, “what if I had to stop and walk home?” and if the answer is “I’d freeze to death.” Then you need to think about carrying some extra light weight clothes or have your phone so you can get picked up.

Another thing people forget is that their water bottles will freeze.  This past weekend I was running in 25 degree temps and my bottle started getting slushy about 2 hours into my run.  You can combat this by a) filling your bottles with warm-to-hot water or b) running loops, (I find 10k is about right), so you can stop at your car or house to swap your bottles for fresh bottles.  I have found that you can use those old beer-can/bottle ‘cozies’ as insulators to keep your bottles from freezing too.

One last caution for you is this: you are wearing a different configuration of clothes so expect to get chaffing in different places.  Be liberal in applying lubricant to your normal pointy bits, but spread it all around your belt line and your undercarriage as well.  Sometimes if it there is a very harsh wind I’ll put a smear of Aquafor on my face to keep from getting wind burn.  Remember the sun is as damaging, if not more in the winter so wear your sunglasses.

Stay safe out there and have fun – let me know if you have any other suggestions – and, by the way running in the cold does burn extra calories!

Featured Interview:

Tom Derderian


Tom’s Book ->  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0880114797?ie=UTF8&tag=run099-20&link_code=as3&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=0880114797

Since 1994, Tom Derderian has coached the GBTC men to excellence in track, cross-country, and distance running. His men’s team won the 1995 USATF New England Cross Country Grand Prix, and the men’s and women’s teams won again in 1998. Team coached by Tom & Dave Callum have won countless USATF New England men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track championships since 1998. He coached the GBTC women to victory in the team competition in the Boston Marathon in 2004 and the men in 2005. He coaches men and women from the mile to the marathon.

Tom Derderian’s coaching philosophy is demonstrated by his keen interest in developing any athlete who wants to maximize performance toward competitive goals, going one athlete, one workout, one day at a time. Tom believes that achieving such goals is a matter of individual training, since each person is unique, but can be most effectively pursued in a regular training group over a long period of time. “Training partners are the key,” Derderian says, “while the coach is around just to keep everyone entertained.” He is fond of saying that “the world is a conspiracy to keep you from training.” He sees the club and the association of postcollegiate athletes as an organization to fight that conspiracy. “We provide a context wherein serious athletes find one another to create a critical mass that brings an explosion in performance,” Derderian says.

In November 2004 Derderian organized a wildly successful talk by esteemed New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard in Boston. Lydiard’s distance-based training philosophy influenced GBTC’s original coach, Bill Squires, who was Derderian’s coach in the mid seventies with teammates Bill Rodgers, Bob Hodge, Pete Pfitzinger, Greg Meyer, Al Salazar, Randy Thomas, Jack Fultz, and all the others who flocked to Boston in those days when GBTC was one of the few serious postcollegiate clubs in the country.

running success both on and off the roads, Tom’s accomplishments include running in the Olympic trials in both 1972 and 1976, numerous New England road championships, a 2:19:04Boston Marathon in 1975, and authoring the award winning book “The Boston Marathon, The First Century of the World’s Premier Running Event (Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, 1996) and “The Boston Marathon: A Century of Blood, Sweat, and Cheers” (Triumph Press, Chicago, 2003), both available through our club store. Derderian ran at the University of Massachusetts and graduated with a degree in English Literature and Journalistic Studies.

Derderian worked for Nike in the 1970s and 80s in product development and design. He earned several U.S. patents for his creative work in footwear and apparel. He has coached atAmherst (MA) High School for one cross-country season in 1977 and for four years at Salem State College.

In addition to coaching the GBTC men, Tom Derderian has been cross-country chairman for the USA Track and Field New England Association and vice president of the organization. Tom is a senior writer for New England Runner magazine. His work has appeared in Runner’s WorldRunning TimesMarathon and BeyondTrack and Field News, and other running publications.

He is married to long-time GBTC member Cynthia Hastings. They have two daughters who have run cross-country and compete occasionally for GBTC. They live in Winthrop, MA.

Tom’s email: tderderi at ix.netcom.com.

Quick Tip:

Had an interesting question this week.  Someone asked me what a good racing strategy is if you know you are undertrained for your race.

This happens more than you would think. People are more prone to get injured in their peak training weeks.  This leaves them short some conditioning cycles that they can’t make up and may force them to take it easy while they recover.

For shorter races like 5k’s and 10k’s you can usually just fake it if you have any conditioning at all.  You may not set your PR, but It won’t kill you.

For the longer races, ½ marathons and above you have to consider the fact that you don’t have all you resources at your disposal and won’t be bringing your ‘A’ game.  It’s important not to try to train hard right before the race in an effort to ‘make it up’.  You can’t cram for a race like trying to learn a semester of Biology.  That will only make things worse.  Execute your normal ramp down and taper as if you had trained properly.

Now, I’m sure I’m not covering new ground here, and it’s not going to surprise you when I tell you that the most important thing to do is to go out slow.  Predetermine what a good pace is that you won’t flame out at.  Hold that pace early and at some point, maybe the ½ way point, check yourself, see how you feel and make adjustments.

You may feel awful and have to adjust the pace down even more or take some preemptive walks.  You may feel great and ratchet the pace up incrementally until you find your limit.

If you are really scared about your conditioning pre-plan walk breaks. For instance, walk for 2 minutes at every 5 mile water stop no matter what.  If you’re already doing a walk-run method increase the walk ratios for the first ½ of the race.

I will give you an example.  Going into the Boston Marathon last year I had trained hard for a ½ marathon in February but had not trained specifically for a marathon in April.  I thought the training might carry over, but I had no idea of how much or what kind of performance to expect.

What did I do?  I went out slow.  I hooked up with a teammate who was running a nice steady 8 minute pace and hung with her for the first 15-17 miles.  When I hit the hills of Newton I took inventory, felt great, so I gradually sped up my pace until at the end I was running 7:15’s for a nice negative split 3:22 finish.

The lesson here is that if you have been running and training for a long time, even if you’re not 100% sure of your conditioning for this race, you can ease into the race and feel it out as you go.


Ok that’s it, you have successfully navigated to the end of another RunRunLive Podcast episode 153 in the can.   And with that I’m going to wrap it up.  They can’t all be masterpieces but I try to make sure you walk away with one good tip or something you can use each episode.

I didn’t get any feedback on the top 10 feature – I don’t know if that’s good, bad or you’re just waiting to see where I go with it!  One of the things I’m going to try to be better at going forward is trying to finish projects before I start new ones!

Coming up I have in the can interviews with our good friend Ashley to talk about her successful run across the US last summer – she’s always fun to chat with – and I learn a lot from her.  Also I recorded a chat with Mitch Joel who is a famous social media guru who does the Six-Pixels-of-Separation podcast.  I know that’s coloring outside the lines a little, but I like to do things that I find interesting and I think they impact our little world.

And this morning I got Mary McManus back on the phone with her massage therapist Eric to talk about the recent successes she’s been having with her impairment and her running.  Mary is the most positive person you will ever meet.  She just glows with positivity.

I have been listening to a history of Rome.  I find the parallels with our modern world and especially the Pax Americana of my life fascinating.  Rome never met an enemy it could not defeat, except the enemies from within that eventually caused it to rot from the inside out. Still, a thousand years is a good run.

Did you know that ‘decimate’ is a Roman phrase that originally referred to the practice of executing every 10th member of a legion that brought disgrace by retreating in battle?  I did not.

The history of Rome is just peppered with charismatic and brilliantly confident leaders too.  I listened recently to the story of Marius.  Marius created the first professional Roman army.  One of the cool things he did was to take the existing tactical arrangement of the army and dramatically reorganize it.

Originally they used the Greek phalanx which was rows of soldiers hiding behind a shield wall and pushing forward.  But that only worked well on level ground and couldn’t react to being flanked.  Then they switch to the maniple which was a phalanx with gaps in it, like a checker board so they could turn and fight as individual units.

Marius up and changed it so that the maniples could rotate fresh lines to the front, like changing lines in a hockey game and made it even more flexible.  He also made the new professional soldiers carry their own packs so they could move faster without a baggage train.

What struck me most about all this is that he didn’t have to do it.  When he reorganized the army there was no external threat.  Rome had crushed Carthage, had Greece and Anatolia under wraps and there was no one to fight with.

Leaders, great leaders do things proactively, make changes in anticipation of events.  Great men and women take the risky different path even when there is no reason not to stay with a system that worked well for hundreds of years and usually have to fly in the face of customer and the ‘way it’s always been done’ to do so.

You may ask, “Chris, why do we care about Rome?  Why are you reading history and science and things that have no tactical relation to your career or even your hobbies?”  That’s easy for me to answer.  I have found that the mind needs fresh dirt to grow the best crops.  You might even say it needs a little manure.

By reading and learning continuously and broadly you become a much more intuitive and agile thinker, problem solver and leader.  Your mind connects the dots even if you can’t and it finds big, out-of-the-box solutions to problems and situations that you may even consider mundane.

You, my friends, should consider the fact that your next promotion may come from an insight that you leveraged from the actions of a 2500 year-old Consul, or a medieval French love poem or an alien race in a science fiction novel.

And when you do, I’ll see you out there,

Music to take you out, from Music Alley, is the_risk-mary It’s about three and a half minutes long – Tempo time If you can run an 800 before the song is over that’s close to a 7 min mile!

Ciao, and happy Nuevo ano


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Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy.  Chris is the author of “The Mid-Packer’s Lament”, and “The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy”, short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack.  Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at www.runnerati.com.  Chris’ Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at www.runrunlive.com. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners and the Goon Squad.

Email me at cyktrussell at Gmail dot com

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