Planning This Season’s Schedule: a runner’s guide to football (and vice versa).


Peyton Manning (AP Photo)

The off-season ended last week for Peyton Manning, Johnny Manziel, Tom Brady…. and me.

Nine out of the 32 teams will be staying at college campuses with players moving into dormitories all over the country. The Chicago Bears are holding training camp at Olivet Nazarene University while the Pittsburgh Steelers are at Saint Vincent College.

My pre-season training will take place on the streets of Western North Carolina and at the track at the local rec center. There will be no fans, most people will not even notice I have picked up the pace a bit. Nonetheless, training has begun.

Question: With no team having lost a Super Bowl and then bounced back to make amends the following season since Don Shula’s 1971-72 Dolphins, will the Broncos — humiliated by 35 points on the big stage — suffer from any lingering Super Bowl shellshock this season?

Answer: No cheap shot intended, but at this point in his Hall of Fame-bound career, Peyton Manning is entirely too familiar with the experience of a magical season ending poorly in the playoffs, and then facing the arduous task of pushing the rock back up the hill the following year.

Don Banks, Sports Illustrated

On the first day of training camp in Berea, Ohio, Cleveland Browns fans came out by the thousands, many of them to get their first live look at the popular and polarizing quarterback who electrified college football. They all came to see Johnny Manziel.

imageJohnny’s workouts will no doubt be similar to my own workouts: strength training, sprints, stretching and coördination drills.

After several months of long, slow running it is finally time to engage the fast twitch muscles with speedwork.

Anthony Sanza has developed three speed drills to develop foot speed and coördination for football players, runners or soccer players.

The purpose of the drills is to shorten the stride for greater turnover, develop the hip and thigh flexor muscles and improve agility – taking your speed and power to the next level.

(AP Photo)


The 2014 preseason will kick off on Sunday, Aug. 3 (NBC, 8 p.m. ET), in Canton, Ohio, when the Buffalo Bills face the New York Giants in the Hall of Fame Game.

My preseason kick-off will be on August 16th at 9:00am….The Dam Race, a 10K race along the shores of the historic Little Tennessee River below Fontana Dam in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Tune-up races serve the same purpose for runners that preseason match-ups do for football. Being fit to run is not necessarily fit to race. Even the toughest workout is not as mentally tough as a race – there’s less at stake.

Pete Pfitzinger wrote about tune-up races for Running Times Magazine. He says, to prepare optimally for a goal race, you need to do several tune-up races to reduce race anxiety, toughen you mentally and physically by taking you to your limit and to provide valuable feedback about your current level of fitness.

Don’t underestimate the value of this last benefit since a realistic and timely evaluation will allow you to modify your training before the goal race, if needed, and will aid in setting realistic goals for the race.

The Super Bowl is scheduled for February 4, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. It will be the main event of the season….the goal.

This season’s main event – my goal race – will be about the same time as the Super Bowl. A race of 26.2 miles that will test the training I have done since my last goal race. The slow base building, periods of rest and recovery, the speed training that begins now, practice through tune-up races and ultimately a slow buildup to the marathon distance.

Dan Head wrote an article for Triathlon on how to establish a season schedule. After he has determined his goals for the season, Dan says,

“At this point, I usually write down all of the possibilities for next season on a draft Race Calendar, and then I go talk to my wife.

Fact is, triathlon is going to consume a lot of my time and energy. Before I set up my season, I need my wife’s buy-in. Like it or not, a season of racing is a family commitment.”

Well said, indeed.

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