Do you think the average human is physically capable of running a BQ (Boston Qualifier) marathon time, provided he/she was willing and able to put in the necessary work?
JW: No I don't. I think the first constraint is mental. I have met too many people that cannot comprehend running 1 mile, much less train at all. The average human (or at least American) is close to being obese at this point and soon will be. These folks are a long way from understanding what exercise is and what it means. The idea of "training" is so foreign to them that you might as well ask if they will ever walk on the moon. I think even if these folks could get something going, it would be very rare individual who could do the work and not get injured.
I would argue however, that the average or in fact below average folks that do anything around memorial do have a chance, but they-just by being there-are way above your average person.
Do you have an opinion on if, and how, someone should change their running form? (the crazy barefoot man on the internet says heelstriking is unnatural - is it worthwhile to transition to forefoot striking?)
JW: I don't believe that any conscious effort should be made in changing adults running form. My opinion is that we run the way we run biomechanically because that is the most efficient way for us as individuals to run. There is an ideal model, and if you naturally run that way, then you will most likely be faster than those that don't. That ideal model is perfect for the person that already runs that way. His or her muscles function well in those biomechanical positions. Each person has a model that is best for them, that is how you should run.
I think the best way to change form, (assuming that it is even possible to do so at all) is to change the strength and effectiveness of the specific muscles. Hill running is easily the best method for this. It will increase knee drive and naturally allows one to get used to running with your foot strike being under you center of gravity and usually not on your heel (similar to what "crazy barefoot man" most likely espouses).
To what extent do you think performance enhancing drugs are used by elite distance runners?
JW: I think there are folks out there that cheat. But they are doing so less and less and not at the big races. The major races, Chicago, London, Boston and New York, etc really test. They do not just do lip service. The lesser ones, that pay a lot less, often to do not. (Testing is a major pain). On the track, the major championships is where you see the differences. You rarely see anymore that the best performer throughout the season is not in the hunt at the major championships in the 1500 and up. This did not used to be the case.
So I think things are OK and I hope getting better.
I do think the top Americans are clean.
What is your training like right now? Which dates are circled on your calendar?
JW: My training is pretty weak right now. I run about 35 miles a week with usually a fartlek (4 miles of 45 fast/45 cruise) and an interval session (3 x 1600 w/ 1 min, rest 5 mins, 2 x 1000 w/ 3 mins OR 8 x 400 w/ 400 jog) of some sort. I hope I can get a little better training done in '06, but we will see.
The only racing dates on my calendar are ones that pop up when I don't have weekend coaching conflicts. So right now, I have no dates circled.
What workout(s) do you think would be most beneficial for a mid-pack marathoner who wants to improve his/her marathon time?
JW: Here is one workout worth a try:
Get on an out an back course and jog out 8-10 miles. Turn around and run back the same course and gradually pick up the pace. You should try and finish comfortably (pace wise) at or under goal marathon pace. This would count as the long run.
Other than that, the best thing is to make sure that regular intervals (8 x 1000 for example) along with a medium long run (1:30) are done quite often in training.
What advice would you give a novice marathoner preparing for this year's Houston Marathon, given that essentially all his/her training is behind him/her?
JW: The half way point is 20 miles. Figure out goal pace prior to the race and run it (no faster-no matter what) until at least 20 miles. Then and only then can you think about changing pace.
Thanks again do Coach Warren for his thoughful answers, and he didn't even seem to mind that I tried to sneak a sixth question into my five question interview.