Mark Belger is one of those iconic names in American Athletics. His indoor races were legendaryrr, and his time at Villanova had him racing up to 4 times a weekend, and his 800m races (won TAC title in 1983) were legendary. Mark was 4th in the 1976 Olympic Trials, winning an NCAA title two years later.
Jeff Benjamin spoke to the fast finishing Villanova alum on training in the modern era, with the COVID-19.
Awaiting The Baton In The Relay Exchange Zone – Profiles Of Athletes, Coaches & Legends During The War Against Corona
Profile # 19
Running Legend Mark Belger
By Jeff Benjamin
How is your daily training/coaching routine doing and how challenging has it been for you in this environment?
“The challenge… Adapt.
I was surprised how much I took for granted. Now, with the gyms closed, the parks, local tracks, and trails all closed as well, it’s become very challenging to keep on a training schedule.
Before everything closed I was running fartlek in a nearby park almost daily and hills twice weekly. I went to the gym often in the mornings to stretch and work a little muscle tone and balance.
Given the current situation I’ve moved my workouts to the roads. I’ve measured off a 400m stretch where I run my long strides (4-6×400) followed by 4×200 shorter strides at least twice weekly. On the alternate days I’ll jog a easy 5 mile loop around town. Everything I do these days I do alone.
What advice can you give to runners, -especially youth, high school, collegiate- who are challenged during this time as well?
“Don’t give up.
Keep a routine.
Never stop dreaming.
The situation we’re in may take a while to correct itself. It’s all about respect and responsibility. This will pass.
Practice social distancing while keep in touch with your friends and training partners. Challenge each other to virtual workouts, and keep a routine.
“Routine, routine, routine!” is one thing my college coach, Mr. Elliott, drilled into me. Go to bed and wake up the same time every day, have your meals the same time every day, and train the same time every day. Keeping a routine makes you stronger than you think. Don’t give up.
As the training goes, #1. Be safe, and #2. Have fun – do not train hard! Your strength will come from having fun with the training. I like to limit my training to no more than an hour a day with at least one day off a week.
If you want to play with one of my favorite off-season workouts then take an hour and practice warming up and warming down for a fantasy race. Jog, stretch and do some vigorous calisthenics. Run a half dozen 80-100m pickup strides, then run a few (maybe 3) really nice strides, then jog down and stretch. (Half of the workout is jogging.) Throughout the workout think about running In a very specific race. The Who and What Race you fantasize about is up to you. In my day I often visualized how I’d out run Sebastian Coe or Juantorena, or how I’d make up a 50m deficit anchoring a relay.
There’s no harm in dreaming, and dreaming is free.”