Running While You Study – Not As Crazy As it Sounds

A TrekDesk Work Station
A TrekDesk Work Station

I once coached a student-athlete who had the most peculiar study habits.

Like many students, she often found herself falling asleep shortly after opening her books. Her solution to this problem was unique. She began studying during exercise sessions. She would prop a book on her elliptical trainer or treadmill and read while pounding out the miles.

Soon, hitting the books became synonymous with hitting the gym. It became common to see her with a handful of notes while doing laps on her neighborhood indoor track. She once ran 100 laps while doing a review for exams.

When she began this routine, she could hardly be called an athlete. In fact,  this study-exercise combination helped her to drop 30 pounds and elevate herself from a recreational jogger into a second-team All-Canadian runner over the course of several years.

Having seen her attempt to study on a number of road trips (10 minutes-and-asleep), I always thought that her study strategy was pretty smart. In fact, it made sense, since she was using her brain while it was in a highly oxygenated and receptive state.

However, I must admit that I considered her study habits…unusual.

But no more. A company is now selling treadmills specifically for studying and working. Trumpeting the advantages of combining physical with mental exercise, TrekDesk now makes complete workstations that fit over any treadmill and allow you to walk while you work.

Apparently and unknowingly, my student was on the cutting-edge of exercise innovation.

I have absolutely no connection to TrekDesk, but you can take a look at their website at the following link:  TrekDesk

And my student-athlete who could only study while on the run? She’ll be finishing law school this Spring and will be articling with a firm she has worked with for the past two summers. They love her.

I just hope they have a treadmill in their law library.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]fitness,exercise,studying while exercising[/tags]

Women’s Teams, Bus Travel and Chick Flicks


Laurentian University, where I coach the women’s track and cross-country teams, is four hours north of Toronto, and most of our competition venues are at least that far away. (I also coach a track club, but that’s for other blog posts).

So we  do a lot of driving. In the past, we travelled in vans, but this year our fortunes changed dramatically. We now use a 30 passenger coach,  It’s heaven! The difference in stress levels after a bus-trip versus a van trip is astronomical. In fact, I’m typing this blog while sipping tea in the front seat of the bus. We’re flying down the highway and I can see the fall colors flashing past, and rivers and lakes and other spectacular views. The bus has a bathroom, luggage compartment,  reclining seats and a professional driver.

It has one other feature that sounds wonderful, but is a double-edged sword – a DVD player with five screens and speaker system. Movies! What a great way to wile away the hours!

Or so I thought. On our first trip in the bus, I made a fatal mistake. Continue reading Women’s Teams, Bus Travel and Chick Flicks

Sports Injuries Often Occur Off the Field


An event during this year’s cross-country running season reinforced the point of an article I wrote several years ago called “Injuries- Check Outside Activities.” (PE Update members can find it using the search bar).

The point of the article was, if your athletes sustain an injury – especially a chronic injury – make sure you know what their outside activities involve. And make sure you know what kind of shoes they use for casual-wear.

What reminded me of that article was one of my female runners who complained of foot pain back in the Fall. A week of non-impact training in the swimming pool didn’t help at all – the pain kept getting worse.

It wasn’t until we saw her mosey into practice one afternoon that we realized what was going on. She was wearing ballet-type slippers. Our campus is hilly with a 15-minute walk on paved streets between some classes. She was wearing the slippers because they were “comfy.”

After advising her to wear better shoes, there was still no improvement for a couple of days. We then thought to ask what she was wearing instead of the slippers. Flip flops. Not much better. She explained that they went with her nail polish (this was in late October in a northern climate). Needless to say, we advised another change in footwear.

A week after exchanging her ballet slippers and flip-flops for regular running shoes, her foot pain was gone. A miracle!!

This is a great example of an injury whose origin wasn’t sport-related. The moral is, be careful when you encounter one of your own athlete’s ailments – they may not have occurred on the playing field at all. And athletes often don’t realize how their non-sport activities can affect their injury status – as a result they may fail to mention such activities to you. You must often be very pointed in your questioning when trying to determine the cause of your athletes’ injuries.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]sports,sport,injuries,sports medicine, coach,coaching[/tags]

Team Christmas Parties

Xmas Elf

One thing that has become a tradition with my track club (for over twenty years) and now my university team, is the annual Christmas party.

Every year around this time we get together at our house for a potluck supper and other festivities, including the showing of race videos, a slide show put to music, annual awards presentations, and finally, a cutthroat Kris Kringle.

So, last night we held my university team’s Christmas party. As always, it was an informal affair. My wife, Terry, dresses like a Xmas elf. She loves the job, which includes hosting the Cutthroat Kris Kringle. There are many rules for Kris Kringles, but the way we operate it , everybody brings a wrapped gift costing less than ten dollars, then writes their name on a slip of paper and puts it into a container. The Christmas elf selects the first name – that person chooses a gift from under the tree, then selects the next name. Each subsequent person has the option of either selecting from under the tree, or stealing a gift from someone who has already selected. It’s a lot of fun, especially when athletes, who tend to be rather competitive, start to steal from each other. However, everyone realizes it’s all in good fun and the hooting and hollering keep it that way. By the way, some items get re-gifted and return year after year. With us, it’s a furry jock-strap and a rubber snake – they’ve become part of the Christmas party tradition.

The video and slide show have become easier to produce as technology has improved. I usually bring a camera and camcorder to all our competitions, and assign an athlete or parents to be the camera person for the day. By the end of the year, I end up with a great visual history of the season. At the party, I just run the videos off the camcorder, but with the photos, I produce a slideshow with a soundtrack. Technology has made this easy – I use a Macintosh, and programs like iPhoto and Expressions (my favorite), make it a snap to organize the digital photos and produce a professional-looking slideshow. The soundtrack just comes from mp3’s already on my computer.

I call the awards the “Annual Turtle Awards,” because the actual award is a Turtle candy that I toss at them (I call it the Slowpoke Awards for my university crew, because we hand out Slowpokes). The awards are tongue-in-cheek and are based on some of the funny occurrences throughout the year. For example this year’s awards included “The Worst Sense of Direction Award,” the “Kamikaze Start Award,” and the “Just Shoot Me” award.

As for the “Quotes of the Year” award, throughout the year, I do my best to immediately write down the funniest comments before I forget them. I end up with a collection of these quotes on the back of file folders, napkins and slips of paper. It’s a hoot to recite the quotes during the party, and once I compile them on the computer, they become a permanent reminder of the fun we’ve had and all the crazy characters I’ve coached over the years. Some of this year’s quotes included “I used to be obsessed with Mr. Bean. I used to pretend I WAS Mr. Bean (strange coming from a female runner), “I feel sorry for whoever dates me,” and “Is that a mitochondria in your shorts, or are you just happy to see me.” The winner was, “We’ll give you chocolate…and ice cream…and BEER, if you stop at the mall on the way home!” (I did…but they didn’t).

A Christmas part takes some preparation but it’s a lot of fun. It becomes a gathering point for athletes and alumni every year, and it’s one of the things that makes Christmas feel like Christmas for Terry and I.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]physical education,coaching,Christmas,party,team,sport,sports[/tags]

A Canadian Cross-Country Running Experience

Cross-Country Running Photo

Well it was an interesting weekend. I made the six-hour drive to Guelph, Ontario, for the Canadian Cross-Country Running Championships. For those of you who know what Canada is like in December, you might be asking, “But wasn’t it cold? Wasn’t there snow?” The answer is yes, it was cold, and yes, there was snow.

In fact, we drove down in a blizzard. A French exchange student who runs with our club (I coach at Laurentian University and with Sudbury’s Track North Athletic Club), received a true Canadian experience during the drive. He was a little wide-eyed during the near white-out conditions, his comment being, “In France, if it’s like this, we don’t leave the house.” To his credit, he later raced in his shorts.

On race-day, the temperatures was about -8 centigrade (18 degrees fahrenheit), and the course itself was hard-packed snow. It looked like a nordic ski course.

But it was a great event, with music blaring and a group of local drummers heating up the atmosphere. The snow had stopped by race day, and it was a beautiful, sunny day. The footing was OK, since the race organizers had packed it down with a tractor and roller.

Besides, cross-country runners are hardy folk. For most, the worse the conditions, the more fun they have.

This blog has readers from many countries, including places that never see snow, such as Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Malasia, and Australia. For those of you who want a Canadian athletics experience, check out the following FloCast footage of the race.

FloTrack, by the way, is a tremendous website for those of you who are athletics fans. It provides video coverage of many athletics events…in particular, the events that the mainstream media ignores in lieu of Rock, Paper, Scissors tournaments. 🙂

Here’s the link. If you want to see other races from the meet, the links are on the top left. For a school perspective, the Junior races are for athletes under 20. While they include some runners in their first or 2nd year of university, but most are high schoolers. For example, Kendra Schaaf, who won the Junior Girls race, is still in high school.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]cross-country running,athletics,sports,physical education, coaching [/tags]

Don’t Be That Awkward Runner

Physical education - Awkward Runner VideoAs a running coach, I see all sorts of technical errors in my runners. Especially from those who have patterned themselves after television or running magazines and THINK they are emulating those models.

In fact, what an athlete thinks they are doing often doesn’t match reality.

In this video, called “Don’t Be That Awkward Runner,” you’ll see some over-exaggerated, humorous examples. But the funny thing is, while exaggerated, I’ve encountered variations of every one of these awkward runners. For example, I’ve seen runners with unstable core, floppy arms, no arms, foot contact ahead of the center of mass, no arm action, heel contact first, over-wide stance, straight arms, over-exaggerated arm lift. All are exhibited in this video.

The video has labels for some of these running styles that may someday become part of the running coach’s lexicon: “the Geezer,” “the Dandy,” “the T-1000,” “the Flightless Bird,” “the Stiffy.”

Enjoy the video and whatever you do, don’t be a “Flightless Bird.”


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]running videos,funny running videos,running technique videos>[/tags]