Legendary UCLA and Olympic running coach, Bob Larsen, remains a key factor in the resurgence of American distance running on the international stage. City Slickers Can't Stay With Me chronicles Larsen's collaboration with 4-time Olympian Meb Keflezighi, the world-class distance runner with a unique American success story.
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Bob Larsen is a cool guy. It's obvious he has a lot of experience and success with college and high school athletes. I loved the Jamul Toads and their presence in San Diego in the 70s, and 80s. There was some awesome footage of them at that time and that was my absolute favorite part of the film. However, the current or more modern coaching messages from Coach Larsen seem outmoded by like 30 years, and its why I give this film only 2 stars. Quite honestly, "threshold training" and the emphasis on that type of running is probably the main reason world class distance running in the US suffered in and around 2000. It is not as the film suggests, because no one was altitude training. No, everyone was injured from training too hard at threshold level all the time. It's not a sustainable model for distance training unless in addition to it, an athlete uses performance enhancing drugs to help him or her recover. Cue Alberto Salazar. I think his presence in the film as a coach, not an athlete, is less than ideal given the allegations concerning his coercion of Nike athletes to follow questionable drug protocols. But back to the threshold training and altitude espoused in this film. Sure you can find a super athlete like Meb and ride that horse all the way to the Olympics, but Meb is an athletic anomaly not the rule. He'd probably succeed on any type of training regime. Finally, in case anyone is still reading this review, it would have been cool to see some newer training methodology discussed in this film. Stephen Seiler and his study of Norwegian distance athletes and that country's practice of "polarized training" is most prominently on my mind. The Norwegian brothers Ingebrigtsen, are certainly running very fast world class middle distance track times today. I doubt they are using the Bob Larsen/Joe Vigil approach of 30 years ago to achieve it.
Wow! What a great film! If you're a runner you'll love this film; if you know who Meb Keflezighi is, you'll love this film; most importantly, if you know who Bob Larsen is, you'll love this film. I'm surprised I just found out about it recently, and that was just by accident, when Amazon suggested it based on my interests. If you have haven't seen it yet, don't waste another moment, and watch it now; you won't regret it, and you'll probably be motivated to go for a run afterwards!
This excellent documentary traces the long career of the beloved distance running coach Bob Larsen. It artfully weaves together two strands: archival footage and interviews documenting Larsen’s development as a coach at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels; and an intimate portrait of his coaching relationship with Meb Keflezighi, starting at UCLA in the 1990s and leading up to the 2014 Boston Marathon. There are many wonderful moments when various athletes recall Larsen’s quirks and describe what makes him such a superb coach, someone who could “get the best out of anybody.” And especially in recounting the story of the Jamul Toads in San Diego in the 1970s, the film manages to capture the joy of training and racing on a team, and of running itself. An added bonus is the stunning close-up footage of Meb training at altitude in Mammoth Lakes, California.
Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2017
Greatness is the best single word that describes Coach Bob, his protege Meb, and this film. So much in the movie is uplifting - the positive attitude of everyone involved, the sense of gratitude and humility of Meb, the admirable work ethic of all the runners.
What an excellent film, professionally done in all respects, and especially enjoyable for competitive runners and those with San Diego or UCLA connections.
Great movie! I was fortunate to have Bob Larsen as my coach at Grossmont College and the movie accurately captured the essence of his style of coaching, philosophy and personality. The comments made by the runners that he coached were right on the mark.