Several years ago, while on a 6-mile loop around Bay Farm Island in the predawn hours, some fellow on a fast-moving bike loomed out of the darkness coming right at me on the narrow path. We didn't collide, but the loomer lesson convinced me to carry one of those small, hand-held flashlights while running in the dark.

The fringe benefit to an early-morning run: an orange, full-moonrise hanging lantern -- like above the San Francisco skyline; its soft-shining beauty will linger in your memory the rest of your life.

Now for a few other things learned while running 62,000-plus miles. To cover the ground reasonably fast, a runner should get his or her entire body in condition. For instance, if your abdominal muscles are weak, your pelvis will sag, causing attached, upper leg muscles to have less leverage. Result? Slower running.

When I was a would-be miler at Oakland Tech, our track coach was a man named Gil Callies. We referred to him as "Calisthenic Callies" for a reason! Through the first half of the season, he would call us all into the gym after our workout on the track and run us through a series of vigorous half-hour calisthenics -- drop to the floor, do 10 push-ups, onto the back and raise straight legs 10 times, back to standing and run in place knees high, on the floor again to repeat the push-ups and leg raises, etc. etc.

We didn't learn much more about distance running than our opponents, but we could actually feel we were in better shape. Along with six dual meet victories that spring (1944), Oakland Technical High School won the OAL track and field championship. And I still feel we won because we had a coach who knew how to get his team members in top physical condition. Years later, when I was a track coach at Encinal High, my own runners, jumpers and throwers learned why my coach had been called "Calisthenics Callies."

Another coach who greatly influenced the running techniques I not only coached but applied to myself as a distance runner in Masters Track and Field is featured in an article by Rich Elliott in the January/February issue of Running Times magazine. His name was Mihahly Igloi, who had been Hungary's national track and field coach. However, when the Hungarian revolt tried (unsuccessfully) to free itself from Soviet oppression, Igloi defected to the United States and brought Lazlo Tabori, his best miler, with him.

I was lucky enough to run for the Santa Clara Youth Village when Igloi came here and began coaching us. How good was he? When only six men in the world had run the mile faster than four minutes, Igloi had three of them on his Hungarian team. And, while here, he trained Jim Beatty, Bob Schul and Jim Grelle to be champions -- plus a bunch of wannabes, like this writer.

Contact Joe King at alamedanews@bayareanewsgroup.com.