Former 2:24 marathoner hoping to parlay a life overhaul at age 45 into competitive ├ęclat • Magazine writer, book editor and commentator on the sport of distance running since 1999 • Adviser and confidant of other perambulators • Paradoxical hater of exercise fanatics • Chihuahua whisperer Sentence-fragment impresario

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How I've matured as a runner

About 13 1/2 years ago, I experienced the second of two serious injuries during my meaningful running "career," which ended in 2005. I hurt my hip on the steep downhill of a nasty race called he Bridge of Flowers 10K, and I was out of commission for about three weeks at a point when I had only a couple of months to try to qualify for the Olympic Trials for the first and last time ever.

When I was back in action, I did a few repeats of a loop in a cemetery in Roanoke, Virginia. These took me about 3:10, so I guessed that the loop was very close to a kilometer long. I then availed myself of a measuring wheel to verify this...

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Quick yet intimidatingly sophisticated thoughts on those calculoconverters

You have surely noticed that there are a number of online calculators and charts out there for estimating your capabilities at a given race distance based on your times at other distances. This one happens to be my favorite, this one is sound too, and this one seems to be the one a plurality, or maybe even a majority, of runners swear by. There are numerous others.

Years ago, I started referring to these gizmos and tables as "calculoconverters" in an effort to lightly disparage them or at least discourage people's rigid adherence to them. Maybe my effort was too light, because a number of people on the forums I haunted started using this neologism while making it clear they still placed supreme value on the output of the tools it describes.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A brief PSA concerning comments

First, I obviously get very few of them. Yet virtually every time I publish a post here and link it to Facebook, a lively discussion ensues -- on Facebook. That site has messed up a lot of things for a lot of people, and one of those things is killing the essence of blogging in countless ways. I could offer a lot of reasons why I would rather see comments here than on my Facebook page, but I already know it would be pointless. At least people are reading this stuff.

Second, I am supposed to get an e-mail notification every time someone comments so I can review it and manually publish it (thanks to spammers and one potentially disruptive human freak-show out there, I cannot, alas, just allow comments to appear here as people post them). This doesn't always happen, so Double and Joe S, sorry for the delay in getting your comments, which I appreciated, posted.

Training, Jan. 9 through Jan. 15

The basics: 13 runs, 71.4 total miles, longest run of 8.7 miles, no real sustained intensity but some "honest" stretches of at least 15 to 30 minutes hovering at or just below 7:00 pace.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The fallacy of striking distance

I came up with title of this post during my run this afternoon. As cool as I think it sounds, it does not represent a formal logical fallacy, but it does pinpoint a common and sometimes grave error in reasoning.

People have proposed all sorts of explanations for the longstanding habit of a lot of poor and struggling Americans to vote for people whose policy ideas and demonstrable personal histories establish, beyond any doubt whatsoever, that the last thing these politicians care about is the well-being of poor people. The apparent nadir of this, for now, is that the man who is now the president-elect of the United States spent over a year on the campaign trail promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a piece of legislation that has been a literal lifesaver for a great many people in rural, working class or just plain impoverished America. Indeed, there is and long has been a strong inverse correlation between voting for candidates who preach "personal responsibility" and having one's life largely subsidized by the government. Two months ago, Trump won 15 the top 20 states in terms of the value of their ACA, or "Obamacare," subsidies.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ruing the loss of the gap

By the time I left high school, while I was far from a superstar runner, I had managed to rack up two runner-up finishes and a third at state-championship-level meets, run 9:43 a couple of times for 3,200 meters, and record a 15:57 in a certified 5K road race two weeks before I graduated.

My first-ever race of any sort, run in September 1984 as a scared-shitless ninth-grader on the Concord High home course at White Park, was a 21:06 5K. By the end of the season I ran 19:31 on the same course, and the next spring I broke the Rundlett Junior High School record with a 4:55 or 4:56 1,600 meters. (There's a funny story about that record that I will defer telling, probably forever, because it's not really that funny.)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Training, Jan. 2 through Jan. 8

This week I got in about 65 miles in eleven runs. I say "about" because I don't like to know exactly how far I'm running unless I am doing a formal workout, so I usually just get an estimate by dividing the number of minutes I've run by 7.5 if I think I am on the slightly faster side and 8 if I think I am slacking, even though every time I do check my pace over a segment of known distance it tends to be no slower than 7:15 and more often closer to or even below 7:00 (I assume I speed up when I'm doing this self-monitoring despite knowing that this is a natural tendency). Regardless, I am probably underestimating my mileage slightly.

 The weather was generally okay for this part of Colorado in January, although toward the middle of the week it did get bitch-ass cold for a couple of days and dumped snow on us. I took refuge indoors when this happened, which I always do reluctantly because I would almost always rather be outside even when it's foul because of the time dilation that occurs while running inside.

 As the year progresses, I don't expect to do a lot more volume than this -- I'll probably level off at about 80 come spring. I do expect to start adding some harder running in about a month.