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

Monday, April 24, 2017

Training, April 17 through April 23

Another week at sea level, another week of not taking advantage of the chance to get in some meaningful training work. 55 miles, most of it jogging. I guess I'm just tapering now, for some far-off event, like a fall marathon, or a track race when I'm 50, or for the funeral I refuse to have held in my dubious honor.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Training, April 10 through April 16

Easily the least inspired running week I have had in some time. I'm at sea level and in theory could be taking advantage of that to do some less-depressing workouts, but this week I was just tired, increasingly so as the week went on despite running less and less.

The real focus is on my friend and host Arthur's effort at tomorrow's Boston Marathon, not that this should have detracted from my own running. At this point I'll take the fact that I am not injured and still haven't missed a day in 2017.

I may race this week. That is all.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Understated aspects of realistic goals

First, the obvious stuff: Having goals in life -- beyond the obvious in-the-moment basics like "I must obtain food today" and "I'd like to get out of this terrible rainstorm now" -- is great. I would even say setting and pursuing challenging goals is necessary for happiness in life, with the nature of these depending on your intellectual constitution. If you are born into a family without much money, aren't especially gifted academically, and don't grow up in a situation lending itself to opportunities for professional advancement, then having kids, earning a steady income, and creating a safe place for them to grow up and thrive is often a challenging, unrelenting and noble goal. Things like "I'd like to finish a marathon" or "I'd really like to see Europe someday" are simply not on the radar screens of a good many Americans.

Running goals are almost invariably selfish goals. This isn't central to the point I intend to make within the next 4,000 words, but it's always worth noting. Sure, it's possible to yoke your running aspirations to worthy causes, but chasing a personal best in a road or track race is the epitome of luxury time, and falling short and getting worked up about it is the epitome of a first-world problem.
Psychosocial considerations aside, though, running goals are great because they typically involve a concrete, objective time, place, or distance, making them very easy to evaluate in terms attainment  ("Did I finish?" "Did I break three hours?"). In most cases it's also easy to tell whether your goal makes any sense. If you're 15 and just started running a couple of months ago and notch a 1600 on the track in 5:38, saying "I'd like to break 4:30 before I finish high school" is realistic. Even "Maybe I have a shot at a sub-4:00 mile someday" shouldn't be off the table. On the other hand, if you are 40, have been running five miles a day for ten years or so, and have yet to break 20:00 for 5K, deciding that you suddenly want to run 17:00 before you get too old is probably not realistic.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Best post-Boston Marathon article ever: The year I drank my way to a 2:28:28

This article, which ran in N.H.'s largest newspaper, Manchester Union Leader. in April 2002, is really a fantastic piece of work. Background: I was a mess going into this, having stubbornly overtrained and with no runs longer than three miles at faster than 5:40 pace, making running slightly faster than this in the marathon a comparative triumph.

Beck, Miller best in NH field
After sweating out the forecast, NH runners enjoy mild day
BYLINE: CRAIG N. LIADIS
Union Leader

BOSTON — Kevin Beck admitted he had overworked himself preparing for the Boston Marathon.

“I got a little bit fried this spring,” the Concord, N.H., resident said. “I strained myself silly for the best of intentions1. I was doing 140 miles a week for 10 weeks.”

Coming from a runner whose intensity level is second to none amongst New Hampshire runners, Beck’s confession was hardly surprising. Nor was his finish in yesterday’s 106th edition of the Boston Marathon. For the second straight year, Beck was the first Granite Stater across the finish line, this time under cool and cloudy conditions for most of the way, until the sun dared to creep out near his finish.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Training, April 3 though April 9

57 miles in lame singles. My newest hobby seems to be cutting back unnecessarily for races and then not running them very hard anyway. This week's more-or-less spur-of-the-moment 5K was a glorified fun run an hour down the road from where I'm encamped for a couple of weeks with friends, most of them furry.

It was a step in the right direction, I guess, compared to last week's especially uninspired effort. One my my hosts and best friends, Arthur, "needed" a race of some sort before the Boston Marathon on the 17th after last Saturday's USATF-New England Grand Prix 15K was canceled due to snow, so we wound up at in Shrewsbury, Mass. today. You know it's not a very tough crowd when the race director encourages people to do jumping jacks five minutes before the start and three-fourths of the people gathered start doing them. I want to see this happen at the Olympic Trials Marathon some day.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Training, March 27 though April 2: Coxsmacked edition

As good as it is to be back in my hometown of Concord, N.H, not much about this week was good from the standpoint of focused perambulation. My top priority to this point -- whether I've admitted it to myself or not -- has obviously been piling on easy-to-moderate miles, day after day, for the sake of exploring the countryside and fondling donkeys and maintaining what passes for a state of fine mental health, rather than upping the ante and preparing myself to, you know, race. Sure, I've semi-regularly ejaculated declarations of goals onto this blog, and as I demonstrated today, I can at least haul myself to a sanctioned event and pay for a bib and go through the motions of completing it, looking only somewhat like a hapless dingbat in the process. But this, alas, is more out of a partially rekindled habit than a genuine desire to compete again.

Therefore, no legitimate reason exists for me to cut back on my workload in anticipation of a formal timed jogging event.

But I feel obligated to participate in that part of the charade as well, so I "rested" for a 5K that was supposed to be yesterday (Saturday) but was postponed by the management on Thursday afternoon to today (Sunday) thanks to a forecast involving serious snowfall. My rest wasn't especially restful, though. I didn't run much this week (five easy miles a day for the first four days of the week, then eight on Friday and four yesterday) but had to do a disproportionate amount of my work in the beginning of the week because Wednesday and Thursday were effectively shot thanks to preparing to travel and actually traveling.