Former 2:24 marathoner, now in my late 40s and hoping to maximally flatten the curve of my slide into senescence and mediocrity • Magazine writer, book editor and author, 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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Training, week of May 8 through May 14: unimpressive junk on display

An additional 63 miles' worth of barely aerobic garbage, all in the name of more amusingly passing the time between the present and my eventual last stinking breath. That's my rationale now: I'm practically embarrassed to even admit here what I'm up to every Sunday or Monday, but I'd be a fount of even worse banality were I not running.

As the graphic reveals, this was series of short, stubby, pathetically shriveled runs, especially in the beginning of the week when rainy weather contributed to that shrinkage. I rallied somewhat later in the week, and on Sunday afternoon I had some pleasant accelerations at a sexy pace, but the week as a whole failed to swell into anything resembling a proud, throbbing effort. Well, the last part is arguable; I seem to be sore more often than not now -- the new addition to the soreness pile involves my right knee, although it's nothing debilitating yet -- despite doing everything I can account for (diet, sleep, avoiding toxic chemicals. general life satisfaction) the "right" way, if you consider the act of running itself to be a right thing. And that is always debatable.

Interesting to consider is that my mileage and paces these days are actually similar to what I was about to start doing just under 30 years ago; I just had a lot more in the well then. At this very point in 1987, when assholes of all ages still roamed the earth without portable phones and teenagers nationwide could legally smoke cigarettes, I was a junior at Concord (N.H.) High School and about three weeks away from placing high in a statewide championship for the first time. I went into the Class L State Champs with a best time of 10:01 for 3200m, ranked no better than 7th or 8th in the event, and wound up second to Jon Lacombe of Memorial on a dismally hot June afternoon on a shitty track in Manchester. The following Saturday, I took my SAT in Concord in the morning and rode with my mother to Keene and the Meet of Champions in the afternoon, and there I ran under ten minutes for the first time -- well under -- and took third to Lacombe and Sean Livingston of Kennett. (That fall, in early November, I would again take the SAT on a morning when I had to run a Meet of Champions in the afternoon, The second time, I did slightly better on the test and much worse in the race.)

That summer break, which for us New Englanders didn't start until late June, I bumped up my mileage to an average of 50 to 55 a week, reaching a high of 60 a couple of times, and, with no real "workouts," ran 27:24 for a fairly hilly five-mile race. That was as high as I dared go, because it was more than anyone else I knew was doing, and I was routinely warned (mainly by people I knew at some level were ignorant) of this horrible phenomenon of Burning Out. Sure, I occasionally read in Boston Running News about kids my year like Scott Cody, who was an hour or so down I-93 across the Charles River from Boston. Scott, who ran something like 9:07 for two full miles indoors for Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School (and graduated in the same class as Matt Damon) reportedly ran 70, even 80 miles a week in the summer. But this once-a-month publication wasn't enough to convince me to try doing more than I did -- not that it necessarily would have made a big or positive difference...the point here being that in those days, I could get faster doing the kind of running I'm doing now albeit over hillier terrain. I can run 7:00 pace all day long for 10 miles a day now but I will never run low 16's for 5K on that kind of shit, which as anything but shit in those heady days of chasing -- without success, you should know -- a state track or cross-country title.


  1. aahh, a Scott Cody reference.At least you didn't have Bill Harrington in your conference. I'm still waiting for somebody to beat him.

    1. If I remember right, Scott and Jamahl Prince, both of C R&L, both ran the 1600m at the '87 New Englands and may have gone 1-2, or were seeded 1-2. In '88, Scott was beaten in the 3200m by John Finn and possibly by one of the Butler Twins from St. Raphael's in R.I.

      Harrington -- Swampscott, right?

  2. I think you are right. Harrington had great range, going from the 400 to the 2 mile with ease. He eventually ended up training with Ristano who was trying to put together a sub-elite local club.

  3. yes Swampscott. Him and Eric Green.