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

Monday, August 28, 2017

High activity at low ebb

My own running has been curtailed (new information on this toward the end). The World Athletics Championships ended two weeks ago and cross-country season hasn't started yet. There's not much going on in the elite road-racing world in August. This is, in theory, as good a time as any to neglect this superfluous webpit.

Nevertheless, a few things are happening in my running orbit. Not all of them are good.

First, I learned some distressing news from Eric Kobrine, a friend I ran and worked with for several weeks in Orange County back in my comparatively fast, or at least ambitious, days fifteen years ago: a Southern California runner I met in 2002 was killed in a hit-and-run last Wednesday. (Eric is the one in the light-blue shirt in the video.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Malcolm Gladwell vs. LeBron James, yes; LeBron sub-4:40, no

Malcolm Gladwell is an essayist and provocateur of sorts. He likes to look under society's hood to see if the things we too often assume are responsible for success (or failure) are really the driving forces at work in these people and situations. (He reminds me of the Freakonomics crew, or maybe it's the other way around.) I've read The Tipping Point and Outliers and enjoyed them both. I don't agree with everything Gladwell says but I usually like how he says things. He has a podcast too. And he's a dedicated runner.

LeBron James is one of the best basketball players of all time, a fact you already knew unless you just landed here from another planet (not an unfair guess on my part, since a number of my regular readers clearly spend a fair amount of time thinking, plotting and living in places other than Earth).

Now, as Chris Chavez reports for S.I., Gladwell wants to race James over a mile.

I would love to see this match-up. So would Chavez, who engages in some bizarre reasoning:

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The two biggest pathos of the 2017 World Champs

Earlier today, a friend remarked "there's nothing easy about this sport." She wasn't talking about her near-Olympic Trials qualifying miss (19 seconds, or about 1/5 of one percent, all lost in the last mile) or returning from a potentially career-ending injury recently; she wasn't talking about herself at all, in fact. She was making an observation about an athlete who should know by now that you don't win races on the basis or your reputation or anything you did a bunch of years ago, and that the more you position yourself as a prima donna, the more of a target you become.

She was merely saying something we all tell each other as a matter of course: A lot of the time, this just sucks from lots of angles.

While every sport is characterized by pathos, this one is filthy with them. When someone fails in running, it's undeniable -- times and places don't lie, and there are virtually no blown calls. It's painful, often jarring, to watch. Injuries are arguably as great a factor in interrupting ending elite running careers as they are in American football.

Which is why it's so cool when it goes the other way.

The 2017 World Athletics Championships are over, and two emotionally charged stories stand out. I'm not the only one who thinks nothing else out of London over the past 10 days came close.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Why I won't actively rehab this or any injury

I learned yesterday with a fair degree of confidence what's wrong with my knee: patellar tendinosis (or tendinitis). It's a slightly unusual presentation in being more lateral than medial, but not especially so.

I got some great information about rehab exercises and what I can and can't (or should and shouldn't do) in the near term. Some I knew about, others I didn't.

The reality is that I plan to put none of this information to use. I was fairly enthusiastic at first about using this injury (and has it really only been 23 days?) as a reason to get back into lifting weights or cycling more or some other pointless bullshit. But if it doesn't heal on its own, not including the help of 2,400 mg a day of ibuprofen, fuck it. I have no impetus whatsoever to return to a point where I'm then tempted to once again start chasing awful-ass times.

I don't really like lifting weights, cycling, or being around groups of people in gyms or anywhere else The more I advertise this mindset, the more certain I am of embracing it, of reifying it.

I have an appointment scheduled for the 18th with an orthopedist. I'm debating at this point whether to keep it, but I probably will just for completeness' sake.

I'm actually glad this injury happened, and if I had any courage or commitment I would take a fucking sledgehammer to one or both knees just to erase all remaining doubt, then force the government to buy me a wheelchair and ride it down a ski ramp or off a cliff like Cutter John from "Bloom County," setting fire to myself and the whole apparatus in the process. Actually, there's no reason I can't do that even when relatively healthy, and aim for my face instead.

As negative as this may sound, I'm just pleased to be free of the compulsion to get things better so I can go back to wasting time running around on the local roads and trails like an idiot, desperate to once again use a stopwatch to create a ridiculous measure of personal worth. It's not like I will likely use the unexpended training energy for anything more useful, but at worst I'll just trade one bullshit hobby for another.

(Note that I don't intend this as broad advice, or mean to discourage anyone who's hurt and wants to get back to running. I consciously support people in their pursuit of asinine goals all the time.)