The increasingly parochial observations of a casual runner in his fifties. Was "serious" about "the sport" until personal and sociocultural inevitabilities prevailed.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

10 running article titles we'd enjoy seeing (and never will)

In the spirit of Carl Hiaasen's "Released secret transcript from the last Mar-a-Lago party"-style columns...

  • Your Absurd Running Goals: Merely Unrealistic or Signs of Psychosis?
  • The Top 15 Marathons Where You Can Evade Intermediate Chip Mats
  • The 12 Most Obviously Doped-Up "Clean" Distance Runners of Yesteryear
  • 238 Instagram Runners Whose Countless Ass Photos Are Identical
  • Why USATF Should Worry About The RICO Act
  • The 9 Local 5Ks in America That Are Accurate to Within a Football Field
  • Why Potassium's Not to Blame For Your Marathon Cramps, You Undertrained Fool
  • Should Running With a Husky in Florida Be a Capital Crime?
  • How to Determine Who Farted During the Weekly Fun-Run
  • 7 Ways to Convince Yourself That Your Running Blog Matters

I considered including relevant links, but that would be both mean and unnecessary, and worse, would require work on my part.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The best of heckling

Anyone who's been a regular runner for even a few years, let alone several decades, is inclined to ponder the most unusual episode of heckling he or she has ever endured -- especially former itinerants like me who have tarried in some version of every conceivable U.S. subculture. I draw the line here short of actual physical confrontations, which merit their own category, and focus instead on exchanges that end, if not entirely benignly, with no one beaten up or jailed or finding a brand-new, brick-shaped hole in the rear windshield of his pickup truck.

While I could name countless instances of aggression and stupidity that pissed me off, most of these were prosaic, usually involving nothing more than sullen primates operating vehicles under the lash of generations of pernicious inbreeding having their say en route to a gun show. Instead, I'll focus on two that stand out as 1) extremely strange, and 2) extremely funny (but also strange).

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

1988 NHIAA Indoor State Championship (video)

My friend and high-school classmate Troy Patoine and his wife Teressa (who live in Concord and whose home I invade every April as a waypoint en route to the Boston Marathon) have conspired to convert some 30-year-old videos of our cross-country and track meets from VHS to digital format.

This is the New Hampshire High School Indoor Track and Field Championship meet from Jan. 30, 1988, held at Leverone Field House, Dartmouth College's facility, in Hanover. The first ten minutes are actually from the last league meet of the season on January 16. On the 24th, with nothing on the scholastic schedule, I ran a hilly 5-mile road race in Penacook (a few miles from my house) on a very cold and icy day. I had my coach's blessing and he knew his stuff, but it was probably a bad idea because I went out too hard and ended up with a 27:45 or so. That left me a little draggy at States, I think, but then again I was barely 18 and recovered from almost anything in about 10 minutes, including most sexual activity. Just seeing if you're awake.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Instagram and the rabble effect

Thousands of women (and a far smaller, but nonzero, number of men) use Instagram as a platform for flashing their mostly-naked bodies and nothing more. Some of them are in this only for the validation, while others do it as part of short- or long-range campaigns to earn money. A lot of these women -- or at least accounts featuring photos of women, which are not always the same thing -- don't feign pretense at being anything other than "click on the link to see me naked and more" scams; I don't have a lot of Instagram followers myself and don't seek to, but I'm still routinely followed by "people" that turn out to be nothing more than asses in thongs coupled to invitations to see the whole package. Hey, to paraphrase the great 19th-century economist Adam Smith, the invisible gonads of the free market represent a serious force.

Running is fundamentally about athletic performance for almost everyone I know who does it, but it's primarily about vanity for, I would guess, a majority or plurality of runners overall. This, predictably, has led to scads of vanity Instagram accounts that purport to double as training- and performance-based platforms, which in turn has produced an influx of idiocy and bullshit that unfortunately reaches a lot of eyes when the clueless or nefarious person behind the account happens to have a body that people enjoy ogling. (Many distance runners do have such bodies, and a lot of these attractive runners are in fact athletically accomplished or wise or both. This post is strictly about running's posers and grifters.)

The upshot, in case my rambling is unclear, is that you have uninformed people giving out bad running advice on the basis of pure aesthetic appeal, which is not nearly as unsettling as the fact that this strategy is effective.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


  • I've decided to train exclusively for inframarathons. In fact, if my knee holds up for two weeks of 8- to 10-mile days, I am going to hire a coach. (I already know which one.)
  • Moving into ultras as a "masters" runner because you feel that you can no longer be effective at shorter distances is like retiring from boxing and picking fights with random people in bars. Yeah, at first you may dominate the local scene, and you may even fare well in respected venues. But before long, you'll wind up with your ass kicked anyway, because, while you may think you're taking on inferior competitors, you're still old. And you can't escape the physical punishment of fighting no matter who your choose as adversaries, so even if you keep winning, you'll still accelerate your own physical degradation.

    The wiser thing to do is remain on the sidelines and make crude analogies about your peers who are still out there battling.
  • Once self-driving cars become commonplace, how long will it take for them to start yelling, "Hey, faggot!" at runners?
  • As dumb as literal mouth-breathers look, runners who try to breathe exclusively through their nostrils, who are far less numerous but not altogether rare, look even more ridiculous.

Thursday, February 1, 2018


I ran every day in January. Biggest day was about 12. Average, 4 to 6. I don't think I had any doubles. There is nothing worth noting about a single one of my quarter of a million or so running steps except that my trend of running a little faster at the same effort level, paribus ceteris, remains intact.

I'm in better shape than I was at this time last year, no question. I'm probably in better shape than I was at any time last year, in fact. Also, in spite of regularly pondering whether humanity might be best served by a global thermonuclear war, and despite my well-established distaste for the idea of being around animals that can talk*, I make a point of running with other people at least once and usually two or more times a week.