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

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.

Unlike last year at this time, I have no real racing plans. On Feb. 1, 2017, I was two months into a running "comeback" -- and I put that word in quotes because the only people who should use it are pros or former elites -- following a six-month spate of sloth and brutal self-immolation. Given how my training was going at the time, I thought I'd be capable of no worse than a 16:30 5K at sea level by the end of the year. I never attained that level, which sucks anyway, and in fact my only real race of the year was a 38:31 10K, which is pitiful even for a never-was-any-good wrinkled old shitbag on a slow course at altitude. After I hurt my knee in mid-July, which cost me five weeks, I rather ostentatiously gave up on serious training, and my running from late August until the end of the year consisted of maybe five days a week of 3- to 5-mile days.

The nice thing about being both elderly and out of shape, though, is that it doesn't take much to continue to make fitness gains. Accordingly, as I'm discovering, even though I went from about 10 miles a day pre-injury to about a third to a half of that post-injury, I have continued to improve, inasmuch as I can tell without formally testing myself. It's not a big deal at this point to bang out everyday 30- to 60-minute runs at under 7:00 a mile without really forcing anything. That doesn't sound like a big deal, and it shouldn't, but keep in mind that my pace at the Bolder Boulder 10K was 6:12. I would have to do little more than remember how to move in a more-or-less straight line to better that in four months.

Anyway, a running streak was a major reason I hurt my knee last year (and also experienced some problems with my bum left ankle), so I shouldn't be boasting about doing the same crap now. But a part of me would just as soon be sidelined again so I don't have to confront the notion of entering more races and subjecting myself to the duel miseries of overly hard breathing and falling far behind people who themselves look roughly as spry and athletic as cocaine-addled platypuses.

I do know I'll be heading to New England in April for the Boston Marathon for fifth straight year, as one of "my" athletes and friends is in the elite international field and a few other pals are signed up. I will probably be in the area for about four weeks, as usual. Assuming my knee is still OK then, I will have plenty of opportunities to get sucked into running a race or two. I'm hoping I have the resolve to take a pass each time. Considering some of the other habits I've managed to forsake in the past couple of years, not throwing $35 away on the chance to skitter around like a clown at 5:40 pace with other clowns ought to be a snap. I just need to be strong.

Also: a few days ago, I had a piece on why you should run a marathon this year (note: that's "you," not "me") posted the other day on, and by the end of the week I'll have one on how to avoid going out too hard in races. I've been told by sources familiar with the ownership and operation of the site that I'll be asked to write three or so pieces a month, which would be nice because it's about the only ongoing running-writing gig I can imagine doing at this stage. I am  generously paid and if I want to I can ever use salty language, averse though I naturally am to cursing.

*Reflexive revulsion at the idea of being around people is not the same as a distaste for actually being around them. Other misanthropes know where I'm coming from here.


  1. I have also felt the marathon is the truest test of a distance runner. For those racing it is far closer to a 10k than any ultra in comparison. The whole idea is seeing how fast you can possibly train yourself to run all out over 26.2 miles. That’s why I have embraced “The Beck Program” because if executed properly you can know that exact pace within 5 seconds per mile. Show me another with similar results.

    On another note, as successful as it has been for me, it is a bear to execute. I have not found a basis for cobbling this for other distances.

  2. Great Job Beck! It's enjoyable reading about your training! I know your one of the best coach's in the U.S. but a few things. #1 When the hot weather comes be ready with great ideas for cooling and #2 if you sense an injury coming on a couple days of rest is good in and of itself and #3 and this is a good idea. Say you do get injured. Well while your not injured at the moment which is awesome, take the time now to visualize some fun and different forms of rehab that are pleasant to get back fast! Remember if you get injured, 10 days or 2 weeks will not be a great setback at all. Come up with some ideas. But also remember that this time YOU MAY NOT GET INJURED!!!