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

Saturday, March 3, 2018


According to Strava, I ran about 180 miles in February. (The total shows less than that, but I don't record all of my runs because it's a bad idea to bring an Android out in a snowstorm.) I have no plans to boost this by a statistically significant amount, because this seems to represent a level of exercise that satisfies me psychologically without being enough to put me at risk for relapsing into "training." For all but maybe two dozen people over the age of 40 in the entire U.S., competing in races when you have no shot at approaching your fastest times is an incredibly stupid idea, and I am not close to being one of those 24-ish people. Neither is anyone reading this, but that won't stop a single one of you from getting out there and riding the struggle-bus anyway, which means your only fruitful option -- whether you realize it or not -- is to become permanently injured and find other ways to sweat.

As I just realized today for the first time in at least a week, I still haven't missed a day of running in  2018. This, in some respects, makes it all the more remarkable how much less I ran in  Feb. 2018 than I did in the same month sixteen years ago, my highest-volume week ever at 611.

I mean, I shouldn't even be admitting to this upon questioning, much less volunteering the info, but here is the data:

For anyone who is wondering, this did not prove a fruitful strategy in the short run. All it got me was tired, pissed, flat, and -- thanks to my state of mind at the time -- determined to keep at it, under the auspices of "Fuck me if I can't take a joke." Because I virtually never got injured back then, and rarely even suffered the token malaise of a head cold, the only thing that really put a ceiling on my efforts was time and motivation, and I had lots of both. Also, I was doing contract work in Orange County for the last two-plus weeks of the month, so I had near-perfect weather.

I was able to eke out a 2:28:28 marathon at Boston that spring despite having not run more than three point one consecutive miles at that pace in the preceding three months. It was really a disastrous winter and early spring. I dropped out of Stu's 30K at about the five-mile mark in early March (but ran the whole course), ran the New Bedford Half-Marathon in 1:15:03 two weeks later, and dropped out of the U.S. 50K Championship at 23 miles one week after that. Nine days before the marathon, I blazed a 16:32 5K. I was hoping in each of these races that some humanitarian would appear on his porch with a shotgun and take me out, but such events were tragically rare in those days.

The only reason I was able to run half-decent at Boston was averaging about 60 miles a week in  the four weeks beforehand. Yep, what was a sharp taper in those days would represent supramaximal effort on my part today. A lot of this is because I can tell my right knee is not going to tolerate serious running ever again, but most of it is because I have, to an appreciable extent, wised up.

I actually found myself quite fit that May and June after all of the excessive time on my feet had been converted from fatigue into aerobic gains, and ran a 15:28 5K in Virginia -- at the end of a 150-mile week, I believe, but I wasn't doing those regularly at that point. Looking back, I think my personal sweet mileage spot, ceteris paribus, was about 115 to 120 a week, which is fairly typical for a mzungu who was often forced to work outside the home.

I've had two more pieces appear on Motiv Running lately, this and that. There's one in the pipeline about when you should switch to two-a-days, but I'm not sure when it'll go live. I will allegedly have a regular (named) column there soon, and for the first time in many years, its topics will allow me to actually enjoy writing about running for the first time in almost 20 years (There were some exceptions along the way, to be sure, but for the most part I grew tired of generating training-related garbage for people who had no business even trying to put what little wisdom it contained to use.)


  1. 150 Mile Week Beck! Damn lucky you have a knee. After seeing all the carnage runners are causing themselves by these high mileage weeks and people who don't exercise enough or even at all,thus raising my health care costs and all Americans cost in general I have come up with a plan to lower the premiums on health insurance for healthy individuals who exercise the right way. 9-9-9 Health Care Reform. #1.All individuals who don't exercise enough or too much will pay a 9% higher health premium than the people who exercise proficiently. #2. All individuals who don't exercise enough or too much will pay an extra 9% out of their yearly salary. People who exercise proficiently are exempt. #3. All individuals who don't exercise enough or too much will have to wait an extra 9 years for a vital organ transplant.

  2. Wow Beck Your lighting up Strava with some speedy workouts. Keep up the stretching so you don't get injured!