Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back in the Arena

I wrote on my other blog about the need for people to get "in the arena," to take chances and risk failure. I've decided it's time I do that with running, even though I've been concentrating on other sports lately with the triathlon training. It's time to race again. I'm doing the Brooklyn Half Marathon on Saturday. I have no idea how it will go. I've been running just twice a week for months. That's not all that much, clearly, although my fitness level is alright thanks to all the biking and swimming I've done. We'll see how that nets out along the route from Prospect Park to Coney Island. The last time I ran a race, I did a 1:24 in the Seaside Half Marathon. That's definitely not happening on Saturday. I'll run by feel, conservatively, hoping instead for a 1:40 or so. It'll be nice to feel the pre-race nerves again and the relief of finishing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bicycle Dreams

Now that I'm cycling I can appreciate more how hard it is. Going 40 miles is more than enough for me. What about 3,000 miles in 10 days? There's a new film out, Bicycle Dreams, following cyclists trying to do just that during the Race Across America. From the trailer, it looks like there are plenty of encounters with the Pigdog along the way. The movie site has some great descriptions of the participants, who it must be said all seem a little nuts.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why to run

I loved, loved, loved this op-ed in The Wall Street Journal about running. It perfectly captured what runners know and non-runners often don't get. I'm particularly partial to the part that details the odd pride runners take in the semi-masochistic side of the activity. My own armchair analysis of why this excites us is because it confirms we're truly alive and can face anything.
At the Olympic trials in Charlotte, N.C., in 1996, marathoner Bob Kempainen vomited a bright green stream of Gatorade on national television, then calmly accelerated (running a 4:44 mile) and sprinted to victory. World record-holder Grete Waitz did her business on the side of the road, then pulled up her shorts and went on to win the 1984 New York City Marathon. Every runner has a tale about a port-a-potty just missed, a coffee that wouldn't stay down, a blister that burst and filled a sock with blood. We tell the stories with pride, metaphors for our own indomitability.
Confession: I searched Google to find a clip of Kempainen. It made it into a Nike commercial.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Trail Running

I love living in a big city. There's so much energy, so much to do, so many kinds of people. I even love the running here, although it's a specific type of urban running. My (running) dream is to run trails. Why? Watch.

UltraRunning from Matt Hart on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Working Out the Kinks

Recovering from injuries is essential for running. The fact is it is a traumatic activity. Injuries are inevitable, it seems more so as I get older. I'm now determined to get healthier, no matter what I need to do. That led me to Chinatown on Friday for my second ever foot massage. Those guys really get into on the feet and below the knee. And guess what? It helped. The foot massage and a few outings with The Stick have improved things. Next up: a sports massage on Thursday. I found the woman through the NYRR Web site. In a series of email messages, she assured me massage and active-isolated stretching can help with my lower leg muscle tightness. I'm eager to see what she does Thursday -- and how much it hurts.

The upside of this recent injury is my swimming has improved. I'm at the point where 2,500 yards isn't so bad. More important, I feel like I'm swimming pretty efficiently. I'd like to get back on the bike and running in the park. That will happen. For now, I'm taking consolation knowing I'm improving in at least on discipline and becoming stronger.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I realized over the weekend that it's been a year since I ran a marathon. This will turn out to be my longest time between marathons since I started running them in 2000. In that time, I've run thousands of miles and been asked, countless times, "How do you not get hurt?" Maybe it was just luck. Maybe that's run out. Ever since the summer, when I made my semi-psychotic push to run under three hours, I haven't been right. It started with the Achilles, which is something that I haven't healed altogether. Then some plantar fasciitis appeared on my right foot, followed finally by a strained calf or tendinitis on the same side. As an Italian friend once said to me at a terrible party, "This is very much the suck."

It's left me wondering how to get better. I've always been a firm believer that all injuries can be diagnosed back to a root cause that can be corrected. Many running injuries arise from the nature of the sport: it's a repetitive, high-impact activity. But lately, I've been training for a triathlon, only running twice a week and doing two other workouts in both swimming and biking. That's what makes this latest injury so frustrating. What all my latest injuries have in common is muscle tightness in my lower legs. This is, I believe, the curse of genes. I'm incredibly inflexible, always have been. For a few years now, I've relied on active-isolated stretching to make me slightly more flexible. That's been alright, although I can sometimes be indifferent to it. That's probably catching up with me now. The good thing is my injuries seem treatable. I don't have knee problems that can spell doom. For the next few days at least, I'm sticking to swimming, hoping to stay in some semblance of shape and heal.

swam 2,000 yards in 50 minutes