Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Week in Running

It's go time. This week marks six more until Boston. This is not just the hardest time in training but the most dangerous. It's hardest because I'm now nine weeks into training. That's a lot of accumulated miles -- 337 miles since Jan 1 to be exact. After easing up last week, I returned to "high" mileage. I use quotation marks because a 50-mile week running isn't really high mileage, but it's my limit right now. It's enough to be hard and get me in pretty good shape. That brings me to the dangerous part. With all those miles and hard workouts, my body is at danger of breaking down and succumbing to injury. Training is always like that. I remember back to when I first injured my Achilles. I was running great, really nailing workouts and just finished a 70-mile week. That's when things fell apart. I'm not going to let that happen again. So I'm stepping back a bit this week. My Achilles is achy, and I don't want to push it too much. If that means sacrificing two minutes in Boston, I'm OK with that. I have some travel coming up that will make training hard. This weekend I'll be in Austin for South by Southwest. Then, next weekend, I leave for Paris for five days. I'm looking forward to both trips, although I'm a little worried about getting in miles. I love running in other cities. It's such a wonderful way to see them.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Don't Give Up

My favorite t-shirt reads in simple block letters, "Don't Give Up." It's an ad agency's motto, and I find wisdom in its simplicity. It acknowledges things won't always go the way you want, progress is hard and perseverance is a virtue. I'm drawn to running for those reasons. DailyMile has been a great eye-opener for me to the different struggles other runners face. It's inspiring to see the progress people make. Just check out this collection of before/after photos. I'm often jealous to some degree of the new runners. I remember just discovering running, the feeling like it was a new drug that is life-altering. Improvement comes quickly in those days. It's intoxicating. And then you plateau. This is inevitable. The days of dropping 15 minutes from a marathon PR end. You're left confronting personal limitations. That's when the hard part begins. You need to reorient your goals and outlook, maybe figure out the small things that can make improvements. That's where I've been the last 18 months. Running as a struggle has been something new. It's humbling. What I've noticed, though, is I've begun making improvements again. Going under 3:10 at the Harrisburg Marathon was a nice achievement. It puts me in spitting distance of the three-hour mark. That won't come in Boston, but it could provide a base to make the changes needed, such as joining a running team, that can get me there.

As an aside, I came across a great column in the New York Times recounting the story of Jan Baalsrud, a Norwegian resistance fighter during WWII. His story is truly an epic tale of endurance. It's actually beyond endurance, almost reminiscent of all the stuff Pangloss goes through in Candide.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Month in Running

Another month down. 2010 has been a good year so far. I've managed to run quite a bit, finishing this short month with 153 miles running and another four swimming. That's not half bad. More importantly, I feel good with the Boston Marathon seven weeks away. That leaves me with four weeks left of hard training, pretty much all of March. I've done two 20-mile runs so far. I'll do another this weekend, then one more two weeks after that, then finish up with one last 20. Speedwise, I feel like I'm doing OK. Yesterday's hard long run gave me some confidence. At this point, it's just a matter of not overdoing it and resting when I need it.