So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, November 8, 2010

NPR Mornings

"...every day on the street I study their faces; the ones who rush on through the crowd, towards their own quiet worlds, their separate places, somewhere I'm never allowed; 'cause I've always been one to say what I need, then the next thing it's done and I'm watching 'em leave, and I'm thinking, 'I wish I could be alone but not lonely...'" - Mary-Chapin Carpenter (2001), a week out from what initially was to be my target fall half-marathon, I decided to take what I like to call an "NPR morning." Now, for me, NPR means two different things: National Public Radio, or No Planned Run. Depending on the weather conditions it can be both, but it definitely means a large part of the morning spent with coffee, thick tomes of "mindless reading," & Suzanne. If the weather is beautiful there can be a run plugged in on the front end. If not, then I climb into my sweats or warm-ups, make a large pot of coffee & turn on the stereo to listen to our local public radio station. This time the weather was pretty, save for the sudden drop in temperature. We decided to go to the coffee-and-baked goods joint at the mall.

Minutes after we settled into our booth I saw a local runner/coach walk in, bundled up post-run in his warm-up outfit. I got up to refilll my coffee as he ordered a pecan sweet roll at the counter. I walked up & said: 'you realize that stuff will kill you, right?' He responded with much the same kind of retort I would have given in his position: 'since I ran 6.8 miles this morning I think I'll be fine, thanks.' We chatted for a few moments, then I went on to get my coffee.

A couple of minutes later he stopped by our table, presumably on the way home. My wife asked how the Sunday morning run group he headed up was faring; he mentioned the past couple of weeks were good, but that this week was a little on the light side.

She said, 'how light?'

He said, 'one. It was only me this morning.'

I can sympathize with his situation. I've run with large groups of people & I've trained solo. I cannot say I like one state more than the other; depending on the day, the weather, my mood, & my physical state, I can absolutely dig a group run...or a group run can be akin to nineteenth-century dentistry. It's kind of the reason I keep my iPod charged up & ready; in spite of the potential dangers of blasting Kanye West into my skull at half-volume while cruising the road behind the local airport, the music does what a good running companion would also accomplish.

"Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another." - Proverbs 27:17, New American Standard Bible (1995)

While Suzanne has learned to suck it up & run solo, she often wishes for my own sake that I had a regular training partner. I could & would gladly accept a runner who runs anywhere from my pace to a solid minute per mile slower, if nothing else but for the "easier" effort days. If there's someone running with you, especially someone a little slower, you're more likely to back off the intensity to meet their effort. Since the end of the summer, I've been blessed with a couple of good athletes during my twice-weekly track workouts. Their efforts keep me honest, & mine theirs. But they have their own weekend training & work schedules, so I don't have company on the long run I would truly enjoy.

There's plenty of opportunity to make excuses - want to go to the beach, for a drive, to sleep in, to spend time with family - when the days are perfect. Then, before you know it, you've got a bunch of those "too-days." "Too-days" are those days when it is too hot, too cold, too windy, too dark, too early, too late, etc., to go run. The best way to not get sucked into those "too-days," I've mentioned before, also has to do with two - train with an additional two persons. A training triad of three accounts for the inevitable need to take care of something else which has suddenly popped up in one person's life, yet keeps the remaining two members accountable to each other.

Those "NPR mornings" are a nice way to earn what my friend (and Marathon Nation coach) Patrick McCrann calls "spousal approval units" (more on this topic at a later date) & treat your body to a little extra (planned or unplanned) rest, both of which which can make all the difference in your training regimen.

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