So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad* Training Specialist. Runner. Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) Certified Official, Category 2. RRCA Representative, Florida (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Brains or Shoes?

Okay, what is this with the marathon?

Obviously someone, or a lot of "someones," have bought into the mystical outcome of running 42-plus kilometers at a single sitting.  A bunch of well-intentioned book authors, such as (Olympian) Jeff Galloway, have written platitudes like, "to finish will leave you feeling like a champion and positively change your life."

I'm not buying it, personally.  I've completed three marathons in the space of three decades.  Like two-time Olympic marathon medalist Frank Shorter, the memory of the discomfort (pain, really) looms large in my mind.  Not only of the 26 and a quarter miles on race day, but also the thousand miles before it.  My first marathon was fun; I knew nothing about training and went into it completely as a babe in the woods.  I ran on a scenic course.  On the other hand, I learned a great deal about myself while training for the second and third ones; mostly that I am brittle and that I need to focus on one thing and one thing only during 18-to-24 weeks of run training.  Obsessive-compulsives fare better than attention deficients when it comes to the marathon, in my humble opinion.

Marathon training is an exercise in (selfish!) time management, undertaken by those whom, in the words of my loving bride, "have plenty of days but too few hours to train."  One of my Monday night companions registered for a race and has done little in the way of training outside of ten miles (maximum) a week, topped with gym workouts.  The bright side is there's 20 weeks to build base before the gun fires.  They must have read the counsel of (1976 Olympic marathoner) Don Kardong and chosen shoes over sense.  There's no doubt they'll finish, but it might not be pretty in the slightest.

So go ahead, try it at least once if you feel the need to finish a marathon.

I have a short list of smaller races I recommend because of their accuracy, event and course quality, but when it comes to the first-time "participant marathoner" the large corporate events are tailor-made for them.  Accurate course, plenty of spectator support, no lack of scenery and music to help when it comes to dissociating.  1980 Boston Marathon women's champion Jacqueline Gareau gave a good reason to dissociate, saying "the body does not want...to do this....It tells you to stop but the mind must be strong.  You always go too far for the body."

So what's the secret to finishing?  Gareau said it wasn't age or diet, but the will to succeed.  Kardong's take was shoes were more important than brains, because "more people finish marathons with no brains than with no shoes."

I still haven't figured out the "why" of marathon participation, and I don't mind working with runners who feel the compulsion to do at least one.  The challenge comes when it comes to choosing a plan of action and a place to execute.  Brains are just as important as shoes when it comes to marathoning.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Love Yourself

Writers' block is not pretty.  Not in the slightest.  And the few ideas which suddenly pop into my mind are immediately countered with a suspicion that I've written on this before, or the topic has become irrelevant.  Perhaps that's why guys retire, huh?

I promised I'd get up early this morning and type this all down while things were quiet and I had a full (rest) day ahead of me.  Alas, the blanket monster got me.  Thank you, Pandora; thank you Journey, for reinforcing this topic...

So, there I was, out on the Monday "easy run."  It's kind of insane to be out running at 5 or 6 in the afternoon, especially in the late spring when temperature and humidity are one step shy of suicidal.  Yes, that's the very reason my friends do all their outdoor running before the crack of dawn.  But the effort level is supposed to be easy on that day, at least for me.  If I need to go harder it's indoors and on the treadmill.  Another topic altogether,

I go out with one or more friends who are a little more relaxed in their pace, which gives me the opportunity to pull them along and be a social kind of guy.  It's a different dynamic than the Sunday morning long run, because the folks who run with me on Monday night wouldn't get up early on a Sunday to run.  Not even if a gun was pointed at their head.  For some it would only serve as a hangover remedy.

About three miles in, my (female) companion starts to mutter about her midsection and all the work she's doing to try and make it go away. 

Her:  "I have what looks like a beer belly but I don't drink beer.  I spend three mornings a week at the gym..."

Me:  "Mm hmm..."

Her:  "...run on the beach on Wednesdays..."

Me:  "Childbirth..."

Her:  "...doing sit-ups and weights..."

Me:  "...raising two boys..."

Her:  "...portion control..."

Me:  "...husband and a household..."

Her:  "...bicycle tire..."

Me:  "...not a Michelin Radial X, at least!"

Finally. she says, "you got any recommendations?  Is there anything missing that I can do to take care of this?"

I decided to bring out the big guns.  "The only thing you're missing, as far as I can tell, is patience.  You need to learn to love yourself.  All the other things will fall in line."

We are all too often haunted by the Dickensian "ghost of runner/athlete/person past;" the lean, mean, high-speed, low-drag version of our present selves.  Even a medical professional, when met with a potential patient for augmentation, will most likely say that a positive self-image is more beneficial than all the nip-and-tuck and saline and silicone they can provide.

I'm not going to stop working out in light of this "kind-of-revelation;" the gym visits will still continue.  I can look toward any of the mirrors at "Iron-O-Rama" and see enough (near-unhealthy) self-love, and some self-loathing for that matter.  We're amazing creations, no matter the creation tale you believe, so we should do what we can with what we are as often as we can get away with it.  We never can tell when the ability to run, bicycle, swim, lift weights, dance, you fill in the blank here, is going to go away.  And we can choose to do two things when be begin to see the latter pages in the playbook; accept it gracefully or go down kicking and screaming.

Suzanne likes the graceful exit.  I, for one, choose the kicking and screaming because I want  someone to hear me.

I'll accept my physical limitations but I won't accept or tolerate my laziness, or justify my bad habits. We need to realize we didn't get to the state we're in overnight and it's going to take as long, if perhaps not a little longer, to return to where we believe we should be.  It's going to be a journey, so enjoy the ride...you might not ever get to what you thought was the destination.