Music was a constant in my house while growing up. My father worked at a radio station and had a large record collection; both my maternal and paternal grandparents performed either on stage or in studio. Even during his retirement years, my grandfather would pull out his old Gibson, sit on the couch and play the occasional bluegrass tune. I developed an ear for melody, harmony and an appreciation of structure. To this day I find live concerts (with extended jam sessions) irritating because I start to compare what was done in the comfort of the studio; a couple of artists get a “free pass,” sure, but I want to hear the arrangement duplicated as close to the original as possible.
I have discs from some big name groups which, once you hear the tracks which didn’t necessarily see the light of day, you begin to wonder the classic question “what in heaven’s name were they thinking when they did that!?” Why, in the middle of a tune with a crunchy guitar riff and bass groove would you inflict a weenie keyboard solo? The instrumental would have been better to fade out before that last fifteen second reprise of the tag. Okay, I’m not a producer and I’ve never played one on television but sometimes you know like you know when someone’s added one too many things to the painting.
Like a hair barrette on the Mona Lisa.
I get the same feeling when someone training for a marathon tells me they have a 20-miler on the agenda. Training runs of that distance, especially when run by first-time and relatively-inexperienced marathon aspirants, are a closer to four-hour journey than to three. Add to the mix the low-level orthopedic trauma and the need for recovery – an easy concept to explain to spouses and significant others, difficult to explain to children.
Hard to hear as Billy Ray Cyrus. Or Miley, for that matter.
Two and a half hours of running at a pace closer to the desired pace on the marathon day is much better. It is true that you’ll still be hit like a wrecking ball, and perhaps a little dragged out the following day, but you can repeat the process the following week. Even better than a repeat is a slightly shorter long run, around two hours in duration which is a little faster, then do another 150-minute jaunt the week after that. Not only do shorter “long” training runs done on a repeat basis make sense from the physiology standpoint, but more importantly from the mental.
Say you decide to do that twenty-miler and completely "crater" it. If that training run is half (and in the case of some training plans, more than) your weekly volume and you can’t get it in, or you crash and burn it’s not impossible to imagine the mental state at which you’ll be. "Soup sandwich" is a commonly-used term in my world. Of course, it’s no guarantee that your mind will be in any less of a state of freak-out if you were to attempt and fail during two or three two-and-a-halfs. (I had to bail on two sixteen-milers during my last attempt at the marathon, but it had more to do with unresolved achilles tendon issues – overtraining – than it did a lack of training.)
Shorter quality is better. Less is more.