Table of Marathons

11 MCM (not for time) 11 Wineglass (950/1442)
10 MCM (not for time) 09 MCM (348/1076)
09 Washington's Birthday Marathon (22/44) 08 MC Historic Half (51/210)
07 Frederick Marathon (32/60) 06 MCM (394/1076)
05 MCM (547/1047)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Body, Mind, One

Not even counting the weeks taken off from running. It would be too depressing. Both heels are so close to 100% again. Been good about doing strength training, particularly leg work. It is surprising to me, that heels can be too sore to run on, but tolerate weighted heel raises.

The 6 or so run-stopping injuries I've had over the past 12 years have always brought some new insight into my strength training. These have usually strengthened my running. This time, my insight has been the rediscovery of how productive and satisfying doing 5 sets of a particular movement can be. When you do 15 sets of challenging, full control, compound reps per week, your mind and body gain an intimate familiarity with the movement that 9 sets cannot yield. Body and mind respond with greater strength and greater determination to attain still another movement rep, building on the last work out.

It is clear to me that physical training is also mental training.

Monday, April 16, 2018

It's Boston Monday

The Boston Marathon...possibly the biggest assembly of highly fit people in the world.

At 4:30 AM, my task is much more prosaic: five sets of strict form pull ups, done to "Eminence Front". It's simple, brutishly so. It's Boston Monday.....dumbbell pull Monday for me. No glory in my subterranean gym, just work.

My heels are perceptively healing.

Good luck today, Shalane.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Life Expectancy

I have recently read research indicating a strong correlation between grip strength and time it takes to up from the floor with remaining life expectancy in my age cohort, the Boomers. Apparently, these measurements are being used increasingly in clinical, hospital, and assisted living settings. I suggest that these are predictors of morbidity expectancy, not life.

Grip strength and the ability to lift are fundamental to the deadlift. Overall, I know of no way to measure a person's ability to generate life inducing strength and power than his/her ability to lift a dead weight off the floor.

Measures and estimates of morbidity expectancy may have their place. I hope they never apply to me. I'm more interested in life expectancy. A better estimate for life expectancy: the ability to deadlift some multiple of one's body weight many times off the floor......the more times, the better.

Monday, April 9, 2018


It is a straightforward protocol: perform the exercise and wait 3 minutes while your pounding heart slows, then repeat four more times. It is brutally simple.

Your breathing and heart rates are direct indicators of how hard your muscles are working. Performing the protocol above with pull ups or dead lifts energizes your entire lower and upper body respectively, leaving your muscles screaming for air as they metabolize fuel. Your system is perfused with anabolic and mood enhancing hormones. Perform this ritual in the early morning and it  rips off all vestiges of morbid slumber, waking your body, alerting your mind, and rendering the world  with razor sharp clarity.

Then something magical happens. Muscles harden and grow; body, heart, and, most importantly, will, become stronger. The pact is fulfilled.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Pact with the Future

I realize that each workout is a pact with the future, a commitment that improvement will come as a result of training.

This is particularly evident in strength training as the trainee watches reps, sets, and weight slowly increase with repeated workout. But it is true in running and even learning. With these last two, the path to improvement is not always obvious, straight, or even continuously progressive. With running, the trainee routinely must hold back to improve. With learning, the path is the most intangible and obscure because, in proper learning, the student does not always know where the path will take him or her.

In this venal and philistine age, learning is often confused with preparing for a trade. At it's highest, learning transforms the student's world view.

Thoughts while pushing iron this morning.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


I've said it before, I love running in predawn fog.

The moon is waning, but still three-quarters full. It is locked in a mutual stare with Jupiter, which precedes it across the ecliptic. The stars are too pale to shine through, even Jupiter loses his brilliance in the gray blanket.

I ran 2 miles, embedded in the various exercises that are my upper body barbell pull work out. It is the second day in a row that I run. Regrettably, I feel a mild burning sensation in my left heel. We'll see how it goes as I baby it for the rest of the day.

Still....I love running in the predawn fog.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Monday, April 2

It's a cold, dark, blustery, raining morning. I have to admit it's nice to be in my warm, brightly lit, basement gym pushing iron. Today, it's upper body push.

Tomorrow, I hope to start running again. I'm mostly only feeling tingling in my right foot and some tightness in my tibialis anterior. It is improving daily. Happily, the plantar fascia soreness I was having this season is also mitigating.

All just in time for spring.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Gods Conspire against Me

The Running Gods have certainly decided against me this year. First, I stop running to allow my irritated plantar fascia to heal and strengthen. Then, on my second miserably one-miler of my return week, I turn an ankle on my predawn run. This knocks me out of another week of running.

Running injuries are always a period of re-discovering my strength training knowledge. I have moved to a triple split cycle: upper body pull, upper body push, and legs. I am getting great pumps and seeing more progress than I have in years. This training takes me back to Marine Corps days: good god we made ourselves strong with all that iron work.

Today is special: the March blue moon is very full as it sets in the west this morning. It is so perfectly round. March 31: 2018 is one quarter over. We should all be one quarter of the way to attaining our resolutions. Unfortunately I am still at square zero.

I find my mind, my will, setting itself against circumstances.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Ruminations on an Injury, though mild.....

My principal heuristic when planning my runs is conservative: "It's not what you run today or this week that matters. It's what you run next week, next month, and next year." This view gives me an inherent tendency to manage any aches and pains early, and to focus on root causes.

This issue I have now is very minor. It amounts to a mild burning sensation in my left heel. I suspect it was brought on by trying to ramp up mileage in shoes that lack adequate support for my feet. The past few years, I have been experimenting with increasingly minimal shoes. It has worked well. I wear them as dress shoes at work and have been running predominantly in them for the past six months. I ran a not particularly high mileage fall season in them, then backed off for the winter.

Late this winter I started my annual mileage ramp upwards. I have to presume that my lower legs and feet could not support the stress of running in neutral lightweight Altra Escalantes and and spending my entire days in what amounted to bare foot shoes. I had also really slacked off on my heel raises, which are fundamental a very strong foundation for the entire leg.

I promised myself one to two weeks of complete rest from running. As the admittedly mild pain attenuates, my mind turns to miles. It negotiates with me: "How about one mile? That can't hurt anything." Compounding the attraction back to the road is knowing that my left foot easily sustained the 15 sets of weighted heel raises that I did this week.

What is running? There is nothing in the universe save the universe. Humans can only perceive the universe by its change, its cycles. Running brings us in direct, unavoidable contact with that universe. We must bend our minds and bodies, softened by disuse, misuse, and unnatural comforts, back to the activity and awareness of our evolutionary origins. By doing so, we cleanse ourselves of the mental and physical poisons of a materialistic, consumerist civilization. We experience, live, and adapt to the cycles that seemingly endlessly repeat all around us. Without that return to the universe, to nature, we remained trapped in the artificial world we have build around us.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

I want to weigh what I did when I was in the Marines.....again (Part 1)

When I returned to training in 2004, my Tanita impedance percentage body fat monitor, aka, my “fatometer”, told me I had 25.5% body fat at roughly 185 lbs. This is half a percent above the clinical definition of obesity. I worked that weight down to an average of about 148 lbs by cleaning up my diet and an exercise program of as much activity as my then 49 year old body could withstand.

This past holiday season, my weight crept over 150 lbs. My jeans and dress trousers, all purchased since I regained a healthy weight, started feeling uncomfortable. 150 lbs is my red line.

The facts are interesting. The average American gains one to two pounds a year after age 25. He/she also loses half to one pound a year in bone and muscle mass in this time. This adds up to a catastrophic 1.5 to 3 lbs per year gain in body fat. Conventional wisdom tells us that slowing metabolism due to decreasing muscle mass is the culprit. (1)
While muscle is more metabolically active than fat, a pound of muscle only uses three to five calories a day more than a pound of fat. This decrease in basal metabolic rate results in at most half a pound of fat gain per year. Admittedly, as a person’s fat content and muscular weakness increase, the net gain over a year by replacing muscle with fat becomes quite significant.

What you do with your muscle counts way more than its basal metabolic rate. A beginner can add 3 to 5 pounds of muscle mass in three to four months of strength training. As he/she moves into their senior years, there is an inherent tendency to lose muscle mass no matter what training he/she does. But the frailty that so often appears in old age is a result exercise deficit, not old age. Furthermore, osteopenia can be largely eliminated by proper training while younger. When endurance exercise is added to strength training, you have a powerful tool for weight management.  (2)

The wrong diet can overwhelm any exercise program. Even an informal survey of calorie counts in a typical chain casual dining restaurant, or a review of calorie counts on packaged foods in the local grocery store, demonstrates that single meals of over 1,000 calories are quite common. One thing is very clear: a 1,000 calorie meal is never OK. Even if you’re an ultra marathoner, 1,000 calories in a single sitting is gluttony, not nutrition. It’s not even fine dining.

In the UK, cola companies will tell you that their beverage is a part of a wholesome diet, balanced by healthy amounts of activity. Since the 1950’s, US food companies have been producing ever more appealing products for less money in the perennial need to grow profits. Another point should be very clear: the foods in fast food and other chain restaurants as well as most food in grocery stores maximize profits for their purveyors by being created as attractive, or addictive, as possible. It is absolutely no coincidence that the rise of worldwide obesity coincides with the industrialized mass-marketing of food products. Processed food is engineered to be addictive. As proof of this, just open a bag of chips or cookies in almost any office or work site in America and observe the reactions. They are no different from drunk patrons in a late night bar, smokers standing around outside in a designated smoking area, or even users in a meth house.