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)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Is It Mind or Body?

As I start what I hope will be my marathon training, time forces me to transition from split strength training to full body workouts on just 3 days per week. I ran a 5 day week last week, but for shorter runs. This week my ambition is 4 or more miles on weekdays. 360 compass points of lightening necessitated canceling my Tuesday run. Wednesday, I ran 5 miles. Today, I'm doing my first full body workout: 5 compound exercises of 4 sets each. This is taking me over an hour to do...probably 75 minutes.

Fifty minutes into it, while under the barbell press, I realize that the weight feels really heavy. I wonder, is my mind tiring under the heavy work? By comparison my separate push and pull days seemed so much easier. Undeniably, this is more stress on my body at one time, so I could be tiring. I am unable to tell.

Body and mind adjust. "Where the mind goes, the body follows." I have no doubt that my perception of stress, whether body or mind, will decrease.

There is a wonderful moment in an old movie about another time when men could still be heroes. Omar Sharif exclaims with absolute, fundamentalist certainly, "The Nefuud cannot be crossed." Peter O'Toole, ever defiant child of the Enlightenment, points across the impenetrable desert expanse and replies, "Aqaba is over there. It is just a matter of going."

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Heat: 91 F Today

Heat is the ultimate test for the distance runner. The Marathon du Sable events, Morocco and Peru, come to mind. I will never be up to such feats, but, coming from Florida, I know well the feeling of that merciless burning hammer in the sky pounding me relentlessly like a hammer until I'm a sweaty, greasy, salty, incoherent mess barely staggering forward on a run.

In the animal kingdom, for Homo sapiens, heat is the great equalizer. Many species can run faster than us. A few can trot farther. But no species can run as far or as fast in the heat. This became obvious to me in my vertebrate zoology class decades ago: humans have sparse and sweat glands covering the body.  We share with horses, another great endurance species, the ability to dissipate large amounts of heat through perspiration. Nomadic desert humans have been known to hunt antelopes and gazelles by running them into heat exhaustion. Research in the subsequent decades went on to confirm my hunch, documenting a dozen or so adaptations that make us great distance animals. If the distance is great enough, we can even beat horses. Running, particularly in the heat, was our killer advantage.

This year, I want to re-embrace that human trait. Rather than racing the sun as it rises on hot summer mornings to finish early, I will celebrate its rise and accept the heat. I will look up at the sun and realize that it is my creator. Running in the heat is its own form of mental and physical purification. It is a statement of being human and acknowledging what forged us in prehistoric times.

Change your paradigm: Badwater 135.

Friday, May 11, 2018

148.2 Will

I often pick Denise up after work right in front of her building. I stand beside our car, watching as her co-workers stream out. With uncomfortable frequency, someone will come out and  struggle descending the eight steps in front of the building, having gotten so fat that he or she is no longer  able to manage his/her weight and movement on the way down. These individuals are in their 50's, 40's, or even younger. I watch and cannot but help thinking, "My god, what are you doing with your body? And health?"

When I was 17, my love of belle lettres, philosophy, and biology led everyone, including me, to presume that my future lay in literature and/or the biological sciences, perhaps both. While I was adequate in all my studies, nothing presaged any skill in mathematics. Also, no one at the time could envision any serious level of athleticism in my physique. I was painfully out of touch with my body.

My studies of human evolution brought my interest in running. Additionally, I discovered, it freed my mind. As I ran across the hot, humid, sub-tropical savanna that was the University of Florida in the 1970's, I discovered at that early date that humans really were "born to run". The Marines brought strength training. Strength made my days easier. As I gained rank, I learned that to lead Marines, you needed to look like a leader of Marines. Additionally, you had better be able to do whatever you told your Marines to do. When I returned to Florida ten years later, I found my chosen major, electrical engineering, was under restricted admissions: 3.5 GPA in mathematics and physics just to be accepted. I willed those A's in calculus and differential equations into existence by blunt force hard, focused studying.

I watched a pudgy old man amble out the doors of Denise's place of work. He was yelling to another old man approaching across the parking lot: "What are you still doing here? I thought you'd be retired by now." They stopped and amicably chatted. Then I heard the first remark: "I'm 62 now. I'd retire if I had a life!" Oh my god, I thought: that's 62? They parted ways and the first made his way across the parking lot in the growing heat with an ungainly gait.

I have a visceral, negative reaction when somebody refers to my fitness, or even my career in engineering, as being a result of some, natural, genetic, predisposition. I am not the way I am because of disposing genetics: I am this way because even though this morning I woke up for a quarter of an hour at 2:45 AM, when my alarm rang at 3:30 AM, I got up, ran my 3 miles and worked out. I remain uninjured not because my bones and cartilage are somehow more resilient. I remain healthy because I back off when my body tells me to. And I always come back.

In running shoes, under the barbell, in the books, what most determines outcome is strength of will.....and patience.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

149.4: 2 Miles - Not Self

The moon was just under half full at run start time. This week, I continue to lift while I experiment with 2 mile weekday runs. I think if my heels hold up on 3 consecutive outings of 2 miles, I'll be pretty much on a solid path to recovery.

Beyond 2 miles and I will have to drop my 6 day lifting. I'll do this regret. The regimen has enabled me to raise my working weights on just about all my movements. I will drop to lifting 3 days per week.

Running calls. When I lift, I strongly feel the element of self in my mind. Lifting is about self and power and domination of mind over iron, mind over body, mind over mind. Running is about not-self. I lose myself in the phases of the moon, in the procession of the stars and seasons, in the cycles of life and death that I inevitably witness when spending many hours as close to nature as possible. The goal of running is to pass quickly and silently across the landscape, first observing it, then becoming part of it. Gradually the wind no longer buffets me, it passes though me. My goal in running is to no longer be there.

Monday, May 7, 2018

149.2 Totally Own the Movement

The first two of five sets of slow pull ups to the sound of Van Halen's Eruption followed by Ain't Talking 'Bout Love at 4:30 AM is a great way to wake the body up. To better feel the movement in all my pulling muscles, I do it slowly, under full control, and holding for a full "one one-thousand" rep count at the top, under full contraction. I have adopted this approach in all movements where it's applicable. Full control and full contraction at maximum flexion truly imprints the movement into muscle memory. This allows me to feel my muscles flush with blood as my body fuels the effort. It seems as if I can feel every muscle, small and large, every tendon, and every ligament strain with the effort, then gasp for more air and energy in the rest period between sets.

This early in the morning, my mind rebels against the effort the really big compound movements in my routine: the pull up and the deadlift. I tell myself that these slow movements train me to totally own the movement, totally dominate it. Slow movement builds an intimate familiarity with the effort. But in this familiarity, I realize that I am wrong. These movements are about training the mind: by testing control, ownership, and domination of the weight, I train my mind to will this action into being. In the end, it is about owning the mind.

When you own your mind, you own the movement. The great Schwarzenegger, "where the mind goes, the body follows". This is true in academia, in all realms of effort.

It's Monday, just under 25 weeks to the MCM. Good morning.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

149.6: I don't buy the slowing metabolism crap.

I don't buy the slowing metabolism crap. We sit on our asses all day and half the night letting our muscles atrophy away at the rate of  1/2 to 2 pounds a year. We fill ourselves with greasy, salty, sugary junk and wash it down with caffeine, alcohol, and sugary drinks. As the pounds gather on our waists and legs, we tell ourselves "you deserve a break today" or "Everything in moderation". We subvert our natural healthy state and wind up in middle and old age struggling with increasing morbidity and disease, popping prescriptions that often lower quality of life even more.

Age has nothing to do with it, except, perhaps, to allow the food and pill manufactures more time to brainwash us with self-indulgent or self-aggrandizing messaging. This happens while bad habits and vices further embed themselves into our minds. Our bodies and discipline fatten and weaken. We give billions to purveyors of junk foods and needless conveniences in youth and middle age; in middle and old age we add the drug companies to this unholy group.

I haven't weighed below 140 pounds since my 20's, not because of getting older. At 62, I'm not at my optimal running weight of 139 because of lack of will and discipline.

Can you imagine carrying a 10 pound or heavier weight plate 26 miles and 385 yards? Can you imagine carrying far more than that for a lifetime?

Friday, May 4, 2018

You are What You do

Never smoking, lots of exercise, healthy diet, being slender, and moderate to no alcohol are the 5 habits you can have to most increase your life expectancy from age 50.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

It's Just A Mile

Typically, on my morning runs, my body doesn't even begin to  wake up and come into its pace until mile 4 or so. But I just don't feel the strength I need to feel on my runs. So Denise and I are sticking to little one-miles; this will be our third of the week.

Otherwise, my legs are doing great. I'm doing dead lifts a poundage and volume that I haven't seen since my Marine Corps day. Weighted heel raises are good, but a little weak. I just feel weak in my arches.

I wonder how much of this is mental. Am I being over-cautious?

On the up-side, my return to 5 set per exercise had been a huge boost my mental outlook as well as my strength progress. My body feels suffused with anabolic hormones doing this 6 days per week, high volume strength training.

Denise came down to the gym just as I was finishing my workout. We went out for our run.....breaking down and rewarding ourselves with 1.5 miles under a misty, waning moon. As we approached a particularly foreboding tree line in the pre-dawn, moonlit darkness, I asked her if she believed in werewolves. She laughed.

Primeval settings evoke primeval instincts.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Procession of the Gods

As Denise and I ran this morning across the commons, the moon's brilliance made my head torch completely unnecessary to light the way. After a full moon on Monday, our way was lit by moonlight. We ran silently in the dark, our path well defined against the dark, dewy, cold grass, marveling at the spectacle above us. This month, the moon is escorted by a procession of Gods across the ecliptic. Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and, lagging behind, Neptune. Powerful pagans, these famous Wanderers wander not at all.

Another why we run moment, this is why we run predawn. Long after the human lunacies on Earth have ended, the procession will continue.