Monday, October 31, 2016

Trail goodness

My running renaissance got a huge boost from a squiggly brown line on the ground.

While on a short over night stay on the boat...

Huh? Oh, I didn't tell you I have a boat now? Sorry... yeah, kinda crazy. I'm learning to sail.

What?! No, I don't even play the lottery. Trust me, it's not a big, fancy boat.* But it is a sail boat, and, well, it's fun and I'm learning something new.

So anyway... after a lovely night on the boat, I geared up for a quick run on some trails that I'd heard were close by. They were close by, and they were glorious!

Sure, I missed them the first try. And sure I ended up running an extra 2 miles or so, but tuh-otally worth it.

Seriously, a decent trail does wonders for one's mood. There's just something about running among trees, lots and lots of trees, to reconnect you to yourself, and your planet, and why you run at all.

And the zenned out experience of following a narrow band of dirt, letting it take you through its carless, sidewalkless, completely traffic light free world, not really sure where it's leading you, not really able to see vary far ahead of you at all, takes you to a place, a very different place than running on roads or paved urban paths.

Maybe it's all of the chlorophyl in the air. Maybe instincts that our species honed for a tens of thousands of years, dulled by the straight lines of cities and the firm sole of shoes, are awakened. Maybe it's just different.

Regardless, trail runs make me happy.

Good running,

*Here she is:

Friday, October 21, 2016

I've got a feeling...

... a feeling deep inside, oh yeah!

I'm not running very fast. I'm not running particularly far.

But, when I had to miss a couple runs this week, I got that feeling... aching... for a run.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, it's a nervous, anxious, firm request from your body, "Please, please get a run in. Soon."

It's a sure sign that your running has turned from drudgery, to habit. And I mean "habit" in the sense of an addiction. A good addiction. It's your body and mind craving what they know is good for for them.

I haven't had that deep craving for a run in a very long time. The recipe, apparently, is about 7 weeks of a rock solid schedule. For me, it was 21 runs... Tu, Th, Su... some ok, some horrible, none brilliant.

But performance isn't the thing.

The thing is returning to running... for real.

Good running,

Monday, September 26, 2016

What I really miss

Re-re-re-re-re-starting my running, and I miss is how easy it used to be.

I don't miss being fast. Pace doesn't really concern me that much. My vanity misses the slight build and narrow waste. But deep down, I don't miss that stuff.

I miss being able to fall out of bed, early, and run. A brisk, refreshing 7.5 miler before work is a fabulous start to a day.

I miss runs when I wasn't consumed with thoughts about how shitty I feel, when running cleared my head of doubt and subversion, rather than fuel them.

What I miss most is being lost in the run.

Last weekend, on Sunday, was a 5K training run. I was pleased that I ran the entire 5K... no walking, no stops. Damn that sounds pathetic. Me 5 years ago would be aghast.

The course I ran was a few miles from my house. As I was driving back... hell, even as I was driving to the run, I looked at the sidewalk and remembered training runs along that very path, long morning runs during which I'd sleepwalk through a 5K, not noticing the houses or cars or anything... just covering mindlessly distance.

In those days, I would look to the horizon, to a point way off... and soon later I was at that point, without effort, with no noticeable passing of time. I was there, having previously been back there.

Then, a run was an escape to a peaceful place, not a workout, or a task.

To run that easy requires endurance, strength, aerobic fitness, and form that allow you to move smoothly, and to get lost in it, without distraction.

They are also hard earned, and easily squandered.

Sunday, I had ever brief moments of effortless running, thanks entirely to the memory, and contemplation, of easy running, and what it meant, and how I could explain it. And, how I could regain it for myself.

Again, the moments were brief, leaving more work to do, more running to do...

Good running,

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Running with the Fab 4

I'm still not sure why, but the other day, for a good 3 miles, I was running with the Beatles.

Ok, not the actual Beatles. But you knew that. Running with the actual Beatles would be pretty hard to pull off.*

But still, from the first steps of the run, I was giving myself a bit of a pep talk, out loud, quietly, in the voices of the skinny ties, black boots, mop-topped, 1965 Beatles.

Ok, again, not actually all of the Beatles. I've never been able to do George. I like to think he was running with us though, being characteristically quiet.

Why the Beatles? No clue. What's with the pep talk? Beats me.  That's never happened before. And it just kept going. We talked about pace, which side of the street would offer the most shade, and how strange it was that I was talking like the Beatles.

The run was unspectacular. But, it was fun. And fun has been missing from my running for a few months.

Running in general has been missing for a few months. And I think one of the reasons it's been missing is because it hadn't been much fun.

Maybe that's why the lads ran along with me... to entertain me a bit, to keep it light, and to remind me to have fun. And maybe to gave me something to write about, which I needed as much as a fun run.

Yeah, let's go with that, and not signs of schizophrenia. Or a brain tumor.

Good running,

*Though not completely out of the realm of possibility... if I had a time machine. To wit, check out this article about the lads running a relay race against members of the their crew while filming Help! (found looking for pictures of running Beatles).

Also, this:

Friday, March 6, 2015

Winter in Indiana

As I type this, cold air is spilling over the edge of my laptop, an invisible waterfall, onto my fingers.

The durable, renewable, and insanely stylish aluminum was super-chilled overnight in the trunk of my car.

The fan in the computer turned on as soon as it booted up, not to cool it, but to get some warm air in and heat it up.

I have been in love with the great state of Indiana all my life, but I'm starting to believe that this may be an abusive relationship.

Eight inches of snow forced me into a parking garage for my Sunday run.

Think about that for a minute... running, a long run, in an underground garage.

Tuesday brought warmer temperatures, but also rain. With the ground frozen, the rain and the snow that it melted had no where to go. So what the day before passed as reasonable places to walk were turned into small canals, 3 inches deep in watery slush.

By Thursday the temps fell hard. Today, any travel outside, by car or by foot, is a concert of cracking ice, each "pop" reminding you that you are in a place not hospitable to human life.

I have a half-marathon in 15 days that I am in no way prepared for, and I have no where to train that isn't soul-sucking or limb-threatening.

A few hundred years ago, some brave people set off West looking for a better life. Those without the means for a new wagon, bought used, and paid the price. When their wagon broke down, on pool table flat ground, they were forced to settle down in what would become Indiana.

That's the only scenario I can imagine to explain why people chose to live here.

I long for Indiana spring, the lovely season between the ridiculously gray, cold, dreary winter and the oppressive humidity and high pollen counts... all 4 days of it.

Good running,

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Trail Dreams

Three Lakes Trail blaze
image from
I'd been dreaming, literally dreaming, of running along a narrow, wooded trail in the middle of winter, in the middle of nowhere, for weeks.

In the dreams single-track trail draws out in front of me. I can only see maybe 80 yards of it, and it swishes just a bit left and right. It's lined with trees too tall to measure, too numerous to count, too think to see very far. It's quiet except for my foot falls and my breath.

This vision wasn't just at night. Idle time during the day took me back there, deep in nature, far from the world.

It was as if there was a string looped around my heart, tugging, gently, but incessantly, pulling me to a place with hills and trees, lots of hills and lots of trees.

My genes, my lineage as a human, my primal instincts to run were telling me what I needed.

I needed to get lost in the woods.

Last Saturday, though I had no right to think I was fit for a 10 mile tough-ass trail run, I really didn't care.

The girl, the dog, and I headed to Morgan-Monroe State Forest and hit the Three Lakes Trail.

The run was a slog. A slow, lung rupturing, leg mutilating slog.

And it was glorious!

The sun shone bright though the wind was plenty cold. We took wrong turns, we crossed countless streams, we climbed endless hills, and we trudged our way through an ugly mile of muddy slop. (Why, oh why did I ignore that detour?)

The girl and I finished with salty faces and mud caked shoes and spattered legs. The dog seemed disappointed at stopping.

We were sore, and exhausted, and thrilled to have done it, and that it was over.

The three of us did little else for the rest of the weekend but watch movies in front of the fire... a fitting reward for surviving such a harrowing adventure.

As I think about that run, I can feel that string tugging again, calling me back.

Can you feel the string looped around your heart? Where is it pulling you?

Good running,

Sunday, January 18, 2015

1,500,000 Steps

My step tracker's app often sends me messages.

Two or three times a day it will tell me how many steps I've racked up so far. Occasionally it will send me a challenge to try to motivate me to move more. And for some reason, it seems very concerned when my band hasn't synced recently. The app is a little needy.

I notice most of these messages, but I have to admit, they usually don't get more than a glance.

Today, though, it sent me one that made me stop in my tracks...

Holy. Shit!

That number... 1,5000,000!

It was world-rocking... 1.5 Million steps, in less than a year.

I'm a math major. I have a really good idea of what one million is. It's a whole hell of a lot. Seriously, it's an assload.

And I moved 1.5 Million steps... without really trying. That boggles my fucking mind.

Ok, those of you who have done the math already know that my average is only 5000 steps a day, half what is recommended. Those of you who are getting your 10K steps a day are hitting over 3 Million a year.

But that's not the point, really.

My body, which is way past its warranty period, has remained more or less upright for 1.5 Million repetitions of walking, or running, without any real wear.

In 301 days.

That is remarkable. To think that my knees, hips, all of those little muscles and bones in my feet, have survived, unscathed, from well over 1,000,000 repetitions of the walking gait. Seriously... remarkable.

I feel very fortunate.

And it sure as hell makes me think... How many steps have I taken in my life? How many do I have left?

We move way more than we think we do.

We rely on our bodies way more than we are aware.

Imagine for a second, that it's not mine, but your knees and ankles and tendons and muscles and tissues moving that many times, supporting your weight, taking the shock, maintaining balance, moving you forward.

Now imagine that with every step, there is pain. Just a little pain, but pain nonetheless.

What if you had to feel that pain over 1,000,000 times a year? That's 3000 times a day.

Can you think of any pain small enough that you could bare it over 3000 times a day, 187 times per hour, about every 3 seconds you are awake? Neither can I.

If that were me, I'm pretty sure I'd move as little as possible.

And I can promise you, I'd be a royal pain in the ass to be around if I couldn't move across the surface of the planet as I pleased.

Take good care of your body. Stretch, workout, cross-train, keep/get your weight under control. Back off when you have pain. See a sports doc if it doesn't get better.

We have millions and millions of steps ahead of us. Let's make sure we get each and every one.

Good running!