Thursday, June 2, 2016

Race Report: Horse Capitol Marathon

Don't tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.--George S. Patton

My 5th marathon of 2016 was going to have an unexpected result. Although this wasn't the halfway point, it was a point where I was in a rhythm of running a marathon a month.

As exciting as it is to run these races, a certain degree of routine creeps in. I don't mean this in a negative way at all. The first marathon was amazing. It was my first marathon of the year. It was the first of 12 for the year. The program that I created was designed to perform at the first one. I assumed that I would manage the rest of the 11 marathons. It had also been a while since my last marathon that ended in the medical tent with an Achilles injury. The cherry on the top of the entire marathon Sundae was the adrenaline.

The 2nd marathon was 2 weeks later so the adrenaline still flowed. I had the ability to silence the naysayers who told me that I couldn't do 2 marathons in 2 weeks and I had to stay in a hotel and I felt like I was in "The Right Stuffl" with a mission to accomplish. Number 3 was a hometown race as I lived in Atlanta at the time. Native marathons enhances the motivation a bit. I literally raced on streets I trained on. The Knoxville Marathon was awesome because I traveled with my entire clan. My 5th marathon, the Horse Capitol Marathon in Lexington, Kentucky, offered no such amenities.

I had to travel to this one but I've done that before. It was an unfamiliar city but not my first unfamiliar marathon city. Now for all of you travel snobs that will fire off comments about every city has its charm, I will caution you that your cries will fall on deaf ears. I arrive in these cities with just enough time to eat, get some rest, run a marathon, and then I get back to my family. I don't explore or soak in the culture. The routine of a marathon a month is like a bouncer in a strip club.

All of that said, I didn't know what to expect. I read that the University of Kentucky is in Lexington. I learned that Lexington has one of the largest LGBT communities so I felt that it was probably a pretty progressive town. The coolest  part however was the horse raising and racing history in Lexington, hence the title of Horse Capitol. One of the selling points of the race was that you wouldn't be out of sight of a horse farm the entire race.

Although the race is the main ingredient of this post, I have to tell you about the race before the race. Before my 2nd marathon I arrived in town too late to pick up my race number. I hate race day pick ups. It interrupts my morning routine and there are countless unpredictable  circumstances. So this time around, I left work even earlier in order to get to the expo in order to arrive on time. So I zoom down the highway but Atlanta on a Friday without traffic is like food without taste. Traffic slowed to a crawl and the ETA my navigation made all sorts of anxiety bubble up like bad Chinese Food. I made it on time but I probably did number 1,2 and 3 on the highway because of stress.

The marathon delivered on all of its descriptions of the beautiful horse farms. I couldn't stop taking pictures of the horses and the farms. It was kind of a double out and back so I knew that I would see many things twice but things looked so good that I took photos early. Like most of the races this year, there was a full and half marathon. After the split, the roads get lonely and all of the runners look like they're straight out of that Nike ad, "There Is No Finish Line".

There were rolling hills but no significant climbs. After the first loop of the course the scenery became repetitive and less intriguing. I became less focused of photos and almost completely focused on the task at hand. I met an older gentleman who used the Jeff Galloway run-walk method. I did it with him for a while but it didn't work for me. After about 5 miles I felt that I could go ahead and run how I feel. I didn't see him again but he was a nice old guy.

All in all I got the job done and another medal for the collection. If you enjoya beautiful scene and you don't mind seeing it twice, then the Lexington, Kentucky, Horse Capitol Marathon might be for you. The expo was tiny but complete at the legendary Fasig-Tipton. The volunteers were great and I have no recollection of a thing that I needed along te course that I couldn't get.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Long Distance Running: Death By A Thousand Cuts

Ideas are easy. It's the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.-- Sue Grafton

I know anyone who happens across this title thinks, "what the hell is he talking about?". I may or may not be able to explain the lunacy of my thought process but there is no doubt that I actually know what I am thinking. The title is related to an ancient Chinese torture method of slow, lingering death. One cut does very little but a thousand cuts, as you go from one to ten to a hundred is likely, agonizing. The actual, physical pain can only be matched by the psychological anguish of knowledge that the next cut is imminent. The tortured person may hope that the next cut is the last. Whether it's the one that does the job or stops the cuts, stopping is undoubtedly the wish.

There is a saying that every run has its purpose or a lesson is learned on every run. I believe this wholeheartedly. Whether you learn something about hydration, foot strike, or even mental state on a 2 mile run compared to a 1 mile run, there are myriad takeaways every time you lace them up (side note, I don't ever untie my shoes but it sounds poetic).

As beautiful as every run is for me, there are equally the amount of uncomfortable moments. I run usually at 4am. I usually go to bed at around midnight. Although I function at a high level on 4 hours of sleep, it isn't ideal and I wish that I could sleep in. Most runners I know have a little, nagging, or something or other thing about their body that isn't necessarily painful, nor will it prevent the run but life, and running, would be infinitely more enjoyable. I have this hip deal and a sore back that wakes up with my alarm. It's gone in about an hour but there nonetheless.

So what is the death part exactly in my little analogy? Death, for the runner, is whatever we are after when we run. Some people run for weight loss. Some people run competitively, some folks are free birds and just want to be outside. For me, it's almost an addiction. It's therapeutic. It feels really good within 1/4 mile of my run. So what am I chasing? I'm chasing joy. I'm chasing satisfaction. In order to get that I have to run everyday. When I don't run... It sucks. 18 mile runs during Ramadan... Suck. Running on ice in my non-snow plow as early as 5am As much as it sucks, it feels so amazing. 

One day, any random runner will reach their goal. They will reach the pinnacle of their reason for running. Whatever the reason is for putting on running shoes and scooting, voluntarily into the wilds of the roads, sidewalks and trails will remain elusively private. Once that reason is reached. After that last cut is made. After the fatal cut is delivered. The will to run. The reason you opened the front door in the first place ends. Remember the saying that once the dog catches the rabbit, they can never race again? The same applies to death by a thousand cuts... One cannot die twice.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

My Emotions Come Out In Training, Not The Event

Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.-- Leonardo Da Vinci

I hear all the time about championship teams. Many of them exhibit what seems to be tears of joy upon winning a title. This is easy to believe but many championship teams will also say that they experience a feeling of relief. It doesn't matter which sport or business or even child rearing, when the goal is accomplished, there is an overwhelming feeling of relief. Success is attained through countless hours trying to get there and the expectation of success after such expectation isn't always pure joy.

A great deal of my emotional breakdowns have occurred while I am out on the road in the rain, snow, heat, or hills. The impulse to quit is even stronger in practice because so few people are watching. It is easy to quit because there is less on the line. It is easy to quit because you always have tomorrow... not really. There aren't tons of folks hanging out on the side of the road with clever and witty signs to motivate you. There are no people in the library telling you to keep going if you need to study. Pushing through when there is no stage to stand on is infinitely harder than performing for an audience.

When I cross the finish line I raise my hands and I usually kneel over to finally stop running after 4 hours. Victory is victory but 6 months prior I had to fight through moving form state to state or any number of issues that may arise. At Zero Dark Thirty there are a million thoughts parading through your noggin that will add considerable weight to your journey. Doubt creeps in. You ask yourself why are you doing whatever it is you are doing.

Glory comes in the spotlight but the every day grind of hours in the batting cage, in the library, on the roads, reading stock charts, playing the piano, and working late goes unseen. It actually bothers me a little bit when a new success comes around and folks say that they came out of nowhere. That us highly unlikely. That person probably toiled away in the basement to be at peak condition when they had to take a shot.

When I practice I have to look deep into who I am and where I want to go. One of my favorite athletes of all time, Barry Sanders, never celebrated after a touchdown. Jerry Rice had a belief after a touchdown to behave as though you've been there before. Kawhi Leonard barely pumps a fist. These are all people who are at the very pinnacle of their respective professions. The cramps and throwing up and the drenched tee shirts will squeeze everything out of you. I've pumped my fist more after tough runs in training than I have at the end of marathons.

When I take off from a plateau in practice it is exhilarating. I came home one morning after a 12 mile run which was my best ever and I felt like I won a championship. Kanye West referenced in one of his songs, "...empty bottles of No-Doz..." That is the work he did to win awards and make what many consider to be good music. 3am in a studio or analyzing a company isn't what anyone signed up for so the glorious moments are remembered by the masses but the Glory Getters remember the tears shed in the dark.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Race Report: Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon

It is time for man to mark his goal. It is time for man to plant the germ of his highest hope.-- Friedrich Nietzsche

Knoxville, Tennessee is about 4 hours away from Atlanta give or take a cow or two. Once again I had to hit the road and stay at a hotel. This time was different as I had the family in tow. Knoxville isn't a small town by any stretch but the southern feel was more prevalent here than in Atlanta. Knoxville is also a college town where half of the marathon participants wore University of Tennessee orange. It was slightly difficult to find a hotel room in Knoxville. I am not sure if it was because of the marathon or not but rooms were booked. I had no problems finding a room in Hilton Head so I was in no rush for Knoxville. I learned my lesson.

I parked for free maybe 200-250 yards away from the start for free. That my friends, is awesome. The start was very close to the Sun Sphere and it had enough people to feel like a big race but not so many that you had 50 waves and a 6 hour wait before you could start. I actually really loved the start of this race. There were 5 corrals and the speakers blared with "Rocky Top". I am not a southern boy but I know that song means a ton to Tennesseans. It was enough people for that runners camaraderie feel but I was able to hit my pace by the time I hit a quarter mile.

The University of Tennessee campus is beautiful and it offered a decent amount of fans. There seems to be a lot of things to read but I couldn't because I was a bit preoccupied but I remember seeing many historic statues. The down side to the race was the hills. According to my Nike+ App, the elevation was about 300 feet less than Atlanta. I suffered less but it didn't feel like much less climbing.

There were a few long stretches that were less culturally scenic but that was replaced by some amazingly beautiful homes. They were so appealing that I wanted to take some snapshots. I decided against that because I only remember seeing 4 black folks in the entire race (seriously) and I didn't want to be the one black dude photographing some rich white guy's house. The volunteers (no pun intended) and spectators along the route were terrific in these otherwise quiet neighborhoods. It waste of those things where it felt like they were clapping only for me.

Now the part that sucks. Noelton Drive was this big climb. People literally had signs apologizing for the hill. It was a two part climb and it is a spirit crusher. Despite the torturous climb, there were people with cool signs and words of encouragement. At the top of the hill, after we made a right turn, there was the biggest group of people along the course. That was a nice reward after the total annihilation at the hands of Noelton Rd.

Usually Half-Marathons and Full-Marathons have a pretty early split but this one lasted almost until the Half was complete. After the split the race went through World Fair Park and under the Sun Sphere.
That was super cool but then, like most marathons with a split, you hit no man's land. It turns into this sort of single file deal with one runner every 50 yards. It gets lonely out there.

As the race edged closer to the end the course took runners through this great little downtown area with bars and restaurants with people clapping or giving a thumbs up. There was one more uphill and then a turn to 100,000 seat Neyland Stadium. The approach to the stadium was nothing short of epic. My wife and children were sitting in the stands and cheered me into the stadium that finished on the 50 yard line. Aside from the NYC Marathon, this was the best finish ever.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Physically I'm Done But Runners Are Crazy

I'm convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the unsuccessful ones is perseverance.--Steve Jobs

So I have 2 days until my next marathon. This time I have a 3 hour drive up Interstate 75 to Knoxville, Tennessee for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. It will only be two weeks between my last marathon and the imminent marathon on Sunday. I've done this time frame before so I have some sort of idea what needs to be done to get me from finish line to finish line.

It's easy enough right? Last time I took off 1 day and then I was back on my grind. The beginning of March 20th I had 32 miles for the month. As of the end of March, 11 days later, I have 90.9 miles total. I obviously ran a marathon but I added on significant mileage. When I ran the Publix Georgia Marathon I felt as though I hadn't done enough work in the weeks prior and I suffered because of it. So I was determined to not let that happen again.

This is precisely when Murphy's Law reared its ugly head. Here in Atlanta there is this thing called Yellow Pollen that seems to be straight out of a bad horror movie like, "Attack of the Killer Pollen". I suffered from allergies when I lived in New Jersey but I've never been pimped by pollen before. I guess there is a first time for everything. I also pride myself on never really getting sick. As I write these words I am not yet ready to concede to sickness but I am barely holding on to my record. Finally, I end up with a back sprain to slow me down on the last day of the month when I could have reached 100 miles.

I'm worried now. I am not certain if I can be good enough by Sunday. But let's be clear about 1 thing. I will still start and finish on Sunday, I just won't do very well. I imagine that I will creep along the course with periodic checks on the watch to ensure that I am not embarrassed when I see my kids at the end. There is also an outside chance that I will rise Sunday morning with a little bounce in my legs, fire in my belly, and a mission on my mind.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Race Report: Publix Georgia Marathon

Liberty is the right of every man to be honest, to think and to speak without hypocrisy.--Jose Marti

I live in Atlanta so I thought I had a pretty good handle on the course for the Publix Georgia Marathon last Sunday. I know that I can't go North, South, East, or West outside of my door without hitting some hill within the first 1/4 mile. I have at least 100 runs since I moved down here from New Jersey and by definition, 100 runs, makes you very well versed.

Okay, now for the reality of my third marathon of 2016. The week or so before this marathon I felt as if I hadn't done enough work to be where I was at my last marathon. I had a  34 day lay off and I only had run about 32 miles in March when race day arrived. All of that said, I figured that I had home field advantage. The first marathon I drove race morning about hour and change. My second marathon I drove with traffic, the other commodity native to Atlanta, for 6 hours with enough time to shove a bowl of pasta into my pie hole and guzzle some Gatorade before I had to stretch and sleep. This one was great as far as location. I drove 5 minutes. I was familiar with every turn and every hill.

Unfortunately my home field advantage was ineffective on this day. I arrived right before my wave start and I didn't have to rush or wait forever. The start line was amazing in that it was the Centennial Olympic Park. It was over 9,000 people running through the streets of Atlanta to a pretty big crowd. It was dark when the race started so you really appreciate the volunteers, family members, and other supporters. As amazing as the race start was it wasn't long before I had to gallup over the first hill. Maybe at the first mile we ran into a hill.

The hills rolled consistently throughout the race and mile 7 was a the very top of a relatively steep hill. Mile 7 is where the Half-Marathon and Full Marathon split. The funny part is although experienced runners, like myself, will not get caught up in the pacing of others, you still look at your fellow runners and marvel at their pace so early in a marathon. Little do you know that those speedsters only had to run half of your distance. That was the reason that they all looked like gazelles and I looked like an aardvark.

I had two forms of relief after the split. Every uphill must go down and I ran into an area that I have run no less than 15 times before. Familiarity allows my body to just do what it is trained to do. Just days prior I had taken a little run past the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the marathon course passed it as well. I didn't want to be demonstrative or pepper in unnecessary histrionics. I stared quietly and deliberately until it was out of sight but there is no way I could just past it sans acknowledgement.

Despite the hills I moved faster than I had in the previous marathon. My 10k, 10-mile, half-marathon and 18-mile times were better. None of these times were faster than my first marathon but I crapped out at mile 17 of that one so I was more than okay with being a little slower. I started to feel my hamstring twinge as my heel kicked. I had to alter my stride so my kick wouldn't cause further discomfort. My times began to rise mile after mile. By mile 21 the wheels had officially come off.

If it wasn't for the endorphins or whatever it is that is the cause of my love for the sport I would have been massively depressed. I knew that I had conceded a PR and resigned myself to simply another finish. Earlier in the race, I saw my wife and kids at mile 16 or so. My wife asked me how I felt and I gave her the hand gesture for so-so. I knew early on that my body would not be able to maintain the pace.

The hills continued and so did I. I walked the major uphills with hopes of stalling the inevitable cramp up. It worked but my time really suffered. That defeatist attitude disappeared when I saw my family again at the finish. No one knows that I suffered through half of the race. They only know that daddy finished another race and as long as they know that I started and they saw me finish the lesson here is taught.

Race Report: Hilton Head Marathon

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I was very nervous about running in Hilton Head. No, it wasn't because I only saw 3 other black people. It was because of my marathon history when my wife and kids aren't present. In 2008 I ran the Chicago Marathon. It was my worst marathon ever. I collapsed from heat exhaustion. I didn't eat enough. I didn't sleep enough. In 2015 I ran the New Jersey Marathon. Although I lived in NJ at the time, my wife and kids couldn't make the trip "down the shore". I felt my Achilles twinge in mile 1. I ran okay until mile 13. Then the wheels fell off. It took me 2 hours to get from mile 18 to  the finish. It was another finish in the medical tent.

Once again I knew that the family wouldn't be there. I had all types of weird anxiety all week. I am not typically an anxious person, which is why it is odd to have anxiety. I wondered if I would experience injury or sickness. I felt like a 90 year old woman thinking that everyday is my last and if it isn't it was going to suck because it wasn't as good as yesterday... you know the type. It forced me to obsessively plan for everything. I asked my wife to put a crap load of pasta into a tupperware (probably isn't tupperware brand but it's all tupperware isn't it?) bowl. I checked the weather constantly and I bought hand warmers. I looked at no less than 7 million topographic maps to ensure that I knew the elevation. I... was prepared.

Of course my obsessive planning means nothing to how the world moves. When I "Wazed" the trip, It said 4 hours from my house. I assumed since I work 30 minutes north of home, I would be leaving from home, South Carolina is north of Georgia, that it should take roughly 3 and a half hours to reach Hilton Head. Unfortunately, the trip calls for a southern swing to then go East and finally north again. Factor in the amazing Atlanta traffic and it took me 6 hours to get there. I checked in at around 10:00pm the night before a marathon. I stuffed my face with spaghetti and then I turned in a little after midnight. Next, you guessed it, I woke up late. I figured that I would drive over, grab my number then head back to the hotel and check out. This process took forever.

I started the race 15 mins after the official start. This, is where the bad story ends. There was actually some benefit to running alone opposite the field in an out and back. I found my rhythm sooner without the adrenaline of the start. I was able to pick people off throughout the race because of my late start. Every runner finds some enjoyment passing someone along the course I think.

The course was very flat. Historically I don't like flat surfaces but this was welcome because of the abbreviated wait time between races. Although I had some quiet moments, it wasn't like the last one where I had moments almost completely alone. I only wish I had taken more photos. I felt so good that I didn't even want to stop for photo ops.

I shuffled along nicely admiring the island town of Hilton Head, SC. The course wasn't designed along the boardwalk or water but if you've ever seen a southern island town, you have some appreciation for the trees and other views. The only climb was across a bridge which, had amazing views of the swampy water beneath. The sun hit is perfectly and you feel like you just wanted to stop and admire. Or you wanted to stop because it was the top of the only hill and it required some serious effort.

All in all, although it was 2 minutes slower than 2 weeks ago, it felt so much better. Stay tuned for the Publix Georgia Marathon on March 20, 2016.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Two Days Left

For we choose happiness for itself, and never with a view to anything further; whereas we choose honor, pleasure, intellect... because we believe that through them we shall be made happy.-- Aristotle

The Publix Georgia Marathon will be my biggest marathon to date. It's a different type of excitement for this one. First and foremost it is in the town where I live, right here in Atlanta. I don't have to get into the car and dig in for and hour or 4 hours. I actually plan to take public transportation to the start. There is a different feel when you are on the "home team". I've run 90% of these streets multiple times. There may be a surprise turn or two but my body has seen this movie before.

The other exciting part is the Health and Fitness Expo. I had grown accustomed to huge expo events after running the NYC Marathon 10 times, Chicago once, and New Jersey once. At those things I received huge bags of stuff that although it is largely useless, it is free and part of a major event. The Callaway Gardens and Hilton Head Marathons offered no such accoutrements. To be clear, this is not a knock on the aforementioned marathons, I just report facts. Frankly, I received T-shirts and a few other things in a goodie bag and generally, when I am done at the bigger marathons, what is left after I get rid of stuff is essentially the same amount of items. The bigness however of an expo is amazing.

You get to walk around with folks that will do what you will do in a few days. They have special speakers and it is set up for the runners. I love to walk in and take pictures of stuff. The energy is terrific in a building full of anxious and excited runners.

As much excitement as I have with the anticipation of my third marathon this year, I am subdued by the feel of my body. I am a bit achy everywhere and I haven't run a great deal in March. It is actually unknown, based on feel, what my performance will be Sunday but I know when I finish, I can look myself in the mirror and say to myself... actually, just the ability to look in the mirror after a race is action enough to tell that everything I have to give was just given.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Beauty of Running

Some people create with words, or with music, or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, "I've never seen anyone run like that before." It's more than just a race, it's style. It's doing something better than everyone else. It's being creative.--Steve Prefontaine

I have a choice whether or not I run. But I run because I don't really have a choice. When I wake up in the morning, I look over at my wife and then I get into... the process. I grab the running clothes that I set up on the floor. By set up I mean, threw in the corner of my bedroom. They are clean but there is no reason to keep my running gear well presented for running at 4am. I could probably do this entire thing blindfolded. I rise to my feet because I crawled from my bed, to my phone, across the room. If I leave my phone too close I will not actually wake up to run. I am a heavy sleeper. I can turn off my phone alarm and never realize that I did.

The awesome thing about it is that this is all muscle memory. The clothes, the bathroom, the music, shoes, keys, out the door. In New Jersey, I lived in a house and I walked down the stairs as if, "a man had to do what a man had to do". In Atlanta, I live in a building with a long corridor. I walk down the hallway like the astronauts in "The Right Stuff". Albeit in oddly bright, form fitting clothing. That walk however sets me apart from those in the world that cannot understand why we do what we do.

Running is an activity that one can presumably do every day. The beauty of the run exists in all aspects of the run. The foot strike to the pattern of breathing. A runner's full gait cycle is like a snowflake... no two are alike. There are moments when I feel like I am floating and the run is as effortless as the blink of an eye. There are other times your foot pounding on the ground feels, well, like it's pounding on the ground. Oftentimes I can feel the air moving in and out of my lungs. A runner is very in tune with their body.

Running is also largely based on science. I imagine that all sports are based in scientific findings but it appears as though running is more rooted in science than many other popular sports. Things that make the most sense in football can have zero impact on the outcome of a game. Most of the legendary coaches like Bowerman, Lydiard, Cerutty, and Daniels created a winning formula because of what they were able to do with the human body.

The ad in the 1977 back cover of Runner's World magazine read, "There Is No Finish Line". This ad was taken out by Nike and the thing that really caught my attention wasn't the paragraph on it. It was the picture of a lone runner on a long road to... who knows?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I Miss the Streets

'Tis absence however that makes the heart grow fonder.-- Origin Unknown

Since the start of March I have only logged about 13 total miles. For those consistent readers, you all know that 13 miles in 7 days for me is a bit under water. You also know that I am not much for excuses, but in this particular instance, it is all I have to offer; a huge, festering excuse. 

To all of the boo hooers and malingerers that feign injury or tell some story about the 17 kids you have, the 190 hours a week that you have to work, or perhaps the hill that is uphill, both ways, in the snow, year round, barefoot, blah blah blah. I was once told that there are no excuses, only priorities. That phrase rings true for me in the case of running so little as of late.

I run primarily in the very early morning. Everyone in my house is usually asleep. The past couple of days my wife was out of town so my window to run was a lot tighter. There were times where I could have sacrificed spending time with my wide awake children to run for an hour. This is an example of priorities. First and foremost I dedicate my life to my wife and kids, then running. Literally, in that order. Certainly my children would be okay without spending an extra hour with me. I am also relatively certain that I will send my kids screaming to therapy more because of my presence than my absence (just kidding, sort of, not really).

My body feels weird and I haven't had that 60-90 minutes to just exist in my own brain. I love being out there when everyone else is asleep in the world. It makes me feel different. I makes me feel special to know that so few will open the front door and run the streets simply for the love of doing it. Oddly enough, as much as I miss running as much as I do, I miss my wife even more. Even if I had a live in sitter and my running program didn't change I would still not be normal.

I've been a runner for 15 years. I've been with my wife for 14 years. We have undoubtedly built my running career together. Although she has probably run only 20 miles with me since we've been together, each mile she is still beside me. She cheers me on. She pushes me. She tells me when to stop and she tells me that I am awesome when I actually suck. There is no separation between the love of my life and my love for the run.

Tomorrow morning at 5am I will hit the road again. Not only because I have the time but because of the order that will return when my heart lands at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Friday, February 26, 2016

My Philosophy

You don't see with your eyes, you see with your brain. And the more words your brain has, the more you can see.--KRS-One

For those readers that have given years of their life to read my words, you can attest to the fact that I read an awful lot. It doesn't really matter where it comes from as long as it is a topic that I find interesting. Similarly, I listen to music virtually every time I have a moment to turn it on. For those that follow me on social media platforms, you will discover my love of photography. The conglomeration of these things creates a particular sort of person with a specific set of beliefs.

I've learned, over the past year or so, many of the reasons that I love to run. Running, particular when you cross over into calling oneself a runner, is full of science, strategy, and intimate knowledge of how your body works. The first thing I learned when I became certified as a USATF Level 1 coach was coaching philosophy. I was told that if I didn't have one that I needed to get one. All of my favorite coaches, Hall of Fame coaches, are judged by the effectiveness of their philosophies.

If you were to look at the definition of philosophy, I will paraphrase and essentialize (I know, not a word) what it means, it says essentially that philosophers will come up with a way of life and live in that way. In today's world those people are considered heretics or extremists living in a manner not necessarily approved by the masses. It has already been proven that runners live kind of on the fringes. How many non-runners truly understand why we do what we do?

Every coach has such a philosophy. Percy Cerutty, Bill Bowerman, Jack Daniels (the coach not the drink), Paavo Nurmi, Arthur Lydiard, and countless others had ideas that were not popular at the genesis but have become doctrine for running now. I also believe strongly in Nick Saban's approach to coaching. I think overall, despite the many different schools of philosophy, a coach is a pragmatist.

I think I am a pragmatist. The pragmatic approach is to relentlessly pursue the truth. In theory, the truth can never be reached because the search can never fully stop. In simple terms, one will seek the best way to get things done using trial and error and some hypotheses without bureaucracy. Few if any coaches will know from day one which philosophy will generate the most success. If a coach is successful on their first shot it is likely based on luck and will sooner than later crumble.

Many of the Hellenistic schools of philosophy, coupled with pragmatism, shape my thought process as a runner. I will oversimplify here but state plainly what each philosophy means to me. Stoicism, maintains the emotions in a narrow range to not get too high or too low with performance. Eclecticism uses many philosophies to form an idea of the way of life. Aestheticism studies the beauty of art, music, and taste. And as I mentioned before, pragmatism, the relentless search for the truth. Spartan lifestyle is one dedicated to peak physical condition for performance and "Sabanism" incremental dedication to execution in the moment.

I take all of these philosophies and create the runner that hits the street everyday.