Monday, December 11, 2006

RUNNING DEGREE

I ended up not doubling up on Friday night. I figured cramming 45 miles into my last 3 days of the week was probably not the best way to get into the mid-80s. As a result, Saturday’s 16 miler “only” gave me 82 for the week. And if Friday’s 15 degrees felt balmy, Saturday’s 40 felt damn near tropical. I ran 15 of the 16 miles on a golf course near my house. Although the course was closed, one guy was actually out playing. He said it was the latest he’d ever played in the year.

Sunday I met Evan for a nice trail run that wasn’t quite 12 miles – or as Evan, who’s from New Zealand, would say 19K. He almost has me converted to recording everything in kilometers starting in 2007 – almost.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I want to incorporate this blog and the articles I’m working on. I thought about just waiting until they’re published before posting them. But now I’m leaning towards using this space as more of a sounding board. I’ll post the unfinished article here in an effort to see what people think. Am I on the right track, is there something I could add to make it better, should I scrap the whole project all-together, etc. With that said, after today’s quote of the day, you’ll find an article I’ve been working on lately.

Quote of the day;

“In our business, son, we have a saying: ‘You can’t put in what God left out!’” – Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire



RUNNING DEGREE 12/10/06

Recently, I was talking with a couple of people who had taken a class on marathoning while at UW-Madison. A year or two ago, Dick Beardsley began teaching an online marathoning course through the College of St. Scholastica that culminates with the running of Grandma’s Marathon. Hearing about these classes got me thinking about all the “useless” knowledge I’ve acquired during my 27 years of running. I thought it’d be fun to break it down by college topics. Instead of counting as just one class though, what follows is enough to make up an entire running degree. Dare I say a B.S.?

ECONOMICS: The first principle they teach you in Econ 101 is supply and demand. If you’re a marathoner, you know we’re truly blessed to live in Minnesota, which is home of two of the best marathons in the country. The good news is that these are popular races and they seem to fill up in record time each year. The bad news is that these are popular races and they seem to fill up in record time each year. If you plan on running either Grandma’s or Twin Cities, mail in your entry form right away because demand definitely exceeds supply.

FINANCE: Speaking of Grandma’s Marathon, have you ever tried to get a room in Duluth that weekend? It’s nearly impossible. Two words; station wagon. I’ve never done it before running the marathon, but on two separate occasions I have slept in my car prior to running the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. Of course, I’ve received some strange looks, as I rolled out of my car to brush my teeth, but you can’t beat the price or the convenience of staying in the convention center parking lot.

INVESTMENTS: When it comes to running well, especially marathons, you need both short term and long term investments. You can’t run a good marathon on just 4 to 6 months (short term) training and you can’t run well by just relying on years (long term) of experience. The best results occur when you combine years of experience with 4 to 6 months of solid training leading up to your race. Of course, good weather on race day doesn’t hurt either.

PYSICS: As coach Lydiard would say, “Strength equals speed.” No matter what distance we choose to race, most of us have the speed necessary to reach our goals. What we’re lacking is the strength to hold that speed for the entire distance of the race. So before worrying about what track workout we should be doing, we should ask ourselves what workouts we can do to develop our strength.

ENTOMOLOGY: I love to run on trails, absolutely love it. However, during the summer months black flies can make it nearly impossible. During one run this summer I saw another runner and all he could say was, “Damn black flies…” before his voice trailed off. In the past I would secretly hope “my” flies would decide to follow the other people I passed along the way. Over the years I’ve learned that a better option is to use a little bug spray prior to hitting the trails. Keep in mind that bug spray won’t prevent the swallowing of bugs.

RELIGION: If you’ve run the Twin Cities Marathon the chances are you’ve had a conversation that’s similar to this, “Dear God just let me make it to the top of Summit Avenue. I promise I’ll train better next year. I’ll increase my miles. I’ll do hill repeats. I’ll start my training sooner. I’ll run more 20 milers. Please God just let me make it up this hill.” As we’re all aware, these conversations are by no means limited to TCM.

ANATOMY: Luckily I’ve been fairly healthy during my running career. But lately I’ve learned that the shinbone is indeed connected to the anklebone. By that I mean if you’re experiencing some pain, you may be feeling the symptom, not the cause. Maybe that sore knee is being caused by a tight quad muscle. Sore calves? Maybe you’re sciatic nerve is to blame. Whatever the ache or pain, always try to figure out what’s causing the problem, rather than treating the symptoms. Of course, if pain persists, go see a doctor.

HISTORY: I may not be a history buff when it comes to wars, politics or religions, but I love to read about running history. I’m sure other states can boast of Olympians, as well as World and American Record holders, but I think Minnesota holds its own with names like; Buddy Edelen, Ron Daws, Steve Hoag, Mark Nenow, Garry Bjorklund, Dick Beardsley, Janice Ettle, Barney and Janice Klecker, Steve Plasencia, Bob Kempenien, Steve Holman and Carrie Tollefson. And while Tollefson’s Team USA Minnesota teammates might not be native Minnesotans, there’s no denying that they’re an integral part of our state’s strong running tradition.

ASTRONOMY: While a “little” thing called life may fit nicely into things like days and weeks, it doesn’t mean that running should be regulated by such constraints. Should I let the rise and fall of the sun determine how frequently I should run? If I truly want to be the best runner I can be, sometimes I’m going to need to run more than once a day. Besides, if running is something that I truly love to do, why should I limit the frequency with which I do it, by the number of hours in a day? Finally, runners like to talk in terms of weeks, especially the number of miles run per week. However, I realize that my body doesn’t really know what a week is, when it comes to running. As a result, I often struggle with organizing my training into an arbitrary man made seven day cycle.

CHEMISTY: Some people talk about genetics or “natural talent,” others talk about hard work. Lately, with the doping scandals surrounding such endurance sports as running, biking, and triathlon, I’ve become more and more cynical. I’m now to the point that I just assume that anyone who’s faster than me is “on drugs.” Of course that’s not true, but hey, it helps me cope. In any case, the secret (legal) pill that we’re all looking for does not exist. Hard work is still the key to running well, no matter how much “natural talent” you have.

I’m sure there are other topics I could come up with, but let’s face it, I’m pretty sure that no credible institute of higher education will give me any credit, let alone a degree, based on the above “coursework.” I think the best I can hope for is a degree from the school of hard knocks.

7 comments:

Bart said...

The article is pure genius. I don’t know if you have room to add anything else, but I believe that a psychology class should be a requirement before a marathon degree could be awarded – maybe with a tie-in to taper madness.

By the way, you misspelled physics and chemistry.

Bart

Chad Austin said...

I don't know about "pure genius" but I'm glad you liked it, Bart.

Good suggestion on the psych subject. I'll think about that one.

Not sure why the heck spell check didn't catch my misspellings. I'm glad you did. Thank you.

jonette said...

Love the article! Funny and smart. One tiny comment- not too sound like a letsrun poster, but under Anatomy "you're sciatic" should be "your sciatic". Really great insights, though.
Saw the other day that you mentioned running at Lake Harriet. My car was stolen there 2 weeks ago while I was out running at about 5pm, so be very cautious if you're there after dark.

Laurie said...

I very much enjoyed your article. It shows a more creative and fun side of you that we don't often see.

Anonymous said...

your spelling is off on quite a few words

Don said...

Love the article, no suggestions. But regarding your weekly mileage, 15 miles on a golf course counts for more than 15 in my book. Maybe you can chalk it up as a strong week regardless of the actual miles.

Chad Austin said...

Hmm, not sure what's wrong with my spelling/grammar. Thanks for letting me know, everyone.

Jonette, sorry to hear about your car. I can't say I've had that happen to me. That really bites. I hope things work out for you.

Thanks Laurie, it's easier to be "creative and fun" when you have unlimited time to work on an article - rather than spitting something out during my lunch break every day.

Don, 15 miles on a golf course may count as more mentally, however, with the soft surface, it's great on your legs.