Friday, December 29, 2006


After keeping my mileage in the low-80s for 4 of the last 5 weeks, I decided to squeeze in another 5-mile run last night. That run will (hopefully) allow me to reach 90 miles this week.

With this morning's 5-mile run, I entered the 21st century. Apparently my wife found a great deal on an iPod Shuffle. She gave it to me for Christmas and today was the first time I used it. I wouldn't say it was good or bad, it was just different. I can't see myself downloading new songs that pump me up for workouts, but I can see using it to keep me company on dark, cold mornings. While the 512MB don't compare to the 80GB that "everyone" else has - it was enough for me. Besides, remember I only listen to one CD anyway - at least lately.

Alright, that's all I have. I don't even have a 'quote of the day' handy, so how about 'lyrics of the day' from a song I listened to with my iPod;

Climbing up the ladder
Breaking my shin the the very first rung
Waking up the neighbors
It's alright
They understand
They're just as dumb
- Uncle Tupelo

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Alright, I finally made it through Sport Illustrated’s top-20 list, so I thought I’d better get back to blogging. I’m off from work this week, which makes for good running, but terrible blogging. Here’s an update on my training since my last post;

Friday afternoon I ran an easy 5 miles.

Saturday morning was a nice 18-mile group run. That’s my longest run since Chicago and it gave me 83 miles for the week, on 8 runs.

Sunday was an easy 12 miles on the local golf course and trails. We got just enough freezing rain and snow to make things fairly slick. Even the fairways were icy.

Monday was a recovery day, consisting of two easy 5-mile runs.

Tuesday I thought I’d mix in a little tempo. So after 6 miles at 8:00 pace I threw in a 3-mile tempo around 6:20-6:25 pace, followed by a mile cool-down.

Wednesday I headed back to the golf course. I was bored after 50 minutes to I hit some trails at Lebanon Hills that I’d never been on before. I kept thinking, “Is it really December 27th?” I shouldn’t be able to run on these trails – at least not without snow covering them. I ended up running for 2:04 and called it 15 miles.

This morning I met Evan for a nice 10 mile run in the Minnesota Wildlife Refuge along the Minnesota River.

Just when I think my training is going really well, I end up running with someone, like Evan or Jenna, who puts my training to shame. Maybe I need to start training with people that are slower than me.

Finally, even with the holidays, I was able to get another interview posted.

Quote of the day;

“I have a full plate so my schedule doesn't really match up to anyone else’s. I have a full time job and a part time job. My wife is a nurse so her schedule isn't always the same. My two sons are very active as well. We make things work but running can sometimes interfere. I sneak runs in when I can.” - Pete Gilman

Friday, December 22, 2006


Hopefully this post won’t get “lost” due to the holidays. This just in: Carrie Tollefson is attractive. I know, I know, it shocked the hell out of me too. I’m glad the Independent of Marshall, MN was able to get a quote from Carrie. Thanks to Kim for forwarding me the story.

Kim suggested I come up with my own list, but I think I’ll stay away from that one.

I’m editing this post to add the actual SI link to their top-20. Okay, I may not create my own list, but Marion Jones at #14? And no Natalie Gulbis or Jenny Finch?

In case you’re wondering, I bowled a 116 and a 117 yesterday. I’m nothing, if not consistent. I figured if I had played another 80 games or so, I’d approach 200.

As for my running, I’d rather feel like crap during a recovery day than a workout day. So I guess I should be happy that I felt good yesterday and terrible today. I slogged through 4 miles at 9:10 pace this morning. We did get a little snow yesterday, which made it slippery and a little slower than normal. However, the slow pace is more an indication of tired legs. I guess that means I actually did a little work the last few days. I’m planning on getting in another 4-6 miles sometime this afternoon.

Quote of the day;

“You have to be a little bored to be doing really good training.” – Marty Liquori

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I don’t really have anything exciting to talk about today. I was thinking a little bit more about my excuse list and how it compares to Brent’s. I think it’s interesting that Brent, who’s relatively new to running, has a list that’s mainly made up of excuses that keep him from training, while my excuses are more about racing. I don’t have a lot of trouble getting out the door and training, but there are definitely things I can work on to race better.

I had another nice run this morning; 11 miles with 8 of them at 7:10 pace. If you want to get exact, the 2 mile splits were 14:45, 14:03, 14:26 and 14:18.

I’ve been trying to include one of these up-tempo runs each week. The last couple have been on the treadmill, between 7:00 and 7:10 pace, so it was nice to see I could reproduce the same pace while running outside – and hold it for 8 miles.

During the last 2 mile stretch, I tried to imagine racing the last 5K of a half marathon I’m running on January 27th. I tend to justify my satisfaction with my races – before I’m finished – rather than pushing all the way to the end. How's that for an excuse? So I figure if I visualize pushing the last 5K in practice, it’ll help on race day.

That’s all I’ve got. Off to bowling…

Quote of the day;

“It’s the effort that matters on the hard days.” – Steve Jones

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Today’s run turned out to be a confidence booster. A couple of weeks ago, I took Lydiard’s standard schedule and converted the mileage to duration – based on how quickly I thought his athletes might be training. For example, Lydiard’s guys were probably running their 18 mile weekday run between 1:50 and 2 hours. At 8:00 pace, that means I should cover 14-15 miles for this run.

While that distance, by itself, isn’t daunting. It is, when you consider it’s run during the workweek, which means a very early wakeup call. To be honest, I thought 12-13 might be my weekday limit. Anyway...

Alarm set for 4:30.

Out of bed at 4:28.

First thoughts in my head; “What the hell am I doing getting up so early to go for a run? It’s the middle of December. It’s cold and dark….”

Luckily those thoughts were out of my head by the time I hit the stairs. Once I got out the door, it turned into a nice run. It was one of those days when I’d look up every 2-3 miles and be surprised by where I was at already. The miles just seemed to fly by – even though I was just running my ‘everyday’ pace, which is right around 8:00s.

I ended up getting in 14 miles in 1:53. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, er, I mean a broken MP3 player, but 37 degrees, calm, and clear paths definitely made this run more manageable than it should be at this time of year.

I think my mind wandered more than ‘normal,’ which helped the miles go by quickly. I was thinking of people I want to interview and the questions I’d ask them. I was also thinking about Brent’s recent post regarding excuses. His post basically said we should list our top-10 excuses and then think about how we can turn them into positives. Here’s the list I’ve come up with so far;

1. It’s too hot.
2. It’s too early in the season to run hard.
3. So-and-so beats me in practice; they should be ahead of me in a race.
4. I’m not competitive. I tend to do my own thing in a race, rather than compete.
5. I’m not a strong hill runner.
6. I’m too conservative (this covers a lot of things like, bumping mileage, going out hard in a race, racing frequently, etc).
7. I need the calories (regarding eating crap).
8. I’d rather spend my time and energy running more (regarding adding strength training).
9. I feel better when I don’t stretch.
10. It’s too hot.
With a new year around the corner, I’ll see if I can work on some of these excuses. I guess it’s no surprise that most of them revolve around mental toughness. I do need to work on that in 2007, along with some of the other more easily correctable excuses.

Quote of the day;

“Sometimes it’s an incredible drag. Just yesterday I went out and ran 23 miles and I was swearing and hitting mailboxes. I didn’t want to be out there but I knew I had to. I’d say most runners half-like and half-dislike running.” – Bill Rodgers

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I felt much better during this morning’s 11 mile run. My calves are still sore, but at least they loosened up. I was hoping to make it another mile, but my hands were freezing. It wasn’t like they were cold for the last 10 minutes – it was more like the last 4 miles. And I’m not really sure why. It was a nice morning with temps in the mid-20s and little-to-no wind. So the lesson is; always carry another pair of thin gloves with me.

With each passing day, the weather is becoming more-and-more of the story around here. It’s December 19th and we don’t have a single flake of snow on the ground. I should say; non-manmade snow. While I love snow, I also love the fact that I haven’t had to worry about footing when I run. As an added bonus, the temps have been very mild lately. Best of all, the days start getting longer at the end of this week.

I have two random things on my mind that I keep forgetting to post.

First, in my perfect world, caffeine would promote hydration. While I’m at it, coffee would make your breath fresh and turn your teeth white.

Second, is there anyone else that doesn’t like to wear the shirts they get from their "big" races? For example, I rarely wear my marathon shirts. I don’t know why. It’s not like I care if they get worn out or something. I just tend not to wear those shirts.

Finally, I’m not much of a music critic, but I figure if a CDs been in my stereo (sorry, I don't have an MP3 player, iPOD, or whatever else is hip) for 2 months straight (not really, but you get the idea), it’s worth mentioning. If you like groups like Wilco, Son Volt, Jayhawks – sort of that alt-country music – check out Uncle Tupelo. Before there was Wilco and Son Volt, there was Uncle Tupelo. They may be hard to find in stores, so you may need to shop online. I’ve been listening to 89/93: An Anthology, which contains 21 songs that I can’t stop listening to.

Quote of the day;

“From that experience, I learned that hard training isn't always fun, but competing should always be fun or you may want to consider doing something else.” - Michael Reneau, on wrestling in college

Monday, December 18, 2006


What better way to start the week off than with a new interview? Of course, I’ve enjoyed all the interviews, but this one is pretty sweet.

Isn’t the mind a wonderful thing? I had a list of reasons why I should limit Saturday’s run to 12 miles. Stuff like;

It’s the last day of my cutback week; I can ramp up next week.
It’ll give me 54 for the week – right where I want to be.
I could squeeze in a nap before company arrives for an early Christmas.
Then I started thinking about all the reasons to run 15 or 16 miles;

Even with a cutback week, I should keep in my “long” run.
The weather is awesome (35 degrees and no snow on the ground) for December 16th.
Great companions to make the miles go by faster.
Faster companions to make me work harder.
The rest of the family is busy, so they won’t miss me.
In the end, I met Kim and Jenna for a nice 15 mile run along the Mississippi (I think that’s still the only word that I have to consciously spell out in my head as I type it) River. I’m not sure if it’s my new shoes, which happen to be a new model for me, but my calves have been sore ever since. Anyway, this run gave me 57 miles for my cutback week.

During Sunday’s 12 miler, I was either on the golf course or running through Lebanon Hills Park. I didn’t feel that great, but running in my two favorite places, near my house, definitely helped. After the run I took a shower and was nice and squeaky clean – only to discover I had dog shit on one of my running shoes. Crap – literally!

You know how some days it feels like you have the best form in the world and everything seems so smooth and easy? Well, take the opposite of that and it describes my 8 mile run this morning. Damn, I’m ready for another cutback week.

Quote of the day;

“It's just impossible to ignore the results guys like Dick Beardsley were getting from putting in a ton of miles. There may be guys out there with the talent to run great marathon times off of 80-90 mile weeks, but I definitely don't have that talent. The beauty of the marathon though is that you can close the gap on the guys with great talent by working harder and logging more miles, which is what I intend to do.” - Michael Reneau

Friday, December 15, 2006


Hmm, things seem slow in blogland lately. I don’t have too much substance to report either, just a bunch of odds and ends.

Filed under “It’s a small world” category, one of my high school buddies emailed me this morning saying he bumped into another runner who knew me. It turns out it was Matt Gabrielson. That’s pretty weird.

I’m sure everyone has heard someone bitch about how bad Runner’s World is now versus 25-30 years ago. One of the writers from the 30th anniversary issue of Running Times did a nice job writing about the changes to the running community and having to “respond to the needs of all runners, not just those at the top of the sport.”

Walking through Barnes and Noble lately, it seems like authors and publishers are realizing this too. Here are the titles I spotted recently; Marathoning for Mortals, No Need for Speed, Non-Runner’s Marathon Training, Teach Yourself How to Run a Marathon (Are you really teaching yourself if you have to buy a book?), and my personal favorite, Treadmill Training for Runners. And seeing the cover of this book always makes me smile because I went to college with the guy in the white tank top.

Training-wise, I ran an easy 5 miles yesterday morning. Last night I ran 8 miles on the treadmill, including 6 miles at 7:00 pace. This morning was another easy 5 miles. Since this is a cutback week, I’ve been planning on getting in 50-55 miles. It’s weird because I keep adding up my mileage over-and-over. For some reason, I think I’m going to be short. Today I was like, “Do I really only have to run 5 miles?” I guess it’s weird because in college that would be my peak mileage week – now it’s a cutback week.

Team USA Minnesota athletes continue to update their journals. Check out Andrew Carlson’s and Brad Lowery’s updates. Also, a few of the California athletes have updated entries.

Kind of slow at work, so I was able to check out for the first time in awhile. As a result, I found the best description of Lydiard’s program yet. It makes the quote of the day;

“It's not a fast-food formula. You can't expect to go through a drive-through and expect to have the entire meal handed to you in minutes.”Nobby

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Every once in awhile I come across an article that’s written specifically for me – or so it seems. This weekend I got out my copy of Run Strong because I wanted to review one of its chapters. If you’re not familiar with this book, it’s different than most running books because it contains 12 chapters, each written by a different author. Names such as Pete Pfitzinger, Mark & Gwen Coogan, John Kellogg, Scott Douglas, Greg McMillan and Joe Rubio, to name a few, comprise the list of authors. If you’re a runner the chances are you’ve at least heard some of those names before.

The chapter that I wanted to re-read is Joe Rubio’s chapter on “Devising an Efficient Training Plan.” I can’t remember when or where I first became aware of Joe Rubio. I imagine it was on a message board, most likely Beck’s Donnybrook or Merv, both which happen to be defunct now. In any case, Rubio was always very unselfish when it came to sharing his knowledge. In addition to posting his thoughts on message boards, he also took time to answer my personal emails, even though he was busy coaching much better runners, including 4 of the top 22 women at the 2004 Olympic Trials Marathon.

As I mentioned, it seems like Rubio’s chapter was written specifically for me. It starts out;

If you consider yourself a competitive distance runner, chances are that much of the enjoyment you derive from running depends on racing your best…If this describes your running purpose, then you have probably played around with your training schedule in an attempt to improve your race performances, and maybe you’ve had mixed results…Unfortunately for many runners, attempts at varying their own training menu rarely produce significantly better race results. Thus, the question arises after several seasons of trial and error: Is there a consistent training program that I can use to achieve success, or is this really as fast as I can run?

I won’t list them here, but Rubio goes on to list 6 key specific elements that must be included in your training routine consistently, as well as how to apply them in order to enjoy success. One thing I wasn’t clear on when I first read the chapter is whether or not Rubio incorporates these 6 elements all year long or only after a base has been built. So I emailed him for some clarification. He said it depends on if you like a traditional build up or if you’d rather not be too far from race-fit during the year. Since I don’t race seriously during the winter here were his base-building suggestions for me;

Higher volume of weekly mileage.

Weekly or consistent tempos, which should be longer and less intense. For example, instead of 4 miles at 6:00, try 6 at 6:15 or 8 at 6:30.

If available, add a hilly run per week; 12-15% of weekly mileage.


Ancillary stuff like strengthening core, hamstrings, upper body, flexibility, diet, etc.

Once you do this for 2-3 months, start the multi-paced training that’s mentioned in the book.

Here are a couple other passages from Joe’s chapter that I like;

Many distance runners try to make training infinitely more complex than it needs to be. However, successful training is surprisingly similar across the spectrum of distances from 1,500 meters to the marathon.

I cannot name one individual heroic workout that will take someone to the next level, but there are a few workouts that, when done consistently and repetitively as part of a training schedule, can lead to substantial progress for the majority of runners.

As for my own training, the cutback week continued with an easy 7 mile run this morning. After 0, 5, and 7 miles the last 3 days, I'm feeling refreshed and ready to go.

Finally, if you like the elite runner’s journals I’ve been linking, check out Carrie Tollefson’s and Kristin Nicolini’s recent updates.

Quote of the day;

“Physical training takes place at the level of the cell. That’s why nothing in training is more important than patience.” – John Jerome, The Elements of Effort

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Dang, lots to get to today, but not a lot of time. First off, all signs are pointing to making this a cutback week. Those signs include;

Mileage: After taking 5 days off after Chicago, my weekly mileage has been 40, 57, 66, 80, 81, and 82.

Lack of sleep 2 nights in-a-row: Saturday night I partied like a rock star. Okay, not really but I was up till 1 AM. I did get to “sleep in” ‘till 6:30. So let me publicly thank my kids and dog. Sunday night my daughter Katie got up a few times due to monsters in her room. As a result, I was tossing and turning for an hour or two.

Sore calf: Nothing major, but my left calf has bothered me a little during the last two runs.

Cold season: ‘Tis the season and while I don’t have a cold, there have been a few mornings where I’ve felt some symptoms.

So while I give him all the credit in the world, these are the feelings I’m trying to avoid. I’m not to the “jump in the water (i.e. 100 mpw training) is fine” point – yet.

Usually, the thing I hate most about cutback weeks or days off is that they always seem to occur when the weather is perfect for running. While this morning’s 38 and rain may not sound perfect, it sure is unseasonably warm. Anyway, I took yesterday off and ran an easy 5 miles this morning.

The time off allowed me to post this interview. I love the photo that goes with the interview. It's cool how the kids are craning their necks to watch for as long as possible before he fades out of site. After checking it out, be sure to read Jason Lehmkule’s journal entry where he talks about his performance at TCM. It’s a great read. Finally, if you’re interested in a local ultra-marathoner who’s 67 years old, check out this article.

Finally, there seems to be no middle ground when it comes to Dean Karnazes. Runners seem to either love him or hate him. Frankly, I’m not a big fan, but it has more to do with the marketing machine that surrounds him. All the hype surrounding the 50-50-50 and he wasn’t even the first person to accomplish it – this year – let alone ever. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because of the latest cover of Outside magazine. It has a photo of Dean along with the phrase; “America’s Greatest Runner.” Can they use a broader brush stroke? I guess I’d rather place my vote on the fastest runner in the U.S. – or at the very least, with Sam Thompson.

Quote of the day;

“I just want to be recognized as a great runner. What I like about the marathon is the old school training and racing mentality one must possess to conquer it. I love the age of Beardsley, Hodge, Rodgers, Meyer, Bjorklund, et al. Going out and pounding out 140 mile weeks and just trying to hammer yourself into the ground then getting up the next day and doing it all over again is an awesome feeling.” - Matt Gabrielson

Monday, December 11, 2006


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


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.

Friday, December 08, 2006


I didn’t post yesterday because I was busy buying new shoes and working on questions for some exciting interviews. The guys at the store mentioned this site, which is basically MySpace for athletes. I haven’t checked it out yet. But I figure if you guys aren’t spending enough time on the internet, I’d help you out.

And thanks to Tracy for letting me know that Katie updated her journal yesterday. Let me just say that Team Minnesota is kicking ass on the Mammoth Lakes group when it comes to blogging.

I was looking for some photos from some local races and I came across these shots from Chicago.

I’m still contemplating my training. What’s new? I think I will try to get back to doing as much of my mileage in singles as possible. Ideally, I think I can handle 75-80 mpw in singles. Then I’d like to add in 2-3 more runs on top of that.

Of course, this depends on the weather a little. Yesterday it was 0 with a wind chill of minus 10-15. I didn’t see getting in a 13-14 miles in one run, so I broke it into a very easy (9:00 pace) 7 miles in the morning and a quicker (7:30 pace) 8 miles on the treadmill in the evening. One thing I like about splitting up the workouts is that I can run quicker on the treadmill than I can outside.

The nice thing about yesterday’s 0 degrees is that it made this morning’s 15 degrees feel balmy. We still don’t have any snow, which kind of sucks. If it’s going to be this cold, the brown grass might as well be covered up. Anyway, I made it 10 miles this morning at 8:20 pace. I may throw in 4 miles tonight for the soul purpose of bumping my weekly mileage to the mid-80s. We’ll see.

Quote of the day;

“During the winter, you head out into the darkness for a run. When spring comes, and the first crocus pokes up its know it was worthwhile.” – Nina Kuscsik, First woman’s winner of the Boston Marathon

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


One thing I’ve been neglecting lately is updating the links on my other blog. As a result, I missed a journal update by my new favorite runner. Alright, my new favorite male runner.

Reading Matt’s account of the NYC Marathon makes me realize these guys are just like us – only much, much faster. He talks about drinking black & tans, the emotions surrounding his marathon debut, being more impressed with being around some of the best marathoners in the world/U.S. than Lance, watching what other athletes are eating and how they’re warming up, being scared of the abyss, 2:12, and best of all, chasing his dreams.

As for my favorite female runner, here’s a nice article, mainly on her NYC Marathon experience. I haven’t figured out why the author didn’t break it into paragraphs. It’s really annoying, but worth the read.

Keeping with the Minnesota theme, if you haven’t seen the January issue of Running Times, which celebrated their 30th anniversary, you may want to check it out. Carrie Tollefson is on the cover along with a nice 3-page interview. This should not to be confused with Runner’s World where she appears on only the cover. I looked for an article on her, but didn’t see one so I didn’t buy it.

Also in Running Times, Katie is named the top female road racer in the U.S. and is featured in the high school scrapbook section. Finally, Gloria is featured as this month’s Age Group Ace.

If the Minnesota theme isn’t enough for you, check out Pfitz’s article on what we’ve learned over the last 30 years, as well as 30 years of carbo loading and 30 years of marathon training.

Nothing exciting to report, training-wise, today. I just ran 7 miles at 8:15 pace. That’ll be my recovery day for the week.

Quote of the day;

“I sincerely hope that everyone who has ever accomplished or failed to accomplish their goals, at one time or another, can find something they are passionate about and pursue it to the best of their abilities. I really think that one of the most unique things a person can do is throw all caution to the wind and chase a dream no matter the opinion of anyone else. Even if that dream eludes you at least you can look back on the hunt and know you gave something you care about very much a fair shot. I definitely owe this to myself and so do you. I truly believe that.” – Matt Gabrielson

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


It’s no surprise that Andrew’s comment about following Lydiard’s standard schedule got me thinking. It would probably be possible, but I’d have to shift my whole day an hour earlier – getting up at 4 and going to bed at 8. There’d be little else going on in my life; no interview blog, no articles, no reading of blogs, no TV, etc. I don’t even think I could do any more group runs because I couldn’t justify doing a 3 hour run every week, along with an hour of drive time.

Maybe I just don't want to find out my limits bad enough.

But I was thinking; if duration is more important than distance, shouldn’t I be comparing how long it took Lydiard’s athletes to complete his standard schedule, not how many miles they ran? If those guys were running 6:00 pace, they’d be running 10 miles an hour. Therefore, they’d be running 10 hours per week – not including any supplemental training they added on top of the standard schedule.

If that’s the case, I'm there, as my last two weeks have been closer to 11 hours of running. Maybe I should stick to 80 mpw, but work on cutting the doubles from my program. Then if I want to increase my mileage, I’d just need to add some doubles back in.

Based on time, Lydiard’s standard schedule would look like this for me;

M 11-12
T 8
W 11-12
Th 9-10
F 13-14
Sa 8
Su 16-18
Total 76-81

I can see doing that in singles.

Last night I jumped on the treadmill for 6 miles. I was feeling pretty good, so I ran 3 at MP. This morning was an easy 10 miles.

Quote of the day;

“Be aware to challenge your fear of learning.” – Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Monday, December 04, 2006


Work’s getting in the way, so I’ll keep this short today. Saturday I met Jenna and Kim at Lake Harriet. I tagged along for 15 of their 20 miles, which gave me 81 miles for the week. I’ve talked with Kim a few times, but this was the first time we’ve run together.

The Reindeer 5k was taking place during the end of our run, so we got to watch that. We were all amazed how many people were running, especially since it was only about 10 degrees out with a nice stiff wind. Prior to the race it was hyped that the Team USA Minnesota runners would be doing the race. Technically they were there, but I wouldn’t call 21 minutes “racing” for those guys - although Jenelle Deatherage did break 17.

Yesterday I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone by jumping on the treadmill while watching some football. I ended up running 12 miles at 8:30 pace. Today will be two easy 6 mile runs.

Many of my thoughts lately have been about my weekly mileage. Right now I’m planning on hanging out around 80-85 for awhile and seeing what happens. Part of me thinks about last winter when I had five weeks between 92 and 100 mile during January through March. While that’s solid mileage, it was only for 5 of the 13 weeks. If I dig a little deeper, I see that I “only” averaged 82 mpw during those 3 months.

So the question becomes, is it better to stay at 80-85 and be consistent or increase to 90-100 with the help of cutback weeks? I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that it’s only December 4th. There’s plenty of time to hang out at 80-85 before increasing to 90-100 later in the winter.

Quote of the day;

“The more you frame the marathon as a stressful experience, the more negative messages you’ll receive. But it’s just as easy to frame it as a positively challenging journey.” – Jeff Galloway

Friday, December 01, 2006


I have a desk calendar at work and at the beginning of each month I do a quick calculation and set a mileage goal for the month. At the start of November, I think I wrote down something like 225 or 230. I quickly realized that was too low, so I erased it and wrote in 250. It turns out that was too low also, as last night’s 8 mile progession run gave me 290 miles for the month – my highest November ever, by 16 miles. I ran every day, including 5 doubles.

I started December off with an easy 10 miles this morning. It was kind of tough getting out of bed after running till 9 PM last night, but I was glad I got out the door (rather than having to double-up today). I was dreading the first 2-3 steps of my run. That’s all it usually takes to tell if I’m going to feel sore or not. No need to worry though, as I was actually surprised by how good my legs felt this morning.

Here’s a story of a local University of Minnesota physician who had someone run TCM for him so he could qualify for Boston. He mentioned wanting to run Boston in order to raise money for a charity. What gets me is that the BAA would probably let him run if they knew that. I also like the photo of the guy who ran for him. If you’re going to cheat for someone, wouldn’t you try to avoid cameras?

Quote of the day;

“If it hurts, make it hurt more.” – Percy Cerutty

Thursday, November 30, 2006


I finally finished Andrew Sheehan’s Chasing the Hawk. Before putting it away, I had one more passage I wanted to share;

In my father’s philosophy, play was something of a loss leader – something to get the paying customer into the store. Once in, my father’s readers learned that play was not all fun and games. Alas, there was also work involved or, at the very least, challenge. Agon or agony to the Greeks. Obstacles to be overcome. Impediments that strained and taxed your abilities. Without challenge, there would be no change, no growth, no peak experiences.

My father was no risk taker or thrill seeker, but he believed that in choosing the easy life, you were choosing your own soft demise, and he often quoted a poem by Robinson Jeffers: “In pleasant ease and comfort, too soon the soul of man begins to die.”…To my father, the marathon posed the most potent challenge of an unchallenging age.
By not blogging yesterday, I was able to get another interview posted. Now I just have to find time to update the links on that site - and get more interviews in the works.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but one of the nice things about “only” running 80 mpw is that I can still slack off one day during the week and still get in my mileage. Yesterday was my day to slack off as I just managed an easy 5 mile run.

Sometime during the day a cold front moved in. It must have continued moving in over night because it was 8 degrees during this morning’s 7 mile run. Now I don’t mind that kind of weather, but the 30 degree drop overnight is a little much.

Finally, it’s a sad day when the office hottie leaves the company. However, finding out that two hotties are leaving is almost unbearable. Work is already brutal enough without this news.

Quote of the day;

“Reach for what you cannot.” – Nikos Kazantzakis

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


During last Saturday’s group run I was talking with Tim about his training for the Austin, TX marathon. He started describing his training; he completed 6 weeks of high mileage, now he’s adding speedwork and then he’ll add in marathon-specific workouts. I’m thinking, “That sounds really familiar.” Sure enough, he’s following this plan from Running Times which was debated on a few blogs about 3 weeks ago. It’ll be interesting to see how the plan works out for him.

At the end of this same run I was talking with Tom and he mentioned that he was a friend and runner partner of Ron Daws for about 12 years. I “discovered” Daws’ writing about a year ago and immediately became a huge fan. Sometimes you hate to hear stories about people you admire because they don’t live up to the hype. But I was happy to hear Tom say that Ron was the kind of guy that, no matter what kind of mood you were in, you were always in a better mood after hanging out with Ron. That’s cool.

One thing that’s becoming apparent is that I don’t have enough time and energy to run 80 mpw, blog daily, interview people for my other blog and write other running articles. Something is going to have to give and it’s probably going to be daily blogging. I think my blogging and running are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I foresee running more quantity with less quality, while blogging less quantity but with more quality. Maybe.

As for running, I ran an easy 6 on the treadmill last night while trying to figure out why it was snowing in Seattle, but raining in Minnesota. This morning I ran 11 miles, including 9 at 7:38 pace. That’s a little slower than I’ve been running these types of runs lately. I’m not sure if it’s due to fatigue from the increased mileage, lack of concentration or something else. I’m not too concerned about it, but I’ll keep an eye on it. I believe Andrew has done similar training in the past and has mentioned that his “fast” and “slow” paces sort of merged together when he got tired. If that starts to happen, I’ll back off of the pace a little or add in another easy day.

I'm sure I've used this quote of the day before, but it seems appropriate for this post. Besides, it never gets old;
“When you reach the 20-mile mark of a marathon feeling utterly spent, but finish somehow, you suspect you can conquer other seemingly unbearable events in life. After you discover you can set tough goals and prevail, you realize you can accomplish almost anything you put your mind to. You don't have to look to the marvels of the Benoits, the Coes, the world-class to find your heroes; look inward to your own struggle and discover yourself. What you find may startle you, it may expose you to a whole gamut of emotions, but it will never bore you. And, as Theodore Roosevelt promised, your place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”- Ron Daws, from Running Your Best, Epilogue

Monday, November 27, 2006


I’m back, in more ways than one. Back to work after 9 days off. Man, it really sucked trying to get back into the routine this morning. The good news is that I still have 4 days of vacation that I have to use by the end of the year.

Back to blogging. It’s always been tough for me to blog from home. I guess there are too many distractions.

Back to running “high” mileage. Training since my last post has included a 10 mile progression run on Wednesday, 6 easy miles on Thanksgiving, two 7 mile runs on Friday and I closed out 80 miles for the week with a great 15 mile group run on Saturday. I wasn’t really expecting to jump from 66 to 80, but I’ll take it.

Of course, it’s “easy” to run 80 miles when I’m off from work and the weather is beautiful. Now let’s see if I can keep it going.

Yesterday I ran an easy 8 miles on the golf course near my house and an easy 5 on the treadmill in the evening. This morning was an easy 6 and I’m planning on another easy 6 this evening.

As you can see, I’ve started adding in more two-a-days. In the past I’d “worry” about when I should add doubles and whether or not singles are more important than doubles, etc. Right now I’m not going to worry about it. If I’m feeling good and have time to run a long single, I’ll do that. If not, and I still want to get in my miles, I’ll run a double – even if it means 10-11 runs a week to get 80 miles.

Best of all I’m back to running pain-free. I’ve felt really good for awhile, but have written about it because I wasn’t sure if I could believe it or not. I’ve kind of been waiting for the aches and pains to return. However, every time I start a run I think, “Dang, I feel pretty good.”

To be honest, I really wasn’t looking forward to 4 months of base building on legs that ached all the time. So I’m pretty excited to be feeling good. It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve felt like this. I was beginning to wonder if “old age” was setting in and if I just needed to get used to the aches and pains. Granted, I’ll probably screw it up by jumping from 30 to 80 mpw in 4 weeks, but as my friend Eric says, “Live and don’t learn.”

Today’s quote of the day probably applies pretty well from Halloween to New Year’s, if not year-round;

“Avoid any diet that discourages the use of hot fudge.” – Don Kardong

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Bill Knight, locally of MDRA-fame, asked if I'd post a story he wrote on my blog.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A scary running tradition

Even though Halloween is safely behind us for another
year, a small group of metro-based runners are
reluctant to let go of that fun-loving spirit. For
upwards of 20 years the Minnehaha Marathoners (MM'ers)
running club has participated in a 5k race in Anoka.
That suburb, over a long weekend, becomes the
self-proclaimed Halloween Capitol of the World. And
why is this of any importance? I mean there are some
1,100 other runners in various stages of Halloween
garb running down Main Street in Anoka for this race.
While that is true, there is only one 60-foot-long
centipede powered by 26 legs.

So what exactly is a running centipede? Well, if you
have never seen the "'pede" in action, imagine a green
and gold piece of cloth, 60 feet long, about 6 feet
wide, with 13 holes cut down the centerline. Then
picture 13 people lined up nose-to-tail, about five
feet apart. As each person slips under the cloth,
putting his or her head through a hole, something
magical happens at that moment ("TA-DA") as club
members and any running friends become the Minnehaha
Marathoner Centipede. The 'pede is "all show and slow
go" so be prepared to watch the runners flaunt it a
bit, while they throttle back to about 11 minutes a

MM'ers 'pede packs fun and speed

Typically, the MM'ers' centipede does just two runs a
year. One is the St. Paul Winter Carnival 5k race and
the other is the Anoka event. Shortly after crossing
the finish line last October, the 'pede gave a rare
interview talking about the event and the race.

"Yaaaah, that was a fun run and a fast one for all of
my legs," said the Minnehaha Marathoner centipede.

Led by the MM'ers veteran whistle blower, Tom Huberty,
the 'pede once again set eye balls a scannin' and
tongues a waggin' throughout most of southern Anoka
County ("pardon the grammar, ya all") for the running
of what was officially called the 21st Annual Anoka
Halloween Gray Ghost 5k Run and One Mile Fitness Walk.
(Whew!) The other "legs" giving life to the 'pede that
day were Lee Trelstad, Al Larson, Linda Sheppard,
Nancy Carlson, Bill Knight, and Cliff Janney, all
running club members. Special invited "legs" were
Leigh Bailey, David Janney and Nancy Johnson-Maloney.
The 'pede expressed gratitude to all those legs.

As soon as Huberty led the 'pede out the side door of
the Franklin Junior High School, a hushed rumbling
could be heard among the pedestrian spectators and
assembled runners craning their necks and elbowing up
to their tippy-toes to see this 60 foot long beauty.

"I really wasn't ready for that reaction since I've
been, well, kinda folded over and crunched into a blue
workout bag since last February," the pede said. "But
yah know, the crowd, well they began a smilin' and
then there was that geeeorgeous sun up on high. I
could hear jus a little hootin' and then, first thing
yah know, I was getting ready for SHOW TIME. Oh,
please excuse me for a shoutin'." the pede said.

Huberty and friends first warmed up some 50 feet in
front of the starting line with a slow, modest leechy
turn for the assembled eyeballs. It's a club tradition
for the 'pede leader to carry a whistle that is used
to alert all the legs of an upcoming maneuver. When
the leader turns and the legs follow, the 'pede forms
a large running circle. Turning in the opposite
direction the leader unwinds the' pede.

Warmed up and with a confident grace, the 'pede parted
the sea of runners, taking a position with other
"back-of-the-packers." There a late addition from the
crowd, Cliff Anderson, who said he was not related to
the Anoka politician with the same name (thanks
Cliff), jumped in to bring up the rear of the 'pede.

By most accounts the 'pede set off on a quick pace
down Main Street before the assembled crowds on the
curbs. Thousands of people come out each year just to
see the 'pede zigzag down the street and many of them
stay for a parade held right after the race.

"But I gotta hand it to that good ole boy," the pede
said, giving a verbal nod to Huberty. "When the crowds
were two and three and four deep up from behind the
curb, wha we jus throttled back. Give 'em what they
came to see-A SHOW. Oh, excuse me for a shoutin'. Give
'em the candy we had, jus for the kids, and the love
we had for them hobby cops, dumb enough to, er, ah, I
mean cooourageous enough to stand in the street."

The 'pede was referencing the crowd-pleasing leechy
turns performed around the "volunteers in blue" and
the tossing of wrapped candy to the scores of young
urchins holding down the curbs.

"Whall, almost all of my legs and arms got that gig
done right," the pede said. "But maybe Al is still jus
a kid at heart." The pede noticed that MM club
president Al Larson was not throwing all of his candy
to the kids.

"I'm concerned about the kids and of course their
teeth," Larson said. "Besides, those chocolate mints
were really good."

Lighter without the candy and not encumbered by the
crowds and those tempting slow-to-move public
servants, the pede encouraged Huberty to pick up the
pace, resulting in one of the better Anoka showings: a
fine time (for the 'pede) of 38 minutes and change was

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I mentioned a week or two ago that I’m reading Dr. George Sheehan’s Running & Being as well as his son Andrew’s Chasing the Hawk. Andrew talks about how popular his dad’s book was when it was first published, despite a scathing review in Sunday Book Review. Andrew writes;

The reviewer quoted copiously from the book in the interest of ridiculing it: “‘When I run the roads I am a saint. I am Assisi wearing the least and meanest of clothes.’ Or, ‘ I am a descendant of…People of the mind. Men like Kierkegaard and Emerson and Bertrand Russell.’ Or, ‘But I am who I am and can be nothing but that.’ (I could go on). It must be all those long runs – they’ve scrambled the man’s mind.”

The reviewer did go on: “In case we question his relationship with Kierkegaard and Emerson and Bertrand Russell, he gathers together a large number of quotes from Great Minds such as Kant, Nietzsche, Plato, Socrates…(he’s nothing if not eclectic). Their works are ruthlessly excavated for material to buttress his thesis, to wit; or rather, witless: that Running is Being, that Running is the Total Experience; that Body Maketh Man and the Boston Celtics are saints.” The exasperated reviewer concluded: “If this is what running does to you, we’d better go back to crawling on all fours.”

Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated was another cynic, writing;

“I am sick of joggers, and I am sick of runners. I don’t care if all the people in the U.S. are running or planning to run or wishing they could run. All I ask is, don’t write articles about running and don’t ask me to read them.

I don’t ever want to read about the joy of running, the beauty, the ecstasy, the pain, the anguish, the agony, the rapture, the enchantment, the thrill, the majesty, the love, the coming-togetherness, the where-it’s-atness. I don’t want to hear running compared to religion, sex, or ultimate truth.”

However, these reviews didn’t stop some people from thinking Running & Being was “some kind of sacred text.” Runners carried it around, dog-eared pages, underlined passages, etc.

Maybe no one cares, but I thought it was kind of neat to read a review of a book I’m reading, in another book I’m reading.

As for my training, Monday consisted of two easy runs; 5 miles in the morning and 7 miles in the afternoon. I’m off of work this whole week, so I can do fun stuff like that. And stuff like meeting my friends Eric and Jim for an 11 mile run on Tuesday.

After the run I stopped by a local running store where this stud happened to be working. I’m happy to report that I was actually able to talk to him – unlike when I see Katie McGregor. I even congratulated him on his debut at NYC and talked a little about my race at Chicago. But I was still too chicken-shit to ask if he’d want to be interviewed for my other blog. I’m never sure where to stick that into a conversation, so it usually gets left off.

Quote of the day;

“The trouble with this country is that you can live your entire life and not know whether or not you are a coward.” – John Berryman, poet

Monday, November 20, 2006


As I mentioned, my last post was stolen from Andrew. If you haven’t stopped by his blog, be sure to check out this post where he talks about his training and links some interesting sites.

Sure this could be viewed as aggressive, but as Andrew mentioned in our email exchange; “What's the worse that could happen? Injury? Been there. Disappointment? Had that. So let's go.”

I looked back at my training from last winter and while it was pretty good, it’s never as good as I remember. It seems like I was working my ass off and putting in a lot of miles. When I looked a little deeper, I only had 7 weeks where I was higher than 85 miles.

Yeah, it’s a step in the right direction, but I think there’s room for improvement. Considering that winter is like 6 months long around here, you’d think I’d have more than 7 weeks of decent mileage. I guess when you add in time to build your mileage up and cutback weeks, it cuts into “real” training.

Don’t get me wrong; I think those things are important. But I also think there’s room for improvement, like ramping up a little quicker and taking a few cutback days rather than a whole week – especially when my mileage is still rather low.

In college it took me 4 years, but I finally learned I didn’t need to start each summer at 30 mpw and ramp up by 10% per week. When I did this, I found out the summer was over by the time I reached any significant mileage.

While the 10% “rule” probably makes sense, I think it applies more when you are stepping into uncharted waters. If you’ve been running 50 mpw and start back up at 30 mpw after some downtime, you can be more aggressive in your mileage building.

I guess that explains why I’ve gone from 40 to 57 to 66 miles in the last 3 weeks. It’s not 70 to 100 like Andrew, but I’m trying. Last year I would have taken a cutback week this week, however I’m going to keep building and shoot for 75-80 miles.

Saturday I had a nice, controlled 10 mile run at 7:25 pace. The big toe that I strained on Friday didn’t bother me at all. I guess it was just one of those freaky strains. Sunday I met Jenna for a 90 minute (12 mile) run along the Mississippi River. I hadn’t talked with her since before Chicago, so it was good to catch up.

Quote of the day;

“What marathon? Any marathon. Every marathon. It didn’t much matter. It still doesn’t matter. What counts is your desire – no, your need – to test yourself.” – Joel Homer, Marathons: The Ultimate Challenge

Friday, November 17, 2006


I’ve been thinking about Ryan’s comment from the other day. He asked if I was shooting for 2:45 at Grandma’s. I basically said that I can't really see going from 2:59 to 2:45 in the span of 8 months. I hate to put limits on myself, but man, 14 minutes is a lot of time in a short timeframe. Maybe I could see it if I were new to the sport and dropping my times left and right or if I ran 2:59 on minimal training. But I’ve been around for awhile and 2:59 was run on decent training.

It turns out that Andrew is trying to do exactly what I’m too scared to attempt; going from 2:57 to 2:45. I had to ask about his doing workouts at goal MP rather than current MP. I like his response;

Actually, I consider myself to have 2:45 speed but not distance. This is based on other indicators. So I can turn and burn paces at the lower end of the distance spectrum but not at the high end. My 2:57 is a true indicator of my marathon ability all things considered - especially my fuel economy. But I chose 2:45 specifically because that's the time I should be able to run if properly trained given my current speed.

It should be fun to follow along.

Andrew also had an interesting post awhile ago about continuously evaluating your training and making adjustment accordingly. Now I don’t feel bad about re-examining my general outline two days after I wrote it.

This morning I was thinking about my statement from the other day, “I’m really more concerned about bumping my mileage (than dropping my pace).” I think I really need to focus on building my mileage right now. Once I get to a level I’d like to hold, then I can worry about pace a little more.

Last year I followed Ron Daws’s approach which is to spread out the week’s effort evenly from day-to-day while building miles. Don’t worry about running hard or adding long runs just yet because those are the things that wear you down and can lead to decreased mileage. Again, once you get your mileage where you’d like, then you can start running harder and increasing your long runs.

Today’s run was going to be a progression run. I got down to 7:30 pace but during the 4th mile I felt a sharp pain on the bottom of my right foot - between the ball of my foot and the big toe. It was okay once I slowed down, but anytime I tried to push off harder to pick up the pace, it hurt. So I backed off and ran 8 miles at 8:00 pace.

I’m just stealing this whole post from Andrew as today’s paraphrase of the day also comes from his site;

“If I write out a twenty week plan and complete week number one, I am not now starting week number two of twenty. Rather, I am now at week number one of nineteen.” – Renato Canova

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I’m still not sure about the whole "slow and easy" approach or the "medium-hard" approach to base building. I figure I tried "slow and easy" last year, so I’ll mix it up a little this year. Maybe once the snow flies and the paths get slippery I’ll change my approach. If nothing else, yesterday’s medium-hard led to some new mind games. When I got a little tired, instead of having negative thoughts I focused on the positive, “Hey, I’m recruiting new muscle fibers.”

Eric had some good comments about the schedule I posted yesterday. This may be more appropriate;

Sunday – ass-dragging slow
Monday – ass-dragging slow
Tuesday – MP + 20ish (7:10)
Wednesday – MP + 40ish (7:30)
Thursday – ass-dragging slow
Friday – MP + 20ish (7:10)
Saturday – 2+ hours

I found out during today’s 8 mile run that “ass-dragging slow” means about 8:45 pace for me right now. There’s definitely a whole different “flavor” between 7:10 paced runs and 8:45 paced runs. At 7:10s there’s not a whole lot of “sitting back and enjoying the run” going on. I’m guessing that blog entries will be a lot different on those days too.

I think today’s quote of the day applies to cross-country Nationals too, which are right around the corner;

“The start of a World Cross Country event is like riding a horse in the middle of a buffalo stampede. It’s a thrill if you keep up but one slip and you’re nothing but hoof prints.” – Ed Eyestone

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Emails with friends regarding yesterday’s post led to a few “discoveries.” Some people run this medium-hard effort naturally during their every day runs. Maybe that’s why they’re good.

Also, a friend brought up the fact that, in college, I’d always get injured around 55 mpw. Thinking back, it probably wasn’t because I was running medium-hard/medium-hard efforts during base training. But rather because when I moved to the speed work phase, I ran hard/medium-hard, rather than hard/easy.

Anyway, I’m still not sure if “Mystery Coach” is the author of the article I mentioned. I emailed the author to find out his take on the two interpretations, but I haven’t heard back yet.

I followed through with another medium-hard effort today and felt pretty good during the run. I managed 11 miles, including 9 miles at 7:27 pace.

Right now here’s what I’m thinking my weeks will look like for awhile;

Sunday – 2+ hours
Monday – ass-dragging slow
Tuesday – MP + 20ish (7:10)
Wednesday – MP + 40ish (7:30)
Thursday – ass-dragging slow
Friday – MP + 20ish (7:10)
Saturday – MP + 40ish (7:30)

While that schedule focuses on pace, I’m really more concerned about bumping my mileage. If these paces leave me so tired that I can’t get in my miles, I’ll back off of the pace.

I’m not sure where my mileage will go. I’d like to try to get up to 100 again. However, I’d rather hold 85s for a longer period time, than just run a few 100s. Of course, this is all easy to talk about in mid-November when it’s “warm” and the paths are clear. 6-8 weeks from now it may be a different story.

Quote of the day;

“In the struggling faces of the runners is written a dimension of human experience that cost me dearly, but, at least on marathon day, seems worth the price.” – Jerome Groopman in the New York Times

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


The other day I mentioned making some changes to my base training this year. I didn’t lay out any specifics, mainly because I didn’t have anything in mind at the time. One thing that will definitely change from last year is the amount of hills I run. Last year I ran all my weekday runs on a pancake flat trail. In April my company moved locations and I’ve been running most of my weekday runs on much hillier routes.

In addition, I’ve been trying to run faster on some of my runs. Last year I was content to just focus on increasing my mileage – even if it meant running very slow every day. While I was able to run a lot more miles than “normal,” I may have sacrificed some speed along the way.

Mike had a recent post written by a “Mystery Coach” that was very insightful. The comments afterwards help clear things up even more. Here are the key things I took from the discussion;

Lydiard’s runners were training to be racers not trainers. Sometimes I feel like I’m training to train, rather than training to race.

Steady state conditioning is where you develop the capacity to run and run and not get tired (i.e. stamina) – and you can do it again the next day.

Hard/easy has its place during the speed work phase, not the base training phase. Hard/easy during base training undermines stamina development.

LSD training (like I was doing last year) builds endurance, but not stamina. Instead, we should focus on medium-hard/medium-hard/medium-hard, during the base phase to build both endurance AND stamina.

Why? Because muscle fibers are recruited progressively as you run faster and faster. Hard/easy allows some of your muscle fibers to recover in-between hard days. Therefore, you continue to work the same fibers over-and-over. Consistent medium-hard efforts force you to recruit new fibers.

They will protest at first.

Sample workout; a hard 10 mile run at MP + 20 seconds the day before a 20 miler at MP + 40 seconds.

It takes hard work.

What makes some of this stuff so confusing to me is the definition of things like steady state, medium-hard, moderate, ¾ effort, etc.

I believe I know who this “Mystery Coach” is and just last night I read an article by him in our local running magazine regarding the Lydiard Method. In the article he mentioned that the Marathon Conditioning phase (aka steady state conditioning) is “slow and easy” running. He mentions leisurely pace and not worrying about minute-per-mile pace.

Now I don’t know about anyone else, but MP + 20 seconds IS NOT “slow and easy” for me. Based on Chicago that’d be 7:10 pace for me. Even MP + 40 (7:30) takes some effort for me.

He does mention that “runners are shocked at how weak their steady states are.” Maybe that’s what I’m experiencing when I see “7:10” and “slow and easy” side-by-side.

Today’s run was definitely my quickest in a long time – much quicker than anything I ran last year during my base phase. I ran 9 miles, including a 7 mile stretch at 7:17 pace. I’m sure it helped that I felt awesome. My legs were springy and my lungs felt like they’d never run out of oxygen. Now let’s see what happens tomorrow with another medium-hard effort.

Today’s quote of the day would answer my “Chicken and the Egg” post from Friday;

“Workouts show what condition you are in, they don’t make you into that condition.” – Mystery Coach

Monday, November 13, 2006


Is it sad when Veterans don’t even realize it’s Veteran’s Day until 6 PM?

Saturday I went to the Midwest Regional meet, hosted by the Gophers. The Gopher women looked tough as they finished 2nd to Illinois. The Gopher men looked strong too, but so did the 5 teams that finished in front of them.

At the meet I met Gloria and Pat for the first time. These are 2 women that have given a tremendous amount of their time and energy into making the Minnesota running scene such a great place; Gloria through the Minnesota Distance Running Association and Pat through Team USA Minnesota.

I first learned of Gloria at the 1997 Grandma’s marathon. At the time I had only been in Minnesota a year. It was my second attempt at the distance and there was a stretch during the race where I kept hearing, “Nice job, Gloria.” I heard this over-and-over and I kept thinking, “Who the heck is this Gloria gal?”

I ended up running 3:17 that day and got my butt kicked by the 49 year old. Gloria thinks she ran 3:12 that day. She was able to put that “brutal” performance behind her and run 3:03 at the age of 50 the following year.

Needless to say, Gloria (and Pat) are definitely candidates to be interviewed on my other blog. Speaking of which, I posted another interview over the weekend.

As for training, Saturday’s 8 mile run gave me 57 for the week. Sunday I had a great 12 mile trail run at Willow River State Park in Hudson, WI. It’s near my mother-in-law’s house, so I went there while she hosted a baby shower. This morning was another 8 miles before work. I decided to get off my regular paved path and hit the dirt and woodchip sections. I was a little worried about being able to see ruts, roots and rocks in the dark, but it turned out alright.

Quote of the day;

“Success is 90 percent physical and 10 percent mental. But never underestimate the power of that 10 percent.” – Tom Fleming in Joan Samuelson’s Running for Women

Friday, November 10, 2006


Hmm, I guess logbooks aren’t an interesting topic.

During this morning’s run I came up my version of the “chicken and the egg” dilemma. I was thinking about a guy I just interviewed. He likes to do 3 x 3 miles at just faster than marathon. That’s similar to this workout I did before Chicago, although I ran a little slower than goal marathon pace.

At the time I ran that workout, my goal was 6:40 pace. However, my average for the first 3 repeats was 6:51 pace. My pace at Chicago was 6:50 pace. The question then becomes did I race as I trained or did I train (and race) at the shape I was in? I don’t have an answer, but it made me think back to my Type-A post again.

I don’t know if it’s becoming more Type-A, changing my training, staying healthy or something else. But I don’t think there’s any denying that something has to change if I’m really serious about trying to run 2:55 or faster.

This morning I ran and easy 7 miles, backing off the pace to 8:25.

Quote of the day;

“The way we perform is the result of the way we see ourselves. To alter our performance we need to alter or change ourselves and it is that changing that’s difficult.” – Gary Elliot, Allison Roe’s coach and co-author of Every Runner’s Companion

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I’ve been keeping a logbook for so long that it just seems natural that everyone keeps one. However, I’ve recently come across two very good runners who don’t/didn’t keep a logbook. Is your blog enough or do you keep a logbook too?

I’m curious if anyone out there has met Dr. George Sheehan? I'm curious to know what he was like in-person. I’m currently reading Running & Being as well as Chasing the Hawk, which was written by one of his sons.

I’ve never read a writer who quotes other writers so much. It seems like he’ll quote 2-3 people in every paragraph. I was wondering how he was able to do that until I read his son’s book. In it he talks about his dad’s writing taking over his life and that he had stacks and stacks of books and articles all over the house.

Running & Being has some interesting stuff in it, but it also has some stuff that I find boring. Here’s some more of the stuff I like;

The runner does not run because he is too slight for football or hasn’t the ability to put a ball through a hoop or can’t hit a curve ball. He runs because he has to. Because in being a runner, in moving through pain and fatigue and suffering, in imposing stress upon stress, in eliminating all but the necessities of life, he is fulfilling himself and becoming the person he is.

I have given up many things in the becoming process. None was a sacrifice. When something clearly became nonessential, there was no problem in doing without. And when something clearly became essential, there was no problem accepting it and whatever went with it.

From the outside, this runner’s world looks unnatural. The body punished, the appetites denied, the satisfactions delayed, the motivations that drive most men ignored. The truth is that the runner is not made for the things and people and institutions that surround him.

In this surrender, the runner does not deny his body. He accepts it. He does not subdue it, or subjugate it, or mortify it. He perfects it, maximizes it, magnifies it. He does not suppress his instincts; he heeds them.

Today’s run was the same 8 miles as on Monday and Tuesday – just a little faster, 7:40 pace. For some reason my legs feel better, ache and pain-wise, than before running the marathon. Since it seems like I’ve been banged up since April, I’m not complaining.

Quote of the day;

“There’s not a lot you can do about your normal ability, but there’s a hell of a lot you can do about the way you apply it.” – Dave Moorcroft

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Questions that still remain from last year;

Is there a worse vegetable than brussel sprouts?

Why don’t we see more Subaru Bajas?

Can someone tell me why the “word verification” for comments is 14 letters long, wavy and italicized? If we’re just trying to keep out automated spam messages, couldn’t it just be an easy-to-read, 3-letter field?

There were 300+ high school kids that ran sub-6:00 pace 5Ks at the state meet (not including the kids that didn't qualify). That kind of time will place you near the front of most local 5Ks. What happens to all these kids?

This year’s state meet results show that 75% of the boy’s field (319 runners in 2 races) broke 18 minutes. Both boys' races went out fast as the “worst” mile split was 5:34 in the AA race and 5:49 in the A race.

It’s nice to see that “we” final stole some talent from the soccer fields as the girls' AA champion played soccer up till this year.

I was up before my alarm this morning, so I just got up and added on a couple of miles to my run. Just so you don’t think it’s 18 degrees every day in November around here, it was a beautiful 54 degrees this morning.

I ended up with 10 miles at 7:55 pace. That’s probably 15-30 seconds/mile faster than last year. Plus my routes this year are hillier than last year. I think last year I was making a conscious effort to slow down. This year I’m just running however I feel.

Quote of the day;

“Five minutes of discipline – that’s all it takes. When you get up in the morning, hit the head, pull on your stuff and get out the door. Everything else just falls into place.” – Paul Fetscher, Warren Street Athletic Club

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


The nice thing about keeping a blog is you can zip back to last year and see exactly what you were doing. Being in the early stages of base-building, I could just about copy and paste last year’s post and call it November 7, 2006.

Where am I at and/or where am I going?

This is my second week "back". Last week I ran 53 miles and this week I'm shooting for 56-60 miles. I'm trying to follow Daws' advice of keeping my daily efforts the same. To do that I keep my mileage in a narrow range, like 7-9 miles per day and keep the effort easy to moderate. Again, the idea is to get comfortable with the mileage before adding in hard/easy days and long runs.

Yesterday I ran 9 miles around 8:20 pace. I took my 2-mile splits during the last 8 miles just to see what was happening. It turns out I start out really slow, 8:40 pace for the first 2 miles. Then it looks like I drop to 8:20 pace, then 8:00 pace before finishing at 8:15 pace. What does it all mean? I don't know; it just takes up space in a blog entry. Actually it makes me think I need more "no watch" runs at this point in my training.

Today I ran 8 miles. As I mentioned last week, I decided to add some hills a couple times during the work-week. Today I added 4 "hills" at the end of my run. I'm almost ashamed to call them hills, but they're the best I've found for my current running situation.

The first 7 days of November last year, I ran 8, 7, 9, 6, 8, 8 and 9 for a total of 55 miles. This year I’ve run 7, 7, 10, 7, 8, 8 and 8 for a total of 55 miles. Today’s 8 miler was the same as yesterday, except it was 2 minutes faster – just under 8:00 pace.

Quote of the day;

“If you can stick to the training throughout the many long years, then willpower is no longer a problem. It’s raining? That doesn’t matter. I am tired? That’s besides the point. It’s simply that I have to.” – Emil Zatopek

Monday, November 06, 2006


This will probably come as a surprise but my wife always tells me, “It’s not your message, it’s your tone.” And she’s not talking about my blog.

I thought I’d address this whole “Elitist” title that keeps getting thrown around. Whether it’s on my blog, another blog or some message board, it always reminds me of people using the “Race Card.” Don’t agree with someone. Oh, they’re faster than you. They must be an elitist. From what I can gather on, they can’t even agree on what it means to be elite, let alone elitist.

It’s no secret that I aspire to get faster. Heck, I can’t think of a single runner I’ve met in the last 27 years who hasn’t felt the same way.

I’ve been slow before. I remember running a 99 minute 10 mile race and being happy that I broke 100 minutes. However, I’ve never been fast. None of my PRs are anything special. I’ve never won a race or been the best runner on a team.

What I lack in speed, I make up for in passion. Whether it’s my own running, seeing friends succeed, learning about the history of the sport, etc. I enjoy it all. It’s the most basic sport out there yet there’s so much to it.

As I was thinking back to all the runners I’ve met over the years, I couldn’t think of a single runner who has wished harm upon their competition. In fact, runners seem to encourage their competition to run their best. They even go so far as to share their running “secrets.”

Believe me; you don’t have to be an elite runner to share knowledge with one another. If that were the case I’d say it’s a good thing all the teachers and coaches in this country are elite. I’d hate to have someone who’s only in, say the top 5%, sharing their knowledge and passion as they teach our children.

It’s not like running knowledge is what’s keeping me from being elite. And it’s not like elites are elite because of their vast running knowledge.

I’ll try to work on my tone, but my message will still be the same; work hard, push yourself, run more than ever before, ask questions and share your experiences. You will improve. So if I have something to share that I think will help, I will. If you have something you think we help me, go ahead and comment. With that said, here’s an article I’ve read recently that I really like.

As for my current training, on Saturday the girls took turns riding in the jogger for 5 miles and then I added 2 miles by myself. That gave me 40 miles for the week. Sunday I ran 8 miles at around 7:30-7:45 pace, which is pretty quick for a solo run for me. I seem to be letting the pace flow more during this base-building period than in the past. If I feel good I just go with it. This morning I ran 8 miles at about 8:20 pace.

Quote of the day;

“To run is to live. Everything else is just waiting.” – Mark Hanson in The Complete Book of Running

Friday, November 03, 2006


Come on Lance, this isn't the TdF.


The only reason I ran 10 miles this morning was because I was wide awake at 4:15. By 4:45 I figured I might as well just get out of bed and get in a longer run. It seems that whenever I’m working on an article or post another interview it causes a loss of sleep.

Anyway, it was a crisp 18 degrees outside this morning, which leads me to today’s debate on winter running. A friend is looking for hardcore winter runners to be interviewed for an article on winter running. I said, “I’d guess that most, if not all, of the top local runners are hardcore.” She thought I was being optimistic.

Now I’m not talking about Joe and Jane jogger. All one needs to do is compare a run around Lake Calhoun in the summer to one in the winter to know that Joe and Jane are “hibernating.” In the summer, one lap around the ever-popular lake will nearly drive you crazy as you weave in-and-out of all the traffic on the paths. Come winter, you’d think you traveled back in time forty years to the pre-Running Boom days, as you have the paths to yourself. You almost forget you’re in a major metropolitan area.

My statement refers to the people finishing in the top 5-10% (maybe more) of their age group. These guys and gals are not taking 3-4 months off entirely from training and then placing high in their age-groups. Running doesn’t work that way, especially given the strength of the local running scene.

Heck, if you can handle 18 degrees on November 3rd, you can handle 90% of the weather we’ll have this winter. If you can’t, then I wish you luck. You can try to do all your winter running on the treadmill, but base training is hard enough without using that mind-numbing apparatus.

This next topic will probably piss people off, but oh well…I wasn’t going to post about it, but the more I thought about it this morning, the more I felt I needed to post about it. I know we’re all one big happy running blog community and we all want to make friends and have everyone like us. However, I think it is okay to pick at people’s training and ask questions – either to help them or to gain a better understanding yourself.

With that said, when someone mentions that the marathon plan they followed didn’t have any tempo runs, but it has her doing them 10-11 days after the race, I have to ask “WTF?” Not only do I not understand the training, I don’t understand all the comments like; “Great job with the training.”

Again, go ahead and support one-another, but don’t be afraid to challenge someone either. Hell, if you don’t like what I’m doing, go ahead and tell me. I’ll take your opinion into account and weigh it against my own ideas – and then go with my own ideas anyway. Just kidding. I’ll use your ideas and then call them my own – if they work.

Quote of the day;

“There is a marathon lifestyle. It is called sacrifice. I would like to exemplify it more than I do.” – Phil Curatilo in The Marathon: What It Takes To Go The Distance by Mark Bloom

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Today’s question; What do you do for the 3-4 weeks post-marathon? Do you do some type of reverse taper? I’m “struggling” with making sure I’m recovered and the desire to build my mileage back up. Mark had this quote on his blog recently;

“Resuming training is much like pulling an onion out of the garden and discovering that it is not yet fully grown. One cannot thrust it back in and expect more growth! Physiological and psychological fatigue must be fully resolved if the total approach to beginning another training cycle is to be one of excitement, anticipation, and willingness to rededicate one’s life to training.” Better Training for Distance Runners, 2nd Ed. Martin & Coe

I feel that the “excitement, anticipation and willingness to rededicate” is already there. And given that I’m usually conservative in my approach, this is a little weird for me. Maybe it’s that whole issue with wanting to change my approach and be a little more type-A. I may be burnt out by December 12th, but I’m willing to take that chance. With that said, I ran another easy 7 miles this morning.

We had our first parent-teacher conference ever, last night. It turns out we have the best kindergartener in the world. Apparently she’s adopted just the good traits from my wife and me. It must be our fantastic parenting skills.

Maybe it’s because I ran D3 in college, but I really like what this blog is doing.

As I’ve said before, politics don’t really interest me, but I think this photo is great.

Quote of the day;

“Don’t let the planning and analyzing get in the way of the doing and enjoying.” – Joe Henderson

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


In 2005 I ran my most yearly miles ever; 2,793. Looking back, it’s kind of pathetic because it included a 5-month stretch where I only averaged 36 mpw. 5 months!!!

If I look at my last 12 months, I’ve run 3,127 miles. That’s better, but it still includes two months of 26 mpw.

Yesterday I posted that I ran 177 miles for the previous MONTH. Later in the day I got an email from a guy saying he ran 147 miles for the previous WEEK. Another gal (who ran an earlier fall marathon) just posted on a forum that she ran 350 miles in October.

Obviously, I need to do my own training, but I do use things like these for motivation. Seriously, 300 miles in a month doesn’t really seem like a lot. It’s “only” 10 miles a day or 70 mpw. Yet I’ve only been above 300 miles on 7 or 8 occasions in 27 years, including four times last winter. It’s interesting that each of these occasions has occurred in the months of December – March. Maybe I should work on getting in more miles in during the summer months next year.

But first I have to get through the winter. And that’s exactly what it felt like during this morning’s 7 mile run, as it was 20 degrees out. The ski hill near where I run is already making snow. And so it begins…winter and base-building.

Looking ahead to Grandma’s Marathon, it’s kind of weird but Pfitz’s 24-week plan would start on January 1st. If I went with his 18-week plan, I’d be able to run the local winter half marathon and then recover for a week before starting “official” training.

I don’t know the answer here, but this thought popped into my head recently. I know Boston Qualifying times can help motivate us and make us faster, but I’m curious if they can also make us slower. Say I’m hoping to run sub-3, but things don’t go as planned and I run 3:05. Instead of being pissed at missing my goal, I’m happy that I BQ’d. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Instead of using my results to motivate me for future training, I’m actually content because of the Boston standards.

Quote of the day;

“Our thoughts and beliefs are the blueprints from which we create our physical reality.” – Lorraine Moller

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Not much going on today and I wasn’t even going to post. Then I went out at lunch and saw a gal running on the wrong side of a 4-lane road WITH headphones on. The only thing she had going for her was that it’s a bright sunny day. Come on lady, use some fucking common sense. You don’t run in the road with your back to traffic and you sure as hell don’t do it with headphones on. I guess if you’re going to get hit, you don’t want to hear it coming. Man, that pisses me off.

I’m really fired up to start increasing my miles again, but I’m not sure why. I think it’s because I enjoy base-training and the whole “numbers aspect” of trying to do more than I’ve done in the past. The race results I had last year in March and April have me fired up to see what’s in store for this winter.

It’s funny; a day or two ago I was thinking, “I’ll just take it easy for the next 3 weeks or so and just run however I feel.” Today I was thinking, “I wonder how quickly I can ramp up my mileage.” We’ll see…I am taking today off, so I'll be able to start November feeling fresh. That means I'll close out October with 177 miles.

Quote of the day;

“This obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.” – George Sheehan

Monday, October 30, 2006


It just occurred to me that I still have all my toe nails. This is the first marathon I’ve run where I haven’t lost the toe nail next to my big toes.

I’m even a little surprised to be reporting this, but I’m back running already. On Saturday I just felt like going for a run. I was working on another article and I figured a run would help clear my head and bring pieces of the story together. I figure if that’s my reason for running, rather than because I’m worried about losing fitness for next year, then it’s okay to head out the door.

I managed 4 miles on Saturday and Sunday and 5 miles this morning. When I finished these runs I thought; “Man, wouldn’t it be great if you could get incredibly fast on less than 45 minutes a day?”

Since I don’t have anything else going on, I’ll post the article I wrote, after the quote of the day;

“Marathon runners mainly want to finish…Marathon racers want to improve.” – Joe Henderson, Make Your Own Time

I admit it. I like to look through race results on a regular basis. And I’m not just talking about looking for my own name. I’m talking about seeing how well the top runners, people in my age group and other friends are running.

If you’re like me when it comes to race results, maybe you’re wondering what’s up in Lake Elmo too. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go to and look at the results for any race in the MDRA series. Scroll down, further, further, a little further. What do you see? If you’re looking at the results of runners over 60 years old, the odds are very high that you see numerous runners from Lake Elmo placing very high in their age groups.

Jim Graupner, 62 and Norm Purrington, 63 are fixtures atop of the 60-64 year age group, while Don Wright, 65 is almost always first or second in the 65-69 age group. Besides sharing accolades such as Runner of the Year, Grand Prix series champion, state age record holder, etc. they also have something else in common. All three have called the tiny town of Lake Elmo ‘home’ for over 25 years.

Lest you think these guys are slow and are winning their age groups due to lack of competition, think again. At the Human Race 8K this year their times ranged from 29:55 to 35:13. And they’re not just limited to shorter races either. Norm and Jim have run 3:03 and 3:09 marathons in their 60s, respectively. Meanwhile, Don is no slouch either and he’s not slowing down. He’s run six marathons this year, including a PR of 3:36 at TCM.

I consider myself a decent runner and I’m competitive, by nature. However, given the strength of the local 40-44 year olds, I don’t mind being beaten by guys that are older than me. Heck, the 45-49 year olds are pretty strong too. But this year’s Holiday Inn Half Marathon in Rochester was a huge blow to my psyche. Why? Because I would have placed third in the 60-64 age group, as Jim and Norm both beat me. Third!!! I’m 37 years old. All I could think afterwards was, “If I can just maintain my speed for the next 23 years…maybe I can place in my age group.”

I decided I needed to get to the bottom of what’s going on in Lake Elmo. In October I sat down with these three men to find out what is really in the water (and beer) in Lake Elmo. While I didn’t come away with a clear-cut answer, I did come to realize that these guys are typical of all the top age groupers in our community; they’re fast, competitive, hard working and humble, while overcoming their share of obstacles.

Given their success on the roads, I was surprised to find that all three guys started running relatively late in life. Norm started running the earliest, at the age of 39, while Jim and Don have only been running for four or five years.

Let’s see, three guys, competitive runners, similar ages, all from the same small town. They must be bitter rivals, right? Wrong. Believe me, I tried to get them to admit how much they wanted to beat one another, but they never did. The best I could dig up was Don’s comment, “I look for gray hair during a race and try to beat that person.” Jim got a little more personal, “If Norm is not ahead of me I know he’s close, very close.”

While they definitely share an interest of where they stand in relationship with one another, their competitive natures also mean they’re concerned with where they stand in relationship to all runners, regardless of age and sex. But it’s not just about beating people and winning awards. During our visit there was lots of genuine concern and interest for the well being of all their competitors. Names of competitors like Mondry, Kleyman, Stauffacher and Tomczak kept coming up during our conversation. These guys truly understand that the Latin root for the verb “to compete” which means, “to seek together.”

And “seek together” they do, as each of them runs 30-50 races per year. Why so many races? As Norm said, “If I couldn’t race, I probably wouldn’t run. I really enjoy both the competition and the camaraderie. You see the same people at races and you get to know them. It’s a lot more fun if you do it most weekends as opposed to keying on 2 or 3 races.”

Hmm, that sounds eerily like a passage from Dr. George Sheehan, “Racing is the lovemaking of the runner. It’s hard to pass up. A runner has few friends and they are always other runners. The place to meet them is at the races.”

In addition to completing a large number of races, they are some of the most competitive runners around. Whether it’s Jim blowing by me during the last 10 meters of the Hennepin Lake Classic 10K, Norm going after sub-3 at the Twin Cities Marathon or Don never losing a sprint to the finish, these guys give it their all, week in and week out.

However, don’t think their triumphs have come without struggles. Each of these men has overcome adversity. Jim is just now able to run three miles after battling a seven-month bout with damaged muscles in his pelvis. Norm is dealing with osteoarthritis, which is caused by the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage of the joints. And three years ago, Don was diagnosed with myeloma, an incurable cancer of the blood.

Even with their struggles, it’s clear these guys focus on the positives. As Jim states, “I fully understand that running success is a product of health and desire and that the symbols of that success are ephemeral by the very nature of competition. Running awakens me to myself and to the inspirational courage with which other people bring to their personal challenges every day.” Don’s motto is more succinct, yet no less relevant, “Live one day at a time and make it a masterpiece!”

In The Complete Book of Running, Dr. George Sheehan asks the popular question, “Where have all the heroes gone?” Well, I’ve discovered that three of mine are alive and well, in Lake Elmo. To find out more about these and other local runners, go to Running Minnesota.

Chad Austin has been running for 27 years and blogging for 2 years. When he’s not doing either of those things, he’s busy looking for real estate in Lake Elmo.