“What Would Meghan Arbogast Do?” Age is No Excuse for Diminished Running Performance

“Our plan had been to run together for hopefully a couple of hours. Amy and I are similarly enough paced that it made sense to stay together as

Meghan Arbogast - Picture from sacramentorunning.com
Meghan Arbogast – Picture from sacramentorunning.com

long as possible. Working with someone on a flat paved long straight road has a lot of appeal, especially if there is any wind involved. Before long we were clicking of 7:07 miles. We didn’t need to run that fast, but we were comfortable, and I use my heart rate monitor during races to keep myself in control. For the first couple of hours it was 155 or lower, which was right on target for a sub-8 hour day.” (Meghan Arbogast, “Tokyo Shibamata 100k 2013,” Racing Through My Life)

“Even leading senior athletes can be subject to some of the fallibilities of age. At the New Zealand masters championships, I listened to a vigorous discussion between two upper age-group 10,000m contenders, tough runner talk about how hard and tactical their race had been. They sounded just like two competitive 25-year-olds – except that they couldn’t remember the names of any of the other runners. “ (Roger Robinson, “New Research on Older Runners,” Running Times, March 20,2013)

Perhaps the most worrisome thing about aging is the forgetfulness that creeps up time and again. These days Phillip and I will sit down to watch a movie that we think we’ve never watched. Partway through the movie, something will seem familiar; one of us will ask the other if perhaps we have seen the movie before. A few scenes more, and we’ll realize that yes, we have watched the movie before. Between the two of us, we’ll start to piece together the movie, remembering something or other that will come up in later scenes. Then one of us will ask the other how the movie ends, and neither of us will be able to remember the ending, so we forge ahead through the entire film just so we can see once again how it ends! Other smaller memory lapses are nuisances, such as those times I walk into a room to get something, but forget what I went into the room to retrieve. I listen to radio shows and read articles that cover issues such as recognizing the difference between normal age-related forgetfulness and more serious causes of forgetfulness such as Alzheimer’s disease. I carefully note the symptoms of each and measure my (or Phillip’s!) moments of forgetfulness against the list just to reassure myself that we’re merely dealing with the natural progress of aging. Continue reading ““What Would Meghan Arbogast Do?” Age is No Excuse for Diminished Running Performance”

Accountability and Running: Being Better Than One’s Self

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View From Lamar St Bridge During Run:11 June 13

“Running long and hard is an ideal antidepressant, since it’s hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time. Also, there are those hours of clear-headedness that follow a long run.” (Monte Davis)

“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” (William Faulkner, “The Art of Fiction, no 12,” The Paris Review, 1956)

I really have no idea who Monte Davis is. This quote appears on plenty of running sites, but no one sources it. I googled him but could find no information about him as an athlete. I wish I knew who he is, because I really take issue with these words that are attributed to him all over the web. Honestly, one is quite able to run and feel sorry for herself at the same time! When the weather is rainy, cold, and dark but she has to get in that last five miles to meet her goal for the week; when she has one hill rep left but the previous five, six, or seven reps have sapped all her strength; when her will to run battles her will be back at home eating ice cream and reading a book: oh, yes, feeling sorry for oneself while simultaneously running is indeed possible. But since misery honestly seems to love company, a runner is more likely to complete her running goals when she shares her goals with other runners, and also helps them to achieve their own goals. Continue reading “Accountability and Running: Being Better Than One’s Self”

When the Runner’s Mind Balks: Failure as “Temporary Unsuccess”

“The pain is the reality but your mind can inspire you past it. I look to the countryside, music, and art, to help inspire me.” (Yannis Kouros, “On the Trail with Yannis Kouros,” Running Times)

“Fail, it’s not in my dictionary. I’ve got a good dictionary up there and the words ‘fail’ and ‘failure’ have been ruled out for years. I don’t know what people are talking about who use that word. All I do know is temporary non-success, even if I’ve got to wait another 20 years for what I’m after, and I try to put that into people, no matter what their object in life.” (Percy Cerutty, qtd in “Herb Elliot on Percy Cerutty,” interview on Radio National, 5 Jan 2001)

The weather has turned hot, already. I missed the best of the late spring cool weather that always seems to surprise those of us who live in South IMG_0865Texas. Every year, March offers South – Central Texas runners cooler, more comfortable running weather than November does. Without exception, the San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon, held mid-November, is a hot, uncomfortable race to run, even to the point where the announcer warns participants pre-race that it’s not a day for a PR. Runners, while waiting in their corrals, are warned to hydrate well and pace accordingly in the humidity and heat. Race volunteers stand just inside the finisher’s area, handing out cold, wet towels to over-heated race finishers. Yet every year, March ushers in cool, breezy weather so much more pleasant that of November that my runner friends and I wonder (repeatedly) why that big race cannot be moved to March.

March in San Antonio / Austin is a lovely month, and the temperate weather usually holds out until mid-May, with only a day here or there to remind us of the brutal summer conditions that lay ahead. This year I was rehabbing my calf tear during the temperate months. I made my slow, deliberate return to running in May, but at that point my running was still rather restricted. The increasingly warm, muggy weather wasn’t an issue until this week, when my longer distance runs coincided with our first temperatures in the mid to upper nineties. Continue reading “When the Runner’s Mind Balks: Failure as “Temporary Unsuccess””

Post-Run Breakfast: Abundant Beauty, Rich Experience, Luscious Food: Eggs Baked in Cream on a Spring Morning

To the Virgins, to Make Much of TimeIMG_0903

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.
(Robert Herrick)

The speaker in Herrick’s rather light-hearted poem uses the lines to woo young ladies out of their chaste rebuff of hopeful, would-be lovers; however, a serious matter buttress’s the speaker’s words of seduction and truth is truth no matter one’s motive for uttering the words. Spring’s rich beauty, glorious as it may be, lasts but a moment for “this same flower that smiles today / tomorrow will be dying.” The lines of this poem ran through my head yesterday, as I ran trails decorated with spring’s bounty at McAllister Park. Continue reading “Post-Run Breakfast: Abundant Beauty, Rich Experience, Luscious Food: Eggs Baked in Cream on a Spring Morning”

A Joyful Return to Running

“Humans aren’t built to sit all day. Nor are we built for the kinds of repetitive, small movements that so much of today’s specialized work demands. Our bodies crave big, varied movements that originate at the core of our body.” (Scott Jurek, Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness)

The world is charged with the grandeur of God. bullet proof coffee 3
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
(Gerard Manley Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur”)

Ultra-runner champion Scott Jurek (whose autobiography is an extremely inspirational and interesting read, even for those of use who vehemently disagree with the ideas about diet and nutrition he espouses in the work) is correct: human bodies do long for big, varied movements, and when one is used to moving – running! – for miles every day, for long periods of time outside the house, a sudden halt to that activity brings her shock at first, then disbelieve next, then finally a reluctant, depressed acceptance of reality. At the moment when she realizes that she really, absolutely cannot run for an unspecified period of time, a sort of panic takes over. How, she asks herself, will she replace that movement: that activity that releases such endorphins into her being, and releases her into the world as well? Should she do upper body and core work at the gym, where she will be surrounded by television screens showing CNN or music videos? Surrounded by people plugged up to machines that merely mimic running – not even truly moving – while they remain plugged into their various personal technological devices? Where, in the gym, are the trees?

McAllister Park
McAllister Park Boardwalk, N of Tobin Trailhead

Continue reading “A Joyful Return to Running”