Wednesday, October 25, 2017


I am not a patient man. Particularly when it comes to running. I started running in 1998 and my first road race was the following spring when I bandited (sorry, not sorry) the Boston Marathon. So, yup. Zero to 26.2 in less than a year. If that’s not an impatient (stupid?) runner, then I’ve yet to meet one.

For a while, my impatience served me well. Pushing me every day.  I’d keep track of it with a handwritten PR sheet for all my local runs from 2 miles up to 16 miles. And I’d try to finish my next training run faster than my previous one - every single time out. It worked well and I got quick, quickly. But, after a while it began to wear me down and burn me out. I soon realized that if I wanted to keep doing this “running thing” long term, I’d need to add easy days to my hard days. This training regimen has worked for me with varying degrees of success.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve had my ups and downs with running. Most of my lifetime road race PR’s are from late 2008 to early 2009. And, since then, it’s been a real struggle trying to get back to that level of fitness. Pushing the envelope of patience, which (when combined with age) resulted in a series of set-backs, injuries and badly shaken confidence. So, recently I resolved to give up trying to be the 2009 me, and just focus on being the best 2017 me I can be.

Fortunately I’ve been to able to put together a streak of uninjured running lately. This has helped me build fitness (of course) but it’s also given me confidence to push my body a little bit more and go after some PR’s. Not 2009 lifetime PR’s, mind you, but local training run PR’s like I used to do back when I first began running. Except this time out, I track them by Excel spreadsheet rather than by hand. And also, I don’t try to run them every day, like I did 20 years ago, but rather once a week. A weekly “speed challenge”, if you will.

My current streak of local training run PR’s has just hit 8 weeks. On distances that range from 1 to 20 miles, terrain that ranges from road to trail, and difficulty that ranges from flat to mountainous. Again, my paces on these runs aren’t anywhere close to what I used to train at in 2008-2009, but bit by bit I’m improving. And, so far, it’s making me excited about running fast again and keeping me motivated to continue working at it. Patiently.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Act Three

The three-act structure is a model used in writing which divides a fictional narrative into three parts (or acts) often called the “setup”, the “complication”, and the “resolution”. The first act establishes the main characters, their relationships, and the world in which they live. Later in the first act an incident occurs that confronts the main character. And his attempts to deal with this incident lead to a second, and more dramatic, situation.

The second act typically depicts the main character’s attempt to resolve the problem only to find himself in ever worsening situations. The reason he seems unable to fix his problems is because he does not yet have the skills to deal with the forces that confront him. The end of act two is generally the main character’s lowest point in the story both physically and emotionally.

In the third act, the main character must not only learn new skills but arrive at a higher sense of awareness of who he is and what he is capable of. This cannot be achieved alone and the main character is usually aided by others. The end of the act three, and ultimately the story, results in a climactic sequence in which the main tensions are brought to their most intense point and the dramatic questions are answered.

Now, as I enter my third decade of running, this idea of a three act play really struck a chord with me...

I started running in 1998 as an over-weight, out-of-shape, 29-year old. During the decade that followed I met a lot of awesome runner friends, figured some things out, ran a bunch of road marathons and achieved most of my running PR’s. But came up short in accomplishing what I believed to be my ultimate goal – finally running a sub-3 hour marathon. This was my set-up.

In my second act, I discovered the joys of trail and mountain running. And, over the next ten years, slowly transitioned out of road running completely and into trail (and ultimately ultra) running full time. The culmination of act two saw me run my first 100 mile race and then suffer the consequences - injury, low energy, and lack of motivation. Leaving me at the lowest point in my running story, thus far. A most definite complication.

Which brings us to act three…

At 29 years I started my running career. At 39 years I reached my highest point before shifting gears. Now, as I approach 49 (and beyond) years, I’m faced with a rather daunting question: What Next?

Will I chuck trail running completely and go after that ever-elusive sub-3 road marathon again? Will I attempt another 100 miler? Will I learn the skills required to finally slay my demons? Will I arrive at a higher sense of awareness of who I am and what I’m capable of? And, will my 50’s help me arrive at some sort of running resolution?  Who knows?

Hopefully you'll stay tuned. And we can both find out together.