Saturday, August 19, 2006

Random topics

1. Debunking the 20 mile run. Right before going on a 10 mile run this morning, I read an article that questioned the value of the 20 mile run, a presumably critical workout to successfully complete a marathon. The article quite persuasively argues that it is not necessary, and that a 16 mile run is sufficient. Rather than resting before and after a long run of 20 miles, this training approach has you running hard before and after the shorter long run to simulate the stress and fatigue of the marathon. For example, before a 16 miler, run 10 miles the day before so your legs are already tired when you start the 16 miler. This is a huge revelation for me as I get ready for the Sacramento Marathon. I can tolerate a 16-18 mile run, but I detest the 20 miler, both for the mental boredom and because I always get injured doing them. No more!

2. City versus country run. I have lived in both cities (Chicago, San Francisco), small cities (Boulder) and the burbs (Sudbury, Mass., Millwood, NY) so I have experienced different running environments. I definitely prefer city running as there is more visual stimuli to occupy my mind and more fellow runners with whom I can measure myself. The catch is that I be able to run with no impact from traffic. For example, on Thursday I ran along the Seattle Harbor, and did not face any traffic lights or street corners. It was awesome, running by the Aquarium, Ferry Building and through a train yard.

3. Running alone. After running 10.5 miles with Gina yesterday, the verdict is in; I am a social runner. Even though our pace was pretty close to my normal runs, I felt much better and had much more fun. I could even deal with periods of silence (usually I freak out at lulls in conversation) because these were a result of a lack of oxygen rather than a lack of inventory of conversational bits. I might even go to a Nike weekend run and run with the hordes(unprecedented).

4. Busy. If or when I become president, I am going to have the word busy removed from the dictionary. It has no meaning but is the most overused word in the language. As in I am too busy to work out, read, go out for drinks, accept this work assignment, cook, etc. These are all PC ways of saying "It is not important or fun enough for me to do this. I'd rather be doing something else." Let's stop claiming we are superpeople with acked agendas and let everyone know where they stand in our list of priorities.

5. The 12 hour work day. I am often compelled to work more than eight hours a day to
make up for my lack of efficiency and the fact that I am easily distracted (i.e., welcome them). Therefore I feel I can state with great expertise that people who habitually work more than nine hours a day do it because they are either a) inefficient like me and doing eight hours of work in 12 hours; b) in love with their job so do it willingly; c) using work as an excuse to escape from or avoid their personal life or d) trying to get ahead by impressing people with their long hours. There are of course exceptions but 87% of the workforce fits within these four buckets.

6. Spectator versus competitor. A couple of days ago I was making conversation with a client, and asked them if they were a fan of their local baseball team. They said no, they'd rather participate in sports than watch them. Is it a choice? Can't they enjoy playing basketball and watching people who are much better than you play? Can't you watch Lance bike 120 miles up the Pyrenees and then go for a 50 mile ride yourself out of inspiration. Does it make people feel lazy to watch others exercise? Does this go against their type A personalities?

Strangely enough, I am probably the most obsessed sports fan who doesn't actually watch any events but not because I would rather be doing them. Either I am not emotionally invested in the teams so I get bored or I am too emotionally invested (e.g., Michael Jordan, Yankees, Steffi Graf, Lance Armstrong) and get sick to my stomach watching. For example, I could barely turn on the Yankee-Red Sox game yesterday in the 8th inning even though the Yankees were up 13-5. Color me the pessimistic sports fan.

7. Organized room, organized mind. At the end of the summer before 10th grade, I made the huge mistake of telling my mom that a clean room was indicative of my state of mind. Organized life, focused mind. Thereafter, dirty laundry on the floor became indicative to her that I was not studying.

25 years later and I am still having this debate with myself. Does complete and total organization provide an ideal mental platform to focus on your work, life, etc. or is spending time to attain ultraorganization waste time in which you actually could be moving forward, not laterally?

8. Exercise without goals. As I was nearing the end of training for the Ironman, I was looking forward to working out with no goals, no focus. Rather than running 10 miles in the morning and swimming 1.5 mile at night, I could go for a six mile run in the morning and be happy with it, and not lose much in fitness. So after the Ironman was over, I almost immediately signed up for a marathon in December, imposing the same pressures on my training that I was looking forward to avoiding.

While it is clear that I love training for races and striving for increasingly competitive goals, it is also clear that training for the sake of health and wellness are not compelling enough reasons to get me out of bed at 5:00 am. I need to create time-sensitive events that force me into a "do it or you are screwed" ultimatum.