December 9, 2014

Eat this.

It's not actually ten dollars anywhere. The grocery near my house has it for less than four. But whatever. It's great. The first coffee ice cream I've ever had that's worth a damn.

Also, there is an old dog napping on the floor by my bed, and that makes it very hard for me to get vertical. The tired permeates the room. She's 14 though, which is a better excuse than I have.

In ultrarunning, the rumor mill - confirmed, more or less, by athletes on twitter - says that the Pearl Izumi ultra team is dead, and that Dakota Jones is jumping from Montrail to Salomon. The latter makes all the sense in the world, the former, less so. Hopefully we hear something resembling a why.

December 8, 2014

These things are mostly for telling you I ran, yeah? So.

In the spirit of telling you that I ran today - which I did do - I'm going to tell you that I did a fair bit of upper body specific weight lifting. That probably stands out a bit, mostly because I haven't mentioned doing so here - I don't think - and because, this having morphed mostly into a running hobbyist blog, weightlifting seems an incongruous subject.

Or more specifically, the things I did - barbell rows, dips, bench, pulldowns, etc. - are not specific to running. And that specificity is of course a lauded goal of all training. Weight lifting is good, but only to the extent that it better enables more running volume, and more running intensity. The more it approximates the biomechanics of the running motion, the better. Or something like that.

But let me present an alternate theory.

While most of America presently rests in the cold grasp of winter - well, it's winter everywhere, but I'm attempting a "writery" sentence, even if it sucks, which it pretty obviously does - there will soon come a time - it's getting worse - when that frigid air will disperse, and we'll welcome the warm embrace of spring, and then summer. Then, racing - and running in general - is often done done sans shirt, or sans sleeves, at least.

And so all of this can be called specific training for that, because if I'm going to run in the heat - and I am - and I'm going to (un)dress appropriately - and I am - then I'd rather not look like shit.

That is, if not a noble aspiration, certainly an understandable one for a young man who will by summer be 27, and catching glimpses of middle age on the horizon. I've never been the most secure person, even at the best of times.

No, it's not all about getting faster. Nor is it all about ego, neither inflating any given amount or compensating for a lack. (Though it is alternately one or the other, often enough.)

It is for me doing something I want to do - frankly, have to do - anyway, and letting that be its own justification. Which is to say, somewhat joking aside, none of this is new for me. A life without running sounds somewhat empty, but not really an more so - to me - than a life without dips. (Or that other stuff.) Given my assumed audience, that probably sounds ludicrous. But I can honestly say that, right up there with the last half mile of my Heartland win, there is the time I managed 49 very strict reps on the dip bars, years ago. (None of the bouncy, "plyometric" bullshit.) I didn't get a trophy for that, and indeed, nobody in the gym noticed or cared. But it was my PR - and will remain, I feel quite sure - on my favorite lift. (If you're wondering, yes it does bother me that I never hit 50.)

So all of this is to say... what, exactly? That I'm slightly shallow, more than a little awkward, afraid to embrace the inherent scrawniness brought on by high mileage? All of that probably, yes. But also that, I dunno, here is some stuff I like, and it's my little corner of the internet, so I'm going to write about it.

December 4, 2014

There's a big Russian doping scandal presently breaking. It appears systematic, obligatory, with conspirators as high as the IAAF itself. It does not appear surprising, however. At least, not to me. Not to people who... I don't know.... watch sports at all? Any sport will do, really.

Still, I don't expect the broader reaction to be that cynical. We're very comfortable seeing Russians as "the bad guys", a nation of Ivan Drago science experiments turned athletes. Putin's last few years have done nothing but solidify that enmity.

Even among the running community, I imagine much of the reaction will be that, well, it's just them. Or mostly them, Turkey, Morocco, and a few other nations that make up the bulk of positive tests. The reality, I think, almost must be quite different, given that many athletes compete with and/or defeat these now known dopers. There certainly isn't dominance approaching a Ma's army level.

Given that, we can only assume that A) The talent gap is just that big; B) Doping is more or less a global precondition to success in high level athletics; C) They're micro dosing to avoid suspicious results; D) Something like all of those, mixed together, and some other stuff that hasn't occurred to me.

Still, at least we can be assured that - Comrades aside - ultrarunning is surely a pristine sport, filled exclusively with nice people who would never cheat. Just like how we know there's no doping in high level soccer. We're so sure of this that there really isn't even any testing. How much more proof could you ask for than the winking compliance of FIFA?

December 2, 2014

I went for a run today. Mile reps went well. Despite my lack of words devoted to the subject lately, my running has, as a rule, been going very well. Thanks Scott.

Turns out I function slightly better within set parameters, when aimed at a target and told simply "do that". With too much choice comes too much anxiety, for me. That's something I ought to fix, but frankly, I ought to have fixed it some time ago. It's not as if I'm just realizing this general truth.

An instructive vignette would feature me in a bookstore. I'd spend an hour at least, perhaps two, and leave with nothing. Not for lack of choice, but from a lack of ability to make one. Without fail, I find at least 5 books I'd like to get, but rather than get all of them, or some of them, I arbitrarily decide that no, only one for now, who knows how my tastes might change in the several days it takes me to polish off those I do purchase? But which? There is opportunity cost to consider. The hours spent reading a book are hours that could have spent reading another book, and can you ever truly know that the book you are reading is the perfect book for you right at that time? Given that uncertainty, how could anyone choose? Well, I often won't. The pressure builds, I become legitimately anxious, bothered, and simply leave. I'll return several hours later, or perhaps the next day, because I simply can't function without a book queued up.

I say I function, though perhaps, having read that, you'd argue that I don't really. Fair enough. It's a... quirk, if we're feeling generous. Anyay, running has always been similar for me. Since I couldn't ever know that a given workout was the perfect choice, or even "good", I'd basically always opt for a 1-2 hour cruise. Which isn't the worst thing. It's certainly not nothing. But it's not exactly training either.

So. I did a workout. I also listened to my usual assortment of geeky metal. Here is an example - probably the year's best - of how damn pretty black metal can be. That particular sub genre - specifically, it's bastard children: post-, atmospheric, avant garde, etc. - strikes me as the most consistently inventive and progressive, or at least the most interesting of metal's infinite incarnations.


These days, I'm more interested in soundscapes, sonic fringes, and contemplative inspirations than straightforward statements of brutality or violence. 

That said, these themes need not be wholly exclusive. Lest we think so, there comes something like this, which is an example of how metal can still sound scary in 2014. Bleak, nihilistic, and deeply unsettling. Which is to say, I really like it. 



I'm writing this at work. Eating peanuts. Drinking very bad coffee. Riveting.

November 30, 2014

I've been reading a lot of books lately. Yesterday, I read for 8 consecutive hours. This isn't a point of pride exactly, so much as a mere statement of fact. You will make various assumptions about me based on that fact. They are likely to be accurate and not flattering. Still, the truth is its own justification, and all that.  

You could argue that none of those sentences need the commas they have. I'd like to delete them, but won't. I'm going to use one there as well. But not in the previous sentence to this one.

Writing is hard. Well that's not strictly true. Writing things I don't hate is hard. I've been trying to do that in other places and so there has been nothing here for a bit. 

Stasis.

Turns out you can run just as much without worrying a thing about it. Nice to know, or rather, since I knew it already, nice to experience. I haven't read much in the way of running training theory for a few weeks now, and indeed I've still ran everyday. 
 
I'd like to transition here to something about the "holiday season", or whatever, but I'll just start with this: People, for the most part, have an unhealthy relationship with running, or "cardio" in general. I can't tell you how many times I've seen ads prompting people to earn their calories, or have a guilt free meal by sweating on a treadmill for twenty minutes. 

As if bulimia was the only reason to run consistently. (Exercise bulimia is a thing, by the way, and it's not something we should encourage. Not that it's an exact comparison, but we'd never suggest someone enjoy their pie without guilt, because they're going to fast for the next 48 hours, after perhaps vomiting.)

How about asserting that consistently good exercise and eating habits are their own justification? Provide their own satisfaction and rewards? That a fucking vegetable tastes good and running is fun?

Fuck. I dunno. I'm a scrawny guy who likes vegetables, likes running. So I don't get it, exactly. And can't. But I feel like reinforcing a cycle of binge/punishment is probably the worst possible thing we can do.

Happy holidays?

November 17, 2014

I'd like to ask a favor of you. Please check the link to follow, then act as you see fit. If that includes a contribution of money, or perhaps further sharing on social media, that would be perfect.

Click this link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/development-of-kafwa-basic-school-2014

The story of the school is there at the link, for the most part, which hopefully you've read by now. The story from my perspective is that this is my brother's effort, to help the village in Zambia where he currently lives. So that is, to be honest, at least part of the reason for my investment. The other, of course, is that this is a very worthwhile project regardless, and the residents have done a tremendous amount of work already. (Have you ever made 25000 bricks?) The only thing left is the funding. Which, hopefully a decent effort can be made to collect the needed funds. It's simply a matter of enough people choosing to do so.