Monday, January 30, 2012

Hanging with the leader pack

The nice weather is back so this weekend I went outside for a change.  I did one of my usual 6 mile loops.  On the way back, I noticed I was being passed by an inordinately large number of very fast runners.  Eventually I figured out I was on the early part of the course for the Frozen Half, the first long distance race of the year.  They were fast and on mile 1-2, while I am slow and on mile 4-5.  The true leader pack streaked by but I was able to hold it together after the first 20 runners or so and stay up with the second wave.  Decent weather but a bit icy if you are doing this for real.  Glad I could make the right turn by my apartment, catch my breath and jog it in.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

7. Don't forget the off-season

Was talking with a friend this weekend. He had a hard year, finishing at the end of November. Like me, he planned to start January 1 preparing for Boston, but has found it slow getting going this month. He is just now getting in the swing of training hard. It's only an N of 2, but this guy needed about 2 months to get over last year, and that's about what I had from the end of October to 1/1. My lesson from this is that 2 months off is a without which not of getting a good start on the next year's program.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ever run Thoedore Roosevelt Island?

I was staying at the Hotel Palomar in beautiful downtown Roslyn and look a look at the running map that the hotel had at the front desk.  The combination of a head cold and an early morning symposium at George Mason prevented me from going out on Thursday morning but I realized that I have never run on Teddy Roosevelt Island in the middle of the Potomac.  Run by it on both sides of the river but never focused on the fact that you can go on it and around it.  Is there anything there?  Should it be part of the course for the Race for Competition given his trust busting fame? 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

6. Run long when the sun shines

Spencer has been dealing with Chicago in winter. DC hasn't been great either, though I would guess it's a lot nicer than there. But every so often a day comes along . . .

Today is 60 degrees with clear skies. It's supposed to get wet and cool starting tomorrow. My running obligations this week include a longer (~75') run, a tempo run, a hill workout, and a long run. Today was supposed to be the tempo: quick warmup, 25' at a pace faster than I feel like going, then a jog home.

But that leaves 75' cruising for a less pleasant day. Nobody will notice if I rearrange my schedule, will they? I'm going to try the Utah Ave. to Western to Oregon loop that D__ and I found the other weekend. Then a trail through the woods at dusk to Beach Drive and back south. Whether I come home by way of Nebraska or past the Rock Creek stables depends on just how pleasant it is. I'm guessing I take the long way, but time will tell.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oh the weather outside is frightful

The fantasy of a soft short winter has been crushed by 4-8 inches of snow and howling winds.  My Saturday run with the BOMF running group will probably morph into a short gym session in my building's work out room.  On the other hand, I signed up for my first 2012 race, the March 25th Shamrock Shuffle where I will receive either a C or B Corral seeding based on last year's result and the other race results I submitted (thank you ATlinks!). 

On such a day, an antitrust prof's thoughts turn to late fall/early winter marathons.  I am just starting to research a nice small race in a pleasant clime late in the year or very early in January so I can do the bulk of my training in the fall instead of the stinking heat of July and August.  Besides the mid-November Malibu marathon any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Heart Attacks

The idea of my heart blowing up in a marathon has been giving me more than a little, er, heartache, certainly since this recent story of Chris Gleason, a 10:00 IM triathlete, and about-to-be 3:00 marathoner, about my age, who left behind his family with only 1/4 mile to go in last fall's Philadelphia marathon.

Of course, I'm conscious of the plane-crash versus car-crash phenomenon, and recognize that the statistics certainly favor us runningprofs over the "Duh Bears" guys from SNL.

A member of a triathlon list-serv to which I belong just shared this Runner's World article, which summarizes a New England Journal of Medicine study. Time reported it as well. Apparently, we're OK, no longer being 22. The only problem is running triathlon.

Here are a few more links to reports on studies (1, 2, 3), which the same list-serv group member shared. (I'd like to attribute, because it's really interesting stuff and I appreciate her sharing it, but I have a rule against naming people by name, so I won't.) A one-sentence summary: everything you know is true -- you shouldn't run long if you aren't properly trained (I've violated this injunction more than once); you need to hydrate (I'm getting much better at this); digging deep at the end isn't healthy (fortunately, I'm really good at walking at the end!).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

5. Form matters

Fifth lesson of running is that there is a best way to do it. Presumably, there is actually a single best way, but more realistically there is a best way for each of us, meaning I'm never going to stride like Meb but I can learn to stride as well as I can.

We lawyers generally get this, with our emphases on procedure. We rail against convicting even the guiltiest of SOBs if we did it the wrong way. We teach that there is a best way to communicate a thought. I'm currently grading exams down, at least in part, if the students express the right idea in the wrong words.

So of course when we go for a run we intuitively understand there's a right way to do it. Do we do it the right way? I have spent most of my running career figuring that I ran fine in light of my modest talent and work ethic. This winter I'm playing a little with foot strike, stride length, linearity of motion.

How do you work on form? I am told there's one sure way to do it. Hill Repeats. (Deliberately capitalized.)

I did a short spin down into Rock Creek Park, emerging via the Tilden climb to Connecticut. Right on Albemarle and wind back to Linnean to return home. Then up Ingomar 6 times. I was going to stop there, but The Youth cycled through on my iPod, so I knocked out 7 and 8. And after a week in which we said our goodbyes to two family members -- one, my grandmother; the other, my stepfather's brother J__ -- I had an inspiration about what living means. So back downhill. I spent number 9 remembering Grandma and number 10 remembering J__.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Olympic Trials Marathon

Men's results here. 4 under 2:10. Not sure anybody saw that coming!

Women's results here. Also an exceedingly tight finish.

Top three in each qualify -- I believe so long as (for men) they are under 2:15. For women, 2:37. (Here's the standard list, for what it's worth.) As I understand it, if you have three A-standard-meeting athletes, you get to send all three (plus an alternate, if that alternate also meets the standard). Apparently if you don't make the "A" standard, you can send one athlete qualifying with the "B" standard.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

4. Do what you don't want to do

This surely has an analog in life: concentrate your efforts at your weaknesses. This makes intuitive sense: when you pick up something new, the learning curve is steep (i.e., you progress quickly), and then it becomes more gradual with time. That gradual part is the dreaded "plateau."

I have a theory for planning a workout program. I don't implement it because I pay a guy to help me structure a training schedule, but I think this idea might work.

There are really about 5 or so workouts that we do over and over during the year. Strength training (weights or calisthenics), speed work, whether on the track or fartlek-style runs, distance work, tempo runs, and cross-training of some sort. Of course, exactly what each of those are changes as we get fit, or take time off, or whatever, but generally everything fits into one of those categories.

What if every three months you sat down and listed from 1-5 the workout you really wanted to do? Right now it might be (for me):

1. Distance work (how lovely. Just me, my iPod, and a quiet road.)
2. Cross training (a little yoga, a little cycling.)
3. Lifting weights (not really fun, but it's pleasantly narcissistic.)
4. Fartlek or interval runs (at least the volume is low!)
5. Tempo runs (ick. Sounds really hard.)

Then you structure your workout to emphasize numbers 4 and 5, while obviously not completely ignoring the others. At the end of three months, reassess. My guess is that the list will look different. That means you improved.

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's no SI, but . . .

I'm one of many who made the cover of this quarter's American Randonneur magazine. That's me in the yellow, second from the front. This was taken 10 miles in to a planned 750-mile ride. I've already written that 60 miles down the road I bounced on my melon, putting a mercifully early end to this Qixotic adventure. Not sure whether in light of that failure to be ashamed of the photo, or proud, but I guess I think it's at least a little bit cool.

3. Run to reconnect

Visiting Kansas for my grandmother's funeral, which after 101 tremendous years was not a tragic event, I laced up the shoes twice with C__, my cousin once removed by marriage, and enjoyed the crisp Kansas mornings. I've known C__ now for 13 years, for much of which I've known he enjoyed running, and these were somehow our first runs together. We learned we graduated together from Cornell and he even roomed with a rowing teammate of mine during his freshman year. I learned that C__ is a real runner, too, as he steamed past while I hyperventilated my way up the final hill (yes, Kansas has hills, and steep ones at that!). C__ has been looking to qualify for a Boston marathon entry. My suggestion to him is to find a sea level race, rather than the Denver marathon, and to run it like he ran this weekend.

Two runs and I now know a long-time family member better than I did before, or ever would otherwise. How's that for getting something out of this sport?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Winter Officially postponed until late January

This just in. Winter in Chicago has been postponed from December 21st for approximately 30 days. Every day has been clear and sunny in the 40s and 50s. I don't recall being out in shorts this time of year here. The entire city has turned out for running and biking during this unusual respite. Undoubtedly we shall pay later, but until then I am out on the lakefront exploring side trails that are usually sheet of ice by now.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Monetize this Blog?

On the blogger dashboard there is a button marked "monetize this blog", As best I can figure out, it involves enrolling in Adsense a Google product which places ads on the blog based on the words and phrases used in the posts and the comments. Revenue is then shared with the blog (and Google) based on click throughs. This concept fascinates me as I continue to research the antitrust implications of on-line advertising and social media. While our small merry band of prof runners are unlikely to ever earn more than pennies even if we had a dedicated program of clicking on an ad every day, it might be interesting and enlightening to see what kind of behavioral advertising is sent our way. Would folks be up for a 90 day trial? {No is a perfectly acceptable answer]

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2. Not every day

is race day. Remembered this when cycling, of all things, with a group on January 2. Some of those guys seem to have forgotten that the year has 365 days -- 366 this year -- and only 5-10 of them are races. Here is my theory: every workout has a purpose. But that purpose may be as mundane as keeping your joints lubed for the big workout coming tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Antitrust Novel

Is it possible to write an enjoyable, even pulpish, novel, which is actually a (1) legally accurate, and (2) true-to-life picture of an antitrust violation? I'm thinking of Eichenwald's "The Informant," in the reading of which I learned much about the realities of antitrust conspiracies; of course, The Informant tells a true story. Nothing that Hollywood has done in this space, except for turning the Informant into a movie, is even interesting, let alone educational.

I think this would be a great line of books, which I'd call the law school "novels" series. I just wonder if it is possible. It might require a collaborative effort -- how many of us are that interesting of writers, anyway?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

1. It's not how far, it's not how fast,

It is that you ran at all that matters. My first lesson from running is to just get out. Some days a slog turns into a joy. Some days it stays a slog. Some days you can't keep yourself in, and those are the easy days, when you may just add the extra out-and-back because who wants to go home, anyway. But this lesson applies to the other days, which in my life represent about half, or even 55% of days. If the calendar says it's a running day, then run.