Our Aging Brains

Losing Brain Function
Image credit: ThinkStock.com

“[We] ought to know that from nothing else but the brain come joys, delights, laughter and sports, and sorrows, griefs, despondency, and lamentations. … And by the same organ we become mad and delirious, and fears and terrors assail us, some by night, and some by day, and dreams and untimely wanderings, and cares that are not suitable, and ignorance of present circumstances, desuetude, and unskillfulness. All these things we endure from the brain, when it is not healthy…”   — Hippocrates Continue reading

Posted in Injuries & Health, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Running With the Enemy

Mohawk Trail postcard

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over forty years since that late summer day when I took a chance and traveled far from home to run with the Mohawk Cross Country team at one of their pre-season practices. I’ve written about that day before, but recently felt motivated to tell the story again, filling in a few more details. I hope you enjoy it!  Continue reading

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LeBron James Runs a Mile

“…Let’s think about how much more work LeBron does every single day than your typical high school runner. Who do you know ran 4:40 in high school? Oh, literally everyone? Even the kid who was so small and sad-looking that his mom had to use a clothespin to keep his jersey from falling off? Excuse me, I’ve just upgraded LeBron James to a 4:20 mile.” – Ryan Sterner, Citius

“A very good high school runner can run 4:20 or faster and is a very average athlete by general metrics. James is arguably one of the best athletes in the world and so 4:40 should be no problem.” – Chris Chavez, Sports Illustrated

“Lebron? You out there? Aging hack runner who peaked in high school wants to race.” – Malcolm Gladwell, on Twitter Continue reading

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Living the Dream (at Running Camp)

NKRC_2017_Week2_Day5Wildflower
Kingdom Trails, across from the Wildflower Inn

Every time I mention to someone that I spent the first two weeks of August at running camp, I worry that this sounds juvenile and undignified… even for me. So I hasten to add that no, I was not a camper; the campers were mostly high school runners. I was a staff coach with actual adult responsibilities.

But still, you know, why would an old fart like me want to feel even older at running camp? Continue reading

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London Postcards: Scenes from the 16th IAAF World Championships

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 8.51.25 AMFinal leg of the men’s 4×100 relay

Has it been five years already since the Olympics returned to London?

In the wider world, a lot has changed for Great Britain and for the rest of us since 2012, but it seems like only yesterday that we were watching the planet’s best track and field athletes – Bolt, Rudisha, Dibaba, Farah – amaze and delight us during the Athletics portion of the London Games.

But impressions can be deceiving. The world of Athletics has changed, too. Although many of the same athletes were competing in the same Olympic Stadium over these last two weeks for the 16th IAAF World Championships, at some point, a few of these formerly invincible runners became mortal, yielding the podium to newcomers. At some point, other runners and jumpers and throwers stepped out of obscurity to win unexpected titles. Some fans called it the “Bizzaro World Championships,” and felt that the world of Track and Field had been turned upside-down. I wouldn’t go that far, but there were definitely events that shocked fans of the sport. Continue reading

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Field Guide to North American Tracks: Bob Heath Track, Lyndonville Vermont

Lyndonville_track Continue reading

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What is happening to American Runners?

Chart by Jens Jakob Anderson and Ivanka Andreeva Nikolova, runrepeat.com

When it comes to running, I live in a bubble. I spend some part of every day running, or coaching, or writing, or thinking about running. My social life revolves around running. I frequent running websites. I stream obscure races and meets from around the world to my laptop at odd hours of the day and night. I am writing this in my dorm room at a running camp.

All of this makes it hard for me to see the big picture: to see that people like me represent a very small fraction of the running population of this country. Vastly more people run for health or recreation than for prizes, and those people likely do not obsess over intervals, tempo runs, and weekly mileage.

The fact that I have spent a lot of my life trying to get better at running, and trying to help others do the same, also makes it hard for me to understand the following recent phenomenon: American runners are slowing down. Or, to put it more precisely, average race times across a variety of standard race distances have been slowing steadily for at least two decades. Continue reading

Posted in Records & Statistics, Running Research | 7 Comments