The holiday season is upon us, and as usual I’m staring at my to-do list with a growing sense of angst. Shopping, cleaning, shopping, socializing, shopping — these are not my strong suits. Instead of getting on with it, I fritter away my time while complaining to no one in particular that this year I’m finally going to make good on my annual threat to spend the whole of December under a rock.

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Eliud Kipchoge Breaks the Marathon

Kipchoge Berlin

If a marathon can be said to stand for something, it must surely stand for the idea that speed comes at a price. Run too fast at the start, expend your energy too early, and you are sure to come to grief. Be patient and persistent, and you might overtake the early leaders. “It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon” is one of those phrases that everyone understands, whether or not they’ve ever run a competitive step. Continue reading

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Things that Make Me Cranky: Family Fun Run Edition


“Who says life is fair, where is that written?” – The Princess Bride

It’s Saturday afternoon in Falmouth, and the skies are still fair. There are no signs yet of the dark thunderclouds that will roll in later, threatening the festive atmosphere at Falmouth High School. For the moment, at least, all is well and everyone seems to be enjoying the family friendly events taking place on the outdoor track.

This is my first-ever experience of Falmouth weekend, having made to the trip with Tyler who will be competing in tomorrow’s Road Race. But after picking up his number, he’s gone off somewhere to get in 30-40 minutes of easy running, and I’m hanging out at the track by myself, taking in the scene, killing time before the elite mile races that are schedule to begin in a little over an hour.

But first, there are an endless number of kids races. Continue reading

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Runners on Vacation


At the height of summer, naps at the beach can be alluring, and many of us may find ourselves tempted to take prolonged vacations from exercise.” – Gretchen Reynolds, writing in the New York Times. Continue reading

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Time on my feet

watch on road

It was a sweltering Sunday morning, and I was about ten miles into what I had hoped would be a twelve-mile run on the usual Battle Road loop. Although I had only a couple of miles to go, I was not at all sure I would finish without walking.

Not only was it the longest run I had attempted for many months, it was about the hottest and most humid day of the summer to that point. Although I was shirtless, sweat just wasn’t evaporating in that thick haze of warm, moist air, and it served only to coat my skin with a slimy glaze. I felt like the contents of a simmering pot, a briny stew of my own making.
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Posted in Injuries & Health, Training, Weather and Seasons | 2 Comments

Seasons such as these

2018 marathon wellesley

Two weeks have passed since the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon — two weeks of fickle spring weather — sunny one day, raining the next — but nothing to compare with that miserable Monday when cold, heavy rain pummeled the elite and the masses alike, sending some two thousand runners to the medical tents to be treated for hypothermia.

I was only a bystander at the marathon, and not a terribly useful one at that, but the day left a deep impression on me all the same. This is my attempt to find some meaning in all that suffering, something to take away from it before all the raw memories of the day dissolve into incoherent mumblings, like the troubled dreams of shipwrecked sailors. Continue reading

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Good advice… and why you should ignore it

rw_cover_2            rw_cover_1.jpg

“Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.” – Shakespeare, King Lear

On the final Sunday of March, three weeks and one day until the 122nd Boston Marathon, Commonwealth Ave. in Newton is teeming with runners logging what is probably their final really long effort before the big day. At this time of year I can’t help having mixed feelings: on the one hand, relief that I’m not out there terrified about what running 26.2 miles will do to my body; on the other hand, envy for the collective spirit of purpose shared by all these folks. Continue reading

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More Fun Facts

Double Bend track           seattle-pacific-university-track-7

I’ve been posting regularly to for four years, now, and to my great surprise, the most popular post I’ve ever written, by far, has been the one about track dimensions. I guess a lot of people really want to find out more about the geometry and dimensions of running tracks, and for some reason, when someone searches for “Track Dimensions,” my post is on the first page of Google results.

I’ve felt guilty about that, because I wrote that post (back in 2014!) in a hurry, and it was glib and superficial and didn’t offer a whole lot of information. For years I’ve been meaning to go back and rewrite the damn thing.

Well, I’ve finally done it. The updated post is about three times as long, goes into much greater detail, and touches on math, culture, history, and many other things. Plus, it has more pictures. I don’t know if budding track fans will like it any better, but — as one of the few people who worry about wasting other people’s time on the Internet — at least now my conscience is clear.

In lieu of a new post this week, I invite you to read the new, improved, expanded version of “Know Your Oval: Fun Facts About Tracks.”

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Early March on the Rail Trail


Saturday, March 3 — the Nor’easter that hammered much of the East Coast with wind, rain, and snow on Friday is mostly over now. At least, the rain has gone, but there’s still a pretty strong wind blowing; I can see the thick, bare branches of trees shuddering and swaying as I look out the kitchen window of my childhood home in Amherst. It’s a little intimidating, but there’s a hint of sun struggling to penetrate the clouds. It looks like a perfectly good day to run.

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Roger Bannister’s Century


“Records are the bare bones of athletics, like numbers to a mathematician. Unless given a human touch they have no life, no appeal. Statisticians may juggle with them, some perhaps finding in their concentration on record figures a vicarious fulfillment of their own ambition. Like odds quoted on horses, times may tell you something of a man’s chance of winning, but they can tell you nothing of his style or his length of stride, nor can a javelin thrower’s distances tell you of his grace of throw. They can give you no conception of a champion athlete’s supreme integration of movement, his genius at harnessing efficiently power that is partly inborn and partly ingrained by years of training. It is this human touch which makes the difference between the lasting excitement of men running and the temporary thrill of speedway or motor racing.” – Roger Bannister, The Four-Minute Mile Continue reading

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