Saturday, July 24, 2010

Marathon Training

I don't have a specific plan that I train by in preparation for marathons. There, I said it, and I feel like a load of guilt has lifted from my shoulders. But I should explain I suppose.
I run 10 km four mornings every week, work out in the gym two mornings, and run 20 km once a week. That's it. I run faster or slower depending on how I feel, weather conditions, etc. I change up the gym routine a bit here and there, but concentrate on upper body and abdominal stuff with a 20 minute stationary bike ride at the end as a bit of a treat. Used to get the odd squash game in there but haven't done that in a very long time. And now that the office is on the fifth floor, I take the stairs in both directions Monday through Friday (and I do that emphatically after getting stuck in the elevator for 3 hours a couple of weeks ago).
I read the marathon training plans. I agree wholeheartedly with the science that goes into the creation of those plans. However, my running and gym routine fits comfortably into my schedule and I seem to get through my four marathons a year quite well. So I'm definitely not knocking the idea of going with a plan; I strongly recommend it for everyone, especially beginners, because it gives you the structure for your training that is critical. I just believe that you have to tailor everything you do in life that's important and worthwhile to your own circumstances and comfort level to ensure that you keep on doing it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


It's going to be hot again today, and humid. And like most of you reading this, I will be in a pleasantly air conditioned house all day if I choose to, and won't be forced to do anything unduly threatening to my health. So when I go for an exhausting run, it isn't a hardship. I think that that is something we runners sometimes miss when we talk about our endeavours. We miss the fact that a huge portion of the world's population expends enormously more calories and is significantly closer to dehydration than we can achieve merely by virtue of huddling in steaming hot refugee camps or hopelessly dirty and dangerous slums. Not that I want to be depressing; I just want to point out that our heroics, while admirable, do not approach the field of courage and bravery that our rhetoric sometimes implies. What we do is better than lazy obese people, certainly, but there is a perspective to be aware of here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Reflections While Stuck in an Elevator

So I was stuck in the office elevator yesterday for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Bad luck; tried to leave fifteen minutes early and a transformer blew up nearby, killing the electricity in a huge area of the city.
A dimly lit, hot, 3 by 6 foot cell is not everyone's ideal place to spend time. There are a lot of things going against it, of course, all mostly obvious: no washroom, no reading, limited cell phone use since time of release is uncertain... However, there were some things to commend the experience. For one thing, you learn from experience how you will react to this claustrophobic situation. You find out whether you will panic, whether you will start going crazy, etc. No, I didn't panic, and I can't attribute my craziness to the experience. But what I discovered was a new appreciation for what it must be like for those who are incarcerated for whatever reason in such enclosures. You feel the boredom building; you get increasingly restless, distracted. Trying to imagine what it would be like for days, weeks... inhumane is what it is. Oh sure, it was an opportunity for me to concentrate on being meditative, doing some stretching, disciplining my mind to deal effectively with the situation. But it was a lark because I, unlike others, knew that I was getting out. It could take hours, but it wasn't even remotely hopeless.
So does keeping people locked up like that rehabilitate them? How could it possibly do so? Incarceration is punishment, pure and simple.
And yes, I will be taking the stairs for the foreseeable future.