January 6, 2011

I'll have what the rat's having

It's notoriously difficult to create controlled scientific experiments on the effects of running. But this one reproduces the situation of the average adult road racer rather well:

First you find some "adult male rats with an inbred taste for alcohol". You train half of them very hard for 3 weeks. Then you take them all out to a bar.

“We had anticipated that exercise would reduce” the rats’ drive to drink, said J. Leigh Leasure, an associate professor in the department of psychology at the University of Houston and senior author of the study. Instead, the exercising animals turned to alcohol with significantly more enthusiasm than the sedentary rats, mainly during the first week of the experiment. 
“It was a bit of surprise,” Dr. Leasure said.

Dr. Leasure. Heh heh.

I just signed up for this year's Prospect Park Cherry Tree 10-Miler. Better start my training tonight. After 5:00 of course.

January 5, 2011


New thresholds, new anatomies! 
- Hart Crane, White Buildings

The new year is a place to wander around in, get lost, find a new toy or a lost shoe. But still I fret over plans and goals. Everyone wants to go up, up, up, don't they? The runner in me is no exception. He wants two things: 1) to do more; 2) to do less.

I want to get faster, run longer, recover quicker. I want to run every day until the rhythm of it takes me over.

On the other hand, I want an easier training regimen, one that won't require the sacrifice of so many other parts of life. Marathon training, plus everything in the world, is obviously a lot.

Running is one of those things you do to keep growing, stay young, remain open. Getting faster is the easiest way to track it. The numbers never lie. But another way to get better would be to integrate running more completely in all the agendas, itineraries, and schedules. Also: it would be nice not to have achy legs all the time.

I haven't run much at all for about a month. Maybe once a week, for 6-10 miles. It isn't enough, but even a lazy rest does something for you. It could give me back a kind of platform to build a new fitness later in the year. A new fitness for some new threshold.

Last year I wanted to be faster and be consistently in the top 10 of my age group (did pretty well). I wanted to beat 5 minutes and 3 hours in the same season (check). With my second NYC Marathon I wanted to beat Lance Armstrong's second NYC Marathon (nope). All in all a pretty satisfying sophomore year.

Running goals for 2011? Oh, the usual, modest ones:

  • Absorb training slowly, completely.
  • Beat all my 2010 PRs.
  • Find new trails in the park.
  • Grow younger still.
  • Rethink all the goals.