Having trained 4 times a week for the last 4 months and broken some reasonable personal running barriers (the 2.10-800 and the sub-20 minute 5k), I’ve realised that there’s something wrong with running.
The endurance obsession.
At some point in the last two or three decades, the marathon became the centrepiece of the amateur running community. Lots of runners are in some form of marathon training and it’s become a benchmark for runners - you’ve either done one or you haven’t.
I’ve done two half-marathons and an Olympic-length triathlon and I think those probably only took less than half of what it does to finish a marathon. But they’re enough to tell me I don’t need to do a marathon.
During my most recent half-marathon, at the 17klm mark, I decided that would be the last distance event I would do. I could just feel my body deteriorating past the point it should for no good reason.
They’re bad for your hips, bad for your knees, bad for your ankles and yeah, bad for your back too. For some people, with certain body types and constitutions and excellent health, marathons are the perfect distance.
But the training required to get to that point goes beyond what most amateur runners will ever do.
In a time-poor world, it makes no sense for people to aspire to a race that requires upwards of 60 klm a week of training (which at most runners’ pace would take 6-7 hours), for months beforehand.
I know the rush of completing an endurance race, and I understand it’s appeal, but the rush of running fast is just as satisfying and causes much less damage.
The marathon obsession also makes people think that ‘going for a run’ means trudging through the streets alone for an hour and that kind of running sucks. Who has time for a chore like that at the end of a long day?
I think the endurance obsession is doing more bad than good and I want to see a return to the glory days of the 60s and 70s when middle distance running was revered.
I think the new benchmark should be the sub-20 minute 5klm.
This kind of goal requires much less grind on the body and the training involved is much more speed focussed. You can train in a group, in less than 2 hours a week and still reap all the cardio/spiritual benefits that marathon training provides. Older people can still do it, because it’s consistent running, rather than sprinting that’s required.
Jogging needs to die. Running needs a rebirth.
If you can run a marathon, go for it. But destroying your joints to jog one, just isn’t worth the cost.
Next time you leave the house for a jog, stop yourself. Run as fast as you can for 20 minutes instead.
“I’m really excited about … The Point which is out of Chicago. Basically, The Point takes petitions to a new level by having people make a pledge to take some action if a number of other people do the same. So, for example, they’ll try to generate $20,000 by having someone say “I’ll donate 20 bucks to help a playground be built if 999 other people pledge the same thing.”—Meetup founder Scott Heiferman in a 2008 interview, talking about what he’s looking forward to in the future. The Point became Groupon aka the fastest growing (mani-pedi/spa/cupcake) company in history.
I bought two books last night on the following basis.
Kottke is probably my favourite internet curator. So I was utilising the new-again Twitter feature that allows you to view other people’s timelines. Here is Kottke’s.
Scrolling through, I found this tweet from @tcarmody:
"And vice versa - why it’s so powerful. RT @deronbauman: James Gleick’s The Information helps you see the future by looking at the past."
Not knowing what ‘The Information' was, I searched the Kindle Store, to find it's an Amazon Best Book of the Month for March. Trusting Kottke's choice of followees implicitly, I bought it.
But. Before I did, I read the Amazon two-star reviews, to see that I wasn’t making a huge mistake. And in one of them, I found the following quote:
"In my humble opinion, one’s time would be better spent reading or re-reading the novel `Cryptonomicon’, by Neal Stephenson, or the play `Arcadia’, by Tom Stoppard, or even just sitting quietly and meditating."
"Explain your current situation to 5-years-ago you."
I know you think spending all that time on the internet obsessing about music feels like a waste, but it’ll all make sense soon. Don’t beat yourself up for procrastinating on Pitchfork and Hype Machine instead of studying, just keep exploring your obsession.
This is going to sound funny, but it’s going to take you another five years to get your law degree done. Don’t worry, there’s good reason.
Hold tight. Three of the most important people in your life are going to die soon. That’s why things are moving a bit slow. It’s the world’s way of making sure you have the space to get through the loss.
As sad as you get, I promise you’ll come out the other side OK.
Keep your New York dreams close. Your chance is coming.
Without spoiling it too much, you’ll buy a house, you and Jules are going to get engaged (but I think you already have a sense that’s going to happen) and you’re going to start a company. It’s going to be a ride, one of the best things you’ll ever do.
You’ll end up in unexpected places, like Darwin and Tel Aviv and Adelaide and Buenos Aires, and there’s friends waiting for you the likes of which you can’t even imagine. You might feel out of place at Law School but you’ll find your tribe soon enough. There’s an epiphany coming.
Keep doing what you’re doing. You’ll make the right choices.
When it comes to your Tasmania trip, make sure you come home early, even if it’s really inconvenient. When you come home early, you’ll meet a guy called Stephen and build a website together that people will really like. It’ll change everything for you.
Keep running and writing. Don’t settle. Trust your instincts.
“The party has become so reliant on focus groups that it listens more to those who don’t belong to it than those who do. This makes membership a sacrifice of activism, not a part of it.”—Senator John Faulkner on the Labor Party. I admire that he did this.