A weird week for me here in Northeast Ohio. It is my first full week back to bartending and, well, things are scary slow to say the least. It’s another new normal to navigate and my hope is that things will slowly improve as people gain more confidence that we are taking the proper precautions to stay safe while beginning to venture out. Running, though, continues to go well for me. I am staring down my first 40 mile week in well over a year and official marathon training kicks off in a little over one week.
I am publishing this just one day after the Boston Marathon announced that for the first time in its history, dating back to 1897, it will not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the right call but a devastating one. Other than being ordered not to work by Ohio’s governor back in March and having to cancel the trip to meet my niece that I was supposed to have taken back in late April, it is one of the starkest reminders of how wide ranging COVID’s impact has been on the world. The one silver lining is that with racing having largely been cancelled this year, the registration window to apply for the 2021 Boston Marathon (assuming that can happen) has been set to be begin with any qualifying race times run after September 15, 2018, meaning my BQ from the 2018 Columbus Marathon once again allows me to apply for the Boston Marathon. I’m not holding my breath that its gets me in, unless the field is significantly expanded, but we will see what happens.
Let’s dig in to this week’s links.
I loved this three way conversation between Dathan Ritzenheim, Alan Webb, and Ryan Hall on Hall’s podcast. They came up together as three of the most promising American male distance runners in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, an era that was especially grim for American male distance running. Only one American man, Rod DeHaven, ran under the Olympic standard in the marathon and qualified for the 2000 games in Sydney. However, as Amby Burfoot notes in this excellent piece, Webb, Hall and Ritzenheim were set to usher in a renaissance in American distance running on the men’s side. In the podcast the three reminisce about their battles against each other in their amateur days, their successes and frustrations as pros, and how each is adapting to life in retirement. For running nerds this is well-worth the listen, especially when Hall’s wi-fi drops him from his own podcast…twice.
In this 45-minute interview Eliud Kipchoge discusses his goal to bring running as a lifestyle to 3 billion people across the world. Inspired by the messages he receives on social media, he explains how he hopes to share how running shapes his lifestyle, and how others can adopt it, all while weaving in details of the mental work he needed to do in order to tackle challenges like Nike’s Breaking 2 project and last year’s INEOS 1:59 Challenge. The interview reminded me at times of Michael Phelps’s stated goal of making swimming a mainstream sport in the US rather than one that people pay attention to only during Olympic years.
I am a big fan of Matt Fitzgerald’s books. His nutrition book, Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance, is the foundation I build my nutrition plan around and he has written about subjects across the spectrum of running. I was thrilled when he announced several years ago that he would be training with Ben Rosario’s HOKA NAZ Elite for a summer in preparation for the Chicago Marathon. The premise of the book is a simple question, one I have asked myself: Just how good could I be if I received the coaching and performed the training followed by professionals? This article is an excerpt from his new book, Running the Dream: One Summer Living, Training, and Racing with a Team of World-Class Runners Half My Age and details one such workout which, with an ironic twist, despite running with runners far faster than him he struggles to slow down enough for.
With all 50 states in various stages of reopening, despite the threat from COVID-19 remaining present, I have been wondering what activities are safest to venture out for and what activities I should be avoiding in the near future. This article from NPR looks at 14 such activities, from camping to dining at a restaurant and rates their safety. Though racing is not discussed, a thread throughout the article is that lengthy close proximity to other people is one of the more serious possible vectors for contracting the virus, which does not make me feel confident that racing is going to happen this fall.
Building off that last link, I have been thinking long and hard about whether I will return to my gym once it is open or if I will revert back to training I can do at home with bodyweight, Swiss balls, and bands. I will be writing about this in a longer post in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, if you are like me and uncertain about jumping back into a gym environment, this runner-specific strength program is worth a look. SAM stands for Strength and Mobility and what I like about this specific program is it progressively builds in difficulty (Phase 1 to Phase 5) as you require more challenge in your strength building and also has different workouts for your easy and hard days. I used the program in 2018 and it helped me get to two BQ’s so I can vouch that even though the program requires no equipment and can be done quickly, it works.
That’s it for this week. Hope you all remain safe.