Running Times: Winter Cross-Training Alternatives

Did I plug this already? Sorry. I’m plugging all over town.

I wrote this.

(Please don’t tell me about the mistake in the yoga section. I’ve been alerted to the fact that my pig ignorance is showing and will be trying to get that corrected this week.)

New Houston Hopeful interview: Lori Kingsley

Lori Kingsley is fast enough to have regularly rubbed shoulders with (and been lent hotel room showers by) marathoning’s professional elites. She wins a lot of races. She likes to play dress up. And she describes herself as “a happy runner.” This one took awhile to post, but I think it was worth the wait. The 90+ minute audio is an added treat.

Houston Hopefuls > Lori Kingsley

Resolutions

Here’s an opener that should score 4,000 on the Pretentious-o-meter: I was reading some Kafka last night. Yeah. I unearthed The Complete Stories, a book I bought while in high school when I went through my philosophy phase, and looked up a story called “A Country Doctor.” That story was referred to in an article I read earlier in the day. Not a very good article, but kind of interesting, the mysteriously awful and unfunny accompanying illustration aside. The article’s author asserts that Kafka thought “A Country Doctor” was his best story. I find that a little hard to believe, but there it is. If it’s on the Internet, there’s about a 50% chance that it’s true.

Jonathan implied that I was being passe (I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to put the little accent mark over the “e” on Windows, although I do on the Mac). I was mildly insulted by this, although I agreed too. But it was kind of like being caught trying on a pair of bell-bottoms you found from 30 years ago, to see if you still fit into them. A little embarrassing, but, you know, it’s still Kafka. I like to think he’s got some staying power apart from shifting cultural passions. It’s not like I was reading The Thornbirds or Future Shock.

So. Anyway. After not being all that impressed with “A Country Doctor” I moved on to other stories in the book. I’d been thinking of writing a New Year’s Resolutions post and, hey, what’s this? It’s a story right here, lookey here, called “Resolutions”. It’s short enough that I can include it in its entirety:

Resolutions

To lift yourself out of a miserable mood, even if you have to do it by strength of will, should be easy. I force myself out of my chair, stride around the table, exercise my head and neck, make my eyes sparkle, tighten the muscles around them. Defy my own feelings, welcome A. enthusiastically supposing he comes to see me, amiably tolerate B. in my room, swallow all that is said at C.’s, whatever pain and trouble it may cost me, in long draughts.

Yet even if I manage that, one single slip, and a slip cannot be avoided, will stop the whole process, easy and painful alike, and I will have to shrink back into my own circle again.

So perhaps the best resource is to meet everything passively, to make yourself an inert mass, and, if you feel that you are being carried away, not to let yourself be lured into taking a single unnecessary step, to stare at others with the eyes of an animal, to feel no compunction, in short, with your own hand to throttle down whatever ghostly life remains in you, that is, to enlarge the final peace of the graveyard and let nothing survive save that.

A characteristic movement in such a condition is to run your little finger along your eyebrows.

Personally, I feel that this little piece of writing blows “A Country Doctor” out of the water. But that’s just my opinion.

Yeah. So. Resolutions. I’ve been thinking a lot about the year ahead as the month of December has marched quickly toward it, mostly marked by a tenacious cold and lots of not running and no exercising of any sort. I’ve gotten depressed. I’ve gotten anxious. My mind has whirled and twirled inward on itself in the unhealthy way Mr. Kafka describes above. I have been in a miserable mood. All of this really needs to stop.

Here’s what I am resolving to do next year:

With regard to running, stop trying so hard. I need to let go of what’s happened over the last couple of years and stop expecting progress to happen on a certain schedule. I may also need to let go of the marathon, if it’s obviously not working out as a distance for me, and have that be okay.

Go to more parties. Partly because I want to, but mostly because I have to. I am a complete failure at parties and I’m not at all happy with this state of affairs. I went to one last weekend and in a 3 hour span of time had about 20 minutes of satisfying interaction with strangers. The rest of the time I was an anxious mess. Another one last month wasn’t much better. While I’m tempted to just avoid them altogether, that’s no way to live. So I need to practice.

Be neater. Get rid of stuff I don’t want anymore without attendant agony. Just give (or throw) shit away even if it’s “worth something.” The Yonkers Dump and FreeCycle are there for a reason. Reject new clutter. Rediscover our household surfaces. Clean on a regular basis.

Follow my instincts. I got better at this over the course of this year, but it was not always easy. I quit a steady gig that was making me desperately unhappy. I rejected new ones that for whatever reason didn’t feel right. I spent my limited social energies with more care. I went to Vermont with a bunch of people I didn’t know. I started or got involved in projects without giving myself the opportunity to talk myself out of them. Everything worked out.

Eat more fruits and vegetables; floss every day. This isn’t a joke. I do need to do this. This is going to be the year.

Stop complaining about the weather. I live in New York. It gets cold and it gets hot. It’s time I accepted that fact. Come to think of it, I should stop complaining so much in general.

Have more patience. With everyone and everything.

Ease up on Facebook. It’s a largely meaningless time suck. I do enjoy sharing things on it, but I’ve realized on some days that I’ve spent upwards of 2 hours on the thing. This is not a good habit.

In conclusion, for 2011 I will be doing much more than making myself into an inert mass and running my little finger along my eyebrows.

To lift yourself out of a miserable mood, even if you have to do it by strength of will, should be easy.
I force myself out of my chair, stride around the table, exercise my head and neck, make my eyes
sparkle, tighten the muscles around them. Defy my own feelings, welcome A. enthusiastically
supposing he comes to see me, amiably tolerate B. in my room, swallow all that is said at C.’s,
whatever pain and trouble it may cost me, in long draughts.
Yet even if I manage that, one single slip, and a slip cannot be avoided, will stop the whole process,
easy and painful alike, and I will have to shrink back into my own circle again.
So perhaps the best resource is to meet everything passively, to make yourself an inert mass, and, if
you feel that you are being carried away, not to let yourself be lured into taking a single
unnecessary step, to stare at others with the eyes of an animal, to feel no compunction, in short,
with your own hand to throttle down whatever ghostly life remains in you, that is, to enlarge the
final peace of the graveyard and let nothing survive save that.
A characteristic movement in such a condition is to run your little finger along your eyebrows.

Things for you to read: what’s here and what’s on the way

I have a giant list of writing-related project to dos (plus some podcast prep stuff). But most of them are so daunting. I haven’t got it in me today. This fucking head cold is still here. It abated for a bit last night, but it’s back with a vengeance this morning. I spent three hours shouting over ambient noise at the NY Harriers holiday party, which probably didn’t help. But I met some nice people, and it was good to get out of the house after four days of cabin fever, so it was worth the trip in.

My head’s both everywhere and nowhere with this cold, but since I’m not up to a run or gym trip today, I feel like a sloth if I don’t do something productive with the time. So I’m tackling a few of the smaller writing projects.

First, there are several updates to the Houston Hopefuls site for anyone following along: one is an account of Tammy Lifka’s experiences with injury and his-and-hers blood clots; then there are the race reports from Jen Hitchings and Julie Wankowski from last weekend’s California International Marathon. My next interview will be with Lori Kingsley, a woman who went from being a slightly overweight, smoking non-runner to a national masters champion in just six years.

Second, I’ve made lots of updates to this blog’s Faves page. Some old favorites are still there, but I swapped in 75% new content. 75%! That’s massive! Go check it out.

Third, I’m working on an interview I’ve had lying around since September, with the recently crowned American 5K record holder Molly Huddle. I hope to at least get that transcribed today, if not posted. It’s up here: A few minutes with Molly Huddle

Fourth, I’ve finished work on a long feature article about Khalid Khannouchi, a follow-up to my article earlier this year about his comeback. I’m very proud of it. So much so that I’m trying to find a real publisher for it. But I don’t want to sit on it forever, so if those efforts don’t pan out then it should be posted up here sometime over the next few weeks.

And, finally, my second Running Times article appeared in print this week. It’s toward the back of the Jan/Feb issue and it’s entitled “The Racer’s Wish List.” The genesis of the article was a survey I did of race participants, which I then shared with one elite runner, one race management company owner, and four directors of races of varying sizes. I’ll put up a link to the online version when that appears in a month or so.

Noteworthy Blogs: Well, I’m TRYING to run…

The sometime commenter (and author of my highlighted quote over to the left), Cris/Darkwave, has started a blog. For now, it’s chronicling her journey as an injured runner. Seriously injured. Meaning no running at all. She’s an even more impressive pool runner than I, clocking runs of up to three hours in the pool.

I’ve come to know Cris virtually over the past year+ through a weekly training thread on LetsRun.com. I’ve never met her in person, but I hope to one day. Her blog offers her trademark intelligence, good humor and athletic determination. It’s also chock full of tips and observations on being an injured runner who’s relegated to running in water for the time being.

Check it out here: Well, I’m TRYING to run…

Running Times: Tamara Karrh profile is up!

My profile of Houston Hopeful Tamara Karrh is up on the Running Times website.

This is old news (especially since Tamara already ran the Twin Cities race the article mentions anticipatorily*). But what the hell. I thought it was worth posting for anyone who doesn’t get the print edition.

Running Times > Tamara Karrh Training for the Trials

___________________________________________________________

*You like that? That right there is a thirty dollar word.

NYC Marathon 2010: Faces at the Finish

Teodoro Chavez (photo by Stacey Cramp)

I’ll do a writeup on how I spent the earlier part of Marathon Day in New York. But for now, here’s a link to what I did with my afternoon and evening. I spent about two hours with photographer Stacey Cramp, interviewing runners along one of the arteries leading them off of Park Drive and out onto Central Park West.

Almost everyone was willing to spend a minute or two talking with me; just one person was too exhausted, and two others begged off only because they didn’t think their English was going to be good enough.

Stacey’s photos capture how spiritually elated, and how physically humbled, a runner can feel right after completing a marathon. I am grateful for these runners’ generosity and patience yesterday. I hope you get as much inspiration and enjoyment out of meeting them as I did.

Here’s the slideshow: NYC Marathon 2010 Faces at the Finish

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