Thursday, January 27, 2011

Saturday (1/29) Run Course Description

Everyone is logging an easy 6 miles for Saturday's recovery run. Here's a link to the course map-

Saturday's Course Map.

This course is new to us, but the terrain we're covering should be familiar to you. We will do a short warmup jog from Presidio Sport/Medicine located at 1162 Gorgas Ave #B to Crissy Field Center at the intersection of Mason/Halleck where we'll stop and do our range of motion routine.

Once we're done with our warmup, we will cross the pedestrian crosswalk and turn LEFT on Mason and head in the direction of SportsBasement. Follow Mason for 3/4 of a mile and Mason will eventually turn into a fire road and head towards the Warming Hut.

Run past the Warming Hut (there are bathrooms and water fountains here) and continue running all the way to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge/Hopper's Hands. Turn around here and back towards the Warming Hut.

Continue past the Warming Hut and follow the dirt path as it veers LEFT along the Marina Promenade. Continue running along this path until you reach the parking lot for the volleyball courts.

Cut through the parking lot and head through the volleyball court area back onto the Marina. Follow the Marina to the monkey bars and continue running. You will crest our favorite hill (Fort Mason Hill) and turn around just before the hill starts to head down towards Aquatic Park.

Turn around and head all the way back to Crissy Field Center (where we started) @ the intersection of Mason/Halleck. You will have logged 6 MILES!

Walk up to Presidio Sport+Medicine from Crissy Field Center afterward for the Alter G clinic!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spring 13.1 2014 FAQs

-Do you have any pace groups?

No. BUT, our groups always attract 100+ runners and 'organic' pace groups just naturally form during the course of the season. Something to keep in mind is that your pace will naturally increase over the course of the season. So, you may start out running 10:00/mile and towards the latter stages of training, a more comfortable pace for you might be 9:30/mile.

-What are we doing for the first workout on Saturday, 2/22?

We are doing an EASY 2 MILE RUN (unless you are a 'Race' level runner). You can walk at certain points if you need to, but ideally we'd LOVE for you to cover the entire distance.

-YIKES! 2 Miles sounds like a LOT of running!

We don't expect you to set any landspeed records. Run the 2 miles as slow as you need to. You can take walk breaks if you like. Everyone from our previous program has completed two miles with no problems!

-How do I know which level to train at? The schedule indicates Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Race level. I'm not sure which level makes sense for me.

Great question. If you have never done any kind of substantive running OR you have been away from running for a LONG time OR you are coming back from an injury it's likely you would be a good candidate for the 'Beginner' level training.

If you are relatively active and run periodically and have perhaps completed a 5K or 10K here or there, 'Intermediate' may make the most sense for you.

If you already run 3-5 times/week and have been for some time, 'Advanced' may be a solid training level for you. 'Race' level is for folks who are ALREADY in the kind of shape to run 13.1 miles and are purely interested in becoming FASTER.

Let me emphasize that there are no hard/fast rules and feel free to toggle between the various training levels. Maybe you can only handle 'Beginner' level training the first month, but need something a bit more challenging later on. NO PROBLEM! Try tackling the 'Intermediate' or 'Advanced' level training.

Your body will let you know when you are ready for something more demanding or if you need to dial things back.

-Where do we meet for runs?

Here's a detailed breakdown of when/where we meet:

On Tuesdays you have '3' workout locations to choose from (Marina/Presidio, Downtown, and Golden Gate Park):

-Tuesday nights @ 6:30PM across from SF Crossfit and Presidio Sport & Medicine (1162B Gorgas Ave).This is our PRIMARY location on Tuesdays and will be led by me.

-Tuesday nights @ 6:30PM launching from outside PSOAS+Massage/Bodywork (333 3rd Street, Suite 205). These runs will be led by USATF/RRCA certified coach Micah Dickerson. This option is designed to accommodate those working downtown and/or in the Financial District. This is a 'satellite' run, so there likely won't be as many runners as in the Marina in the evening on Tuesdays.

-Tuesday nights @ 6:30PM launching from the baseball fields in Golden Gate Park behind Lincoln/7th 

If you walk on 7th past Lincoln and into Golden Gate Park, you will see a small set of stairs. Walk down these stairs into the grassy area behind the baseball field and you are there. Here is a link for your reference-

Golden Gate Park Rendezvous Point

Thursday workouts are ALWAYS in the Marina/Presidio @ 6:30PM. You have '2' workout options on Thursday nights-

Accelerate bootcamp. For Beginner/Intermediate runners, I would suggest 'Accelerate'. Led by Coach Gaby, this program is geared towards core strengthening/stability. Expect lunges, squats, and a plethora of other great exercises designed to strengthen, stabilize, and stave off running related aggravations/injuries.

Thursday Night Speed. For Advanced/Race level runners, you'll be working with me. We will do a variety of workouts throughout the season designed to increase speed. Expect fartlek, tempo, target pacing, and more!

FYI, you can toggle back and forth between the two aforementioned options depending on how you're feeling.

Saturday long runs are at various locations in San Francisco @ 9:30AM.

We will mix up our run location periodically and venture out to Golden Gate Park, Lake Merced, and/or Ocean Beach.


-Do I need to sign up for the Sasquatch Scramble (5K/10K/Half), the Golden Gate Relay, or the Western Pacific Half Marathon?

If you plan on participating in these events the answer is YES! You have signed up for TRAINING. The actual half marathons are SEPARATE/DISTINCT events. Here are links to all events-

The Sasquatch Scramble (4/26)
The Western Pacific Half Marathon (5/3)
The Golden Gate Relay (5/3 & 5/4)

-What should I do between now and program launch?

You could head over to A Runner's Mind (3575 Sacramento St) and get fitted for a new pair of shoes, get a digital watch, a few pairs of good running socks, reflective gear (for our MANY runs taking place at night), a headlight (again, for night running), and/or some running shorts/shirts! Make sure to show up ready to run on Saturday, 2/22!

-What should I do to be safe running in the dark?

Great question. Running in the dark can actually be quite exhilarating, BUT given that your visibility is compromised AND the visibility of other runners, cyclists, pedestrians, and DRIVERS is compromised it is CRITICAL that you be hyper-vigilant, tuned in, and aware of your surroundings while you are out.

Pay attention to what's in front of you, what's behind you, and be proactive. Additionally, it would be VERY wise to invest in a reflective shirt, vest or jacket as well as a safety light and or headlight to help illuminate the path in front of you.

LASTLY, I would STRONGLY discourage you from wearing an Ipod or other MP3 player during runs taking place in the dark! I know this may be tough for some of you, but think about it. Your vision is already compromised. By listening to music, you are compromising your hearing as well. It's up to you ultimately, but generally it's probably not the best idea.

-What if it's raining!? Will we still run?

YES. We may encounter inclement weather on race day and I can pretty much promise you the race will NOT be canceled! So, it's actually a good thing to train during inclement weather as you will be prepared should you encounter it on race day and your friends will think you are REALLY tough! :)

Obviously, if there are 'monsoon' like conditions where this a torrential downpour and 50MPH winds, we will likely err on the side of caution and cancel a run. But, this almost never happens.

-Additional Questions/Concerns?


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I run because I feel the need for speed..

I recently characterized walking as 'pedestrian'. Truly, walking and running are different species. You incur 3-10 times your body weight in impact force when you run. The energy systems you use when you walk versus when you run are generally different.

But, there are different species of running as well. There is running and then there is 'running fast'. Many individual clients engage me because they want to 'get faster'. Most of the time they aren't getting faster for the simple fact that they aren't 'running faster'.

Chances are, they've been doing the same thing over and over again which is often just going out and logging the miles. There's nothing wrong with this. But, just as walking is markedly different (and yet very similar) to running, running FAST is markedly different from simply 'running'.

Fundamentally, running fast simply HURTS. I came face to face with this uncomfortable fact during my first cross country race. I had spent several weeks prior to the race attempting to become a runner by going out with the cross country team and simply hanging on for dear life while we logged anywhere from 3-6 miles.

Our first race arrived and I had no idea what kind of pain was waiting for me. I went out hard, but nowhere near the front of the pack. Within the first mile or so of the race I was wondering if I was about to pass out or throw up....perhaps both in no particular order.

Speed hurts because you're taxing all the systems you use logging miles at a comfortable, conversational pace at a much higher level. You're leveraging more muscle groups and a greater range of motion. Your lungs labor to supply the oxygen you need to keep moving.

It took one race for me to become acquainted with the beast known as 'running fast'. I have yet to tame this beast. But, I have learned how to work with it, direct it, embrace it, and use it to my advantage on occasion.

Speed feels dangerous and it is. Speed begets speed. Speed kills. It can kill you or kill those trying to pass you. In an ideal world, you're looking at the latter. Once I realized the utility and thrill of running fast, I got over the pain and embraced hauling ass.

To clarify, I'm not the kind of guy who generally throws caution to the wind. I don't log any miles on a bike because the possibility of wiping out at 30+ miles per hour is too frightening of a prospect for me. Redlining behind the wheel of a car, motorcycle, plane, or even a bike poses the risk of serious injury or death.

If I redline while out on the road and take a tumble, I'll get a bit nicked up, but it's likely I'll simply get back up a bit bloodied and keep going.

So, I'm cool with a point. I run because there is nothing quite like listening to 'Welcome to the Jungle' and redlining a few miles out on the road. I run because I feel the need for speed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I run because the night..

I never really thought much about what time of day I ran when I first got turned on to the sport. Morning, noon, or night, the act never really felt markedly different. It was late into my first season of track when I would discover I was a different runner at night.

I was 'tripling' in our first night meet of the season. It was our conference championship and my coach was looking to pull down as many points as possible. I toed the line to lead off the 4X800 relay. I truly hated 800 meters.

800 meters was just pure, unadulterated pain every step of the way. I could handle dull, aching pain all day long, but sharp, intense pain induced by a distance like 800 meters was never my forte. The night was slowing creeping in as the gun fired.

My only goal for two laps was to simply put my team in striking distance of a victory. I wasn't paying any attention to time as I flew through the first lap and found myself in the hunt. 600 meters in and I hadn't lost any ground. Myself and the guy who shadowed my every move surged towards the hand off not giving an inch.

We finished in a veritable dead heat as we handed off to the second leg. I managed a 6 second personal best for 800 meters. I was more than pleased with my personal best, but didn't think much of it as I had the mile looming in front of me for my next event.

Once again, the mile was not a distance I embraced, but the pain was at least marginally less pronounced than what one typically encountered in the 800 meters. The moon was high in the sky as I approached the start.

There was no formal strategy in my mind as we took off. I merely wanted to hang around near the front of the pack and hopefully pick off a few guys who went out too fast in the first lap.

The bell lap arrived and I made my only move of the race and went after third position in an attempt to score some points for the team. I managed to pull down third and break five minutes for the first time. Two races and I had managed two personal bests.

The stars appeared to be aligning both literally and figuratively. Rather than feeling fatigued, I was enervated as I geared up for my final event of the evening, two miles.

Of all the distances I tried that season two miles was the one I felt most comfortable with and tonight seemed to be my night. For the first time in my brief running career, I found myself thinking I could win this race.

I once more positioned myself in the lead pack as the race started and simply hung out for a mile waiting to make a move when the moment presented itself. I would wait another couple laps before the moment arrived. I surged to the front of the pack with just under 200 meters to go.

One of my teammates gave chase and we battled to the finish line neither of us giving an inch. While the previous two races bolstered my confidence, they had saturated my legs with lactic acid and I simply couldn't find an extra gear. I took a close second, but the night had been a victory.

Night became my friend. I didn't know what it was about running at night that turned me on and made me fearless, but I embraced it....and ran with it. With the end of the track season came a hot and humid summer which made running at night the only real viable option as I had no interest in getting up early to circumnavigate the sun. I savored every night mile I logged that summer.

For me, the night has always held an air of magic. The darker the night, the better. Vague fear of the unknown creeps into the margins of your consciousness when you're out on the road at night.

These vague fears undoubtedly trigger a surge of adrenaline which makes running faster easier. Perhaps the inability to clearly see where you're going makes running easier and less daunting as well.

Years later, I stumbled onto a study that indicated the fastest race performances tended to be correlated with races taking place later in the day. Your body temperature tends to be higher later in the day and athletes tend to perform better when their temperature is higher (within reason). Another study suggested your lungs work best at this time as well.

Whatever the reasons, the night has always been a welcome companion for my running. I run because the night.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tuesday (9/25) Running Route Description

On Tuesday, you will be logging between 4-7 miles depending upon your training level. The link below should give you a relatively clear sense of where we're going. I've also included a verbal description beneath it:



In short, we will head NORTH from the Marina Green Monkey Bars on along Marina Boulevard for roughly 1/2 mile until we reach the grassy, volleyball court area on the right. Take a right and cut through the volleyball court area and run through the parking lot behind it. Turn LEFT onto the Marina Promenade which is a fire road/dirt trail.

Continue running on this path for roughly a mile. Eventually, this path will veer to the right towards the Warming Hut. Continue running towards the Warming Hut. For the uninitiated, the Warming Hut is A BIG WHITE BUILDING WITH TABLES AND BENCHES IN FRONT OF IT. Hopefully, it will be hard to miss). The Warming Hut is 2 MILES!ill be hard to miss). The Warming Hut is 2 MILES! ALL LEVELS will turn around and head back to the monkey bars for 4 MILES. Beginners will be done upon returning to the monkey bars.

ALL OTHER RUNNERS will continue running SOUTH along the paved path past the Marina Safeway and UP Fort Mason Hill. Just as the hill is about to head down into Aquatic Park, Intermediate runners will turn around and head back to the monkey bars for 5 MILES!

Advanced and Race level runners will run down the hill into Aquatic Park. Run along the sidewalk adjacent to the waterfront. Advanced level runners will turn around at the end of Aquatic Park/Edge of Fisherman’s Wharf. Return to the monkey bars for 6 MILES!

Race level runners will continue into Fisherman’s Wharf to the intersection of Jefferson and Powell. Look for the Gap store on your right. Turn around here and head back to the monkey bars for 7 MILES!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I run because Pre Lives..

I can't recall exactly when I first heard about Steve Prefontaine. While I ran in high school, I wouldn't say I was a 'student of the sport' back then and wasn't terribly familiar with the history of running.

I think it was during the beginning of my 'running renaissance' after college when I first became aware of Steve Prefontaine in any substantive way. I recognized in short order that I had stumbled onto a kindred spirit.

For the uninitiated, Steve Prefontaine was a dominant force during his time. He was an exceptionally talented runner who owned (at one point in time) every American record from 2,000 to 10,000 meters. Pre almost won the gold medal at the Olympics in 1972 for 5,000 meters and was favored to win it in 1976. Sadly, Prefontaine died in a car accident before he had a crack at winning gold.

But, Pre was more than an exceptionally talented runner. He was a bit of an iconoclast. He was a bit of a maverick. He was brash, confident, honest, and outspoken. He took on the AAU in his heyday and made a few enemies along the way. Some would characterize him as cocky or arrogant.

Basketball has Michael Jordan. Golf has Tiger Woods. Cycling has Lance Armstrong. Running has (had) Steve Prefontaine. Pre was the perfect storm of incredible, dominating talent and an iconic personality. While everyone may not have loved Pre, you had to respect him.

Arguably, there has never been a runner in the U.S. like Pre since his passing. Certainly from a pure talent standpoint no one has been as dominant in the sport since. But, perhaps as importantly, no one with the magnetic personality of a Prefontaine exists in the running community.

I have been enamored with Pre since reading his 'short' biography several years ago. Nike released a 'Pre Lives' apparel line several years ago and I promptly bought every hat, shirt, jacket, and pair of shoes associated with this Prefontaine inspired line.

What little talent I have as a runner is dwarfed by the talent possessed by Pre, but at least I can dress the part. I have no illusions (anymore) of going to the Olympics (or the Trials), but I still like to think there's a little bit of Pre in me.

I am a bit of a maverick. I always have been. One of the few bosses I got along with told me once, 'you like to have something to push against.' He was right. I always have been a bit too candid for my own good. I'm a bit brash at times and am rarely short on words.

I also race the way I think Pre did (sans the bold frontrunning). I roll the dice and put it all on the line. Win or lose, there's never a question about how much is left in the tank at the end of the day. So, I guess it's fair to say that I run because Pre Lives.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I run because there are no excuses...

In a previous posting I talked about extending Steve Prefontaine's idea of 'giving anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift' beyond simply giving your all in a race. Extending this idea to include the notion that to NOT run (period) when one CAN is sacrificing the gift has always made a lot of sense to me for a variety of reasons.

I firmly believe that almost everyone 'can' run in some way, shape, or form if they really want to. I would never claim that ANYONE can run a marathon....or should for that matter. But, given that I spend most of my waking hours encouraging people to BELIEVE they in fact CAN run, it's no surprise that I believe most truly can.

If a mile a day a few times is all you can reasonably support, no problem. But, I think far too many people simply jettison the idea of doing any kind of substantive running for a variety of reasons that generally don't hold much water such as...

-It hurts.

OK, this is valid. Running 'can' indeed hurt. It's one of the most taxing things you can ask your body to do as evidenced by the fact that running is often touted as one of the most economical/efficient ways to burn calories and lose weight.

Given the taxing nature of the act, it's not surprising that someone unfamiliar with the sport would simply view it as too uncomfortable and hang up the shoes. But, just as with any other activity, it takes some patience and TIME before your body becomes acclimated to the act of running and engaging in it becomes a bit more 'comfortable'. Running is a sport that rewards the patient.

I imagine most things you are proficient at now you were not so proficient at when you first started. Chances are it was continued study, practice, and application that enabled you to become more proficient. Running is no different, ultimately. It just tends to be a bit more uncomfortable to 'become' proficient at than many other activities.

-Running causes injuries.

Once again, this is valid to a certain degree. Running 'can' cause injuries, serious ones sometimes. But, most running related aggravations or injuries are NOT that severe and can be addressed by making some changes to your training, icing, stretching, doing self-massage, etc.

Shin splints, knee discomfort, tight calves, and tight IT band(s) are often seen with people who are new to the sport. Lack of knowledge, experience, and proper conditioning can lead to the aforementioned. That being said, none of the aforementioned is a death sentence! All of it can be overcome with....once again...some patience (and some diligent treatment).

Even the more severe injuries such as stress fractures, achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis can usually be overcome. There may not be a quick fix associated with the aforementioned, but once again...patience and perseverance can go a long way.

-I'm not built to do it.

For starters, we were born with the ability to do it. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that we were persistence hunters at some point in the not too distant past. Forced to track our prey for hours, days, and miles, we were natural runners. Albeit, we certainly were not the fastest as no one can run terribly fast for hours, days, and miles. To not run in some respects is like a bird choosing to not fly.

Granted, we come in all different shapes and sizes. Someone who is 6'5 and 250 pounds will have a different experience running 10 miles than someone who is 5'2 and 115 pounds. I'm not a gambling man, but if I had to choose one who was more likely to incur an aggravation, I'd go with the former just because of the impact associated with a 250 pound person's foot hitting the pavement on a regular basis.

However, I could be completely wrong. Maybe the person who is 5'2 has TERRIBLE biomechanics and is wearing the wrong shoes despite the fact that their body might be better 'designed' for the act of running. Maybe the 6'5 runner runs like a gazelle and has bones like steel. But, I fundamentally believe we were all born to run. It's just a question of how much, how far, how fast, and how intense.

Just watch an episode of 'The Biggest Loser'. If someone who has never run in their life and weighs in excess of 300 pounds can get into the kind of shape to run a marathon, what excuse do the rest of us have for not running a few miles every once in awhile?

Really, what are the legitimate excuses not to run? I would say if you're handicapped and/or bedridden or otherwise have been advised by a physician specifically NOT to run, that's completely valid.

But, of all the people out there who choose not to run, how many of them genuinely fall into the aforementioned category? I'd venture to say not too many of them. So, I run because there really are no legitimate excuses not to.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

I run because youth is wasted on the young..

I have very fond memories of a handful of summers I spent growing up in Kansas. I lived in a pretty idyllic, self-contained community called Lake Quivira. Lake Quivira was really more of a glorified pond as it was roughly four and a half miles around. I know this because I used to run around the circumference of it many times years later.

It was a veritable paradise (sans the stifling heat/humidity) for any kid who was remotely inclined towards being outdoors. I could easily hop on my bike and pedal for 15 minutes and join my friends at the beach.

Later in the day, I could ride across the street and knock tennis balls back and forth. As afternoon evolved into early evening, I'd likely end up at my friend RT's place a few hours later for quality time on his trampoline.

I'd usually have to be home by 5:30 or 6 for dinner, but the day was usually mine and there was no real plan or structure to any of it. There were no defined goals associated with anything I was doing. Truly, the day revolved around unstructured play.

Looking back now, I have many regrets about these summers. I regret that I didn't appreciate it more. I regret that I didn't have one more summer like this....or just one more day like this.

My life now is so frequently structured and controlled. Appointments, meetings, obligations, commitments, etc. are what effectively rule my life. In theory, I could go on sabbatical and maybe recreate a summer like what I had as a child.

But, as much as I'd like to indulge the inner child in this way, I don't know if I could jump on a trampoline the way I used to. I suspect I wouldn't handle getting double bounced quite as adeptly as I did at age 13. Regrettably, RT passed away several years ago so even spending time with him isn't really an option.

Remarkably, despite the fact that it's been 20+ years, I don't really feel that much older. Sometimes I do...usually after a solid day or two of the aforementioned commitments and obligations. But, what keeps me young at heart is that window of time every day when I can run.

While admittedly there usually is a restriction on how far I can go most days now, every once in awhile an opportunity to go wherever I want presents itself and it's in these moments that I'm reminded that the kid is still alive and perhaps it's these very moments that keep me young.

Recent research has indicated that running does in fact slow the aging process. I can't reclaim my youth, but I can certainly forestall the onset of aging and every mile provides an opportunity to indulge said youth. I run because youth is wasted on the young.

Saturday (1/7) Route Description

Saturday’s run will be launching from 333 3rd Street between Folsom/Harrison. PSOAS Massage + Bodywork will be extending all of us 20% off all massage/bodywork!

We will launch our run from outside 333 3rd Street between Folsom/Harrison. Here is a map link to our course:

Saturday’s Course Map

Here is a brief description of the course:

We will cross Folsom from 3rd Street onto the sidewalk and take a right. We will run along Folsom all the way to the Embarcadero. We will cross the street and take a left onto the Embarcadero.

Run along the Embarcadero past the Ferry Building. Beginner runners will run to the intersection of Embarcadero/Green. Look for the street sign for ‘GREEN’. This is a hair over 1.5 miles. Turn around and head back to PSOAS for 3 MILES!

Everyone else will continue running along the Embarcadero. Intermediate runners will run to the intersection of Embarcadero/Bay. Look for the Houston's Restaurant on the LEFT side of the Embarcadero. This is 2 miles Turn around and head back to PSOAS for 4 MILES!

Advanced and Race level runners will continue running along the Embarcadero until it turns into ‘Jeffererson’. Run along Jefferson to the intersection of Jefferson/Powell. Look for the Gap Store on the left. This is 2.5 miles. Advanced level runners will turn around here and head back to PSOAS for 5 MILES!

Race level runners will running through Fisherman’s Wharf through Aquatic Park and up Fort Mason Hill. Once you crest Fort Mason Hill, you’ve logged 3.5 miles. Turn around and head back to PSOAS for 7 MILES!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I run because it hurts....

I run because it hurts. I recognize this is an odd (and perhaps disturbing) statement. Running can generate 3-10 times your bodyweight in impact force per footstrike. Rest assured, I am not a fan of senseless self-flagellation.

The pain I'm talking about is not the pain associated with hitting the road for miles. It's not the pain associated with hitting the wall hard as you hover near the brink of what your body can reasonably support. I'm talking about a totally different kind of pain.

I am actually talking about pain that is completely distinct from the 'physical' pain associated with the act of running. I'm talking about mental and/or emotional pain. To quote R.E.M., 'everybody hurts.....sometimes'. While I really do hate the song, the simple (yet profound) message of this song resonates.

Everybody hurts sometimes. I could hit the bottle (and I have). I could act rashly (and I have). But, before I act impulsively, I seek the solace of the road. If anger is the driving force behind the hurt, a tempo run or a lung searing track workout can sap excess adrenaline unlike anything else. Catharsis is running myself into the ground.

But, what about sadness and disappointment? Running has you covered there too. Certainly, there's nothing wrong with shedding a few tears and pretty much everyone needs to now and then. But, taking the sharp edge off searing sadness can be done quite easily with just a few miles.

All too often we're told to be optimists, to think positively, and to always expect the best. I don't argue this approach and it's one that I generally agree with, but I'd be a fool (and a liar) if I didn't acknowledge the dark side.

Life is full of sadness, disappointments, pain, and anger. It's as much a part of life as sunshine, rainbows, and love. The possibility of the latter is often what makes the former vaguely palatable when we're neck deep in hurt.

Such is the case with running as well on a micro and a macro level. Individual runs are full of peaks and valleys. The first mile or so may feel ugly only to turn transcendent a few strides later. Certain runs may be just plain awful, but the following day all is well. Yes, running is once again like life.

Running isn't the answer for handling pain in life. But, just as in life sometimes the best (and only) thing you can do is strap on your shoes and just keep moving forward.

Monday, January 03, 2011

I run because the runner's high never gets old.

One of my biggest regrets is that running did not come into my life earlier. This is not to say I was markedly unhappy during those years when I didn't do much running. As a kid, I spent countless hours swimming, playing soccer, and engaging in numerous other activities.

But, I was a pretty high strung kid. My brother used to joke that I was going to have a heart attack by the time I was twenty one. Fortunately, despite his MD he was wrong about this one. He was right that I was wound tightly and I needed something to help me decompress.

I don't know how much awareness I really had of just how tightly wound I was until running discovered me. It's hard to believe it was little more than whim that got me into the sport. Well, it was a bit more than that. I had the (mis)fortune of playing soccer for a markedly bad coach who simply turned me off to the sport that had been close to my heart for most of my life.

The following fall, I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't want to play soccer (at least not for the coach in question), but there weren't a ton of other options. Football wasn't an attractive option at the time- A)I'd never played the sport in any substantive way. B)I wasn't the biggest kid on the block.

At my school, this left one other option....cross country. I had a few friends who did cross country and generally seemed happy. In lieu of nothing, I signed up with zero expectations. I figured I'd pick it up as I was generally athletic and do ok. I had no idea how this casual decision would impact the rest of my life.

The first couple weeks were brutal as despite my general athleticism, I was no runner. My body needed some time (and consistent training) to develop any kind of aptitude for the sport. So, I largely suffered for two weeks in the stiflingly humid heat of Kansas in August.

I survived this gauntlet and discovered something amazing. I seriously DUG this running thing and consequently, I was pretty good at it! I wouldn't claim I 'always' dug it as our speed workouts and the races hurt unlike just about anything I'd ever experienced.

But, the runs that were done at comfortable, conversational pace uncovered something I had never felt before...peace. I felt a peace and tranquility that I had never experienced before..EVER. I had no idea what it was, but it was simply awesome.

I found myself running without exerting any kind of effort. I wasn't running anymore, I was flying or at least doing the closest thing to flying a homo sapien can muster. What I found equally remarkable was the 'quietness' of my mind.

The fears, doubts, anxieties, worries, questions, and constant cycling of my mind had effectively been silenced and I LOVED it. I felt calm, I felt confident, I felt in control.

Upon completing these runs, I felt cleansed physically and mentally. I felt ready for whatever was ahead of me. Whatever was troubling me prior to the run seemed a heck of a lot easier to deal with or manage.

For the uninitiated, what I am describing is the 'runner's high' and it's for real. Yes, my name is Matt and I'm an addict. But, as far as 'highs' go, The runner's high is as good as it gets.

You'll never get pulled over for driving under the influence of running. You'll never forget about how much fun you had during your most recent run.

I run because the runner's high simply never gets old.

Tuesday (7/5/2011) Running Route Description

On Tuesday, you will be logging between 4-7 miles depending upon your training level. The link below should give you a relatively clear sense of where we're going. I've also included a verbal description beneath it:



We will head north along the Marina to the intersection of Mason/Halleck. This is right next to Crissy Field Center and is 1 mile into our run. Everyone will follow the pedestrian crosswalk and turn LEFT onto Halleck.You will be running uphill for about a block until you reach a controlled intersection with a stop sign. This is the intersection of Halleck/Lincoln.

Take a quick LEFT across the pedestrian crosswalk and then an IMMEDIATE RIGHT across the pedestrian crosswalk onto FUNSTON AVENUE

Continue running up Funston. You should see the Presidio YMCA on your left as you head up Funston. Continue up Funston for a few more blocks until you reach the intersection of Funston/Moraga.

Take a right on Moraga and take another RIGHT on Mesa Street. Follow Mesa back towards Halleck. (Mesa Street runs PARALLEL to Funston Ave.). You will follow Mesa until it runs into Lincoln. Head back down Halleck and head back to the monkey bars.

Once you reach the monkey bars you will have logged 3 MILES! Continue towards the Marina Safeway on the paved path and head up our favorite hill. Crest the hill and continue a bit further to the point where the hill starts to head DOWN. Beginner runners turn around here and head back to the monkey bars for 4 MILES!

Intermediate, Advanced and Race level runners head down the hill and into Aquatic Park. Intermediate runners will run to the end of Aquatic Park (there is a big cul-de-sac at the end of Aquatic Park). Turn around here and head back to the monkey bars for 5 MILES!

Advanced and Race level runners will run into Fisherman's Wharf to the intersection of Jefferson/Powell. Look for the Gap store on the right. Advanced runners will turn around here and head back to the monkey bars for 6 MILES!

Race level runners will continue running onto the Embarcadero to the intersection of Embarcadero/Bay. Hillstone restaurant is across the street from this intersection. Turn around here and head back to the monkey bars for a total of 7 MILES!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

I run because there are a limited number of miles left..

It's a well worn cliche that you often don't appreciate what you have until it is gone. Sometimes it's important (albeit painful) to be reminded that virtually all you have is ephemeral and transitory at the end of the day. Such is also the case with running.

If you're extraordinarily lucky you will manage to circumnavigate serious aggravations or injuries, but chances are you will find yourself sidelined at one point or another. For those who love the act of running, being deprived of the opportunity to get out and cover a few miles is devastating. Being sidelined always makes you appreciate the fact that running truly is a gift.

One of Steve Prefontaine's most famous quotes is 'to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.' Steve was known for pushing himself to the absolute limit in every race he ran. He ran to win...always. There was never any question of whether or not he gave his best.

Steve's words have always resonated for me, but I think to not run (when you are capable of doing so) is 'sacrificing the gift' as well. Running is ephemeral and transitory. Running has a shelf everything else.

Having seen my own running goals thwarted on several occasions over the years I've come face to face with the reality that the natural aging process may very well deprive me of achieving these goals. I'm an eternal optimist, but I am a realist as well.

Perhaps more importantly I recognize that the aging process will eventually slow me down significantly, restrict how far I can go, and at some point down the road prevent me from running at all.

So, I continue to head out on the road despite inclement weather, despite fatigue, despite discomfort because I run on borrowed time. I have no illusions that running will be there for me tomorrow.