Coming out of Yale in 2011, Kate Grace was not a favorite to make the 2012 Olympic team. With an 800m personal best of 2:03.41, however, she had shown some promise, securing a sponsorship with the women’s apparel company Oiselle and joining legendary coach Frank Gagliano’s New Jersey-New York Track Club to train with some of the best middle-distance and distance runners in the country. Grace qualified for the 2012 Trials, competing in both the 800m and the 1500m, but did not make the final in either event.
Contrary to the title of this post, I don’t have it all figured out. Sorry, folks. But I’m continually working at it, thanks in part to the help of others who have shared their own strategies for trying to solve the same puzzle.
My goal here is simply to pay it forward. Here are five of my top tips, in no particular order, for getting shit done.
These guys. The one on the left is Knox Robinson, the maestro behind the @firstrun Instagram account and the world’s foremost purveyor of running culture. On the right is Ed Caesar, author of the book Two Hours, reporter for Wired magazine on the Breaking2 project, and a budding competitive runner in his own right. These guys took to the race track in Monza last Saturday after Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2 hour attempt, Knox setting the tempo for Ed as the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Englishman tried to run under 90 minutes in the half marathon for the first time. “Breaking90” as Ed half-jokingly referred to his quest, would mean lopping over 6 minutes off his previous best for the distance, no small task for a large man who only began training in earnest last December. I’ll leave the drama for Ed to share with you in his blow-by-blow account that went live on Wired’s website Monday morning, but 1:30 was not just broken—it was smashed, the clock stopping at 1:26:52, an effort that sent him straight to the ground, exhausted and elated by his effort. “I’ve loved the process,” Ed wrote to me in an email last Sunday. “Yesterday was hard. I was tired. But I knew I could do it.”
+ If you only read one article that I link to this week, make it this one from Gabriele Grunewald, self-described “full-time professional runner, part-time cancer fighter. Or is it full-time cancer fighter and part-time professional runner? The truth is these days, I’m not really sure.” I hope that someday I can be half as tough as this woman. “When I’m in the middle of a workout I’m not thinking about surviving cancer, I’m just trying to survive the workout,” the 30-year-old Grunewald writes. “I still dream about running fast this year and beyond, but the truth is I don’t really know what’s going to happen or how much elite running is realistically in front of me. All I can do right now is approach each day like I approach each rep of a workout: one at a time, doing my best to hang on until the next one.” What a warrior, what an inspiration, what a hero.
I didn’t want to spend a lot of time writing about Nike’s Breaking2 Project this week, but all anyone—myself included—has been talking about of late, it seems, is Nike’s Breaking2 Project (which I think says something, like it or not), so I’d be doing a great disservice here by not spending a fair amount of time on it.
Heading into Mile 10 of Monday’s Boston Marathon I knew I was in trouble. Despite starting with a bottle in hand and dumping water on myself at every available opportunity, I was roasting in the middle of the road. If there was a tailwind, I didn’t feel it. My pace was starting to slow, the 71-degree temperature taking its toll and punishing me for my early aggressiveness. My training told me I had close to 2:30 fitness in my legs but truth be told it wasn’t a 2:30 type of day for me given the warm weather conditions. I knew this when I stepped into the corral of course, and should have been more respectful of that fact, but I went out at 2:30 pace anyway—like an idiot. And I paid for it. Mightily. My A, B and C goals went out the window pretty quickly and I went into straight-up survival mode. I spent the entire last 16 miles of the race figuring out how I was going to make it to the finish line. In racing, as in life, you decide how to play the hand you’re dealt. Everyone was dealt theirs from the same deck yesterday. I didn’t play my cards right and got myself into a hole very early on in the race. My two options were to fold or find a way out of it. I chose the latter. Why? There were a number of reasons: