My first New York City Marathon experience was a special one, a reminder that running really can bring out the best of humanity: tens of thousands of runners from different backgrounds coming together to face a common—yet uniquely personal—challenge, crowds generating excitement and offering up encouragement along the way, strangers selflessly helping others get to finish line. This is what our sport is all about.
The 97-year-old lobsterman from Maine is still working—not as much as he used to years ago, but he’s the captain of his ship and manning a couple hundred traps, not because he has to, but because it’s what makes him feel the most alive. I love reading about folks like Olson, who never really embrace the concept of retirement because their life’s work is more than just a job. These stories inspire me as I navigate my own journey through life, work, and where the two intersect. I hope to be coaching at least a few athletes and sharing stories about running as long as I’m alive. Sure, some day I’ll coach quite a few less people than I do now and maybe eventually the newsletter and podcast won’t be a weekly thing (and/or they’ll take on different forms) but I can’t imagine not doing what I do to some degree as long as I’m physically and mentally able. To echo Olson, “I never loafed,” he admits. “Sure I’ve earned it. But hey, I don’t want to.”
Check out the complete morning shakeout issue #202.
Sometime in the past week the morning shakeout podcast surpassed 1 million total downloads. I know it’s just a number, but I’ve never hit a million anything in my life. THANK YOU to everyone who has listened in, offered feedback, and/or shared an episode(s) with others. It truly means a lot to me.
Check out the top ten episodes below in case you missed one or just want to revisit some amazing conversations:
Whether in life or running, change is hard. It’s especially uncomfortable when it breaks from years of tradition (i.e. the Boston Marathon men’s professional field start time this past April). And when it happens, not everyone is going to like it. But sometimes change is necessary, perhaps even overdue…
“You get up and run every morning as the sun is rising because you run to celebrate life. You run because it is a form of prayer. You’re speaking to Mother Earth with your feet. You’re breathing in Father Sky. You’re telling them, you’re asking them for blessings. You’re showing them that you’re willing to work for that prayer, for those blessings.”
After spending the past few months purposefully futzing around without any real structure or focus to my running, it’s time to start turning the dial up again so that I can be as prepared as possible to race well at the New York City Marathon on November 3.
The next 4-6 weeks will be spent getting back to basics and reinforcing the foundation that will support the 10-12 weeks of marathon-focused training I’ll layer on top of it. The main objectives right now are to reestablish a theme of consistency from week to week, reintroduce fundamental training elements such as drills, strides, and short hills back into my program, hone the speed a little bit, get my long run back up to 2 hours, and start doing strength work regularly again. The weekly routine won’t be complicated: two hard sessions spaced a few days apart, a long run that gets a little longer each week, one day in the gym with Nate Helming supplemented by additional exercises on 1-2 other days, and a fair amount of aerobic mileage to fill the gaps in between. The challenge for me, as it has been for the past several years, is moving my own training and racing up a few notches on the priority list and making sure it occupies a productive place in my life. Saying no to exciting opportunities, getting my workouts in around travel and work-related commitments, sleeping enough, and making enough time for the people and pursuits that are important to me are the things I struggle with most when I go into “training-mode.” And although I’ve made a lot of progress in these areas the past couple years, it’s always a tough transition when the dial gets turned a few notches to the right.
Follow along on Strava if you’re interested in watching it all unfold and stay tuned to this space for additional updates along the way. My summer running vacation is officially over and I’m excited to get back to work.
Self-care. In fact, it’s the good kind of grit. Don’t believe me? There’s research to prove it. “The kind of grit that comes with self-sacrifice and self-criticism actually leads to an inability to learn from one’s mistakes and to bounce back from trials,” Emma Seppälä PhD, write for Psychology Today. “It is linked to anxiety and depression and makes us feel beaten down when we mess up. However, there’s another kind of grit and mental toughness that will get you ahead over the long run–not to mention increase your happiness in the process. It’s the kind of grit that is linked to self-compassion.”
Check out the complete morning shakeout issue #191.
“One of the beautiful things about running is that even after you’ve been at it a while—22 years and counting in my case—you can always learn something about yourself. Sometimes these lessons are profound, other times they’re more practical. And every once in a while, they’re a bit of both. Recently I’ve come to realize that as an athlete, I can only keep the proverbial water running at full blast for 8-12 weeks at a time before I need to dial it back for an extended period to refill the tank. And that is exactly where I’m at right now…”
Read the full excerpt from the morning shakeout issue #175.
“If you get into that productivity trap, there’s always going to be more work to do, you know?” the writer and artist Austin Kleon told Eddie Shleyner for verygoodcopy.com. “Like, you can always make more. I think that’s why I’m a time-based worker. I try to go at my work like a banker. I just have hours. I show up to the office and whatever gets done gets done.” This short blog post resonated with me as I’ve been trying really hard the past couple of months to adopt a time-based method of working—i.e. setting specific “office hours” for the various things I need to get done throughout the week rather than mindlessly working on whatever strikes my fancy at a given time—which isn’t so easy when you work for yourself, have a lot of people that you communicate with throughout the day, and could feasibly be working on something at all times. The reality of work, regardless of your field, is that there’s almost always more that you could work on, but that doesn’t mean that you should (or need) to work on it. At the beginning of the week, I block off chunks of time on my calendar for when I’ll be coaching workouts, writing training schedules, working on the newsletter, recording or editing the podcast, doing research, making phone calls, replying to emails, etc. I try to stick to those hours as best I can—and the hours vary depending on the day and the week—and while it wasn’t the easiest adjustment to make, this new way of doing things has kept me more organized, helped me to prioritize what’s important in and outside of work, allowed me to do better work, and, most importantly, kept me sane.
When last week’s newsletter arrived in your inbox, Michael Wardian was only halfway through what ended up being a pending Guinness World Record for running ten marathons in ten consecutive days. He covered 262 miles in 29 hours, 12 minutes, and 46 seconds, or 2:55:17 average, on about 20 total hours of sleep (that last fact alone makes me want to take a nap). Wardian ran the first seven on seven different continents as part of the World Marathon Challenge and completed the last three around a certified 5K loop at Hains Point near his home in Alexandria, Virginia, cheered on by local supporters. He covered the last three marathons in 2:50:00, 2:48:43, and 2:44:33, respectively, closing out the final mile under 6 minutes. Oh, and for shits and giggles, on the 11th day, Wardian did not rest. Why rest when you can race a 5K with your dog in 17:01? I’ll get the answer to this question—and many more—later today when I talk to Iron Mike for next week’s episode of the podcast. Stay tuned.