Running Update: The Trials Of Running 18kph

I did it for one minute.

I set the treadmill to 18kph thinking let’s see if I can get to three minutes and instantly was like let’s just hope for one.

It was an ambitious test, I’m doing my intervals at 16.5kph and it’s the right amount of strenuous. I’ll do six intervals of four minutes on four minutes off at that pace and call it a work out.

At the even faster pace I might do an intervals like 30 seconds on 2 minutes off. The belt on a treadmill takes 20 seconds to get up to speed so I’d have to get it going, stand on the sides, hop on, watch 30 seconds, hop off, slow it down. A tedious process and why I’ve avoided doing really short intervals thus far.

It makes me think that when the weather is runnable again I should do some acceleration work, just practice going from still to race pace at my own tempo rather than the glacial pace of the mill.

In marathon news: it’s 3 weeks away and this weekend will be my last long long run, then the taper begins. I’ll reduce the number of intervals I do and other than that I don’t know what else to do to taper. I’d like to get in a few more saunas and even a massage before the race I know that. And before every previous race I’ve cut caffeine for the week leading up so that it’s nice and effective on race day.

What I’ve read lately is that you want to be doing race-level efforts every three days in the taper. So maybe 10k at 14kph on Wednesdays and weekends is what I’ll do. But I’m just gonna play it by ear, keep doing tabatas on the air bike and use that to check if I’m recovered or not.

Okay, 23 days remaining…


Being A Cafeteria Runner, Self-Programing Vs Following A Program

I’m a cafeteria everything.

In case someone isn’t familiar with the prefix, cafeteria refers to someone who browses a lot of stuff and picks what they like. It should actually be buffet. I first heard it in the term cafeteria christian; someone who seemed to be all denominations or none at their convenience.

And last night I read the advice, it was 6 on a list of 10 I believe, to not be a cafeteria runner. Don’t peruse a bunch of different programs and take the things you like.

Timely since I’d been feeling worried about the run and somewhat envying the security my program-following friends seem to have. Maybe I’d missed something, maybe I’m under or overtraining, blah blah blah…

But confidence does not a good runner make. Deriving confidence from a running plan I think is just so it’s not your fault if the run doesn’t go well. After all, you did everything you were supposed to do, you were just following orders.

I agree that running season is like baking; you control what you put in to – as best you can and with a little hope – control what you get out. You don’t get better muffins by doubling the flour because you feel like it.

Running is a martial art though and who am I to disagree with the great Bruce Lee who told us to be water, to bend and flow, to draw from everywhere and put it all together.

Have one master and you’ll always be their student. Study under all the masters you can and you’ll eventually be a master.

I think the spirit of the Don’t Be A Cafeteria Runner advice is to not reject the things you don’t like, don’t be a totally unstructured, whimsical, pleasure-guided runner. Eat your vegetables, sprint the stairs.


Programing for yourself still means programing, being uncoached means you gotta coach yourself. Look at a bunch of programs and tips and guidance and experiment. Experimentation will lead to diversity and put miles on your legs, even if you hate everything you try in a week you still did a week of running.

And you can back off when you need to with less anxiety. Following a program to the letter can cause you to override injury signals.

Furthermore on that idea I think following one program can take some of the joy out of running because you’re checking off boxes instead of checking in with how you feel.

Maybe though you’re someone who wouldn’t run without the push of a program, maybe you don’t like any of the hard stuff… In which case why are you running? There’s other sports. Experiment with some cross-training and maybe you’ll find something you do love.

In the meantime though all that experimenting with cross training will still be adding to your fitness and the world of running isn’t going to die if you don’t water it, come back when and how you feel like it.

I think there’s a danger in buying one book, running it’s program, hating it, and thinking that you then hate running. No, you just hate that book. Get 5 books, watch tons of youtube, make-up your own intervals, and it all adds up to a love of running.

Testosterone Levels In Female Athletes, The Ruling Comes Down

Caster Semenya will have to suppress her testosterone to keep competing as a sprinter. (CBC Article)

This echoes something I was saying when I wrote about the The Virility Paradox, eventually we may have to organize sport not by gender but by hormone.

It’s not fair to Caster to have to medically dial down her natural athleticism and it’s not fair for others to have to compete against someone who has testosterone levels as high as someone doping testosterone.

But this ethical question then has to be applied to other sports as well. Dean Karnazes, one of the greatest runners in the world for those new to the blog, mentions in his TedTalk that he’s been examined and found that his body clears the by-product of exertion (commonly called lactic acid but is actually hydrogen ions) at an absurdly efficient rate. Or there was a runner mentioned in what I was reading last night, a multiple record holder who simply had the highest max heart rate ever seen. What do we do about them?

Even deeper though we have to ask what is the point of sport? What question are we seeking to answer by having people run arbitrary distances or score meaningless points?

Near as I can tell we’re trying to answer who trained better. That’s why it’s not okay to get a technological or chemical advantage that lessens the work of training. You can hire a coach and that gives you an advantage – their knowledge as opposed to your own – but the training workload still falls on you, we still declare that you earned the victory.

But then really someone who trained badly – ran themselves into the ground with overtraining while you recovered – should actually earn the victory. If it were purely about who worked harder.

Like I’ve said this is a bigger question than I can answer and I could write about it all day without getting to anything so I’ll let it go…

The 61k Run For Water Here In Calgary

I just learned about it the other day and I find it quite alluring. I can’t do it this year but I’m already half-decided to do it next year.

I haven’t even run a marathon yet but I’m eager to bite off an Ultra, and not even a mere 50K. And I think it’s just because of the odd number. I was planning on doing a 50K next year because but I wasn’t excited, I don’t feel enticed to run 50K.

And I don’t feel enticed to run anything super long either. Not currently at least. A friend (the same friend who mentioned he was thinking about running the half marathon last year then didn’t sign up when I did) mentioned there’s 100 mile mountain races in Lethbridge and in The Rockies but I have no desire to run them. I actually don’t have much desire to mountainous running. I mean, Melissa’s Road Race in Banff is a great view of the mountains but the race itself is the asphalt path around a golf course.

Local races A) are really convenient, and B) feel like a celebration of the city. When it comes to nature I’ll hike.

I’ve got a lot to learn about Ultra running before then though. I know nothing of fueling and I’m bad at running slow. I think 61K might be a distance where it’s good to change your socks too.

You know what though I gotta let next year be next year. I’m sure part of this is merely a way to replace nerves about the upcoming race with excitement about something far off. Something I can train for with all the time in the world and imagine being my best self for. Not something 27 days away for which I’m basically as ready as I’m going to be, which feels like 6 out of 10.

Ah well, it’s time to go run right now as a matter of fact.

Videos I Liked This Week

Self-diagnosis hurray. Seriously though I love finding out the connections of the human body and how things manifest in different areas.

Thomas here makes one of the most important points in the field and it’s something me and Jay talk about every time, start incrementally. If you don’t read everyday, don’t think you’re going to suddenly read two hours a day. You’ll do it excitedly once or twice then fall off. Go for 15 minutes.

What I think happens is people look at the early steps of a process and think they could do it so they consider it done and then start actually doing stuff from the middle of the process where it gets challenging. Problem being you’re setting yourself up to go into a challenge unprepared.

An example to clarify: Most running programs start with two miles. Someone looks at that and thinks I can already run two miles so I won’t bother with that one and start at week four where it’s 6 miles. Then they hurt themselves or just quit because it’s hard. It seems dumbly obvious but the most important thing is to make step one step one, don’t make step one figuring out which steps you’re going to skip.


This video is mostly just fun. She does nail that sense at the end of a run that mile markers are getting further apart though and the deepening dislike you feel for a race until you can see the finish line and then the heights of love for it. And that math is hard.


Because I, like everyone, struggle with going slow. It’s nice to get a ballpark heart rate and duration for what constitutes a recovery work out.


And this. Because I made it for fun.




Working Out Should Come From Self-Love Not Self-Loathing

Now I wrote in the past that There Is Room For Negative Self Talk In Fitness and I’ve written a song about how self-hatred is a super power (Soundcloud) so this take is a little out of character for me.

But as hard as I am on myself and as much as I respect the discipline of other people who are hard themselves I think there is a dark side here, some moral problems, that came up as all dark, moral problems do, on Twitter.

A girl was posting before and after photos of her fitness and talking about them. One she said really made her sad still because she had taken the before picture as a way to punish herself when girls at school were bullying her for being fat. It made her cry to write about it then and it’s making me cry a little bit writing about it now.

It’s a photo of a well-dressed, pretty girl who’s kinda chubby. And because I read her tweets I also know that she’s smart and articulate.

And I’m so sad for that girl being so mad at herself because that should be enough. But society is so cruel and so demanding that that wonderful person ends up hating herself and at such a young age when there’s so much of life left that will be coloured by that hatred. It’s some heart-breaking shit.

Then she loses the weight. Her conventional, physical beauty shines through and now she gets into clubs no line, no cover. And that’s the happy ending.

That doesn’t feel morally right to me. That feels like she joined her tormentors and gave into the desires of a cruel and unjust society.

But at the same time, and as she points out, she also got healthy. She didn’t only get hotter by giving society what it wants she also extended her life and protected herself from disease and chronic conditions. That is a happy ending.

I hate myself because other people tell me I should seems awful but if it’s leads someone to loving themselves then can I really judge society so harshly for doing it?

Short answer yes I can don’t be a piece of shit to people.

My transition into fitness came from a sort of self-loathing but it wasn’t externally motivated. My self talk was you’re so unhappy, you feel like shit all the time, nothing makes you happy, what could possibly be worse about taking up running? And I could take some of that self-anger and a bit of that self-punishment and turn it into speed.

And once I got to distances and speeds that impressed me and also impressed others it was a bit easier to like myself sometimes.

At the same time though my body became more appealing to me (weird thing to say but you know what I mean) and to others and I’ve seen the dark side, the fear of becoming ugly again, the shame of simply bloating after a meal, and all that. And, worse I feel, the awareness of other people’s bodies as well.

I think the curse of knowledge in this case is best illustrated by height. I never thought about it before a girl I was wildly infatuated with summed up the reason we couldn’t date, even though we had amazing rapport, with not tall enough.

I, with all my supposed love-worthy qualities felt passed over like one passes over fruit in the supermarket. She threw away all the value of my life as casually as one agrees to a side of fries.

Evidently I’m hungry, two food metaphors.

Then I hated everyone taller than me. And shockingly they were everywhere, most of my friends were taller than me and I’d never noticed.

And the same thing happens with fitness. Once you care about your own you automatically see the haves and have-nots of others. I think it’s what makes cruel people cruel, they’re either so worried about their own short comings they revel in going for the kill on the short comings of others, or they’ve had it so easy that any short coming of another must be a choice and it’s deemed okay to be shitty about the choices of others and use shame as a corrective tool.

I know. I’m a drunk and I’m really intelligent. I’ve been on both sides of pointlessly attempting to use shame as corrective tool.

To try and pull this to a good feeling ending I’ll go a bit deeper on that and say that being a drunk has made me a more empathetic person all around and I think it effects why I’m not shitty about the fitness and body-types of others.

Being an alcoholic really, really sucks. Like, dozens of reallys and people don’t understand or acknowledge it. Someone said once about the idea that being gay is choice that no one would choose it then, no one would choose to get disowned, beat up, judged, condemned, excluded, etc just for the fun of being gay. And I feel similar about being an alcoholic, if quitting drinking were as simple as quitting drinking then everyone would fucking do it and there wouldn’t be any alcoholics.

No one’s making the informed conscious decision to lose their friends and family and all their money and look like shit all the time and end homeless for the fun of drinking oneself to death.

And it’s much the same with depression and self-hatred. You don’t choose to have it but you do have to choose what to do about it.

For the sake of getting in another reference to my songwriting, it’s why I wrote a song called As Sad As You Need, which is a much poppier song. Being depressed gave me the insight into the paradox of loving someone with a problem and that includes loving yourself. You have to accept them and want them to get better, that should be contradictory, so you have to say you get better for you, when and how you want to. When it’s you vs yourself or you vs society.

Whether the obese or addicted, the depressed or the anxious, we have to love them and ourselves enough to give them the space and time to get better.

In much

My Literary Interest In The Appalachian Trail

We go to the bookstore every other week at least. It’s supposed to be once a month for budgetary reasons but it’s just our favourite place to be so sometimes it’s weekends in a row.

And at our beloved Westhills Indigo there’s a dedicated running section. There’s also running and work out books in Wellness (Between Sex and Diet across from Medical Memoirs) but in Sports, three knee-level shelves labeled Running.

This is how I started reading about the Appalachian Trail. I found two books boasting on the cover about setting the trail record, Jenn Pharr Davis in 2011 and Scott Jurek in 2015. They both had endorsements from people I admire as well, Christopher McDougal and Dean Karnazes respectively. So I bought both to read in chronological order.

Turned out Jenn wrote her book after Scott had taken her record and after Karl Meltzer had taken Scott’s. Meanwhile Scott also ends his book with Meltzer taking the record.

And to be succinct: I like Jenn’s book and I love Scott’s (I should say Scott and Jenny’s because his wife co-wrote it detailing her experience heading the support crew and that’s a big part of what makes the book truly great) and I love them together as companion pieces. Davis gives more history and introduces key figures while Jurek gives a much better in-the-moment narrative.

So after passing it a million times on Netflix I felt I really had a reason now to watch Made To Be Broken, a movie about Karl Meltzer’s record setting run on the AT.

And I’m not super glad I did. I mean, I’m glad I did so that I’m not curious but it’s meh. It’s 41 minutes long meaning every day is summarized in less than a minute and it feels like there’s nothing there. It’s cut like a trailer for a better movie.

I was more aware of it than an average viewer because it’s mentioned in both books that Karl is sponsored by Redbull so I saw the beverages and the logo and the fact that his dozens and dozens of identical shoes are in the Redbull colours but I don’t think it’s actually overstated or obvious.

I guess I’m sucked in though and now have to read or watch things about the trail and it’s speed runs whether they’re particularly good or not.