YL4OR: More Magill Maxims

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Andrew A. 9 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #11857

    I've spent my entire adult life trying to hammer this concept into the runners I coach, and I've spent the better part of a year trying to hammer it into this blog's visitors. So I figure now I'm going to gift-wrap it and give it one last go:

        * Put away your watch.

        * Stop counting miles.

        * Start listening to your body.

    It's that simple. But it's not. Because almost no runner will do it. But running is not a bank account. It's not a place where we can deposit miles and hard repetitions and time trials and hill repeats … and then simply withdraw them whenever we please. Running is an art – the art of effecting changes in our bodies that make us better runners on race day. There's no reason to run harder or farther than necessary to effect those changes. And it's equally impossible to run hard enough or far enough to effect those changes until we learn both patience (when we think in years instead of days or weeks – or minutes and seconds on our watches) and correct effort, which allows us to improve incrementally. The watch and a focus on mileage encourage us to measure success based upon the tools we use for change, rather than on the change itself.

    That is not all: http://petemagill.blogspot.com/2009/12/5-belated-christmas-presents-from-your.html

  • #29125


    The watch and a focus on mileage encourage us to measure success based upon the tools we use for change, rather than on the change itself.

    What a great quote. So many people focus on goals tied to the watch and the miles to the extent of forgetting that they aren't the ultimate goal. I do think that goals tied to the watch and miles can play a role in training but only if we are willing to adjust them when necessary to maximize the training stimulus. Sometimes, this may mean increasing the training stimulus. Other times, it may mean decreasing the stimulus.

    Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves why we are running. Are you running primarily to run a lot of miles? Then, forget about running fast and just do a lot of long, slow miles. If you are running primarily to race fast, though, then that primary goal should take precedence over secondary goals and your daily paces may take a back seat at some points, while your distance may take a back seat at other points.

  • #29126

    Right, this can be seen a lot among runners who are fond of sharing their training around the interweb.  Minutes and miles are simply a standardized way to measure the training input, yet so many seem to focus on them to the degree that the larger picture and ultimate goal loses too much of its focus.  The point seems to become about the work itself and the end result of that work, when it is put to the test, winds up as too close to being an afterthought. 

    In a way, it reminds me of something I heard from Bobby McGee this summer.  He spoke of two types of runners, the athletes (or “real runners”?) and the wannabes.  The athletes do the work that needs to be done, they get in their runs and workouts and then get on with other things in life.  The wannabes, however, may also do that work but then they hang around after the runs/workouts/races to dissect it with other runners, then they go over to the running store for a while and talk about running there — or the interweb equivalents for those who do not have a workout group and/or running store handy.  When it is 'go time,' the athletes have a well to draw from in running, yet the wannabes often do not because they have exhausted themselves on the topic with their (relatively) near-constant focus on running. 

    I was amused when I recently saw (elsewhere) some cat crowing about reaching 60,000 lifetime miles and recounting the number of races run and whatnot.  Never mind that it took about 27 years to get to that point (averaging out to about 42 mpw for the entire span) and despite a significant pronounced focus on the marathon he never ran better than 3:20.  Going by appearances, this fellow devotes hours every day to thinking about and discussing the topic of running.  Six miles/day (on average) for 27 years takes above average discipline, so hats off to that modest achievement, but in sport it is ultimately about the quality of performance and not the quantity of accrued miles and races run.  Comparing training logs is not a sport, even though some may try to make it into that.  8)

    The issue that this points out, at least to me, is that there is this groupthink that following a schedule right out of a book, putting in the work, and following the numbers should automatically result in success.  (This mindset is a close relative of the belief that hard work results in a good rate of success — everyone who is focused on performance works hard, it is those who work hard and smart that get the most out of themselves.)  These are those who would fit the bill of a term I have heard used regarding economists: “bark gazers.”  They not only miss the forest for the trees, they cannot even see an entire tree for having such a tight focus on the minutiae.

  • #29127


    Indeed. I don't think there's anything wrong with engrossing yourself in running as long as running comes first and talking about/learning about it comes second. If you are a runner, as opposed to a coach, the act of running is what's going to make you a better runner, not talking about it. I'd rather run 10 miles and go home than run 5 miles and spend a half hour shooting the breeze about the next race. Of course, in the perfect world, I'd do both or even run 15 or 20 miles and still have a half hour to shoot the breeze but for how many of us is that practical?

    Actually, I think the weekly average is even lower because I think the individual you refer to was excited about reaching 50,000 miles. I recall this because, when I saw that, I took a moment to think about it and figured I have to be somewhere in excess of 60,000 miles in less than 20 years of running, less than 17 running year-round. I don't know the exact number, I don't know exactly how many races I've run either, because those numbers don't really matter to me.

    To be clear, I'm not saying I'm a “better”, “more pure”, “worse”, or “less pure” runner than anyone else, including this individual mentioned. We just have different focuses. Assuming our focuses match our goals (mine revolve around competition, this other individual's may revolve around something else – I have no way to know) then none of us are better, worse, more or less pure than anyone else. We just have different goals which require different focuses to be fulfilled.

  • #29128

    It is for me as someone here put it not long ago: “I'm just not a quantity person.”  Like in OAR, in this case one would be Mr. 3:24, not Mr. 60K.  60K is the route (and merely the length of it, not the navigation within it), not a destination or a sporting achievement.  Like you, I am behind anyone who wants to run, whether for performance or simply for enjoyment and fitness — no doubt at some point my efforts will fall squarely within the latter.  However, when the setting ostensibly has performance as its highest focus (conversely, it would fit right in at RW, to name one) then it is odd to see it regarded as at all noteworthy.

    (Incidentally, it looks like the 50K part was started three years ago and there has been a recent update for the 60K.)

  • #29129

    It has been, well, interesting (?) to see that entire forum hi-jacked by a flock fond of platitudes, exploring the mundane, and elevating mediocrity rather than genuine accountability and fostering personal excellence.  Not to digress too much, I suppose the admins had a quality v. quantity dichotomy of their own to determine when that group washed up from Gallowalker's Planet. ;D

    Anyway, Magill has one of the best blogs around, it is exemplary of what blog format can be when used well and I can count on it to provide inspiring and thought-provoking subject matter. 

  • #29130


    I stand corrected. I guess that shows both how often I look at the dates of posts and how much interest that topic held in me, as I never got to the more recent posts.

  • #29131

    Perfectly understandable — as indicated, I was simply amused.  😉
    Also amusing is that recent discussion where (go figure) you gave about the only informed response among a sea of naive cheering.

  • #29132


    I always feel like I'm being the area pessimist when I offer those responses but I always see so much cheerleading based on, at best, cherry picked facts that I get the feeling that, even if it is treated as unnecessary worry by the majority, the real world needs to be represented in some way.

  • #29133

    It is indeed the environment, a den of shamelessly benighted hobbyists.  It is interesting to see so many supposedly experienced distance runners with such profoundly lacking insight into basic physiology.  They can hum the tune yet cannot identify the notes or the words.  On the thread in question, there is at least one response (the last one, I think) that completely fails to recognize the great chasm in fitness required to turn in a middling half-marathon performance and that which is necessary to carry that through the marathon distance, given the level of aerobic development that the OP made perfectly clear.

    So back to this thread topic, another part of the blog post mentions the Nike Lunar Elites and Nike Lunar Glides.  If anyone reading this has tried them, what are your thoughts?  🙂 

  • #29134

    So back to this thread topic, another part of the blog post mentions the Nike Lunar Elites and Nike Lunar Glides.  If anyone reading this has tried them, what are your thoughts?  🙂

    If you promise not to mention it, I have tried them.  When I saw Magill mention them, I checked out the Lunar Elites, as I had never heard of that particular model.  From what I saw, it turns out that the Lunar Elite is intended to replace the Zoom Elite and features essentially the same midsole/outsole as a pair of Nike Lunar trainers that I weartested this past summer.  The shoe I weartested had a very different (read: worse) upper, yet other than that it was one of the best Nike shoes I had worn in a long time.  The Lunar technology represents perhaps Nike's best technological advance since the advent of the waffle sole (sorry air, sorry shox), as I see it.  It is just foam (no air bags) and it is light and comfortable under foot.  Not sure if the Elite is the same in this regard, but it had a nice miniwaffle outsole pattern that wore and gripped well without being chunky/clunky, quite smooth and responsive.  I weighed them when I first got them, they were under 10 oz. in US men's size 10.  Really, a nice do-it-all type of trainer.  I have also read accounts (on Letsrun) of using the Lunar Racer for training with good results.

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