Monday, March 7, 2011

Entering a New Phase

Yesterday, Sunday March 6, 2011 marked the end of what my coach terms "Phase I: Aerobic Support Plus Mini-Speed Cycle" in advance of this year's Boston Marathon.  That means that "Phase II: Strength and Marathon-specific Sharpening" begins today.  Of course, I'm all-but duty-bound to draw a parallel between the transition of a marathon training cycle (this seems like a particularly good time to focus on "strength") and the far less clearly delineated "phases" of my life since February 3rd.  Interestingly, ironically and/or appropriately, Day 1 of Phase II is a scheduled rest day (at least from running).  The notion of needing rest, or - in a slightly different parlance - being still, is something I have pondered incessantly in recent weeks.

Since I'm firmly ensconced in a period of self-reflection as a means towards increased self-awareness and - ultimately - self-improvement, I have tried to find a way to draw strength from something outside of myself, my human relationships, my interests, etc.  I'm not generally comfortable with the vocabulary of faith, grace, or - yes - God, but I do know that I believe in something, while simultaneously not having the slightest clue how to tap into that belief in a way that gives me comfort, clarity or calm.  I don't "get" prayer and have never really been able to still myself through meditation.  Running certainly helps, but only to a point.

So, a week ago Saturday, I was in a bookstore with the kids.  I picked a book called, "Running the Spiritual Path: A Runner's Guide to Breathing, Meditating, and Exploring the Prayerful Dimension of the Sport," by Roger Joslin.  The dedicatory quote grabbed me instantly: 

Stillness is what creates love. Movement is what creates life.
To be still and still moving—this is everything.

This quote is attributed to Do Hyun Choe, who appears to be a master of some sort of martial art called Sugi.  I could not find much more information about him.

For my part, I seem to be all about movement, both physically and mentally, while harboring a deep-seated antipathy towards stillness in most any form.  So, following Choe's missive, the conditions of my existence may be reasonably conducive to “life”, but the pervasive lack of stillness is a chronic obstacle to “love”; Thus, stillness is one of the many things upon which I'm working.  However, as with all long-terms habits, such matters are not unlearned overnight.  One idea which keeps arising is yoga, which I should work into my life schedule, but which - unlike the last time I tried it - I need to treat as meditation, not cross-training.  I'm hoping to find the right class at the right time.

Well, enough about spirituality and stillness.  Back to what I know best: movement. Here's a recap of the past two weeks of training.

February 21-27
  • Monday - 6M easy/recovery
  • Tuesday - 10+M, with 4x(800m @ 5K, 400m @ 3K & 200m @ 1M pace)
  • Wednesday - AM: 10M; PM: 5M (both easy)
  • Thursday - 8+M easy
  • Friday - 12M, w/3x3K @ "threshold" pace, plus 1K at 5K pace
  • Saturday - 8M easy
  • Sunday -10M (aborted 20-miler due to family emergency)
TOTAL = 70+ miles (10 fewer than planned - boo!)

February 28 - March 6
  • Monday - 7M easy
  • Tuesday - 11M, with 4x200m @ 1M pace, 4x800m @ 5K pace, & 3x1200m @ 10K pace
  • Wednesday - 15+M
  • Thursday - 7M easy
  • Friday - 12+M, with 10x2 mins at 10K effort
  • Saturday - 9M, with 12x200m @ 1M pace
  • Sunday - 20+M (water only)
Total  =  82 miles (that's more like it)

I have done all of the distance-based speedwork on the indoor track, and continue to be pleasantly surprised about the consistency with which I've been hitting the target paces.  I realized last night that I got to Chicago eking out 60-ish miles per week with minimal quality, whereas I just completed another 80-mile week with 3 successful quality sessions.  That's extremely encouraging.

This upcoming week presents another challenging training block, with 75 miles scheduled on six running days, and three "quality" days, which include hill repeats on Tuesday, a reprise of a killer threshold session (3x15 mins at MP, MP-10 secs and HMP) on Friday, and a 20-miler on Sunday progressing down to goal marathon pace during the last 10 miles.

One final note on the family front.  Things seem to be stabilizing for the most part, but there remain moments of tension, awkwardness and difficulty.  Overall, though, the kids are doing better, and Mrs. ESG and I are finding a way to relate cordially and cooperatively, especially as far as the kids are concerned.

Thanks for reading. - ESG/Ron


TiredMamaRunning said...

That quote is great....the stillness is a challenge for me too. And glad that all things considered, you and Mrs. ESG seem to be dealing with one another as well as can be expected. (I actually relate to your position there quite a bit these days.)

AKA Darkwave, AKA Anarcha, AKA Cris. said...

Interesting thoughts, and something that some many of us type A's deal with.

As a side note, I've often thought that "stillness while in motion" is the best way to run, if that makes any sense.

jaysummer4 said...

And it's hard to explain how I feel.
It won't go in words, but I know that it's real.
I can be moving or I can be still, but still is still moving me.
-Willie Nelson

Anonymous said...

I'm glad things are better on the family front.

As a profoundly nonspiritual person myself, I'm not really sure what to suggest. I don't do prayer or meditation. I enjoy other very different physical challenges (like river rafting) but that's not really "stillness". But I don't find it an obstacle to love. Maybe it's being in a rewarding relationship that makes it less important for me. I dunno. Good luck.

And yowza, your "down week" is more than my highest mileage!

Van 1- Hall said...

Running can take you out of your elements and allow your mind to make sense of everything around you, but every path is always an out and back. No matter how much you run, you always have to come back to what you left behind.

L.A. Runner said...

Excellent comments above. I'm very glad to hear things are "running" more smoothly on the home front. Good post, Ron.

Girl In Motion said...

Such great running these days, Ron! Also very happy you're coming upon a more peaceful place with the family situation. I have to say, John King's analogy is pretty damn cool...good stuff. Here's to more peaceful understanding and great running with each passing week.

Elizabeth said...

I think it's really easy to let the act of running and tracking all of our mileage, paces, etc. cloud our view of the more deeper things in life. Numbers and stats are tangible so it's easy to grasp onto them. Good for you for delving a little deeper and using running as an insight into that realm.

rovatti said...

Nice blog entry.

You are in great shape (way faster than me...). You ought to race a lot soon - you'll post big PR's at every distance.

Wise words from johnking.

- rovatti