Showing posts from May, 2012

6 kinds of 5k workouts, a training summary

From the sublime to the nitty-gritty, running gives us a chance to talk about it all. This is a nitty-gritty summary of my training over the last 6 months or so.

Since way back in December, I've been working on my 5k time with the help of my coach Van Townsend (more on him, soon.) Over the course of these six months, I've done a ton of workouts. Here's a quick summary of the workouts I've done, in order of importance.

1) Lots of easy runs, from 35 min to an hour. I don't usually log the pace of these runs or even keep track of it. That's because I am a nut and if I keep track, then I start trying to push the pace a bit. If I had to estimate, I'd say the average pace of these runs is 7:15 or so. They usually start with an 8 minute mile and then settle into 7 flat pace or so. I've been aiming for 55-75 miles on 8 or 9 runs per week. This is a moderately high volume that I know I can handle without accumulating fatigue.

2) Race pace intervals w/short rest.…

Zoopy-zoop and the quest for uncertainty

"Running is a simple sport. You don't need all the zoopy-zoop." --Bill Squires

On the first day of my philosophy classes, I tell my students that the object of philosophy is fundamentally different from the object of their other classes. In the other disciplines, the point of study is to acquire specific and concrete knowledge and skills. The proper expectation is to leave with more than you came with. There will be tests and quizzes and things of this sort that measure more or less what you have learned. Most of academic life simply takes the value of the quest for certainty and knowledge for granted and sets about getting it done.

The aim of my class is almost entirely opposite. A philosophy class is successful when after a semester's work, the student feels less knowledgeable, less sure of himself and of his capabilities. Uncertain of himself and even his most precious values. Sure, philosophy has a set of knowledge and skills--certainly we have terminology and me…

The Habit of Thinking about your Habits of Thinking

One role that philosophers play is we take ways of thinking and we amplify them, codify them, play with them, tweak them, and follow them to their (often absurd) conclusions. One of my grad school professors used to joke that he would tell people that he was a "conceptual engineer" by trade so that people (or at least the women he was trying to pick up) would take him more seriously. It wasn't really a lie: that's part of what we do. We tinker with ways of thinking in order to try to improve them.

This is one reason why philosophers always behave so strangely. It's because by long practice we have learned a habit of disassociating ourselves from our thoughts. The more native and natural way to think of ideas is that they are personal--you yourself have them. Common sense talks about our opinions and reasons as if they are our own, and we get emotionally attached to our ideas. An attack on our way of thinking is an attack on us. Philosophers, though, see opinions…

A Somewhat Cranky Defense of Democratic Elitism

First off, check out this stellar 2008 review of the cult classic Once a Runner by Marc Tracy.

The book was given to me when I was 17. It was a gift from a girl. Back then (before the internet when things were harder to replicate and books were physical objects) the book was out of print. This copy had obviously been handed around from person to person before it got to me. It felt like the book found me as much as I found it. The writing is cheesy and adolescent, but I was cheesy and adolescent, and it spoke to me.

It's set in the late 70s and the book paints runners as neither hippies nor squares, but folks who simply opt out of the stale culture wars. By then everyone knew that the hippy movement was going nowhere and that the square mainstream culture was pretty much going nowhere either. Both the culture and the counterculture were sorta dead. The culture war was over; nobody won.

So what's a young person with energy supposed to do with himself, without politics, without d…