Middletown Athletic Club

(serving the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend, Delaware Running Community since 2002)

"That's the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is."  - Kara Goucher


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  • April 05, 2024 10:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “So Shearer, why are you running 10 miles today?”  That’s not a question I think I’ve ever had to answer.  In 45+ years as a runner, for the most part I’ve always known that every run has a purpose.  Let’s see if I can answer this. 

    I’ll be candidly honest here… I have not enjoyed running much the past 30 months or so.  There have been days that I downright hated it, dreaded it, and attempted to avoid it.  It’s not that I’ve fallen out of love with the act of running but rather I’d fallen out of love for MY running. 

    A few years ago, I experienced a rather nasty knee injury.  Oddly, the injury did not stem from running, racing or anything resembling my chosen activity.  It was a freak accident that took a few weeks to manifest itself into a debilitating pain that could not be overlooked.  You just know when you know, so off to the surgeon for a diagnosis that left me with few options.  The surgery took place October 2021. 

    According to all accounts, the procedure went the way it was supposed to go.  Unfortunately, the time frame for recovery did not.  3 to 6 months became 6 to 12 months became ‘up to two years.’  I was permitted to run to tolerance (HA! If you know, you know).   My Why for running had remained intact up to that point.  It was my ability that had taken the hit.  And as the ability waned, the Why became blurry. 

    Recently I was reminded of the Why comment from several of my former athletes and running partners.  One in particular had all but given up her on racing career.  As she put it, “I hated it.  Everything about it.”  She reached out and we chatted a bit.  “Remember your Why, Shearer.  You used to say that all the time.”  I didn’t come up with the saying, but it had stuck with her.  I counseled her to go back to her Why and perhaps seek a different pathway.  Thus far, it appears she has reignited her passion for the daily 5. 

    Hmmmm, so maybe it’s time I looked back at that Why again and see where it takes me.  In the past 30 months or so, I’ve reluctantly continued to train and run.  I still seek out racing opportunities.  I read about the sport, I follow the sport, heck I even coach the sport.  Why? 

    As I passed the two-year mark in my knee recovery last October, I started mentally and physically changing my approach.  I Cross train a lot more than I ever did before.  I’ve started stretching more frequently and incorporated strength training (no, I am not ‘buff’).  My 1st mile of any run resembles a slow trot rather than a quick saunter.  I spend 10-15 minutes twice a week doing yoga.  And training paces have become irrelevant to me. 

    I am now able to maintain 20-24 miles a week on a regular basis.  There is still discomfort, the occasional extra day off because I overdid it, and the frustration of not really being able to plan a solid ‘training block’.  But the enjoyment is slowly returning.

    So why did I run 10-miles that day?  My answer was pretty simple… because I could. 

    I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails. 

  • March 03, 2024 7:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thoughts on the Run – How do your feet know what they’re doing? :

    “Stop looking at the ground.  Look ahead!”  “Use your arms!” “Eyes up, drive those knees!”  “Hips to lips.  Hips to lips!” 

    Ever hear any of these lines being screamed at a race or track meet?  And have you ever noticed if it works, reminding the athlete what they should already know to be doing? 

    Running forms are not universal.  Oh, there are some significant suggestions to be made, like from the list above, but really in the long run (see what I did there?), running form is somewhat unique to each individual runner. 

    Just what is good running form?  Well, the definition is as varied as the forms themselves.  But here’s the basic gist of it – good running form is a form that allows you to locomote at a maximum speed, while using the least amount of energy.  Wasted movement takes away our ability to move forward while it eats up valuable oxygen in the process.  So, that definition gave you almost zero useful information, didn’t it.

    Let’s try this.  A good running form is a form in which you are comfortable while you are running.  Not all individual forms are efficient, but (and here’s where it gets funky…) not all ‘significant suggestions’ are efficient for all runners.  Does that clear up the mud?

    One of my former athletes was a pretty good cross country runner.  She sported a sub-20 5k time as a sophomore in college.   Most of her improvements had come without a real coaching presence, so I was excited to be able to work with her.  However, she had one of the worst running forms I’d ever seen.  It looked painful!

    One day after practice, I asked her to stay back and work with me a bit with some one-on-one drills, in an attempt to give her some visual and auditory cues that might assist her with her swinging arm carriage, knock-knee drive, whip foot, hunch-backed… running form.  After a few minutes, I asked her one simple question, ‘So tell me about your injury history?’.  ‘Coach, I’ve never been injured.’  I probably should have started there. 

    It became apparent I was trying to fix something that wasn’t really broken in the first place.  Her running form was extremely efficient for her body’s structure.  And a few tweaks here and there (‘eyes up’ for example) were the best I could hope for. 

    When I was in my upper 20’s, I trained with a pretty zippy group of runners in Virginia.  Three of the club members were under the age of 20, while the other three of us were pushing 30.  One day we were working on forms when I asked Coach Mike (our advisor) to critique what he saw in me.  “I can’t fix it now, Shearer” was his response.  I was a bit hurt and surprised.  I knew better.

    I do have a few form anomalies that I’ve worked on over the years and have seen an improvement in my efficiency as a result.  I used to look down quite a bit, wondering if my feet actually knew what they were doing. On a trail, that’s probably a pretty good cue.  On the roads, for the most part, they’re just fine on their own.  Oh, and looking ahead rather than down helps you cue in on your competitors who are trying to outdistance you. 

    Form fixes take work, and as I have mentioned, are not always worth the energy expenditure for the return on the investment.  If you do have a hitch in your giddy-up that you wish to tweak, here are a few suggestions…

    Ask someone to video you running (both from the side and from behind).  Or have someone watch you and offer up some observations (not suggestions… remember, form is still relatively unique).  ONLY work on one thing at a time and ONLY if it’s something that can help without sucking all the fun out of it.  And finally, be patient.  Form fixed take time, sometimes months or even years.

    “Run tall.”  “Pump your arms.” “Breath through your mouth.”.  These are all great auditory cues, but only if you’ve worked on them.  Oh, and look up.  Trust your feet know what they’re doing. 

    I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails. 

  • February 05, 2024 3:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “I really shouldn’t be here”.  I kept uttering this to myself over and over again.  And to be honest, for once I was right.  I should not have been there in that mental state.

    Where is there?  ‘There’ was the 2024 USA Track & Field Cross Country Championships.  There were seven races in one day, including junior nationals, the men’s & women’s open nationals (the races that select the U.S. representatives for the World Cross Country Championships), an all-comer’s race, and of course, the Master’s Championship (aka Geezer Nationals, or as one of my teammates put it, the race for team Advil).

    The location was Richmond, VA, for a second straight year.  I ran in the 2023 championship meet and pleasantly surprised myself over the relatively flat 8k course.  The course was four loops, each being 2,000 meters (aka slightly boring after the 2nd circuit).  And the 2024 event was coooooooold.  Temps were close to 36 with wind chills closer to 20.

    “I’m not ready to do this”.  And about 3,000 meters into it, I proved myself right.  A couple of my faster friends had already dropped out, and a few others were actually within spitting distance.  But in my mind, I shouldn’t have started in the first place.  To be honest, it wasn’t a completely unpleasant race, but it was a CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT.  Of everyone over the age of 40, I placed 140th out of about 170 finishers. 

    Over the past year, I have struggled with consistent, pain-free running.  I’ve also struggled a bit with confidence and desire.  But mostly, I’ve just felt blah about the whole racing thing.  My routine of running 6 days a week just 20 years ago has morphed into three or four runs a week, two cycling days and two rowing machine days. 

    As Master’s folks commiserate before race-time, conversation almost always runs through ‘what hurts on you these days?’.  Some of us lay it on thick and some of us downplay the ouchies and boo boos.  Some of us have given up completely and some of us are in denial.  And some of us are running like we’re 30 or 40 years younger. 

    My stock response to all of this is usually ‘yeah but we’re still doing it’.  Denial.  If I have to be honest, I didn’t want to just be ‘still doing it’.  My friend Matt and I had this discussion just before the race.  His suggestion was spot-on.  He reminded me that every few years, no matter what age group you are in, you need to hit re-set and re-establish your ‘why’.  It is inevitable, even for the speediest among us.

    So on a day that my mantra was ‘I really shouldn’t be here’, I probably needed to rephrase it a bit and say ‘I’m okay with not being able to run even what I ran last year, but I’m here’.  I might not have been race-ready, but after 45 years of running, I’m still a runner.  And we all need to remind ourselves of that every so often.  Hit re-set as you head out the door.


    I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

  • January 03, 2024 7:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy 2024!  I hope you ran, swam, biked, or paddled your way into the new year safely and enjoyably.  I know I did.  I was able to run the traditional New Year’s Day local 5k, then worked on some finely crock potted pork-n-sauer kraut.  It’s gonna be a good year!

    I’d like to start the new year by asking you a question – did you establish any new year’s resolutions?  You know, the thing where you pledge to make wholesale changes in the way you eat, work out, interact with others, don’t interact with others, etc…   And did you notice who was the title sponsor for this year’s Rockin’ Eve celebration?  Planet Fitness!  I smell a resolution for some corporate folks.

    Now, my next question – as a runner, did you establish any goals for the coming year?  You know, break the world record in the 5,000m or win the Pikes Peak Marathon, OR something somewhat sane like try a new race distance or setting a PR in the mile?  By the way, those personal goals rarely have corporate sponsors.  Pity. 

    I’d like to ask you a favor.  Please give up that resolution now… right now!  Replace that pesky pledge with an achievable goal that gives you something to work towards and a sense of accomplishment when you get there.  And if you don’t get there?  It doesn't smack you as a failure but rather asks for you to work harder or smarter, or both.

    In my 60 years, I have never established a resolution. I’ve been asked to be a part of joint pledges by friends and family, in the hopes of the ‘teamwork makes the dreamwork’ mentality.  Personally, I think it was more ‘misery loves company’ for when the failure hits (not if but when). 

    But goals… ah, I could talk about goals all day long.  My past goals have included running the Boston Marathon (my first was in 1987), participating in the Hood to Coast Relay (did it in 2015 on a team of other 50+ geezers… we placed 26th out of 1,100),  and breaking a 5-minute mile when I turned 45 (I kid you not, I ran five races between 5:00 and 5:02 that summer… never quite made it). 

    To me, goals have a life.  Goals have a give and take.  Goals have a pathway to success.  Resolutions don’t.  As a lifelong runner, I want that pathway to success, not the road to failure.  Of course, I could probably run on both. 

    So be kind to yourself this year.  Establish some well-thought goals AND the plan to get there.  Without the plan, it really is a glorified resolution, after all.  Failure to plan is a plan for failure, I believe is the mantra.  Setting a goal is setting yourself up for success.  And after all, isn’t that was our running journey is all about? 

    Oh, and I did once make a new year’s resolution that I have kept.  I resolved to never make another new year's resolution. 

    I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails. 

  • November 02, 2023 8:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “Aren’t you gonna get out of the car?”

    “I will... in a little bit.”

    “What are you doing, anyway?”

    Truth be known, I wasn’t sure how much longer I was planning to sit there or even why I was sitting there.  It just felt good.  And in a million years, I couldn’t describe it.

    I started running in 1978.  Back then, there were far fewer people running and just as few topics of discussion bantered about.  Things like cardiovascular health, flat feet, knee joint health and how bad running was for women were the topics du jour.  In 1978, runners were still considered fringe weirdos.  Hey, I resemble that remark.

    I do vividly recall one such discussion topic was ‘the Runner’s High’.  Since Timothy Leary was such as cult figure to the generation, I suppose getting into an altered state of mind was all the rage.  And far be it for runners to miss out on the movement.

    Just what is a runner’s high?  How does one attain this mystical state?  And why doesn’t everyone experience it?  Quite simply, it’s a feeling of euphoria and/or ultimate relaxation that accompanies a run.  And it’s not a universal experience for endurance athletes, according to researchers. 

    Now I’ll be honest, experiencing this ‘high’ was never part of my end-goal as a runner.  In fact, I was rather happy that I didn’t reach for something that seemed a bit surreal or even made up.  I mean, don’t runners feel good just from running, racing and experiencing?  Why do we need to invent some other worldly sense of peace?  And what the heck is an endorphin and an endocannabinoid anyway (your homework assignment for today)?

    Here seems to be the anatomy of attaining a runner’s high – go for a run, the body releases chemicals into the blood stream which interact with the brain, there is a unique-to-each-person response, the body returns to equilibrium, end of run/end of fun.  That seems to be the science behind it.  And spoiler alert… scientists are pretty sure endorphins have nothing to do with it (something about their molecular size and inability to cross the brain-body barrier… sucks for them!). 

    The body reacts to the chemicals responsible for the runner’s high much like the body reacts to morphine or cannabis.  Really.  So Timothy Leary may not have been a good runner, but I bet he would have been a great coach.  Oh, and the feeling isn’t universal to all runners, nor is it the same from one run to the next.  It depends on…. Well, it just depends…

    I don’t recall the first time I had the sense of being pain-free and totally relaxed.  I’m not even sure I would call it euphoric.  But I recognized I felt ‘really good’, sitting in the car after having returned from a trail run. 

    My runs are more uncomfortable as I’ve aged, and in some cases downright painful, but I still run.  The sense of ‘wow, this feels good’ is in stark contrast to a 30 or 40 minute slog in the woods.  And when I do experience this sense which isn’t often, it’s almost always sitting in the car either before I head home or when I pull into the driveway.  And it’s worth every ache, pain and grimace. 

    If you’ve experienced it, you know.  If you never have, there may come a day (like me) when you will.  And if you never do, sitting in the car after your run will still provide you with all the health benefits running is known for…. So there’s that.

    “I’m coming in now…”.  Moment over. 

    I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails. 

  • September 06, 2023 3:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I awoke this morning at my customary 4:50 am.  Within +/- 5 minutes you can usually count on me waking up at 4:50 am.  Why 4:50?  Probably the same reason all my staff meetings are scheduled for 9:17 am (or 10:43 am, etc…).  I awoke with my dog’s face staring at me.  His walks aren’t until 6:36 so he just wanted to make sure I was up.

    Today’s workout plan was a double cross-training session – 15 minutes on the rowing machine followed by 30 minutes on the stationary bike.  It’s an OFF day from running and a nice way to stay cardio-ed without the abuse.  But today, I just wasn’t feeling it. The body and the mind said, ‘total OFF please’.  Ever hear Asics’ new slogan?  Sound Body, Sound Mind.  Sound OFF!

    There are two types of OFF days (actually, three, but we’ll get to that in a few paragraphs).  Today was an unplanned OFF day.  I’d run fairly hard yesterday and planned on a longer run tomorrow, so today was a good day to cross train.  But I just wasn’t into it.  There are days when you just need to listen to what the machine is telling you, and my machine needed another cup of tea. 

    The other type of OFF day is one that has been scheduled into the training grid. These days are necessary to continue to train at your best.  My training grids shifted from a 7-day plan to a 10-day plan years ago.  A 10-day plan allows for more recovery and flexibility.  Two days off every 10 days helps the body (and mind) recover.  Two days off every seven is too much and one day off isn’t enough.  No, it’s not cheating.

    Something I have always preached (as it was preached to me in my younger days) is that rest is a part of the plan and not a deviation from it.  Even those odd unplanned OFF days are the wisdom come to fruition of knowing when the mind/body machine just needs some extra downtime. 

    Now, about that third kind of OFF.  The training equation, universal truth for all athletes is the following: effort + recovery = improvement.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a miler or a marathoner, a plodder or a speedster.  Without the recovery, eventually the machine starts to break down beyond its ability to heal and recover.  And guess where injuries come from? 

    In 2005, I was having some kind of year.  I’d just turned 41 and was really layering on the training.  I ran two marathons that year, was averaging 48 miles a week, with 60 mile build-ups, and had just missed a sub 17 minute 5k.  BUT… the aches, the discomfort and the lack of OFF days finally took me out.  TWO stress fractures (motrin much?) and six months OFF. 

    So when your 4:50 am alarm clock goes off (internal or otherwise), and it’s just not there, don’t force it.  The key is to listen and learn how to decipher between the machine and the friendly dog licking your nose.  But always err on the side of machine (and the dog).

    I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails!   

  • August 02, 2023 2:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thoughts on the Run – Awards Ceremonies:

    Be honest… who likes post-race award ceremonies? The delays in result compilations, the endless 3 year age groups, the mispronounced names, the 30-second delays waiting for the no shows… it can be mind-numbing!  Count me in the ‘can I just go eat now’ category. 

    A number of years ago I made note of the length of said post-race awarding.  It seemed to me to be getting longer and longer and longer.  And the number of folks waiting around was getting smaller and smaller and smaller.  I’m here to tell you, some of it wasn’t my imagination, and some of it was.  Do tell!

    Race organizers agonize over details of the event, from the accuracy and safety of the course, the preregistration process, race day number pick-up and that pesky finish line.  And yes, they do ponder the post-finish line stuff, too.  Sometimes I think not nearly as much as they should, but they do ponder it. 

    In my mind, here’s what makes a great post-race award ceremony – speed and efficiency.  I’ve won a handful of overall and age group awards in my day.  I find the process of the awarding cumbersome when pictures are involved (especially those ‘everyone hang out afterwards for a group pic’) or when calling up winners one at a time, then waiting to see if they’ve even stayed.  Speed and efficiency… nope. 

    Now don’t get me wrong, I think post-race awarding is a great part of the overall presentation of any race.  And nothing juices me more than to see someone who either never wins a medal actually win or a surprise ‘I nipped her at the wire for 3rd’.  Those are great reactions from the awardee AND the family there supporting the awardee.

    I’d like to offer some suggestions to race directors.  First off… random prizes for both entrants AND spectators.  Maybe three to five items of value that would juice up those just waiting around sipping their free diet beer.  Age groups need to be awarded in groups of three rather than individually, especially if a picture is involved.  And do away with the group shot at the end.  14 year olds ain’t waiting for the 70+ group anyway.  It’s the digital age. 

    If a race starts at 8 am, awards should start at 9 am for a 5k and 9:45 for a 10k.  I’m hungry and your watermelon isn’t really cutting it for me.  And unless your event has 225+ entrants, 10 year age groups are sufficient (maybe go top 4 or even 5?).  Five year groups slow things down a lot.  Now I know the average 49 year old is gonna have issues with racing the average 40 year old.  But guess what?  Next year, you’re the average 50 year old!  Just wait til those 59 year olds start to complain.

    So my imagination hasn’t been playing tricks on me.  Award ceremonies go like this – Overall male and female, overall master’s male and master’s female, the endless parade of age groups (12 and under, 13-15, 16-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, etc…), walkers, ‘thank you all for coming, time for the group pic’.  As I have gotten less young, my age group has moved further and further to the back of the ceremony.  And fewer and fewer people hang around for the geezer grades.  Gosh, I hope I was a bit more considerate and supportive of those hard-earned 60-69 age group winners when I was 18. 

    Award ceremonies can be great.  At a recent event, my group noticed the deejay was piping in an applause track for each award winner.  Talk about a creative way to congratulate every recipient, even if their support crew has long ago headed for the water ice truck.  So while we sipped our beverages, discussed the errors in our race strategy and marveled at the humidity that was imported just for the day (dew point of 77), the applause track was kinda neat. 

    Race directors… be unique at your end-of-event ceremony, set a schedule for awards (and stick to it), and be efficient.  Your participants will thank you for it and remember you as well.

    I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails. 

  • July 03, 2023 9:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thoughts on the Run – An experiment of One:

    August 15, 2023 marks my 45th anniversary as a runner.  I recall the date I started running (it was 1978), where I ran (Hempt Road, Mechanicsburg, PA) and how far (3 miles – and no, I didn’t stop).  Call me obsessed if you must, but oddly enough it works for me and I thought remembering all those runs, races, locations, etc… would someday come in handy.  Or allow me to bore people to death at parties and gatherings. 

    What’s the point of my little retrospective here?  The great running philosopher George Sheehan once wrote ‘All running is an experiment of One’.  By that, he simply meant that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.  What is one man’s trash may truly be another man’s treasure.  And only you can figure that out. 

    On my home office bookshelf, you will find books on history, mental health, travel destinations, humor and yes, running.  LOTS of running.  Okay, lots and LOTS of running.  There are numerous running DVDs as well.  Some are documentaries, some are training guides, some are biographical, some are stories about specific events, and some are even fictional (although ‘Once a Runner’ by John Parker has some fact in it).

    In my ‘experiment of One’, I have discovered things that fit for me, and those things don’t (like running with music).  I do love to read about my chosen sport and learn from others.  My current book is ‘Racing the Clock’, by Bernd Heinrich.  Bernd is an ultra-marathoner and biologist, who writes about the confluence of both in his pursuit of the finish line.  Oh, and he’s in his mid-80s and still runs ultras. 

    I have trained with runners who will not take step one until their GPS is synched properly with the GPS satellite du jour.  Their gateway into the running world is to know where they are, how far they have run (as precisely as GPS will allow), how fast they ran it, and even if it makes some fancy design as seen from space (I love to read about runners using their GPS to map out words, designs, etc…  Pretty cool!). 

    Ever run with music?  In my ‘other than running’ training, I have begun to appreciate the presence of music.  Rowing for 45 minutes is boring as sin, unless the soundtrack is good.  But running with a soundtrack?  I can’t.  Many of my running buds do indeed iPod up before step one and off they go in solitude, accompanied only by Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift or the Foo Fighters.  That’s their gateway. 

    Even when it comes to training, what works for one person doesn’t always work for another.  The #1 runner on my college cross country team my senior year was (and still is) a phenomenal talent.  Unfortunately, the poor guy couldn’t string two 50 mile weeks back-to-back without getting injured.  For the rest of us, 70+ mile weeks for 10-12 weeks was the norm.  He was able to remain competitive and lead the way, simply by staying healthy with reduced mileage and extra cross training. 

    A few years ago, I finally embraced supplemental workouts like rowing machines and lifting weights in an effort to remain healthy.  My ‘experiment of One’ has finally led me in another direction.

    As you plan your goals and embrace your training, make sure you are embracing YOUR training and YOUR goals, not somebody else’s.  Coaches are great for helping set up strategies and such, but make sure those strategies work for your experiment, not just the other 10 or 20 athletes with whom your Coach may be working. And don’t get me started on those cookie cutter marathon plans. 

    So please allow me to bore you at the next gathering we attend together.  And I’ll allow you to ‘attempt’ to bore me.  However, something tells me both of us will be enthralling. 

    I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

  • May 30, 2023 12:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    So, how far did YOU run today?  It’s water-cooler fodder for anyone who runs and for anyone who knows you run.  People are fascinated with how far runners have run.  Most runners are also retentive to a fault about their mileage. 

    How far is a 5k?  How many miles is a marathon?  How many miles do you run every week?  That one is, of course, is always followed by, “I don’t even drive that far!”.  Gotta love predictability.  How many miles, how many miles, miles, miles, miles.  It’s like ‘Marsha, Marsha, Marsha’ (a cheesy Brady Bunch reference).  But it wasn’t always about Marsha now, was it?  Sometimes Jan or Cindy got a storyline, too. 

    Too many runners are obsessed with how far they run.  A number of years ago, I trained with a pretty competitive group in Virginia.  One of the runners was a 3:45 1500 meter runner in college who had a problem with the time-space continuum.  A 7.5 mile run would end up somehow being 9 miles.  11 miles became 12.  In other words, he ‘fudged’. And at the end of the day, he was really cheating himself.   

    I’ve run into way too many obsessed runners, more concerned about getting in ‘miles’ and not so concerned about the quality of those miles, or by way of the paragraph above, whether they actually RAN those miles.  Silly me…

    On the other end of the spectrum, there are those runners who can’t seem to get past a certain mileage threshold.  Whether it’s two miles or 12, they hit a wall.  It could be a mental one or it could be a physical one. But that next mile is almost impossible to get to. And to be honest, going from two miles to three miles is somewhat daunting.  I mean, it’s a 33% jump! 

    I’ve gotten less concerned about miles, miles, miles the past several years and have instead started doing more of my training based in minutes, minutes, minutes.  It may take someone 60 minutes to run six miles, but then again it could take them 66 minutes or 54 minutes.  But 60 minutes is 60 minutes.  By removing the ‘how many miles did I do?’ from the equation, runs become more manageable, meaningful and pleasant.  No pressure.  If only my Virginia friend would have realized that.

    Running by minutes is also a great way to get over that hurdle of lengthening your runs.  Going from three miles to four miles may seem huge, and it is.  It’s a 25% increase!  But going from 30 minutes to 34 minutes, then 38 minutes, then 40 minutes… the progression seems natural.  AND the pressure of how FAST you run those miles is removed. 

    I do most of my runs these days based on time, and not distance.  I can guess how far I ran, but that’s not the point.  The point is to enjoy the run with little or no pressure of performance.  Occasionally, my runs take on different forms, but my runs are for my mind and not my log book.  By the way, I train most of my athletes by minutes… almost guarantees they’ll all be back in time for the group stretch. 

    Whether you’re at a training roadblock or are tired of being driven by miles, miles, miles, start doing more of your running by minutes and stop obsessing so much about the distance.  30 minutes of running is 30 minutes of running, no matter how far you go.  You may find yourself more relaxed and able to jump to that next level. 

    Oh, and if you REALLY want to mess with your running friends, start doing what I did back in 2012… run by kilometers.  My Virginia friend would approve.  And wow, my running log totals looked really impressive that year. 

    I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails.  And bring your watch. 

  • April 28, 2023 2:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I have had the pleasure of coaching young Delaware runners for nearly 15 years, in both a high school and collegiate setting, and both cross country and track & field.  And (I’m not making this up), nearly every day before practice starts ‘Youth Gone Wild’ is the coaching walk-up song that plays in my head.  Who doesn’t love a good Skid Row tune.

    Working with young runners, especially high school athletes, reveals two types of participants; those who want to be there and those who don’t.  It’s a pretty cut and dry split.  Track & field athletes can usually be coaxed into trying different events, but cross country is, well…. Cross country.  You either run three miles or you don’t run three miles.  There is no high jump pit in a 5k.  However, that gives me an idea…

    Youth runners need to be nurtured.  Running is by its very nature a one-dimensional pursuit.  We run.  I was recently sent an Instagram sketch where the comedian questioned why cross country was called ‘cross country’, rather than just ‘running’. 

    That I ever became a runner is a mystery.  I had no role model; my family had no real athletic prowess (two of my brothers were not very good wrestlers but my sister was a decent hurdler).  But once I did start (in 1978), I found a tribe of friends, coaches and a local running club filled with mentors, partners, and competitors.  No one pushed, no one insisted, and no one shamed.  It was a very supportive network.

    I recall a Peach Festival 5k event several years ago.  As the official race starter, one of my jobs to make certain that faster runners were up front, and ‘less zippy’ runners were further back at the start line.  It’s a safety thing, people!  One very young runner (maybe age 10 or so?) was in the very front, middle.  I asked him if he could run a 6 minute mile and before he budged an inch, his father started yelling at me that indeed he deserved to be there and that I should mind my own business (parental gloater, take a bow).  You can guess what happened next.  Fortunately, the young runner was not hurt or knocked over, but he finished nowhere near the front.  I wonder if he’s even running today. 

    Young runners, heck young athletes in general, all deserve our support, praise, and, when appropriate, constructive instruction (NOT criticism and not being forced).  What ends up happening can affect not only them, but those other young athletes around them. 

    I am not a fan of the ‘everyone gets a ribbon for participating’ in athletic competition.  ‘Competition’ is the operative word here.  There’s a reason some youth runs are called FUN RUNS.  But when the competition starts, the young athlete needs to be prepared, because winning and losing are realities.  It’s a skill many aren’t prepared for.    

    Youth athletes need to be nurtured and guided in the skills of athletics.  It comes from parents first, coaches second, tribe third.  You can call him arrogant all you want, but Joe Namath once guaranteed a victory.  But he was getting paid to do that.  Guaranteeing anyone will be victorious isn’t the way to make them victorious.  But it could make them the Youth Gone Wild.

    I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails. 

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