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


  • February 28, 2023 4:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last month, I wrote about my discovery of a long-gone power point plan about how to devise a training plan.  Now to be completely honest, after 45 years as a competitive runner, I don’t spend much time ‘writing down’ my training plans, goals, etc…   Heck, some weeks, just getting out the door for a 5-miler ticks off the box of ‘training goal attained’.  But still, the innate need for planning is still basic.

    As a reminder, here are SIX truisms when it comes to devising your training plan.  And as I suggested last month, the purpose of the plan isn’t to suck all the fun out of running but rather to give you a ‘less unstructured’ direction (like that double negative?). 

    1. Every workout has a purpose
    2. Plan your work and work your plan
    3. With wisdom comes age (yes, you read that right)
    4. Don’t forget the small stuff
    5. Definition of insanity
    6. Be flexible

    In February, I highlighted numbers 1 & 2.  They’re simplistic for a reason.  Remember, there should even be a purpose for the plan!  I suggest you have an understanding of what you hope to accomplish with every mile.  This is especially true if you have a coach. I take a dim view of any coach who says ‘go do this because I said so’.  Ask questions! 

    #3 is a little difficult to grasp.  Since running is truly an experiment of one, it takes time to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  I’ve taken 5, 6, even 7 years to hone workouts and learn lessons.  Unfortunately, by the time I’ve learned the lesson, I may be past the ability to execute the lesson.  I’ll never run a sub 16 minute 5k ever again, but I can still ‘get after it’.  The lessons learned just need to be tempered for the aging process.

    What’s the top recovery aid for ANY athlete?  (waiting… waiting… waiting…).  It’s SLEEP!  I am truly amazed that I was able to run so well for so many years with such a total lack of sleep, hydration and dietary structure.  The small stuff can be the difference between a PR, a medal position, and ‘just another goal race that came up short’.  Small stuff includes stretching, good warm-up routines, extra recovery days, learning patience, and even selfishly avoiding people two weeks before a big race.  Don’t forget those small things add up to big returns.  If it matters, you’ll do it.  If it doesn’t, you won’t (one of my favorite coaching sayings).

    One of my favorite authors is Edgar Allen Poe.  Why bring up the master of the horror short story?  Well, the dude was insane!  Fortunately, Poe’s insanity isn’t what I mean.  #5 really means that if you keep doing what you’ve always done and expect results to be different, you’re just nuts.  Okay, so maybe Poe’s not far off from where you’re heading. 

    Variety is necessary for growth, in all ways, and especially in the pursuit of sport.  If you run the same 4-mile loop day after day after day, you’ll eventually hit a point where you will no longer improve.  This also goes for the same interval session, or the same hill session or the same long, slow run.  Vary your pace, vary your scenery, vary your training partners (or not partners).  Run 5-miles slow on Monday and 3-miles quicker on Tuesday.  These variations in your training help teach the body’s systems to react and improve in a positive manner. 

    The last truism of the 6 is simply this… be flexible.  Life gets in the way.  Work calls, kids have a band concert, vacations fall in the middle of marathon training, the flu sets up shop in your carpool.  All of these things can get in the way of a good training plan.  When a major shoe company offers you $100,000 to run for them, your mindset may be different, but until then, be flexible! 

    There you have them – Andrew Shearer’s 6 truisms of training plans.  Feel free to add, subtract, embrace or ignore as you see fit.  After all, it really is about the pleasure and enjoyment you get from the pursuit in the first place.  But no insanity pleas, Mr. and Mrs. Poe. 

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

  • February 07, 2023 6:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    During one of my recent insomniac nights, I did what you’re advised not to do… I turned on the computer and lit up my brain even more.  Well, I wasn’t being productive at being sleepy, so I might as well be productive WHILE I was sleepy.   

    I came across a power point presentation that I had done 10 years ago entitled ‘How to devise a training plan’.  The fact that 10 years ago I even knew what a power point presentation was is an amazing fact… but not relevant. 

    Breezing through the slide show was a great exercise for me; both as an athlete, a coach and a purveyor of running knowledge (only when asked, of course – I try not to ‘know it all’).  The concepts are as accurate today as they have ever been, and I wanted to share them in a short-format, in hopes of passing along a few new or reminder nuggets.

    Here’s the general gist of the presentation – there are SIX truisms when it comes to devising your training plan.  But before I share them, please note that a training plan isn’t necessary in the pursuit of enjoyment of running and racing.  It really only matters if you’re looking for an improved chance of attaining your end goal.  So here goes…

    1. Every workout has a purpose
    2. Plan your work and work your plan
    3. With wisdom comes age (yes, you read that right)
    4. Don’t forget the small stuff
    5. Definition of insanity
    6. Be flexible

    The concepts are quite simple, but sometimes the simple things are the toughest to grasp, simply because they are simple!  And as I often remind other runners, you probably ain’t working/running for a major shoe company for your income, so remember your WHY!

    I have never believed in the concept of ‘junk miles’.  Every mile run brings with it a purpose and an outcome.  Knowing what you intend that mile to bring helps keep everything else in balance.  Without balance, in most cases burnout and injury will be the outcome.  I’ve never known anyone who strives for injury as their purpose for running.  By the way, ‘I needed a break from work/school/kids/traffic/etc…’ is indeed a purpose.

    The expression ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ has always bothered me.  It’s one of those life truths that business coaches have shoved on type B personalities.  BUT, generally speaking, it sorta does make sense that planning helps achieve the goal.  Having NO plan isn’t really the best way to save for retirement, and neither is it a good idea to start marathon training without one.  You don’t need to account for every minute of the journey, but you probably need to account for the journey.  Oh, and a failure isn’t really a failure unless you fail to learn from the failure.  I hope that statement didn’t fail.

    Next month, I’ll focus on rules 3, 4, 5, and 6, since they tend to get a little bit more specific.  But I think the titles give you a pretty good idea of what the content is.  There are some specifics that ‘should’ be part of your training plan, such as training cycles, goals events, highlighted workouts, personal care and the like.  I’ll highlight those, so I can pretend to be that ‘know it all’ we all dislike… hee hee hee. 

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

  • January 10, 2023 8:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Welcome to another new year.  Funny how those things pop up annually, eh.  May your 2023 runs be flat, fast and with a tailwind!  Are you planning any resolutions, goals, or new habits?  I have an idea for you…

    For Christmas, I received my annual paper running log stocking stuffer.  And this year, my son received his very first paper log as well.  I’m excited to show him all that a paper log can do and say.  Strava, Garmin, Nike, etc… all have nice on-line logs that allow for everything from pace, distance and location to weather, heart rate, stride rate and even ‘pit stops’ (yes, you can usually tell).  But a paper log has DEPTH! 

    Some of you may recall that I have paper logs dating back to 1984.  I started running in 1978 but didn’t really understand tracking my runs until my junior year in college.  And it’s not just about tracking mileage and pace, it’s about tracking YOU.  See, I’m not sure Captain Kirk’s oral star date logs were ever shared with anyone else but Captain Kirk.

    Here are a few random entries from my years gone by –

    12/15/2005 – Kent Island trail with 8 x 20 second accels.  7.5 miles/56’00.  Mizuno Riders – loosed up from yesterday’s treadmill run.  I HATE treadmills!  Groin is sore but improving. 

    7/25/1993 – So. Chester County team Triathlon.  1st overall team!  5-miles in 26’44 (last two downhill in 10’09).  I’ve never been envious of the swim leg, until today… 86 degrees when I started! 

    3/12/2016 – Creek Road/PennDel trail from UD Fieldhouse.  Good LSD effort!  11.7 miles/89’48.  NB890 v4.  Avg. 7’40 pace for most of this.  Feeling stronger but need to start peppering in more speed sessions.  Turnover is off. 

    On the surface, these individual entries don’t really tell much of a story, but looking at the days before and after… oh the places you (and Captain Kirk) can go!  For example, I recently determined that I’ve run over 40,000 miles just in the state of Delaware.  There are stories in those pages.

    I’m not poo pooing digital uploads and the like, but let’s be honest.  I’m sure there are those special diary entries that we don’t want our friends and social media clan to know about.  But if you don’t write it down (for your eyes only), those moments of clarity, need or epiphany may be lost forever.  How many people do you really want knowing your groin hurts? 

    There are those who also don’t want their competition to know what they’re doing, or their egos won’t let their friends know they ran at 9’00 pace rather than 8’00 pace.  A paper diary allows you to keep those secrets AND provides you with the training guidance you may need.

    My suggestion for 2023 is to try your hand at ‘writing it down’.  Give it 21 days and see how it goes.  It doesn’t need to be in some special runner’s log or triathlete log.  Heck my first year was written in a stenography notebook.  And you can be as complete or as vague as you want or need.  It’s all about YOU learning more about YOU.  Happy running for this coming year! 

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

  • December 06, 2022 7:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Most people I know like synergy and roundness in their life.  If there’s a yin, they want the yang right there with it.  Most people prefer even numbers to odd.  Most people prefer watching the movie all at once rather than in pieces.  And, of course, most people eat dessert because it completes the meal (although I’ll argue dessert does just fine by itself).

    In my 44+ years of running, I have competed in 29 marathons.  Now, I have not finished them all, but I have toed the line with the intention of completing all 29.  And of those, I have crossed the finish line 22 times.   Those are pretty good numbers for a competitive marathon runner.  But apparently, my lack of desire to pony up once more for marathon attempt #30 drive people nuts. 

    In 2010, my friend Mike and I travelled to Burlington, VT for the Vermont Marathon.  It has a sponsor name but I don’t recall it off-hand.  Anyway, I had trained very well all winter and through spring.  Oh, and as a side note, early spring marathons are cruel for people who have to train through winter. 

    I put in some very good training, my confidence was high, I tapered well and race day appeared.  And out of nowhere, my motivation and desire disappeared.  By midway through the fourth mile, I knew I wasn’t going to finish, but I trudged on until mile 20 where I finally threw in the towel.  Marathon #29… DNF (did not finish).

    I’m okay with it now, and I was okay with it the moment I dropped out, too.  But when people ask me how many marathons I’ve run, they don’t really expect THAT to be my marathon dessert.  “Ya gotta do just one more”, they state.  “Even number”, they scream. No.  I don’t.  Really.

    Runners sometimes don’t know when to say ‘enough is enough’.  We attempt to run our streaks (consecutive days without missing) or toe the line for our 20th or 30th or 40th Caesar Rodney half marathon (yes, I know a guy who does, even though he cannot train for it).  Runners have egos?  Uh, yes.  Yes we do and those egos can be our downfall.

    Another friend, a two-time Olympic trial competitor and national class runner for years, didn’t know when to change course.  For years, he fought hamstring and knee issues.  Had he changed course a little bit, rested a bit more, even went to a real doctor or orthopedic, he may still be running at a decent level.  But he’s given up the fight and no longer runs.  Not the kind of dessert he was expecting. 

    I have a rule that I never run the same race more than two years in a row.  That has generally held up over the years, with a few notable exceptions (three Boston Marathons, for example).  In order to avoid being bored, getting burned out, injuring myself beyond repair, etc… I have varied what I do, how often I do it, and even with whom.  And, as of 2010, I’ve given up marathoning. 

    There are dozens of ways to stay engaged and motivated in sport and in running.  I’ve often said that we need to break out of our comfy comfort zones and experiment.  The great running philosopher George Sheehan once said ‘All of life is an experiment of one’.  But if we don’t experiment, we’ll never know. 


    I’ll admit that every now and then, I get the urge to run another marathon.  But then I recall that utter feeling of defeat and discouragement that I felt running in downtown Burlington, just past the three mile point, wondering ‘where else can I be right now other than here?’.  Not a feeling I’d wish on ANY runner.

    So when ‘A Christmas Story’ comes on TBS this month on a 24-hour continuous loop, realize that you don’t need to watch it straight through in one sitting.  You have a whole day to catch enough segments to put it all together.  And feel free to saunter up to the dessert table without eating the meal first.  Synergy is sometimes boring.  Running should never be. 

  • November 04, 2022 6:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I recently had a birthday.  It wasn’t one of those marquee numbers that runners get all excited about, though.  It was just an even number rolling to an odd number.  But in 2023 I’ll get one of those Age Group flips!  Look out, next bracket, here I come!

    People who say age is just a number were probably never a runner, or an athlete in any other sport that pits like aged individuals against other like aged individuals.  And one of my favorite lies has always been ‘I feel as good as I did 25 years ago’. No.  No you don’t. 

    The age group divisions in running are a great equalizer when it comes to the competition.  In my early days, I envied the upper age group runners but never really spent any time thinking about them as competitors.  As I started getting ‘less young’ (when I hit 40), the competitive advantage of youth started to wane, as did the gap between myself and those older athletes.  In the younger years, it was about the Open division (usually 39 and under), but as the years pass, I’m no longer on the same lap as those 20, 30 or even 40 year olds. 

    Runners are for the most part competitive by nature.  We want to outrun other runners, or ourselves or some other force. It’s the Age Group Divisions that allow us to maintain that spirit of competition. 

    When I turned 40, I started competing at some of the regional and national Master’s Competitions (that’s what they call us 40+ runners… we’re MASTERS.  And 50+?  GRAND MASTERS).  A nice feature at those national meets was a second race bib that was worn on the back of competitors, indicating which Age Group they were in.

    In 2014, I placed 4th at the Outdoor Track & Field Championships, held at Wake Forest University, in the 10,000 meters (running 37’20).  I missed a medal because the 3rd place competitor (who beat me by :04 seconds) wasn’t wearing a back age group bib. I had plenty left but did not realize a medal was a short sprint away.  The next day I placed 8th in the 5,000 meters, running 18’10.  I was sorta tired and Age Groups don’t excuse for tired (see my comment above about feeling like you did 25 years ago). 

    All races, big and small, local and far away, miles and marathons, offer age group awards.  These are almost always on the race app or website.  Larger races tend to offer those 5-year spreads (40-44, for example) but smaller ones may opt for the 10-year range (20-29).  Male and female divisions are the norm, and a few races are starting to offer the binary race division as well. 

    Enjoy the aging process.  You may be slowing down relative to you 25 years ago, but so are your competitors.  And that’s what makes it interesting!  Just don’t lie about feeling as good as you did years ago.  We know better. 

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

  • September 09, 2022 9:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thoughts on the Run – How far is three miles?

    (The following is an actual conversation) –

    “I really want to run my first race”.  “Which races do you think you want to tackle first?”.  “I haven’t picked a specific race yet, but I want to run a 5k.” “Well, that’s a great distance to do first.” “Yeah.  I thought so, too.  How far is that, anyway?”

    Hmmmmm, now I know Americans aren’t great with the metric thing, and I know some of you would grouse that our education system failed us on this whole imperial to metric conversion.  But really?  How far is a 5k?  The irony isn’t that this person didn’t know.  The irony is that they’ve heard ‘5k’ and didn’t realize it referred to the distance! 

    Let’s start by tackling just how far a ‘5k’ is.  It is precisely 3.10686 miles.  OR it is exactly 12 ½ laps around a standard 400-meter track, measured from the inside of the first lane.  OR it is the approximate distance between Middletown and Appo High Schools (per Map my Run).  As an aside, it’s approximately 4.2 miles from Middletown to Odessa High. 

    5k races accounted for nearly half of all paid registrants in 2019 (the most recent non-covid year for which data was available).  Half marathons are a close 2nd as the most popular distance, by the way.  According to Livestrong on-line, in 2019, 8.9 MILLION people completed a 5k race distance.  Apparently, my friend from above has read these stats and realized the 5k is where it’s at!  Of course, I’m not sure where ‘at’ is. Nor am I interested in explaining that whole ‘half-marathon’ distance thing.   

    Be honest, as you sit here reading this, you’re probably thinking you could walk/jog/run from MHS to AHS.  3.10686 miles isn’t THAT far.  And that’s precisely the point.  The 5k race distance is popular for a reason.  It is something that almost anyone can aspire to complete, train for and do!  It does not take a Herculean effort to do so.  The biggest difficulty with running a 5k is figuring out how to start.

    The 5k’s popularity is in its ease and challenge simultaneously.  It takes endurance, but not too much endurance.  It takes speed but not too much speed.  It takes training, but not too much training.  And it takes patience, but not too much patience.  And finally, it takes commitment, but not too much commitment. 

    I will be totally honest with you.  I personally do not like the 5k.  Never have, never will.  In my day, I could putter a 15-minute 5k.  Good but not good enough.  I always preferred the 10k (PLEASE don’t ask me how far that is, I’m begging you!).  I’m also a big fan of the XC racing scene.  But the 5k was always my gateway into the longer racing distances. 

    If you use the Google and look for 5k training plans, you’ll be amazed that the sheer number of options available.  However, if you are a first-timer or somewhat of a novice, my strongest advice is to find a club or a group that caters to ‘Couch to 5’ athletes (and yes, you’re an athlete).  These groups provide an excellent vehicle for training, partnership, accountability, safety, and success.  There are both in-person groups (Middletown Athletic Club, Pike Creek, Smyrna-Clayton, Downstate Striders, etc…) and on-line groups who can help guide you. 

    Occasionally, I’ll be approached about training someone for their first marathon (okay, it’s more than occasionally…).  My first two questions are ‘how long have you been running?’ and ‘what’s your best 5k time?’.  I will often get the ‘I’ve never run a race before’ answer.  That always makes me giggle, since my first race that wasn’t a high school XC event was a marathon.   Soooo naïve (in 1979). 

    Fall is a great time of the year for spreading your wings a little bit and tackling that first 5k event.  You don’t need to race it.  You don’t even need to run the entire way (walking is just fine, along with walk/jog mixes).  But you do need to know how far it is.    

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

  • August 05, 2022 2:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The absurdity of running is in the eye of the beholder.  In other words, that someone thinks your daily 5-mile trek is ‘nuts’ might pale in comparison to how you view someone who trains for full marathon.  We all have our reference points. 

    Here’s my example of absurdity in athletics – In 2011, an Irishman named Gerry Duffy entered the U.K. DECA-Enduroman Iron triathlon.  The premise of the event was to complete an Iron triathlon every day for TEN CONSECUTIVE DAYS.  Let’s see, I’m not good with the numbers but that’s 24 miles of swimming, 1,160 miles of cycling, oh and let’s add on 262 miles of running.  Of the 20 original entrants in the DECA, only three finished, with Duffy taking home the gold. 

    Duffy wrote about this event, as well as the training that led up to it, in his 2013 book ‘Tick, Tock, Ten’.  It’s a fascinating account of not only the accomplishment, but the calories and the sleep deprivation and the support crew and even the absurdity of the course itself.  His fastest day was 14 hours, 10 minutes and his slowest 17 hours, 59 minutes.  The marathon was 26 – one mile loops (or 260 times!). Bet you’ll never complain about a 5k on the track again.  Duffy was ‘wrecked’ for the better part of a year afterwards, but also had gained two pounds during the ten days.  A sign, he says, indicated that the nutrition was ‘spot on’.

    We often hear about people undertaking absurd athletic challenges that we might gasp at either in morbid fascination or complete disbelief.  Can you count the number of times a friend or family member has said to you ‘I don’t even drive my car that far’?  Neither can I.  And it’s sorta lost its humor, too – it was just a half-marathon! 

    Running for the sake of running is in and of itself an absurd pursuit.  Why do we run?  Well, because we love being absurd, I suppose.  What made Duffy aspire to run the DECA triathlon?  I’ll paraphrase from his book; it was the challenge.  He’d run 32 marathons in one year as a precursor, so I can only guess he was upping the ante.

    The reference point I mentioned earlier really is what is viewed as the difference between what is absurd and what is a challenge.  Over the past 20 years, I’ve participated in seven 200-mile multi-leg relays, where team members alternate who runs, until the entire team completes the 200-mile journey.  I view these stage races as challenges, but I have been told I’m nuts, crazy and ‘absurd’.  To me, Duffy was nuts.  To others, I’m nuts. 

    This month I will surpass my 44th anniversary as a runner.  I started on August 15, 1978 and have been running, relatively healthy, that entire time.  In those 44 years, there is nothing that I have done that I myself would deem to be absurd.  Challenging, oh yes, but never enough to see myself through the prism of ‘absurdity’.

    In your running journey, have you ever found yourself looking at a Duffy-like challenge, that bordered on the unimaginable?  My guess is that if you did finally accept the challenge, you never viewed it as absurd.  And in the end, isn’t your reference point the only one that truly matters? 

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

  • July 05, 2022 8:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Like a lot of families these past few years, we really haven’t gone anywhere.  The last ‘family vacation’ was to Utah four years ago.  And the running there was outstanding (so was the rest of the trip)!  So getting away this summer meant a week’s worth of fun, activities, relaxation and RUNNING!

    I’ve been hobbled the past nine months, recovering from a knee surgery that doesn’t seem to want to heal completely. It’s left me somewhat baffled but also looking like one of those shuffling ‘can’t let it go’ types.  And believe me, now I understand why they can’t let it go.  Things are (slowly) improving, so shuffle I shall. 

    But I’m on VACATION and vacations were made for running, right?  We traveled to a place we’d never been before, and to me, the best way to experience and see a new place is on foot.  We also rented bikes for the week (geezer bikes, I call them) but by foot is my preferred mode of transportation.  It’s a lot easier to spot the restaurants, shops, and places of interest.

    Runners (and walkers) – vacations and get-aways don’t have to preclude running IF you plan a little in advance. Know where you are staying, investigate a little bit about where the locals run, google map the area looking for trails, parks and sidewalks.  And had I thought about it, I would have checked the local running group to find a full schedule of locally held races (I looked on a Wednesday and noted that there had been a race held the day prior – ah fooey). 

    Every trip is different, unless that is, you’re one of those creatures of habit.  Even still, weather, activities, food choices and the like can afford you the chance to run in different environments.  We get so used to running the same three or four routes. According to a recent USA Running study, the average runner has 3.4 different routes they use monthly. Gosh, we’re boring!

    On our recent trip, I ran four different places during the week.  One (two actually) was running the same pathway but in opposite directions.  One was a beach run (sans shoes!).  And one was a local state park.  A couple runs I had company and a couple runs I ran solo.  The change of scenery, the change of pace, the change of terrain and even the change of company helped make each run a real vacation run.

    This summer, I have added mileage in two different states, beyond the usual mid-Atlantic regions.  Indiana was a new location for me (state #35, 10 miles total) and my North Carolina mileage put me at 101 miles in the state.  Finding new places and new scenes adds an extra step to your…. Step.

    So where will your summer breezes take you this year?  Or maybe you’re a winter snow-shoe or ski type.  And if a stay-cation is in your plans, there are lots of local and regional places I’m sure you’d like to investigate that are within an hour’s drive.  A little planning, a little travel, and a lot of memories. 

    It’s time to relax, unwind, and look for the roads you’ve never travelled while humming Seals and Crofts all the way…(get out of there jasmine, I have allergies!).

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

  • June 06, 2022 7:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The stack of t-shirts was immense.  I counted 24 in all.  My son and I had just gone through our closets and dressers and were prepared to donate 24 running t-shirts.  So, if we were planning to donate 24, just how many were we keeping?

    Running t-shirts are the bane of the existence of every non-running spouse in the world.  Fortunately, my spouse is a runner, so she ‘gets it’.  As I have famously stated on more than one occasion, I have more running t-shirts than God.  And as a family of runners, well, we could probably outfit most of the Old Testament tribes.

    What’s with the t-shirt anyway?  Why are they so popular with the running world?  I have t-shirts in my collection that are still wearable, dating back to the mid-1980s.  One shirt, from my very first marathon in 1979, is held together by mere threads and is (well, WAS) only worn on the day I was racing a marathon.  It’s been to Boston, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, DC, Burlington and even Bermuda.  It was retired when I retired from the 26.2 miles of madness.

    T-shirts were (are?) all the rage in the 80’s and 90’s.  They were the badge of honor for your entry into a race, be it a 5k or a triathlon.  Race t-shirts are to runners what NASCAR t-shirts are to Jeff Gordon fans (or Tony Stewart).  We wear them to brag, we wear them to remember, we wear them to shout, ‘look what I did’ and yes, we even wear them to run in… occasionally. 

    Speaking of running in them… somewhere in the early 90’s, the fashion industry took note and developed a slightly more expensive but also considerably more functional tech-shirt option.  These breathable, quick-drying alternatives allowed runners to run comfortably in their hard-won apparel.  It also limited one’s ability to remove the sleeves for that ‘sun’s out, gun’s out’ look.  Tank tops tech shirts quickly moved in to fill the void.

    In my nearly 44 years of running, I have given away far more shirts than I have kept.  Back in the early 90’s, I spent a great deal of time working in the City of Chester with an organization called Team City Ministries.  I used to donate a lot of clothing, race shirts included, to the homeless through TCM. One day while driving through the city, I counted no less than 5 of my shirts being worn.  It was great seeing these shirts getting a second life.  None of them were running, however.

    In my basement, we have a t-shirt quilt hanging on our wall.  It is made of 36 race shirts dating from 1980 through 2001.  It’s a great stroll down memory lane, when I think of the races depicted that no longer exist, or days when I ran my brains out for the win, or my bride ran a PR.  I did get yelled at for including my wife’s favorite stolen shirt, the Eriesistible Marathon, from 1990.  She LOVED stealing that one and wearing it.

    Race directors have started to bring back the shirt after a period when other SWAG (stuff we all get) became famous.  Beer mugs, hats, synchie backpacks, etc… became popular for awhile when people started rebelling and saying, ‘not one more shirt’.  But it seems the t-shirt is somewhat back in style.  Smart race directors are offering the choice of ‘for an extra $10, get a race shirt’. 

    So what’s your favorite?  Which is your go-to?  What’s the biggest ‘brag about it’?  My favorites are probably one of the seven LVRR Relay race shirts from my days in the Has-Been Track Club between 1998 and 2004.   The go-to is one of two Hood to Coast shirts from 2015. And the biggest brag?  It’s gotta be my very first USATF Master’s Championship XC race shirt from 2004.

    Just a few of the 125 t-shirts I currently have in my closet.  And yes, I wear them all (except that 1979 marathon shirt – never again).

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

  • May 10, 2022 10:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    BB King said it best (well, actually he sang it…) “The Thrill is Gone.  I can see it in your eyes.  I can hear it in your sighs.”.  Thrill?  What thrill?!

    Patriot’s Day (the 3rd Monday in April), is a day celebrated by six states in New England, commemorating the first battle(s) of the American Revolution.  Odd that Montana doesn’t celebrate that one, eh.  Ground Zero, however, is Boston, Mass with the granddaddy of all celebrations, the Boston Marathon.

    This year’s Boston race was the 126th annual event.  I have raced in three of them and attended four others as a spectator.  I love my Boston memories, was pleased with my performances (except for the year I dropped out) and see it as one of several pinnacles in my racing career.  But… the thrill is gone. 

    As is the usual, I get a lot of calls from my running buds and R.B.s on and near Boston race day.  One of the communiques stated, ‘it’s the only day of the year I wish I was still running marathons.’  To which I replied ‘Oddly, this year, not I.’.  In year’s past I agreed with that sentiment.  I mean, I know of few if any marathon runners who don’t desire to meet the qualifying standards to run the Boston race (yes, generally speaking, you need to qualify to run Boston by running another marathon under a certain time, based on your age).

    In year’s past, I’d get that sense of really wanting to be a part of the day, even toeing the line and competing with the best and fastest in the world.  I gave up marathon training 15+ years ago and don’t really miss it.  But on certain days (Patriot’s Day), I used to get the sense of desire and longing to be there again.  But not this year.  Not.  One.  Bit.

    Most runners I know, and especially the long haul runners, evolve over time.  Research has shown that the average runner takes 6-8 years to reach a peak before performances start to plateau or even taper off.  This time frame can be impacted by varying training stimuli, changing race focus, improving diet, rest, and other outside impacts (quit your job?).  But time catches up and we all hit the other side slope in performance and desire.

    So if I have lost the thrill, does that mean my running days are done?  Oh heaven’s no!  There are as many racing challenges to be had as there are makes and models of running shoes, socks and energy replacement foods.  Meaning… lots!  On road, off road, tracks, trails, hills, flats, team events, solo endurance races, theme events, specialty challenges, destination runs, mud runs, spartan runs, beach runs, odd distances (what the heck is a 9k), multi-sport events, biathlons, duathlons, triathlons, multi-stage races… I think you get my drift. 

    I can’t choke down one more ‘flat and fast’ 5k, nor do I have the stomach to train 60 miles a week for four months to cobble together a marathon.  I just don’t.  But I DO love running and racing still.   And there are tons of options for me.  Guess I should go figure out what a 9k is. 

    If you are starting to get the ‘thrill is gone’ sense about running whatever it is you have been regularly running, it’s okay.  It doesn’t make you any less of a runner.  It just means it’s time to evolve into another kind of runner, and let that challenge set you free.  I’ve run 29 marathons; I don’t need #30.  What is it that you feel the need to move on from? 

    “The thrill is gone…”  Sing it BB! 

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

Middletown Athletic Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 99 Willow Grove Mill Drive, Middletown, DE 19709

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