Building blocks

The 1979 movie “Running,” staring Michael Douglas, focuses on a 34-year-old marathoner training for the Montreal Olympics.

Before tonight, I didn’t even know of the film’s existence, but I decided to tune in. While I’m not a big fan of movies from that era, let alone the fashions or music, it was entertaining. And there is one important lesson: the main character, who dropped out of medical and law schools, realized he followed those pursuits because it’s what others wanted him to do. He found happiness once he decided to do the one thing he wanted: run.

In a bit of irony and coincidental timing, it sums up my own running lately. Perhaps we all sometimes question why we pursue certain goals. What makes us keep on going?

This week brought a stark contrast to each of my runs.

Early Monday morning, as my thoughts turned to running even before my alarm sounded, I looked at my cell phone for the latest weather info. The details weren’t pretty, but they were better than expected.

By the time I headed out the door at 5 a.m., the mercury had risen to minus-13 degrees. The upside was there was virtually no wind. Bundled in a couple of layers, including an insulated winter jacket, it was nice to get out and stretch the legs on pavement again on a familiar route.

The next day offered a tough challenge: a 90-minute medium long run. It was the duration of a solid pace that proved to be challenging. On Wednesday, I headed back outside for an easy run, but the legs simply didn’t want to move. But I kept on going, knowing that some of the best runs are those when we simply don’t want to go any further.

And today I managed to perform a workout that I haven’t nailed before: a full set of Yasso 800s at goal marathon pace. Any runner who has attempted Yasso 800s – 8 repeats of 800 meters – knows it can be a grueling workout. There’s a simple satisfaction that comes with completing a tough run, let alone hitting goal pace.

Up next, after a day off from running on Friday, comes a long run. My marathon plans call for an 18-22 mile run, and since I tend to run on the upper end of my training range, it will yield my biggest mileage week since May. These runs are all building blocks in my preparation for the Surf City Marathon, and a lifetime of running.

2 thoughts on “Building blocks

  1. One film about running from that era I really like is “The Jericho Mile,” about a guy who has a shot at making the Olympic team – except he’s a lifer behind prison bars. It’s a little hokey, but I enjoy it nonetheless.

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