Looking Back:

2010 was a year of unfulfilled potential. I started the year off with an injury, bounced back for a strong spring and summer, and finished the year with two serious injuries and a very disappointing fall racing season. I ran 1582 miles this year, roughly one hundred miles fewer than I ran in 2010. I set a PR at the 5k, but failed to PR or meet any of the time goals I set for the year. I did not even run a marathon.

Statistically, this year was a profound disappointment, but there were a number of intangible successes. I joined a local running club and raced more often than I ever have before. I ran too much and too fast, but I learned a lot about the science of running and what it takes to stay healthy. I made a whole bunch of mistakes. I got smarter, and, for a while there, faster. Now it is time to take the hard lessons of 2011 and put them to work.


Looking Forward:

As I’ve written about here before, I need to acknowledge that I am old and injury prone. I have consistently upped my mileage, or my speed work, too quickly, and I have consistently paid the price. No more. From here on, I am going to be smart. I am going to follow the ten percent rule; I’m going to take cut back weeks. I’m going to be patient, consistent, and disciplined and I am going to work very, very hard to stay injury free.

That right there is my major goal for 2012 – stay healthy. But me being me, I have to set a couple of concrete goals as well. I am trying to keep these modest, but challenging and focused on the events and aspects of the sport I enjoy.

First, I hope to finally hit 2,000 miles for the year. I enjoy the long run, I enjoy racking up the miles, and I hope by building my miles slowly and safely, and not taking on any speed work for some time, I can stay healthy enough to make this a reality.


Second, I’d like the break twenty minutes at the 5k. My current PR is 21:49. A minute forty nine in a year is a challenge, but doable. The 5k is a great distance. You can race them almost every weekend through the spring, summer and fall. I plan to race this distance a lot and finally understand this distance.

Third, run a 1:35 half marathon. This is also a stretch, but not unattainable if I stay healthy.

No marathon goal for now. I’m not sure I’ll race the distance this year. We’ll see. A lot depends on how my fitness is come the summer. For now, I’m excited to just be running again pain free. I hope to keep this up, adding the miles little by little and eventually, someday, years from now, towing the line at Boston.


Concept2 Holiday Challenge

Since I was in law school I have toyed with the idea of doing the Concept2 Holiday Challenge wherein one rows 200,000 miles between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Every year, something has come up and prevented me from doing the challenge, but this year, a combination of a bum ankle, which is keeping me from running, a slight lull in my crazy life schedule, I decided to give this thing a go. The challenge is now more than half over and I’m feeling pretty confident that I am going to get this thing done.


The rowing has gotten me the cardio I need, and it has given my ankle some much needed rest, but there is no doubt I have lost some running specific fitness. Once I get back out on the roads, I’m going to pay for this month off, but such is the life of the injured.


The rowing is also terribly boring. Watching the little display tick off the meters is getting awfully dull. Duller even than the treadmill, and that is pretty damn dull. I’ll be happy when this is over, I can collect my t-shirt and get back to running.



Injury Report

The injuries persist and they are starting to really piss me off. The ankle isn’t getting any better. I tested it last week at the gym and after half a mile, the pain came back. The groin is also still tender. I’ve made an appointment with the doctor to look into both of these, but that appointment isn’t going to happen until after the first of the year. I’m worried he is going to say stress fracture and that I need to stay off of it for a long time.

I am hating life right now. I miss running terribly, and, while I am getting to the gym, and doing the concept2 holiday challenge, I’d really like to be back out on the roads. That may not happen for quite some time. I need to face up to that. What to do in the meantime? Get in other types of cardio, that’s for sure – the erg, for now, though it’s boring as hell, and the elliptical. Maybe I’ll even take a spin class or something. Fitness, for now, is going to involve a lot more time in the gym and a lot less time on the roads. I just need to keep relatively aerobically fit and not make the mistake of thinking I can run through these injuries again.

Ankle, bad; Shoulder, good.

Took the ankle for a test drive last night on the treadmill, it felt fine for a half mile and then the pain started to come back. I shut it down and got back on the goddamn elliptical. Man, I hate that thing. Bu I am going to be spending a lot more time on it in the weeks to come. This ankle injury has been lingering for so long that I think sustained time off from running is the only thing that is going to fix it. I’ve scheduled a doctors appointment, and I’m thinking I’ll need another week off at least, maybe more.

BUT! Not all is doom and gloom in the world of Sean’s pursuit of fitness. I was cleared by the physical therapist to resume push-ups this week. I am going to use this enforced time away from running to kick up the body weight work again. I need to be careful to not overdue it on the push-ups, but pull ups, l-sits and more are in the works.

Eventually, I’ll be able to do this:

Running is a Cruel Mistress

  1. I am not as young as I think I am.
  2. I get injured too often to make any real progress.

In the last two years of my taking running reasonably seriously, these are the two things about myself that I have repeatedly failed to understand. I’ve gotten into a bad pattern where after injury, I upped my mileage too quickly, causing a new injury, causing more time off, and then another quick ramp up of mileage. It just hasn’t worked.

Here’s a chart of my weekly mileage for this year.

That is what running looks like when you cannot stay healthy. In the whole year, I never put together a single sustained period of serious training. No wonder the fall racing season was such a disaster.

What happened? I got greedy and stupid. Repeatedly. I would get up to fifty miles and then do something stupid during a speed workout, get hurt, and have to cut back. Or I’d be training at thirty miles a week and suddenly up it to fifty. These were stupid mistakes that a 22 year old could perhaps have recovered from, but which left this 36 year old limping around the park.

This time, I’m going to go about things old school Sean. I’m going to build up slow and steady, and I’m going to stay healthy for the long term. My best period of running, when my times were coming down, and when I felt the healthiest, was early this summer when I strung together four weeks of forty five plus miles with no speed work.  I want to get back to that level and then stay there. That is going to take some time and I need to remember that.  I’m not built like a runner, I’m not young anymore and it is going to take a longer time and a lot more miles for me to get where I want to be.

I’m currently nursing a fucked up ankle, but once that heals, I’m going to hit the road and do yet another slow buildup of easy miles. No speed work, just slow and steady miles building up over the winter so that when summer finally arrives, I’m not digging out of another injury hole.

Running is a cruel mistress; she will accept no short cuts. I need to remember that.

The BQ(Q) – Ron

Name: Ron


Sex: Male


Age (at the time of first BQ): 56


Height: 5”10”


Weight (at the time of first BQ):158


At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Fox Valley Marathon, St Charles, IL 3:37:38


How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ?

23 years


Did you run in college or high school?

Ran track and XC my last year in HS


What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?

12,000 miles-injuries every few months.(back issues)


How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

1722 miles in 2010


Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

(didn’t answer)


Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, give us an idea of what your training philosophy was.


Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning UP to 55 miles per week


Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?

I have been part of a running club for twenty two years.

Did cross training play a role in your training?

No cross training. I did start running ultras in November of 2010.


Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?

The most helpful part of the training was the mile repeats. I used the McMillan calculator.


I was on the verge of  over training, The last 3 weeks I had to cut mileage from 45-55 to <30 mpw.





RECAP: This week was the Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon. Initially, I had signed up for the full marathon, but injuries upon injuries this fall made me back down to the half. It was a gorgeous day for a run, but I just wasn’t in shape. I finished the half in a disappointing 1:54 and change.


By mile eight, everything hurt. My groin injury came back, my ankle was killing me and I all around felt like shit. At this point, the less said about the whole thing the better. I’m already plotting for next year.


I also need to note that, tragically, two runners died this year at the marathon. That is very sad news. MY heart goes out to their families, I just hope that in the coverage of these unfortunate deaths running is not portrayed as an overly risky endeavor.

Anyway, here’s the week in numbers:


Run Streak: 26 days

Average Weight –186

Running Miles: 31.6 in 4:42:56

Bike Miles: 0

Strength and Flexibility: 2:40:00

Erg: 8500 meters in 41:30

Total exercise time: ~7.75 hours

Daily Breakdown:

Monday – 4.5 in 41:46; 20:00 S&F; row 6k in 28:56

Tuesday – 3 in 26:59

Wednesday – 3 in 25:38; S&F 45:00

Thursday – 4 in 36:03; S&F 20:00; Row 2500 in 12:36

Friday – 3 in 29:00; S&F 1:00:00

Saturday – 1 in 9:30

Sunday – 13.1 in 1:54:00; S&F 15:00


Goals for Last Week:

  1. Ice ankle everyday – DONE!
  2. Run everyday – DONE!


Looking Ahead:

I am signed up to do the concept2 holiday challenge, that’s 200,000 meters of erg rowing in a month. I’m hoping it’ll function as a nice break from running all the time. I still plan to get out there every day and get in a couple of miles, but for now, rowing, stretching and pampering the ankle are the priorities. That and planning for next year.


Goals for Next Week:

  1. Start Holiday challenge by rowing at least 15K
  2. Ice ankle everyday
  3. Run Everyday
  4. Make a plan for being a better runner.