To close the loop on some recent stuff, after some additional comments by me, here’s the response from the person mentioned:
Alrighty then. Now that everyone has gotten a chance to speak their mind on the mileage controversy, I think it’s about time we bury the hatchet and move on. But before I do, let me set the record straight. Although I was perturbed and rather perplexed by the harsh criticism, it was NEVER my intention to desecrate or otherwise ridicule the character of the critic. Nor was it my intent to assemble the minions to launch a verbal assault against the perpetrator. I highly respect everyone’s opinion, even those that do not agree with my own. However, I also believe that when the basis of ones hard work for the last several months comes under heavy scrutiny, I am similarly obliged to offer an objective defense using my own past training as evidence. Otherwise, if I continued forward in silence, it would appear as if I am acquiescing to the label of my marathon training as “soft” which I vehemently do not agree with. (As a matter of fact, even in further defining the term, the lesson learned in a sub 2:30 marathon was used – which is really not anywhere close to what MY marathon goals are. Therefore, the question of mileage for a sub 3:00 marathon is not the same as for a 2:30 marathon. So, in my opinion, to use that derogatory term to describe my training when it’s already been shown to be able to carry me to a 3:02 marathon is really not justified.) Furthermore, as I’m the acting running coach for more than a few friends and bloggers, how can I perform my duties honestly in helping them train for their own half-marathons and marathons with a custom plan I designed for them if I don’t even believe enough in my own training philosophy to offer a suitable defense when it is under attack. As such, I was more or less forced to build a strong case for myself not using slander or ridicule but using objective verifiable training data from marathons past. I truly hope I have done that. If anyone took offense from my arguments on my own behalf, then I am the one who’s truly sorry because I thought I handled the situation as tactfully as I could and took my time to select my words carefully.
I guess we can all agree to disagree and continue on with our individual methods for training for races the way we like.
I don’t know how anything that I said could be characterized as “harsh criticism.” I described “soft” as follows:
In 1984, my NYC target time was 2:25. I ran 2:29:13 in 1983 in my debut, and thought 2:25 well within reach. Quality was not an issue. My easy runs were 2 loops of Central Park at 1:10 and I did speed workouts every Tuesday and Thursday. But I never got in the miles I hoped to over the summer and into the fall.
So I went into the race “soft.” That means that if everything broke my way, especially the weather, I’d have a shot at my goal. There’s no margin for error. In the event, the weather was brutal, like Chicago a few years back. (The race winner stopped 10 times.) I got to 19, with my pace slowing down, and dropped out. But I had a back-up marathon, Baltimore, six weeks later. (It was then in early December.) After a week off, I started ramping up, but threw out my back and did not do another marathon for 20+ years.
“Soft,” then, is not a pejorative. It’s merely my description of being light of miles, without regard to one’s goals or non-running commitments, the race being 26.21875 miles for everyone. And quality and quantity are not mutually exclusive.
Somehow the use of the term was deemed an insult instead of an observation. And his contention that the mileage appropriate for a sub-2:30 is irrelevant to a sub-3:00 is nonsense.
The strange think is that I was not saying the guy was being too ambitious. I was saying he was not being ambitious enough, and yet these acolytes unencumbered by any restraints on the use of exclamation points took it as some sort of slight on the guy. All his supposed proof did was show that his training suggests that he can run faster than he has run before, not that he can run as fast as he can run.
Most of the runners and bloggers I know understand, I think, the distinction I was trying to make about runners versus racers. On the most recent Runners Round Table, in fact, a similar distinction was raised, without objection, as between completors and competors. (Actually, Toni objected when she thought it related to speed and not effort/intent, but withdrew her objection when the speaker said what mattered was how hard the racer (or runner) was going, not how fast.)
Nowhere did he simply say, “Look, I’m a busy guy and I can’t put in the mileage and while I understand that I could run faster in a marathon if I ran more beforehand I’m perfectly content with a sub-3.”