Regular readers of this (infrequent) blog both know of the frequent comments from “cg9m” who I won’t identify because she doesn’t want to be identified but who I will say I know from my days coaching Sound Shore Running and Multi-Sport Club. I mention this because it will give some insight in the following comment. She keeps promising to not return but like Micheal Corleone she keeps getting sucked back in, which is fortunate because she’s decidedly a contrarian and tries to keep me honest.

I elevate her comment into a post because I think it makes observations about me that are worth making. More important, I think it provides me with some insights about myself that have been rattling around in my head.

So first, here’s her comment, as published (except that I’ve capitalized some words).

Hopefully (at least I hope) this is my last comment here…but from having followed your training/races for awhile, it seems (and I’ve mentioned before) that you don’t really focus on any one distance. and for the past few years, it seems, you ponder the marathon. But you don’t come near what you’ve stated is required to ‘race’. so, you flake. (And disparage everyone else who doesn’t manage those expectations.)

From what I recall, in 2006, you ran several half marathons, and ‘reach the beach’ before the marathon. your track speed sessions were impressive (not just in speed, but in duration, and number.) This year, you’ve done a few shorter races, but nothing long. I’m sure someone w/ your innate talent can run a commendable marathon. But, you’ve not come anything close to what you did that year in training (from what I can tell.)

Whatever I may think of you personally, (now i feel like a ‘manager’) it’s still a little frustrating to see a talented individual underperform. Why not forgo the marathon next year and focus on running a really great masters’ mile? or 5K? I know you like to mention that you have guaranteed entry to the marathon, but you probably still will, as you age, if you run any NYRR HM.

I’ve seen masters runners who focus on one event – be it a 400, or 10k, run a lifetime pr, or close-to. Maybe you could set a record for 50+ in 5 or 10k if you really tried. A 20 min tempo seems a good start for that, but not for a marathon. you used to run 40 min tempos for marathon.

You’re kind of a tricky subject, tho, b/c you race well across multiple distances. And i’ve said that (at least in some cases for older runners, me incl), that running longer distances seems to help for the shorter stuff, if you can’t recover from bi- or tri- weekly speed sessions anymore. that said, your training still seems to lack focus (even to a slow person like me.) Comments that 400s not being optimal for marathon training seem well-taken. It’s good you did a few 1000s, but go back and check the Sound Shore site to see how many of those you did back then at this stage. Honestly, you seem to me to hover around 10k training, but w/o enough of a long run every week to really clinch it. (I base that on what I wish I could do at minimum for that distance.) and Joan Benoit beats you these days for 10k’s (maybe you should check her training plan.) You don’t run enough speed for optimal 5k. But that’s obvious.

I think it’s great you’ve got running partners to push you, tho. (Wish I could take advantage of that, but I can’t, not for lack of willing people.) and it’s possible that slogging thru higher mileage weeks than you’re used to (that’s what worked for me last year), may help if you can’t handle the speedwork anymore. I suppose I look at it as two separate approaches – I know you’re a high mileage aficionado (for longer races), but I was trained in the lower-but-faster mindset for the short stuff. I now think they both have value on that end.

OK, sign-off time. and, as I said, hopefully the last one, as I’m moving away from the ‘racing’ paradigm.

I could quibble with some of what she says. They’d just be at the margins though. I’ve gotten comfortable being able to coast and exposing a loss of the passion about which I’ve gotten on my high horse a few times. The lack of a plan. The lack of enthusiasm.

After reading this, I pulled down my Daniels. I’ve been afraid to do that because I’ve been afraid to actually do the type of things I was able to do week-after-week a few years ago. I opened it to the 5K to 15K chapter. How about week 13? Q2: 3 X 10-12 min. Tempo, 2 minutes between. So tonight, that’s what I did. Perhaps the best track workout, or any workout, I’ve done in years. Keep the pace honest — 95 per 400s. As in the past the first one was the toughest. Second and third, not “easy”, but not really an issue. During that third one, I thought, “You know, after the 2 11 minute tempos (7 laps each), I can just do 4 laps and that’d be pretty good”. And I realized that that’s been the problem. Going the “pretty good”/coasting route. I can do 7 and I did 7.

So that’s where it stands tonight.

The Marathon. What’s the deal with that? If I wanted to do it I’d probably be training for it. Which tells me that I don’t want to do it. So I won’t.