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I’m able to get out in the morning now that I’ve moved my office to White Plains. I’ve long been an after-work runner, but with night falling earlier and earlier, and notwithstanding that I now have a treadmill, I’m relishing the chance to get out in the sometimes brisk morning air. Even better, I’ve been making regular runs to the Nature Study Trail (my page photo is where that trail meets the Twin Lakes trail).

Running Home to Nature Study 10-5-2009I consider this “my” trail. I’m on it within ten minutes of leaving home, passing over and by bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Hutchinson River and Cross-County Parkways.

I ran into and briefly with CNR’s coach Adrienne Wald last week, not knowing she would cooking up a storm on the front-page of the Times a few days later, in “Plodders Have a Place, but Is It in a Marathon?” (She said, “It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven, eight hours,” And, “It used to be that running a marathon was worth something — there used to be a pride saying that you ran a marathon, but not anymore. Now it’s, ‘How low is the bar?’” I won’t address that issue at this point, but I will say that Adrienne, of WTC, does speak her mind.)

We ran past, as I’ve done on my own, someone I assume is a Kenyan running for Iona College. Talk about feeling old-and-slow.

So I’ve been mixing that type of run with my normal road run along the BRP path (on which I saw Jonathan S. loping along with enviable ease last week as well). There’s something peculiar about running there in the morning, see the cars heading up to White Plains, knowing I’ll be there in about an hour’s time.

I admit that it’s not been super easy to hop out of bed, and I’m not talking about pre-dawn. There are those — former teammates (and relay-mates) Jerri Lynn and Dave and Tavia come to mind — who seem to be able to (although I doubt it’s that easy for them), but I’ve found asking myself Charlie Spedding’s question — “How Much Do I Want It?” — has been doing the trick.

So home for a shower, dress, and out the door. I was a bit tired the first few times, but that seems to have passed as well. It is quite different, though, to have the run done with as I face the day. Quite nice.

Brandon Wood sings opera and runs races and does triathlons. His background is in swimming, he’s an incurable optimist (when I met him he insisted that if I tried to swim I wouldn’t sink like a stone), and he recently queried folks about whether he should increase the use of his “head” given his propensity to rely on his “heart.” I think he’s at the point, having recently, albeit slowly, completed an Ironman, of assessing where he goes from here. He mentioned me in his post, so I responded. I know my Swiftian observation may be small-minded, but, hey, I can be as small-minded as the next man.

Thanks for the kudos.

Now the last thing I want a runner to be thinking about is what she should be thinking about when she’s running. Do the running, the thinking will follow. If anyone asks what to think of, I say one thing: “RELAX.”

What Lam says is true. I generally focus on different things for different types of runs, but I, to coin a phrase, just do it. And I don’t particularly worry about my form. Form is important, crucial even. But there’s one type of work-out that is the most fun and most sociable type of speedwork that is very important but that few people seem to do in the rush to do other types of speedwork. Repeats. I won’t get into them here because they are only part of a bigger picture. I did a memo a few years back based on Daniels and you can get it here.

Now I hesitate to go further since the last time I responded to someone making a general call for training advise I was set upon by a band of Lilliputians wielding their little swords, poking me for having the temerity not to speak with the obsequiousness appropriate to the site. Alas, out of that annoying encounter I came up with my “What Kind Of Runner Would I Be” posts, which, while hardly unique, sets out a line and leaves it to each runner on which side she will stand.

You, Brandon, know that the only person who cares about how you run is you. You can stink up the place or you can blow the roof off the joint and it doesn’t matter to anyone but you.

Which brings you to Charlie Spedding’s three questions: (1) What do I want? (2) Why do I want it? (3) How much do I want it?

Head vs. Heart? To get where you want to go, you have to be smart. How do you train the various systems that get you there? Identify the systems, identify how to stress them. Pretty simple stuff. It starts, though, with deciding what you want to do, what kind of runner you want to be. (I use “runner” since I have problems understanding how triathletes can do it (see my “One Greater Than Three?” post).) And do you want to be the best that you can be, whatever it is, 3:00, 3:30, 4:00 for the marathon say.

How you implement the plan in the end turns on the heart. “How much do I want it?” But it’s not as though this stuff has to be hard. Back to Spedding: don’t think of runs as hard or easy. Think of them as part of the plan and a “perfect” workout is, Goldilocks-like, just right, not too fast, not too slow.

That’s why you need the numbers. I am into the numbers thing. Especially on the speedwork front, which I prefer to do on a track for precision. You can get that with a Garmin (+/-) too. How fast the 400? Depends on whether it’s an interval or a repeat. How much rest? Depends.

I can be rambling. But there it is.

(As an aside, it happens that in an interview I found of Ryan Hall with Bob Babbitt Hall says his coach’s advice as to a marathon: First 20 miles with the head. Last 6 with the heart.)

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