On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Thursday, July 29, 2010


When I originally started out to write this post, I was going to title it, "What do you do when you know someone is doing the wrong training?"

And then I was like, "Duh, you leave it alone and let them realize it on their own."  Then I thought, "But what do you do when you know someone is not training as hard as they should?"

And then I was like, "Duh, Tracy, welcome to your life.  That is you."  So, I titled it "Hypocrisy," since what I'm about to do is to rant about a friend when this post could be applicable to me, as well.

This friend is not a runner.  Yes, he once did a marathon - at my insistence and on inadequate training, but he finished it.  He was in the Army once, and so he still considers himself a runner in a rather cute, nostalgic way.  But ultimately, although he is fit, he is not a runner.  We tried running together a few times years ago, but I quickly learned that his militaristic, no talking, no fun approach to running didn't mesh with my, um, rather laidback style.  So, I just accepted that he is not a runner.

Right now, he's considering a job that requires a fitness test.  A 300 meter sprint followed by a 1.5m speed test, to be specific, with sit-ups and push-ups added to the mix in between.  His approach, therefore, is to go to the gym twice a week and blow out full-speed on the treadmill and not understand why it is that he's not really improving.  I mean, he basically is a runner, right? or so he thinks.  I've tried to suggest that maybe he could get better through more consistent running, or maybe distances of more than a mile at a time.  I've tried to suggest he should try it outside (since the test will be outside).  But no, he's going to do what he's going to do.  He's close to his goal time, but over the past few weeks he's stayed exactly that: a few seconds away, with no improvement.

Recently, we made plans to go to the track in the morning.  I wanted to stretch out my legs, and he wanted to do a(nother) time trial.  But, when it came time to head out, he revealed that he didn't think he could run (even slowly) to the track - a distance of less than a mile - because that would wipe him out too much to be able to to do the test.

I want to help him.  He wants this job.  But I can't help him any more than I've already tried to, and that's hard.  And I'm a hypocrite - it's far, far easier to criticize someone else's training program than it is to look critically at your own.

(He doesn't read this, so let's just pretend I never wrote it, 'kay?)


  1. hmmmmmmm - would it possibly be because he doesn't think a "girl" could tell him to improve? (maybe? maybe not?) Maybe he just doesn't take advice well. Could you find an article or an online training thing to print out and hand him? Something that reinforces everything you've told him? The more places he sees it and as the message gets reinforced, he just may start to listen. i think it's super sweet you are trying to get through to him!

  2. Interesting... I hadn't thought about the gender aspect of things. I had assumed it was more a speed thing - like, I'm not fast enough to run the times he needs (ahem, neither is he) so that disqualified me from giving sound advice. I think I am getting through, slowly...

  3. you are looking at his relationship with training and running through the eyes of how you look at your own relationship with training and running..my boyfriend is the same way (and like you) - he likes schedules, plans, goals, times, tempos, hills, repeats etc....i'm more of a "mind over matter" person...i decide i'm going to do a race and then do my best to prepare for it, but generally don't do what you "should do" (as far as what the books/experts say)...i wing it. maybe he's a "wing it" type of guy? i think you answered your own question re: what to do? you've already done what you can..just let him enjoy his running experience the way he wants :) but you're a good friend for trying :)

  4. Annie, that's really awesome advice. The more I think about it, the more right you are. I'm very, very bad at letting people go their own way when I think that my way is the right way. Okay - so now I need to work on myself rather than on him. That part's way harder, though :)