Blog Subtitle

Reverse-engineering the Ultramarathon

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Freedom Paradox

Wall-E Humans

I've been noticing a perplexing paradox off and on for the past couple of years, the "off" and "on" of which correlate with the "on" and "off" of my lackluster, halting attempts to get trained back into something like ultrarunning shape.

Thursday, April 26, 2018


When I think about it right now, I picture myself in a chair in Manchester, Tennessee.

The chair is tucked up against the side wall of a small building, maybe ten steps off the course, shadowed from the streetlamp out front by a corner of the building. It is two or three o'clock in the morning - on the second night.

Mostly it is quiet, as you'd expect at two or three o'clock in the morning. The late-summer night air is warm and humid and still, not rustling the leaves of the trees that shade my spot during the heat of the day, though I do hear an occasional rustle in one of the nearby tents. I try to be quiet as I rummage through my ice-filled, cheap styrofoam coolers for whatever I'll be drinking, hoping to avoid disturbing those resting around me more than I have to. I know they will understand my need though, just as I understand theirs. I'm among friends here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Dear Runnerfolk: Ultrarunning Myths

Ultrarunning was once a little sport engaged in by only a few nut jobs with serious problems. Now it seems everyone is doing them, and that's a wonderful thing - except that there weren't enough nut jobs to mentor all these freshly-minted ultrarunners and pass on the lore and history of the sport and the hard-earned collective wisdom about how to do it well.

Myths and misinformation abound and I'm going to point out a few here that bug me. This will surely raise some hackles and cause considerable offense among those who dearly hold as sacrosanct rules of ultrarunning some of these things I'll call 'myths'. Hey, at least I just put them in a rant here where generally no one reads anyway!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How to Train for Vol State

Archival image of a Vol State training session from the early days.
(Real runners wear the fez)
This is it – the post you’ve been looking for!

One of the questions I have occasionally gotten, and that I have also seen from time to time in comments on Vol State discussions is, “How would you train for a race like that?” Many ultrarunners, who either seriously think they might want to do it or who may just have a passing curiosity about it, seem to wonder about this, and I have finally been moved to reach out with such wisdom as I have on the topic.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Me and Loops

"What is it with your husband and loops??"

My wife was asked the question by a coworker right before I ran the Mt. Tammany 10 - ten circuits of a four-mile loop course up and down Mt. Tammany in western New Jersey (I only made nine). Of course the reason for the question involved more than that. It was not the first time Karen had informed coworkers that she would be taking time off to watch and assist while I ran around in circles. Four miles was actually a bigger circle than usual.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


After the long uphill drive from the Jamesville Reservoir I pass through the little cluster of buildings known as Pompey (if you live in the area, by the way, you know that's pronounced "POMP-ee"). I cross Route 20 and start down the other side of Pompey Hill, toward Fabius. The land sweeps down and away ahead of me and I can see for perhaps five or six miles across farm fields and woodlots, and into the first of the big wooded hills, and I am reminded again just how little is out here. "Not what most people outside of New York picture when you mention New York," I thought (not for the first time - and as a non-native New Yorker, I know this is true).

Today though, underneath my usual inner dialog, there is something else lurking in my mind - something deeper, wordless and primitive... fear. I feel it strongly as I drive down the hill from Pompey.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ARFTA - A Race for the Ages 2

"Mama says, 'Stupid is as stupid does.'" - Forrest Gump

Grinding it out again under the Tennessee sun.
(Photo credit - John Price)
I was pleased when Laz chose to sit down with me as I was finishing up my breakfast coffee on Sunday morning at ARFTA. He's a popular guy and everyone wants to be able to spend some personal time with him. We chatted a little about this and that. It doesn't matter how much more tired he may be than you are, he's always got a gleam in his eye and something witty and interesting to say.