Thursday, January 24, 2013

Some Book Reviews

I read a lot. Here are some books on running I've read over the past few months with recommendations.

The Big Book of Endurance Training by Phil Maffetone

Ratings: 10/10 for useful information; 2/10 for entertainment.

Review: This book changed my life. If you've struggled with injuries or bonked at your most recent marathon or have hit a plateau in your training, read the book. You'll want a heart rate monitor after reading it, so get one now. My race times have dropped dramatically since reading it and doing what it says.

Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself by Rich Roll

Ratings: 6/10 for useful information; 8/10 for entertainment

Review: Dude was a college swimmer turned alcoholic. He then became a recovering alcoholic turned fatass. Dude then completed an Ironman triathlon on five of the Hawaiian Islands in like seven days or something ridiculous like that. I could have done without the me and my wife are so enlightened because of our East Asian philosophy and Vegan diet preaching, but it was a pretty good story. The part about overcoming his addictions was actually more interesting than the triathlon parts. This book introduced me to the concept of heart rate monitor training.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Ratings: 10/10 for information; 5/10 for entertainment.

Review: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. This is a common sense guide to eating healthy. I don't have a lot of common sense much of the time. Anyone who considers him or herself an endurance athlete would benefit from reading it.

Iron War by Mark Fitzgerald

Ratings: Information 8/10; Entertainment 8/10

Review: Fitzgerald recounts the epic Ironman battle of 1989 between Dave Scott and Mark Allen. The first 75% of the book is of pantheon quality. The last 25%, including the part about Mark Allen becoming a shaman surfer, is a little lame. This highly entertaining book has confirmed my suspicion that many world class athletes--especially endurance athletes--aren't necessarily to be admired outside of their fitness accomplishments. Both men had failed marriages, at least partly attributable to their endurance addiction. Karnazes is the only psycho endurance runner with a happy marriage that comes to mind. Dean, I'm counting on you. Keep setting the example!

Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn.

Ratings: Information 5/10; Entertainment 6/10

Review. This just in: Kenyans are fast. Finn is another left-winger who feels the need to apologize for prosperity. Kenyans, according to Finn, are fast because they run a lot as kids. They have too. Westerners are fat and spoiled by modern life.

As far as I'm concerned, the East Africans can have their gold medals. I'll take air conditioning.

Oh by the way: Mo Farah and Galen Rupp.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Most Depressing Day of the Year

I heard on the radio today (so it must be true) that today is the most depressing day of the year. Let us analyze.
  1. Resolutions. Apparently people are depressed on January 21 because they've already broken their New Year's Resolution. Really? If something was a good idea on January 1, wouldn't it still be a good idea on January 21? It's time to make third week in January resolutions!
  2. The weather's still bad. Not here. It's 60 and sunny right now. Not very depressing.
  3. The inauguration. Sure, the thought of listening to our commander-in-chief make excuses and blame someone else for his mistakes for the next four years is a little depressing, but if national leaders who don't live up to the hype are a reason to get depressed, then I'd have slit my wrists every four years for the past 24 years.
  4. It's Monday. I like Mondays, especially when I don't have to work. In addition, we get to celebrate the life of a great individual who reminded us that governments must protect our god-given rights, not take them away.
  5. Football. If you live in New England or Atlanta, you have every right to be depressed. I don't live in either place.
  6. Internet girlfriends. I suppose if you discovered your girlfriend who died but didn't die never existed and it was blasted all over every media outlet for a week straight and people are making fun of you incessantly, you'd have a good reason to be depressed. That didn't happen to me. My wife is real. And she doesn't have leukemia. And she didn't get in a car accident. And I don't have an Internet or non-Internet girlfriend.
After this thorough scientific analysis, there's really no reason to be depressed today unless you're a fan of the Patriots or Falcons, or you're Mitt Romney, or you just got exposed on national media for falling in love with a non-existent woman.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Running from Mediocrity in 2013

I know you don't care about my running goals and since nobody actually reads my blog, there's really nothing short of me posting naked pictures of farm animals that would attract enough readers to make me actually write a clever goals post for 2013, so you're stuck with this.

I just wanted to get them written down. I'll start with a quick 2012 recap, which I know you're dying to know about.

Finished 2012 with 1055 miles--an all time best. Set a 5-k, 5-mile, 10-k, 10-mile, half marathon and marathon pr.

2013 running goals
  • Set a 5-k pr (23:06)
  • Set a 10-k pr (48:02)
  • Set a 10-mile pr (83:20)
  • Set a half marathon pr (1:49:17)
  • Run a sub four-hour marathon (that would be a pr)
  • Run my first obstacle course race (signed up for Super Spartan run on April 6)
  • Run the River Mountain Loop
Feel free to hold me accountable. I have other goals for the New Year that are far more important than running goals, but they're for another forum.