Thursday, April 21, 2016

Practice and training

On this week two years ago, I was preparing to attempt to finish my 30th marathon. I had run hundreds of races some as short as 3.1 miles and a few that were actually over 26.2 miles. Getting to all those starting lines took training. Training meant long runs alone or with friends. Training ment doing speed work or hill repeats. Sometimes training involve machines in the gym. Training also meant a balanced diet. Often one race was training for the next. Runners train, we don't practice running. Sportsball players practice when they don't have an actual competition. Sometimes, people of a different generation for people who are unfamiliar with the sport of running asked me if I practiced. No, I train.

On this week two years ago I was also suffering from the stomach virus that triggered the lovely autoimmune condition that I'm suffering from. 23 months ago I was a quadriplegic in the intensive care unit (I actually like to say that I was suffering from Quadrophenia). In the hospital I remember to practice. I practiced being calm. I practiced my breathing. I practiced mindfulness. I passed hours reviewing the various courses I ran in my mind. In my mind I ran laps on the track and in reality the machines that were connected to my body started beeping because my heart rate actually started going up. In my mind I crossed all the finish lines, with real tears on the waterproof hospital pillow.

Now more than ever, I practice while I train. Breathing and thoughtfulness are that much more important when one's balance is off or when significant muscle groups are in active. I also try to get to 27 reps on most of the resistance machines. For the first five or six I try to hold back and not get caught up in the excitement of being strong. Number six is a little exciting because I passed my neighborhood. I moved through to 13 without much stress and then I get to the halfway point. Then I focus on getting to 16 where things get tough but the crowd starts to roar. The number 20, only a 10K to go. Number 21, back in Manhattan. At number 22 on thinking ahead to Central Park already. 23 and 24, I can see people with their finisher's medal, I'll get one also. At 25 your allowed to say almost there. At 26, you can see the finish line. Then all the effort that's left goes to looking good when you're done.

Thanks for the action photo, Murray.
Without much planning I decided this morning to show up for a 1 mile race. I figured I trained enough. I've taken off the ankle foot orthotics and run half a mile a couple times with no problem. Tonight, I wanted to find out what I was made of; I wanted to find out if I could race 1 mile. I honestly wasn't sure if I could do it. I approached it the way I have approached ultra marathons in the past. I knew I can do half the distance so I figured I'd push on and see how I felt at three quarters of that distance. I don't remember how I felt, all I knew is that I just had a quarter to go.

Training got me to that finish line. I don't know what kept me from bursting into tears when I did it. I guess it was that I could hardly catch my breath or that I was worried I was gonna fall on my face.

Now that I'm home and more or less alone it's good to practice my writing and to let the tears of joy flow.

And thank you Susan for catching me in this video at the finish line.


  1. I also have the Aman variant I'm 4 years in now and have just started to furniture walk in our small house .You have done so well and I wish you good health and many more marathons . AJG.

  2. Michael--You are simply awesome. You continue to fight the good fight and you march on and do not give up. Congratulations on your mile victory run!

  3. You have to come to the final mile!


You do not have to be nice!


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