When I lived in Michigan, I occasionally ran with a guy in our neighborhood named Terry Elsey. Terry is about my age, and we were already getting a bit long in the tooth at the point in time when we ran together. In his prime however, Terry had been one of the fastest guys anywhere. I learned a few things during our runs. Here are a couple of them:
1) You could pick up discarded Marlboro packages, collect the UPC's, send them in, and receive some pretty neat stuff. Over a couple years, I wound up with backpacks, a roller duffle bag, cargo shorts, and other things that I can't remember. Terry, having more and longer experience with these pickups, got even more stuff. Marlboro stopped the program about ten years ago.
2) It's good to have "an edge". We would do a run through Farmington Hills that I had figured was something on the order of 11.7 miles. "I call it eleven," said Terry. When I told him that he ought to record his running data more accurately, he said, "I convince myself that I'm running slower and fewer miles. That's my edge."
When Terry ran a race, he knew subconsciously that he could run faster than his training log indicated. It must have worked for him; he sure won his share of road races.
My edge for many years has been that I ran a lot of miles. Sure I trained hard as well, but I always thought that when I lined up for a race, I had at least one advantage over my peers: that I (generally) ran more than they did. I was at least somewhat competitive, so it worked, although not as well as Terry's edge worked for him.
Now that I've retired from marathoning, I've cut back on my overall mileage. After years of seventy mile weeks, I'm now doing about forty to fifty. The really good news is that I've now gone about six months without a major injury. It's possible that there's a relationship there, somewhere. But aside from that bit of cheer, I think I may have lost my edge.
The plan had been to get faster at shorter distances by training faster for those fewer miles. I'm working on this. Both last week and this week I managed to get in both an interval workout and a tempo run. This is pretty much the kind of training I'd been planning on and hoping for. So maybe my new edge can be that I run fast nearly all the time.
I like this idea, but it sure didn't work for me at the Towpath Ten-Ten 10K the other day. Maybe I am still a work in progress.
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