Smackdown in the Sun
I'm reading a novel. My generous Minnesotan sister Anne gave it to me. It's Once a Runner, by John L. Parker Jr. I've just read chapter 17 — Breaking Down — in which the protagonist Quenton Cassidy is left in a broken state by seriously difficult training.
"The toll on the runner — and those around him — was high, psychologically as well as physically. He became weak, depressed; he needed twelve to fourteen hours of sleep a night. He was literally desperate for rest, spent his waking hours with his legs elevated, in a state of general irritability. He became asexual, rendered, in the words of the immortal limerick, really quite useless on dates. He was a thoroughly unpleasant person."
"Quenton Cassidy knew what the mystic-runners, the joggers, the runner-poets, the Zen runners, and others of their ilk were talking about. But he also knew that their euphoric selves were generally nowhere to be seen on dark, rainy mornings. They primarily wanted to talk it, not do it. Cassidy very early on understood that a true runner ran even when he didn't feel like it, and raced when he was supposed to, without excuses and with nothing held back. He ran to win, would die in the process if necessary, and was unimpressed by those who disavowed such a base motivation. You are not allowed to renounce that which you never possessed, he thought."
The other thing I'm thinking about is how, as an older runner, to run faster. There was a link on Flo's blog to a July/August 2010 Running Times article about running form. It's a great read. In it there's talk about running economy, and how the body becomes economical (with energy use) after doing many years of running. Pete Magill says "This belief system that just doing it over and over is somehow going to make us better is really crazy. Long-time runners actually suffer from the body's ability to become efficient. You become so efficient that you start recruiting fewer muscle fibres to do the same exercise, and as you begin using less muscle fibres you start to get a little bit weaker." This is where I am right now.