January Column

January Column

January Column

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” So said
Socrates more than 2400 years ago. Or, at least Plato said he did.

Maybe the Greek philosopher was a bit extreme in his assessment, but runners can profit from a little self-examination of their own. And what better time to do that than the month of January?

I know I’ve written this before, but it’s a good excuse to throw in a little history. January is named after Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates. Janus had two faces looking in opposite directions, one backward and the other forward.

January is a time we leave the old year and go through the gate/door to the next one. It’s this time we can utilize the two faces Janus. We can look backward, assessing 2010, and also look forward to the future, 2011.

My running buddy Michael Holmes always closes out each calendar year by giving himself and his running a letter grade: A-, B, or whatever. His grade is based on a number of criteria—his training, races, and even injuries (or lack of them) and downtime. I don’t go quite that route, but it’s fun to look back at the running memories and, at the same time, look ahead to new running adventures. And Michael has already mapped out some races, a couple of new ones included, and our training for them.

2010 was an interesting year. Looking into my training log, I am a bit surprised that I ran a few more miles this year than last, almost a week’s worth. And, on the bike, I put in almost twice the distance. This year was one of experiment for me. I tried biking before running to try to improve my endurance and, therefore, my racing times. The idea was I’d help my cardio-vascular fitness, but with less pounding on my feet and legs. I haven’t yet figured out if it worked or if I’ll try it again this year, but I enjoyed it.

The year brought a little snow, but not as much, it seems, as in recent years. “Windy” appears an awful lot in my entries, especially in the later months of the fall and winter. July, particularly, the whole month, is noted by “humid!” days. On the 17th of that month, I wrote, “most humid ever!” in describing the Bastille Day 15K.

I ran 10 races, about average for the past dozen years or so. But five of them came in a span of eight weeks in the fall. The Halloween Run Thru Hell stands out, but I remember each race, although none of my times. I ran, I think, my 19th Crim and 21st Big Bird races, but not close to Darrell McKee’s string of running every one of both of those events. The West Bloomfield Rock & Road is memorable for its wonderful post-race feast of Coneys, pita wraps, and Greek salad! I laced up my running shoes in seven states in 2010, maybe a new PR for me in that regard.

Some of the highlights of the year came not from running, but reading books about it. I enjoyed Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, which re-ignited interest in barefoot or minimalist running. John Parker’s sequel to Once a Runner, titled Again to Carthage, was especially good, one of my favorites of about 50 books I read this year.

I was fortunate to meet and write about a number of interesting people and their causes and activities. They were reminders of how generous, caring, and passionate runners are.

Of course, Janus is always looking forward, too. Although I don’t make any New Year’s resolutions, I am anticipating a good running 2011. My race calendars haven’t yet arrived, but I enjoy plotting out a schedule of potential races, both old favorites and new adventures. I won’t run them all, for a variety of reason, but it’s fun to do it anyway. Perhaps, when the schedule is done, I’ll plan a mini-vacation, traveling around the state focused on races I’d like to do a bit away from home.

Just as I experimented with biking in my running training in 2010, I’ll try some new stuff this year, too. This might finally be the time I get those snowshoes for running. I’ve been thinking about that for several years, but it also took a few years before I got on the bike. The barefoot running is still intriguing and, when the weather gets warmer, well, maybe….

Grandson Cody is just about ready for the jogger. And maybe I can convince his big brother Michael to accompany me to a race or two—the Pizza Challenge in Flint might be one to entice him! Even Ashley, with all of her energy, might be old enough for some kiddie runs.

There was a lot to like about 2010 and I’m looking forward to an equally enjoyable and productive 2011.

I wish all of you a Happy New Year of running.