“21 miles: out of glycogen. From now on, it’s all willpower.”

So read the glass that I drank my morning milk out of every day for ten years. My dad ran the Boston Marathon a bunch of times, and we had a set of drinking glasses with the Boston course wrapped around them in a spiral from top to bottom. There were lots of mile-marker tips on those glasses; things that I assume every skinny, slit-shorted runner in the seventies knew about the course:

  • Mile negative two: still shuffling to the starting line! Bill Rogers is probably done already.
  • Mile zero: I say, that fellow came all the way from Kenya to run this race, huh? Well, wonders never… hey, where’d he go?
  • Mile ten: That guy in the gorilla suit and tutu can’t keep this pace up the whole way. Can he?
  • Mile fifteen: That can of Dr. Pepper that you stashed in the bushes is probably around here somewhere. That caffeine and sugar will pep up your pace!*
  • Hearbreak Hill: Ha! Ha! Ha! Your Christian “god” cannot help you now.
  • Mile eighteen: time to change the band-aids on your nipples, brother. Those mesh tanks chafe!
  • Mile twenty-four: Ignore the beckoning figure in the black robe. He has no E.R.G. for you.
Bill Rodgers at the top of Heartbreak Hill in 1980.  Reproduced from Leo Kulinski with permission.

Writing about running and weight loss brings a lot of encouragement and advice from folks, which I love and welcome — thanks for your email, Bob and Genevieve and mom! It’s all good advice, too — so far, nobody’s told me to try magnets in my insoles, or to try drinking three liters of pom juice a day, or anything. Cyborg triathelete Will Ronco, in particular, gives me encouraging news about weight loss:

[Will writes about how it’s too soon for increased muscle mass to be offsetting the weight of fat loss, and continues…]
“What’s happening, as you begin running again, and stressing your
muscles and your cardiovascular system, is that your body is retaining
water. Once your body gets used to all the running, you’ll stop
retaining water. In the meantime you’ll be losing fat, but fat loss
occurs so gradually that the only part you’ll really notice is when
the water weight drops off, around week 4 of consistent training. It
kind of feels like you make this huge weight/size loss all at once but
it’s actually been going on for a while.”

Okay, I’m happy to believe that. Of course, what is a workout for me is a “whoops, let me go back and get my car keys” for Will, so I’ll adjust that four-week figure in my head. Here’s what I’m doing right now:

Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday mornings:
Jog 10+n minutes on the treadmill at a 10-minute pace, where n increases by one every workout. Then walk five minutes at a fifteen-minute pace, then walk five-minutes at an eighteen-minute pace. Stretch some.
Saturday mornings:
Jog thirty minutes at whatever pace I damn well feel like (slow; probably a fourteen-minute pace, but I don’t keep track.) Stretch some.

Yep, that’s my routine that I’ve been maintaining for all of nine workouts now. Woo! Once I’m running 30 minutes at a 10-minute pace consistently three times a week (around the middle of October), I’ll start mixing it up. Also, I’ll return to the Oakbourne Park cross-country course as much as possible. Maybe I’ll be ready for Dolphin shorts by April!

* This is a true story. My dad stashed a can of Dr. Pepper in the bushes the night before, and then pounded it during the Boston marathon. I think he barfed. And then kept running.

5 responses to ““21 miles: out of glycogen. From now on, it’s all willpower.””

  1. You inspire me. I have about 100 pounds to lose and have just started dusting off the treadmill again. I have a Widner gym I bought a few years ago which has a stair climber. At my age (59) I just want to know I can keep riding my KWAKA (KZ-1000) long and hard enough into this century to justify the 3K I’m spending on the rebuild.
    So, my question concerns the 10 min plus n formula(adding a minute per workout, if I understand correctly): In one year, correct me if I’m wrong, you’ll have added 3 minutes per week for 52 weeks or 156 minutes of flesh pounding punishment. In two years that’ll be about a five hour workout. See, this is the kind of thinking that keeps me in my recliner. I assume you plan to work up to 45 min to an hour three times a week? Or have you thought that far ahead? What I really want to know is how how how humans can NOT do this painful healthy stuff, knowing that the alternative is ultimately much more painful. I am a perfect example. It’s so frigging simple! and yet…
    Keep it up John. Let’s just keep picturing how good our reflections will look as we ride past those store fronts in Taos a couple of years down the road.


  2. Yes, I think the five-hour workout may be pushing it, unless I do one of those treadmill-under-the-desk arrangements. The plan is to stop when N reaches 30, go buy a book entitled something like “so you want to run a marathon”, and skip past chapter 1, always titled “Come back when you can jog 30 minutes and hold a conversation.”
    For anyone else reading this, my uncle Laird rides the same bike Goose did in Mad Max, which is incredibly awesome. When Kieran gets his PhD, I want to take a big ol’ Southwestern motorcycle trip to Los Alamos, Alamagordo, and other places important in nuclear history.
    More to come about my Rockin’ Baldwin Uncles.


  3. True story: As Bob Kempainen threw up what looked like about a gallon of gatorade as he led the 1996 olympic trials marathon near the 20 mile mark, the NBC TV commentary noted “Well, he’s just got to be feeling a lot better now, wouldn’t you think?”
    This is probably not a recommended practice, but he went on to win.
    On another note, working out 4 days a week has probably double the fitness benefit of working out 3 days a week. So keep up the good work!


  4. The Dr.Pepper story is true, though it was at the Skylon Marathon at Niagara Falls, not Boston. I could never have located my can of de-fizzed pop in the Boston throngs. A dumb idea I got from Frank Shorter, I think. Speaking of Shorter, I think he’s the one who said that the most important part of training is consistency. Boring idea but true. Just keep doing it and you’ll get there. Do you remember the map of the U.S. I kept in the basement (I think) and marked off each day’s mileage so that I had the notion of crossing the country in daily increments? Anything to stay motivated. And do you remember out-sprinting me at the end of a 5-mile race? You got leg speed boy, you ain’t just any old plodder.


  5. Found your site while looking for info on the Turkey Pro National for 2006. Any info you could send would be appreciated.
    On the topic of weight loss, I lost 80 lbs this year and am doing a lot of cycling. I feel great and hope you will, too. Now the hard part – KEEPING it off.


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