the world’s greatest training plan. really.

“Badges? We ain’t got no badges!
We don’t need no badges!
I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!”

— Dude in gold hat

Longtime readers will recall I have an affinity for starting a training plan and then losing interest after a couple of weeks. The last one was a 1983 affinity convertible with fuzzy dice. Lordy, I love fuzzy dice. But I hated the plan.

Which made me think. What do I really WANT in a training plan? Other than, of course, fuzzy dice. I might have mentioned that already.

Mostly, I hate complicated stuff. No, Uncle Hal, I’m not going to do 16 sets of 220 intervals preceded by four 100 intervals bookcased by a warmup and cooldown. In the first place, there will never be a track open again in my lifetime. Also, I’m slow, making 220s moot. Same with tempo. And hill repeats. And long runs. And vegetable medleys. Never trust a vegetable that associates itself with a medley. And no high quality, low quantity stuff. I need my daydreaming.

Which made me think. So what the hell DO I want? Other than a 90-year-old in a cowboy hat with a cat puppet reading quotes from “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” of course. Duh.

I basically need back-to-back long runs. But not too long. One faster day a week, and slow runs that allow me enough time to solve all the world’s problems on the first half of the run while forgetting them again on the second. And mileage I can add up for the week in my head without getting a headache. Because running shouldn’t give you a headache. Only monkey butt rash.

Which led me to The Training Plan of the Sierra Madre ©. Which is this.

■ Three 5 mile runs on Monday through Wednesday, with the one in the middle faster. We will call that one the Jan Brady run. Yes, the Wednesday run will be done in curls. The run from here around the gumbo loop is exactly 5.0000000000000000 miles, surely a sign. On the other hand, the sign at the underpass on the course is “slippery when wet,” forcing me to sing “Wanted Dead or Alive” in my head for the rest of the run.

■ 10 mile runs on Thursday and Friday. This might not be quite enough to get me through a marathon, but I lose interest after a while, and that’s all the time I have during Mo’s pottery days anyhow. You don’t want to keep Mo waiting on her pottery days. Hopefully cumulative fatigue will bring about similar results blah blah zzzzzzzzzz. Maybe stretch first one to 15 after a while and hope Mo doesn’t notice I’m missing.

■ Rest day on Saturday  because work is 20 hours long. Saturdays suck. Maybe I’ll be laid off soon. One can hope.

■ South Mountain on Sunday, either 5 or 10 miles depending on how my legs feel and whether Weekend Edition is annoying me or not. The road is closed to traffic on Sundays, meaning I will be killed by a road bike hitting gravel at 50 mph going down the hill. Run has to be one of those two distances to ensure required ease in adding up mileage. You likely missed that while obsessing over the fuzzy dice.

■ Repeat as necessary.

That’s it! 40 or 45 miles a week, depending on Lulu Garcia-Navarro. It’s simple, it’s effective, I am unlikely to lose interest because it’s basically the same thing I normally do. No worries about cutback weeks, no complicated formulas, no Uncle Hal pretending to plot out a plan for 36 bucks that’s all gibberish. Intervals? We don’t need no stinking intervals.

So there you have it. The TPotSM©. Whiskey Row, here we come, monkey butt rash and all.

In the words of Bullwinkle the Moose as he attempted to pull a rabbit out of his hat, “This time for sure.”

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just another day of bursting into flames

“Carl didn’t want to hear any of that,
so we just rode in silence the rest of the way,
the radio playing easy-listening music
that made me want to slip into a hot bath
and dream about killing everyone I know.”
— Kevin Wilson, “Nothing to See Here”

Luckily, I’m not much for hot baths. And I don’t really know anyone.

But, man. What a killer trail.

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at least i’m enjoying the ride

A homeless guy is sitting on a picnic table at around the 1 mile point of the gumbo loop. He’s watching a group of frisbee golf players as they size up the course. They’re youngish, deadheads had they been born in a different era. He’s old, beaten down from his harsh life.

He surveys them, looks down the green lawn at their target and asks: “You trying to throw those things into that basket?”

“Yup,” dreadlock guy says.

The old guy looks puzzled. “Why?” he asks.

They don’t have an answer.

I think about this a lot for the rest of my run. I’m sticking at 13:00 pace with the theory that my half pace will be a minute and a half faster than that. I’m obsessing over trying to keep my heart rate between 130 and 134 at that pace. I’m trying to keep my strides per minute close to 180 while stretching stride length to .75 or so. Why? WHY?

I’m slow. I’m not going to get much faster. And yet here I am in a yearlong training plan to oblivion. Why? Why do we run?

Beats me. Maybe because I want to see if I can improve. Maybe because in my soul I’m still a runner. Maybe because most of my life savings is tied up in running shoes.

But when I’m out here, I’m me.

I’m not sure why frisbee golfers throw discs at baskets.

But I know why I chase dreams.

Because they’re there.

That’s what runners do.

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outside in the hall there’s a cat fight

Fly me
Out the window 
Somewhere far away
Singing on the radio
Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday

— Johnette Lin Napolitano

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we rolled right past that tragedy

No regrets, Coyote
We just come from such different
sets of circumstances.
— the prophet joni

Mo and I are sitting in the car at the bird loop when it comes sauntering past. The local coyote.

I suppose having a predator on the running loop is a good incentive to keep going, but this one seems to be timid enough. It lopes past a heron sitting on the edge of the pond, barely glancing at a couple of chihuahuas that could make a fine snack. Clearly, it belongs.

Mo said he’s a female, but that’s only because females make these assumptions. Also apparently because of mammaries. I am a gentleman and don’t look.

I’ve seen either him or his ancestors on the loop for years now. They seem to do well in a wilderness composed of golf courses and Fancy People Houses. I suppose it’s easier than trying to make a living in the desert, where development and drought caused the wildlife unemployment rate to surge years before a virus leveled the playing field.

There’s something about running next to a wild creature. This must be what it feels like to toe the line with Walmsley. It’s too hot to be out, and yet here he is. Tough? Hungry? Rabid? I think Noel Coward wrote something about only mad dogs and Arizonans in the midday sun. But then he was a Coward.

I’m standing on the precipice, ready to leap. What’s the point of it all if you don’t take a chance every now and then? The coyote comes from a different set of circumstances, but still he reminds me: Do what you must to live.

No regrets, Coyote.

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mister pants, part 24

“Turning Plato and Hegel on their heads
I sometimes choose to think, no doubt perversely,
that man is a dream, thought an illusion,
and only rock is real.
Rock and sun.”

— Edward Abbey

You get so caught up in the hysteria. The world revolves around this thing that is gripping the world. Nothing else matters.

But then you find yourself sitting on a rock on the edge of the world while Mo wonders if a lizard has just crawled into her shorts or if she’s just happy to see you, and you remember for the millionth time.

We’re just like the lizard. We’re only here for a little while. Our joys, our despair, our experiences that seem so important are not. Maybe the vermin will get us, maybe a 2.33 mile run, maybe one of the 30 trillion cells doing a conga line in our body that decides to step out of life. We’re going to die.

But after we’re gone, this rock will still be here. And this sun. And for a couple of hours on a May afternoon on which we may or may not have broken curfew, we are real, too. The overpowering silence, the endless view, the wind wreaking havoc on our baseball caps, the raptors dancing in the thermals. A brief, glorious respite from the madness.

“We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis,” Mr. Abbey said.

We create the illusion that we’re important, but as you gaze out at forever from the top of the world, you realize we’re not. And because of that, maybe we are after all.

Rock is real. Rock and sun.

You sit quietly, immersed in the vastness of the world. You don’t know how the story will end. But you know when it does, this rock will still be here.

You drive home with a new hope, even if it’s just an illusion.

Mostly, you hope there’s not really a lizard in Mo’s shorts.

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the keys to a good marriage, part 9

Mo is looking at Instagram. She frowns.

“People shouldn’t write long captions below their photos on Instagram. It should just be photos,” she declares.

“Ummm, I write long captions below my photos on Instagram,” I point out.

“Nobody but YOU should write long captions below their photos on Instagram. It should just be photos,” she says.

“Agreed,” I reply.

A good marriage is all about compromise.

And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. But don’t write long captions below it.


OK, but it’s a short caption.

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