It’s Monday. You have a work week ahead of you. Here’s a good essay by Paul Graham on: How to Work Hard – Paul Graham
I often disagree with Graham on Twitter and you may too. However don’t be put off by that: his essays tend to be well thought out and worthy of a read and your consideration.
As for me, where I learned how to work hard effectively is during marathon training. Training for a marathon is a form of hard work. I would argue it is the best form of hard work. Here’s why.
For marathon training, you need:
- a clear goal. For many people, it is to finish the marathon. Or to finish it under a certain time. There are subgoals too: not get injured during the race, or to race easy, or to have a negative split. To work hard effectively, you need goals and subgoals
- a well thought out plan. People who train effectively for a marathon have a well thought out plan to achieve their goal. These plans can be anywhere from 12-20 weeks and describe what you are doing each day. The plan is often broken up into phase: a phase where you build up your mileage, a phase where you work to get faster, and a tapering phase. A good training plan gets you much closer to achieving your goal.
- A mix of hard and easy training. No one goes hard every day in marathon training. You will fail if you do. Overall the training is hard, but there are many days where it is easy. Days your body gets to recover. Some days you may not train at all. The most effective way to work hard over a long period of time is to mix in easy periods.
- A good amount of fun and variety. Yes, good marathon training has fun and variety mixed in. It’s not the same every day. It’s not all a grind. Good marathon runners will run fartleks for fun or run with friends to help keep their spirits up. They might mix in some cross training. They rarely run the same distance every day.
- Passion and vision. More than anything, you need these. You need to have a strong desire to get through the training. A desire that gets you out of bed for those long runs when you really don’t want to. You need to have a vision of where you will end up when you complete the training. Successful marathoners see themselves reaching that goal most days of their training. It’s the thing that gets them excited to run the same routes over and over again. It’s the thing that gets them pumped when they have to charge up hills. Preparing for a marathon can’t feel like a job if you are going to do it well.
Now ask yourself about hard work that you have to do? Do you have those things. That hard project you have in front of you: are you passionate about it? Do you have a vision of what completing it looks like? Do you have a clear goal and a well thought out plan? Do you have a practice of taking breaks, or is it full tilt all the time? Is it merely a grind, or do you have fun and variety in it? If you have all the features of marathon training in your plan, chances are you will be able to work hard, very hard, and be successful.
Do work hard poorly is to waste yourself, to waste your life. Don’t do that. Work hard effectively and make the most of your life. Good luck!
(Photo by Capstone Events on Unsplash )
Not your average marathon, this. For example:
Marathons and footraces are a world of granola bars, blister care, and sugary packages of energy-giving goo. This classic French race through wine country has all that, as well as a party atmosphere and 23 stations that offer wine, cheese, oysters, and foie gras, often set out like a tasting at a picturesque winery. The tone is set the night before, when participants tend to complement the traditional carb-loading pasta dinner with healthy helpings of local wines. Each year’s race has a theme (think “Amusement Park” or “Tales and Legends”), so don’t be surprised to see a runner dressed as Robin Hood vomiting at mile five.
If this sounds like you kind of marathon, get more information here: Marathon du Médoc – Gastro Obscura
This piece is a must read for anyone trying to maintain their fitness later in life. It’s not easy, even for legends like JBS. Take solace in seeing how even the greats adjust as they get older, and read this: How a great marathoner — Joan Benoit Samuelson — keeps going at age 60 – The Washington Post
Highly recommended: Emil Zátopek: The greatest Olympian vanished from public life after he defied Russian tanks in 1968 | The Independent.
As a kid I saw a documentary on Zatopek and was in awe of how dominant a runner he was. Anyone looking for inspiration in athletics can find that in many places: I found mine watching Zatopek and Abibi Bikila (running barefoot in Rome) excel at the Olympics.
The legendary Canadian runner Ed Whitlock has died. (Source: Masters Marathon Legend Ed Whitlock Dies at 86 | Runner’s World). There are so many things to say about Ed, but the article in Runner’s World gives you a sense of just how amazing he was. From his simple running routine to the records he broke, he was a great and unique individual. R.I.P., Ed.
(Photo: linked to in article, by K.C. Armstrong)
If you are planning to run a marathon or half-marathon this year, then one of the first questions you will ask yourself is: do I have enough time to train for it? Two things that can help you answer this question are here: blm849/Bernie-s-Race-Scheduling-Spreadsheets: My Race Schedule Spreadsheets to plan out my training runs.
With my spreadsheets, you enter a date, and it will give you a 16-20 week schedule you need to follow to get ready for a marathon or a half-marathon (or a 21K, as I like to call it).
Since they are spreadsheets, you can adjust them in any way you see fit. Add weeks, change the mileage, etc. If you have any other changes you would like to see, let me know.
Nike seems to think so, based on this: Nike Wants Athletes to Run a Marathon in Under Two Hours, So It’s Rebuilding the Race. And the Runners | WIRED
While it’s a bad idea to say it can’t happen, Runner’s World has a long list of reasons why it will be a difficult thing to accomplish: What Will It Take to Run A 2-Hour Marathon
Perhaps the two hour marathon will be like the four minute mile: once insurmountable, then broken, then broken often. If and when that happens, I think it will not be a near term event.
In the meantime, read the articles, especially the one from Runner’s World: it’s a fascinating study into biomechanics and running, as well as some fine infographics.
The marathon is great race, and if you are aiming to run your first in the new year, it is a great thing to accomplish.
That said, you can also get a great sense of accomplishment out of running races less than 42.2 kilometers. To see what I mean, I highly recommend these two articles that praise the 5K:
- The 5K, Not The Marathon, Is The Ideal Race | FiveThirtyEight
- 10 Reasons the 5K is Freaking Awesome | Runner’s World
After reading them, I had a much greater appreciation of that race. (I think the same argument could be made for the 10K.)
As for me, I am a fan of the half-marathon. The only thing I don’t like about it is the name: it implies you haven’t done something great, when you have. Perhaps it needs to get rebranded as a 20K: not half a marathon, but twice a 10K!
Regardless of the distance you run, and how often you run it, enjoy your athleticism and take pride in it.
(Chart is a link to the image from the FiveThirtyEight article)
Like most people — for instance, me — , you may need to get in better shape. In doing some research on it, I came across the following links that I found interesting, inspiring, and useful. I hope you do too:
- If you need to reboot your life, consider what Wil Wheaton did recently: Seven Things I Did To Reboot My Life
- If you need to lose weight and keep it off, you will want this: Surprisingly simple tips from 20 experts about how to lose weight and keep it off – Vox
- Some good examples of people who lost serious weight are: Chris Pratt’s Workout and Diet Plan Revealed! 60 Lb Weight Loss!
- And here: I lost 100 pounds in a year. My “weight loss secret” is really dumb. – Vox
- And here: Data Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds | New Republic
- If you are a runner and run in the winter, this article is a must (Canadians know how to run in the winter: ignore most of those American links) Gear of the week: Features of 2016 winter apparel – Canadian Running Magazine
- If you want to take up running and do a race but can’t decide which one, read this: Lauren Fleshman Tells Pro and Cons of 26.2 Versus 5K | Oiselle Running Apparel for Women
- If you want to start exercising but find it difficult, this can help: We make exercise way too complicated. Here’s how to get it right. – Vox
- If part of the reason you can’t get in shape is bad habits, you need this: A Brief Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit : zen habits
- If you need inspiration, here’s a great story of a woman who took up marathon running late but to great success. Race Against Time — The Cauldron — Medium
- And another great story about how endurance sports made a big difference in someone’s life: Sink or Swim: How the Ironman saved Lionel Sanders from himself | Toronto Star
- Finally, some perspective, both humourous, Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life – The Onion – America’s Finest News Source and amazing: Two 90-year-olds do the 100 meter dash