Knucklehead Running

My general reaction to what seems to be a reprieve from prostate cancer has been to try to claw back at least a little control over my own body. I eat way less and much better (mostly veggie). Alcohol is largely off the menu, though the occasional beer is inevitable and a toast for cause is still a joy. I work out with a trainer at the gym twice a week. I’ve lost a lot of weight, and I’ve been running regularly again since November, with a mind to do a little age-class racing.

I’ve been operating under some general rules:

  • Think of the people you love. Be grateful. Be positive. Stay happy.
  • Eat right.
  • Get good sleep.
  • Don’t run if you’re sick or overtired. (Better yet, don’t get sick or overtired.)
  • Warm up thoroughly.
  • Warm up carefully.
  • Make every workout count. Have a purpose. No wasted miles.


This is fine as far as it goes, but I’d been fussing a bit to come up with a training schedule that would work for a determined but creaky old man. I can’t really train hard anymore, and I can’t run every day.

After lots of thought, experimentation, the shameless theft of other people’s ideas, and, of course, a great deal of whining and complaining, I think I’ve got it: a basic every-other-day schedule based on the old man’s highest priority:

“Don’t hurt yourself, Knucklehead.”

It’s a two-week cycle of running every-other day (seven efforts every 14 days). Every second workout is a long easy run. In between are alternating tempo runs (my favorite kind of training long before they were called that—I knew it as steady-state or lactate-threshold running) and controlled speedwork, either standard repeats on the track or strong efforts up my favorite shallow inclines in the cemetery.

So: Long run, day off, Steady state, day off, Long run, day off, Speedwork, day off, Long run, day off, Steady state….

Appropriate warmups and stretching, which I used to more or less ignore, I now realize are urgently vital for this creaky old bod.

No peaking or freshening included yet. But I do have a racing goal (it’s a secret, so don’t tell, okay?): A 7:00 mile right around my 70th birthday in January. I may not get there, but it’s a useful target. And it’s not utterly ridiculous, if the Knucklehead doesn’t get hurt.

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