Burfoot On Training for Boston

Amby Burfoot winning Boston

In mid-March my Wesleyan track team took a spring training trip to Quantico, Virginia. With Boston a month away, I wanted to pile on the miles. The first morning, I was up early for a 17 miler. That afternoon I talked my teammate Bill Rodgers (yes that Bill Rodgers) into joining me for what promises to be a relaxed 12-mile run. And it was, until we got totally lost in the twisting trails of Prince William Forest Park.  After two hours in low-80s heat, we walked a couple of time, then started up again, and eventually emerged to some roads. The run took three hours. I wrote it down in my log as 22 miles. That gave me 39 for the day, a good beginning.

Amby Burfoot and Bill Rodgers

Over the next two weeks, I averaged 25 miles a day, hitting 350 miles for the 14 days. After a few days of recovery, I noticed that I was running fresher than ever. Even when jogging, I skimmed along at six minutes per mile.  This had never happened before. It has never happened since. But in April 1968, I was in the flow… I was totally focused on the upcoming Boston Marathon and totally energized by the process. 

- Amby Burfoot from the essay “Running Scared”

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Like Brushing Your Teeth

Dellinger with Steve Prefontaine


“Dellinger was good in the running events.  He’d tell his boys that when you get really fit, running’s easy, running’s like brushing your teeth” Bowerman said.  “Of course, that wasn’t training.  Training is like having your teeth cleaned an hour a day”

- Bill Bowerman on Bill Dellinger from Kenny Moore’s 2006 Runner’s World article “Leading Men” about Prefonatine’s time at Oregon.

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Training Totals for the Week Ending 4.13.2014

Run Miles for the week: 10.2 in 1:33:35
Run Miles for the year: 225.5
Projected Total Miles for the Year: 791.4
Run Streak: 0


Notes:  A decent week of training followed by a shit week of training.  The story of my running life.  Note I actually took a step back in projected yearly mileage. I could blame this week on work and family obligations, or on a gimpy left foot, but really the only thing to blame is my inability to schedule properly.  Early morning runs, here I come.

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The Long Run – The Park and the Bridge

I run for many reasons. To stay fit, to stay thin, to sleep at night, to have time to think, to work at the nearly impossible goal of becoming fast, and to explore.  Exploration can come in different forms. It can be exploring new trails and road, or seeing old roads in a new way.  This weekend’s long run included a bit of both new roads and time spent in familiar places.

Things began with two figure eight loops in Prospect Park.  The figure eight loop takes you down West Drive to Center Drive, across Center to East Drive, where you take a right, cruise past the lake, and up the West Drive hill, then a right back down Center Drive over the East Drive where you take a left and head up Zoo hill.  From my house and around the figure 8 is just over six miles, two of them is makes it just about ten.

The Grand Army Entrance on a perfect early spring day.

The Grand Army Entrance on a perfect early spring day.

I’ve run thousands and thousands of miles in this park — 2,858 actually, according to my running ahead log.  I’ve run through all conditions. I’ve run alone and with friends.  This weekend, it was a prefect early spring day and I did the first loop with my Saturday run buddy, Joe.  We talked about life, love, work and kids.  We talked about running, rock climbing and how fat and old we have become.  It was a great way to spend an hour.

After Joe left, I did another figure 8 alone listening to a mad decent podcast.  The roads were packed with Brooklynites running, walking and cycling.  Kids were pushing scooters; hipsters were riding long boards.  It was all “tres Brooklyn” as, allegedly, the French say.

Two loops equals ten miles.  Three more to go.  I headed down Union street through the heart of strollerfied Park Slope all the way  to the Union Street Bridge and the majestic Gowanus Canal.


The Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn’s New York’s finest superfund site has been described by the Environmental Protection Agency thus:

The Gowanus Canal, in Brooklyn, New York, is bounded by several communities including Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Canal was once a major transportation route for the then separate cities of Brooklyn and New York City. Manufactured gas plants, mills, tanneries, and chemical plants are among the many facilities that operated along the canal.


You can’t really read it, but there’s a sign in this photo that warns you, among other dangers, not to smoke near the water.

 As a result of years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics. The contamination poses a threat  to the nearby residents who use the canal for fishing and recreation.


This gorgeous piece of waterway is crossed by five bridges. Over the next couple of weeks, I plan to run them all.  In fact, inspired by Phil McCarthy’s excellent “Bridge of the Week series” I plan to spend a lot more time exploring the cities bridges. Some of theses bridges, like Union Street are old friends. Others will be new.  I’m looking forward to seeing them all.

After Union Street it was down Nevins to Dean. Its amazing how industrial Nevins still is in this area.  Seven years from now, the fabrication and demolition shops will be apartment buildings people by finance and advertising professionals, just you watch.  I’ll run the street again then, and it will be like exploring a new world.


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Training Total For the Week Ending 4.6.2014

Run Miles for the week: 34.9 in 5:27:22
Run Miles for the year: 215.3
Projected Total Miles for the Year: 818.6
Run Streak: 9 days; 52.5 total miles; 5.8 per day


Notes: Another crap half marathon, this one in the park and on the roads, again in about 2:10:00, again, I’m unconcerned with the time.

My legs are exhausted, going to forty miles next week, then a cut back week. 



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Training Totals for the Week Ending 3.30.2014

Run Miles for the week: 28.6 in 4:39:05
Run Miles for the year: 180.4
Estimated Total Miles for the Year: 748.3
Run Streak: 2 days; 17.6 total miles; 8.8 / day


Notes:  Did my first half marathon of the year on Sunday, split into two parts — the first five with Joe in the park, the last 8 on the treadmill watching UCONN beat Iowa State.  Time was atrocious (~2:10:00), but whatever.  Right now, its all about the miles.



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Note to Self

Next time you think you’re too busy, or too tired, to get in a run remember last night.  Remember how, knowing L would be awake in four hours, you lay awake, unable to sleep. Remember how you wished that your legs were sore, and your body tired.  Remember that instead of watching the UCONN game while sitting on your couch you could have watched the game from the treadmill and gotten a good night’s sleep.

Remember that running is more than a way to stay skinny; it mediation that allows you stay sane and productive in the rest of your life.

Remember all this and get in the run.


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