Your Occasional Stoic — Unaffected dignity and Kindness

Hourly and earnestly strive, as a Roman and a man, to do what falls to your hand with perfect unaffected dignity, with kindliness, freedom and justice, and free your soul from every other imagination.

This you will accomplish if you perform each action as if it were your last, without willfulness, or any passionate aversion to what reason approves; without hypocrisy or selfishness, or discontent with the decrees of fate. You see how few things it is necessary to master in order that a man may live a smooth-flowing, God-fearing life. For of him that holds to these principles the Gods require no more.

Meditations 2:5

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Much of this repeats what we see over and over again in the Meditations – act with dignity, imagine death, etc. But there’s something else here that Marcus talks about much less frequently – kindness. Stoicism is (perhaps rightly) branded as a philosophy of detachment and coldness, but here Marcus is telling us not only to be strong, but also kind. I think many a modern admirer of stoicism could learn from this.

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Bernard Whitmore

This is a really cool one. At sixty years old, with sixty thousand miles in his legs, Bernard finally ran Boston…

Name: Bernard Whitmore

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):  60

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5′ 10″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 142

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?  Boston Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. Through my 20’s I tried to qualify and got as low as a 2hr 52min PR (Cape Cod). Perhaps frustrated that I still hadn’t BQ’d I faded from racing for a few decades while I dealt with uncontrolled/undiagnosed epilepsy.

When the BM bombing happened I took I took it personally and vowed to get back in marathon shape. It took years, but thinking I might die before running BM I took a charity number and ran. And qualified for the next year.

Last year was my 4th, 42 minutes under BQ time. This year I’ll be 66 on the day of the Boston Marathon and I’m fighting my way back from 3 broken metatarsals. Stay tuned!

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 40 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 60,000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1,500

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 6

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? Yes, IRONMAN TRIATHLON TRAINING PLAN

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Bicycling keeps me cross-trained

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Not really – not on the track any way. I just make sure all my longer runs are negative split.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Don’t lose weight training for it. Keep healthy and utilize recovery nutrition (Protein powders, BCAA’s etc).

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire –SMQ

Name: SMQ

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 29

Height (at the time of first BQ): 5.7

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 158

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Toronto Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. I had tried and failed a few times. I had no training program and was just trying to do it on my own, and on my own athletic (or lack of) ability. I missed a BQ 3 times by less than 2 minutes. I started doing intervals on a track and one day did 20 by 800m. Every time I didn’t do a 3 minute 800M, I added one. The plan was 16, and I had to do 20. I don’t even have a log of my mileage, but would say max 48-50 miles a week. I was patient and reserved and it all came together. I will never forget the moment I saw my wife and mom leaning over the barricade cheering me on in the last 400m. They, as always, we a nervous mess. I finally came through and made it count. I have run 4 Bostons since then, and that first ever BQ is my most favorite race ever. I am emotional even as I type this. Maybe I have one more in me. No, I do have another one.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 4 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 3000 miles / approx

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 4

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? No, I could never follow a program, it would take away from the flow. I realize that is not for everyone. Do you own thing and what feels good.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? My cross training was seriously red wine. No joke.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Introducing 800’s was a serious game changer for me. I realized that there was “work” that had to be done… not just winging it.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Once in awhile you get shown the light in the strangest places if you look at it right.

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire –Monica

Name: Monica

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 43 (to run Boston at age 45)

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’3”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 125

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Columbus

Tell us a little about the race. The Columbus Marathon in mid-October is a great place to BQ. The course is fairly flat and the weather in central Ohio in early fall tends to be dry and just right for a marathon. It’s a nice sized race with good organization and knowledgeable volunteers.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 10 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 10,000 miles

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1400 miles

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 18 or so. Lots of 5ks, a few 10ks, a couple of half-marathons.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? Yes, Bob Glover veteran marathoner program from his running log.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? No official cross training per se but I walk my dogs many miles a week and compete with them in agility.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? I did modified Yasso 800s. Since I don’t have access to a real track, I did half mile repeats, either on the treadmill or on an indoor track that was 5 laps to the mile. I started with 4 at 10 weeks out from the race and increased by one repeat per week until I got to ten repeats a couple of weeks before the race. I did them at 5k race pace with 1:30 recoveries (or a lap and a half at the indoor track).

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Try to pick a race with a relatively flat course that tends to have good weather and that is relatively low stress for you to participate in. Control all the factors you can. Also, do not underestimate the power of believing that you can do it! My BQ came after they lowered the standards in the early 2000s. When I learned what time I would need to qualify as a 45-year old, I just knew that I could do it at Columbus. I am fortunate because my birthday is in mid-April, so some years I will enter a new age group on Patriot’s Day. Since you run the qualifying time for the age you will be on Boston race day, and you can run the qualifying time at a race that is more than a year before your Boston, this meant I could run my BQ for the 45-49 group when I was still 43. If I had a great day I could get a 40-44 time, but if not, I could still make the 45-49 time. This relieved some stress late in the race.

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

Your Occasional Stoic — Those In The Arena Are All That Matter, Those In The Stands Are None Of Our Concern.

Do not waste what remains of life in consideration about others, when it does not help the common good. Be sure you are neglecting other work if you busy yourself with what such a one is doing and why, with what he is saying, thinking, or scheming. Such things do nothing but divert you from the steadfast guardianship of your own soul. You should, then, in every train of thought shun all that is aimless or useless, and, above all, everything officious or malignant.

Accustom yourself to think, that, if any one were suddenly to ask you, Of what are you thinking-now? you could answer frankly and at once, Of so and so. Then it will plainly appear that you are all simplicity and kindliness, as befits a social being who takes little thought for enjoyment or any phantom pleasure; who spurns contentiousness, envy, or suspicion; or any passion the harboring of which one would blush to own. For such a man, who has finally determined to be henceforth among the best, is, as it were, a priest and minister of the Gods, using the spirit within him, which preserves a man unspotted from pleasure, unwounded by any pain, inaccessible to all insult, innocent of all evil; a champion in the noblest of all contests—the contest for victory over every passion. He is penetrated with justice; he welcomes with all his heart whatever befalls, or is appointed by Providence. He troubles not often, or ever without pressing public need, to consider what another may say, or do, or design. Solely intent upon his own conduct, ever mindful of his own concurrent part in the destiny of the Universe, he orders his conduct well, persuaded that his part is good.

For the lot appointed to every man is part of the law of all things as well as a law for him. He forgets not that all rational beings are akin, and that the love of all mankind is part of the nature of man; also that we must not think as all men think, but only as those who live a life accordant with nature.

As for those who live otherwise, he remembers always how they act at home and abroad, by night and by day, and how and with whom they are found in company. And so he cannot esteem the praise of such, for they enjoy not their own approbation.

Meditations 3:4

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This meditation include a rare reference to religion – the man who avoids the frivolous, and does not concern himself with the opinions of others, is like a priest of the gods. I don’t know about that, but I do know concerning yourself with the thoughts and opinions of the crowd leads only to ruin. Those in the arena are all that matter, those in the stands are none of our concern.

Your Occasional Stoic — Everything Dies Baby That’s A Fact

Hippocrates, who had healed many diseases, himself fell sick, and died. The Chaldeans foretold the fatal hours of multitudes, and afterwards fate carried them away. Alexander, Pompey, and Gaius Caesar, who so often razed whole cities, and cut off in battle so many myriads of horse and foot, at last departed from this life themselves. Heraclitus, after his many speculations on the conflagration of the world, died, swollen with water and plastered with cow-dung. Vermin destroyed Democritus; Socrates was killed by vermin of another sort. What of all this? You have gone aboard, made your voyage, come to harbor. Disembark: if into another life, there will God be also; if into nothingness, at least you will have done with bearing pain and pleasure, and with your slavery to this vessel so much meaner than its slave. For the soul is intelligence and deity, the body dust and corruption.

Meditations 3:3

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As the great Bruce Springsteen once said “Everything dies baby that’s a fact”. Here Marcus reminds us of that, again. Does he need to remind us that Heraclitus, the great philosopher, died covered in shit? Yes, because even the smartest, the strongest, the most powerful will die, and for most of us, it won’t be pretty. Accept that, internalize that, and choose to live a life worth leading.

Your Occasional Stoic — Contemplate The Fierce Jaws Of Beasts With No Less Delight Than The Works Of Sculptors Or Painters

Observe what grace and charm appear even in the accidents that accompany Nature’s work. Some parts of a loaf crack and burst in the baking; and this cracking, though in a manner contrary to the design of the baker, looks well and invites the appetite.

Figs, too, gape when at their ripest, and in ripe olives the approach to rotting adds a special beauty to the fruit. The droop of ears of corn, the bent brows of the lion, the foam at a boar’s mouth, and many other things, are far from attractive in themselves, yet, since they accompany the works of Nature, they make part of her adornment, and rejoice the beholder.

Thus, if a man be sensitive to such things, and have a more than common penetration into the constitution of the whole, almost nothing connected with Nature will fail to give him pleasure, as he comes to understand it. Such a man will contemplate in the real world the fierce jaws of wild beasts with no less delight than the works of sculptors or painters. With like pleasure will his chaste eyes behold the maturity and grace of old age in man or woman, and the inviting charms of youth. Many such things will strike him, things not credible to the many, but which come to him alone who is truly familiar with the works of Nature and near to her own heart.

Meditations 3:2

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Marcus is hailing the beauty of nature, even when it is not, what we would think of as traditionally beautiful, in part through what we know this less beautiful state represents. A olive close to rotting looks good not because its inherently aesthetically pleasing, but because we know such an olive will be delicious. If we’re in tune with our environment, we can see beauty everywhere, not just in the refined works of the painter or sculptor. It important here that one needs to “know nature”. What does that mean, exactly? Marcus doesn’t say. But surely it means in part living and tasting the olive.