THE BROKEN RECORD, by Lynn D. Newton, <[email protected]>
No, this part is not about breaking a running record.
It's a reference to the sort of scratched vinyl
recording disk that gets stuck and keeps repeating
In previous writings I have droned on to our mighty
aggregation about why I believe it is important both to
*set* and to *accomplish* achievable goals. In this
regard, it seems I must have a slightly different
perspective from some who have responded, ones who view
personal running goals more casually.
Their approach seems to be to get out there regularly,
do what you can, have a great time, don't worry, be
happy, que será, será. Mind you, this technique *works*
for a lot of people. Whatever system makes you happy
and keeps you on the path and healthy is superior to
giving up. Keep doing it. Far be it from me to
criticize another's methodology.
However, for me it takes more than a pink hat and hugs
to run a marathon. And I daresay the same is true for
many of us.
In short, my credo on goal setting can be summarized as
follows. If *progress* in running is what you desire,
  1) Analyze your present status objectively.
  2) Set new goals that are realistically achievable.
  3) Hit the roads and *make* those goals.
  4) Measure everything.
  5) Have fun along the way.
The fourth step is something I just now threw in. To me
it seems obvious, but perhaps that's because I'm an
engineer. I'm sure many people don't do it, and so have
only a vague idea of whether they are progressing. But
executing step one effectively depends on having a
record of what you have done so far.
Step two is the tricky part. The new goals must be
challenging, but it is absolutely essential that they
be reachable, because consistently falling short of
goals that are set is disappointing and discouraging.
Step three speaks for itself. Just do it.
Whatever method a person uses to record runs, whether
writing in a training log or typing the data on a
computer, measuring distances, times, perceived effort,
or whatever, is irrelevant. The information kept should
be of the type against which a person can project
future goals. If a runner writes down only that he ran
eighty miles this month, then what baseline is there
for measuring increased intensity the next month?
The fifth step I added for the sake of cynics who have
incorrectly assumed that in being methodical about
running I may have forgotten to enjoy myself along the
way. Nothing could be further from the truth. If I
didn't thoroughly love it every time I go out to run, I
wouldn't do it.
In early January of this year I decided that I would
attempt to *streak* the month of January, i.e., run at
least three miles every day, and for an average of 35
miles a week throughout the month, and if that went
well, which it did, I would do it again in August.
This is not a goal I would recommend to everyone. The
body needs recovery time, especially at my age and
fitness level. But it is something I wanted to do for
myself, just to get a taste of what it is like to be a
Last month I upped the ante a bit. I determined that I
would run five miles every single day, and ten miles
every Saturday. Furthermore, I determined that I would
run every single run at a sub-10:00 pace.
Don't laugh. Running 10:00 a mile is *not* difficult
for me, but if I am very tired or running longer than
about twelve miles, it can be challenging. On very long
runs, I drop back to as slow as 10:40. To sustain a
sub-10:00 pace every day for a whole month meant that I
could not slough off any day. I had to keep pushing.
With one minor exception, I accomplished my goal
completely. The exception came on the third of the
month, when I ran a 10:04 average for my five miles.
The reason for this was inattention to the clock. I had
no idea I was going that slowly. If I had been better
attuned to my pace, I could have finished under pace
easily. I made up for this minor blip with my overall
pace for the month.
In the process I managed to set five PRs during the
month. Without a database of measurements, I would have
no record of, and therefore no realization of having
set PRs. But because I do measure my training activity,
I can cite the following:
o Twice I set PRs at five miles, first by 5.36 seconds,
  and then by 44.08 seconds, for a net improvement of
  49.44 seconds over my previous best.
o Twice I set PRs at ten miles, the first by 36
  seconds, and the second by an additional astonishing
  *three minutes flat!*
  - The latter run took place this past Saturday
    afternoon. It was one of the best runs of my life.
    I felt rested, and when I took off I started off at
    a pace that I would run if I were trying to make a
    good mark for a two or three mile run. I felt
    comfortable, so by keeping my eye on the clock, and
    concentrating on relaxing, I was able to sustain it
    the entire distance. In fact, I ran a negative
    split. The improvement was made, not as the result
    of an all out exhausting kick at the finish, but
    because of concentrated effort on maintaining a
    steady pace. And I believe this run was the payoff
    for my month's hard work.
o My total mileage for the month was 180.72 miles, an
  increase of 5.88 miles. I ran the entire sizzling
  month of August on an indoor track, so the distances
  are very accurate.
o As a supplementary PR, one that I don't normally
  track, my average pace for the month was not the
  marginally sub-10:00 I aimed for, but a healthy
Now I can say with confidence that with carefully
applied effort, I have increased the average intensity
level that I run at, and therefore also my personal
level of fitness, which is a little more intangible.
I think I may have even lost a couple of pounds in the
process. But because I didn't measure that statistic, I
can't say for sure.
And today I get to rest. I earned it. Tomorrow it will
be time to begin preparing for Tucson Marathon in early
Lynn Newton
Phoenix, AZ