A friend asked me if I was training for a race. My training tends to have many tactical goals embedded in it, which gives it the appearance of having a strategic goal. This year, I feel pressured to attain several strategic goals. My last race was the Marine Corps Marathon in 2019. My time was poor, probably due to the heavy rains, winds, and cold I ran in for the first 16 miles. Still, this affected my running self-confidence. Since then, my training discipline and running pace have all declined. In 2020, I put on ten pounds, partly due to my decreased exercise. Ironically, 2024 marks the twentieth anniversary of my return to running and fitness. In the fall of 2004, facing my 50th birthday the following summer, I resolved to run the 2005 Marine Corps Marathon. Over that following year, I lost 35 pounds, ran my first MCM, and made fitness a part of my personhood.

I have adopted a five-day training week this year, four runs of X miles and one run of 2X miles. I plan to increase my distances by roughly 10% each week for two to four weeks, followed by a week of running about half those distances. This is a very standard running protocol. Last week, after increasing my mileage for three weeks, I hit four runs of five miles and one seven-miler. I lost the 2020 poundage over the past six months. I am pushing my longer run to my goal of 2X. One could ask, to what end am I doing this; what race am I training for? At the beginning of the year, I had hoped to do the "Endless Summer" in Annapolis for my birthday in July. However, I am not at the training level necessary to run six hours in eight weeks. I want to see how long I can push my X distances while remaining uninjured. I may run the "Ocean City Marathon" if I can attain X equals ten miles, giving me a 70-mile week. If not, I will content myself with the thought that I have regained mastery over myself, my training, and my discipline.

What race am I training for? It is cliche but true: I am training for life. Without exercise, adults enter a steady decline. The older you get, the more rapid the decline. In your sixties and beyond, the decline is precipitous and life-threatening. The answer is evident and unavoidable for me: Train for life.