Was Einstein A Runner?


I have a theory about the person who has presented our world with many of his own famous theories. I believe that Albert Einstein was a runner! When you hear or read his name you probably have a vision of him in his later years, looking old with his head of frizzled grey hair. It would be tough to imagine him as a runner but that’s my theory.

So what is my basis for this theory and how do I go about attempting to prove it? Well, like most of Einstein’s theories only a limited segment of the population would ever understand my theory. In this case one would need to be a runner and more specifically a marathon runner to totally understand my hypothesis. Let me explain.

It all centers on time. Einstein believed time was relative to motion and space. Without getting too technical the best example is comparing two extremes. On one end of the spectrum there are times we all experience when time seems to simply fly by and then there are other times when time just seems to move so slow.

For me the time that seems to fly by the fastest is the one hour before I need to leave the house each morning and experience the thrill of the pre-dawn traffic along the expressways of metro Detroit. I have always been a morning person and I enjoy taking my time to wake slowly, sip my coffee, check the overnight email, do some morning yoga stretches, lift a few weights, and if I got out of bed early enough perhaps even a morning run. All of this before I need to do anything remotely associated with getting ready for work. There is never enough time to eat my breakfast, iron a shirt or pants, shower, get cleaned up, and out the door. I manage to get most of these items completed but I am continuously amazed by the speed of the hands on our grandfather clock each morning.

Then there are those times when time seems to come to a near halt. Perhaps the best example is when you are at work, with little to do except to remain on duty. You ultimately begin to watch the clock. Time appears to drag on forever! Fortunately for me this situation does not occur too often but when it does I begin to have an understanding of what eternity might feel like.

Still, what does this have to do with Einstein being a runner? Plenty, for runners experience many instances where time seems to fly by and other instances where time seems to take forever. Perhaps the best example occurs during the experience of running a marathon.

Early in a runner’s marathon experience they are likely feeling exuberant and why not. The runner’s body and mind is rested, filled with emotions, and eager to perform well. Typically runners run the first mile or two faster than they should so in addition to being alarmed by the speed of their mile split time, they also feel like time has flown by, perhaps as fast as my typical workday morning.

Contrast the experience of the early marathon miles to the later miles. It could be anywhere after mile 15-16 or even as late as mile 24 or so (I need to interject to the uniformed here, that a marathon is 26.2 miles). Regardless, in nearly every marathon, the runner will begin to struggle and this struggle extends to the runner’s brain. The runner’s brain is tempting the runner with a myriad of reasons to stop running, at least slow down! Coincidentally, the runner’s pace per mile has likely slowed considerably too. The runner may only be running a minute per mile slower in the later miles than the earlier miles but it is a huge difference. As an example, if the runner started the marathon at an 8 min per mile pace and runs a 9 min per mile pace towards the end, the runners pace has slowed by over 12%. Yet in the runners mind, the runner feels like they may be running half as fast. For the runner in this condition, time seems to drag on and on and is further exacerbated by the physical difficulty of continuing to run these final miles.

Again, back to Albert Einstein, he had to have been out for at least a long run during his break time. He experienced the anguish of the later part of a long run and had the brilliant idea to relate the sense of time to one’s experience as they travelled.

That’s my theory and I am sticking to it !

Thanks for taking the time to read this and continue to RUN HAPPY.


The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Architect

The image of the prototypical architect and long distance runner is one where the architect or runner is each alone in taking on their respective challenges.  While there are plenty of times that an architect or a runner welcome seclusion the reality is that architects and runners come to depend upon a growing list of specialized experts to help them reach their respective goals.

An architect may be identified as the “Designer” for a building and in fact in some instances the architect my in fact be the only architectural person involved to produce not only the design concept but the balance of the necessary duties required to complete the building through to the end of construction. The more common scenario is one where a single architectural firm produces the design and provides on going services through the entire construction.  In this situation, there will likely be several individuals who lead various stages of the design project.

Yet even  a single architectural firm does not have sufficient capabilities to provide all the necessary services.  Most firms will sub-contract services to provide mechanical (HVAC and plumbing), electrical, and structural engineering services. Then in an attempt to provide the client with the required expertise there are also an ever increasingly list of specialty consultants.

The list of specialty consultants can be never ending list of experts. The most common include such disciplines or specialties as; acoustics, kitchen equipment, interior furnishings, signage, elevator, historic, and many more. It is the architect who determines the need for such specialists and who is also the one responsible to coordinate the efforts of the entire design team, including all of the specialty consultants.

So it is for the runner too! In my early days of running the sport was extremely simple.  A runner bought a pair of running shoes, put on some shorts and a shirt and ran.  More than thirty years ago shoes started to become more and more customized to match a runners style, the pace and diversity of options available to the runners started to increase. Then there were changes in a runner’s gear too. Specialized fabrics designed to keep runners cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather became popular.  Now there is an entire specialty industry to serve the runner. The list of toys and tools is probably best left to another post.

My point here is the observation that like architects, who have become to rely upon a team of specialists to help the architect perform better, there is a comparable list of specialists who have emerged to help the runner!  Most runners who take their training seriously must admit they seek outside experts to help them perform at their best. This list of experts are likely to be as simple as the experienced runner and sales person at a local running specialty store to, a group or personal coach, yoga instructor, massage therapist, sports trainer, nutritionist, medical doctor, and perhaps even a runners personal IT specialist to help the runner maintain their digital tools.

Sure it used to be such a simple sport. In my opinion, the sport may have become significantly less simple, it has become even more enjoyable!

Now go lace up your shoes, find your nearby satellite, and RUN HAPPY 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to read this today.


A Little Break In The Action

Runners will always Lee Martian Sm 10K 4-3-10talk and sometimes brag about how many miles they run each day. Non-runners may often take this to mean the runner actually runs the entire distance at a consistent, fast, and non-stop pace. In fact nothing is further from the truth. About the only training run that meets such criteria is a very short run. If a runner claims to run 5, 10, 15, or even 20 miles, the fact is, is that they are not running the same steady pace non-stop for the given distance.

Think about how you work at your job. Do you produce work at a constant effort and quality for the entire 8 hour work day?  Of course not. There are times for breaks, scheduled or unscheduled, time to move from one task to another, time to assess your next task, and of course we all have meeting time. The point to this is that to be efficient at your job, you need to vary your daily routine within the confines of that day’s duties.

When training runners need to do the same. While few runners actually stop during a race, most will stop at some point along their training runs, especially the long runs, to take a brief break and re-coup, even if for only a matter of a handful of seconds. I take breaks during my longer runs about every 3-5 miles depending upon the route and my performance for that day.

Not all runs are run the same way either. During any training run the pace will vary. All training runs should start at a slower than average pace for the runner. However, after the first mile or two the runner should be at their average goal pace for that run. Beyond pace is the intensity or style of running too. I prefer to train to meet the challenge of hills at every opportunity. Thus when I meet a hill during my long easy paced run, I will increase the pace.  Then there are stretches of flat roads or paths where I feel an extra level of energy and I decide to pick up my pace for several hundred yards and simultaneously attempt to focus on my running form. Of course, each such “intense” moment of running is often followed by a brief “relaxing” moment of running. These methods of running combine over a period of time to improve the runner’s overall running performance.

To improve one’s job performance, you should try to do similar variations of performance on the job. As an example, when working on a difficult challenge to resolve at work, there is nothing wrong with taking a break from the work scene. It may be a longer stop at the coffee counter or a long walk around the block. Put your problems aside, albeit not for too long. When you return, you will be refreshed and more than likely actually complete the overall job task in less time than you would have had you persisted through the challenge.

OK, enough of this writing stuff, time to take a break and go for a run!

Thanks for taking this moment to read this and remember to Run Happy!