Running for Your Life: It’s Hot, Go Slow

Climate change can be hell on running.

But this summer I’m sticking to a plan: unless it’s raining cats and dogs, I’m going to be running outside.

It’s hot out there. And it’s not even July. By the look of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on the most swelter-y days, runners  are nowhere to be seen. I imagine them, suited up in their apartments, standing in front of the A-C, looking out the window …

My advice: Get out there in your lightest weight civvies, and … GO SLOW.

Decide on your own degree of slowness. It’s 10 degrees hotter than say, 70 F, then double your degree of slowness, run 20 percent slower. It’s 20 degrees hotter, then crank down your normal running rate by 40 percent. Hotter, again. Well then walk, don’t run.

You’ll get the sweat benefits, from going slow in the heat. In fact, as a workout, a hot summer day will whip a 40-degree fall classic any day. It may not make your heart sing like a beautiful day in October, but your body will thank you.

Next: Running for Your Life: Delving Into Age of Anger 

Running for Your Life: Days Without End

Looking for some amazing beach reading?

You can’t do better than “Days Without End” by Sebastian Barry.

I’ve been a fan of Barry’s writing since an editor friend of mine shared a pre-pub version of his novel, “A Long Long Way.”

I’ve “long” been interested in writing from the accidental warrior mind – Barry does it masterfully in both these titles. But “Days Without End” is particularly radiant. Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry eat your heart out. This gay cowboy-Civil War yarn has such surprises within surprises that you’ll want to read his other work. Another favorite: “The Secret Scripture.”

Oh, and for those keeping up on such things, I’m not the only one crowing about “Days Without End.” It has garnered not one but two big literary prizes: the Costa and the Walter Scott.

Believe me, for beach reading, this just can’t miss.

Next: Running for Your Life: It’s Hot, Go Slow    

Running for Your Life: On Writing – Letters, That Is

I got this crazy idea. Writing letters to friends and family.

Consider it an Instagram reaction. See, I don’t have a smartphone (do they still call it that?), and heretofore I’ve not had an answer to those who say I’m failing to reach out, to connect with people. I mean, presumably, that’s what you do on social media, say on platforms like Instagram.

So, here’s my response. To write letters on paper, put those ideas, observations, memories into an envelope. Affix address, postage stamp and drop all in mailbox.

Wait a few weeks and a reply will come. Then, repeat.

I’ve been slow to get into the rhythm. But I’ve got the goods. I recently bought some attractive letter paper and even more important, while on a trip to Italy, came upon and purchased a pen based on an invention by Leonardo da Vinci in which the point is designed to be eternal – it resembles a pencil stroke but like ink it cannot be erased. The best part, though, is the point – unless damaged – never stops working as a writing utensil.

I don’t have paper for infinity, but a writing utensil, check. If not for eternity, I’d say for the next thirty years. Then I’ll hand down my pen to someone who wants to follow me in this practice …

Next: Running for Your Life: It’s Hot, Go Slow    

Running for Your Life: Jasmine High

Vacations have a way of setting you right. As the recent one did the past two weeks for M and me.

Below is a sample of a piece of writing done at poolside under early-evening sun amid the head-swimming smell of jasmine.

(The “jasmine bit” retops a beloved quote that I found this year that is credited to Confucius, asked how he would like to be remembered.)

“He would be so impassioned that the scent of sun-bloom jasmine would cast away his hunger for food, so joyous that he would forget to worry, and he would coast into old age without noticing time passing by.”

Next: Running for Your Life: On Writing – Letters, That Is   

Running for Your Life: Knausgaard Summer

The past five summers I’ve spent a big chunk reading “My Struggle” by Karl Ove Knausgaard.

For the uninitiated, Knausgaard’s memoir is an eight-volume literary experience that has yet to be published in its entirety in English translation. Given that my Norwegian is as proficient as my Mandarin, I consume the English versions as they come out (in the paperback variety, which has been the case the past five years). I am currently reading Volume Five.

On a recent vacation I jotted down a note describing just why I commit to this endeavor every year – Believe me, it’s worth it:

“A note here about what it is about Knausgaard that creates the fullness of a reading experience while mining memory and the most basic human emotions – fears, anxieties – conveyed in the most universal of sentiments where the Jamesian “doubt” meets the Danteian death. Even in the childhood-adolescent passages the shadow – the angel of death – never ceases to be apparent. She is in every scene (think of how the book opens with the contemplation of personal end-times). He is the Mad Hatter of our tea party. Be afraid, be very afraid but be enchanted, be swept backward, forward, through the blood and loins and tissue of what it means to be alive.”

Next: Running for Your Life: Jasmine High