— A big last minute to-do was made about Kenenisa Bekele’s world-record attempt at the Dubai Marathon last Friday and an even bigger to-do resulted when the Ethiopian was trampled at the start line and forced to drop out of the race. It was an unfortunate ending to what ended up being a comedy of errors of an event. It was first reported that Bekele was using the race as a tuneup for London in April, then it was a full-fledged world-record attempt, then the race was all of a sudden only available for viewing behind a paywall, then there was no separation between elites and the main field, then Bekele went down, then a few miles later he dropped out, and then no one really cared what happened. My three biggest takeaways: 1. Dubai needs to create a gap between the elite athletes and the main field, much like any other big marathon in the world. 2. Why fire a starting gun without warning the athletes and then sound a horn a second later? 3. I would not want to race Bekele in London.
— “Now I have a group of interested observers, and it sometimes feels weird.” That’s Ed Caesar’s latest dispatch for Wired, in which he describes how his own training regimen has changed since he began reporting on the Nike Breaking2 project. I particularly enjoyed the anecdote toward the end about Eliud Kipchoge’s “technology-light” approach to training and understanding his body so well that he doesn’t even need to look at a watch.
— Productivity hacks, efficiency tricks, time-management apps and empty inboxes: useful tools or just trick handcuffs? “Personal productivity presents itself as an antidote to busyness when it might better be understood as yet another form of busyness,” Oliver Burkeman writes in The Guardian. “And as such, it serves the same psychological role that busyness has always served: to keep us sufficiently distracted that we don’t have to ask ourselves potentially terrifying questions about how we are spending our days.”
— Along those same lines, and something that I’m struggling with more and more these days: how to share your time and expertise more effectively. “As Daly had discovered, giving becomes a grind when it takes over your time,” Adam Grant and Reb Rebele wrote for the Harvard Business Review. “For some people—like those at the technology company we studied—a high volume of low-value requests eats into time that could be used for greater productivity or impact. For others—like the teachers mentioned earlier—going all-in on many individual help requests leads to working long nights and weekends instead of resting or pursuing personal enrichment or development. Either way, protecting your calendar is essential to sustaining generosity.”
— Finally, I loved this blog entry, “Shoot For the Guardrail,” from HOKA Northern Arizona Elite coach Ben Rosario. It totally resonated with me on a couple different levels. When I write hill workouts for my athletes (e.g. 10 x 45 second hill repeats, 12 x 1:00 hit repeats, etc.), the one "guide" I give them is to set a mark (their "guardrail" so to speak) on the first rep and to "match or better it” with each rep. This is an effective way of testing yourself in training and gauging the effectiveness of a workout, but, as Ben writes, it also means “raising the bar in terms of expectations. It means working together toward a common goal. It means teammates supporting and rooting for one another to accomplish greatness, even at their own expense. And it means embracing the level of pain and suffering that it takes to smash personal bests, to crush your opponents and to achieve things even you yourself once thought impossible.” This week’s homework assignment: Find your guardrail—literal or figurative—and chase after it with all you’ve got!