CADENZAI am a creature of habit. I suspect many of us are. To be a runner, you almost have to follow some type of schedule, rather than take a haphazard approach to training and racing. Spontaneity is fine, but not for marathon training. These things take planning and some thought about what to do and how and when to do it.

It’s the nature of the beast. But it’s one thing to be a creature of habit and it’s entirely something else to be a prisoner of your routine.

I am a prisoner. But, I am not crying out for help. It’s just who I am and how I run.

My basic weekly schedule never varies. The mileage and intensity might, but not the habitual way I go about doing things. At least that way I never have to think about what am I going to do on Saturday morning. That’s long run day. Sunday is set aside for an easy hour run with friends along the Butler Trail. Monday and Friday are always easy recovery days. Tuesday is distance and if I’m feeling OK, I go a bit farther on Wednesday.

Which brings me to Thursday – Big Thursday.

For so many years, Thursday means speed. It’s the most difficult thing I do all week because (a) I do it by myself and (b) it’s supposed to be fast and hard. Over the years, my definition of “fast” has certainly changed and so has the quantity and quality of the workouts.

Back when I still had some speed and greater ambition, Big Thursday meant nearly an hour of hard tempo runs and cruise intervals in the dark before work. I religiously followed a Jack Daniels training plan that called for such combinations as 4 x 10 minutes at 5- or 10-K race pace, or 6 x 5 minutes or the toughest 3 x 15 minutes. Another Daniels Doozie was going out for 30 minutes at marathon goal pace and then try and come back on the same distance, but 2-3 minutes faster. Try it sometime.

Those days are over. I can’t do that stuff anymore, but what hasn’t changed is the effort. Even today, Big Thursday still means some type of speed. Some mornings it means 2-3 comfortable surges, followed by 2 ½ miles at 5-K race pace. Other Thursday mornings begin with a 15-minute run to my favorite golf course where I vary my pace (easy to moderate to fast) as I go from tee to green with a short jog recovery until the next tee box. When I come off the course after 12-14 holes, I have about 10 more minutes of moderately fast running left over a couple of good hills before I collapse from the effort.

From a pragmatic standpoint, what I do these days isn’t as valuable (or as hard) as what I used to do. But that’s OK.

I’m a firm believer that it isn’t what you do–speed wise–as much as doing something outside your comfort zone on a consistent basis.

I might not be getting faster, but my Big Thursdays means I’m not slowing down much either.

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O Austin’s pros dominated the Louisville Ironman last Sunday. Chris McDonald, a 35-year-old Aussie (from New South Wales) who lives in Austin and Boulder, outdueled Patrick Evoe to win his fifth IM. Evoe, 36, who graced the ATX for so many years before moving to Boulder this summer, also had a great race in Louisville. Evoe, the defending champion, finished second overall in 8:34 to McDonald’s 8:21. Evoe trailed McDonald all day, but had a terrific marathon of 3:00:48 which was only bettered by McDonald’s 2:57.

O If a tree falls and nobody hears it: Plenty of folks heard this one last Saturday when a dead tree fell and nailed a 30-year-old runner who suffered a fractured leg about noon on the Butler Trail near Lamar and West Riverside (near Taco Cabana). The runner’s name hasn’t been released, but this terrible accident points out the lack of maintenance in Austin’s parks. The financially strapped Parks and Rec Department oversees 206 parks and 74 miles of hiking and running trails–nearly 20,000 acres–that are maintained by 149 employees (down from 10 years ago). A coalition of park supporters (Great Austin Parks) from such groups as the Austin Parks Foundation, the Trail Foundation and the Shoal Creek Conservancy (among others) has been lobbying the City Council to increase Parks and Rec’s budget by $4.75 million on top of the $5.9 million it is supposed to get. Most of that increase, if approved, would go to maintenance. “There are not enough maintenance people to take care of the parks that we already have,” Lynn Osgood, a member of the Parks and Rec Board and Greater Austin Parks told The Chronicle.

O Former UT decathlete Trey Hardee, the two-time World Champion, is engaged. He and Chelsea Johnson, a two-time NCAA champion pole vaulter who attended UCLA, are getting married on September 13, 2014. Only problem is that’s the same date UT is playing UCLA at Cowboys Stadium. But Hardee promises there will be plenty of TVs at the reception. Chelsea, who has retired from the pole vault, has a famous father. Her dad – Jan Johnson – was a bronze medalist in the pole vault in the ’72 Olympics.

O The Boston Athletic Association has announced that the size of the ’14 Boston Marathon will be 36,000 – an increase of 9000 over its normal cap. Registration for runners who have met their qualifying times by 20 or more minutes will open on September 9 th with the fastest qualifiers being able to register first. On September 11 th, registration will open for runners who have met their qualifier by 10 minutes or more and on September 13 th, it will open for those who have met their qualifying time by five or more minutes. On September 16, registration will open for all runners who have qualifiers. Already, 4511 of the 5633 runners who didn’t finish the ’13 Boston because of the bombings have registered. In case you’re wondering, the largest Boston in history was 1996 “the centennial” when 38,708 registered and 35,686 finished.

O I’m not a muscle car guy, but the one car I always coveted was the Shelby Mustang. Plenty of guys did. One of my brother-in-laws had one, but he never let me near it. Anyway, the Mustang Club of America is sponsoring the Mustang 50th Half Marathon and 5-K on April 19 th in Las Vegas. And get this: Every runner, 18 years and older, who runs the half will be entered to win a Shelby Mustang GTS Convertible. The starting line and finish will be at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. For more info, go to www.mustang50thhalfmarathon.com. BTW for all you motor heads: Carroll Shelby, who designed the Shelby Mustangs for Ford, was a native Texan from Leesburg. He died last year in Dallas.

O A new era in UT cross-country opens on Friday evening (first race at 7 p.m.) when the combined men’s and women’s teams head up I-35 to Waco for the Baylor Bear Invitational. The men, lead by Ryan Dohner and Craig Lutz, are 15 th nationally in the pre-season rankings. Oklahoma State is ranked numero uno. Marielle Hall and Sara Sutherland lead the women who are 27 th in the pre-season rankings.

O Mark this down in your calendar: October 7th (a Monday). That evening, Dean Karnazes will be speaking at the Paramount at 7 p.m. And it’s free. Dean, one of the most gifted, inspirational speakers on the planet, will be presenting “Running Adventures from Earth’s 7 Continents” at the Paramount, sponsored by The North Face. If you haven’t heard this incredible ultra-endurance athlete, here’s your chance. Did I mention it’s free?

O What I’m listening to this morning: Live Bullet by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. I love live recordings and this is one of the most passionate, heart-felt albums of all time.

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