Already Dead

5 Sep 2021

At the start of the Matrix, Agent Smith tells an overconfident lieutenant, "your men are already dead".

This isn't quite the same as Sunk Cost, but it's close; recognising that a bad outcome is already certain, and that any further resources expended in an attempt to avoid it will be wasted.

Sunday, 9am. It's Long Run Day, with 32km scheduled, on the back of a fast 13km the previous day that I skipped. I'm ill, I've slept badly, and only the warm-but-unyielding love of a dear friend gets me out the door at all.

It's not going to happen, and it's the second week in a row. My record on the shorter midweek runs is even worse. The ghost-me that is my training plan is now well ahead and I'm not going to catch him.

It's frustrating, because just before the original date of the marathon, in early 2020, I was ready, smashing 32km training runs for - and before - breakfast. But I'm not now and I can't get there; the most likely result on October 10 is that I limp home in just shy of five hours.

With the result certain, I can skip ahead to the postmortem. I last did this at 34, and the game has changed. Willpower doesn't matter. Recovery does.

I missed runs not because I couldn't make myself do them, but because I couldn't do them. In my arrogance I failed to understand that I now need a whole new set of skills, and the gaps between the training sessions are more important than the sessions themselves.

I'll keep training, but I won't wreck myself. I'm going to run this marathon and I'm going to get my ass kicked. Then I'm going to do it again, taking my time, working smarter, and beating my arbitrary-but-critical 4:14 target.

I'll get 'em next time. But I do have to get 'em.