Weekly Thoughts


It’s Basically 1200 Meters

Here is something that caught our eye this week:

Knowing when to take the W

When we lived in Cambridge, we frequented all the common outdoor exercise spots  leisurely jogs along the Charles, grueling stairs in the Harvard Stadium, and heart-rate spiking intervals on the Newton hills.  As such, we enjoyed learning more about the “Tempo Loop” in the Harvard Athletic Complex.  The Harvard track team has done this route for years, but during COVID, it’s become one of the most popular workout spots in Boston.  Some more insight on the course from Harvard Magazine:

“The Harvard Tempo Loop, like any good running loop, is simple. It starts at the stop sign near O’Donnell Field’s right-field foul pole, runs clockwise around Gordon Indoor Track, continues past the Bright-Landry Hockey Center, and cuts right after the Palmer Dixon Lifting Facility. After a long straightaway along Soldiers Field Road, it turns right before North Harvard Street, past Blodgett Pool and the Murr Center, and wraps back around Harvard Stadium. It’s a clean 1,200 meters. Or 1,170. Maybe 1,150.”

As it turns out, nobody can agree on the length of the loop.  The positioning of the Harvard Stadium seems to block GPS signals on the course, so technology is useless.  Molly Seidel, a Tokyo Olympic qualifier who frequents the course thinks it is 1,200 meters.  Kieran Tutivate, a sub-four-minute miler who graduated in 2020, gives a typically Harvard-esque answer: “plus conversion for not being completely fast and having two 90-degree right turns. Equivalent to 1,210 meters on a track.”  Others claim it’s 1,200 only if you run the turns wide.  Others claim to have measured it at 1,180 with a wheel.  While the debate rages on, others have started to ask  does it matter?  Runner and author Dennis Melly makes the following argument:

“I’m a believer in the value of the ‘confidence booster’ workout. It never feels good to fail. Our brains are simpler than we pretend, and learning to associate hard efforts with positive outcomes can have performance benefits as real and significant as pounding pavement. Much of the training prescribed by smart coaches follows this wisdom by design – better to end a workout feeling like you could keep going than like you left everything on the line and came up short….. Reducing the uncertainty of ability – quieting the nagging question of ‘can I do this?’ – when venturing into the unknown of a race is some of the best mental armor that training can provide. And just as there is value to working out on the Newton hills in the rain to build toughness, there is value in working out on the Tempo Loop to build confidence…. How long is the Tempo Loop? It doesn’t matter. No matter where you run, the recipe for success is the same – consistency, confidence, and perseverance.”

A lot of the work we do at Chenmark is hard, or as we say, simple, but not easy.  At times, it can feel like we’re running tempo repeats  and coming up short.  Sometimes, we all need a confidence booster.  Sometimes, when good things come our way, it’s OK to say, it’s basically 1,200 meters, take the W, and move on.

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Team

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