Saturday, July 26, 2008

worst race of my life?

Horrible performance. Horrible! 62 minutes for 10 miles. Un-fucking-believable. Maybe not my worst ever, but definitely my worst non-marathon finish. Cramping, vomiting, walking for a half mile... don't want to write, talk, or think about it ever again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

7/19 - 7/22

7/22 - 15 min E + 4x1200 (3:50.2 avg) + 10 min E
7/21 - off
7/20 - 50 min fartlek
7/19 - 30 min E

Friday, July 18, 2008

7/14 - 7/18

7/18 - 31 min E
7/17 - 16 min E + 8x200 (32 sec avg) + 1x400 (66.5) + 16 min E
7/16 - 6 miles E
7/15 - off
7/14 - 15 miles E

Monday, July 14, 2008

7/9 - 7/13

7/13 - 31 min E
7/12 - 15 min E + 6.4K tempo (22:00) + 15 min E
7/11 - 42 min E
7/10 - 15 min E + 3 x 1600 (5:05 - 5:08 - 5:08) + 10 min E
7/9 - 30 min E

Thu 7/10: First serious speedwork session in 2.5 weeks. That doesn't seem like much time but I was definitely rusty; never quite settled in to that "comfortably hard" zone. Saturday's tempo run felt 100% better. Tonight's plan is 15 road miles and I'm leaving the watch at home.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

7/2 - 7/8 (vacation week)

7/8 - 40 min E with striders
7/7 - 30 min E
7/6 - 30 min E
7/5 - off
7/4 - 55 min E with striders
7/3 - 30 min E
7/2 - 45 min E with striders

No quality here; seven days of nothing but easy running and striders. Between that, non-stop eating out, many hours driving to and from Quebec City, and the sharp increase in daily alcohol consumption, I feel very out of sorts. I had planned on doing some hills or intervals when I got back to MA last night but the conditions were miserable (89 dgrs, 65% humidity). Fortunately I have some breathing room before the next planned race... will have to make the most of it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

6/28 - 7/1

7/1 - 35 min E
6/30 - 70 min E with striders
6/29 - 35 min E
6/28 - 15 min E + 1600m (4:40)

Marathon Relay report: My 1600 time was what I expected (4:40) and my splits were expectedly horrible (67-70-75-68). Even when I used to do weekly 1500s, I found it almost impossible to run even splits and this event received zero preparation. But it was SOOO much fun. Speed, aerobic conditioning, tactics, that witheringly uncomfortable ohmygodthissucks third lap -- the mile has it all. What the hell was I thinking with all that marathon nonsense??

Friday, June 27, 2008

a sort of homecoming

Last minute change of plans: I had registered for a 5K tomorrow but it was cancelled without explanation so I signed up for the Marathon Relay Challenge in Marshfield. It’s a cool idea: 26 runners each do a track mile, in relay format (i.e., carrying a baton), and each team is required to have a minimum of ten women. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity, after a twelve year hiatus, to run the mile again.

The mile/1500 is my favorite running event; nothing else comes close. I love the 800 but at high speeds (by which I mean less than two minutes) you can finish it without ever having to rely solely on aerobic energy production. Glycolysis helps the entire way. The mile is simply a killer. I think there’s a perception among many runners that the longer event is, the harder it becomes, but that is complete nonsense. The 10K isn’t harder than the 5K -- it’s just slower. And El Guerrouj’s career is every bit as impressive as Bekele’s or Gebrselassie’s.

So this should be interesting. Based on my recent training and racing I’m hoping for a 4:40.

6/23 - 6/27

6/27 - 35 min E
6/26 - off
6/25 - 63 min with 10x150m accelerations
6/24 - 35 min E
6/23 - 35 min E

Sunday, June 22, 2008

6/19 - 6/22

6/22 - 17 min E + 3 x 1600 (5:04.3 - 5:07.3 - 5:08.3) + 20 min E
6/21 - 35 min E
6/20 - 31 min E
6/19 - 15 min E + 8K tempo (27:34) + 10 min E

I could still feel Thursday's tempo when I warmed up this morning. 27:34 for 8K isn't quite race pace but it isn't far from it, either. I expected fatigue on Fri/Sat but was a little concerned that I didn't feel 100% today. Target pace was 5:08 (77 sec laps).

Because of the sluggish warm up I was thinking this during the first hard lap: "77 isn't too bad when I'm rested, but I'm not, so I'll have to push." That thinking, of course, resulted in a way too fast opening lap (71 sec). I dialed it down and did the last 1200 slightly below target. The second 1600 was perfect; five minutes of bliss.

I still felt strong going into the last rep and expected another sub-5:08 but the humidity started to kick in. The temp was OK, probably just over 70, but with 1200 remaining my shorts were completely saturated. What a pleasant feeling THAT is. At any rate, I red lined with 300 to go and had to dip into the anaerobic well to maintain pace. But middle distance is my game (or so I keep telling myself) and I LOVE that well.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

why running?

Here are two ‘running and the human body’ arguments from the web:

1) When man was a hunter-gatherer, how did he catch the speedy antelope and other game which provided him with his protein? Not by chasing, but by stealth. That stealth required careful, slow, steady pacing, downwind of the animal, without rustling dry leaves or cracking underfoot... Man is not built for running, but for walking, and for walking at a slow, deliberate pace which does not send shock waves up the length of our lower limbs. (P. Arnold, 2008, BMJ)

2) Running has substantially shaped human evolution. Running made us human – at least in an anatomical sense. We think running is one of the most transforming events in human history. We are arguing the emergence of humans is tied to the evolution of running. (D. Bramble and D. Lieberman, 2004, Nature)

Arnold argues that our easily sprained ankles would have prevented primitive man from chasing game over uneven terrain for extended periods of time. In contrast, Lieberman presents 26 human traits that point towards running proficiency, for example: Narrow trunk and waist; independent movement between hips, legs, and torso; springy foot tendons and ligament. So did early man hunt like lions, using stealth to place themselves in strategic - and relatively close - proximity to prey, followed by a quick, decisive strike? Or was it more like wolves, relying on slow-twitch muscle fibers to select the weakest individual and chase it until exhaustion?

I don’t care too much either way (not interested in competitive walking) but the discussion is kind of fun. I think Lieberman’s argument is compelling, i.e., that the adaptive changes that made us better runners did not improve walking proficiency. It seems like good evidence, in other words, that early scavengers/gatherers were under selective pressures that rewarded speed (perhaps to escape rather than chase?) and that we are, therefore, at least somewhat built for running.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

6/15 - 6/18

6/18 - 36 min E
6/17 - 31 min E
6/16 - 75 min E
6/15 - 35 min E

Sunday, June 15, 2008

race report 6/14

Village Fair 5K - 16:07, 1st place. In one word: Relief. Although I kept telling myself that there were legitimate reasons for disappointing times at the last two races - some combination of weather, course length/difficulty, and running with a substantial lead - there's always that little voice that keeps repeating doubts: "Maybe it wasn't circumstances. Maybe that really is as fast as you can run. Maybe you are so far past your prime and a seasonal peak that, from now on, anything under 17:00 will be considered a good day."

So yes, I was quite relieved to post a 16:07. A friend from GNRC with a GPS watch recorded 3.04 miles, but I'd be happy even if my time had been 16:27 for a full 5K because last year I was 16:49. In other words, regardless of how long it was, the course didn't change and my time improved by 42 seconds. And if I can make it through another year of solid training, maybe next year I'll be ready for the USATF-NE championships instead of this race. I just have to keep ignoring that little voice.

Friday, June 13, 2008

6/9 - 6/13

6/13 – 30 min E
6/12 – off
6/11 – 60 min with 8x200 (33 sec average)
6/10 – 30 min E
6/9 – 31 min E

Monday, June 9, 2008

race report 6/8

Sensata 5K - 17:50, 1st place. The perfect storm for a weak time: 96 degrees, uberhumid, the course is long by .09mi (30 sec), and I ran alone for 2+ miles. The only thing missing was a series of nasty hills. Oh, and I felt weak, heavy, and sluggish the entire way. Absolutely no zip in my legs.

But they did have a pretty good post-race band.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

6/3 - 6/7

6/7/08 - 36 min E
6/6/08 - off
6/5/08 - 60 min fartlek
6/4/08 - 36 min E
6/3/08 - 30 min E

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Recently I've seen a few references to performance tables compiled by the World Association of Veteran Athletes. These tables provide a method for aging runners to compare current and past performances (direct comparisons being too depressing). I couldn't find a website for WAVA but did find some calculators based on their data.

For example, my best collegiate race (age 22) was 4:01 for 1500 meters, which is approximately 4:20 for one mile. That scored an 86.3% (100% being the "baseline"). And to match that today (age 35), I would need to run a 4:24.5 mile or 4:05 for the 1500. Highly unlikely! But it gets worse - 86.3% for a 35 year old male translates to 15:05 for the 5K and 2:26:55 for the marathon. Fantastic. I already assumed that it was probably impossible to return to college-level fitness, but now I've learned that even getting to relatively similar racing condition will require a monumental effort. Unless I lose another 10 lbs?

Monday, June 2, 2008

5/30 - 6/2

6/2/08 - 13 miles E (1:29:55)
6/1/08 - 35 min E (am); 30 min E (pm)
5/31/08 - 70 min fartlek
5/30/08 - 37 min E

Thursday, May 29, 2008

5/25 - 5/29

5/29/08 - 15 min E + 8K tempo (27:38.4) + 15 min E
5/28/08 - 36 min E
5/27/08 - 30 min E
5/26/08 - 45 min E with striders
5/25/08 - 30 min E

Sunday, May 25, 2008

race report 5/24

Gilio Memorial 5K – 16:57, 1st place. Not much to say about this other than that I expected a much faster time; two months ago I ran a 16:10. According to the legendary Sheehan, the even-more-legendary Bowerman believed that a bad race almost always indicates overtraining (that "catastrophe on the other side of fitness"), and that smart runners respond by reducing volume, intensity, or both.

However, Sheehan writes, "most runners and coaches, of course, take the opposite view. For them a bad race is an indication to double the training rather than cut it in half." But increasing my training workload is precisely what I intend to do, because yesterday has to be an indication of something other than overtraining, right?

Friday, May 23, 2008

5/19 - 5/23

5/23/08 - 31 min E
5/22/08 - 52 min E
5/21/08 - off
5/20/08 - 36 min E
5/19/08 - 15 miles E (1:44:15)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


My favorite part of Bernd Heinrich's Why We Run: "the main feline and canine tendencies are still apparent in our house pets even after centuries of domestication. A house cat will seldom follow its owner through woods and fields to hunt rabbits as a dog would with its companions, in this case us, with most eager anticipation.

"Dogs will run even when they are not hungry, and they derive pleasure from the hunt itself. Dogs will gladly retrieve such symbolic prey as sticks and Frisbees... Cats are not socially motivated like dogs or humans. No matter how many times you make a cat run around the track with others, it will still not race, nor can it run as far as a dog... Before setting up a specific running goal, one must be realistic; it is important to know if you are a cat or a dog."

Monday, May 19, 2008

race report 5/18

Thurston Middle School 2M – 10:11, 1st place. This is a terribly pretentious comment, but: After the first half mile I was sort of embarrassed that I entered this race (the 2nd place finisher was 15 years old and almost a full minute behind). I knew going in that it was primarily geared towards kids & families, but it’s been so long since I’ve done anything under 5K (12 years?) that I couldn’t resist; I’ll probably always be a middle distance junkie. Also, the previous course record was 10:39 – not stellar but quick enough that I figured there might be other low-10 min runners. Oh well. Typical warm-up: 15 min of jogging with some accelerations. The conditions were sunny, high 60s, breezy. Did 35 min E a few hours afterwards.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

5/14 - 5/17

5/17/08 - 31 min E
5/16/08 - off
5/15/08 - 65 min fartlek
5/14/08 - 34 min E

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

consistency and patience

In The Art and Science of Running, Dr. Jack Daniels defines the "Five Ingredients of Success" as ability, motivation, opportunity, direction, and luck. I can't argue with the first three ingredients. If someone is unmotivated, or cannot find the time, or has no ability to begin with, then they probably won't be a successful runner (although success is obviously a relative term, and there must be some basic yet meaningful level of "success" for runners at all levels of ability).

Luck, I think, is certainly important when we consider individual races. All competitive runners have had days when, for whatever reason, we perform below our fitness level OR we turn in a breakout performance and accomplish something we barely thought possible. If physiologists / sports psychologists could accurately account for this variance, I'd love to hear the explanation. Until then I'll call it luck.

At the same time, luck can sort of lose its importance over longer periods of racing. If we race enough, then we'll have enough of the good days to establish that, over time, we've been successful. So I think luck is an important ingredient for specific races but not so significant when we look at several months and years of competition.

Finally, Daniels mentions "direction" - and this got me wondering: What is the best running direction that I've ever been given? I think John Kellogg and Robert Johnson are onto something here, and if I were to distill their advice down to two words, they would be: Consistency and patience.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

5/1 - 5/13

5/13/08 - 37 min E
5/12/08 - 15 min E + 8K tempo (28:10) + 17 min E
5/11/08 - 38 min E
5/10/08 - 90 min E
5/9/08 - off
5/8/08 - 70 min fartlek
5/7/08 - 34 min E
5/6/08 - 36 min E
5/5/08 - 77 min fartlek
5/4/08 - 36 min E
5/3/08 - 15 min E + 10K race 34:14
5/2/08 - 30 min E
5/1/08 - off