Wednesday, October 13, 2010

6K tempo

Another perfect morning for running, and this went about as well as I could have hoped. My target 2K split was 7:20; actual splits --
overall = 21:41.25
average lap = 86.75
average mile = 5:49.8

I should note that 2.25 years ago, I did 6.4K tempo (one lap further) in 22 minutes flat (only 18.75 seconds more). Two weeks later I had one of the worst races of my life, a weak Vermont relay performance a few weeks after that, followed by nearly a year of lassitude. All of which I'll try to avoid this time around, of course.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

run for ricky 10/9

AM - 15 min warmup and 5K race
PM - 30 min easy

Solid, steady effort at the Ricky 5K after a good training week. It was nice to have someone else lead for a bit after last weekend's double; both of those races were settled in the first three minutes. Yesterday I ran conservatively for ten minutes or so and then dialed it up. Hadn't planned anything in the afternoon until I saw the results of the Reeves 4.6mi race: Top five finishers all under 25 minutes. So my 5K pace would've landed me in sixth place. Yuck.

Monday, October 4, 2010

two 5Ks

I decided to experiment with back-to-back 5Ks over the weekend.
Here are the results:  race one   race two

I don't plan on trying this ever again. I felt great throughout the first race and horrible in the second. I do have some experience with multiple hard runs in a single day (the Vermont 100 mile relay) so I wasn't too worried about this, but I'm kind of useless today.

Now I just need to find a flat 5K for this Saturday...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

3x1500 @ I pace

This morning I did: 3 x 1500 (4:52 - 4:57 - 4:57). For some perspective, in the summer of 2008 a similar workout went like this: 3 x 1600 (5:05 - 5:08 - 5:08).

What does this mean? I have no idea. It's almost impossible to judge my fitness level from workouts because once I start rolling, it gets fun, and I do them too fast. But in the spring of 2008 my 5K time was right around 16:15 and at this point my goal is to get back to that by the spring of 2011.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

6x400 @ R pace

Which is, of course, my favorite workout at the moment. Splits were: 69.1, 67.8, 68.2, 67.0, 67.6, 66.9.

It's been a long time since I've raced but I'm guessing that my VDOT is 59 or 60, which means my 400s should take 75 - 76 sec. In other words, this was way too fast. So it was really more of an 'F' workout (Fast reps) and JD reserves those for middle distance specialists: 800, 1500, 3000 meters. And my excuse for doing it is, um... because I love it?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

5.6K tempo

Ideal running conditions this morning. My target 800 split was 3:00; my actual splits were --
2:56.37 (too fast)
2:57.65 (better)
2:58.42 (better)
2:54.32 (walkers in lane one, so I had to drift out, then I over-compensated)
2:55.14 (rolling now so go with it)
overall = 20:31.43
average lap = 87.96
average mile = 5:54.7

Thursday, September 9, 2010

full recovery

As I was doing my 3 x 5min VO2max intervals this morning, I realized something a little odd about the way I do speedwork: I always use full recovery in between the hard phases, regardless of intensity, duration, or specific workout purpose. As this sounds like it could be counterproductive in some situations I'm going to rationalize my approach here.

For short fast intervals -- JD's "R" training -- I think full recovery is the only sensible choice despite the notorious 60 x 400 workout portrayed in Parker's Once A Runner. In JD's own words, "you recover until you feel you can perform the next run as well as you did the previous one... if mechanics suffer because of a cut in recovery time, the purpose of the session is lost." Anything less is a bad idea.

For medium-length VO2 intervals -- "I" training -- I again think full recovery makes the most sense as long as the hard phase is at least five minutes long. Well, I don't go less than 5:00 anymore (or more than 5:00 for that matter). JD again: "When running at proper I pace, your body takes about 2 minutes to reach the point where it's operating at maximum oxygen consumption (the purpose of the workout)." Furthermore, you will still get three quality minutes, i.e., five minutes minus the two minutes of build-up, "even if you completely recover between each of the 5-minute runs." So why make it more difficult?

Finally, for longer cruise intervals -- "T" training -- I agree that full recovery would be a mistake. But I don't do cruise intervals; I do continuous tempo runs. And this really is just a matter of personal preference. I've tried cruise intervals and found the recommended one minute recovery duration to be more maddening than helpful. In other words, I prefer no recovery over very short recovery.

So there it is: Full recovery for R and I, no recovery for T. Which leaves hills...

Friday, August 27, 2010

enough of this...

Several weeks ago, sometime during week 14 of this marathon training plan, I remembered something: I don't like marathons. And I hate marathon training. So my quest to run a sub-2:50 is officially over. I'll just have to be happy with that 2:53 from Boston. I will now stick to the races/distances that I like.

I can hear it now: "But the 5K must be so easy for you. Don't you like the challenge of a marathon?"
No. People who feel that way about the 5K don't really know anything about running.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

week five

6/6 - 11 miles @ 7:12 pace
6/5 (pm) - 7 miles E
6/5 (am) - 7 miles with 8 x 400m @ 78 sec
6/3 - 7 miles E
6/2 - 52 min with 8 x 75 sec hill repeats
6/1 - 7 miles E

Sunday, May 23, 2010

week three

5/23 - 9 miles E
5/22 - 6 miles E
5/21 - 6 miles with 8 x 45 sec accelerations
5/20 - 6 miles E
5/19 - 6 miles with 8 x 200m hill repeats
5/18 - 6 miles E + drills

Sunday, May 16, 2010

week two

5/16 - 6 miles E + drills
5/15 - 8 miles E
5/14 - 6 miles with 6 x 30 sec accelerations
5/13 - 6 miles E
5/12 - 35 min fartlek
5/11 - 6 miles E + drills

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

barefoot running: belief without evidence?

Prior to autumn of 1993, my feeling towards running shoes was this: Train in the heaviest most cushioned trainers you can tolerate and race in the lightest flats you can tolerate. My reasoning was that heavy trainers conditioned your legs to a certain level of work and then, on race day, the featherweight shoes would feel like nothing at all. It would be like a horse that is used to carrying around a 170 lb rider switching to a 120 lb jockey.

In hindsight, this makes little sense, and my thinking started to change after a grueling cross country hill workout. Consider this: Two identical runners doing the same workout in terms of total distance. Runner A wears five ounce flats and Runner B wears ten ounce trainers. If they both cover the same distance at the exact same intensity, Runner A must necessarily run faster to compensate for the difference in weight. In other words, if we are talking about equal amounts of effort, Runner B won’t run as fast as Runner A because every stride has to move additional weight.

Is either of these approaches better? That is, assuming that total quantified effort is the same, is it better to run at a 7:30 pace in heavy trainers or at a 7:20 pace in lightweight flats? I’m just making those numbers up, but you see the point. If the purpose of training is to prep us for the difficulties of racing, I think the answer has to be: Faster pace, lighter shoes. Had I been wearing lighter shoes, I could have done that grueling hill workout a little faster without actually working any harder. And we should want to acclimate ourselves to running faster, right?

Is barefoot running the logical conclusion to this approach? Maybe, if we are planning on racing barefoot. But as Matt Fitzgerald argues in a recent article, “Elite runners don’t run barefoot. There’s a reason for that”. Yes, evolution designed the human body to run barefoot… but not on asphalt. Yes, evolution designed the human body to run barefoot… but only when supporting an ultra-lean physique (imagine how much work prehistoric man had to do to get a decent meal). Well, I am training – and, more importantly, racing – on asphalt. And yes, I am carrying around some extra weight. So why run barefoot?

My point is that while I’m all for the minimalist approach in terms of wearing the lightest shoes I can tolerate, up to and including the shoes that I race in, I don’t plan on spending significant time barefoot until: 1) I see evidence that it improves racing performance, 2) my races go off-pavement, and 3) I get my weight below 140. The best argument for running barefoot, I think, is that it feels good. But is it faster?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

week one

5/9 - 7 miles E
5/8 - 6 miles E
5/7 - 6 miles fartlek
5/6 - 6 miles E
5/5 - 35 min fartlek
5/4 - 45 min E + technique drills

Sunday, May 2, 2010

the broken egg

One of JD's most consistent messages is: Don't be the broken egg. This is a reference to the "throw a bunch of eggs against the wall and hope that a few don't break" philosophy. Such an approach might work if you're coaching the Kenyan marathon squad and are blessed with fifteen 2:10 runners and can only take three to the Olympics...

If, like me, you are coaching a team of one, the broken egg approach makes little sense -- which isn't to say that I've always avoided it. Daniels is right; the smartest path to reaching your potential is through very small, controlled, incremental increases in training stress.

Every time runners head out to practice their craft, and I do mean every single time, they should ask: What is the smallest possible amount of effort I can expend what will improve my fitness?

And then not run one step more. Don't be the broken egg.

Marathon training starts tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

a quick aside

This blog is supposed to be about my running progress, and it generally is. But this post is about something that fascinates me even more than running and has slightly more, you know, social utility: Quality software and the people who create it. I'll get back to the running after this quick aside.

Growing up, my mother used this cliché quite a bit: "a poor worker blames his tools." Maybe. In the programming domain, I think Paul Graham has it right when he says: good workers don't use bad tools. Here is the exact passage (Graham uses 'programmer' and 'hacker' interchangeably):
"What do hackers want? Like all craftsmen, hackers like good tools. In fact, that's an understatement. Good hackers find it unbearable to use bad tools. They'll simply refuse to work on projects with the wrong infrastructure... The programmers you'll be able to hire to work on a Java project won't be as smart as the ones you could get to work on a project written in Python. And the quality of your hackers probably matters more than the language you choose. Though, frankly, the fact that good hackers prefer Python to Java should tell you something about the relative merits of those languages. Business types prefer the most popular languages because they view languages as standards."

But languages aren't standards. Anyone who chooses Java over Python because Java is more 'standard' or because it has a bigger 'developer community' should not be in a position to make such decisions. The same goes for C#. Python is a better tool, period. There is no legitimate argument in favor of Java or C# over Python.

Graham makes another excellent point about a curious sort of programmer morality: "The best programmers can work wherever they want. They don't have to work for a company they have qualms about... An organization that wins by exercising power starts to lose the ability to win by doing better work. And it's not fun for a smart person to work in a place where the best ideas aren't the ones that win."

I don't think I'm a great programmer, partly because I don't refuse to work on projects with bad tools and infrastructure. Yet.

I think I'm an above-average programmer. I hope I'm an above-average programmer. Someday I hope to be a great programmer. The good news is that I'm smart enough to recognize bad ideas.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010


The fun begins in 28 days. I’ve been careless with my training log so far because base mileage and striders just aren’t worth the effort of documentation. Everything changes on May 3. No mistakes, no excuses, no letting up.

Sheehan says: "This way of life is addictive... So the victim has little choice except to continue and even escalate the activity."

Friday, March 12, 2010

more base

3/11 - 30min base + striders
3/10 - 30min base + crunches
3/9 - 30min base + striders

Current weight: 152 lbs. Not good. Which is weird because I actually feel relatively fit.

Friday, March 5, 2010

pedestrian stuff

3/4 - 6mi base
3/3 - 4mi base
3/1 - 4mi base
2/28 - 4mi base

Monday, March 1, 2010

the new plan

December, January, February -- all disappointing training. The two big reasons were: 1) lots of extra hours at work, and 2) an ongoing lower back problem. Hopefully that's over with.

The new training plan is a 24 week schedule starting 5/3, ending 10/17 at the Baystate Marathon, with three "fitness check" races along the way:

1) 5K on 7/25
2) 10K on 8/22
3) half-marathon on 9/19

All of which are TBD. The next nine weeks will be base distance and striders with the occasional long run.