Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I’ve probably mentioned it before, but man what a difference being rested for a workout can make. After taking Saturday off and running 8 easy miles on Sunday and Monday, I felt great for tonight’s hill workout. The last time I ran hills with my training group I was drilled by Jenna, Joyce and Roger. Tonight Jenna was the only one I couldn’t keep up with and Joyce and Roger were a ways behind me, so the workout was definitely a confidence booster for me. The workout included 2 separate half mile-long hills, one steep and one gradual. We ran the steep hill 3 times and the gradual one twice for a total of 10 miles.

Overall, February was a very good month for me. After being on-pace for 0 miles after the first day, I finished with 326 miles on 26 days of running and 37 runs. With the new standards I’ve set recently, my mileage could have been a little higher. It’s amazing what missing one run, especially a long run, will do to a week and even a month. In any case, February was my 2nd highest month ever (behind January) and it was my highest February ever, by 28 miles (a mile a day). Around the middle of the month I started getting away from the little things like lifting, ab work, diet, etc., but did focus more on the mental side. One of my goals for March is to get back to doing the little things, especially the ab work.

No mental stories today. Instead I thought I’d share what I’ve been doing so far – other than reading books. Each night before going to bed, I focus on relaxation. I combine 3 different techniques; deep abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and cue word relaxation.

I start with the deep abdominal breathing, which basically involves slowly breathing through your nose. First I fill my abdomen, then the middle part of my lungs and finally the upper part of my lungs. Once they’re filled, I’ll hold the breath for 3-5 seconds before gradually exhaling. As I exhale I’ll say the cue word “calm” and focus on the tension releasing from my body. After exhaling I wait another 3-5 seconds before taking another breath.

After about 5 breaths I’ll switch to progressive muscle relaxation where I flex a muscle group, hold it for 15-30 seconds and then gradually release it. As I release the muscles I again say my cue word and really focus on how it feels to be relaxed. I start with my face and then move down my body; shoulders, arms, back, butt, and legs. The idea with the cue word is that it becomes a stimulus for achieving a relaxed state. It creates an association between the cue word and the relaxed feeling. With enough practice, it can be used in competition to become instantly calm.

Quote of the Day:
“Mind is everything: muscle – pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind.” Paavo Nurmi

Monday, February 27, 2006


Not much to report running-wise today. Since I’m keeping my mileage low for the first few days of the week (and since I run with my training group on Tuesday night) I decided to run at night rather than in the morning. That allows me to sleep in till 6 for a couple of days. So I ran an easy 8 miles on the treadmill tonight while watching mindless sitcoms.

I still haven’t really figured out how I want to approach blogging about mental training. When I read something interesting I’ll probably just post it. Plus I’ll post what my training is like.

I’ll preface this story (from The Total Runner) by saying I have no idea if it’s true or not, but it is a great example of visualization:

Hundreds of years ago in ancient China, a famous, accomplished concert pianist was incarcerated by the opposing fraction for his participation in a regional uprising. After eight years of solitary confinement, he became a free man. Four weeks into his “new” life, he put on a performance that was judged by his peers to have gone beyond anything he had ever done. Amazed by this, they asked how this could be possible having been in an empty cell for so long. He stated that he diligently rehearsed for this concert for hours each day. But there was no piano, they said. His reply was that although they took the instrument, they left the mind: he “felt” the keys; “saw” his hands sliding across them; “heard” the intricate melodies; and “smelled” the perspiration on his body after an arduous “recital.”

Recently I wrote that the “key” to being a successful runner (or anything else) is so surround your self with successful, like-minded people. As much as I’d like to think I came up with that concept, I was browsing through The Competitive Edge last night and came across a section on this topic. The section opens like this;

We are influenced by forces exerted by others, an infinite array of behaviors, of things people do and don’t do, of strokes that sustain us and abrasions that sap our energy. A handshake, a nod, an encouraging word, a piece of true advice, a smile, a compliment, an approving look, a heart-to-heart talk, a cheer, a hug. A frown, a shove, a shun, a word behind your back, a disloyalty, a knock, an insensitive remark, a criticism, a boo, a lie.

I’ve seen runners of extreme talent reduced to cinders and their racing destroyed by the people around them. I’ve also seen runners of little ability buoyed and inspired to great racing by the people around them.

Elizabeth and Curly Su have also posted on this topic recently. So today’s quote of the day is dedicated to them.
Quote of the Day:
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can be great.” Mark Twain

Sunday, February 26, 2006


I knew it would be tough. I had a lot (for me) going on socially this weekend and I knew it’d be tough to get my mileage in. In fact, I was planning on taking Friday off from work in order to get my long run in. However, since I ended up taking Wednesday off to stay home with the girls; that wasn’t really an option any longer.

Friday morning I was up at 4:30 to get my run in. That evening I went out with some high school friends. We try to get together every 4-6 weeks. Our get togethers usually keep us out to 11 or 12, but once in awhile we’re having a blast and stay out later. After meeting for dinner we happened to go to a bar that had a band I’ve heard goods things about and have wanted to see for awhile - Boogie Wonderland. They were really good and the scenery was awesome too. In addition to all the babes, there were some other interesting characters. My friends and I like to give certain people nicknames so when we reminisce we can simple say “Do you guys remember Aquaman and Great White guy from that time we saw Boogie Wonderland?” Anyway, I didn’t make it home till 1:30 and, as usual, my kids had me up at 6:30.

If this had been a “normal” Saturday, I could have gotten in my long run and then snuck in a nap in the afternoon or gone to bed early. “Unfortunately,” Saturday we celebrated my daughter’s birthday with our families. I swear these kinds of gatherings take more out of me than a 20 mile run. Basically, what turned out to be “I can’t get my long run in” turned into “I’ll take the day off and start my cutback week a day early.”

I ended the week with 78 miles on 8 runs, including a couple of nice strong aerobic run. So I won’t beat myself up too much. I do need to make sure I start to get in some 20+ mile runs though, and I’ll use this as motivation.

With my “low” mileage for the week, I’m not going to take a full calendar week for a cutback week. I’m going to back off for the first few days of the week and then build back up. Backing off included an easy 8 miles on the treadmill today. With the day off, my legs felt great and I dropped the pace to 7:30s toward the end. I was hoping to watch the men’s 50k x-c ski race during this run, but they didn’t air that race until the evening. Not sure if anyone else watched it, but it was awesome. Those guys make it looks so easy. Speaking of x-c skiing, congrats to everyone that raced the Birkie (North America’s largest x-c ski marathon) over the weekend. I’m tempted to do it next year.
Quote of the Day:
“The fact that I am able to settle down and physically and mentally relax is one of my greatest strengths. It is something every athlete should seek.” Rob deCastella

Friday, February 24, 2006


How does Sasha Cohen fall on her FIRST jump last night? Tell me that's not mental.


I was going to address relaxation today, but Miler raised some good points with his comments yesterday and I wanted to address them. While it seems the author took some liberties, I do see his book as more than a “pep talk.” I believe, with practice, I can improve things like relaxation, visualization skills, ability to focus, positive imagery, etc., which will lead to better running and faster times.

In fact, I know these things work because I used them effectively in college. During winter break of my sophomore year I read The Competitive Edge and practiced my mental skills. That indoor track season, without any change in training, I was doing workouts with guys that had been drilling me during cross country. I went on to set PRs at 3K and 5K.

Here’s another simple example that shows, if nothing else, that just being more aware of your mental state can help. Tuesday night (before this new focus) I was running hills with my training group and (I’m ashamed to mentioned this) I verbalized that I was a terrible hill runner. Wednesday I was thinking about this during my run and I realized I’m not a terrible hill runner. I might not be the fastest, but I’m strong. I don’t get tired, which allows me to recover quicker than other runners. So now when I run hills I don’t think “I’m terrible,” I think “I’m incredibly fucking strong” (f-bomb added for emphasis).

Today’s run gave me a chance to practice some of my mental skills. I ran a 12 mile strong aerobic workout that included 4 x 2 miles with a minute jog in between. The first two were into a slight wind. Looking at the times (14:59, 13:57, 13:34, 13:52), it’s obvious that it takes me awhile to get going in the morning. This reaffirms what I learned last year at Grandma’s. Even though I hit the first mile right where I wanted to be, it felt like I was pushing too hard, too soon. I’ll keep that in mind for this year. I’d rather use the first 2-3 miles as a warmup, even if it means being 1 minute slower than my goal time.

Some of the things I tried to practice today included staying as relaxed as possible by using a cue word (which I’ll talk more about during the relaxation post), acting as if I’m running with someone, and trying to hold onto a thought as long as possible. This last one is tougher than it sounds. Next time you go for a run try thinking about just one thing, like your breathing, stride, arm swing, etc. for as long as possible. It’s amazing how quickly other thoughts flood your mind and you won’t even realize it. One minute I’m focused on my stride rate, the next I’m thinking about emails I need to send, my next blog entry, how much Sasha Cohen looks like an elf, etc. - just random thoughts zipping around my head.

I believe if I can hone those skills in the next 4 months, I’ll have a better shot of reaching my goal at Grandma’s. The last thing I want is to put in all this training, only to screw the pooch on race day because I left the mental aspect to chance.
Quote of the Day:
“The deepest personal defeat suffered by human beings is constituted by the difference between what one was capable of becoming and what one has become.” Ashley Montagu

Thursday, February 23, 2006


That sound you hear is me STILL knocking after mentioning not getting sick in yesterday’s post. The first thing Amy did after arriving home from work was throw up. She said she felt better after that, so I went for my run. Upon returning she said she threw up 2 more times. Then she proceeded to sleep for the next 12 hours. It’s “interesting” that the 3 people in our family that got the flu shot have all been sick. Not sure if the flu shot has any affect on the 24-hour bug or not.

Not sure if just mentioning mental toughness was enough or if other factors like running later in the day, warmer (35 degrees) temps, etc. were involved, but I had a great run last night. After taking Bailey for a mile, I proceeded to run a new “10 mile” loop in 71 minutes. This is the same loop I ran in 84 minutes last weekend when the windchill was minus 17. It might be a little short, but not much considering I ran the last 4 (certified) hilly miles into a headwind in 28:40. The 4 miles before that were mostly downhill with a gentle tailwind. In any case, it was a nice run. The pace was very similar to my last marathon-paced workout, but this time it just felt like a quick training run, not some special workout that I had to get pumped up to run.

While at home yesterday, I took the opportunity to start re-reading The Total Runner: A Complete Mind-Body Guide to Optimal Performance by Dr. Jerry Lynch. He’s also the author of Running Within and Thinking Body, Dancing Mind. Reading some of the statements below, it’s hard not to get excited about the possibilities;

  1. Most people rarely utilize more than 10 percent of their physical and mental capabilities.
  2. Elite athletes invariably state that 80-90 percent of their performance is attributed to their level of mental fitness.
  3. Belief in limits creates limited people…both history and experimental data show that humans possess vastly larger capabilities than those they now use.
  4. Don’t limit yourself in any way. Let go of the past. Get off your beliefs. Give yourself the space to become everything that you are capable of being. You are the only one that can fulfill your imagined potential.
  5. Being mentally strong is a learned behavior. The more you practice with the mind, the easier it becomes and the better you will get.
  6. The inner powers you discover are not new; you already possess them – you just habitually fail to use them.

I could go on-and-on, but I think this story sums things up nicely.

Prior to Roger Bannister breaking the 4-minute mile, over 50 reputable medical journals throughout the world claimed that such speed by a human was not only impossible, but unthinkable. Once Bannister transcended that “limit,” the sub-4 mile became commonplace as over 50 athletes mimicked his performance over the next 18 months. Once Bannister lifted the barrier other athletes could mentally “see” that it was possible.

Quote of the Day:
“Beliefs are limits to be examined and transcended.” John Lilly

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I think one of the most amazing things this winter is that I haven't gotten sick (knock on wood). Kinsey had the stomach flu a week ago and Katie had it last weekend. She still has loose stools (I guess it's technically not diarrhea unless she's going 5 times a day) so I'm home from work today, along with Kinsey.

Last night I ran for 75 minutes with my training group. The run wasn't as fast as I would have liked, but we did run 4 or 5 nice hill repeats. I suppose if I want to go faster I have to run better on the hills and stay up with the leaders.

A few things have inspired me to change the focus of my blog a little bit. No, I'm not talking about changing from quantity to quality or changing to 5Ks or ultras. I'm talking about focusing on the mental side of the sport. Mike Platt's article that I posted the other day got me thinking. Then Curly Su's post got me thinking some more.

We hear how important the mental aspect is all the time. But what do we do about it? Do you think Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods just turn it on and off whenever they want? Or do you think they practice their mental skills? I'd say the latter. And if it's good enough for Michael and Tiger, it's good enough for me.

I know these skills can be improved with practice and I know I should do them, but I rarely do. Why? Probably because it's hard to see them working. It doesn't feel like I'm doing anything. And there's not enough time in the day already. I'm going to use this blog to help "force" me into practicing my mental skills. I have a bunch of books on the topic that I'm going to re-read and I'll share what I re-learn here.

So with this post being about kids and mental fortitude, today's quote of the day is actually a poem by children's author Shel Silverstein. If I teach my children only one thing, I hope this is it.

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me -
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I don’t have much to report since my main run isn’t until this evening. I ran an easy 5 miles this morning.

I filled out by Chicago Marathon entry form yesterday and will get it in the mail this week. It looks like it’ll work out very well because Amy is off from work, the week leading up to the race. So we’ll be able to head to Chicago early and hang out for a few days.

Speaking of races, I’m debating when my next race will be. I was planning on holding off until April because I thought it would help keep me from peaking too soon. But my favorite (non-marathon) race of the year is an 8k on March 19th. I’m sure Lydiard would scold me for not being patient, but that’s alright – I can live with that. I asked Mike about this awhile ago and he suggested running at 7/8th effort to help keep from peaking too early. I like that idea.

Right now I’m trying to hold my mileage in the 90-100 mile range for another week before cutting back. That’ll give me 3 solid weeks in a row. My legs feel fine, but getting out of bed has been difficult this week. Even with 8 hours of sleep last night, I didn’t want to get out of bed.

I thought today’s quote of the day would tie nicely to recent posts by Mike and Eric.
“Running was never anything natural to me. It took a long time for me to be able to run well, and I still don’t look very good doing it. I had to do 30 and 35 mile runs in order to get my body attuned to running marathons, or I would just die off at 20 miles. Tenacity was my only gift.” Kenny Moore

Monday, February 20, 2006


Have I mentioned that snowboard cross is my new favorite event, even though I’ve never been on a snowboard? Here’s what I’d do if I made it to the 2010 Olympics. I do all my preliminary runs wearing the baggy USA outfit. Then, just before the start of the final race I’d break out a sleek spandex racing outfit. Don’t you think I’d have a huge aerodynamic advantage? Either that or we throw Bode Miller into a snowboarder’s baggy outfit and send him down the mountain. He can’t do much worse.

Sometimes when I read message boards and find something I like, I’ll copy and past it into an email and then just save it in my “drafts” folder. Friday I was going through that folder and came across a post I thought I’d share. I can’t remember where I found it, probably Beck’s old Donnybrook. It was written by a guy you’ve probably never heard of, Mike Platt who, I believe, is now a masters runner in New York. Anyway, since I don’t have anything exciting to write about other than an easy 10 miles this morning, I thought I’d share it.

One of the keys to performing well is eliminating anxiety. I have no fear of failure and no fear of success; both will happen. I do not get embarrassed. What happens happens and it matters little to nothing to me if others don't approve.

I do not train to beat people. I do not go into races determined to beat a particular runner or runners. I do use competitors as barometers, but no malice is involved. This way, when someone passes me, I am not demoralized because of harboring ill will; my concentration is not broken by negative emotion.

I really love to race, and I remind myself of this. When I am in a highly competitive mode this is especially true. Often, during difficult segments of my training, I recall times I wasn't racing and how during such periods I really seemed to be missing something; I recall race days and how I enjoy every minute of them.

I have performed well in other sports. I have very good recall of the feelings that I had - the smells, the tastes, the sounds, the noises - that surrounded very successful events. I spend a lot of time visualizing those feelings. I visualize the preparation that I had before good performances and I emulate this as best I can.

I make sure that I am training correctly. I have absolute confidence that proper training brings results. Sometimes the results don't come on the exact day we expect they will, but they do come.

I try to remain relaxed. Bad workouts don't bother me; they come and go. A new day is a new day and I wake up believing in breakthroughs.

I have a firm belief that the body is much like the brain. It's said that each of us uses only a small percentage of our brainpower, and I believe that about our bodies. The trick is releasing this power.

I also believe in stories such as women lifting cars off their children. This can be done; I know it can.

I believe that some sick people can augment their own curative processes with the correct attitude; maybe by only a small percentage, but a small percentage can make a huge difference in this sport. With that in mind, I try to visualize physical recovery processes occurring.

I do not expect bad things to happen. Bad races are flukes, and good races are not - good races are supposed to happen.

I visualize the discomfort of racing and how I am able put it aside in very good races. When the discomfort hits in a race, I am therefore prepared to deal with it. I visualize a controlled but relaxed form of aggression. I practice this in certain workouts. This does not mean that I train like a crazed animal, refusing to acknowledge pain; instead, I try to remain relaxed yet maintain my intensity during workouts that are "up-tempo" or on off-days.

My goals are clear in my mind and I remind myself daily that each run contributes to these goals. In contrast, there have been times I have trained well but have had no goals other than to go to races and have a good time. This can sometimes be a problem at this stage of my running. I know that regaining the form I had as a twenty-something just will not happen, so I tend to race for fun and not necessarily for accomplishment. At times I had no goals or direction; what's different now is that I have clear goals, a true desire for a particular result. I tilt the scales a little more toward accomplishment than toward fun. I still have fun - just not to the point of degrading my training or racing.

When I am serious, I make certain I do the little things that are important.

I visualize and verbalize; I have inner conversations with myself that put all of the above things together. It is almost a daily meditation or prayer. I am training right, I have a goal, I know that I have had breakthrough performances in the past and that I can still have "relative breakthroughs." I am serious, I am having fun, and I savor the moments that I am training and racing. Very few people can experience what we as runners and racers experience: having a great workout, the excitement of race day from the minute we wake up until the minute the gun goes off. The thrill of be able to run and race like a deer; the ability to lift the car off of the baby. These are all things that I keep processing, almost as a form of self-hypnosis, on a daily basis.

I let these things fill me. Anything can happen, and I am ready.

That probably counts as the quote of the day, but I’ll add this too:

“If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now. Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.” Priscilla Welch

Sunday, February 19, 2006


I admit I’m a very poor weekend blogger. As a result, I usually end up lumping 2 or 3 days of training into one long-winded post.

Friday morning I performed a treadmill test – see how far you can run in 45 minutes at a 3% incline – that my coach assigned. I wasn’t looking forward to it and now I know why. It sucked. 3% is not a lot of incline, but when you combine it with 45 minutes, it’s not easy. My lungs felt fine, but I couldn’t get my legs to turnover very quickly. I only managed 5.47 miles. Luckily I have no frame of reference to judge this workout. So I don’t really feel good or bad about it – it’s just there.

Friday evening I was supposed to meet up with Mary for 7-8 miles around the lakes. However, strong winds that produced -30 wind chills lead to us cancelling that run. Instead, I ran an easy 8 on the treadmill.

Saturday was a little better, weather-wise; -2 degrees, -17 wind chill with sunny skies. I managed 10 miles outside before finishing with 3 more miles on the treadmill. Luckily only 1 of the miles was into the teeth of the wind. Those 13 miles gave me exactly 100 for the week.

Again, this morning was a little better; 5 degrees and sunny. The winds were calmer, so the wind chill was probably around 0 to -5. I ran with my training group for the first time in nearly 2 weeks. Most of the run was with Jenna and her friend Derek. After dropping Derek off after 1:40, Jenna and I added on another 30 minutes and called it 17 miles. I was hoping for 20, but a quicker 17 seemed like a solid run too.

Today's run put me over the 3rd milestone I alluded to in my last post. Frankly, I think it might be the most impressive of the 3. “Anyone” can run 100 miles in one week and 1,000 miles in 3 months is “only” 76 mpw. But, to me, 400+ miles in a 31-day stretch represents both “high” mileage and consistency. Prior to the last 3 months I’d only been above 300 miles three times in my life. I hadn’t even thought about 400 miles. In fact, it just snuck up on me.
Quote of the day:

"Good things come slow – especially in distance running." Bill Dellinger

Friday, February 17, 2006


The other day I had a post about the “key” and how you have to surround yourself with successful like-minded people in order to be successful too. As I continue to shake up my training, I keep coming back to thoughts like “What did so-and-so do when they made a huge breakthrough?” Sure we can go on any running message board and read about people that had breakthrough seasons, but it means a lot more if we actually know that person.

One of the breakthroughs I’m thinking about was my college teammate, Casey’s. During our freshman year, Casey and I ran fairly similar times, probably within 30 seconds over 8K. As our sophomore season began to take shape, it immediately became clear that Casey had improved a lot, as he was beating me by 2 minutes. Of course I wanted to know what Casey knew that I didn’t. It turns out he put in 1,000 miles during the summer (compared to my 575). Holy cow! 1,000 miles in a 3-month stretch. I had a typical response, “I’d never be able to do that.”

Well, it turns out that’s not true. Nearly 13 years later I joined the 1,000-mile club. Over the last 92 days (I used that number since there are 92 days from June 1st through August 31st) I’ve run 1,000 miles. The most I could find during any other 3-month stretch was 925 miles.

So after 100 miles in a week, this is milestone #2. I should hit one more mileage milestone in the next week or so. These had better lead to better racing, otherwise I’ll have to become a triathlete (again) or maybe I’ll take up snowboard cross.

I can’t remember where I found today’s quote of the day. I think I got it from someone else’s blog awhile ago. It’s not really a running quote, but it does represent my recent bump in mileage.

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proudly proclaiming 'WOW' what a ride!" Hunter S. Thompson

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I don’t have much time to post today. It seems a 30-minute lunch hour really isn’t enough time to run 5 miles, shower, eat and write a blog entry.

I ran a very easy, like 9-minute pace, 5 miles last night while watching the Olympics. I have a question for anyone that may have some insight. Do the announcers (for events like skating, skiing, etc – not entire hockey games) watch the performance live and then go back and do their commentary after studying the tapes? I can’t imagine they do a play-by-play for every athlete and then just show a handful of the top athletes and the U.S. athletes. Also, it sure seems like they know a little too much about what’s happening while it’s “live.” I guess I’m thinking of the downhill skiing I was watching last night.

I slept in this morning but was able to squeeze in an easy 5 miles on the treadmills at work over lunch. I have another easy run planned for tonight. Another 6.5 miles tonight and I will reach a new milestone. Stay tuned tomorrow to find out what it is.

I find today’s quote of the day particularly useful when thinking about those evening runs after a long day at work.
“Workouts are like brushing my teeth; I don’t think about them, I just do them. The decision has already been made.” PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


From now on, whatever I want to accomplish tomorrow, I’m going to bitch about in my blog today. Yesterday I complained about not being about to get up before 5 and the need for more stronger aerobic runs. This morning my alarm was set for 4:30 and I was up and rarin’ to go at 4:25. In addition rather than trudging along at my normal pace, I threw in 8 miles at a stronger effort.

To expand a little on my Daws comment to Miler yesterday. Daws says not to focus on pace, but rather effort for these runs. The effort should be close to your marathon effort, which is rather fast. But you also have to take into account things like being bundled up, wearing heavier shoes, weather conditions, footing, etc. While I didn’t really have a goal pace in mind, I thought sub-7s would be great and anything over 7:30s would be a bummer.

After a mile with the dog and another 2 mile warm-up, I started to pick up the pace. This was one of those workouts where I started pretty conservative because “8 miles is a long way” kept ringing through my head. But before I knew it I was at the turnaround point and feeling good. I picked up the pace some more and focused on relaxing, a quick turnover and staying positive – all those affirmations that will come in handy on June 17th.

When it was all said and done I looked at the results and saw 29:15 (7:19 pace) for the first 4 miles and 27:52 (6:58 pace) for the return trip. For my first real solo attempt (outside) at a marathon pace-type workout, I’ll take it. Throw in a 2 mile cool-down and I had a nice 13 mile morning run.

Today’s quote of the day is for Rob, after reading his post yesterday.
“I think people can handle 150 to 200 miles a week. But something has to give somewhere. If he’s a student, how’s he going to study? He may be at the age of chasing and courtship, and that’s an important form of sport and recreation, too.” Bill Bowerman

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


I’m not sure if Dallen’s last comment about not knowing “Frank” was serious or not. No, he did not invent the heart rate monitor.

I realize it has been 34 years since Frank Shorter won the gold medal for the marathon (and 30 years since he won silver), but I assumed people still recognized him. He is largely responsible for the running boom of the 70s which I’m sure led to things like waffle shoes, shoes with air, shox, technical clothing, gels, energy drinks, GPS units and yes, heart rate monitors. So in a way, he did invent the HRM.

I never really mentioned yesterday’s training. I ran 8 miles in the morning and another 5 in the evening – nothing exciting. I ran another 8 miles this morning. Normally we have a group workout on Tuesday nights, but not this week. Maybe it’s because of Valentine’s Day, maybe not. Anyway, I’m going to make this my easy day and only run once. I spent this morning’s run thinking about 3 things; 1) pace, 2) weighing mileage versus rest and 3) the “key.”

I think I need to make a conscience effort to pickup the pace a little more frequently, now that I’m comfortable with my mileage. I don’t have a problem doing it when I run with other people, but when I run by myself I tend to just trudge along. Daws’s book breaks down Lydiard’s schedule based on percentages per day. For example, the long run should be 20-25% of your weekly mileage. I think I’m going to spell out the next week using his percentages and 85 miles and then just add in 2-3 easy 5 mile doubles.

I’ve mentioned my thoughts on singles versus doubles lately and getting my mileage in on 9-10 runs instead of 11-12. I’m sort of in a catch-22. I want to run longer in the mornings and fewer doubles, but with this added mileage I need to get my rest. As a result, I’m finding it very difficult to get up at 4:30. So I sleep till 5, don’t get in all the miles I want and then I have to run at night. That means I get to bed later than I want and the cycle continues. It hasn’t helped that I get sucked into the Olympics and end up staying up till 9 or 9:30.

Yes, I figured out the “key” to running. You have to surround yourself with successful like-minded people. Yes, shocking. I know. But seriously, whether its training partners, teammates, friends, fellow bloggers, etc. you have to pick people to “hang out” with that are positive, motivated, successful, determined, energetic, resourceful, etc. With that said, I’d like to thank all bloggers out there that inspire and motivate me, day-in and day-out.

Quote of the day:
“Running is a lot like life. Only 10 percent of it is exciting. 90 percent of it is slog and drudge.” Dave Bedford, English distance runner who occasionally put in 200 miles a week in training.

Monday, February 13, 2006


I admit it, I’m a numbers guy. Someone lost a ton of weight? I want to know how much and I want before and after photos. Got money invested somewhere? I want to see pretty graphs that trend upwards. Working out with the latest gadget? I want to see improved results. I want someone to say, “I ran 40:21 for 10K and plateaued. I just couldn’t seem to run a sub-40. Then I strapped on my trusty heart rate monitor. It made me slow down on my easy days. Now my 10K PR is 34:57.

Yvonne came the closest to producing results as her mom dropped from 3:30 to 3:10 by slowing down her long runs. Hell, with those results from your mom, I’m surprised you don’t have one already. Eric mentioned some generalizations, but didn’t give specific results. I can see the benefit for an ultra, a long tri or the Tour de France. Dirtrunner, it sounds like you haven’t run an ultra without one.

I got 15 comments and the general consensus is that they’re nice toys or tools. My kids already have way too many toys. With another birthday party around the corner, I’m sure they’ll get more. And I already have tools that I don’t use and don’t make me a faster runner.

Yes, I’ve worn a HRM before. I trained with one for a long time. I ran a HRmax test, calculated all the zones, slowed WAY down on my easy days, etc. In fact, I still attribute my slow base-phase pace (relative to other 3 hour marathoners) to my HRM days. Maybe that’s a good thing and I don’t realize it and don’t want to give the HRM the credit it deserves. Maybe I should be running faster than I am and it’s the HRM’s fault. In any case, I never saw faster race times from strapping on a HRM.

I’m with Duncan and the “bro’strap” though. While going shirtless with your monitor on, try running passed a group of teenage boys. Then come back and tell me how cool your new toy is. If nothing else, a HRM in that scenario will get you to run faster.

WARNING: If you email me anything, it could end up on my blog. Here’s a photo of my buddy Woody with a guy named Frank.

Since I just ran 100 miles AND just got done devouring a piece of apple pie at lunch, here’s the quote of the day.

“If you run 100 mpw, you can eat anything you want – Why? Because (a) you’ll burn all the calories you consume, (b) you deserve it, and (c) you’ll be injured soon and back on a restricted diet anyway.” - Don Kardong

Sunday, February 12, 2006


I’ll post a response to all the HRM comments soon, but right now I just want to post a recap of my training over the weekend.

The last thing I wanted to do Friday evening was hop on the treadmill. As usual though, once I got going it wasn’t that bad. I managed 10 miles in 83 minutes while watching the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics. I know a lot of people couldn’t care less about the winter (or summer) games, but I like them. I like to watch people compete – especially in the “big events”. I’m not much of a golfer, but I like to watch the Majors. I don’t play tennis, but I’ll watch the Grand Slam finals. I like to watch the best in the world (in whatever event - okay, except figure skating) and see their focus, determination and desire. I like to see who cracks and who rises up under the pressure.

Saturday I managed a nice 12 mile run. My legs felt really good and I picked up the pace during the second half of this run. That gave me 92 miles for the week on 12 runs. That’s more runs than I’d like to get to 92 miles. But as I mentioned earlier in the week, I ran a couple of doubles just to help with my recovery from the half marathon. Next week I’d like to get back in the 95-100 mile range on 9-10 runs.

I grabbed my Yaktrax today and headed to my favorite trails. I hadn’t been on them in awhile and it was good to be back. After 1:45 I decided to hit the roads for the last hour or so. The first 3 miles on the roads were into the wind in 25 minutes. The last 4 miles I tried to increase my focus. I wasn’t necessarily focused on going faster, just trying to relax as much as possible, keep a quick turnover and listen to my breathing – especially on the hills. I ended up running 7:40 pace for those 4 miles. That gave me my first 20 miler this time around and also put me back at 100 miles for the last 7 days. Best of all, it didn’t wipe me out for the rest of the day. There have been a few long runs where all I wanted to do was lie down the rest of the day.

Finally, a new addition to my blog. I like how Mario ends each post with a quote of the day, so I thought I’d try it too.

“The long run is what puts the tiger in the cat.” – Bill Squires

Friday, February 10, 2006


Okay bloggerville, I have a mission for you. If you choose to accept it, I would like to see, either a post on your site or a comment left here, outlining your PRs before and after training with a heart rate monitor. Feel free to elaborate on how the HRM helped or hurt your training. For extra credit you can write about how your GPS unit has helped or hurt your training too.

I’m not trying to be an ass. I’d like to know the positive results that have been achieved by using one or both of these devices.


Now I know what it’s like to be an elite marathoner. Yesterday’s 24-mile commute home took about 2 hours. We didn’t get much snow, probably 2-3 inches, but it was all during the afternoon, leading up to rush hour. Oh well, it was still better than my 2:30 commute I had once last year.

The commute actually screwed up my schedule for today more than yesterday’s. Since I got home late and had an evening run planned, I didn’t want to eat beforehand. As a result, I stayed up until 10 watching ER and eating, which caused me to sleep in this morning. Maybe I can get in a run over lunchtime and another one tonight while watching the Opening Ceremony for the Winter Olympics.

I had a nice run on the treadmill last night while watching My Name is Earl and The Office. After a 2 mile warmup, I ran 5 miles at 7:00 pace and then cooled down for a mile. Now that I’m fairly comfortable with my mileage, I want to add in some stronger aerobic runs. Granted, 7:00 pace isn’t even marathon pace, but I want to ease into some of these. The ones I’ve done so far have all been while running outside with someone else. Going solo on a treadmill is a lot different, but it’s a start.

I thought I’d include a list of questions that I like to answer after running a race. They came from one of my all-time favorite books; The Competitive Edge: Mental Toughness Training for Distance Runners by Richard Elliot. It was a Track and Field News publication that’s now out of print. Good luck finding it. Edited to say I found 6 copies here. For $1.79 it's a steal.

Name of race:
Date and Time:
Weeks (months) since last race:
Weather and course conditions:
Goals: Time - Non-time -
Race strategy and possible mishaps and contingencies:
Mental preparation strategy:
Duration of warm-up and cool-down:
Arousal level (1 low, 10 high) on the starting line:
Finish time:
Overall pace:
Things I did well in the race:
Things I need to work on:
Performance rating (1-10). How close did I come to what I was capable of running that day?
Mentally playback the best parts of the race. Check here______
Other comments about the race:
It’s easy to fill this out after a good race. However, it’s probably more important to fill it out after a poor race. I think the 'things done well' and the 'things to work on' are two of the most important questions. I usually include the times of my main competitors in the comment section.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


This morning I was thinking that winter isn’t so bad. We have all the holidays, from Halloween to New Year’s, to keep us occupied. By the time New Year’s rolls around the days are getting longer. It’s to the point where I can now see the sun rise during the last mile of my morning runs. So even though it was 10 degrees, there’s hope. Spring is right around the corner.

WARNING: I’m actually going to talk about work. I work for a catalog company and yesterday we met with our advertising agency to go over covers for one of our spring catalogs. Some of their concepts dealt with renewing and revitalizing after being couped up all winter. It’s easy to think that way when you live in Minnesota. However, our catalog is mail all over the U.S. and to places like Puerto Rico. Sorry, but I don’t think people in the south or in Puerto Rice have felt couped up all winter. For those of you that live in those warmer climates, what would you think if you got a catalog like that in the mail? Would it bother you or would it not even phase you?

Speaking of catalogs, Road Runner Sports latest catalog included a “Last Chance” message near all the shoes that are being discontinued/replaced soon, including one of my favorites, the New Balance 833. They’re replacing it with an 825, but who knows how similar the two will be. Part of me says this really sucks, but part of me also likes the idea of trying to find a new light-weight training that I like.

I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. I set my alarm for 4:30. When that came I set it for 4:40. When that came I set it for 5:00 and was finally able to get out of bed. All that sleeping in means is that I’ll have to run more miles tonight, instead of this morning. I was still able to get in an easy 8 miles before work. This evening I’m planning on getting in another 8 miles and would like to include some marathon pace work as well.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Alright, I haven’t talked about my training lately. I started this week with two runs of 6 miles on both Sunday and Monday. Again, these were designed to help my recovery from the half marathon while still allowing me to get in some miles.

Yesterday I ran 6 in the morning before joining my training group in the evening. I felt really good for the group workout. After a 10 minute warmup, we ran 2 times a ¾ mile section that had two hills on it, so 4 hills in total. As usual, I got my ass kicked on the hills. Jenna and Joyce were way ahead of me and even Roger, who I know is out of shape, drilled me. Once we got on the flats I ran with Roger and felt really controlled while he seemed to be breathing rather hard. I felt like picking up the pace a little, but didn’t want to leave him behind. Luckily, it was an out-and-back route and when Jenna and Joyce came back we joined them. This worked out really well because I was able to run the last 30-35 minutes at a strong effort. Plus it allowed me to catch up with Jenna and Joyce regarding their race. All told, we ran 82 minutes and I called it 11 miles.

This morning I ran an easy 8 miles and I’m done for the day. No double tonight. So after being on-pace for zero miles after the first day of the month, I’m now on-pace for nearly 280 miles. Now I can sleep a little easier.


If nothing else, my last two posts have given me a lot to think about (and hopefully you too). I spent nearly all of this morning’s run thinking about Yvonne’s comment and questions and I came up with a bunch of other ramblings.

First, I posted Beck’s Why Stop There? article the other day. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

Yvonne, I agree with Chelle that training is cumulative. That’s why I talked about my training this year being for 3-4 years down the line. However, keep in mind that your time as a runner is going to play a huge role in this. If you’re fairly new to running, I agree that you could probably stick to 45 mpw and still see some improvements. However, if you’ve been running for 25 years, I don’t think sticking to your current mileage is really going to lead to any kind of significant breakthrough.

As for Mike’s results; if we were talking about him dropping from 3:57 to 3:47 to 3:40 then I’d say it’s more likely a cumulative effect. However, when you’re racing at his speeds, I’ve gotta believe it’s due to the mileage. While I’m sure there are people out there that can manage sub-2:40 on 55 mpw, I don’t think there are many. And if they can, they probably “should/could be” running sub-2:20. As Beck points out, just because Joe Schmuckatellie runs a 14-minute 5k on 10 miles a week doesn’t mean that would work for you.

Before I forget, I want to just say that all the numbers I threw around in my last post where just examples. 100 mpw is just a number and I threw in the 800 repeats because “everyone” likes to think in terms of speed work.

I just want to challenge people to push the envelope a little and really examine the limits they’ve placed on their mileage. Of course, I don’t want to come across like I’m telling people how to train. The purpose of this blog lately is to express my thought process and my body’s reactions as I bump my training to a new level. Having a broader picture of my approach makes more sense than just writing that I ran 6 miles in 50 minutes.

Mike, the “I’d rather be slow than injured” statement is tongue-in-cheek, but there’s some truth to it. I view it as, I’d rather listen to my body and run until it tells me to take a day off or cutback for a week – rather than take 1-2 days off every week because some schedule in a book tells me to.

As for the gadget-wearing half marathoners; I don’t think I made it clear that they were letting these gadgets determine their pace – rather than listening to their bodies. We were a minute into the race, they saw 5:40 and 6:20 and said, that’s way to fast we have to slow down. Again, I don’t care if the winner of the race wears one; just don’t let it “take over.”

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


First off, what happened to my paragraph spacing on my last post?

Okay, back to running topics. Bear and Yvonne posted some good questions. Don’t worry about bursting my bubble. I think it’s good to explain one’s self every once in awhile – it helps keep things straight in my head. Plus it allows others to point out glaring errors. This will probably turn into a rambling post, but I’ll try to do my best.

Bear, I’ve been running most of my solo runs this winter in the 8:00 to 8:30 range and have been known to run the first few miles at 9:00 pace before warming up. When I’ve run with others, we’ve probably run 7:00 to 7:30 pace. I still find it amazing, as I “struggle” with 8:30 pace that I can run 2:00 per mile faster for 13 miles.

My (Daws’s/Lydiard’s) program actually takes into account running faster once you are confident that you can handle the mileage. It could be at the start of the base-building cycle, if you’re used to the program or it could be later in the cycle. I have started to sprinkle in some stronger paced runs and will continue to do so over the next few weeks, leading to a hill phase. As Lydiard says, you can “get there” with aerobic runs, it just takes longer than if you include the stronger paced runs.

Yvonne, well I can only speak for myself and my experiences in this sport. I think Elizabeth is right. There is no magic formula that works for everyone. Generally, I agree with Quantity over Quality, especially during base-building. Heck, Mike spells it all out in his blog. He ran 2:57 on 55 mpw, 2:47 on 70 mpw and sub-2:40 on 100 mpw. If that doesn’t pique your interest, nothing will.

As Lydiard states, our anaerobic capacity is limited, but our aerobic capacity is UNLIMITED. So to answer your question about increasing from 60 to 100 mpw, yes, if done steady and sensibly, that person would get faster. Actually, I’d say the person would get stronger. They’d be stronger and it’d take a lot more to get them tired. Think about how this strength would play out once you switched to a speed phase. Say at 60 mpw you were able to manage 6 x 800. Now at 100 mpw you can manage 10 x 800. Which scenario will lead to more rapid gains, anaerobically?

Could I run 1:25 on 60 mpw? Yes. Could I run sub-3 on 60 mpw? It’d be close. Could I run sub-2:55? No way. I think I’m the type of runner that could run well just based on miles and strong aerobic runs. Just look at my race results from last year. I was running 40-50 mpw and doing a lot of speed and ran 39:02 for 10k on a pancake flat course in ideal conditions. Last weekend I would’ve run a minute faster (if you can believe McMillan) with ZERO speed work in the last 3.5 months.

Why should only the world’s elite get to find their limits and get the most out of the sport? It’s easy to take statements like “finding your limits” for granted when your 22 years old. When you’re 36 and you know that time is not on your side, as far as setting PRs, it’s time to shake things up - at least for me.

Sure this approach could be totally wrong, but how will I ever find out if I don’t try? I’m willing to experiment and risk injury to find out. As I once read on letsrun.com; “I’d rather be injured than slow.” I’ve been “slow” too long. I’ve been doing this for 26 years and have never really “taken it to the next level.” What am I supposed to do, continue with the same old, same old, and keep on running 38-39 minute 10Ks and 3:05 marathons? Win an age group award at some Podunk event, but always place 4th or higher at the big races in town? I have 3.5 years until I become a Master. The training I’m doing now is really for when I become a Master, not for Grandma’s in June. Bear, as I told Scott, I look at guys we went to school with (Tapper, Hibbs, Frink, Foss); what were they doing when they ran their best? They were all running high miles.

Yvonne, I haven’t thought about your last questions yet. Why worry about 2:45 when I haven’t run 2:50 (or 2:55) yet? Obviously, I can’t just keep bumping my mileage endlessly. I would guess that the 100 mpw phase would get longer and that I’d include more stronger aerobic efforts during the base phase. Hopefully Mike will have figured it out by then and he’ll just let me know.


Well, if nothing else, my last post generated some well thought out comments. Rather than reply with a long comment, I thought I’d make this into its own post.

Andrew (and Bart), good arguments. They almost sound like they came right out of a textbook. To make my arguments more valid, I suppose I could have avoided the use of “dipshits” and explained the benefits of learning to listen to your body. For t-shirt guy, I could have listed the pros (less bulky) and cons (body wastes energy trying to stay warm, etc.) of a t-shirt in those conditions. But as Duncan said, that wouldn’t have been as “fun.”

Susan, like I said, I don’t care if you carry all those devices with you. I just hate seeing a HRM or GPS take the place of listening to your body – whether you’re running 5-minute pace, 10-minute pace or coming in last at 14:16 pace.

Eric, yes I criticize fellow runners, who probably don’t blog. In the blogging community I’m talking about generating discussions, asking questions, etc. A few days ago, Duncan questioned Mike’s build-up to his next marathon and Mike took the time to explain it so we could all learn. That’s half the stuff that makes blogs interesting and I’d like to see more of it.

As far as “good job” comments being “good for everyone,” I disagree. Not every run, every workout, every race, etc is worthy of a good job. Sometimes you need to be told “That sucked. What the hell happened? How are you going to fix it?” I’ll pick on Duncan, since he started this whole thing. I don’t know him personally, but I highly doubt he wanted people to stop by after his last 2:45 and say “good job.”

Massoman and Rob, I guess a lot of it comes down to why you read someone’s blog. Are you inspired or motivated by that person? Do you like their writing style? Do you have some sort of cyberspace connection? Are you hoping to learn from their training? Do you just want to be part of some community? Maybe it’s just because they have a cute profile photo. Who knows?

I tend to agree that it’s frustrating if you’re trying to communicate with someone and you don’t get a response. I recently left a comment on a blog wondering why the guy does nearly all of his training at his goal marathon pace. I never heard back. Anyway, if you like someone’s blog that shouldn’t cause you to stop reading and “move on to someone that deserves your time.”

Rob, I’m not an expert on anything either, especially running – but I like to discuss it. The Blogging community is interesting. As I said, we can all learn from one another. For example, I highly doubt I’d be running my current mileage if it weren’t for guys like Mike, Duncan, Eric, Andrew, etc. Reading how people you “know” actually feel during the process has helped tremendously.

Dallen and Eric probably hit the nail on the head; “a nice guy trying to be mean – who probably couldn’t keep it up if he wanted to.”

Yvonne, GERONIMO!!! Good advice though. In the end, that’s all we can be.

Bear, that’s for the support. I think the nerve had more to do with criticizing in-general, rather than criticizing gadget-wearing-weekend-warriors; taking the easy shots at people that I know nothing about, etc.

As for your other questions, that’s just the kind of criticism we don’t want around here. Just kidding – I couldn’t resist. Rather than interrupt the flow of this incredibly educational post regarding Blogging PC, I’ll answer your questions in another post.

Monday, February 06, 2006


This week I’m trying to balance recovery with getting in my miles. Therefore, I’m keeping my runs short, but running twice a day. Yesterday I ran two 6 mile runs and I plan on doing the same today.

Duncan had an interesting post the other day on his other blog where he challenges us to speak our mind and encourage debate amongst fellow bloggers. I have to agree, I mainly fall into category #2 with an occasional #1 post or comment thrown in every now and then. We need more #3 type posts and comments amongst the running bloggers. Sure it’s nice to see a “nice job” comment and I’ve left my fair share. However, I’d like to see people challenge other’s training, race schedule, diet, commitment, etc. Ask questions, seek answers and try to understand better. Hopefully it’ll help us all learn and improve.

With that in mind I’ll start by “ripping” on some of the people at Saturday’s race, then I’ll go after the blogging community.

I don’t care if you wear a GPS unit, HRM, iPOD, cell phone or camera, but don’t let those devices keep you from “feeling” and “listening” to your body. For example, there were 2 guys at the start of the race – literally 1 minute into the race – that were comparing the speed their gadget was transmitting. One guy’s said 6:20 pace and the other’s said 5:40. Keep in mind we’re going down a gradual hill for 3 blocks with a tailwind. Hey dipshits, you probably have 90 minutes left of running, stop playing with your toy and settle into a pace based on what you’re body is telling you – not some electronic gizmo that may or may not be accurate.

Now I don’t expect everyone to run even or negative splits, but you should be able to tell if your first mile is 30 seconds per mile faster you should be going. I’m sure there were guys that did this too, but since it’s easier to pick out the women near the front, I’ll pick on them. 2 gals went through the first mile in 6:15, yet finished well back. Since I know 3 of the first 4 gals (and it wasn’t them), the fastest these two could have run are 6:47 pace and 6:56 pace. I suspect that with their fast early mile, they dropped even further. Again, you should be able to tell the difference between 5k pace and half marathon pace, just by listening to your body. That sound you hear, over your heavy breathing, is lactic acid building in your legs.

I think the guy that was wearing just a t-shirt (with pants) thought he was really cool at the start – remember it was about zero degrees with the wind. He even looked good as he was 2 places behind Jenna at the halfway point. When I passed him just before 10 miles he looked cold, not cool. Yeah, not running in a long-sleeve shirt really saved you a lot of time.

Okay, feel free to leave a comment and tell me how much you hate my “new style.”

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Here are some more random thoughts, observations and analysis (in no particular order) from Saturday’s race.

Biffeys are cold when it’s 5 degrees outside.

This race is run fairly smoothly. I like the “packet” pickup. They hand you your race number and 4 pins. That’s it. Race coffee mugs, instead of t-shirts (which I also like once in awhile) are handed out at the end.

I’m not sure what happened at the start. We were standing on the line when a sickly sounding air horn went off without warning and people started running.

Not sure if that weird start messed up the timing or not, but my watch was 10 seconds off of the “official” time. Since my watch was faster, I’m going with my time.

The only split I took was at the halfway mark. There was a guy reading splits at 10 miles, which I went through in 1:04:20. That means I was running 6:20 pace from 6.5 to 10. It also means my last 5k would have been at 6:35 pace. I know there was a decent headwind during part of that, but I shouldn’t have slowed down that much. I’m lucky only 1 guy passed me.

Like I mentioned in my report from yesterday, I thought I’d be happy once I was able to see the results and compare myself to other runners. Overall, I finished 28th out of 1,240 runners and 4th out of 120 in the 35-39 age group.

Here’s what I found when comparing runners who ran in 2005 and 2006. Of the first 100 finishers this year, 33 of them ran last year. On average, for every person that ran 30 seconds faster this year, I found two people that ran 2:00 slower. To keep the statistical integrity of this very meaningful analysis intact, I threw out anyone whose time changed by more than 5 minutes over last year; including a guy that went from 1:30 to 1:19 – wow - and a guy that went from 1:18 to 1:29 – ouch.

Since only a third of the first hundred finishers repeated from last year, I found it eerie how closely times and places corresponded from year to year.

Place 2005 2006
25th 1:23:53 1:23:54
50th 1:26:50 1:28:05
75th 1:29:58 1:30:24
100th 1:32:39 1:32:24

What does all this mean? Nothing, really. Just thought it was interesting.
I should mention how my training partners did. Jenna won by nearly 7.5 minutes, with a time of 1:21:20 or 24 seconds faster than last year. Joyce was the 4th woman overall and 1st in the 35-39 age-group with a 1:29:56. Based on how great she looked during last weekend’s 16 miler, I thought she would have been a few minutes faster. I guess that’s why we run the race.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


Well, I think it was a solid effort, but not spectacular. I ended up running even splits 42:24/42:21 for 1:24:45. That's 18 seconds slower than last year. However, I think when I see the results and compare myself to other people, I'll be happy with my placing. One thing that's encouraging is that I passed 7-8 people during the 2nd half, while only 1 passed me.

I just plugged my time into the McMillan calculator and it converted my time to a 38:07 10K. Considering my last race in October was a 10K in 39:02, I'm fairly encouraged. Yes, I would have liked to have run faster (don't we always say that) than last year, but more than any other race during the year, it's like comparing apples and oranges.

Two years ago it was -10 so they shortened it to a quarter marathon. Last year it was 50 and I ran in shorts and a t-shirt. This year, after experiencing the warmest January on record, I woke up to 5 degrees with a wind chill of -7. It probably was 10 at the start. Wind conditions on this out-and-back course can make a huge difference too. This year it was hard to read the wind. At times it felt like a headwind, then a minute later it'd feel like a tailwind - even though we were running the same way. The worst was just after the 10 mile mark when I was running by myself into a strong headwind.

Like I mentioned the other day, I like to use this race as a benchmark. Having not raced for 3.5 months, I had no idea where I was at. Now I do. Back to base-building.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Not much to report today. I just ran an easy 5 miles this morning. I thought about going longer, but I figure this week and month are already screwed (of course I’m just kidding), so I might as well take it easy. Hopefully that’ll lead to a faster race time tomorrow, which will lead to more confidence, which will lead to more motivation to train – it’s one big vicious cycle. Of course that cycle can work in the opposite direction too.

I’m just glad the race wasn’t this morning. The temp wasn’t bad at 25 degrees, but we had freezing rain/sleet/snow and a strong NW wind. It looks like it’ll be colder tomorrow with a low of 10 and high of 20, but it sounds like the winds will be lighter and, most importantly, the roads will be clear. We’ll see.

The good news is, after being tired for 2 days, my legs are feeling better today. Do you ever get that damn-my-legs-feel-good sensation just walking around? That’s how I feel today as I walk around the office.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I’m not sure if the last 2 weeks are catching up with me or not, but man I was tired yesterday morning. When 5 AM came, I reset my alarm for 6 AM – telling myself I’d just run 5 mile over lunch. Lunch came and went and I never made it to the fitness center. No problem, I’ll just run this evening. By the time I was supposed to run I had convinced myself that 23 days in a row (and 276 miles) were enough and a day off would be okay.

I really don’t mind a day off every once in awhile, but it really sucks to put a zero in the log book on the first day of the month. I keep thinking; I’m on-pace for zero miles in February.

This morning I managed to get in an easy 8 miles. I tried to pick up the pace twice and turn it into a progression run, but my legs didn’t want to turn over. They probably have some of Tuesday’s hill workout in them – especially since I didn’t run yesterday to shake them out. Ugh.

Then, as if on key, my coach sent out an email this morning with this advice.

Endurance performance is highly correlated to training consistency. Athletes who get out the door each day GAIN 3 more months of training per year than those who take 2 days off per week. IT IS the frequency of YOUR run sessions that make you feel like, look like, and perform like the best athlete that YOU CAN be. Look within yourself to find the desire to commit to daily exercise AND mental absorption within that exercise session, to DISCOVER the performance power within YOU.
Okay, stop feeling guilty. Let’s look ahead to this weekend’s half marathon. This week I’ve run 10, 10, 6&8 with hills, 0 and 8 and I feel like I’m cutting WAY back. Then I looked at what I did before this race last year and I feel better; 5, 5, 6, 6, 7 and 5. I ran 1:24:27 off of that “taper.” I don’t have any real goals for this race. I use it mainly as a benchmark to see where my base training is at. Like I’ve been mentioning; my easy days seem at least 10 seconds faster per mile than “normal”. If that translates to racing, it’d lead to around 1:22:15 or my 2nd fastest time ever. I haven’t run that fast in 3.5 years when I ran 1:23:04.

Anyway, it’s fun to speculate, but let’s not get carried away. 3 of my last 4 weeks have been all-time highs, but it’s not like I’ve been running 100 mpw for 12 weeks. It’s nice that people are interested enough to place their guess of my time in a sealed envelope. I hope that’s just a figure of speech and they’re not actually treating this like the NBA draft lottery. Hell, it’s just a half marathon in the middle of winter. Let’s at least wait till Grandma’s before we start placing wagers.