Monday, December 28, 2009


Holidays used to be a time when I was able to use my time off to ramp up my training. That wasn’t the case this Thanksgiving or Christmas. Last week started off with 3 runs and 3 skis in the first 4 days, then the holidays arrived – along with the snow – and I only managed 1 more ski the rest of the week. I finished up with only 23 miles of running, but also had 60K of skiing, along with a foot of snow shoveling. The important part is that we had a great Christmas and now I’m refreshed and ready to take on 2010.

While I do love all the snow, especially for skiing, it really sucks for running. I’m not sure if it’s because of the timing with the holidays and/or the weekend or the sheer amount of snow, or what, but none of the local sidewalks are plowed. With a new work week, I’m hoping they get plowed today, but I have a feeling we might not see pavement again until April. Anyway, that really limits your options when it comes to exercising. You can do loops around your neighborhood, drive somewhere, hit the treadmill, take the day off, or strap on the skis. Whatever the case, I need to make a better attempt as the New Year’s holidays approach.

On a sad note, RIP Cindy Brochman.

I pulled today's Quote of the Day off of a comment by Tim O'Brien on her Caring Bridge site;

“Do not stand by my grave and weep,

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond in the snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle Autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry:

I am not there, I did not die....."

Monday, December 21, 2009


Last week I wrote about trying to get to 60 MPW like it was some mystical/magical number. It’s not. It just happens to be the next 10-mile increment over where I’ve been. In any case, I did manage 61 miles last week. The week included 6 hill repeats on Monday, 10 miles on Wednesday with 6 of them at 7:00 pace, and I finally got over 2 hours again on Saturday’s group run. Throw in an hour of skiing and I had over 9.5 hours of training for the week.

A few weeks ago I was laying out my upcoming racing schedule and I came across another run, bike, ski triathlon. I did one last March and it was a blast. However, after thinking about it for awhile, I decided not to do this one. It looks like I didn’t miss much, as the results show that only 12 individuals and 5 teams participated. Right now my winter races look like this;

1/9 Pre City of Lakes Loppet 15K X-C
1/23 Winter Carnival Half Marathon
2/7 City of Lakes Loppet 35K X-C
2/13 Pre-Birkie 42K X-C
2/27 Birkie 50K X-C

Anyone else out there getting Running Times? Is it just me or does it seem like they’ve been doing a great job lately? I’m not sure if it has to do with them and Runner’s World being under one company now or not, but it sure seems like the two magazines are a lot more differentiated lately.

The latest RT talks about stuff like comparing past training cycles, figuring out if you’re stuck in a rut, and, if so, how to break out of it. It hit home with me because last year I entered the spring in pretty crappy running shape. Then after Grandma’s I convinced myself I was in a rut and I needed to change things around. It was pretty easy to blame it on poor running on skiing. However, as I look back, I think it has a lot more to do with my lack of running. Or maybe it was my lack of running and skiing. Cutting back on running to ski would be fine – if I were actually skiing an equivalent amount. Now that I look back, I see that I was averaging less than 7 hours a week of aerobic activity last winter. If I look back two years, when I was running fairly well, I see I was averaging over 8 hours. It doesn’t sound like a bunch, but if you calculate that out for the three months leading up to the Birkie, that’s nearly three more weeks of training.

I’ve already run more this December than I did last December and January, combined. And with some upcoming time-off, I’m thinking my skiing will catch up to last year’s too. So, as of right now, I think I’m in a good position to ski well at the Birkie and be a lot more fit entering the spring racing season.

Quote of the Day;

“Wow, this weather is incredible.” – Some gal getting out of her car at Hyland on Friday when it was 25 and sunny

Friday, December 18, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009


I’m trying to increase my weekly mileage – it’s just not happening. After finally getting into the 60-mile range last week, I was back to 50 miles this week. But I won’t complain too much because I had a few solid runs; tempo, hills and progression runs.

I had a 4 week stretch where I ran a tempo run once a week. I followed that up with a 3 week stretch of not doing a tempo run. Last Sunday I managed 10 miles, including 5 at 7:03 pace. That’s better than the tempos I was doing back in early November, so I’m making progress. Tuesday my run included 6 times Bush Lake Road hill. Saturday I ran an 8 mile progression run where I dropped down to 6:30 pace at the end.

I really need to start including at least a 2-hour run once a week – especially if I really want to get over 60 MPW consistently. When you don’t run further than 10 miles on any given day, it makes it hard to run that kind of mileage.

Some readers may be surprised to hear that I still haven’t strapped on my skis yet. With our initial snowfall last week, the opportunity never really presented itself. This morning we received another few inches of snow that’s definitely going to open up more skiing options. So I may not get to 60 MPW until March. Who knows?

I will say that I do love running in the winter. I know some people hate it, but I think it’s awesome. Sure 20 below sucks. The footing can be really shitty a lot of the time. And I don’t need 6 months of the stuff. But I’ll take it over 74 and sunny every day of the year. Give me the variety. Make me feel alive. And make me feel like I’m the only one on the roads.

Quote of the Day;

“Joanie, if marathons make you look like this, please don’t run any more.” – Joan Benoit Samuelson’s mom, in a letter after seeing Joan’s exhausted face in a newspaper photo after running 2:22:43 to win Boston

Friday, December 11, 2009


The more I blog, the more stuff I see coming across my virtual desk. Of course, some of it’s better than other stuff. And some of it sucks and gets deleted right away. Today I want to share a site that I heard about back in early November. It’s called “The Clymb” and as the email said;
It’s a private sale network that will give you access to insider pricing from an amazing group of outdoor brands. If you climb, hike, run, ride, paddle or ski, you’re gonna love this. Here’s how it works: you accept this invite and The Clymb will hook you up with deep discounts, usually 50-70% off retail, on gear from a different leading brand each week. Each brand’s product is available for 3 days only or until it’s sold out. Membership is free and by invite only.
I totally love the idea of this site, but I’ll be honest, I haven’t ordered anything from it yet. My problem is that unless it’s running or skiing stuff, I’m not really much of a gear guy. If you’re into hiking, rock climbing, camping, and such, this is the site for you. In the last month they’ve done exactly what they’ve said they’d do, which is offer over 50% off of name brand outdoor products. I’ve seen Merino wool sweaters, winter jackets, backpacks, sunglasses, ski goggles, and helmets so far.

If you fancy yourself an Outdoor Person and you’re into this kind stuff, be sure to check out their site; here’s an invitation.

Just to be honest, the email also stated;
Additionally if you like what we are doing you can invite friends and receive $10 off a future purchase for each friend that signs up and purchases something.
That’s nice, but it's not a big deal to me. I just know there are a bunch of people out there that like their gear and they might find this site right up their alley.

Quote of the Day;

“Ignore, when, whether you are tall and thin or short and stocky – whether they laughed at you at home or at school. Indeed – to hell with the lot of them if you ‘feel’ you can do it.” – Percy Cerutty

Thursday, December 10, 2009


All right, things seem to have settled down in my life, so let’s see if I can get this thing fired up again. I’ve actually been feeling pretty good about my running lately. After a cutback week the week of Thanksgiving, I bounced back with 62 miles last week. That’s basically my highest week since July.

However, yesterday we received our first significant snowfall of the year, so I’m sure I’ll be strapping on the skis soon. The weird thing is that I’m not super fired up about it yet. I am signed up for the Birkie and I do want to ski well there. However, I’m just not taking the approach that I have to ski as much as possible this season. When I think about last year, there were quite a few days that I tried to ski even though the conditions weren’t very conducive. For example, if it gets too cold your skis just won’t glide. This year I’m just going to go for a run instead. No sense banging my head against a wall.

I mentioned that one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging is that I was busy working on a Minnesota Runner of the Year project. The way it basically works is that there are a set of standards for various distances for each age group and sex. Anyone that meets those standards qualifies to receive points at each distance. Simply put, the person with the most points wins.

If you look at the standards, you’ll see that some are much easier to achieve than others. Typically speaking, distances like 20K and 30K that aren’t run too frequently are much easier to meet than the often run 5K and 10K. As a 40-year-old man, I’d have to run 35:30 for 10K (5:42 pace) or 2:06 for 30K (6:48 pace). If you’re familiar with a WAVA age-grading calculator, the 10K converts to 78.5% compared to 70.7%. That’s a huge difference. My all-time 10K PR only converts to 77.2%.

The reason I bring all this up is because the numbers don’t lie. The thing I noticed while working on the Runner of the Year project is that each runner is usually racing within a very narrow WAVA % band. They’re usually running between something like 83 and 85%, for example. They’re not running 76% one week and then 89% the next.

I understand that’s not an earth-shattering realization. But I got to thinking about my past racing, WAVA %, the standards for 40-44 year old men and how I could use this info for setting up my goals for 2010. If I look at my best races recently – say, the last 3 years – they convert to WAVA % between 71.4% and 73.9%. Now, if I convert the Runner of the Year standards to WAVA %, there are only 6 distances that fall within that range; 12K, 15K, 20K, 25K, 20M and 30K.

I’ve been trying to determine a 2010 race schedule based on meeting some of these standards. As I mentioned before, most of these are seldom run distances, so it’s not as easy as it sounds. There’s basically one race in the state for 12K, 20K, 25K and only two for 20M and 30K. Throw in the fact that the 12K and one of the 20M are the same day and that I’ll be on a vacation at the end of May. Therefore, it looks like I might only be left with 2 or 3 chances to meet those goals during the first half of 2010.

There will be more to come on the topic as I give it more thought.

Quote of the Day;

“God determines how fast you’re going to run; I can help only with the mechanics.” – Bill Bowerman

Monday, November 30, 2009


Wow, has it really been 2 weeks since my last post? I've been super busy with work as we prepare for 2010. I'm also working on two other running-related projects that are time consuming. I haven't even skied in over two weeks, so you know it's been rough.

I've basically been keeping my mileage in the low 50 MPW range. After four weeks of that I cut back to 40 miles last week. Nothing fancy, but it was good enough to post 213 miles in November.

Trust me, I have a good post in my head - I just need to find time to type it up. In the meantime, I'll share a little more "F minus" that Eric sent to me. Since I don't have a QOD, this will have to do.

Monday, November 16, 2009


You may be able to tell from last week’s post that I’m leaning towards trying new things in 2010. But I was thinking, why wait until next year? With the USATF MN x-c championship less than a mile from my house, I decided to jump in. I did run x-c in high school and college, so this wasn’t a totally new experience for me. However, I think I’ve run one x-c race in the last 14 years and that was a 5K - I’ve never covered 10K in a x-c race.

As I warmed up for the race I only saw about 10 other runners. Goal #1 became not to come in last. With 71-year-old stud Thom Weddle in the field I was pretty sure that wouldn’t happen. I’ll “let” a 67-year-old beat me, but not someone who’s older than my dad – at least if their names not Ed Whitlock.

Then I heard we were running 4 x 2.5K laps. Goal #2 became not to get lapped. With former Gopher varsity runners in the field, I wasn’t too sure about achieving this goal.

I’m happy to announce that I achieved both goals – but just barely. I ended up beating 4 people (including Thom – but not the Gopher runners) and I avoided being lapped by about 40 seconds (by one of the said Gopher runners). Unfortunately, the women ran a separate 5K, so there weren’t even any 50-year-old women that I could feel good about beating. If you’re really bored, here are the results.

After I got home I spent a half hour in front of the mirror repeating; “You are a good runner… You are a good runner… You are a good runner…” over and over in an attempt to rebuild a little self-esteem. That didn’t work, so I sat down at the computer and looked up other results for the (few) people around me. Seeing that I was in the same general ballpark that I was during other races throughout the year made me feel a little better. Just a little.

On a side note; as I was looking at results from earlier this year I came across one that said; Chad Austin, 40, Apple Valley. Seeing “40” just looked really weird – like it was a mistake.

Anyway, I’d like to think that my performance helped inspire my alma mater during their National Qualifying performance at the Midwest Regional. The team placed fifth at the always tough WIAC (WSUC – aka W-suck for you old schoolers) conference meet. Then on Saturday they managed to beat two of those teams to finish fifth and earn an at-large bid to Nationals. So congrats to the Blugolds – and no, I didn’t forget the “e” in blue – who will be heading back to Nationals for the first time in 10 years.

Quote of the Day;

“He was too small for football and he got tired of sitting on the bench all the time.” – Ray Prefontaine, on how his son Steve got started in running

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Remember how I said that my cool neighbor takes awesome pictures? Well, here's proof.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Last night I was reading an article in Men’s Health, entitled Everything You Know About Muscle is Wrong. It talks about fascia, which is the connective tissue that runs throughout our body. I haven’t finished the entire article, so I won’t comment on it yet. However, I thought one section was interesting;

"Once it's formed into position, it'll stick there. You can contort all you want in search of that mythical ideal alignment, but the odds are against you. The pull of your fascia is so ingrained in your movements, your friends can recognize you instantly at a distance before they even see your face.”
The last bit of that paragraph came into play during this morning’s group trail run at Hyland. This was only my third time meeting this group, which has consisted of 10-15 runners every Friday. The runs start at 6 AM, so it’s still dark outside and it’s hard to tell who you’re running with. Then towards the end of the run it’s light enough to shut off your headlamp. Anyway, when I could finally see the person about 10 feet in front of me, I said that guys runs exactly like Chris Lundstrom. No one else said anything and we kept running as our conversations turned to other topics. 10 minutes later this guy really looks like Chris… because it is Chris. I guess I never expected a guy that just ran sub-2:19 at TCM to be out slogging the hills of Hyland at 8-minute pace.

And it’s a little eerie that I recognized him by his arm-carriage and stride. I mean it’s not like we’re life-long training partners. I’ve only seen him at a handful of races. Weird.

Quote of the Day;

“I didn’t realize I was in such good shape.” – Scott LaFrenz, 2:57 marathoner, after running with 2:18 marathoner, Chris Lundstrom this morning

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Let’s see if I can actually post something today that’s not basically a recap of my training. Instead let’s talk about where my training is going and some things I’ve been thinking about in 2010.

I mentioned how not having a running race on the horizon has removed a lot of pressure. No longer am I worried about specific workouts, paces, exact mileage, etc. I just lace them up and go out and run however I feel. I’ve been hitting the trails a lot more lately. During Friday’s group run we were talking about how strong the trails make you and how that strength just sort of creeps up without you even knowing it.

Obviously, I’ve added roller skiing into the mix too. At first I thought I’d try to gradually add more and more of it until the snow arrives. However, the other night I read that once a week is enough – at least neurologically speaking. And given my recent falls on Sunday, I really have no desire to roller ski much more than that anyway. Besides, the falls - and fear of falling - make me slow down, which probably compromises my fitness in the long run. I’m probably better off, aerobically, if I stick with running the vast majority of the time.

As for 2010, I don’t have a race schedule set or even penciled in at this point. Part of me wants to race a lot, part of me wants to try a bunch of new events, part of me wants to race on trails more, part of me would like to do some tris again, etc.

These won’t all happen in 2010, but here are some things I’d like to do;

Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim
Pikes Peak
Hood to Coast Relay
Paavo Nurmi Marathon
70.3 half IM
140.6 full IM

Probably the most likely to occur on this list next year are a 50K and Paavo. We’ll see what happens. As I was thinking about 2010, I got an email that included info on an upcoming Run, Bike, Ski Triathlon. Looks like I’d better hop on my bike a few more times in the next 5 weeks.

Quote of the Day;

“There are a lot of guys out there who were great marathoners, who people talk about all the time, who never broke 2:14. It opened my eyes a little bit and put some more realistic dreams in my mind.” - Nick Arciniaga after running 2:13:46 at NYC, a PR by nearly two-and-a-half minutes

Monday, November 09, 2009


Blogging has become little more than a recap of my weekly training. This post is really no different.

Here are last week’s workouts;

Sunday – 99-minute run on treadmill during Vikings/Packers game
Monday – 60 minutes of roller skiing
Tuesday – Day Off because Nate made me feel guilty
Wednesday – 77-minute run with 6 miles @ 7:09 pace on treadmill
Thursday – 51 minutes of very easy running
Friday – 80-minute group trail run in AM, 40 minutes of double-poling in PM
Saturday – 107-minute group trail run

Overall, a solid week; 6:54 (~51 miles) of running and an additional 1:40 of roller skiing. Over 8.5 hours total. Plus, I added a mile to my weekly MP run.

Last Friday I took the day off of work to take advantage of one of our last 60 degree days. It helps when it’s November and you still have 7 days of vacation to use. Anyway, I had a great group trail run in Hyland, put some time in on a project related to the Minnesota Runners of the Year, raked the leaves, and did a little skiing.

Yesterday, with the Vikings on a bye week and temps above 60, I decided to get in a nice long ski. I managed 90 minutes but in the process I fell very hard on my ass – TWICE! If I thought anyone cared, I’d take a photo and post it. But I’ll spare you. Needless to say I’m eager for the snow to arrive.

I’m trying to figure out what is more of a hot-button issue; runners with iPods or whether or not leaving courses open for 7-8 hours is “ruining” marathons. Steve had a post on the iPod debate a couple of weeks ago. A lot of people said they never wear them for racing because they want to be in-tune with their body. Sounds good to me. I was just wondering how many of those same people don’t have a problem talking/texting on their cell phone while driving. As for slower runners ruining marathons, the NYT had a couple or articles last week on the topic.

Quote of the Day;

“If it wasn’t for the run-walkers, you wouldn’t be finishing in front of anybody.” – Greg Meyer

Monday, November 02, 2009


With the addition of cross-training in my program, I’m paying more attention to duration of exercise. I’m trying to figure out if X hours running equals Y+Z hours of running and roller skiing. The secret formula is probably different if I throw biking into the mix too because I wouldn’t say an hour biking equals an hour running. But an hour roller skiing is probably pretty close to an hour running.

Anyway, here are last week’s workouts;

Sunday – 78-minute progression run
Monday – 45 minutes of double poling (that’s x-c ski lingo for you runners)
Tuesday – 60 minutes of easy trail running
Wednesday – 60 minutes of roller skiing and 60-minute run with 5 miles @ 7:08 pace on treadmill
Thursday – 45 minutes of very easy running
Friday – 68-minute trail run
Saturday – 100-minute group run
Overall, a solid week; 6:51 (~50 miles) of running and an additional 1:45 of roller skiing. Over 8.5 hours total. Plus, I dropped the pace of my workout from 7:13 to 7:08. I guess I’ll call that an MP workout, given that it’s around my Whistlestop pace. Ideally, I’d like to get that to be more of a tempo workout, but I’m easing into it right now.

Thanks to Jim for sending this interesting link.

Nice job at the ING New York City Marathon to Lehm who finished 10th in 2:14:39 and Reneau, who was 15th in 2:16:45. Unfortunately, it looks like Moen dropped out around mile 16. But he’s had a great season with PRs at 5K, 10K and 10M. He’ll be a force again next year for sure.

Quote of the Day;

“I guess I’m getting older. But, you know, I would liken it to people who need their coffee. I don’t need coffee in the morning; I like coffee in the morning. But I sort of need a run to get my day going.” – Joan Benoit Samuelson, who ran 2:49 at NYC yesterday.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Hmm, that article didn’t generate any comments. That can’t be good, can it?

I’ve actually been feeling more motivated to train lately than I was leading up to Whistlestop. I even put in 49 miles during a 7 day stretch. Maybe it has something to do with removing all the pressure to put up a good time. Now I’m just “exercising” rather than “training”.

Here are last week’s workouts;

Sunday – 90 minutes of biking
Monday – 60 minutes of easy trail running
Tuesday – 60 minutes of easy trail running
Wednesday – 40-minute run and 60 minutes of biking
Thursday – 60-minute run with 5 miles @ 7:13 pace on treadmill
Friday – Day off
Saturday – 100-minute group run

Right now I’m looking to gradually bump up a mid-week medium-long run to 10-12 miles, continue to build on that 5 miles @ 7:13 pace – either longer and/or faster, and bump up my long runs. After that it’s just easy runs and cross-training.

Hopefully Sunday I’ll be able to fit this in; NBC Sports will televise the 40th running of the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. (Eastern). Good luck to all those that are racing, especially Lehm, Moen - who now blogs - and Reneau.

Quote of the Day;

“The goal for me in a marathon this top-heavy is to run a smart race, finish well over the last four miles and, in the process, maybe run down a few guys who should beat me on paper." – Jason Lehmkuhle

Friday, October 23, 2009


Nearly all of my MDRA articles come from my ramblings on this blog. The latest ramblings have led to this article;

Confessions of an Aging Runner
By Chad Austin 10/2/09

Time flies. It seems like just yesterday I was a snot-nose kid idolizing professional athletes that were much older than me. Today they’re all younger than me, even Brett Favre. I recently read an article in the paper that questioned whether or not a particular player was past his prime. He’s 33 years old. Poor guy.

Each of the last 15 years I’ve entered the season convinced that I could still break PRs that I set in college. It didn’t seem to matter that I had not come within 20 seconds per mile of my best times. I kept holding out hope that “everything would come together” – whatever that means – and I’d run like never before. As I entered the Master ranks this summer, it finally occurred to me that I will never run those kinds of times ever again.

Still, I secretly hoped that the sheer act of turning 40 would be magical enough, in and of itself, that it’d lead to a summer of fast times. While some people can find motivation in joining a new age group, I could not. The realization that my physical skills were deteriorating lead to a lack of motivation. While I was still able to get out and run, I wasn’t motivated enough to actually train. Training plans that looked great on paper went out the window as I avoided hard workout after hard workout. Of course, this led to even worse race results. I figured I’d better look for ways out of this vicious cycle before thoughts of turning into a couch potato became any more attractive.

Ever notice when you’re at a crossroads in life that it seems like everyone else is in the same boat too? Getting married? Good luck finding a reception hall. Having a baby? All the sudden baby strollers are everywhere. You get the picture. Well, apparently it’s the same for getting old and slow. Suddenly, I came across magazine articles, websites, and message board threads with information and advice on this topic. If you’re getting old(er) and slow(er) like me, or if you just find yourself lacking motivation at times, here are some ideas to help you break the cycle and increase your motivation.

You may be able to break out of your slump by simply mixing up one aspect of your day-to-day training. Do you find yourself running the same two or three routes all the time? Then it’s time to find a new course. If you live in the suburbs, venture into the Twin Cities and see why they are constantly ranked at the top of the best cities for running. If you constantly find yourself running the lakes, check out the Greenway, the Parkway, Pike Island, the River Roads, or any number of trails in the area. If you don’t live in the metro area, you might not have as many options, but I’m sure you can find a new route if you look hard enough.

Do you run by yourself all the time? Try finding a group to run with or a new training partner. With the popularity of running and the help of the Internet, I’m betting that you won’t have any problems finding someone to join you. Of course, if you always run with a group, it wouldn’t hurt to get out and run by yourself.

Are you a gear junkie? Do you find that you can’t run without your iPod, GPS, heart-rate monitor, etc.? Try leaving those things at home for a change. Even something as simply as leaving your watch at home is enough to break up the monotony. The same can be true if you fashion yourself “Old School”. Strapping on a GPS and getting instant feedback on something like your pace could help spur you on.

The fact that the stopwatch does not lie can be a double-edged sword in our sport. It’s great that it spells out our performance in black and white, rather than leaving it up to some judge’s interpretation. On the other hand, it’s very easy to get so caught up in our race times that our sheer enjoyment of the sport depends on those numbers. As those times start to deteriorate, it may be helpful to look at new ways to compare your results.

One way is to look at how you’re doing compared to other runners in your age-group. Granted, we can’t control our competition, but we’re still able to use them as motivation. Scanning the results after a handful of races should give you a pretty good idea of some of the runners near you in your age group. While you may not know what you’ll look like, seeing their name just ahead of yours in the results may be enough get you to train harder.

Another way to compare your results is using an age-grading calculator, like the one created by the World Association of Veteran Athletes (WAVA). To find a calculator online, simply Google age-grading calculator. Once you find a site, key in your age, sex, race time and distance, and hit calculate. The calculator attempts to account for slowing with age by giving a correction factor for our race times, dependent upon age, sex, and distance. You’ll also see a percentage that you can use to calculate how a particular performance would correspond across ages and distances.

There are so many different challenges within the running world and there’s a good chance you haven’t tried them all. If you find yourself running on the roads all the time, it may be time to hit the trails.

Constantly running a couple of marathons every year? Maybe rekindling your speed with a bunch of short races is just what you need. If you’re looking for a new PR, try finding a new distance to race. You may have to look hard, but you can find less common distances like 12K, 20K, 30K on our race calendars. If you don’t want to race that far, seek out a 2, 3 or 4-mile race. Perhaps jumping up to an ultra marathon is something that’s crossed your mind. Even something as simple as doing a 5K or 10K that you’ve never done before is enough to get your running juices flowing again.

Another option would be to take a break from racing. Not having to worry about an upcoming race can relieve the pressures that can lead to staleness. Get out and run for the pure enjoyment of the sport and how it makes you feel.

One of the great things about running is that it’s terrific at building an aerobic base that can be carried over to other aerobic-based sports like; biking, swimming, triathlons, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, rollerblading, kayaking, etc. Sure there can be a lot of technique involved with some of these, but your aerobic conditioning from running will give you a head start. Besides, learning a new sport, especially after running for many years, can be very exciting. The chances are that after cross-training, you’ll be more eager when you do lace up your running shoes.

Maybe you’re not slowing down at all, but you simply find your running lacking motivation from time to time. Try incorporating some of these tips to help keep your running enjoyable - and hopefully fast.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Every once in awhile I get asked how I’m able to handle everything. Besides work and family, there’s running, blogging, writing articles, interviewing runners, etc. It never seemed to be that big of a deal. But now I find myself wanting to venture into other areas and I just don’t know how I’ll make it fit.

Something has to give.

Somethings are relatively easy to fit in, like finally getting around to reading the Harry Potter series. I figure it’s time and I’m currently on book four, out of seven.

Another thing I’d like to do is take better photos. We seem to spend lots of money on cameras with all kinds of features and then all we do is turn them on, point and click. After seeing my neighbor’s photos, it’s apparent I can learn a thing or two. Be sure to check out his photography page and his photo gallery too.

From a fitness standpoint, I think I need to make a serious effort to add some strength/explosiveness training. The thing I struggle with is what exercises to do and how to go about incorporating them. I’m from the school of bench press, curls, military press, squats, etc. And I’m not sure those return the biggest bang for their buck for an endurance athlete.

Time and resources are limited. I need to get the most benefit out of the least amount of time. I’ve thought about everything from joining a gym, giving Crossfit a try, going to a personal trainer, gathering a bunch of books, magazine articles, online videos, etc. and just creating my own program at home. I’ll probably just try the latter route to save some money. I’ve been hearing about this P90X lately, but I really don’t have any idea what it is.

Of course, I’m trying to fit in rollerskiing – the Birkie is less than 18 weeks away – and eventually x-c skiing. And I’ve been biking a little more lately. I love not having to pound the pavement all the time, but I have yet figured out how to do it without losing running fitness. Running Times had a nice article on Lydiard’s principles - #1 being building a huge aerobic engine through base training. I totally agree. However, I wonder if my aerobic engine cares whether I do it by running, biking, skiing, swimming, etc. Or does it have more to do with my running-specific muscles?

So those are all the thoughts in my head right now. I’m working on plotting my weekly schedule just to show me what times I have available to workout. In the meantime, I’ve gone back to doing what I love – hitting the trails every morning for an hour-long run.

Quote of the Day;

“When I went up to Oxford, I wanted to take part in sport. I was too light for rowing, and I wasn’t skilled enough for rugby. But I knew I could run.” – Sir Roger Bannister

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I've written numerous times about the different product review opportunties that have come my way since starting this blog. There's been Accelerade, some headphones, a book review, some yummy POM Wonderful (which I never got around to writing about), and probably another one or two that I can't remember right now.

Well, the other day I was asked to write a review of SnapIt Screen Capture. I'd never heard of this product, but I was intrigued as soon as I read;

"Capture anything you see on your PC screen! Don't waste time cropping your captures. Take a "snapshot" of anything exactly what you need, with just a click."
There are a lot of cool blogs out there with lots of images and photo to help spice them up. This is not one of them. The few photos I posted the other day is an aberration. Not that I wouldn't like to include more than just words - it just seems so tedious; find an image or photo, save it - assuming you're even allowed to do that, perhaps crop the photo, re-save it, etc.

SnapIt makes it a lot easier. I literally downloaded the 14-day trial software at the bottom of this page and was able to download the following image in 3 easy steps.

I simply went to Steve's blog, started SnapIt, pressed the Print Screen key and then dragged my mouse over what I wanted to copy. Then I right clicked on the SnapIt icon and clicked save as. It's that simple.

And you know those sites that won't let you download their images - it's like they want you to pay for them or something? Well, SnapIt lets you take a snapshot of them too.

One thing I've noticed is that the software is a little sensitive when you are dragging your mouse to select the image you want to capture. Once you stop moving your mouse, that's the image you'll get. You can't restart the dragging process. It's a little annoying but not a big deal, as nothing has been saved at that point (if you don't have the autosave feature on) - simply start the dragging process over again and try to do it in one smooth motion.

If you're looking for ways to easily spice up your blog, website, facebook account, etc. with photos, images, or anything else you see on your computer screen, be sure to give SnapIt a try.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Prior to the marathon I wrote;

In 2008 the 40-44 age-group was won in 3:00:15 – poor guy just missed sub-3. And then there were another 9 guys in that age-group between 3:11 and 3:20. A 3:10 would put you about 25th place overall. I’m guessing that’s the kind of shape I’m in right about now. I’ll probably finish 4th in my age-group and then be pissed that I didn’t train harder.
Either I’m so in-tune with my body that it’s scary or I just run as fast as I need to in order to meet a certain time.

While I finished 6th in my age-group, I was only 10 seconds/mile out of 3rd place and a spot on the podium. I wouldn’t say I’m pissed, but a 3:06 should be attainable for me.

Beth wanted to know what I thought about my performance. I guess the easy answer is that you get what you ask for. Or as my friend Eric puts it; the harder he trains, the faster he runs. I didn’t train hard, therefore I didn’t run fast. While I’d like to be upset at running an average marathon, I only have myself to blame given that my training during/after our trip to Disney World consisted of the following weekly mileage; 15, 80, 26, 53, 43, 8, 21. Sure there was some rollerskiing and biking thrown in there too, but not really enough to make up for that kind of training.

My last 4 marathons have been 3:12, 3:05, 3:09 and 3:10. The good news is that none of them had kick-ass training leading up to them. So I guess I’m just basically a 3:10 marathoner on normal training. If I happen to put in a very solid training block, then perhaps I still have a shot at sub-3. Whether or not that happens is anyone's guess.

Overall, the weekend was a blast. Road tripping, hanging out in my hometown, beautiful fall colors, great food, beer, music, and friends.

If you’re a stats geek and desperate for some numbers, here were my splits;

1 – missed
2 – 14:29
3 – 7:20
4 – 7:05
5 – 7:06
6 – 7:00
7 – 7:24
8 – 7:16
9 – 7:11
10 – 7:16
11 – 7:37 (including ~ :30 pee break)
12 – 6:40
13 – 7:19
14 – 7:06
15 – 7:13
16 – 7:09
17 – 7:13
18 – 7:20
19 – 7:40 (including :36 pee break)
20 – 7:11
21 – 7:11
22 – 7:14
23 – 7:33 (the switch is thrown)
24 – 7:38
25 – 7:30
26.2 – 8:54

Quote of the Day;

“Running is essentially private and, if you like, selfish, and all the more valuable for being so.” – Roger Robinson

Monday, October 12, 2009


Riding in style in the TC/RC RV!

Kevin in shock as he scrapes his window prior to driving to the start.

Pre-race porta-potty line. Notice all the warm clothes - and snow.

Post-race 'rehydration' efforts (me, Kevin, Adam, Kelly, Kim, and Rick).

Okay, a little better attempt at rehydration by Rick and Adam.

Ugliest shirt ever? You be the judge.


If you’re interested in the short version of my Whistlestop race report it’s this; I basically ran 7:10 pace for the first 22 miles. Then a switch was thrown and I immediately slowed to 7:40 pace the rest of the way to finish in 3:10:36. That placed me 51st out of 887 overall and 6th out of 87 in my age group. Complete results can be found HERE.

As for the long version…

It turns out I knew at least a dozen people running the marathon. As with my last couple of marathons, the weather the day before and the day after were perfect. The day off? Not so much. We woke to temps below 30 with probably half an inch of snow on the ground and a 20+ mph west wind that made the “feels like” temp 18 degrees. The good news is that we got all our precipitation over night and race day was dry. Perhaps the worst part was standing around outside for about half an hour waiting for the start. Once we got going, I thought the conditions were nice.

Before the race I bumped into Tad and Ryan – two other Ashland natives – who were shooting for sub-3:15 Boston Qualifiers and were looking to go out at 7:15 pace. In addition, Nate was hoping to run sub-3:10 or faster. We talked about starting out together, but once the gun went off, Nate and I eased into it more than Tad and Ryan. We stayed together for 3 miles before Nate dropped back.

I continued running 7:05 – 7:15 miles and was soon joined by Darren. He’s one of those guys that I "know" but have never met. He was running very strong and the next thing I knew we were at mile 10. We had a nice pack of 4 or 5 working together at that point but I had to stop and pee. Since this race is pretty small, I thought I’d try to work back up to Darren and the pack, rather than spend the next 15 miles alone. I proceeded to run a 6:40 mile and just hoped it wasn’t too much too soon.

We went through the half in 1:34:26. A couple of the guys were looking for a 3:10 BQ, so we were right on pace. Just after the half we caught up to Ryan. He still had an extra 5-6 minutes to play with for his BQ and I thought he was in good shape. Unfortunately, he ended up running 3:20.

Around mile 16 things seemed to get a little harder. Our pack was falling apart, but Darren and I were still together. At mile 18 I stopped for another pee and Darren was gone for good – going on to run 3:08. I thought I was in for a long last 8 miles, but I got into a groove of 7:10s and decided to hold it as long as possible. After mile 22 my splits slowed 30 seconds per mile. I thought I was slowing, I still passed Tad around 24. He was able to hold on and run just under 3:12. Not bad for a 400m stud in college.

I ended up crossing the line in 3:10:36 (1:34:26/1:36:10). I turned around just in time to see Nate finish 10 seconds behind me with a new PR. Another quarter mile and he’d have caught me.

As for others, congrats to Katie who was the first woman overall in 2:54. My awesome training partner, Kim, continues to break sub-3. She finished in 2:58 – first Masters woman - lowering the Masters course record by 6 minutes. Nate’s sister missed a BQ at TCM last weekend, jumped in Whistlestop and earned her BQ. Brian needed a 3:20:59 for a BQ and he ran 3:21:06. He’s going to email the BAA and try to get in. If not, he’ll get it next time out – along with John and Tomme, who are seeking that illusive qualifier. And speaking of running both TCM and Whistlestop, Allison just did that. Oh yeah, and she’s running Des Moines this Sunday.

Alright, that’s pretty much it for a race recap. I have a bunch of pictures I’ll try to post in the very near future, along with some non-race details, a new fueling strategy, and other various random thoughts.

Quote of the Day;

“Racing is where I have to face the truth about myself.” – Joe Henderson

Thursday, October 08, 2009


One day closer to Whistlestop and the forecast went from 30% chance of precipitation to 60%. And the low has gone from 30 to 28.

I guess I don’t have to worry about over-heating.

I saw a facebook post that said we might have a 15-20 mph tailwind. It’s a silver lining, but I’m not holding out hope. I remember when I ran this race in 2002 it seemed like we’d have a tailwind. Then about 15 minutes before the start, one of the race announcers said something to the affect that the wind usually somehow swings around and ends up being a headwind. He was correct. Luckily, the course is sheltered by trees, so we should be okay.

The question regarding the size of this race has surfaced a lot lately. Last year’s results show 755 finishers in the marathon. The 40-44 age-group was won in 3:00:15 – poor guy just missed sub-3. And then there were another 9 guys in that age-group between 3:11 and 3:20. A 3:10 would put you about 25th place overall. I’m guessing that’s the kind of shape I’m in right about now. I’ll probably finish 4th in my age-group and then be pissed that I didn’t train harder.

Oh well, I’ve been working on my list of alibis already – so I should be ready to go in that department.

Adam recently purchased an RV for his store. He’s invited me to ride up with a few other runners. Sweet! The road trip starts around noon tomorrow.

Quote of the Day;

“Three hours? Three hours? I don’t even like to do things that feel GOOD for three hours!” – Gwyneth Paltrow, responding to a reporter who said it’d take him about 3 hours to run the NYCM.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


I finally got around to registering for Whistlestop last week. The next day I woke up with a cold. Luckily, it only lasted about 3 days.

Last week’s taper was a little extreme – at least on the running side of things;

Sunday – mountain bike 75 minutes with Rick
Monday – tri bike 50 minutes
Tuesday – run 62 minutes with Scott
Wednesday – roller-ski for 60 minutes (30 min. w/o poles, 30 min. double-pole)
Thursday – day off due to cold
Friday – tri bike 90 minutes
Saturday – day off – drove to WI Dells
While the folks at TCM seemed to have ideal conditions, things for Whistlestop look a little chilly. Right now they’re calling for a low of 30 and a high of 42 with rain/snow showers. I’d take those temps, but adding precipitation on top of that would not be my first choice.

Friday I took the day off of work to attend the TCM press conferences. While I was there I got to see Olympians Abdi Abdirahman, Colleen De Reuck, and Carrie Tollefson up close, along with a bunch of Team USA Minnesota runners.

Unfortunately, I missed race day, but congrats to all those that ran. Special congrats to Josh for battling Abdi down to the wire. 46:38 – damn! And to Lehm. Although he “only” finished 4th, his 47:16 was 32 seconds faster than in 2007 when he went on to run 2:12:54 and place 5th at the marathon trials. Hopefully these results bode well for both of them in NYC. Nice debuts by Luke (2:15) and Kristen (2:35). Of course, 67-year-old Jared never ceases to amaze – running 3:01:52 and winning his age group by nearly 28 minutes. Nas kept his Grandma’s/TCM streak alive with a stellar 3:21. And after not racing seriously for years due to back problems, training partner, Scott, kicked out a 2:57 – less than a minute from his PR which is probably nearly 10 years old.

In non-TCM news, congrats to Ryan for winning the Lakefront Marathon in 2:24:53 and to Finchy for winning the Portland Marathon in 2:24:13. If you don’t know the story, these two were high school teammates, along with 2:16 marathoner, Mike.

I found today’s Quote of the Day uttered by both the men’s and women’s runner-up at TCM;

“I got tired.” - Colleen De Reuck and Augustus Kavutu Mbusya

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Here's my latest MDRA article...

Fall is right around the corner. As a runner, that means two things to me; cross-country season and fall marathons. We put in a lot of time and effort training for these types of races. And there’s no doubt that a lot is written about how to get the most out of ourselves on race day. But what about our friends and family members that will be out there cheering for us? We want them to get the most out of race day too, rather than being bored to tears watching a running race. Believe it or not, running can be spectator-friendly, especially if you follow these tips.

The first step to spectating actually should take place before race day. You need to determine how active you want to be during the race. Remember, other than track meets, we’re not talking about your typical sporting event where the action is confined within a stadium, making it easy to watch. Even the shortest of cross-country races can span an entire golf course in less than twenty minutes. Therefore, there has to be some level of activity, even for the spectators on race day.

I would say there are generally three different levels of activity for watching a race. First, are the stationary spectators. These are people that want to find one spot and sit there for the entire race. This group includes people that are lazy, have a difficult time getting around, or find it hard to move the keg of beer they brought to the event. Hey, I told you running could be spectator-friendly.

Second, are the people that want to see as much of the race as possible, but move around the least. Parents with younger kids would typically fall into this category. They want to cheer for their spouse or friends as much as possible, but are also responsible for getting 2 or 3 kids and a dog around the course too. This requires more time and energy, so they have to be smart about moving from place to place.

Third, are the people that want to see as much of the race as possible and don’t care how much blood, sweat or tears it takes to do so. If someone in the race gets a side stitch, dry heaves or pukes, they want to know about it. No, no, they want to see it happen. This is the group that thinks nothing of driving six hours to watch a 25-minute race. They want to be sure they get their monies worth.

After determining your level of activity, you need to decide how you want to get around the course. Obviously, if you’re going to sit in one spot for the race, this is not much of a concern. However, if you fall into the second or third group you need to think about your best course of action for getting around. For cross-country races this is typically by foot. Unless the race is on a golf course and you’re handy at hot-wiring golf carts. Because of the sheer length of the marathon, they offer more options. In addition to getting around on foot, bikes and cars are good options too. Even public transportation can be used, just ask Rosie Ruiz, the initial first place woman of the 1980 Boston Marathon who was later disqualified for taking a train. Since the use of a car requires extra time for battling traffic and finding parking places, I always opt to use my bike whenever possible.

Once you know how you’re going to get around, the number one rule for spectating becomes “know the course”. This is very important because you can’t watch what you can’t see. I only need to share one example to explain how important this rule is. During college I made a road trip with several teammates to Charlotte, NC to watch the men’s Olympic Marathon trials. We hauled our bikes halfway across the country in an effort to see as much of the race as possible. After biking along during for the first half of the race, some of us decided to cut through a neighborhood in order to get ahead of the runners. Instead of jumping two miles ahead of the runners, we accidentally ended up eight miles ahead of the runners. By the time we saw them again all the key moves had been made and the Olympic team had basically been decided. We kicked ourselves for not understanding where the course went.

If you plan on cheering for a specific person, it’s helpful to know the answer to a couple of questions before the race starts. First, what pace do they plan on running? This is especially helpful for longer races because there’s a big time gap between the first and last place runners. And there could be thousands of runners in between. Having an idea of their pace helps determine when they should be passing you. Of course, be sure to leave some wiggle room for the time needed to cross the start line, bad days, and other unforeseen events.

Second, what do they plan on wearing? Again, there could be thousands of runners on the course, so knowing the color of their shirt and shorts can help you pick them out of the crowd. When it comes to cross-country, keep in mind that many schools share the same colors. Therefore, parents should take this a step further and be able to pick out their runner’s exact uniform. Knowing that your son or daughter is wearing red and white might not be enough to pick them out of a big race.

These last two tips have more to do with your comfort level than they do with watching the actual event. I think it’s important to pack light, however, you also want to bring along a variety of clothing options because we know the weather around here can change quickly. And if you’re biking around the course, the chances are that you’ll work up a sweat, so it doesn’t hurt to have a spare shirt with you.

Finally, and this is good for all occasions, bring snacks. In your excitement to get out the door, there’s a good chance that you may have rushed through breakfast. You don’t want to be searching for the nearest McDonald’s when your girlfriend is expecting to see you along the course. So bring along something to drink as well as a few things that won’t melt in the heat or get smashed in your bag. That means leave the chocolate bars and bananas at home.

There you have it. Pass these tips along to your friends and family and hopefully they’ll be clamoring to watch your next race.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I didn’t mean for my posts to become weekly occurrences, but that seems to be the case lately.

T-minus 12 days till Whistlestop and I’m not really sure what to expect. I’m guessing I’m in about 3:10 shape. However, with the addition of cross-training into the mix lately, I’m not really positive.

It’s a catch-22. I feel better when I run, but it always seems like the cross-training makes me slower.

Saturday’s run included a couple of miles around 3-hour marathon pace. Although they felt comfortable, I was thinking; “There’s no way I could hold this for 26.2.” At least based on today’s QOD, I should be able to run 4 hours.

My new typical week looks something like this;

Sunday – bike 90 minutes
Monday – roller-ski 50 minutes in the AM, run 5 miles in the PM
Tuesday – run 50 minutes with 5 hill repeats
Wednesday – roller-ski for 60 minutes
Thursday – run 63 minutes
Friday – run 65 minutes
Saturday – run 2 hours
Yesterday I dusted off my mountain bike and joined Rick for a 75 minute ride in Lebanon Hills. Every time I ride my bike, especially my mountain bike, I think; “That was fun, I need to do that more often.” Of course, now the season is almost over so we’ll have to wait and see what next year brings.

Quote of the Day;

“Cross train once or twice a week.” - Dave Kuehls, 4 Months to a 4 Hour Marathon

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Tap… tap…

Is this thing on?

Long time no blog.

It’s been over a week and I’ve made drastic changes to my training. I figured when thoughts of my upcoming marathon didn’t get me excited, but thoughts of The Birkie did, then it was time to do something about it. So I went ahead and purchased a pair of these;

For those of you not familiar with snow, they’re called roller skis and they’re designed to mimic the feel of being on snow. I’ve been on them twice a week for the last three weeks. And I’ve even incorporated some bike rides into my training.

I’m not sure if it’s the cross-training, the hint of fall in the air, or the fact that I’ve removed all the pressure of trying to run fast at Whistlestop, but I’ve been feeling pretty good lately. I am looking forward to running the race and then being able to add in even more roller skiing.

I just re-read last year’s race report and what I wrote is still true;

"The Birkie makes me want to be a better athlete. The Birkie makes me want to work on my core strength. The Birkie makes me want to eat my fruits and vegatables. The Birkie is enough to make winter my new favorite season. The Birkie is an event I can see planning my entire season around. And maybe the best compliment of all; I can't see not doing this race in the future."

Quote of the Day;

Monday, September 14, 2009


Friday morning I did manage to register for the City of Lakes 25K. Based on how things heated up over the weekend and how crappy I felt on Saturday’s 8 miler, I really had no time goal. I don’t think my training partner, Scott, believed me when I said I was going to go out at 7:00 – 7:30 pace, since he was planning on something closer to 6:45s.

This is actually a pretty easy race report to write. The first mile came and went in 7:15, the next 9 miles were all probably +/- 3 seconds of 7-flat. From mile 10 on I ran 6:50 pace (except for one more 7-flat). Results have me finishing in 1:48:16 (6:58 pace). McMillan coverts that to a sub-3:10, which is kind of surprising. I don’t think my training has gone well lately, so to see a 3:10 “on paper” is somewhat encouraging.

Sunday was also the day of Ironman Wisconsin. It feels like more than 6 years since I did that event. I still find it amazing to think about at times. I mean that race started an hour before mine. After my race I went and drank some coffee, drove home, showered, ate, and watch the entire Vikings football game. When that finished the leaders still had about an hour of running left. Of course, age groupers had up to 9 more hours to finish. Congrats to all the new Ironmen and to those that can’t get enough.

Today’s QOD is a sharp contrast to my last QOD. Can you tell who’s the 40-something veteran and who’s the 20-something up-and-comer?

Quote of the Day;

“I can’t imagine not competing right now. I just love the thrill of competition and the feeling of success. I just believe that I have faster times in me, and I can’t wait to see what they actually are.” - Laura Januszewski (formerly Hermanson)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


I closed out last week with a 22 miler, giving me 80 miles for the week. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to carry that momentum forward into this week. I started off by doing a little cross training on Sunday and followed that up by skipping the Victory 10K that I was thinking about running.

It used to be that Labor Day weekend was one of my favorite running weekends. My college alumni meet is always on that Saturday and Victory is always on Labor Day. The long weekend always gave me the opportunity to race and get in a long run for an upcoming marathon. Or I could even race twice with a recovery day in between if I wanted to.

This year I’ll have to be content with just running a long run over the weekend. Maybe this weekend I’ll convince myself to run the City of Lakes 25K. While it could provide a good indication of my fitness level, I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

Quote of the Day;

"Sometimes the training gets a little bit old." - Colleen DeReuck

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Less than 24 hours after posting about how trying to run fast takes too much work, I joined Scott at Hyland for 6 x 1K repeats. This workout and the terrain reminded us of our time in college together. Maybe that helped cut down on the “sucking the enjoyment out of running” aspect. That, combined with the fact that my legs felt pretty good today, definitely helped. So after a 15-mile week, I’m on pace for about 75-80 miles this week.

While in Disney World I made the prediction that within 25 years we’ll all be riding around in battery powered scooters. Seriously, they were all over the place. I think people rented them and just drove around the park because they were too lazy to walk. And half of the kids getting a ride in a stroller looked like they were over 10 years old. So I’m pretty sure we’re eventually going to get to the point where no one wants to walk.

Quote of the Day;

“If you talk to an elite or near-elite American distance runner today, they’ll tell you that the primary aim of their training is to avoid injury. If you had talked to a similar athlete 25 years ago, he’d have told you the idea of training was to run fast.” – Tom Derderian

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


The other day I was trying to figure out if I liked being fit more than being fast. You have to be fit to be fast, but you don’t have to be fast to be fit. It seems like trying to be fast takes too much work and it ends up sucking the enjoyment out of running. I’m not sure it’s worth it any more. Or maybe I just haven’t figured out how to periodize my training so that I’m not struggling through August every year.

My friend Eric has asked if I thought x-c skiing during the winter helped my running this year. Although I came into the season slower than normal, I thought I would make up ground as the season progressed. That never seemed to happen. And I thought not running as much in the winter would leave me eager to run more throughout the summer. That did happen, at least for awhile. But once August rolled around, running was still a struggle.

I’ve always had this fantasy of being more than “just a runner.” I dream of being more like Jan Guenther and being able to excel at everything from tris, skiing, mt. biking, snow shoeing, kayaking, etc. It’s not even really about excelling at them. It’s just about getting out and doing them without worrying about losing running fitness. Even within running I find myself thinking about trying different things like trail races, ultras, relays, etc.

It’s too early to tell where all these thoughts will lead me right now, but I’m sure I’ll have more to share in the near future.

Quote of the Day;

“The key is that I control my life; my life doesn’t control me.” – Gabrielle Reece

Monday, August 31, 2009


After a week long vacation, I'm back. Anyone want to guess where we went?

Here's a hint.

We had a great time; no emails, no blogs, no facebook, etc. Totally unplugged. More photos to follow.

I don't have much to mention, running-wise. Let's just say it was my lowest mileage ever for a non-injured, non-marathon recovery week. But I think I needed it. Running was getting to be a drag. I finally had a decent run the Friday before leaving. Then I struggled through three 5-mile runs in the heat and humidity of Florida. Yesterday I was back in Minnesota and enjoyed a 2-hour run in October-like weather.

It's too early to tell what all this means for Whistlestop, but I'm pretty sure that anything fast is out the window.

Quote of the day;

"I didn't want to put limitations and expectations (coming into the race). I felt like 12:58 was maybe not far-fetched, but it was definitely a little bit of a pipe dream." - Dathan Ritzenhein after dropping his 5K PR from 13:16.06 to 12:56.27 and in the process bettering Bob Kennedy's 13-year-old American Record.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t fake the motivation needed to run well. And right now it feels like I’m trying to fake it. I thought turning 40 would magically get me all fired up, but it hasn’t happened. I’m still putting in 50-70 mpw, so I’m pretty fit. However, any semblance of following a plan went out the window two weeks ago.

MattyG has written about being “overcooked” leading up to a couple of races. That’s how I was feeling in early August, so I’ve basically backed off my mileage a little and added in more easy days. I did manage a 20-miler on Sunday. I had 22 planned, but prior to the run I realized I didn’t have any gels in the house. I tried to make it by carrying 20 oz. of Gatorade with me, but it just didn’t cut it – just before mile 19, I was done. I’m sure the 65 degree dew point didn’t help either.

Right now I’m hoping to survive this week before going on vacation next week. After that I’ll try to make one final 6-week push towards Whistlestop.

Anyone watch the men’s 10K last night at the World Champs? How does Bekele (and all the other runners) kick his foot up so high behind him? Seriously, his heel hits him in the ass with each stride.

Finally, be sure to check out my latest interview.

Quote of the Day;

“You’re unique… just like everyone else.” – greeting card I got for my birthday

Friday, August 14, 2009


How’s that saying go – a goal unwritten is just a wish - something like that? Well whether it was a goal or just a wish, I accomplished something last night that I thought was achievable this year. Yes, I met Olympian Carrie Tollefson. Okay, maybe it’s silly to have a goal, er, wish, that you can’t really control. However, I have a few connections throughout the running community and she’s visible enough that it seemed like a likely goal, er, wish. Whatever! Anyway, she was at last night’s Midsummer Night’s 3-mile, along with her husband. Although I’ve interviewed him, I had never met him in person. And the Lehm-kuhles were there too. Unfortunately, Katie wasn’t there. Apparently, running the World Championship 10,000m is more important.

I hyped this race pretty good after last year’s 1st annual event – more so because of the post-race gathering, than the race itself. If it’s possible, this year even topped last year with its hot dogs, Vitamin Water, popsicles, Great Harvest bread nuggets, and 2 beer tickets. Combine that with a microfiber shirt and I had no problem paying the $30 entry fee. More races should take note!

My only gripe – and it’s a big one – is that this year they replaced Surly and Flat Earth with Michelob Ultra. Not to be a beer snob, but give me 1 Surly over 2 (or 6) Michelob Ultras.

Anyway, this was my second race as a Master and it’s the second time my chip has screwed up. Both times my results were corrected, but last night it kept me from winning the men’s Master title and some great swag. I spoke with the race staff afterwards and they assured me they’ll get everything straightened out, so I’m not worried.

Going into the race I figured I’d break 19-minutes and thought 18:30 might be possible. I ended up running 18:19 (6:01, 6:07, 6:11) and finished 9th overall. For comparison, last year I was 3rd overall in 17:50. Complete results can be found HERE.

Quote of the Day;

“Every marathon I ran, I knew I had a faster one in me. Even though I’d be spent, even though I’d be cramped up, I knew with a little more training, a little more preparation, a little more experience, I could run faster.” – Dick Beardsley

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Leave it to my friend Eric to figure out what ails me. You’ve heard of ADD, well I have ASD;

The questions I asked the other day are meant to be rhetorical. I’m not so much looking for answers, as I’m just trying to share the wide variety of things that pop into my head during a run. I’m guessing I’m not the only one that has similar thoughts floating around in their grey matter.

I do need to sit down with my training plan and adapt it a little. I’m thinking 2 easy days after every hard workout ought to do the trick.

So yesterday was an easy 5 miles. This morning was more of the same. I may try to get in another run tonight to help keep my weekly mileage up. Tomorrow night is the Mid-Summer Night’s 3 mile. I blogged about it last month. Come out for a fun run and some beer.

Quote of the Day;

“I viewed every marathon as a test of my manhood. It wasn’t enough for me to win the race. I wanted to bury the other guys.” – Alberto Salazar

Monday, August 10, 2009


Turning 40, running a “bad” 10K, having a 20 miler start out very sluggish, and just a general overall malaise lately have me asking – okay, re-asking - a lot of questions about my running lately.

Seriously, one minute I’m thinking I need to train harder, the next minute I’m thinking I need to cut back. One minute I’m thinking 85 mpw of easy running is what I need and the next I’m thinking 55 mpw with a couple of hard workouts would be better.

Maybe I should consider taking one day off per week, like I did with Pfitz for Gma’s. Maybe that’d be enough for a physical and mental break.

Or how about cross training on that day off? Maybe add in some biking – or better yet – some roller skiing. Is it time to set my sites on The Birkie? At least I’m still seeing improvement in that sport. Maybe if I started my training earlier, I could take a crack at sub-3 there.

Of course, spending the weekend in Madison had me thinking about Ironman Wisconsin.

It’s like just when I thought I was figuring this running thing out, the rules have changed. As much as I’d like to deny it, all those things you hear older runners talk about as they age appear to be true. I can’t just transition from one program to another without feeling some adverse affects. Running weeks on end – doing 2-3 hard days per week - without a day off are most likely in the past. I’d need to adjust and find what works for me – now!

Earlier I was thinking that with a little hard work, I’d have a shot at a PR (2:57)in the fall. Now I’m not so sure. To be honest, I’d be happy with one more sub-3 – and I’m not even sure that’s a possibility based on the times I’ve been running lately. Yes, I know all about recovering from Grandma’s, being in the middle of marathon training, the dog days of summer, etc., etc. So there’s no need to comment on that. Even with all that mixed in, my training paces leave me wondering if 6:52 for 26.2 miles is a pipe dream.

In any case, I have 9 weeks till race day.

I finished last week with 58 miles on 5 days. I couldn’t bring myself to get up before the family and run in the rain while in Madison. Hence the 2 days off. Yesterday I ran 8 miles with 8 x 8 second hill sprints. This morning I ran 10 miles, including 2 x 1.5 miles at 6:40 pace – or what I’m calling half marathon pace – with 2:00 easy in between.

Quote of the Day;

“Some people dream of success while others wake up and achieve it.” - unknown

Friday, August 07, 2009



That's how I felt at the end of this morning's 20 miler. No, not because of some endorphin rush after running for 2:45. But because of how shitty I felt for the first 3 miles of this run. If you had stopped me one mile into the run and asked if I thought I'd be able to repeat that 19 more times, my answer would have been a big N-O!

There I was with the day off of work, running the best trails (Lebanon Hills) in the metro area and all I could think about was how crappy I felt. I wasn't able to just let my mind wander and enjoy my time on the trails. Then about 3 miles into my run I stopped to squat in the woods and when I started running again, I felt fine. The flats no longer felt like hills and the hills no longer felt like mountains.

I was finally able to relax and enjoy the run while thinking about things like; "Hmm, this trails seems pretty isolated. If something happened to me, it could be weeks before I'm found. It might be time to find that RoadID I bought a few years ago."

Today's long run called for the last 30 minutes to be at a moderate pace. Of course, early in the run I had no idea if I'd make it the full distance let alone add in a little workout at the end. By the time I got 2 hours into the run I was sopping wet from a steady rain. I decided to venture home and run the last 5 miles on the treadmill. After a quick change into dry clothes and a mile on the treadmill, I picked up the pace and ran the last 4 miles at 6:58 pace.

All in all this long run was quite the adventure. I was glad to get it in because we're heading to Madison today, so there's no other opportunity for a long run this weekend.

Quote of the day;

"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out." - Robert Collier

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


It looks like "aging up" helped at Sunday's race. I ended up 3rd in the 40-44 age group, whereas I would have been like 7th in the 35-39 age group.

I haven't even thought about "training" the last 2 days. Yesterday I slogged through a very easy 5 miles and this morning I made it another easy 8. My legs are still tried - running a 6 mile cooldown after Sunday's race probably has something to do with that.

You've seen his blog, now check out Matt Gabrielson's interview with Runner's World.

Quote of the day;

"What I've learned is it's not about having a great workout, it's about continuing to be consistent and getting yourself set to be ready to go on that one day. I need to trust my training that I've done and not overdo it toward the end because there's a line you can cross. There's no magic workout that's going to happen in the last two or three weeks." - Matt Gabrielson

Monday, August 03, 2009


I believe the U of M’s coach, Steve Plascencia, was 39-years-old when he placed 4th at the 1996 Olympic marathon trials. The following year he continued to tear up the roads as a Masters. There was an interview in one of the running magazines with him during which he said something like there’s not some magical switch that goes off when you turn 40 – slowing down is inevitable, but it happens at different rates and at different times for everyone.

That gave me hope. However, after Sunday’s race, I’d swear that there is a magical switch in my body and it’s been turned off. Paces that I could easily run for a half marathon in the middle of winter off of base training just a couple of years ago are now a struggle to maintain for 10K.

Sunday I ran the Hennepin Lake Classic 10K and had to sprint* to break 40 minutes. My splits ended up being 6:20, 6:24, 6:27, 6:27, 6:36, 6:26, 1:17 and my 5K splits were 19:52/20:05 for a 39:57.

*I thought I was sprinting until I watched the leaders of the 5K race.

After running 39:15 at Get in Gear in April, this is more than a little frustrating. And it leads to a whole bunch of questions;

Is my new training program working or not?
Is this program too much for me? Am I overtraining? Do I need to do fewer workouts?
Do I just not respond well to VO2 workouts? Did Friday’s hill workout leave me tired?
Am I on the right path for a marathon?
If I truly run well just off of a lot of base miles, should I just go back to that type of training?
Is all of this just a matter of getting older?

I know Hudson has a section for Masters in his book. At 39-years-old and 11 months, I didn’t think I needed to read it. Now I do.

And I think I’ll have to start paying attention to Joe Rubio’s Masters Plan;

1) Take your recovery days easier - take them seriously.

2) Do less hard sessions each week than when you were younger. Do less within each hard session.

3) You can be "on" occasionally, so best pick the times you want to hammer wisely.

4) It takes longer to get in shape as a masters athlete. And it takes much less time to fall out of fitness than 20 years ago [or 30 ... or 40].

5) Injuries take an eternity to get over, and there seem to be many more of them along the way. If you can stay healthy, you are way ahead of the game.

6)Family first, career second, running third, beer a close fourth.

7)Masters racing is all about fun and friendships.

The good news is that I feel fine and I’m not hurt or sore – just slow(er).

Quote of the Day;

“You have to hate to lose, more than you love to win.” - unknown


Ahhhhh! 40-years-old! A co-worker described it as a “monumental” birthday. I would have to agree. There’s something about it that makes you want to stop and think about your life a little more and reevaluate where you’re at. I’m sure for some, that reevaluation leads to the purchase of a sports car or a Harley. Runners would be content with a kick-ass summer of road racing

Leading up to the “event” I had thoughts of really getting serious about all the ancillary things that I think will help my running. You know, a better diet, more time working on strength training and flexibility and less time playing video games, less alcohol, etc.

Then my birthday arrived, so of course we had to celebrate. That meant cinnamon rolls and bacon for breakfast. Somehow we’ve gotten into the habit of cinnamon or caramel rolls on the weekend. However, bacon is a treat. It’s one of those things that makes you think, dang this stuff is good – I could eat it every day! There goes my diet. Then I opened gifts, including the new Wii Sports Resort. There goes my “free” time for strength training and stretching. 2 thumbs up on Resort, by the way. Then just after I cleaned my house of alcohol, we had a little party and I was left with a fridge full of wine and beer.

So my 5th decade is off to a rousing start.

Quote of the Day;

“I will say, I was really bummed to turn 40. It’s one of those monumental birthdates in life that you just downright feel old. Just ask your kids…..40 is ancient.” – a co-worker of mine

Friday, July 31, 2009


Hmm, where did the week go?

I decided to make this a cutback week for a few reasons;

1) I started the week with a day off.
2) After recovering from Grandma’s I’ve had weeks of 65, 63 and 75. Not killer mileage, but that 75 was my most since last August.
3) I’m racing on Sunday.
4) After this week, we are 3 weeks out from our week-long vacation. So I can cutback now, train hard for 3 weeks and then cutback while we’re on vacation.

Here’s what I’ve done since my last post;

Tuesday – 8 moderate miles with Scott in Hyland
Wednesday – 8 easy miles with 8 x 8 second hill sprints
Thursday – 10 easy miles with Rick from home
Friday – 12 miles with Scott including 5 x 3-minutes uphill at 5K pace

That puts me at 52 for the week, so I should finish with 57-60 miles. It also means I closed out July with 281 miles on 28 days of running.

And with today’s run in the books, I also closed out the 34-39 age-group.

So long…

Quote of the Day;

“You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true.” – Richard Bach

Monday, July 27, 2009


Not a whole lot to say today, so I’ll start with a recap of my training. Saturday I joined Kim for a run at Lake Nokomis, which would allow us to watch the Boston Scientific race. We pondered why they have a separate women’s elite race for about 12 gals. I’m guessing the women would be fine with having one wave.

Anyway, this ended up being a fartlek type workout. We ran pretty hard early, slowed down to cheer, ran hard, cheered some more, found Jenna and ran a cool-down with her for awhile. Then I added a couple of miles in the low 7s to end with 16 miles for the day and 75 miles for the week.

I knew it was going to be a difficult task to get a run in yesterday. It was Katie’s 6th birthday and we had lots planned. After waking up in the tent in our backyard and opening presents, we headed to Waseca for a family picnic. Then it was back home around 5 PM for a quick snack before heading to Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of Hysteria, I mean, Mall of America. If you bring proof of your birthday, you get unlimited rides for free after 5. We ended up staying till nearly 8. By that time I knew I’d be putting a zero in the log book. But after 11 solid days of training, I’m okay with that.

Given yesterday’s rest day, I decided to get in my hardest workout of the week this morning; 14 miles with 8 at MP. This was my first such workout in awhile, so I thought I’d go with more of a progression-type MP section, rather than going out hard and bombing. So, after a 3 mile warm-up, I eased into it with miles of 7:13 and 7:12. From there I was able to dip below 7-minute pace, including 6:48 and 6:45 for my last 2 miles. Overall, I think I averaged 6:58 pace for the 8 miles. Not really my goal MP, but I always seem to train slower than I race, so I think I’m okay.

Quote of the Day;

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

Friday, July 24, 2009


Not sure what to write about the Torchlight 5K. It's been 7 years since I’ve run this race and the course has changed a little. It’s an interesting event because probably two-thirds of the first mile are along the Torchlight Parade route, so people are lining the sidewalks to watch – even if they only expected to see a parade. Being in downtown Minneapolis was cool, but it made it difficult to get in any sort of up-tempo warm-up and even strides were difficult.

I’m not sure whether this race was certified or not – but I do know that they’re mile markers were way off. With all the high schoolers in the race and the spectators on the sideline, this race went out pretty hard – and so did I. Still I have a hard time believing I ran a 5:38 first mile. In any case, I definitely slowed down the second mile, yet my split was 5:30! Now I’m just tracking my splits for pure entertainment value. Not surprisingly, “mile” 3 takes forever; 7-flat. I “sprint” home and finish in 18:56. That’s 2 seconds faster than my last 5K, but again, I have no idea whether or not it was accurate. Still it was a good effort. I ran a couple miles afterwards with Kirt and called it 9 miles for the evening and 14 for the day.

One of the nice things about my other blog is that some of the local photographers have been kind enough to give me photos. The bad thing is that now that I know them, they like to capture my image more than before. For example, Wayne took some great photos from Torchlight, but included one nasty photo of me – it’s the 67th photo. After looking at that, scroll back one and look at the size of the headphones on that kid that beat me. Plus, he has long pants and a sweat shirt tied around his waist. Another reason not to like 5Ks.

Good times afterwards as we hung out on Harriet Island for a couple of beers while listening to Kubla Khan. I didn’t get to bed till 11, but luckily I was able to sleep in and run a very easy 6 miles during lunch.

This morning I ran 11 miles including the last 10 minutes at a moderate pace.

Off topic, could you at least give me a courtesy wash of your hands after going to the bathroom – especially if you come out of the stall? I don’t know if you went #1 or #2 in there, but flushing and then making a bee line back to your cube just doesn’t seem right.

Quote of the Day;

“Goals are fuel in the furnace of achievement.” – Brian Tracy