Friday, April 30, 2010


What an Awesome April!? Besides having terrific weather and the Twins starting hot, I feel like a runner again. Right now I’m sitting at 287 miles for the month and I may try to squeeze in 5 or 6 more tonight. It’s a little surprising, but that’s my highest April ever – my previous high was 279, set back in 2005. My best May ever is 301 miles and I hope to break that this spring too.

Going hand-in-hand with a lot of miles (hopefully) is feeling a lot fitter. That seems to be the case for me right now, as I’m gaining confidence with each passing week. And that can only mean one thing – time for some new marathon shoes. Who better to ask for advice than Kurt of TCRC fame? After years of going with more of a lightweight trainer instead of a heavier racer for my marathons, I’ve decided to go lightweight again. I’m hoping my recent attempts to help build my foot strength through barefoot strides and the use of my Nike Frees, will allow me to handle a lighter shoe for 26.2.

This year’s shoe of choice is the Brooks Green Silence. Mostly likely, it’s the most unique shoe I’ve ever owned – and that’s saying a lot! Not only are they bright yellow and red, but the colors are exact opposite for each shoe. It’s hard to explain, so just look at the photo.
After reading some reviews online last night, I’m pretty excited about them. They’re less beefy/squishy than the Brooks Launch, but more sturdy than their T6. Best of all, if my calves seize up at mile 18 of Grandma’s Marathon, I can just blame Kurt. You see, it helps to have your alibis figured out well before the gun goes off. It’s just one less thing to worry about on race day.

Speaking of races, I did get into the Fat Tire 40. That’s September 18th, which is 2 weeks before TCM. I gotta figure out what that means for my summer and fall training. Do I want to so some other events that are on my “bucket list” like Paavo and a 50K? Or do I try to train for a fall marathon while including one day of mountain biking per week?

On to May...

Quote of the Day;

"No one knows the fear in a front runner’s mind more than me. When you set off at a cracking pace for four or five laps and find that your main rivals are still breathing down your neck, that’s when you start to panic.” – Ron Clarke

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Given how popular the 10K was in the late ‘70s and throughout the ‘80s, it’s kind of weird that I don’t race this distance very often. Typically, I only run 2-3 10K per year and they’re usually bigger races, like Get in Gear, Hennepin Lakes, and Victory. As I pondered this the other day, I came to the conclusion that it’s because 10K is too long to race in a low-key event. Racing a low-key 5K or even 5 miler is doable. However, maintaining focus for 10K when you’re all alone can be tough.

With my relatively low number of 10Ks, I had to go all the way back to the 2007 Get in Gear (37:47) to find a sub-39. And my best time while in the 30-39 age group is only a tad better, 37:32, set when I was 35 years old.

What does all that mean? I don’t know; I just like to look at numbers. But maybe it does mean that I’m not really in that bad of shape. I’m just a mere 10-12 seconds per mile behind what I was running in 2007, prior to setting my marathon PR. Sure that adds up to about 5 minutes over the course of a marathon. But if I finish within 5 minutes of my PR, I’d be pretty happy. Of course, it’d also be a little frustrating because that means I’d be within spitting distance of sub-3.

Anyway, there are 8 weeks to go. I’m feeling pretty good after my cutback week. My right knee has been feeling a little weird, so I’m monitoring that. Usually I just stop and stretch my quad and then the knee feels better.

Finally, if you haven’t been reading the MDRA blog, I suggest checking it out. As much as it pains me to say this, Rocco has done a great job with updating the blog recently and adding a bunch of fun new posts. And I’m not just saying this because he included me as part of blognation.

Quote of the Day;

"Successful marathoners must lose their cool, and allow this irrational, animal consciousness to take over.” – Bill Rodgers

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Last month, when I was doing a little research for an article on running in the '70s, I discovered that the Getting into Gear 10K was Minnesota's first "megarace". Bruce Brothers wrote, "at a time when 600 runners was a massive field, nearly 4,000 turned out" for the first annual event, which has since been renamed to the Get in Gear 10K. Now in it's 33rd year, it's still considered an "annual rite of spring" for many runners.

With a month or so of solid training under my belt and a nice little cutback week leading up to the race, I thought I had a great chance of improving upon last year's time of 39:15, which is 6:18 pace.

I mentioned that I've been reading Born to Run recently. At one point the authors talks with an ultra marathoning gal and she mentions the joys of really getting in-tune with her body. I think that's one thing that's been missing from my running and racing. After all these years it's just so easy to go through the motions. You pay your $30, run a warm-up, start your watch when the gun goes off, take your splits along the way, stop your watch when you cross the line, cool-down, write a race report, and never think of the race again. The whole process can be done over and over without any goals - even though I always seem to be worried about my time. And the whole process can be done without really tuning into myself and what I am doing. I'm talking about simple things like monitoring my breathing, footstrike and arm carriage, asking myself if I can go faster, challenging myself to actually work to catch someone. You know, little things that can add up over the course of a race and potentially turn a good race into a great race.

So, I've been trying to do a better job during my workouts of visualizing myself at different points of this race and thinking about what I want to think about on race day. I don't know why I don't do this more often because I definitely think it helps. When you're at a certain point in a race, like going up a hill or heading across the Ford Bridge towards the finish, it definitely helps when you already have a few key things in mind to think about - rather than leaving the mind to wander aimlessly.

With all that said, I'm happy to report that my race unfolded as well as I had planned. The first 2 miles were all about being patient and not going out too fast. I ended up running those miles in 6:14 and 6:16.

The third mile crosses the river into St. Paul. I know I'm not a strong uphill runner because I tend to maintain the same effort, while others around seem to want to maintain the same pace. One thing about skiing is that you can't maintain the same effort. Because of the hills there's a constant change in one's breathing patterns. So I decided I would try to push the hills more than usual, knowing that I could recover at the top, like in skiing. Even with the increased effort, that mile passed in 6:25. That would turn out to be my slowest of the day.

I was tempted to sneak a peek at the halfway clock, but I knew if I saw any numbers at all, they'd totally mess with my head. I'd immediately double the time and then compare it to last year's time. Then I'd worry about whether or not I could actually run even or negative splits. So it was best to not even glance towards the clock.

Just after the halfway point, the road turns left and heads up to St. Thomas. If you've run TCM, you probably know this hill very well, which is just after the 21 mile mark. Again, I push the effort knowing that there's a nice downhill afterwards. At this point, I'm feeling really good about how the race is playing out. That's a 6:18 mile.

I'm not much of a kicker and I usually wilt in the final mile whenever someone goes by me. So my plan is to pick up the pace at mile 4. There are a couple of guys near me and that helps me stay focused. I'm trying to think about staying relaxed and calm as possible, as well as having a light, quick turnover. It must work as I run a 6:14. I can't help but look at my elapsed time. I see 31:27 and think two things; 1) that's about 31:17 for 8K or 14 seconds faster than my Human Race time - and I still have 2K to go and 2) those last 2K are going to take about 7:30, so I will be very close to 39-flat.

My breathing is really picking up now. I'm still trying to tune-in, but obviously that's more difficult the later in the race you are. Probably the worst part about this course is having to cross over the Ford Bridge. Luckily, it's not too windy this year and that stretch goes by fairly quickly. As I approach the finish line I can see the clock at 38:45 and I still have 100+ meters to go.

As I stop my watch I see 39:01. It's one of those results that kind of bums you out for just missing getting into the next minute. However, I'm happy with how the race played out. Not only beating last year's time (along with setting a post-40 PR), but also how I was able to internally tune-in more than usual. It almost makes me want to do more shorter races.


Thursday, April 22, 2010


Not much to report during my cutback week. I’ve been reading Born to Run. It’s not a “can’t put down” book for me, but it’s entertaining. I still think the author has taken some liberties with some of his writing. I’m not going to jump on the minimalist movement, but I have been trying to strengthen my feet. I’ve been doing strides once a week in some Nike Frees and also trying to do some of them barefoot – slowing increasing the number. I’ve also been wearing the Frees at work a few days a week, as well as walking around home barefoot on the weekends.

Yesterday I completed one of Daniels’ threshold workouts; 2 mile warmup, 4 x 6 minutes at threshold pace with 1 minute rest, then I took 5 minutes rest before doing another set of three reps.

I have a question regarding Facebook. I get the idea of keeping in touch with friends, but I don’t get the idea of joining all these groups. For example, there’s a group for Twin Cities Runners, Minnesota Runners, Minnesota Running, and Running Minnesota. What’s the point? Do all of these groups accomplish a different task? Personally, they don’t seem to provide much value – and I’m including my Running Minnesota group in that statement. I guess I just don’t understand how these groups are supposed to work.

Quote of the Day;

"Running is like building a house. The first ninety percent of the race takes ninety percent of your resources. The remaining ten percent of the race takes another ninety percent of your resources.” – John Jerome

Monday, April 19, 2010


I think I’m probably in better shape than I’m giving myself credit for. This occurred to me after finishing Saturday’s 25K trail race. Within 5 miles I knew that my legs had no zip in them – not a good thing when you’re running a hilly trail race. I lost focus on the second loop and ended up running a 2-minute (:55/:57) positive split, finishing in 1:51:43. Afterwards, I was a little surprised to see that I only about 2-minutes off of my time from 2007, the year I set my marathon PR. There are a few differences between the two years. First, the course isn’t exactly the same. I’d rate 2007 a little harder due to having an extra big hill on the north side of the course. Also, I ran a nice (:56/53:30) negative split in 2007. The one thing going for me this year is that I ran this at the end of a 77 mile week, hence the lack of zip. Here are the results if anyone is interested.

Basically, last week included some strides, 4 x 10-minutes at tempo with 2-minute rest, and a 21 mile day on Saturday. I also included two 2-a-days for a total of 9 runs.

After weeks of 47, 48, 64, 72, and 77, I’ve decided to cut my mileage back this week. That coincides nicely with Saturday’s Get in Gear 10K. Hopefully my legs will bounce back and I’ll be able to run a quicker pace than at Human Race. Low-39s would be nice.

Here’s another interview to check out.

Quote of the Day;

"My training philosophy is to put the mileage in and run as many workouts as I have the mental energy for. I haven’t always been a high mileage guy, but I’ve found my body allows me to handle it, so I do it.” - Chris Erichsen

Monday, April 12, 2010


I had another solid week of training, as I put in 72 miles last week. In addition to some strides and Wednesday’s set of kilometer repeats on the treadmill, I had a solid 19-mile long run on Saturday with some tempo repeats thrown in. I’d like to have a similar week this week, except for a 25K trail race on Saturday. Then I’ll back my mileage down a little the following week prior to the Get in Gear 10K.

We all like to bitch about the nasty weather around here. But in all fairness, we should also mention the weather when it’s fantastic. We’ve definitely been spoiled here in Minnesota this April. It must have been near 70 yesterday. The ladies in Apple Valley were “treated” to my first shirtless run of the year.

Finally, be sure to check out my latest interview. In fact, you may want to bookmark this one and return to it anytime you’re about to talk yourself out of going for a run.

Quote of the Day;

"Like all areas of life; we are here to learn, grow and improve on a daily basis. Somebody once said, “wisdom is what you have some 30 years after you thought you knew it all.” - Ed Rousseau

Thursday, April 08, 2010


I have a few different things I want to get to today. Running-wise, I decided to knock some rust off yesterday with an interval workout. I tried something entirely new this time by hitting the treadmill. I’ve done tempo and MP workouts on the treadmill before, but never any interval workouts. I wanted to be accurate with the pace, but I didn’t want to do these on a track. And since I don’t have a Garmin, I thought the treadmill would be the next best option.

My schedule called for kilometer repeats and based on my recent 8K time, McMillan’s calculator and Daniels’ charts say I should run roughly 3:45. So I basically ran 5 x 3:45, which is like 6:03 pace, with a 5:00 jog in between. I started the first one at a conservative 6:07 pace and gradually increased each repeat until I was down to 5:52 pace. Given that I was well under the pace that was suggested, I’m guessing that treadmill repeats are a little easier than being outside. So this was probably a one-time experiment.

Okay, I’ve hyped this website once before, but I thought I’d do it again. The Clymb is 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. That’s why I’m inviting you – just follow this link. So far they’ve featured some really cool outdoor gear, but I haven’t purchased anything. Today they just started a sale on Craft apparel, which I really like, and I was able to save 55% on some gear. Sweet!

I’ve also mentioned the site Younger Legs for Older Runners before too. It’s run by Pete Magill who’s name you may recognize from Running Times articles. Anyway, he just announced that he’s shutting down the site. I at least want to call your attention to this article that I really liked.

Quote of the Day;

"Running is the most universal sport on the planet. Every able bodied human being has competed in a running race. There has, and always will be, running. Running is even more universal than sex, more universal than any other accomplishment, more universal than any language, art or music genre. The best runners in the world are the ultimate human beings." - Sean Williams

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


First things first, if you like taking surveys on running, head over to MDRA’s website and take their newest survey. I really liked the question about if you could only do 1 more race, what would it be? I put down that it’d be something like Pike’s Peak or Leadville 100 - something to experience.

This Friday group I run with consists of a bunch of ultra runners. It’s fun to hear them talk about their races and training. One guy is training for Pike’s Peak. I think it’d be awesome but then I run up the smallest of hills (at sea level) and I’m immediately reminded of how difficult that race would be. Within 30 seconds of the start I’m sure all my thoughts would be negative.

Well, those miles did “hatch” from last week. I ended up with 64 miles on 6 runs.

I realize the chart in my last post didn’t turn out very good. I also realize that no one really cared. It’s not like someone was sitting at their computer, trying to line up all the columns and numbers. In any case, there were some good comments to that post. As I replied to Evan’s comment, there are basically two different years recently where I was running well in the spring.

The spring of 2006 is a period where I recorded my highest weekly mileage ever – it’s the only time I’ve reached 100 miles. December through March included months of 316, 364, 326 and 365 miles. I managed to run a 29:15 8K and 1:17:57 for 20K off of that mileage and lots of hills and MP workouts. Unfortunately, I got hurt just after that 20K and never ran a spring marathon. I was able to run just under 2:59 at Chicago that fall.

In the spring of 2007 I managed solid mileage, but not as high as 2006. December through March consisted of 350, 284, 275, 293 miles. Weeks included roughly 1 MP workout per week, hills and strides. Then in April and May I added in more interval workouts like 600s and Ks. I managed to run a 29:33 8K, 37:47 10K, 1:21:49 half and 17:52 5K before running my still-standing marathon PR of 2:57 at Gma's.

The question now is how do I replicate 2007 given that it’s already April and I don’t have that December – March running base that I did 3 years ago? I think the answer is to proceed as if my skiing transfers to my running. I’ll spend April building in MP and hill workouts, along with strides and then in May I can transition over to intervals.

I doubt I can reach those shorter race times from 2007, but maybe I can get close enough to take a shot at sub-3.

Quote of the Day;

"Suffering is the sole origin of consciousness." - Dostoyefsky

Friday, April 02, 2010


Gregg submitted a good thought-provoking comment after my last post. Not sure everyone reads the comments, so I thought I’d pull out the key points and try to address them.
“It seems like you have remained, for the most part, injury free since I started reading your blog some three years ago. What I see from your posts is inconsistency over the YEARS.”
Below is a chart of my monthly mileage over the last decade. I would have to say it’s pretty consistent, especially from 2004 through August of 2008. The end of 2002 – 2003 was that “dark period” where I did tris and didn’t track running-specific mileage.

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Jan 250 323 201 314 364 284 258 81
Feb 205 298 214 248 326 275 168 85
Mar 234 295 250 316 365 293 250 183
Apr 243 113 156 279 251 254 158 249
May 255 178 252 282 110 268 301 296
Jun 112 219 267 102 121 151 265 179
Jul 138 266 242 222 291 253 285 281
Aug 248 298 213 181 265 265 282 202
Sep 233 238 146 186 295 100 153 184
Oct 117 98 141 263 101 177 285 112 142
Nov 270 204 274 246 290 302 195 213
Dec 267 252 276 316 350 332 88 199
Total 2,572 2,326 597 2,754 2,793 3,205 3,062 2,515 2,294

Of course, the last two winters have included more skiing than running, which Gregg gets at with his next point.
“You might put together 10 or 12 weeks of decent training, but as you are well aware, youth is not on our sides anymore and we need to stay consistent with our training year around.”
I totally agree about putting together 10 – 12 weeks of decent training. That’s why if you look at the numbers above, you’ll see that my biggest months typically have been December – March. I love(d) just going out in the winter and putting in miles in order to be in great shape in the spring.
“Now, you have decided to train for the Birkie the last two winters and that is fine. The problem is, skiing will not get you anywhere near the same results for running as some think.”
No, skiing fitness may not transfer to running as much as I’d like, but I absolutely love it. So much so, that if you asked me in the middle of winter if I had to choose between a sub-3 Birkie and running a sub-3 marathon again, I’d have chosen the sub-3 Birkie. Of course, that time is less meaningful when it comes to skiing, but you get the point.

I mean I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. Am I just supposed to keep running 5Ks, 10Ks and marathons over and over – hoping that training goes well, the weather cooperates, and I shave 12 seconds from last year’s time? At what point is it okay to experience different things? I don’t want to look back when it’s all said and done and just see a trail of Human Race, Get in Gear, Grandma’s and TCM results.

Gregg mentioned a desire to do the Birkie at some point too, but he’s putting it off for awhile. I think it was last year when I wrote that I don’t have many regrets in life, but one of them is not starting to ski sooner in life.
“Although the Pfitzinger, Daniels plans are great, I don't see that you have figured out what works for you. Or have you?”
This is a very interesting question and it really has me thinking. I’m in the process of digging through each of my training logs from 2001 – 2009 and summarizing the high points; program followed, goal race, key workouts, weekly and monthly mileage, race times, injuries, etc. It’s probably something I should have done long ago. Hopefully, I’ll find some key insights. I’m sure there will be more to come on this.

Anyway, so far this week is going really well. I hate counting miles before they hatch, but I should be around 60-65 miles on 6 days of running. I performed my first Daniels’ workout on Thursday; 2 mile warm-up, 2 x 10 minutes at threshold with 2 minute rest, 7 miles easy. I’ve even included some strides this week and had a great group trail run this morning.

Today’s quote of the day comes after this morning’s run. Paul was talking to Tony as he trains for the Western States 100, but he might as well been talking to me;

"You can gain a lot of fitness in just 12 weeks.” – Paul Holovnia