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


Evan Roberts said...

Nice post. For the most part you get out no more than you put in with running. So long as you enjoy what you're doing that's the main thing.

For my money the best race I've seen you do in the last few years was that PR at Grandma's on a hot day. Good training and smart running on a hot day. Look at what you did there to see what works. I'm sure it'll be mileage, tempos, and a little bit of faster stuff. Plus strides. We're not young and naturally fast anymore.

Anonymous said...

Gregg makes a good point about finding what works for you. Skiing should be on your list because you enjoy it so much...and seem to be making very good strides in this discipline. Have a fair amount of friends who mix ski/run through the Winter and it works okay/well for them.

Your mileage per year was very similar to my totals from a few years ago. I followed the Beck program once and that was it for plans. It worked and I harvested what I needed from that experience.

I am still coming to terms with what I think I need to do (miles per week), what age has contributed (more recovery needed), and dealing with health issues (tired, meds, etc.).

If a marathon is the key goal then I say it has to be a personal blend of:

-Weekly miles (what can I handle)
-Endurance (long runs needed)
-Speed (driving down 5k/8k speed)
-Pace runs (key 20k-25k efforts)
-Rest (know when to back off)

The key for me would be blending them together to make it work. Used to be 12 weeks total, but feel it would be 14-15 weeks today.

Long and pace runs may only be every 3 weeks. Many more 12-14 runs fill the gap. Speed was always huge for me. It wasn't always the volume, but more college stuff of running very hard over shorter distances. Shorter time trials, 1600/800 meter repeats, establish cruising speed.

Though one runs tired a fair amount, you have to impart times of virtual total rest for 2-3 days if needed roughly every three weeks. Keep a schedule in frame work only, because you have to adjust w/ family, job, weather, etc.

I still believe weekly mileage is the biggest factor, but it has to be what one is capable of. Then, if your good at math and pouring through old log books you plug in the pieces. I rarely raced 5ks, but I ran a pile of them for workouts. When I started at 19:xx during training and got them to the low 17:xx I knew I was headed in the right direction. Same with 8k trials which I did fewer of, but they helped lower my 5k speed.

I could just tell what I needed and during marathon training it was far less long runs than most people believed I ran...of course I was coming of ultra training in the winter/spring, but you do have big miles then plus the long skis which never hurt my friends.

I have a million comments, but the one I want to emphasize is when you begin down the marathon path, zero in on your limits, do the math, and get fast as hell.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered training with a group and/or a "live" coach? Quite often an objective look at how your training matches your expectations from someone that isn't you can make a huge difference.

The group that I train with has made huge strides when our coaching and goals line up. It's very difficult to reproduce the kind of training intensity in the group when you are running alone.

And I don't necessarily believe the "your're too old to run well" thought line. I've seen to many guys who train smart stay on top for quite a while.

Chad said...

Evan, good point. I ran well in the spring of 2006; 29:15 8K and 1:17:57 20K - then I got hurt. And again in the spring of 2007; 29:33 8K, 37:47 10K, 1:21:49 half and 17:52 5K before that 2:57 at Gma's. I'm reviewing both of those springs.

Double, always good to hear from you. Good advice, which I'll keep in mind.

Anon, I did train with a local group for a couple of years. We'd run hills together one week night and then longer runs on Saturday. It was mostly a tri group, so probably not best-suited for me.

Being an early morning runner now, it's very difficult to do group workouts. Saturday mornings are probably my best bet of getting in some quality within a group setting - at least in terms of threshold/MP-type workouts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chad,
Great post....
You Said....
"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?"

Gosh I know how this feels, I guess it's okay when you decide it is. :) I went and sometimes still go through this thought process. But I am now happily preoccupied with Ultras....
And I love Double's comment...this just nails it...
"but the one I want to emphasize is when you begin down the marathon path, zero in on your limits, do the math, and get fast as hell."
My best marathons came from not the highest mileage, but after I posted really good 10k times and tons of fast tempos....

How about that 50k in July....Afton is close to home. ;)
Karen S