Wednesday, December 28, 2022


If I go through with it, my next race will be in a month. I used to run the Winter Carnival half marathon ever year as a benchmark to see how my winter training has been going. It was a nice out-and-back course with some rolling hills. I haven’t done this race in a few years. When I searched for it online, I found that it’s going to be held on the State Fair Grounds and you can run 5K increments anywhere from 5K to 20K. This has me thinking it’ll a 5K loop run multiple times. Not exactly what I was looking for, but if I just want a benchmark, I guess it will suffice.

The last 2 weeks I’ve been including workouts from the Run Like a Pro book I mentioned in my last post. Even though the book has workout plans for 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon, and ultra, the workouts aren’t that different between them. The book states that one of the more common mistakes that non-elites make is over-specializing their training for a particular race. The workouts listed within the 2-week recaps below were all run on the treadmill. Mainly because the weather these last 2 weeks has been quite snowy – on two separate occasions I’d say we got 6-8” of snow over the course of 2-3 days. This makes for really poor footing for your average run, let alone a workout. The second occasion of snow was followed by a week of temps around 0 degrees with a strong wind. It's times like that where I just try to hunker down and do what I can. 

While the treadmill can be quite boring, I will say that I do like having the ability to dial in on specific paces for harder workouts - especially when I haven't done "real" training in a long time. I was thinking today that it's been kind of fun to run a race and then punch those results into a calculator that tells me what paces I should be running for different workouts - then going out and executing them.  

RECAP OF WEEK 12/11 – 12/17

Sunday – 10-mile fat bike ride & easy 3-mile run

Monday – Strength + 2 miles easy

Tuesday – 8K skate ski

Wednesday – 6 miles fartlek – 1/2/3/2/1/2/3-minutes “on” w/ 1:00 “off” [1’s at 5K, 2’s at 10K, 3’s at HMP]

Thursday – AM: 2-mile shuffle, NOON: 5 miles easy

Friday – AM: 5-mile run, NOON: 7K classic ski

Saturday – Day off – daughter’s college graduation

Summary: 24 miles of running, 10 miles of biking, 15K of skiing and 1 strength training


RECAP OF WEEK 12/18 – 12/24

Sunday – 13-mile-long run (longest run recently)

Monday – AM: Strength, PM: 3 miles easy

Tuesday – Easy 4-mile run

Wednesday – 7-mile Critical Velocity (CV) workout – 5 x 4:00 @ 7:10 pace w/ 2:00 easy

Thursday – Easy 16-mile bike ride on trainer

Friday – AM: 2-mile shuffle, PM: easy 4-mile run

Saturday – 5.5-mile Max Aerobic Speed (MAS) workout – 8 x 1:00 @ 6:24 pace w/ 2:00 jog

Summary: 38.5 miles of running, 16 miles of biking, no skiing and 1 strength training

Quote of the day;

“The quieter you become the more you are able to hear.” - Rumi

Monday, December 12, 2022


I like to read quite a bit. Included in my reading are a lot of books on running, runners, and training. I mentioned recently that I was considering following a training plan out of Jay Johnson’s book Simple Marathon Training: The Right Training for Busy Adults with Hectic Lives. Not because I’m a busy adult with a hectic life, but more because I like the idea of 1 workout and 1 long run per week – with filler activities in between. Now I’m reconsidering that approach.

I started reading Run Like a Pro (Even if You’re Slow): Elite Tools and Tips for Runners at Every Level by Matt Fitzgerald and Ben Rosario. I really like the work both authors have done. Ben was the coach for the NAZ elite training group before stepping away from coaching and into their director role. He teamed up with Scott Fauble on the book Inside a Marathon, which is a great look into the coach/athlete relationship. He also teamed up with his high school coach for the book Tradition, Class, Pride: Building a Cross Country Dynasty. This is a must-read for any high school coach looking to build up their program. While Ben is a coach who’s written a few books, I’d say Matt is a writer who also happens to coach. He’s written a lot of books for the endurance community. The ones I’ve read or listened to include; How Bad Do You Want It, The Comeback Quotient, Racing Weight, and Running the Dream. In the last one, Matt spends a summer and trains like an elite athlete, at the age of 46, as part of the NAZ elite group coached by Ben.  

Matt also has a book called 80/20 Running. I haven’t read it (yet), but its main theme is to get faster by going slower. The idea being that 80% of the time you should be running super easy, then for the remaining 20% of the time you run harder workouts. He’s built out a whole business model if you want to explore more at This 80/20 principle is covered in the first part of Run Like a Pro. The premise being that most weekend warriors train too fast on their easy days and not fast enough on their hard days. This isn’t a new concept. In fact, I’d say I tried it in the mid-90s when HR monitors were all the rage. I started training super slow, even walking hills because the slightest incline would cause a spike in HR. I’d like to say this led to incredible gains in fitness, but I can’t say I got any faster. In fact, I think I got slower if I remember correctly.

Fast forward 25+ years and I’m considering a similar approach. Why? Mainly because I think this approach will allow me to get in 2 workouts per week plus a long run while not getting burned out along the way. At least that’s the hope. Plus, on some level I enjoy the challenge/process of trying something new on myself to see if there’s a better way of doing things. There are a lot of other things in the book that I think are worth exploring more, but I’ll share those later. One challenge is that I like to run with people as much as I can. Typically, these runs would fall into this gray zone of being too fast for the 80% portion, but too slow for the 20% portion.

One thing Matt mentioned that he added during his summer of training like a pro was 20-minute shakeout runs, up to 5 times per week. I thought I’d start adding in a few of those throughout the week to see if they help (or hurt). I have 2 goals when doing them; 1) no GPS, just an ‘old school’ stopwatch and 2) run as slow as possible.

RECAP OF WEEK 12/4 – 12/11

Sunday – 11-mile trail run (1:55 – longest run by time since Grandma’s Marathon)

Monday – REST DAY

Tuesday – AM: Lifted, PM: 12K skate skiing

Wednesday – 5 miles easy

Thursday – NOON: 8-mile fat bike ride, PM: lifted w/ Scott

Friday – AM: 6-mile run w/ Scott, Jerald and Pat, PM: 20-minute shuffle

Saturday – AM: 11-mile run w/ Dave and Sarah

Summary: 35 miles of running, 8 miles of biking, 12K of skiing and 2 lifts

Quote of the day;

“As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Thursday, December 08, 2022


If nothing else, this newfound motivation has me thinking about my exercise routine more. Although I wouldn’t say I’m “training” yet, I am more aware of my exercise plans for the day and week – as well as what’s taking place from week to week. The nice thing about this approach is that it makes me more committed to training through the winter. Last winter it was easy to just let things slide when the weather got crappy. But now I feel like “crappy” will have a different meaning – I’m more willing to venture outside because I have a race on the calendar. And if things do get really bad I’m more likely to find other alternatives to get a workout in.  

Recently I mentioned doing my best to get one workout in per week despite the conditions. I guess that’s easier said from the comfort of my computer screen than the reality of outdoors. Yesterday’s plan was for a lunchtime run with some threshold work throw in. As I worked through the morning, I could see those plans start to evaporate as just enough snow fell to make things sketchy. I’m talking about less than half an inch of snow. But that was enough to leave me feeling uncomfortable with picking up the pace. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but lately we’ve been having some thaw/freeze cycles taking place. The thought of hitting a patch of ice covered by a little snow doesn’t make the harder effort worth it to me. Instead, I just ran an easy 5 miles.

I can still remember a blog post I wrote years ago after we got about 2” of snow and the roads were a slushy sloppy mess that made running unenjoyable. At the time I was Nordic skiing a lot, so I juxtaposed photos of the sloppy roads and the freshly groomed corduroy of the ski trails. I think the title was something like “You Choose” – implying why would anyone run in that footing when they could be skiing instead. I bring this up because of the recent conditions, but also because Tuesday night I went for my first ski of the season. There’s no denying that it’s incredibly fun and a great workout. Of course, being a perfect 28 degrees helps a lot too. It’s just nice to have options to help maintain my fitness in the winter.

Quote of the day;

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu

Tuesday, December 06, 2022


 I think I mentioned this the other day, but one of the challenges for me (and every other runner) is figuring out what works as I get older. As a longtime proponent of “more is better,” that approach just doesn’t seem to work as well for me anymore. It “works” for a few days, but then I get exhausted. This week I’m trying to balance taking advantage of the great weather with making sure I’m recovered from 4 hours of exercise during the weekend (2 hours fat biking and 2 hours running, on Saturday and Sunday, respectively). Yesterday I really wanted to take advantage of temps in the mid-20s and go for an hour fat bike ride at lunch. However, I felt tired when I woke up and opted for a nap over lunch instead. I’m sure it was the right decision physically, but it’s tough to pass us those nice weather days in December when you live in Minnesota.

I’ve been thinking about a couple of things that I’ve been missing lately. One is just that feeling of being fit. Not that I’m out of shape right now – in fact, in some ways I think I’m stronger than when I was running fast. But without a real race schedule lately, I haven’t had the feeling when you know you’re super fit. Of course, it’s only December so that feeling will have to wait. However, I made it official yesterday and registered for Grandma’s Marathon. So hopefully, come June, I’ll have that feeling again.

The other thing I’ve been missing is the process of writing, which is one of the reasons I started to blog again. But I miss writing articles for MDRA (now Run Minnesota), interviewing local age groupers for my other blog, and just trying to collect my thoughts in cohesive blog posts. I feel like I have more to share – but I’m not sure if I have the right mediums any longer. Run Minnesota no longer has its magazine and I think people would rather listen to a podcast than read an interview. Instagram and social media are nice, but I’m more about connecting through words than images. I wish I had an eye for photography and the skills to take great photos, but even if I did, I’d probably forget my camera at home most of the time.

Quote of the day;

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, December 05, 2022



I remember a reader once saying, “What isn’t measured isn’t managed.” That simple comment has stuck with me over the years. I find that if I don’t pay attention to the numbers on some level, then it gets too easy to let things slack. Before I know it mileage dips, days off increase, motivation wanes. In addition to keeping a log book using pen and paper, I’ve also used Excel spreadsheets to track my training in a number of different ways; weekly mileage and minutes broken out by running, biking and skiing, mileage graphs of different rolling time periods (7-, 31- and 92-days), plus a calendar for the upcoming week that lays out when I’ll have time to exercise (AM, noon, or PM).

I have pen and paper logs going back for probably 25 years. I would track everything from time and distance to who I ran with, in what shoes, and what was the weather – among other things. I found that I never ever referred to these logs, so I stopped doing them a year or two ago. And I got away from filling out the spreadsheet too. The numbers weren’t measured and as a result, they fell. 2009 was the last year I ran over 2,000 miles. Then there was an 11-year stretch where I averaged 1,800 per year (between 1,544 and 1,988). Last year I dropped all the way down to 1,119 – not even 100 miles per month. This year will end about the same. Perhaps if I had kept up the spreadsheet during the last 2 years, I wouldn’t have cut my mileage by one-third. Then again, I wasn’t really training for anything so maybe it doesn’t matter.

Of course, there’s more to training than these numbers. However, I do believe that they have a place in analyzing my training. One caveat is that these are just running numbers. They don’t take into account skiing or biking. Some winters I’ve skied more than others – and lately I’ve been biking more frequently. NOTE: even tracking bike mileage can mean different things depending on which bike I’m riding. I might bike 16+ miles in an hour on my road bike, but only 6-7 miles per hour on my fat bike.

I guess this is a long-winded way of saying that I’ve dusted off the spreadsheet and started using it again to track my training.

Looking back, the last 6 weeks of training have been solid. I averaged 24 MPW of running and 40 MPW of biking, and I’ve lifted twice a week for each of the last 4 weeks.

11/27 – 12/3

Sunday – 14-mile mt. bike ride

Monday – Lifted with Scott (and Jacob as trainer) in the morning and 5-mile run in the evening

Tuesday – day off w/ 8” of new snow

Wednesday – 16 miles on the indoor bike trainer

Thursday – Lifted in the morning, 7 miles at lunch including threshold ladder of 1/2/3/4/4/3/2/1:00 “on” w/ 1:00 “off” in between. Paths still slippery with the new snow, so I did the best I could.

Friday – 6-mile run with Scott, Jerald and Pat

Saturday – 13-mile fat bike ride with Kurt on beautiful trails

Summary: 18 miles of running and 43 miles of biking, and 2 lift. I didn’t get in a long run during this 7-day period, but I’m okay with that. The 2-hour fat bike ride presented itself on Saturday, so I pushed my long run out a day.

Quote of the day;

“Everything should be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.” – Albert Einstein

Thursday, December 01, 2022


I was listening to a podcast with Neil Young today and was struck a couple of times by how his relationship with music is similar to my relationship with running. At one point he was talking about the next generation of musicians and how they were different. Not good or bad, just different. That had me thinking about the local racing scene and how it’s different than when I was racing a lot. Many of the “classic” races are no longer around – squeezed out by charity races with deeper pockets willing to pay the high police fees to put on a race. Or maybe the race directors are getting older and moving on too. Anyway, I guess I could say the “new” race scene is not good or bad, it’s just different. Another point Neil made about needing a break after making a record reminded me of needing a break after a big goal race. He talked about the importance of stepping away and enjoying some downtime. I think that’s important in running too. While maybe taking 3 years off from serious goals is a little over the top, I’ve always said you can’t force motivation.

Since I do have some motivation working in my favor right now, I started looking at local races coming up in the first half of 2023, with the main goal of running Grandma’s Marathon in mid-June. Part of this journey is going to be trying to find out what works at this age. I’d have to say my last decent marathon was in 2014 – just before my 45th birthday. In the past I’d follow either Pfitzinger or Daniels training plan, but I’m confident that 2 workouts per week, plus a long run, aren’t in the cards for me this time around. With the marathon over 6 months away here are some simple rules I’ve come up with;

1 hard workout per week

1 long run per week

1 day off per week

Run, bike, or ski however I want the other days

1-2 lifts per week

That’s it, the K.I.S.S. method – at least for now. The seeds for this came from Jay Johnson’s book Simple Marathon Training: The Right Training for Busy Adults with Hectic Lives. Jay ran at the University of Colorado, under Mark Wetmore, and he offers a lot of great advice for High School coaches. It was through his info for coaches that I found this book. His training programs are 20-weeks long, so the actual start date would be January 29th.

I talked about age-grading yesterday and I’m still a little befuddled by my recent 8K result of 68.5% given my recent (lack of) training. My best post-college race results are around 71.5%. Punching those 2 percentages in the marathon at my current age and the range is 3:17 – 3:26. That’s really not that big of a difference. I guess the real difference is that I didn’t just run 3:26. My 3:48 from last year is a long way from 3:26. Anyway, this is all just mental math, but it does have me thinking about why I topped out at 71.5%. My best college results would be closer to 76-77%. That would put me in the 3:05 range next year. Anyway, it’s all just fun with numbers. Something to help get me through the next 8 weeks until the program starts.