Sunday, August 31, 2008

Too Early To Taper

I'd like to start my taper right now. June, July and August add up to nearly 800 miles on these tired legs. I'm four weeks out and my knees and assorted muscles need some rest. So, one more week of regular training, one more 20-miler, then a 25% cut down, including more rest days, will begin.
I don't like this point--4 weeks out. The accumulated training has me feeling beat-up, yet it's really too early to taper. But I will start to make my easy days a little easier so that my last long run next Saturday will feel better than last week's. When I lived in Minneapolis, this was a great time to race and see the fruits of training. But...there are no races here, so I'll plug away this week, then start counting down the days.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We now live in a house. Yes, houses are nice. They afford the advantages of space, privacy, easy access to the door after shopping, laundry, and of course a front and back yard.

Then again, there are now countless domestic projects to undertake. Number one for me is to get the back yard in order. I'll need some agent orange for that by the looks of it. Painting has been completed...I guess that makes the yard number two. OK.

But I really like having laundry at home. It's already affecting my running life. No hand washing my grimy gear any longer. Nice. My other shirts will also have a fresher scent to them since I won't try to stretch the wearing time out of anything.

Soon I'll be meeting neighbors. They'll say that they've seen me running. Or not. It depends on their work hours I suppose. They won't see me running in the winter, though. I'll be on the treadmill. I do hope it's not for 5 straight months like last year. It's nice out today, so all of Timmins can see me run if they look out the window. Or if they take a run of their own. I'll be in the freshly laundered clothes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bolt as a champion...(from RW forum)

As for comparing Ryan Hall's finish with Bolt's, there is a big difference. Hall was in the Olympic TRIALS; Bolt was in the actual GAMES. To celebrate the last 3% of a marathon for making the team does an honor to the Olympic ideal: he would compete in the games. To do so when you're racing in an Olympic final is a dishonor to the ideal. It's show-boating, moreover, it's taunting not only the other competetors, but all other gold medalists.

Bolt is the same age Jessie Owens was in '36 and Bob Hayes was in '64. They also blew away the field and were dignified about it. But they don't give gold for class, do they? Then again, a lot of sprinters are fools...IMO, and the media loves a good fool.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Which track distance attracts the most valuable all-around all-around runners?

Put another way: if you had to build a track team around a few athletes, whom would you want?
Many might say the Jesse Owens-type sprinter/jumper. At an elite level the Jessie Owens, Heike Dreschler, Carl Lewis-type athlete will be a fast-twitch machine: 100m great; 200m great; long jump, good-great; triple jump, fair-great; high jump, fair-good; 400m, good-great, 800, poor-good, 1500 bad-fair; weight events, poor-fair (if they are better than that, you've got a decathlete). 5000-marathon...good luck.
Jumpers might be fast...or not. They are fast-twitch and might be OK in weights, but will stink past the 400 meters in general.
Distance runners 1500- marathon will be OK on the 400, 800 and great from 1500 to 10,000m, and maybe the marathon. But jumps, throws, relays are out of the picture.

So here we a former coach, I'll take the 800m runners and/or the 400hurdlers. They have good fast-twitch AND endurance. A half-mile specialist who can run 2:00 in the half can go 51-53 on the 400, and 23-24 on the 200. They can go 4:35 or faster on the mile and probably around 16:00 on the 5K. A woman who can hit these marks, will make most olympic trials in every running event from the 200-5000. A male HS runner will be a high varsity runner in nearly every event. I was a 2:01 runner in HS and ran the 4X100 relay in CIF finals as well as Cross Country on a powerhouse team.

Today, a Kenyon 18 year-old ran to gold in the women's 800 in 1:54. She would be a USA HS runner still. I have no doubt she could run a conference record in girl's track in everything from the 200m up.

I was an 800 runner who could also do field events in HS. 20'7" LJ, 41'8" Triple, and 5'10 high jump. None great, but I ran varsity in every flat event in my four HS years (never did hurdles). Remember, this is for 800 runners. We had a 4:09 mile who could smoke me in the 800 (1:53), but he was short on fast-twitch muscles and I could nip him in the 200 and torch him in the 100m.

My point: 800 runners can run any distance!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Running Fast:

I've always been an advocate of doing speed early in the course of marathon training. That way your paces seem a little easier on the longer runs and training is more likely to be effective.

Due to injury concerns, I've been pretty laxed in doing any real speed work. But with 5 weeks remaining (pretaper) I'm going to do a bit of faster running on a more regular basis.

It seems to work pretty well on the treadmill, so I'll do some VO2 on it. It's so much more convenient than finding a track around here. Also, it's easier on the legs.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Race Report: Timmins Golden Trails Half Marathon:

Time: 1:32:28
Place: 10th overall, 2nd AG
Weather: rainy, wet course, cool

I have a love/hate with this race. It's half road race and half trail race. Today it REALLY was a Trail race. I avoid trail races for two reasons: they have hills, turns, boulders and rutted paths that make it impossible for me to sustain a good running rhythm. Today, after a night of incessant rain, there were a lot of slick spots, muddy paths and deep puddles in addition to the shortcomings listed above.

The first half of the race is a series of ascents and descents that are OK because the surface is paved. At KM 10, however, it turns to gravel and gets increasingly serpentine in nature. Also there are some up/down dunes that are near spills waiting to happen and bad for the old joints. The last 5K starts out benign enough; it's exits the trails and hits some nice, long straight streets. But at the 18K mark, we hit a small trail that is really a busy road shoulder. Then there is a full-strength uphill that last year had me on the brink of walking. It is short--maybe 50 meters--but takes a minute or so to recover must be a 10% grade, and it's close to the finish so the lactate is chomping' on most of us with zeal.

A piece of bad news was that someone figured out that the course was a little short lat year, maybe 500 meters. I figured they kept it that way for humanitarian reasons; it IS, after all a slow course anyway. But this year, we had to circumvent the easy, shorter way of finishing the non-track portion (you do a lap on the track at the start/finish)and run a longer route. It probably added 90-120 seconds to the times.

How I ran...I felt crappy at the onset. Sluggish and in fear of the late trail. So I was ultra conservative:
miles 1-5: 35:20. Very slow for me, especially for the fastest part of the course.
miles 6-10: 34:00. I passed a lot of people on this rugged trail portion.
miles 11-13.1: 23:08. This was actually pretty good. It was a mudbath in places and I moved up more on the field.

It's the longest race where I've won AG hardware, so I'm proud of that. Since last year I ran 1:35 on the shorter course, I'd say I'm well ahead of that point training wise. But rain makes the post-race festivities a dud. So...I'll await my hardware in the mail.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

While living in Korea, my arch nemesis was the mosquito. They were small enough to enter through screens, under doors, and god knows where else.

Many a night I'd be reading in peace, only to hear the soft hum of one of those cursed insects. They were so fast, the swatter was of little use.

One night, I awoke to the buzz of one of these aggressive critters on my ear...
that was it. I bought some Korean insect killer and kept it within arm's reach each night. Many nights were spent stalking the mosquito or large fly with the spray in left hand and the swatter in right. Even thus armed, I was often occupied for the better part of an hour before I could get in a good spray--to slow it down--and swat to finish the job. The Korean mosquito seemed to have an innate hiding ability that told it to avoid white backgrounds once I had the swatter in hand.

So I had to think like a mosquito and turn off the lights until I heard something, then illuminate the room and spray and swat. By then it was often past bedtime and my apartment smelled toxic, as I'm sure it was. But I had my kill!

I had to respect the little guys. They were so cunning and quick. And after a dose of spray, they still flew with the same precision of a North American mosquito. But I too had learned more than how to hold steel chopsticks and ask for directions in Korean (never understanding the response). I had become a skilled very-small game hunter.

Now in Timmins, there are annoying flies, but I have no assasine's spray (Heather wouldn't approve), so I use Windex to subdue the flies. Not so lethal, but these guys are amatures...they'll just sit on the window, so Windex is a perfect multi-task aid: just aim, fire, swat, and clean the windows. Sorry, but I only do the insides. The mosquitos aren't much brighter. Am I afraid of losing my swatting chops? Not really. As much as I love most animals, I hate flying bugs. So when the need for a higher performance level arises, I'll be there. Bet on it!

Monday, August 4, 2008

How fast are we really going on our runs?

If you take a look at the right-hand column, you'll notice that most of my miles are recorded at around 8:10/ pace. That's an average, of course, but all in all, if I run a thousand miles, it's taking me 8,167 minutes, give or take.

This sounds slow. After all, every race I run is a lot faster than that, except my first marathon one where an injury forced me to jog-walk the last 8 miles of another.

But the numbers don't tell everything. At the 1.5 mile mark of most of my runs, my watch says 13:45 or slower without fail. That's 9:10 pace. Coming home, the same stretch is run in around 11:40. I assure you, I'm not trying to speed up. It's just muscle warm-up kicking in. So the 8:10 pace is often 20 minutes of 9-minute pace and 40 minutes of 7:50-8:00 pace. Sometimes I go faster, but that is my LSD pace...Pfitz is OK with it; Glover and HH like it, but I find myself feeling guilty sometimes. Long runs are the same way....8:25 for 90 minutes, then 8:00 for 90. Maybe faster at the end--never at the start.

If I wanted my log to be cooler, I suppose I could exclude warm-up miles and say: 8 miles...2 w/up, then 7:50 least THAT'S closer to marathon pace and I can see it in cyber-ink.

But the bottom line is that if you run to warm-up and include those miles in your time, your "mid-stream" time is faster, and that's what matters, not speeding up mile one. In races, we're all warmed up, hyped and psyched. Mile 1 is often too fast. But in training, mile one feels like I'm trying out a new knee while still asleep. I'm not warm, not psyched and there's no hype. My legs are out there, but my mind's still in bed.