Sunday, October 16, 2016

Is a 5K 3.1 Miles?

Yesterday, I ran the Illini Mentor Program (IMP) 5K race on the University of Illinois campus. I finished in 20:00 (my watch said 19:59.5). Good enough for 1st place in my age group (30-99 years old). And I think 3rd place overall, but full results have not been posted. I'm happy with the effort, which had me at HRavg=170, but I think my pace was slower than expected. This was not a full 5K, more like 2.9 or 3.0 miles. It could be the course was just short, or the lead group (including me) may have somehow cut it slightly short. There were a lot of arrows on the sidewalks around the Quad! We could have easily missed a turn. It doesn't really matter. I placed well and got in a tough tempo run. Maybe slightly slower than full race effort, but still mighty good for this ultra guy. Plus, the race was a fundraiser for a fantastic mentoring program between University students and community kids. All good.

The extra awesome news is that I felt wonderful just a few minutes after finishing. The race itself sucked (5Ks are hard!), but recovery was quick. The day after and I am still feeling fine. In fact, I did a nice progression run today finishing under 7:00 pace. No problems. I need to do more tempo runs and speed sessions. This speed stuff is fun.

The not-so-great news is that I skipped my long run this weekend and I have a 50 mile trail race coming up in 4 weeks. I suppose 5Ks are not the ideal way to prepare for an ultra. But it was a nice break. I needed the change of pace--literally and figuratively. I'm feeling refreshed and ready to toss in a good 20 miler next weekend. Hopefully that will be enough to get me to the finish at Tunnel Hill 50 on November 12.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

You Can't Always Get What You Want

"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."

I'd love to run a new personal record at my 5K race next weekend. But it won't happen. I'm not ready. And I'm getting older. PRs don't just happen. They are made. They take work. And a little luck. Just because I want it, doesn't make it happen. But if I try, I might get what I need. The 5K will be a great chance to benchmark my current training and help me plan for the future. And, as a quick tempo effort, it will be a great stimulus for improvement. I need to embrace the race for what it is...a chance to get what I need...not necessarily what I want.

Same idea applies to my 50 mile race in mid-November. With less than 5 weeks to go, I don't have much time to train. I want to run a personal record at Tunnel Hill 50M, but that is more of a dream than a real possibility. If everything goes well, I may be close. But guess what? I may not get what I want, but if I try, I might get what I need. I need to finish the year on a good note. Not a PR, but a solid effort that I am proud to embrace. I can do that...if I try.

Today I was thinking about skipping my 5K next weekend and maybe even taking a DNS or DNF at Tunnel Hill 50-Miler. Those thoughts came from fear of failure. But failure, or success, is defined by us. Fortunately, the Rolling Stones, channeled via my iPod, pointed me in the right direction. For the next few weeks, I'm going to put in the effort, give it a real try, and see what happens. I'm confident I'll get what I need. If I'm lucky, I might even get what I want!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Missed Boston by 33 Minutes

Last week was registration for the 2017 Boston Marathon. Only those who qualified could register. And for them, it was still staggered by how much you beat your minimal qualifying time. Even if you "qualify" for Boston, that does not guarantee a spot for registration and racing. This year, you needed to beat the qualifying time by 2 minutes and 9 seconds. If not, no room for you at next year's Boston Marathon!

As a male in the 50-54 age group, I need a 3:30 to qualify. This year, I would have needed a 3:27:51 to actually make it into the race. Back in late July, I ran a 4:00 on a certified trail course. Apparently, I need to knock off about 33 minutes before I can toe that famous starting line. Guess I have some work to do. Just a little.

I'd love to qualify for Boston...and run the race. But I have other goals too. Most involve ultramarathons. I'm pretty sure I can do well at both distances. Or more specifically, I can run a fast marathon and also a fast 50K, 50 miler, 100K, and 100 miler. Maybe not a "fast" 100 miler, but I can break 24 hours. I have no immediate plans beyond the Tunnel Hill 50M race in mid-November. Once I'm done with that trail ultra, I'll start planing out 2017 races. Somewhere next year will be a marathon where I try to knock off 30 minutes from my 2016 finish time...maybe even 33 minutes. Hope springs eternal. Right?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Galloway Run-Walk Strategy

I've tried many marathon and ultra training programs. My own (many versions), friend's plans, Coach Jeff (from down the street), Hansons, Maffetone, Mittleman, FIRST, Higdon, and others. Now I'm turning to Jeff Galloway...the dude known for his run-walk plans. I recently bought his "Boston Marathon: How to Qualify" book (used for $1.07). I've had a couple of his other more famous books and found them interesting, particularly "Galloway's Book on Running." As an ultrarunner, I've always embraced the value of walking in both training and racing. But I saved it more for hills (any size!) instead of regular walking in my daily runs. Galloway insists on walking breaks from the beginning to end of your runs (the specific run-walk technique depends on your level of fitness and goals).

This Jeff Galloway "Qualify for Boston" program has several features I'll implement:

  • Acceleration gliders (strides)
  • Long runs (really long, peaking at 29 miles for the marathon)
  • 2-mile intervals (peaking at 7x2-miles)
  • Hill accelerations (hill repeats)
  • Cadence drills (form work, running economy) 
  • Lots of walking breaks (in almost all runs)
And he provides paces for these efforts. Paces are based on your "magic mile" test runs (after warming up and doing strides, run 1 mile really hard). He has you repeat these throughout training--about once every 3 weeks. This 1-mile time will predict your marathon pace (x 1.3) and determine speed and long runs paces too. Your long runs will be VERY slow (2 minutes slower than goal marathon pace). My goal time to qualify for Boston is 3:30. My long runs are meant to be at about 10:00 pace. My magic mile test should be 6:05 if I want to run a 3:30 marathon. 

His 30-week program incorporates 4 runs/week. Little or no cross-training. Little or no weights. Virtually no stretching. Foam rolling is good. Galloway really stresses full recovery between all runs. If you reduce injuries (by frequent walking breaks and rest days) then you become a more consistent and better runner. I think this program will allow me to do really long runs (and even a marathon or 50K race) while still including some speed and other efficiency work (hills, strides, cadence drills). Will this get me to Boston? I don't know. It will provide structure and a new strategy. Walking is no longer bad. Or the sign of a weak runner. Walking is required in my new Galloway program! I believe this will get me ready for a marathon...and almost any ultra. We shall see.