Thursday, July 21, 2016

MAF Test (1st Mile = 8:18)

Today I did a MAF ("maximum aerobic function") test for the first time in a really long time. I used to do these a lot a few years ago. Basically, you warm up for about a mile, then run steady at your MAF heart rate (180-age with possible minor adjustments up/down) and record each mile split. You can read much more about the MAF test from Phil Maffetone himself. And the 180-age formula too. I used 180-age+5 for my MAF maximum heart rate. My first mile was 8:18. This was indoors on a treadmill.

For the test, what I was most intrigued about was the ability to match MAF test paces (specifically the first mile) to 5K, half-marathon, and marathon race paces. As you get more aerobically fit (running lots of easy miles), your MAF test results should show a trend toward faster paces at the same MAF heart rate. If you plateau or regress, then something is wrong and you should make adjustments (often going back to pure aerobic training without speed training, races, or weights). Here are prediction charts based on MAF test first mile results (from Running Ahead forums):

race pace
race time
race time
Mcmillan---Team Oregon
Mcmillan---Team Oregon

Today's 8:18 first mile MAF result placed me between rows on the chart, but I can take some comfort in knowing I'm better than the 8:30 predictions of 20:58 (5K), 1:37-1:39 (half-marathon), and 3:24-3:29 (marathon). I'd like to bring my MAF first mile down to 8:00 (or at least 8:15) in the next couple of months. I actually ran fairly hard the day before this MAF test, so my "real baseline" might be 8:15 or better if well-rested. I'll check again soon, then try to do this once per week to track changes.

In terms of my upcoming marathon, I might just be in 3:25 marathon shape. You need to have faith. Believe!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

How's Training Going?

A lot of friends and co-workers have recently been asking "How's your training going?" They know I'm training for a marathon...and some know it's for a Boston qualifier. I appreciate their interest. I just finished my last medium length run this morning. Now it's taper time. Fourteen days to the Jack and Jill marathon in Seattle area. So, how has my training been going?

Overall, my training has been OK. If I was being graded, I'd give myself a solid B. I've logged reasonable mileage and I've gotten in some long runs (even in the miserable heat and humidity). Most importantly, I've not been injured and I really only got sick once--a minor cold with extra allergy issues. Here's a breakdown in terms of areas that I consider important:

Total mileage: B+
I never run that many weekly miles. Even when training for a 100 mile trail ultra, I rarely exceed 40-45 miles per week. For marathons, it's usually 30-40 miles/week. That's about what I've logged (on good weeks). I tried to stay just above 30 miles each week. A few more miles would have been wise, but it might have tired me out too--especially with the summer heat. Being conservative was probably a wise decision.

Long runs: B+
I got my long runs in, even when the humidity was oppressive. I maxed out at 22 miles. I should have done 1-2 more runs in the 15-16 mile range, but I just didn't have the motivation. I'm satisfied with my endurance.

Speed: B-
I haven't done much with speed, but I hadn't planned on much either! I did expect to complete a few tempo runs, and those really didn't happen. I had a couple "uptempo" style runs, and a fartlek session here and there, so it wasn't all slow and easy. Lately I've thrown in several marathon paced runs. That will have to do.

Strength: D
I told myself I'd do some leg weights and core exercises. The leg weights (knee extensions to work the quads) lasted about 2 weeks. I've done on/off planks, so all is not lost. Still, it would have been a confidence booster to have been able to look back and see regular quad and core work over 12 weeks. Maybe next time.

Stretching: C-
If I include a little foam rolling in this category, then I was simply poor, rather than a full failure. Very little stretching (I've never stretched much), but I did do some calf stretches and foam rolling (also on calves).

Health: B+
One minor illness, plus allergies. Not too bad. Never missed that much training--just a cut-back here and there. I'm happy. Currently feel strong. Need to stay the course over the next 14 days. Rest and recovery is job #1.

Injuries: A
No injuries. Only minor soreness and aches after long runs. My calves are always the "weak spot" in terms of being tight and achy. Trying to stretch and foam roll them after harder efforts. Should do that daily.

Overall: B
I get a solid "B" for my overall marathon training. I could have been better in a few areas, but maybe increases in those areas would have lowered my other grades. I'm content. Now it's a matter of staying positive and keeping disciplined.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

24 days to Go: 5 Main Goals

I have just 24 days until my next marathon on July 31 in the Seattle area. This is my attempt to get into Boston. Can't do much training when you only have 24 days left, so I have prioritized my goals for the next 3.5 weeks.

Goal #1: Stay injury-free. I can't get injured. If I do, there is no time to recover and be ready for a marathon race. Key now is to not do anything stupid. No super fast runs. No super long runs. No super-anything! Don't try new things. Stay the course.

Goal #2: Stay healthy. I can't afford to get sick. If I come down with a minor cold, I can still rest and recover, but it will hurt my fitness. Basically, same rules apply to this goal as previous one--don't do anything stupid. Don't push too hard. Stay the course.

Goal #3: Inch my way toward marathon pace runs (~7:53 pace). Not too many, not too long, but I should get a couple in each week. I need to know what this pace feels like while running steadily. I need to make my body seem "OK" with this pace. With a month to go, this is the right time to shift toward marathon pace stuff. Rule of specificity.

Goal #4: One more long run. This coming weekend will be 3 weeks before the marathon. Perfect for ONE MORE LONG RUN. Not super long. Just your basic 17-18 miler. Hopefully in good weather. This will increase my confidence and also get the last training stimulus for fat-burning endurance.

Goal #5: Taper the last 3 weeks. Less overall mileage. Less long runs, but with a slight uptick in paces. After the long run, the focus needs to turn to rest, recovery, and building back overall fitness and sharpness. Nothing stupid.

Five goals. Simple. I can do this...right? Yes, it will be done.

PS: My brother, who was going to make this his first marathon, is now injured and out. Guess I'll represent the family. Let's make this a good race!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

28 Days to the Marathon

I have 28 days left until my next marathon. Four weeks. I've had many people ask me how my training has gone. It's been OK. Not great, but certainly not bad. I've gotten in reasonable mileage and not missed the long tuns (one more to go!). I have not done any benchmark races and I'm behind on tempo runs, but that's OK. I'd give myself a B- as a training grade. But I still have 4 weeks to improve that overall score. The final exam is on July 31 in the state of Washington and I'm shooting for an A...maybe an A+.

Over the next 4 weeks, I'd like to do several marathon pace runs. What's marathon pace? Well, I'm trying for a Boston Marathon time--for me (50-54 year old male) that means a 3:30 finish (8:00/minute per mile for 26.2 miles). To actually gain entry into Boston, I'll need to be about 3 minutes faster. So, I'm shooting for a 3:26:41 finish time. That is a 7:53/mile pace. Yes, 7 minutes and 53 seconds per mile. Easy to set the treadmill to 7.6 miles per hour (7:53 pace). That's my marathon pace for the next 28 days!

If this doesn't work, then I cut my balls off and go for the women's qualifying time of 4:00 hours. Does Jenner get that standard? What constitutes a male or female? And are women 30 minutes slower than men? Have you seen the male and female world records? 2:02:57 and 2:15:25. An extra 30 minutes? Really? Women are better than the current BQ standard. Give them some credit.