Sunday, May 22, 2016

What Counts as a Long Run?

Yesterday when I was volunteering at the Buffalo Trace race, someone asked me how far I was running after the race was over. I said "About 15 miles." "That's a good long run," was the reply. "It's more like a medium run. Long starts at 18 or so" was my clarification.

Is that true? Long runs start at 18 miles? When I was actually running my 15 miles (which ended up as only 14 miles), I kept thinking about what mileage counts as short, medium, and long. And I decided it isn't mileage, but rather time. Total time running is more important than distance covered. Distance is too dependent on terrain and weather. Hot vs cool weather, trails vs roads, hills vs flats...they all change the distance we can cover in the same amount of time. But "time on feet" can be consistently used as a metric for effort.

For me, using time as the measuring stick, my short, medium, and long runs fall into three easy brackets. Any run under an hour is a short run. One hour to 2 hours is a medium run, and runs over 2 hours count as long runs. Based on my easy conversational pace (and moderate weather), a short run is basically under 7 miles, medium is 7-12 miles, and long is 13+ miles. Yesterday, my run was 2 hours and 5 minutes long (and just shy of 14 miles on the trails). It was a long run.

For my marathon training, leading up my July 31 goal race, I plan on 3 short runs each week, plus two medium runs and one long run. One day of rest. Only 70 days to the race!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

My Buffalo Baby Turns 14

Next weekend, on May 21, the Buffalo Trace 5-Mile Trail Race will take place at Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve. This is the 14th edition of this little trail race! I started it back in 2003. Over the years, its had different race directors, but all of them have been buffalo trail runners. Makes sense since this race is run on the local "buffalo trace" trails that the local buffalo trail runners use every Thursday. It's a great event. Nicely maintained grass and dirt trails across gently rolling hills. Deceptively difficult. All runnable, but not easy. Perfect race for a road warrior making the transition to trails.

This year will see Letitia and Andrea as co-RDs. Their first year as race directors. I wish them well. I'm sure it will go fine. While not directing, I'm happy to still be volunteering at this wonderful race. Not too late to register and run! Even possible to register on race morning. No excuses.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

82 days to the Marathon

I have 82 days until Jack and Jill's Downhill Marathon in North Bend, WA. It's a certified trail course (rails to trails variety). Net downhill. Training started today with an easy 6 miler. My long runs are starting at 13 miles (from the half-marathon 10 days ago). My plan is to do lots of easy runs, slowly increasing the length of the daily run. Very little speed work. A few long runs (18+ miles). Combination of road and trail. I'd like to develop enough endurance and aerobic capacity that my daily runs at 8:00 pace feel easy. Right now, I'm running "easy" at about 8:50 pace. My marathon goal pace is 8:00 (for a 3:30 finish and a Boston qualifier), but I'd prefer 7:50 (for a 3:25 finish and the chance to actually get into the Boston Marathon). It all seems 82 days.

In my mind, the primary goal is to become an aerobic beast. Not a speed demon. Not a hill monster. Just plenty of running at an easy aerobic "conversational" pace. Long, slow, distance. The gentle way to train. We'll see if this works. I need to remain healthy, uninjured, and motivated to keep regular running on my schedule. I can do that for 82 days, right?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Half-Marathon to Marathon Plan

I ran the Illinois half-marathon last Saturday in a time of 1:40:02. Not great, but not too bad either. For my fitness level, it was encouraging. And it predicts about a 3:30 full marathon. I'm shooting for a sub-3:30 to qualify for Boston. If I qualify, I'd like to actually get into Boston too--that will mean beating the qualifying standard by about 3 minutes. So, for someone in the 50-54 male age group, I need a 3:27 or better. Doable!

I have 89 days (about 3 full months) to train for the Jack and Jill's Downhill Marathon on July 31. How do I spend those 3 months?

According to Coach Jeff, here is the plan:
  • 2 workouts of 2 loops of Clinton trail (10-mile trail loop) separated by 3 weeks: to get you use to the marathon time on the feet and the downhills.
  • 1 workout consisting of a 10 mile or half-marathon RACE 4-6 weeks minimum before marathon race.
  • Tempo run of 5 miles or less: max of 1 per 3 weeks.
  • None of the above for 3 weeks (rest and recovery after half-marathon race).
  • NO speed work. Period.
  • Other daily runs: whatever, as long as they have NO focus. Run easy and under control. 
I guess that plan sounds OK. It doesn't call for seriously structured weeks or days. Just hit a few milestone workouts and keep the rest under control. I tend to either over-plan and over-stress hard workouts (and often get injured or sick) _or_ I don't do anything related to a plan and just haphazardly (randomly) run as I see fit with no guidance. Maybe Jeff's "plan" is perfect.

This Jack and Jill Downhill Marathon will be my brothers first attempt at a full marathon. It'll be my first real "go for Boston" attempt. Maybe my last too. Fortunately, this marathon is a rails to trails dirt course. Slightly slower than roads, but easier on the legs and more scenic. And a downhill course (which means faster). If training goes well, and the weather is good, and I don't get sick or injured...this is my best chance at a BQ time. Can I actually qualify for Boston on a certified trail course? This trail ultrarunner certainly hopes so!