Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Clinton Lake Trail as a Benchmark

One of my favorite trails in the area is the Clinton Lake Northfork trail. It's officially advertised as 11 miles long (according to Department of Natural Resources), but Coach Jeff and I have wheeled it more than once--it's a 10 mile loop (slightly short unless you add the small parking lot loop to the trail section). It definitely feels like a full 10 miles (or more) with all of the small hills with twists and turns. Great trail. And hilly for central Illinois.

I've run the trail loop hundreds of times in the last 15 years. Usually just one 10-mile loop per outing, but occasionally 2 or 3 loops at a time. It's a fantastic marathon, or ultra, training spot. And if you run the trail hard, you get a wonderful lactate threshold workout. Since I've run it (slow and fast) so many times, I have a sense of what counts as a "good" or "fast" loop. I can also equate it to a marathon or half-marathon predicted finish time. Following are a few insights. These build on my original thoughts here.

If you run TWO loops (20 miles) on the Clinton Lake Northfork trail, at a medium training effort, your running time will predict a full road marathon finish time. Similarly, if you run ONE LOOP at Clinton Lake, at slightly harder than medium pace, it will predict your half-marathon road finish time. Kinda cool. It's a benchmark to judge your conditioning and potential race times.

In terms of "What kind of shape am I in?" type benchmark, Clinton Lake does not disappoint. Here are my one-loop training times and corresponding running condition:

2:00 or longer = Terrible
1:55 = Poor
1:50 = OK
1:45 = Good
1:40 = Very Good
1:35 = Excellent
1:30 or faster = Race Ready!

Just ran a 1:37 loop, so I'm currently in the "very good" category heading toward excellent. Right where I should be with about 8 weeks left to train for the half-marathon. Almost excellent and soon to be race ready!

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