Welcome to the Machine

Today’s Run

Time – 45:01
Distance – 4.55 miles
Pace – 9:53 min/mi
Elevation – N/A

Mental toughness can be the weakest link…

Easy run on the treadmill. Still working on the stiffness in the legs from the hard run on Sunday. I thought I was going to have to stop, but once the blood got flowing, everything really eased up. Apparently, I didn’t cool down enough. I need to make that more of a part of the routine.

Now that THAT’S over…

The move to the half marathon has really relaxed my mind and made me much more comfortable about the training for the next 10 weeks. I know that I can do the distance. That’s something I feel will be the easiest part. The speed and concentration to keep pace the whole time will be the struggle, which is probably a good thing. I need to work on my mental toughness.

Endurance events really are about how long you can stay mentally tough, if you set your pace and goals correctly. There’s no way that I could ever run a 50 minute half marathon; no human could. I also don’t have a 1:15 in the tank right now. But, with a little more speed work and a whole lot of mental focus to push through the discomfort, I think that a 1:50 isn’t out of the question for April 7th. My last workout was 8 miles at 8:45/mile pace, which is about a 1:55 half marathon. A 1:50 half is 8:25/mile pace. That’s going to be doable. So that’s goal number two.

Goal number one is a PR. My best half marathon is 2:29 (net time, 2:34 gun time). That’s the time I need to beat most of all. I can be faster than that.

Goal number two may change as training shows me more. Do I think a 1:45 is on the table? I don’t know. That’s 8:00 miles for 13.2, which is a little fast for me right now. But we’ll find out!


More Workouts, and a Change

Today’s Run

Time – 1:10:03
Distance – 8.00 miles
Pace – 8:45 min/mi
Elevation – 148 ft.

What are you going to do?!

Hard workout. 1 mile warmup, then 7 hard miles at half marathon effort. i felt like i was really working at this one. it took a lot, but i was really pleased with how it came together. I think that a 1:50 half marathon isn’t out of the question at this point.

So I’ve made a decision

After some deliberation, I’ve decided that I’m going to change from the marathon to the half marathon in April. With the move, the arrival of Baby Girl, Master’s work, and some job changes, time is going to get away from me. I haven’t been able to add to my mileage as much as I would hope, which is a function of life as much as anything else. Rather than go into the marathon just trying to hang on, I’d like to work hard at getting faster in the half and putting up a good number of which I can be proud. My half marathon PR is around 2:20, which I set back in 2005. I think it’s time to make that number look a lot better.

This means a shift to a new workout program through Strava, which will start on Monday. Here’s to getting after it!

When the Weather Is Good

Today’s Run

Time – 53:04
Distance – 5.64 miles
Pace – 9:24 min/mi
Elevation – 118 ft.

At least it’s not raining men…

Easy day, post workout. 40–50 minutes. I went a bit long, but I felt really good the whole time. My achilles are a little sore this morning, but nothing that I have to worry about.

Let the sunshine in

Weekends are great, because running in the sun becomes an option. Not only that, but I get to run in shorts, outside, when the weather is nice. Score!

Random side-note: My 7 week old daughter, Baby Girl, loves to listen to the soundtrack to Pocahontas in her rocking seat. She first heard it in the hospital when she had RSV at 3 weeks. She’s gonna be a Disney princess for Halloween, every year. I can tell.

No dinosaurs and pirates for this dad anymore…

First Real Workout

Today’s Run

Time – 1:04:15
Distance – 6.93 miles
Pace – 9:16 min/mi
Elevation – 203 ft.

Feel like this when you workout?

Marathon(?) training workout was 12 x 1 minute at 5k–10k effort with 1 minute easy run rest between, plus warm up and cool down. Warmup of 2 miles, 12 sets at 7:10–7:55 pace (consistency will come with time) for the hard running and 9:00 and below pace for the easy running. Then 3 miles of cool down. This was a great workout!

Finding the Edge and Riding It

This workout felt good, I was able to run all of it without too much trouble, which means that I probably ran it a little too easy. There was a couple of stops in the middle because of traffic lights on the easy running sections, which may have contributed to the recovery even more. All in all, I feel pretty good, and I think these kinds of workouts will help improve my running, and show me I can run fast. I mean, come on! 12 minutes at sub–7:55 pace means that I have a new mile PR, right? Not really…

I need to make sure, however, that I’m actually improving. I can go out and run hard for 12 minutes in the middle of a one hour run and have it be helpful, but if it’s still not that hard, it doesn’t do me as much good. The goal is to break down the body so that it rebuilds itself stronger. The key to doing that as efficiently as possible is to find the edge between improvement and injury, and to ride it. Gain as much improvement as possible without injury.

The issue, and the reason that so many athletes get injuried, in my opinion, is that this line of demarcation moves. Somedays, it’s easier to get hurt than others. Bodies get tired, inflammation hits, or the repairs from the last workout are not completed yet. Breakdowns here are a function of too much work. That’s the difficulty I’m going to have to work out. Not every run can be the same, nor can every workout be the same level of effort. Some days, I’m going to be able to do more work than I think I can (like my last run). Others, I’m not going to be able to put up the numbers I have in the past.

This, I think, is the crux behind “effort-based” workouts. Running based on the “feel” of a 5k or 10k means that on days that seem harder, you can still put up a good workout without too much loss in efficiency. Running to hit a goal time or pace is still good, and required, in some workouts. But the majority can be a workout of effort, and improvements can come that way.

What are your thoughts on this? Comment below.

Introverted Running with a Group?

Today’s Run

Time – 58:50
Distance – 6.02 miles
Pace – 9:46 min/mi
Elevation – 95 ft.


Group run with Runwell. Easy run again today, according to the plan. 45–60 minutes of easy pace, but I put a fast finish on the end because I felt really good. Got to run with Kip, and we talked about kids, grandkids, and buying houses. Thanks, Kip!

Meet Exciting People

Sometimes, running with a group is hard. But not today. It was good to get together with everyone and enjoy the crowd. Lots of encouragement on the trail, good conversation, and the knowledge that someone was there along the way to help if needed.

Running at night on the trails around here by yourself seems ludicrous. There are NO lights, and there’s no houses, people, or help nearby if you need it. Somebody could jump out and beat you with a bat, rob you at gunpoint, or worse. Plus, we’ve got skunks here, too, and that’s not something you want to wander up on and scare in the middle of the darkness.

I’ve never really run with a group before this year. There as a little time with the St. Louis Triathlon Club years ago, but I was the slowest person by far, and would usually get left behind in a few minutes. I enjoyed the runs because Forest Park in St. Louis was great, but there was not a lot of social interaction. This group is totally different. They are fun and accepting, and the runs are on good trails with about 5–6 different routes, so there’s not really a repeat during a month.

My introverted brain appreciates the group. This isn’t an advertisement for them as much as a recognition on my part that there are groups out there that can be a part of what I do and enjoy, and not feel overwhelming. Again, for an introverted guy, this can’t be discounted. Sure, I’m gonna run 4 out of 5 days by myself, but I like having the option to get together, especially on easy days, to run along with someone else.

Meeting Old Acquaintances

Today’s Run

Time – 48:50
Distance – 5.04 miles
Pace – 9:41 min/mi
Elevation – 194 ft.

Do I know you?

More cold running. The marathon training plan said 40–50 minutes of easy running, so that was the plan. Lots of light jogging around the quick loop through town. It felt really easy, and I had to slow myself down a couple of times because I started to go sub–9:00/mile pace. That’s a great problem to have, I think.

Say, aren’t you…?

Out running this evening, I ran into a guy I knew from college. I haven’t seen him in nearly 20 years, and we didn’t get to spend too long catching up because he was with his family, and it was cold. It was good to run into him, though, because he’s been living a couple of towns over for a while, and we had not connected yet.

This made me think about the things you get to see when running. I had read an article on Runner’s World’s website many years ago that was an account by a runner of the adventures he had with his small group of running friends. There was a lifetime of stories, including being chased by dogs and people, finding things along the roadway, getting propositioned from the windows of passing cars, and other strange-but-true tales. There were discussions, debates, arguments, and silence. There was solo runs, runs of two or three, and races. It was a collection of the stories that are gathered over a collection of years.

My meeting last night was another of the stories I get to add to my own collection. It’s not earth-shattering, but it’s another memory I get to keep from my own running life. And that makes it special for me.

Up the Pace

Today’s Run

Time – 1:22:21
Distance – 9.0 miles
Pace – 9:08 min/mi
Elevation – 269 ft.

Ran outside. Tried to run the miles faster to force the legs to work. I was able to hold around a 9:00/mile pace for the mileage, except for a couple of bigger hill miles. This felt really good, and I surprised myself a little bit with how far I could run hard.

Marathon training starts today

As a part of my Strava membership, I get access to training plans for various distances. Today is supposed to be the start of my marathon training program. The program starts with a Rest Day, which is good, as it coincides with my normal day off. There’s 4 planned runs for this week, along with two additional “Rest Days” that can be converted into easy days if I want. I’ll plan to run on one, and rest the other.

The other point to this is, though, that I’m still torn about changing to the half marathon. It’s a distance that I know I can do well at, I have a PR that I’d like to break, and I want to keep working on speed. I’m worried that full marathon training will keep me from getting faster in a way I would like. I’m also concerned that my winter running didn’t have as much distance in it as I wanted.

My first marathon isn’t going to be a world record debut, this I know. But I would like to be able to hit my goals and make a respectable showing. I also don’t want to get injured because I decided to force the issue instead of working up to the distance.

This feels like a lot of excuses. Maybe, in the end, I’m just scared of the distance. Maybe. In a 100 mile ultra, speed is never an issue because there’s no way to go “fast.” In a marathon, there’s room to be quick. I’m not scared of the 100 mile distance. I don’t know why I would be scared on the marathon.