Big Questions

Today’s Run

Time – 45:04
Distance – 4.6 miles
Pace – 9:45 min/mi
Elevation – Treadmill at 1%

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Hmmm…

More treadmill, but two days of running in a row. I’m feeling good about this so far. Getting back into it isn’t hurting, I’m finding the paces that I wanted to see, and my own recovery from illness isn’t holding me back too much. My right ankle was sore about mile three, but I think that was because of the repetition of the same motion on the treadmill. I’ll have to get adjusted to that. Also, there’s no slowdowns or stops on a treadmill, as opposed to road crossings, turns, and other obstacles during outside runs. Did core work again after the run.

14 weeks till GO! St. Louis

I’m scheduled to run the GO! St. Louis Marathon in 14 weeks, on April 8th. I’m not nervous about the distance. I know that even if I blow up, I can still walk it in and finish, which would be disappointing to be sure. My concern is more that I won’t be ready to run at the paces I want to when the time comes. There’s a piece of me that is thinking about switching to the Half Marathon and doing more work on speed. I can do 13 miles without any issue. A shortening of distance, however, will not help me towards THE GOAL. I need to be putting in the miles.

The struggle is timing. As I turn 39 this year, speed potential is diminishing. I will reach a point where I will not only stop getting faster, but I will start to slow down. Endurance, however, is something that sticks around a lot longer. I’ll be able to go distances for a while beyond when I get slower. That means that 100 milers can be in my future a lot longer than 5:xx/miles (if that pace is even POSSIBLE).

I started this blog with the intention of running Western States. This has not changed. But it’s the end of the year, and a time for much reflection. I’m considering that one or two more years of putting off Western States, while pushing out THE GOAL, may be the only way to make my other goals happen.

If I was 15, and I was thinking about all of this, I’d be running 5K cross country races and 1600m or 3200m track races. Mileage during sophomore or junior high school summers is 35–45 miles a week (at least), and speed work would be the order of the day in-season. Long runs would be 9–13 miles, and I’d be working on building aerobic capacity. This sounds a lot like the kinds of running I’m doing now. Effectively, I’m a high school sophomore when it comes to running (except not quite as fast). Most kids that age don’t look for big mileage races for another 2–3 years, if not until after college. As I don’t have 6 years to give to this, I think that it’s not unreasonable to work on getting faster now, and doing ultra races a little further down the road.

This means, of course, that I’ll need to run more races this year. Lots of 5k’s and 10k’s to work on speed.

I need to think…

Running to Nowhere?

Today’s Run

Time – 1:21:38
Distance – 6.8 miles
Pace – 11:52 min/mi
Elevation – 205 ft.

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Where am I going?

Today was RECOVERY DAY! Just trudging around the local trails, and keeping my heart rate below 130. I averaged a 120 bpm run by walking the uphills and keeping the pace VERY slow. It was almost silly, but my legs feel really refreshed and I’m ready for the day off tomorrow after another week above 30 miles.

Running without a destination

My running right now is without plan. I don’t start the marathon one I have until January, which means that right now I’m just out there moving around at different speeds until I feel like being done. It’s time to get it together. So, here’s the idea I have:

  • One long run per week of 90–120 minutes – Do 1.5 to 2 hours of running one day per week to get the body used to going long. This builds aerobic endurance and will be necessary later as a part of the marathon training.
    • Key Note: This run needs to be faster than the “easy” runs the rest of the week. It’s a workout. Not marathon pace fast (goal pace for the marathon is 9:06/mile), but I need to keep it in the 9:35–9:45 range.
  • One tempo run per week – This has been, and will most likely continue to be, the run with the group on Wednesdays. Staying near the front and keeping an 8:30–8:45 pace is hitting it a little hard, but I’m finding that pace to be difficultly comfortable(?) and something I can hold a simple conversation during. I’m still trying to see where my race paces are, but this is slowing becoming my 10K pace. I’m probably not supposed to run this fast this often, but all of the other easy runs are helping to ease this in. And it’s only 50–55 minutes, usually.
  • I need to add strides of 3–4 x 100 meters to a few easy days a week – Strides are VERY fast runs of 100 meters or so at near top-end speed. Not a full sprint, but a definite moving pace that is meant to remind your body how to get the legs running quickly. These are also not track repeats! It’s a drill, not a workout.
  • Fartlek twice a month (or, in other words, every other week) – This workout I’m still unsure of. I know that it’s coming in the marathon program, but I’m not sure how to work it in for myself. I need to do more research and decide.

That’s the detail. Now to make it happen.

Running Quickly

Today’s Run

Time – 56:54
Distance – 6.3 miles
Pace – 8:57 min/mi
Elevation – 145 ft.

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First run with a sub–9:00/mile pace at this distance. I’m feeling very good right now, which I’m happy about, because that means that I’ll have good fitness when Baby Girl gets here and I need to slow down. I can spend December and January in maintenance, and then late January-April in marathon prep. Cold run, but two layers on top and the running tights worked just fine. New Hokas!

Running Speed Distributions

While doing a little digging online I came across a thread in the “World Famous Message Boards at Let’s Run. In it, a discussions was had about race time distributions for 5K runners, runners in general, and some statistical analysis. While the commentary from some of the posters leaves much to be desired (too many high school cross country runners with reasonably quick times for their age makes for rudeness abounding), the information gives me a lot to think about.

Here’s the table (Taken from some data on athletic Japanese men and the Ache tribe):

Mean 5k time for men aged 18 to 33—19:00
Two thirds come in between————17:30 and 20:30
95% come in between——————16:30 and 22:30

% WR speed–Top X% or 1 in X men–200m–400m–800m–1 mi–2 mi–5 km–10 km

63%–74%–30.42–68.45–2:39–5:50- 12:29- 20:00–41:39

65%–63%–29.66–66.74–2:35–5:41–12:10–19:30–40:37

66%–50%–28.90–65.03–2:31–5:32–11:52–19:00–39:34

68%–37%–28.14–63.32–2:27–5:24–11:33–18:30–38:32

70%–25%–4–27.38–61.60–2:23–5:15–11:14–18:00–37:29

72%–14%–7–26.62–59.89–2:19–5:06–10:55–17:30–36:27

74%–7%–14–25.86–58.18–2:15–4:57–10:37–17:00–35:24

76%–3%–33–25.10–56.47–2:11–4:49–10:18–16:30–34:22

79%–1%–100–24.34–54.76–2:07–4:40–9:59–16:00–33:19

81%–453–23.58–53.05–2:03–4:31–9:40–15:30–32:17

84%–2600–22.82–51.34–1:59–4:22–9:22–15:00–31:14

87%–22,000–22.05–49.63–1:55–4:14–9:03–14:30–30:12

90%–300,000–21.29–47.91–1:51–4:05–8:44–14:00–29:09

93%–7 million–20.53–46.20–1:47–3:56–8:25–13:30–28:07–olympic finals

97%–342 million–19.77–44.49–1:43–3:47–8:07–13:00–27:04–gold medal

100%–19.19–43.18–1:41–3:41–7:53–12:37–26:18–world record

–Converted from 1500m and 3000m times

In considering my other goals, specifically the 5K goal of 18:00–20:00, it falls right at the beginning of this chart, which gets me thinking about what I’m doing next. Last night was a new 10K Strava best (55:52) and a new 5K Strava best (27:32). Those are nowhere near the low end of this list, but they are improvements that show me I can get better. The amount of increases I am seeing will slow, to be sure, but the amount of time I have to make improvements hasn’t closed yet.

So, now I’m considering a goal adjustment. Do I do the 100-mile qualifier in 2018, or do I work on speed and strength for 2018 and make 2019 the big distance year?

Certainly, The Wife would probably appreciate the extra available time that I would have from not spending 4–6 hours on Saturdays and Sundays out running 20–30 miles.

Every.

Single.

Weekend

Maybe this isn’t such a bad change to the plan.

First Run in the Rain…And What’s Next…

Today’s Run

Time – 51:12
Distance – 5.1 miles
Pace – 9:54 min/mi
Elevation – 192 ft.

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If only I had a whiteboard this big…

Four runs now at sub–10:00 pace. This is becoming a thing. I didn’t want to go out this fast, and had slowed down some, but then it started to rain, so I sped up to get home quicker. The run felt ok. I felt a twinge in my right hamstring, and it’s got me nervous. Tomorrow is an off-day, so I’m hoping that will set things right. The pace felt good, I didn’t have to work too hard, and I enjoyed the run, despite the precipitation. Can’t complain today.

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Post-run

What’s Next?!

In considering what I want/should do next, I’ve got a couple of options, to be sure. I’ve thought about THE GOAL a lot since I’ve started this blog. Each run is building to that one purpose: To run Western States 100 as soon as I can get qualified safely and through the lottery successfully.

In the meantime, however, I’ve talked about other goals and ideas. Running fast miles, running fast 5K’s, running fast marathons…in essence, running fast. One thing that I’ve found which makes the most amount of change happen in the speed department is long, slow miles with occasional speed workouts built in to the plan. Running a lot, at the right pace, makes all of the difference. So, by this logic, more is better, right?

There’s a lot of science to back this up. Tim Noakes, Arthur Lydiard, and others all have written and studied the concept extensively. I’ve been researching this as much as I can to figure out what to do next.

So, here’s The Plan. While it might seem self-evident given my long-term goals, I still need to think it out and say it out loud (or at least, type it out to the world) what I’m going to do to make it real. The plan is to get to 40–50 miles a week of training in the near term (by the end of the year) with a marathon plan after Christmas that will keep my mileage high through April. Then I back down the mileage into the 30–40 miles/week range for post-marathon until June (about 6 weeks of recovery) then start back up with the building to 70–80 miles a week before the 100 miler in the fall. That’s going to be the plan, I think. I still need to hash out a few things around the training periods that will be built into this, especially in the run-up to the race late next year. We have a family vacation that we’ll be shooting for in late November or early December, so an autumn race will fit that nicely into the recovery after the run.

So, that’s The Plan.

I think…

So This Happened…

Today’s Run

Time – 2:04:45
Distance – 11.44 miles
Pace – 10:54 min/mi
Elevation – 358 ft.

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Another long run today puts the mileage above 35 for the week on Runkeeper because I did a long run on Sunday and another today (Saturday). Next week will be down because of it, but I am due to slow down for a week here soon, and if it happen next week, so be it.

The run felt great…except…I got an uncomfortable cramp in the outside of my right foot about mile 8. Had to stop and stretch for a minute, and then I was able to go again. I finished with a little bit of tenderness there, but I’ll ease off tomorrow, and then make this week a little less hectic.

Eleven and a half miles felt good. I was actually really picking up the pace at the end. I could probably run a half marathon a little faster than this pace, but I don’t need to right now.

Let the training begin…as soon as I find a plan

I’m signed up for my first marathon. It’ll be here in the spring. April 8th, to be exact. I’m excited to give the distance a try. I’m not nervous about it, though. I’ve got a 100-miler on the radar beyond Go! St. Louis, so I’m thinking that the marathon will just be a function of adding distance over the winter and building up a nutrition/fluids/recovery plan between now and then. I’ve got plenty of time to prepare for it, and I feel really comfortable at about half the distance right now. If I just keep adding and avoid injury, I should be able to finish, no issues.

In terms of speed, however, I’m wanting to make a push. I’d like to come up with a good, tough goal. I think that a 10:00/mile pace isn’t out of the question. A marathon at today’s running pace (10:54), though, is 4:45. A 10:00/mile pace is about 4:22. Breaking 4 hours is better than a 9:10/mile pace for 26.2 miles. That’s WAY faster than I run right now. But I did that kind of speed on and off for the last 2 miles of today’s run. I know I have it somewhere. I just need to find it and make it my endurance pace.

A 4:20 marathon is an even 9:55/mile pace. That’s probably the goal at this point. Now to work for it. Can I add twice the distance of my long runs and cut off a minute per mile? They say you shouldn’t add speed and distance together. I have a little over 5 months between now and then.

Time to research training plans…