Tag Archives: pace

Boston 2014: My Race Report

I was aiming to finish the 2014 Boston Marathon in about 3 hours.  It took me almost 2 hours longer than expected.  My nerves got the best of me.  It was my first Boston.  I was so excited and nervous that I made a few rookie mistakes.  Most of them revolve around my usual routine.  If your routine gets you to Boston, keep following it!

The Mistakes

The mistakes have nothing to do with training or my race plan.  I was well-trained and had a solid plan.  I boston 2014 runningfollowed the plan almost exactly for the first 5 miles.  a 6:40 pace almost exactly.  This is what I had trained for.  It was the right strategy.

Then the bottom fell out.  I was gradually getting weaker and my top pace was slowing.  I tried to slow things down for a bit and then level out to a 7:00 pace, but that quickly fell by the wayside.  I was getting weaker.  This is how the last 6 miles of a marathon feels when I am doing well, but this struggle was not at mile 20 or 21.  No, this was mile 6.  And I was getting weaker at a much more quickly than I would at the end of a good marathon.  Something was very wrong and I knew it.

By mile 8, I had gone from Goal A (3 hours), to Goal B (3:05), to Goal C (3:25), but I had to give that up too.  No, the rest of the race would be about survival.  It was time to move to Goal D: finish the race without an injury.  By the last mile, I was struggling hard to get a 15 minute pace.

My mistakes were made before I ever left the hotel room to go to the starting line.  First, I didn’t eat carefully enough for the month before the race.  I have a gluten intolerance and I was “glutened” at a restaurant about 3 weeks before Boston.  I had mostly recovered but I was not 100% going in to race day.  Second, I drank Gatorade for a couple of days before the race.  Good for electrolyte loading, bad for carb loading.  The sugar spikes your metabolism and causes you to deplete your carb supplies.  Rookie mistake.  Got nervous and forgot my own rule: stick with the routine that is working.  The third mistake probably had the biggest effect.  I forgot to take my electrolyte supplements with me to the start line.  Everyone has their own level of need for electrolytes.  My need is much higher than the average person.  I did not even think about this until I was struggling in mile 6.  I am a coach.  I blog about these things.  I teach these lessons.  I am more embarrassed than disappointed.  I knew better on all three counts, but my nerves got the best of me.  Not going to happen next year!

The Positives

Even though I struggled hard for over 20 miles, there are a lot of positives in this experience too.  First, the race is extremely well-organized and extremely secure.  The Boston Marathon is a class act and the runners are all class acts as well.  The whole environment was uplifting.

Cheering fans lined every step of the course, all 26.2 miles of it.  There was no break.  The support was overwhelming and I was thankful for it.  Whenever I got too down on myself for my errors, I just looked over at the side, waved my hands a little, and the crowd went wild.  Awesome support.

This is the year after the bombings.  At every moment in the entire experience, we were safe.  A guardian angel from law enforcement and/or our armed services was there watching like hawks.  It wasn’t just the course.  There was a wide perimeter of security around the entire towns of Hopkinton, Boston, and every town between.

Did the terrorists scare the crowd away?  No.  The crowd was double the usual number.
Did the terrorists scare the runners away?  No.  The crowd of runners was MUCH larger than last year.
Were the crowd and runners focused on a possible bombing?  No.  We thought about it, but the security blanket offered by the law enforcement agencies was enough to let us focus on excellence and fun.

Boston 2014 with MunaLast but not least among the positives was the presence of my wife, Muna.  Muna is a running coach, too.  She hasn’t run Boston yet, but she is really close to qualifying.  It will happen.  Even though she ran a 19-miler on Sunday, she was not there as a coach or a runner.  She came to support me.  She stood by me and tried to calm me down before.  She was there encouraging me after.  Muna knew what my expected time was and she saw the reports of my progress throughout.  She knew I was struggling.  She knew I was getting worse as I went.  I had two extra hours of struggle during the race.  Muna had 2 extra hours of worrying about what might be wrong.  Then she had to wait as the medical support got my electrolytes back to a stable range.  She took care of me.  Despite the enormously positive experience with the people of Boston and their marathon, Muna was my biggest positive of the race.  Thank you, Muna.

How Do I Feel About My Race?

boston and Knoxville

My first marathon was the Knoxville Marathon in 2010. My first Boston Marathon was in 2014. Both were slow and painful. These are the ones that mean the most.

If this had been a goal race, my bad day would have been much more devastating.  To be sure, I am disappointed.   I am embarrassed by my rookie mistakes.  But it was not a goal race.  Even though I trained for the distance, the focus of my training is presently on shorter races: the 800 meters and mile.  No, it was not a goal race.  It was a victory lap.  It was a victory lap for the 4.5 years it took to go from novice to Boston.  Hence, it was not as devastating as it could have been, because I still have that progress.  I have still qualified for Boston 3 times over the last two years.

Looking ahead, I am determined to come back next year and get a sub-3 hour marathon at Boston.  I have been inching closer to sub-3 for a couple of years now.  I will take another shot at it in Savannah in November, but most of my training will still be focussing on the short races.  After Savannah, I will turn my attention to Boston without being distracted by the short races.  I will follow my safe routine.  I will bring my electrolytes.  I will conquer the Boston Marathon.  I always return to the site of a bad run to conquer it as soon as I can.

The Boston Marathon is a great race with awesome runners, and super fans.

I just had a bad day.

I shall return.

_____________

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

– P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Running in Cold and Icy Weather

What adjustments do you need to make for running when the cold weather appears?

Pace

According to a formula worked out by Tom “Tinman” Schwartz, our running paces are not only slowed by heat, but also by cold temperatures as well.  Schwartz found that 53 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for the runners in his study.  The farther the temperature moves away from 53 (hotter or colder), the slower the pace they would achieve with the same effort.

For example, you can expect a time increase of 1.66 percent when the temperature drops to 30 degrees, a 3 percent increase at 20 degrees, a 5.33 percent increase at 10 degrees and an 8.33 percent increase in time when the temperature hits 0 degrees.  The formula may vary slightly for runners of different body types, but the trend will still hold true for all.

My point is that you need to give yourself a break and not expect to run your best pace in freezing temperatures.  Thankfully, however, training through these cold weather months will pay off.  Persevere!

Attire

Personally, I am quite comfortable running in 40 degree weather if I have the proper attire.  Below 30 degrees begins to become uncomfortable.  Thankfully, there are ways to get more comfortable in cold weather.  You can adjust to cold weather by adding layers of clothing.  This gives it a big advantage over running in the summer.  After all, there is a limit of how much clothing you can remove to adjust for heat.   :)

For the cold temperatures, dress in light layers.  A huge coat or heavy pants will weigh you down.  Light layers can hold your body heat effectively but have the added advantage that you can take them off if you get a little hot.  Light layers also have the advantage of allowing you to maintain good running form.  Cover your head and neck.  Mittens are often better than gloves, but wear whatever you are comfortable wearing.

Barefoot & minimalist shoes might not be the best choice on the coldest days.  I believe it is possible to get frostbite on your feet even if the rest of you is toasty-warm.

Ice & Snow

Please be careful when it comes to slippery conditions.  One slip is all it takes to injure yourself.  It is better to take an extra rest day than it is to risk your health.  Moreover, that little slip can lead to a much longer rest if you have to wear a cast!  I’m aware that those that live in the north probably see snow and ice is just a way of life, but you at least have to be careful.  Take extra care and slow your pace down in these conditions so you can live to run another day.

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!” — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Running Naked: The Effects of Watchless Running

A fellow runner posted this question to me:

Hi, P. Mark!!

What has been your experience with watchless running and racing? I race without a watch but I want to start training without a watch, just enjoying runs and doing true fartlek runs, don’t care wearing a watch during intervals, I have been obsesses with splits for so long that I want to try something different, I have tried fartlek runs without a watch in the past and I raced decent and I loved the freedom of it!! Do you think that the training and racing suffers training watchless always ( even for hard workouts)?

Cesar

Most runners feel naked without a timing device.  That is why I refer to an untimed run as a Naked Run.

It is not the watch or GPS device that we miss.  What we are missing is data, the opportunity to analyze our running and make informed decisions about our progress and the effectiveness of our workouts.

Well, Cesar, I know exactly what you mean.  We get so caught up in the numbers sometimes that is easy to forget some important things.

  • First, in the attempt to focus on our pace and or form, we sometimes forget the simple joy of getting lost in a run. The act of lacing up your shoes and enjoying the freedom that running brings.  There is joy in movement.  There is joy in enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells on the run.
  • Second, we forget to give ourselves a little latitude.  On hot and humid days, we sometimes forget to adjust our goal times and end up frustrated throughout the run.  Cold and rain can throw us off pace as well.  Too  much focus on a regimented training with exact paces can drive you crazy.

Does a GPS device or a watch do this to us?  No, we do it to ourselves.  The watch is just a tool.  It is not the Garmin’s fault.  The Garmin is innocent.

Say it with me: 

“The loss of the simple joy of running and the negative feelings created by a “bad workout” are the fault of no one or no thing except myself.”

Now that we have that out of the way, let us move on to the other extreme.  What would happen if we all started running naked?

The Effects of Naked Running

The truth is that there is not one answer that fits all.  What is true for all runners is that pace is important.

  • Running too fast can lead to injury; a watch can tell you when to slow down.
  • Running too slow can lead to frustration because you are not making progress as fast as you could.

If you have been watching your pace like a hawk for years, you can probably “run by feel.”  Running by feel simply means that you can tell when you are running at or near the most important benchmarks.  If you are that runner, you do not need a watch to know when you are pressing against the limit of your lactate threshold.  You know when your body has switched from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism.  For these experienced runners, the danger of never wearing a timing device is gradually losing your sense of pace.  Without timing periodically, you could venture to far away from your goal paces.

For those runners who are less aware of how these things feel, we need to go by pace and/or heart rate.  For our key workouts of the week, we have to wear our watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS devices.  This includes slow runs!

Striking a Balance

I do not believe that any runner should do all of their runs with a watch or GPS device.  I believe that one or two runs a week should be simple, relaxed runs where you can let go of the pressures of the world AND the pressures of training.  Just go out for a run.

I also believe that the experienced runners still needs to wear the devices at least once or twice a week.  It will allow you to document your runs and show your progress.  You will want this data months or years from now.  Wearing the device periodically can also tell you if your “sense of pace” is a little off.  If you are surprised by how fast or slow you are going, it is time to wear the watch more often for a while.

If you find yourself over-focused on pace and unable to enjoy the run, add some Naked Runs to your week.

Here are some related posts about the importance of pace:

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

P. Mark Taylor

wise running logo 7_25_12

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners and Future Runners

My first book, The Gift of Running, is available in both paperback & ebook

Paperback Version – Amazon.com   $9.00

Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

I wrote this book for several reasons.  Many of the books on running are tough to read, a lot like technical manuals.  I wanted to offer something more personal, runner to runner.  Moreover, I wanted it to be easy to read for the inexperienced runner.  I think I have accomplished this with The Gift of Running .

Below is the official description.  A small excerpt is included at the bottom of this page.

Book Reviews by Runners:

Book Reviews on Amazon.com:

If you would like an autographed copy of the book, please email me at pmark67@gmail.com

_________________________

The Gift of Running: a book for runners and future runners

by P Mark Taylor

Running is a gift, but not only for the gifted.  Whether you run just for fun or want to become a more competitive runner, The Gift of Running is for you. In The Gift of Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to get started and stay motivated.

The book includes:  advice on how to get started as a runner, tried & true methods of running faster and longer, how to prepare for a marathon, tips on staying healthy & happy, motivation to keep you running, an insider view of the running community, & training programs for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, & marathon.

P. Mark Taylor is a runner & author of the blog at www.WiseRunning.com.

Publication Date:    Jul 20 2012
ISBN/EAN13:    0615668607 / 9780615668604
Page Count:    196
Binding Type:    US Trade Paper
Trim Size:    5.5″ x 8.5″
Language:    English
Color:    Black and White
Related Categories:    Sports & Recreation / Running & Jogging
 
_____________________________________

How to read this book:   (an excerpt from the book)

“This book is not a technical manual.  I have intentionally tried to keep my explanations brief and simple.  I have avoided technical terms and explained what I mean whenever needed.  It does offer important research-based information, but it offers more than that.

The book is about:

  • the human side of running,
  • becoming a runner,
  • working to become a better runner,
  • & staying safe, sane, and happy as a runner. 

It moves back and forth between personal stories, quotes from runners, and advice on running.

Most of the subsections of the book could be read independently, but I encourage you to read it from front to back.  This is especially true for the inexperienced runners.  Read the whole thing first, then go enjoy the run!

This book is the culmination of years of running, studying, and life experiences.  Most of all it is about the love of running and my respect for runners.

This book is dedicated to all of those who share my passion for running & to all those who are trying running for the first time.”

_______________

 Click here to see my second book on running:
Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life
Wise Running Book COVER mockup

My Personal Running Progress Since 2009

This post is not advice.  It is just a personal report of the progress that I have made over the last 4 years.

In the summer of 2009, my life was hitting some speed bumps [understatement].  To deal with the added stress, I hit the road running.  At first I just ran a few miles every two or three days.  I just ran when I felt like it.  I ran down backwoods country roads in the hot summer and it felt good.  I had given up competitive running back in 1985 because of some tendon issues that went unresolved.  Yet, here I was.  I was running… and running felt good.

Barely moving at the end of the Oak Rige Half Marathon, 2009

Barely moving at the end of the Oak Ridge Half Marathon, 2009

By the end of the summer, I decided that I would run a half marathon.  I was enjoying longer and longer runs and it just sounded good.  Besides, in 1984 I ran a half marathon in 1:20:48.  How hard could it be to get it back, right?  WRONG!

I continued to run erratically.  I had no plan.  I just ran what I felt like running.  The Oak Ridge Half Marathon was in November that year.  I had run a lot, or so I thought.  On race day, I felt strong and went out waaaay too fast.  By the half way point, I was quite tired.  Then came the killer hill.  By the time I came down that hill my pride was completely gone.  All I had to do is just survive the next 6 miles.  Survive I did.  Barely.  I had started the day in a sprint and ended barely moving.  Everything hurt.  The world was spinning a little bit.  Man, that was hard!

As tough as it was, I did manage to squeak in just under the two-hour mark.  That performance is roughly the equivalent of running a 26 minute 5K.

But this article is not about how fast I was or am.  It is about my progress and how long it has taken.  Hence that is just the beginning of the story.

Here are my race results

2013 KTC EXPO 10k  – 10K Run TN 5/25/13 1 24 28 6:23 39:43
Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon 2013 TN 4/7/13 3 49 57 6:55 1:30:41
Shamrock Marathon  2013 VA 3/16/13 13 107 121 7:22 3:13:22
Whitestone 30k TN 2/24/13 2 6 7 7:17 2:16:02
Strawberry Plains Half Marathon 2013 TN 2/9/13 5 12 14 6:41 1:27:42
Calhoun’s New Year’s Day 5K 2013 TN 1/1/13 1 19 20 5:58 18:35
Secret City Half Marathon  2012 TN 11/18/12 10 10 10 6:46 1:28:41
7 Bridges Marathon 2012 TN 10/21/12 22 22 22 7:44 3:22:44
THE HAL CANFIELD  5 MILE 2012 – Run-5Mi TN 9/3/12 2 9 12 7:06 35:33
THE HAL CANFIELD MEMORIAL MILE 2012 – Run-1Mi TN 9/3/12 3 23 26 5:43 05:43.00
The Butterfly Fund of East Tennessee 5K TN 8/18/12 2 14 17 6:31 20:14
29th Annual Carter Mill 10k 2012 TN 7/21/12 2 24 30 7:11 44:39
Pilot’s Fireball Classic 5K TN 7/3/12 5 78 89 6:36 20:31
Summer Solstice 8K TN 6/16/12 3 32 38 8:18 41:20
8th Annual Provision Health & Wellness Dogwood Classic 5k 2012 TN 4/28/12 4 24 24 6:10 19:11
Covenant Health Dogwood Mile 2012 TN 4/27/12 1 6 6 5:34 05:34.00
Strawberry Plains Half Marathon 2012 TN 2/11/12 3 20 22 7:01 1:32:01
New Year’s Day 5K 2012 TN 1/1/12 6 39 45 6:23 19:52
Secret City Half Marathon  2011 TN 11/20/11 4 22 26 7:08 1:33:31
Seven Bridges Marathon 2011 TN 10/16/11 5 19 20 7:55 3:27:27
27TH ANNUAL PILOT FIREBALL MOONLIGHT CLASSIC 5K RUN/WALK TN 7/3/11 3 80 88 6:39 20:41
34th Annual KTC EXPO 10K 2011
TN 5/28/11 6 40 45 6:56 43:09
Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon 2011 TN 4/3/11 24 152 187 9:00 3:55:59
Secret City Half Marathon TN 11/21/10 6 47 66 8:18 1:48:53
Tennessee Sports Medicine Expo 5k 2010 TN 5/29/10 5 24 25 7:03 21:55
Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon 2010 TN 3/28/10 62 330 479 12:46 5:34:38
Oak Ridge Half Marathon 2009 TN 11/21/09 7 87 112 9:07 1:59:27

If we just compare the half marathon from 2009 [1:59:27] to my PR in 2012 [1:27:42], then here is the progress:

  • 31 minutes and 45 seconds faster overall for the half marathon distance.
  • 2 minutes and 26 seconds faster pace per mile
  • VDOT score estimates went from 36.5 to 52.5

This 16 VDOT point progress was made in approximately 42 months.  Hence, I advanced about almost 4/10 of a VDOT point per month.  Considering that I was ill for 6 moths last year, that is pretty fast progress!  Under absolutely ideal conditions that none of us have, you could expect to progress at about .8 VDOT points per month.  Moreover, the pace per mile for the half marathon pace changed about 3.5 to 4 seconds per month of diligent labor.

If we only look at 5K races, then I ran a 21:55 in May of 2010 and a PR of 18:35 in January of 2013.  Here is the progress:

  • 3 minutes and 40 seconds faster over the 5K distance
  • 1 minute and 5 seconds faster pace per mile
  • VDOT score estimates of 45 to 54

Since this improvement happened over 32 months, that would be nearly 3/10 of a VDOT point per month average.  Moreover, the pace per mile changed about 2 seconds per month of diligent labor.

To Sum It Up

Over the last few years, my average progress for each month of training has been:

  • about 2 seconds faster pace for a 5K
  • about 3.75 seconds faster pace for a half marathon

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

 

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & future runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

 

Running Faster: Adjusting Your Training Schedule and Paces

I was up late last night looking at my training schedule.  Earlier in the day I had completed eight 400 meter intervals with a 250 meter jog between and no rest.  I had run them at the appointed pace and they felt quite easy.  I felt like I could do that workout all day.  On the one hand, this is a great sign.  It means that the assigned pace had become easy.  I am getting faster.  :)

summer solstice 2013 legsOn the other hand, however, it also means that it is time for a change of pace, literally.  This was supposed to be one of my key workouts of the week, the ones that challenge me to grow.  Yesterday’s workout did not challenge me to grow; it was too easy.  I am in the middle of my “crazy speed training” time of year, so I was expecting to get faster.  The progress is just much faster than I expected.  Hence, I had to take the time last night to re-evaluate where I am now and what paces and workouts I should be doing for the next few months.

Remember This!

You should stick to your training plan without changing things too much except:

  • if you are injured or overly sore.  Then you must rest.  If you try to push through it, your progress will be slower in the long run.
  • if you are not getting any faster.  If you have gone for a month or two without noticing some progress, then it is time to change the program.  A change in routine often does the trick.
  • if you are getting faster than you expected.  This is where I find myself today.  In this case, it is time to increase the paces and/or distances at the prescribed pace.

Since I am in the third category, I have the choice of increasing my pace for the same workouts OR to hold the pace for longer distances.  I am specifically training to run a fast 1 mile race, so I choose to increase the pace.

Everyone runs their own pace, so do not judge yourself by my pace.  My run yesterday looked like this:

8 x 400 meter Intervals at 4:58 pace per mile
Jogged 250 meters between. No rest.
5 miles total with warmup/cooldown

I had planned on it taking another 2 months before that would have been comfortable.  Hence, I am cranking it up a notch.  Here are my next two key workouts planned:

For raw power/speed
4 x 400 meter Repeats at 4:22 pace per mileFull rest between.
3 miles total with warmup/cooldown.

For holding a fast pace longer
8 x 400 meter Intervals at 4:40 pace per mile
Jog 250 meters between. No rest.
5 miles total with warmup/cooldown.

These should be challenging.  As a matter of fact, I may or may not be able to do them the first time.  I will try, but I will prioritize being relaxed.  Relaxing while you work your hardest helps to avoid injury.  Over the next several weeks these workouts will gradually get easier.  Not easy, just easier.

Whatever your pace may be, the questions are these:

  1. Are you challenging yourself enough?
  2. Are you challenging yourself too much?

The answers are often evident in the progress you are seeing over time.  Look here to see approximate paces appropriate for you.

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

wise running logo 7_25_12

________________

A Different Kind of PR – Race Report from the Shamrock Marathon 2013

wise running logo 7_25_12

For the second spring in a row, I started a marathon expecting to finish in a time of somewhere around 3:05 and ended up disappointed.  Both years I trained very hard.  Both years I adjusted my expectations a little for the weather conditions.  Eerily similar were these two starts.  That is where the similarity stops.

Spring of 2012

Last April, I knew from the beginning of the Knoxville Marathon that something was terribly wrong.  I could not figure out what it was, but running just seemed much more difficult than it should have been.  I ended up with my first DNF (did not finish) and I was devastated.  What is worse, I continued to get more and more weak for months.  It wasn’t until September that I figured out what was wrong.  I had suddenly developed gluten intolerance.

Fall of 2012

I had managed to put in some training before being diagnosed in mid-September, but that training was limited in terms of distance and intensity.  I ran the 7 Bridges Marathon just about 4 weeks after going on a gluten-free diet.  I went into that race with little to no expectations other than giving it a good try and hope to finish strong.  The gluten-free diet made a big difference.  Even though my longest training runs included only one 15 miler and one 20 miler, I was able to finish the 7 Bridges Marathon.  I set a personal record with a time of 3:22:44, beating my previous PR by 4 minutes and 42 seconds.  At 45 years old, that was good enough to qualify me for the Boston Marathon.  Even with this triumph I knew that I had a long way to go before I was fully recovered from my illness.  I ran the first half of the race at a 7 minute pace per mile and cramped throughout the second half.  I would struggle, stop to stretch, jog for a while and start the cycle again.  I ended up averaging around a 7:44 pace.  This is not the ideal marathon strategy.

Spring 2013

My training for the 2013 Shamrock Marathon was much more consistent, intense, and thorough.  I used the Hansons Marathon Method, training as if I were planning to run at a 6:40 pace per mile.  I carefully followed all of their guidelines and I could tell that I was faster than ever.  If all elements were perfect, I should have been able to run a marathon in less than 3 hours.  The variables that could go wrong included the weather and my gut.  As for the weather, it ended up being a little cold, very humid, and very windy.  For this I adjusted my expectations from a 6:40 pace to a 7:00 pace.  As for my gut, however, this had been left untested.  Without actually running a marathon, there was no way to know whether I could digest enough calories to provide the energy necessary to maintain a 7 minute pace for the full 26 miles.  At the 7 Bridges Marathon 6 months before, I started having issues at around mile 16.  The question was how much farther I would go before it hit me during the Shamrock Marathon.

Now at the Shamrock Marathon, I managed to maintain close to a 7 minute pace until I hit the really strong headwinds on the boardwalk.  That slowed me down and followed us over to Atlantic Avenue.  Six miles of headwind gradually wore me down, but I was still thinking positive.  I believed that if my gut was healed enough, I would be able speed up later after the headwind died down.  At mile marker 18, I had averaged 7:10 per mile.  I had trained to run a 6:40 pace, so I thought I still had a shot at finishing in 3 hours and 5 minutes.  By mile marker 22, I moving even slower and I was even more worn out.  The headwinds had started up again and my legs were beginning to threaten to cramp.  Each time I began to speed up just a bit, my legs would begin to twitch.  I knew this feeling all too well.  If I pushed it, I would cramp up.  If I pushed hard, the muscles would cramp hard enough to injure me.  It was time to reset my expectations.

By the time the headwinds faded around mile 22.5, I knew it was time to cut my losses and just manage.  My gut had not been able to process all of the energy gels that I had managed to swallow throughout the race.  I need to manage my effort to get the most speed out of my legs without cramping up.  For the final 3.8 miles it was no longer about the pace that my Garmin told me.  It was about the listening to my legs.  I rode the line between just enough and too much all the way to the finish line.  My calf gave the first full cramp with only about 100 yards to the finish line.  I grimaced, calmed myself, relaxed the calf, and jogged the last 100 yards.  I finished with a time of 3:13:22, about 10 minutes slower than ideal.

A New PR and a New Kind of PR

To tell you the truth, I REALLY wanted to finish in less than 3:05:00.  This is the young man’s standard to qualify for Boston.  That is just a pride issue, however.  I can get that some other time.  Yes, finishing the Shamrock Marathon in 3:13:22 meant that I had beaten my personal record by 9 minutes and 22 seconds.  That is great, but that is not the victory that I am celebrating.  First, I am celebrating that my gluten issue seems to be less of an issue as my gut heals.  I am hoping that it will not be a factor in my next marathon later this year.  Beyond this, I am celebrating something even bigger.  I am celebrating an emotional victory.

Even though several things did not go my way, I never let them get to me emotionally.

  • I did not lose hope when I knew the humidity went up.  I adjusted my expectations.
  • I did not lose hope when the wind pushed into my face more miles on end.  I adjusted my expectations and pressed on.
  • I did not lose hope when my legs threatened to cramp.  I adjusted my expectations, listened to my legs, and coasted in as best as I could.

If I had pushed too hard against any one of these issues, I most certainly would have ended up sidelined by severe cramping.  I would have either walked it in or DNFed.  But I didn’t.  Not this time.  The thing I am most proud of is focusing on what I could control and letting go of what I could not control.  Because of this, I know for a fact that I did the very best that I could.  For me, those adjustments are a new kind of PR.  They represent a personal record in staying positive and enjoying the run.  Now THAT is worth the trip to Virginia Beach and all of the training that came before it.

___________

Train hard. Race easy. Enjoy the run!

_____________

The Gift of Running,by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book

– Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

– Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

– Ebook Version for Nook $2.99

.

90% Racing: Choosing to Give Less Than Everything

Give everything you have and more.  110%.  That is what I have always been told.  That is what I have always tried to do.  This is especially true on race day.

Unfortunately, I can’t always give 100%.  I’ve been a little bit sick for a very long time – 5 months.  I have good days and bad days.  Most of the time, giving 100% today means resting up for a few days.  If I try to give 110% when I am having a sick day, however, it may mean easing up for at least a week.   Thankfully, I have managed to manage my illness and still train fairly hard.  I have to settle for giving 90%.  I can still make progress at that level, it is just a lot slower.

Today’s race was an example of a 90% effort.  I promised my son that I would run the Butterfly Fund 5K with him today, even though it is not a goal race.  My next goal race is the Hal Canfield Memorial Mile.  On that day, I will give it 110%.  This morning I had to settle for 90%.

I was afraid of going out too fast, but thankfully my car keys jumped out of my pocket just after the start.  That never happens.  I think it was a sign:  “Stay slow and only give 90%”  Message received.  It kept me from going out too fast.  I ran quickly, but not as hard as I thought I could.  After going back to pick up my keys, I had the added challenge of weaving through the crowd of slower runners that had passed.  There was not enough room to run too fast.  I gradually picked my way through the crowd.  Unlike what I would have done otherwise, I felt no panic about the loss of time going back for the keys.  I felt good about taking it a little easier than usual.

I felt reasonably strong.  I was going fast, but not too fast.  Gradually about half of the runners around me started to fade away.  They had been giving 110% from the beginning and could not keep it up.  Yes, that is usually me.  <looking at the floor with a sheepish grin>

Today was different.  I was running within my limitations.  Today I was choosing not to try for a PR, but just to give a good effort.  90% feels pretty good.  I was relaxed and happy.  I was out for a nice tempo run and just happened to be wearing a race number.

I continued giving about 90% effort the rest of the way.  When I finished, I finished strong, but not with an all-out sprint.  I gave it just enough effort to pass a couple of people.  After the finish, I was not wiped out like I would usually be.  I was still energized and ready to go.  What a difference!

So many times in the past I have planned to go out slow and not take a race so seriously.  Each time that I reached the start line, however, I found it difficult to contain the energy.  It is difficult to do anything else but that for which I was trained: 110%

Now that I know what it feels like to give 90% and finish happy, maybe it will be easier to do that when I am not sick.  I want to race more frequently, but you can’t train for them all.  Some of those races have to serve as training runs.  Some have to be 90% runs that happen to be at a race.  If I can plan these and follow through as planned, I will be happier and wiser.  :)

_____________

The Gift of Running is now available in both paperback & e-book

Paperback Version – Amazon.com

Ebook Version – Kindle Store

Ebook Version for Nook $2.99

.

Ask P. Mark: The Difference Between a Tempo Run and Intervals

This was the first question posted to me via the Ask P. Mark page.
Please visit that page to post a new question.  Thanks!

Q:  What is the difference between a tempo run and an interval?

A:  The short answer is that in an interval workout, you speed up and slow down several times.  In a tempo run, however, you gradually build up to the target pace and hold it until it is time to slow down for a cooldown.

There are a few people who will do more than one tempo run within a long run.  This is an advanced maneuver that I do not recommend for the average runner.

Here are the definitions for the Tempo and Intervals that I gave on the Getting Faster post:

Intervals

Intervals are a lot like repeats, but have a different goal in mind.  While repeats are about increasing raw speed, intervals are more about maintaining your new speed over a distance.  Because of this, intervals should be at a little bit longer distance.  Aim for a distance that you could complete in less than 5 minutes.  800 meters (1/2 mile) is a common distance for interval training.

  • Run your intervals at race pace, but no faster.  Remember: Race pace is the pace at which you could run a 5K now, NOT the pace that you hope to achieve later.
  • Instead of being fully rested as you did in repeats, interval training does not allow for full rest.  The time between intervals should be about the same time as you took to run the last interval.  Unlike repeats, you jog during the recovery time between intervals.
  • Since the distances are longer than the distance for repeats, the number of intervals that you complete in one workout should be less.  You can do 3-8 intervals as long as you continue to maintain your relaxed form.

Tempo Runs

If you are racing longer distances, then you will want to practice running faster for even longer periods of time.  This is the goal of a tempo run.

  • Run your tempo miles a little slower than race pace, about 80-90% of the full effort that you would use in a 5k race now.
  • Tempo runs can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on your fitness and goals.
  • You can choose to do one or more tempo runs as part of a longer run or have it as a stand-alone workout.  In either case, make sure that you run a warmup and a cooldown in addition to the tempo miles.
  • To get faster, seek the combination of distance & speed that pushes you consistently near the limit of what you can maintain.  If you can’t maintain relaxed form, you are pushing too fast or too long.

__________

The Gift of Running is now available in both paperback & ebook

Paperback Version – Amazon.com

Ebook Version – Kindle Store

 

 

 

Table of Contents – Gift of Running

Here is the final version of the table of contents of my new book “The Gift of Running

The book is is now available in both paperback & ebook

Paperback Version – Amazon.com

Ebook Version – Kindle Store

Table of Contents

How to Read This Book 

Running Is a Gift for All

… A Precious Gift

…E Pluribus Run-em

……Where I Fall In the Spectrum of Runners

……Why am I writing a book on running?

…Receiving the Gift:  A Word to the Newbie Runner

Enhancing the Gift: Running Longer &/or Faster 

…Running Faster

…Running Longer

…Threshold Pace

……Threshold Pace and the Perfect Race

…Running a Marathon

…My Marathon Story:   From 5:35 to 3:27 in 18 months

Renewing the Gift: Motivation  

…Recapturing the Joy of Running

…Motivation: Getting Out of the Door

…Slaying the Specter of a Bad Run

…Potential, Risk, & Failure

…Racing as Motivation

…Aging Gracefully

……The Fountain of Youth

……Setting Age-Appropriate Goals

Renewing the Gift: Health

…Rest Days

…New Thoughts about Old Stretching

…Where to run: Surfaces, Sites, & Treadmills

…Philosophy of Pain

…RICE for Pain

…Weather Affects Running

…Staying Healthy in the Heat

…Running and Weight Loss

Giving Back: Community & Coaching 

…The Running Community

…Running Buddies

…You Will Never Run Alone

…Encouraging, Exhorting & Coaching

…Charity Fundraising

Training Schedules & Other Resources 

…What is a Training Plan?

…Following My Training Plans.

…From Walking to Running a 5K..

Training Programs:

– Walking to 5K
– Racing a 5K
– Racing a 10K
– Racing a Half Marathon
– Racing a Marathon

…The Right Stuff: Running Tools & Supplies

Wrapping Up the Gift 

_________________________

The Gift of Running: a book for runners and future runners