Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: racing

Wear a Wise Running Shirt to Your Next Race!

Are you a Wise Runner?  Show it proudly with this New Balance Tempo Performance Tank!

 final design 8_18_2014

It is available for $20 plus shipping costs.

This unisex tank comes in Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, and XX-Large.

Email me (pmark.runner@gmail.com)the quantity and sizes you wish to order.   I will email you a Paypal invoice of $20 per shirt plus the shipping.  You can then click the link in the email to pay by credit card, debit card, or Paypal account.  Your shirt should be mailed out to you within 2 weeks.

Runners in the Knoxville area can purchase a shirt from me directly without the need to pay shipping.

 

Assessing Progress: Keeping Race Results In Perspective

 

wise running logo 7_25_12At last night’s track meet, my 800 meter result was two seconds slower than last year.  My first reaction was disappointment and frustration. I am sick and tired of not making significant progress.  Upon reflection, however, my slower performance is a sign of good things.

How could this be?  When you look at race results you must ask yourself some key questions:

Was that the best I could do on that given day, under those specific conditions?

For my 800 meter race last night, my performance was solid during most of the race.  My first lap was a couple of seconds slower than the plan, but the strong wind accounts for that.  Good start.  I lost some mental focus in the first 100 meters of the second lap.  By the time I realized what was happening and managed to refocus, I had run about 130 meters slower than the planned pace.  From there, I was able to regain my intended pace and then accelerate for the last 150 meters.

Does it show progress from recent performances?

Yes.  Even though I finished slower than last year at the same event, I did make progress.  My most recent 800 meter race in June was 2:29.  This was 4 seconds faster.  So, compared to recent performances, this 2:25 is progress.

Moreover, the comparison to last year might not be fair.  There have been three events that occurred in the last year that made me slower: two wrecks and a knee injury.  In light of the fact that I took one full month off from running, it is a pleasant surprise that I am only two seconds slower.  That is a fairly good recovery.

What did I do well during the race?

The thing that went very well in yesterday’s 800 meter race was mental focus.  In many recent events, I have lost my mental focus about half way through the race and never regained it.  I have tailored my training to overcome this by practicing getting fatigued and then running at race pace.  It has pushed my body to prepare to battle through fatigue.  It has prepared my mind to recover focus.

What aspect of your race do I want to improve on before the next race?

I still had 130 meters in this 800 meter race where I did not maintain focus, so I will continue to work on that.  I know that training is working.  I see the improvement.

With all of this in mind, I know that my current training is effective.  I have every reason to expect some personal records to fall over the next few months.

Every race is another opportunity to assess progress and make changes if needed.  I have another 800 meter race in four weeks.  I would like to see a 2:15 this year.  :)

Remember This!

Aim high, but keep in touch with reality.
Give yourself credit for every little bit of progress.
This becomes your courage to push for your best in the next event.

 

“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

Experimental Training: Staying the Course

Back in January, I reported that I was engaging in “experimental training” focused on building speed.  I summarized by saying:

  • I will run less frequently, but with greater intensity.
  • The speed-work I run on the track is going to be much faster and more intense than I would ever recommend to a client.
  • I will work harder on power through intense speed-work and additional weightlifting.
  • My long runs will still gradually increase as I prepare to run the Boston Marathon.  This remains the same.  There is no substitute.  The experimental side of the long runs for now is that my tempo runs will be embedded within those long runs each week.
  • I will replace my easy running days with cross-training on the bike and in the pool.

Has the experiment paid off yet?

No.  At least not in terms of scoring personal records.

In fact, I have had some relatively slow races lately.  Am I getting slower?  No, I am not.  I am training as fast as ever. ImplementationDip

What I am going through right now is called an implementation dip.  I am challenging my body in new ways.  Hence, my body is changing in subtle but important ways.  In the graph at the right, I am somewhere in the red zone.  My performance had plateaued, so I implemented alternative training and my performance dipped down.  As I continue with the new training, the performance will begin to rise again.  When the change is complete, I can expect my performance to not only match my prior level but to begin exceeding it.  By staying the course on this plan, I should begin setting personal records again before fall rolls around.

On a related note, this is messing with my head a little.  In races this year, I have not felt exactly the same as before.  As a result, I have not been able to make good pacing decisions.  When I get past the implementation dip, the feel of races will be more consistent.  This will help me better adjust my pacing during races and maximize my race performances.

Have I seen any benefits so far?

Yes.  I am healthier, with fewer aches and pains.  At 46 years old, that is a big deal.

I am running fewer miles and doing more cross-training that causes less wear and tear.  I am still doing a lot of cardiovascular work to enhance endurance.  It is just in different formats.  Fewer aches and pains means I am more comfortable doing strength training.  This in turn allows me to get faster.

It also breaks up the daily grind by offering alternative training sites and experiences.  Having fewer runs per week makes my runs feel even more special than before. Even though I have added biking, swimming, and some triathlons, I am still a runner.  That is where my goals are.  That is where my heart soars.

“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

 

 

Looking Back and Moving Forward: A Reflection on My Training

 Howdy, Friends!

It has been another interesting year in my training. I say training, because this year I added more cross-training.  Don’t worry, running is my first love and will remain my focus.

Looking Back

To put 2013 in context, it helps to remember where I have come from.  In late 2009, I started to run consistently for the first time since 1985.  I ran a half marathon that fall and a marathon the spring of 2010.  I was not competitive.  I was just happy to finish my races at that point.

I gradually learned the basics of how to train for running, gradually became more disciplined, and gradually moved towards being competitive.   By the fall of 2011, I just missed the qualifying time for Boston (for my age) by 2 minutes and 27 seconds.

I had glorious goals set for 2012 that made sense based on my recent progress, but I began to feel weakly just weeks before the Knoxville Marathon.  I started reasonably well, but could not finish that race.  That was April.  I remained sickly while the doctors guessed at what might be wrong.  I completed races and some training, but I did not find the answer until September.  After half of a year of guesswork, I changed to a gluten-free diet.  Problem solved.  I qualified for Boston with a time of 3:22:44 just 6 weeks after eliminating gluten from my diet.  I had expected be sub-3 in 2012, but after the illness I was just happy to finish a tiny bit faster and get the BQ.  (Boston Qualifier)

At the beginning of 2013, I decided not to write down a long set of specific goals.  2012 had taught me that I should be satisfied doing the best that I can in any given circumstance.  Here is what I said:

“I will continue my quest to run a sub-6:00 mile pace at every distance up to and including the marathon. I cannot possibly achieve that pace in the marathon in 2013, but I would like to run under 2:50:00 in a marathon by the end of this year.

I believe that I can achieve the sub-6 pace in the 10K for sure and possibly for the half marathon. I also think I have an excellent shot at running a sub-5:00 mile this year, but I need to find a few more 1 mile races.”

Progress in 2013

I started 2013 with a bang.  On New Year’s Day I ran a 5K in 18:35, just slightly faster than a 6 minute pace.

In February, I managed to whittle my half-marathon time down to 1:27:42.  [6:41 pace]

In March, I ran the Shamrock Marathon in 3:13:22.  I would have liked to have gone under 3:10, but I have no regrets.  I gave it all and enjoyed the run.

dash (2)

There were several races that I did not consider to be goal races.  I ran them to score points for our racing team.  I aimed for age group awards and did fairly well despite not training specifically for them.  This was the first year I had been on a running team beyond high school.  I enjoyed being a part of the Tennessee Spine Racing Team.  Good people.  Running with teammates during races helped my motivation greatly.

Although nowhere near my goal of a sub-6 pace, I did well in my age group in the Expo 10K.  I had been doing a lot of speed work and it showed up in the last mile.  Zoom!

My next goal race was the Fireball 5K on July 3rd.  Although my time of 18:48 was 13 seconds slower than my race on New Year’s Day, I still considered it to be great progress.  It was 70 degrees and rainy, so it was probably the equivalent of 18:20 in perfect weather. Context matters.  Weather affects your running ability.  I did well.

I had a lot of fun at the three summer track meets.  I ran 800m, 1 mile and 2 miles, as well as doing some relays with my friends.  In the heat of the summer, I ran 800 meters in 2:22.9, 1 mile in 5:20.7, and 2 miles in 11:56.  I loved it. 

I continued to play with speed throughout the summer and into early fall.  I added just enough distance to be ready to run the Indianapolis Marathon.  I did not plan my training schedule around this marathon, but I still managed a slight improvement at 3:12:45.

A few weeks later, I ran the Savannah Marathon with my new wife, Muna.  We eloped on the way to the race. I paced her and she earned a huge PR at 3:52:25.   Win-Win!

My last goal race of the year was the Secret City Half Marathon.  Unfortunately, I injured my knees slightly in a weightlifting session a week or so before the race.  I held back a little, but still managed to defend my Masters title, finishing in 1:28:18.

I have spent the month of December crosstraining and building my leg muscles while my knees recuperate.  I have run less than 10 miles in December of 2013. I have kept up my fitness by swimming several miles each week and began to bike some as well.

In addition to training and racing, I also managed to publish my second book, Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life.  As with my first book, I don’t make much money on each copy; the goal is to help people.

As a running coach, I developed training plans for several people and continue to see good results.  I love to be a part of it as runners move towards their goals!

On to 2014

In 2014, I will continue my quest towards running a sub-6 minute pace at distances up to a marathon.  Whatever progress I make will make me happy.  2013 saw me run sub-6 pace at 1 mile, 2 miles, and 5K.  I hope to add 10K to that and will once again try to get closer to 6:00 pace in the half-marathon.

2014 will also be the beginning of my triathlon career.  I have found a love for swimming and I need to bike to strengthen my knees.  Hence, training for a few triathlons this year will help my running.

Finally, all of my training will go to support my newest goal.  I want to run 800 meters in 1:58:00 or better.  I do not believe that I can get there this year.  2:10 or better would be a reasonable goal, but I will take what I can get.

Above all, my main goals are what I wish for you this year:

“Train Smart, Eat Well, & Enjoy the Run!” 

Thanks for your support this year. Let me know if you have questions about running!

Your friend,

P. Mark Taylor

Race Report: Indianapolis Marathon 2013

I ran the Indianapolis Marathon on October 19.

I completed it in 3:12:45, which was a personal record by 37 seconds.   :)

There are a few things that made this marathon different for me.Indy 2013 running

#1  This was not a “Goal Race” for me.

I have several goal races each year.  I plan all of my training and racing around these events.  This was the first marathon I have run that I did not consider to be a goal race.  I just decided to run a fall marathon to get a little more experience.  It was my 6th marathon.  It was also the 3rd time that I have run fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

#2  Since this was not a goal race for me, I did not train to run a marathon.

I only ran four training runs over 10 miles since my previous marathon in March.  I ran one 12 miler in July.  The other three longer than 10 where all in September, when I ran 14 miles, 15 miles, and 17 miles on consecutive weekends.

What have I been training for since March?  To run faster.  I ran shorter races.  I particularly enjoyed the summer track series. I raced 800 meters, 1 mile, 2 miles, and ran various distances for relays.  Good times.

#3  I was pestered by  a couple of minor issues.

While I was doing some intense speedwork this summer, I irritated my heal.  I was not careful enough with my form and I paid the price.  In addition, I developed a sinus infection a couple of weeks before this marathon.  I was on day 8 of antibiotics on race day.  Antibiotics can dehydrate you, so you have to pay close attention.  I experienced a few minor gluten issues, but thankfully they seemed to be cleared up by race day.

#4  I did not do the usual careful travel plan.

I usually arrive in town two days before a marathon so that I can rest on the day before the race.  I like to keep it low-key.  I will zip in and out of the EXPO quickly, just long enough to get my number bib and my race shirt.  I spend the day hanging out in the hotel room except for slipping out for an easy 3 mile jog to loosen up.  Not this time, however.

This time, I traveled the day before with my fiancé, her 4.9 year old daughter, and our little dog Lucy.   I actually almost got sick in the car just after we left Knoxville.  Not a good sign!  Next, we got stuck in a traffic jam in Cincinnati. We didn’t even make it to the Expo.  We arrived at the hotel around 9 pm. I had been hungry for a while.  I brought food for the trip, but left it in the trunk when I needed it most.  When we reached the hotel, I had my smoothie for dinner and got ready for bed.

So, … on race day…

My alarm went off 3 hours before the race.  I had another smoothie for breakfast and proceeded to get ready.  We arrived extra early at the race site so I could pick up my race bib and shirt.  Most races do not allow this.  Score one brownie point for the good people of Indianapolis!  They scored a second big point because they had ample port-a-potties at the start line.  Routine IS everything after all.

When we arrived at the parking lot, it had already been raining for a while.  I was hoping it would quit, but the clouds did not agree.  The start was a little odd.  We lined up a few feet back o the starting line, which is normal.  After the national anthem and other pleasantries, they had us walk towards the start line, gave instructions, and got us started.  The odd part was that none of us had actually reached the starting line when the gun went off. We were still walking as they said “Runners to your mark!”  I did not count this as a big deal because this was not a goal race for me.  That extra second or two of “Gun time” would not hurt me any.  No big.

Even though my sinus infection had me feeling a little queasy on race morning just like the day before, I seemed to put that behind me when the race started.  I was going to treat this like a 26.2 mile training run.  I would keep the pace under 7 minutes as long as I could and just see if I could beat my personal record.  I kept the pace of each mile between 6:48 and 7:20 for most of the race.  The rain finally stopped after I had finished about 14 miles.  My average pace at mile 19.72 was 7:02.  I had felt my first twinge of a cramp at around 19 miles and had managed to keep going without having a full-fledged cramp.  Then I felt a GI issue coming on.  I stopped at the port-a-potty at 19.72.  I was in there for a little over 3 minutes.

When I stepped out, I tried to regain my composure and get into the rhythm I had been enjoying earlier.  My legs were tight and gradually all of my muscles took turns threatening to cramp.  Miles 21 to 25 were all in the 7:30s and 7:40s in terms of pace.  I reminded myself that I had not properly trained for a marathon.  Beating my personal record by any amount of time would be pretty darn good.  With a positive attitude, I kept the pace as fast as I could.  Mile 26 had a long steady climb.  It wasn’t steep, but enough to slow my pace another 30 seconds.

The first female passed me just before mile marker 26.  A nice woman that was volunteering shouted, “Hey, don’t let that girl beat you!”  I shouted back, “If she is fast, I will gladly let her win.”  She had more gas than I did for those last two-tenths of a mile.  I was just happy to see the finish line getting closer.

Official Results of Indianapolis Marathon:

Time – 3:12:45   15th place out of 615 finishers

My Conclusions

Managing to best my personal record without training specifically for a marathon was a pretty good confidence boost.  Yes, it was only by 37 seconds, but I had trained like crazy for the previous one.  This time, I ran about 300 fewer miles.  My conclusion is that I maintained most of my endurance fitness while enhancing my raw speed through the summer and early fall training.

Will I train harder for the next one?  It will be my first Boston Marathon, so what do you think I will do?!?

As for this race, however, it felt rather routine.  I was just out for a good run.

The final conclusion:  I have now completed 6 marathons.  All were personal records.  The last three were all Boston Qualifying times for my age group.  Not bad for a guy who returned to competitive running in late 2009 after a 25 year break. Nope, not bad at all.

A word about the event:  The course of the Indianapolis Marathon was mostly flat and fast.  It was nice in terms of natural scenery.  There were some suburbs, but most of the scenery was trees, which helped me relax.  The race was very well organized and the support was excellent.

For now, I am trying to vary my courses, but this would be on my list of courses to repeat in the future.  Thank you, Indianapolis!

“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

 

My Unreasonable Running Goals for the Next 5 Years (don’t judge me)

These are running goals I would like to accomplish within 5 years.

No, they are not reasonable for my current level of fitness.

This is my dream.

Encourage me or keep it to yourself.

Thanks,

P. Mark Taylor

Distance  

Goal Time

   Why

400 meters

0:54

   Training for the 800

800 meters

1:58

   US record for 50-54 age group

Mile

4:29

   Because it is faster than 4:30  ;)

5K

15:12

   Training for 1/2

10K

31:35

   Training for 1/2

½ Marathon   

1:10:25

   This is my main goal.

Marathon

Sub 3

   At Boston.  Pride mostly.  :)

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life (2nd book)

Wise Running Book 2 is now available via in paperback and e-book. 

Wise Running Book COVER mockup

Wise Running is the follow-up to P. Mark Taylor’s first book on running: The Gift of Running.  While the first book focused more on getting started as a runner, this second book is more about how to move to the next level. P. Mark Taylor tells us how to think about running in ways that will help you be more consistent and improve.

Running is a great metaphor for life. It takes effort. It takes motivation. You have to stay healthy. If you stick with it long
enough and smart enough, you live a more rewarding life. So it is with running.

In Wise Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

The ebook includes:

  • goals, fitness, & health
  • how to think about training
  • designing a race and training schedule
  • aligning your efforts with reality
  • eating for health and fitness
  • a runner’s view on special diets
  • running-specific nutrition, including marathon nutrition
  • the effects of heat and humidity
  • the social aspect of running
  • motivation and encouragement

________________

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

 

My Running Form: In Pictures 7/25/2013

 

running form 7_25_2013

Wise Running: The Truth About Cramps

I will tell you two truths about cramping up front and then explain them:

  1. Nobody fully understands all of the reasons for exercise induced cramps.
  2. Since we don’t fully understand the causes, we also don’t know of an ultimate solution.

Electrolytes and Cramping

Most people think of electrolytes as the key to avoid cramping.  If you avoid running low on sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes, then you can avoid cramping, right?  Maybe not.

Research trying to establish a correlation between muscle cramps and low levels of electrolytes in the blood of athletes have shown no significant relationship between these two variables.  This makes it highly unlikely that electrolytes are the culprit for the average runner.  Does this mean that I do not believe in the electrolyte tablets that I am taking?  No.  First, these studies are correlational.  The big limitation of correlational research is that it can’t prove that one variable is the cause, or not the cause, of the changes in another variable.  Hence, we need other kinds of more carefully crafted research before we can negate the possibility that my electrolyte tablets are helping me.stretching

On the other hand, I do believe that it is possible that only some of us need the electrolyte supplements.  I have two things that make my electrolytes lower than they should be:  genetics and eating habits.  Genetically, I have ADHD.  As an ADHD person I am aware that I use up electrolytes faster than the non-ADHD population.  Making matters worse, I have never eaten as many vegetables as I was supposed to consume.  I believe these are the best sources of electrolytes.  I think there is a good chance that if I ate more veggies, my need for the supplements would fade.

Beyond Electrolytes

While electrolyte supplements may or may not help, there are are several other theories about why muscle cramping might occur.  Insufficient fuel on a long run (>13 miles) can mean that your muscles simply cannot work properly.  In addition to proper fueling, cramps can be caused by overdoing it.  If your effort in a race is significantly more than you have done in training, your muscles may not be able to handle it.  Finally, short muscles may contribute to your cramping.  Working one side of your legs much harder than the other side for a long time may cause your muscles to become shorter and tighter.  The imbalance between the sides can cause cramping.

My Recommendations

The fact that there may be many causes for muscle cramping means that you should use a balanced approach.

  • Electrolyte Supplements  – I have not given up on my supplements, but the research definitely calls into question whether the average runner needs them.  When I do use them, I use them primarily as a preventative measure.  In doing that, however, I try to use as little as possible.  Experience is the best teacher.  I started with none and then gradually added some when I had issues during or after the workout.  Over time, I began to understand how much I need.  Electrolyte supplements are not cheap; don’t use them if they don’t help you!
  • Salt Tablets or Packets –  Studies have found that if your are experiencing cramps, one way to halt them is consume table salt.  They found that it the effect it has is to stimulate the brain to stop the leg cramping.  It does not stop because of the sodium, just the salty taste is enough.  Salt, therefore is not a preventative measure.  It is used after the cramps occur.
  • Stay within Your Limitations – Operate at the level of intensity for which you have trained.  Going beyond that can push your muscles too far.  They will rebel!
  • Stretch regularly AFTER exercise – Static stretches before exercise can hurt your performance.  Stick with dynamic stretching and warming up before exercise.  Static and dynamic stretches throughout the day after the workout, however, can lengthen and relax the muscles.  That can reduce or eliminate cramping altogether.
  • Hydration - The current recommendation of experts tend to be to drink to thirst.  This literally means let your body tell you how much to drink and when.  Others still recommend 4- to 6 ounces every 20 minutes.  Just as with the electrolyte supplements, you will have to figure out what is best for you.  Pay attention to how your body responds and learn what it needs for optimal performance.

Electrolyte supplement may or may not be helpful, so make sure you try the other recommendations too!  If you do stretch, stop and relax.  I don’t care if you are in a race.  Until you relax, your cramping is unlikely to subside.  When the muscles calm down, gently stretch and move them.  If you must continue after that, do so gently and paying great attention.  It is better to have a slow race time than to have an injury that will slow you down for months.

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

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 http://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
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