Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Taming That Gremlin

John Bingham writes well about listening to and ultimately dealing with the little voice runner's always hear. The voice that sometimes is helpful but sometimes is that of the gremlin.
I'm talking about that little voice that whispers what it thinks you should be doing. Sometimes the voice is called your conscience, when it thinks what you're doing isn't right. But there's another voice that many of us hear. I know I do, or at least I used to. This is the voice of the Gremlin. This is the voice that tells you whatever you're doing isn't good enough, that you should be able to run faster or farther, and that simply enjoying yourself is no reason to keep running. The Gremlin tells you that no matter how much you've improved your life or your running, you still have a long way to go.
The next time you hear yourself thinking that a run isn't good enough, far enough, or fast enough, listen carefully to that voice. Ignoring it won't make it go away. Listen to it, thank it for its opinion, and then forget it.

Good advice for all runners. The gremlin is there. Recognize it and forget it!

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Falmouth 2005

Yes, it was hot and humid. But you know, for a run under those circumstances, I would not hesitate to do it again there. The organization/coordination of the volunteers to fill the water stops, the Falmouth residents (summer or permanent) who had their hoses out, who had orange slices out, who were clapping and cheering you on was just wonderful. It is truly an experience!

I know of one runner who hesitated to take a break and walk because there were some many people watching, she felt embarrassed. Walking at a water stop is okay though. You want to make sure that you get a good portion of the water inside and dump the remainder on the head and back of the neck.

Remember being told to always where a hat in winter time? That 90% of your heat escapes through your head? Well, it is true and that same heat will try to escape in summer also. Hence, the importance of hats. Hence, putting some water on your head to help cool it off. Putting some water on the back of your neck to help cool off that critical junction point.

With the heat and humidity, the race became a workout. I dropped my target pace down and ran comfortably to finish. There were about 1800 folks in front of me and another 5700 behind me so it was a decent performance for a good workout in these conditions.

To race this course would be a challenge. The crowd and staggered start would provide some real tactical opportunities. One would need to be in the front of their color's corral. One would need navigate carefully through the crowd to gain some running room and then be careful to maintain the pace. Fortunately, the mile markers are well done. There are big clocks running the elapsed time (for the first seeded starters). Assuming you have your own watch, you can check your splits against the official clock. I was fortunate to have my watch be only one second off the official time taken by the chip.

The course itself is challenging but not overly so. The first 2.5 miles or so are rolling through wooded country roads, fairly narrow that twist and bend this way and that. This stretch goes by very quickly. Then you break out into the open running parallel to the beach. The sun was hidden by the overcast on this day. There was something of a breeze coming over our shoulders. At least, it was not against us. At about 4.5 miles, the course turned into the final portion more like city streets, buildings on both sides, some turns but more spread apart, left then right, then right again and soon you are at the 6 mile, then the 10K markers before you make the final turn, climb the final hill ( a respectable one coming at this point but not a real elevation), top out and then cover the last .5 mile down gradually into the finish.

My thanks to all those who helped to make the Falmouth Road Race a great event!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Falmouth Hotspot

Found an internet hotspot, Coffee Obsession, conveniently located near where we are staying here in Falmouth. The Palmer House Inn is a wonderful B&B. I highly recommend it.

Falmouth is itself a hotspot, with temps in the 80's and high humidity. This is not good for running fast or long, both of which I was planning to do on Sunday. Sounds like it will be long and slow.

Drove the course twice yesterday when we arrived. The first time I guessed wrong on the turn coming out of Woods Hole and found the 2 mile marker but not the 1 mile. The second time around found the 1 mile marker.

This is a challenging course. The first 2 and half or so miles are rolling, mostly tree shaded roads but fairly narrow so it will be tight running in the crowd. The course then flattens for the stretch along the beach. This section is wide open to sun and breeze. Hopefully they will be kind to us tomorrow.

After the 4 mile mark, we get back into turns and sections in the residential sections before heading up a hill after the 10K mark. This hill, not a really big one, comes down gradually to the finish.

Weather and crowd will be factors. I will go slower (because of the weather) and look to talk more with my compatriots in the crowd. This should help the time go by quick enough.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Have a good run!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Falmouth Road Race Weekend

Heading to the Cape for the road race... maybe I'll catch some WiFi somewhere but otherwise, I'll provide updates on the other side of the weekend!

Have a good run!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Two down - two to go

Ran the 200 M at the meet last night, apparently it was not the week for the 400 M. I elected to run the 200 as I had not been able to get a good split in previous workouts. Good split being able to break 30 for the 200. If I can break 30, then I feel confident I can get close to 60 for 400.

It was warm. The humidity in New England this summer has been about as bad I recall. It makes it easier to warm up (takes less time) but makes it harder to run well.

I was pleased with my 28.9 time. That was okay! Not great, I would have been happier to go faster but this works. So next week is the final meet. Here's hoping for better weather.

Tonight was the Pub Run 5K. The car temp gauge said it was 96. It was humid at 7:00PM when we started. I started well but did not hold the pace finishing in a respectable 23:30.

The conversation with the group after the race made it a good night.

Now the long run on Sunday at Falmouth. The weather is supposed to be hot/humid again. Oh well, since it is my first time there, anything I do will be a PR so we'll take it easy and see what happens.

Have a good run...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The FIRST Training Plan - Detailed Marathon Prep

For the FIRST Training posted previously, here is a detailed version of the training for a marathon.

The FIRST Training Plan

The FIRST marathon program includes three running workouts per week—a speed workout, a tempo run, and a long run. Here’s the full, 16-week marathon training program. Participants are also encouraged to cross-train for 40 to 45 minutes on two other days per week.




Saturday Long


8x400 meters

3 miles

10 miles



5 miles

12 miles



7 miles

13 miles



3 miles

10 miles



5 miles

14 miles



5 miles

15 miles



8 miles

17 miles



10 miles

13 miles



3 miles

18 miles



5 miles

15 miles



8 miles

20 miles



5 miles

15 miles



5 miles

20 miles



4 miles

15 miles



8 miles

10 miles


30 min easy w 5x60s

20 min easy w 3 or 4 pickups


The FIRST Paces

The training paces recommended by the FIRST program are somewhat faster than those recommended by other training plans. Of course, with just three running days a week, you should be well rested for each workout. Here are the paces you’ll need to run, each expressed relative to your current 10-K race pace.

Long Run

10-K pace + 60 to 75 seconds/mile

Long Tempo

10-K + 30 to 35 seconds

Mid Tempo

10-K + 15 to 20 seconds

Short Tempo

10-K pace

1600m Repeats

10-K - 35 to 40 seconds

1200m Repeats

10-K - 40 to 45 seconds

800m Repeats

10-K - 45 to 50 seconds

400m Repeats

10-K - 55 to 60 seconds

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Less is More Running Plan

From Runner's World and the writing of Amby Burfoot, I find this alternative running plan that I like a whole lot.

The basic plan calls for three days of running and two or more days of cross training. The running days are one long distance, one track workout, and one paced/tempo distance run. Generally the days would be spread over the week as Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday/Sunday.
The Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) marathon program was born, in a sense, when Bill Pierce and Scott Murr decided to enter a few triathlons way back in the mid-1980s. Just one problem: They hit the wall when they added biking and swimming to their running. The demands of three-sport training were too much, so they cut back their running from six days a week to four. To their surprise, they didn't slow down in local road races. So they cut back to three days of running. "Lo and behold, our 10-K, half-marathon, and marathon times didn't suffer at all," says Pierce. "The more we discussed this--and we discussed it a lot--the more we became convinced that a three-day program, with some cross-training, was enough to maintain our running fitness."
I like the plan for a number of reasons:

It abides by the hard/easy rule. If you do a hard workout one day, you need to go easy the next. Your body simply needs time to rebuild/repair the muscles that were exercised on the hard day. Without the recovery (i.e. easy workout) including sleep and nutrition, the body will ultimately break down. It will. The question is when.

It touches the three major elements of all most every training plan I have seen. You need to work on your speed (i.e. the track workout), you need to build up your basic strength (i.e. distance workout), you need to practice running at pace for good distances (i.e. the paced/tempo run).

The plan is flexible enough to adapt to other race types and not just the marathon. I expect you could develop a mean 5K time with this plan. Someone could develop a mean 10K time. You can go up the ladder of races and do well by this plan. And while this is focused on distance running, this could be adapted for shorter distances as well.
In the fall of 2003, FIRST launched its training program. Applicants were told they would have to undergo pre- and postprogram physiological testing in Furman's Human Performance Lab, and run three very specific running workouts each week. There were no restrictions on additional running or cross-training workouts, and there was no "final exam" test race. The postprogram lab tests showed that subjects had improved their running economy by two percent, their maximal oxygen uptake by 4.8 percent and their lactate-threshold running pace by 4.4 percent. In other words, the three workouts had led to better fitness and race potential. FIRST was off and running.
Yes, not only does this plan meet most basic requirements for good training programs. It also has some real scientific test results to back it up. These kinds of improvements do not happen by chance. It takes work, hard work, careful planning, and execution to maintain the discipline to allow for the recovery, stay on track and perform. There is no reason why you can not do this.

The FIRST folks did another study in the fall of 2004. This time recruiting 25 folks for a marathon. They maintained the three day running routine and were encouraged to do two days of cross training.
How did they do? All 21 finished, with 15 setting personal bests. Four of the six who didn't set PRs ran faster than their most recent marathon. "It was so exhilarating to watch them come in, and it was quite a relief, too," says Pierce. "When you're responsible for 21 people who cut back their marathon training because you told them to, well, that can make you a little nervous." What's more, as postrace lab testing showed, the FIRST participants had improved their maximal oxygen uptake by an average of 4.2 percent and their lactate threshold running speed by 2.3 percent. Bonus: They also reduced their body fat by an average of 8.7 percent. "We think the results show that our program was a big success," says Pierce. "Our people didn't get hurt, and most ran their best-ever marathon. I think we showed that you can teach people to train more efficiently."
These are good numbers. Yes, the group was selected. They had one major qualification, all of the runners had to be capable of running ten miles. But for the study purposes, that was fine. The plan as mentioned before is flexible and adaptable for the race of your choice.

The 8 basic rules of the FIRST plan are as follows:
  1. Run Efficiently, Run for Life
  2. Run Three Times a Week...And No More
  3. Build Your Long Run to 20 Miles
  4. Run Three Different Kinds of Tempo Runs
  5. Put More Variety in Your Speedwork
  6. Cross-Train Twice a Week...Hard
  7. Don't Try to Make up for Lost Time
  8. Follow a 3-Week Taper

I am modifying my running plan to go this way. I will cut out one day, coming down from four to three but mileage and effort should gradually increase.

I already do a long run but as I am not gearing for a marathon, I do not think I will end up with a 20 mile run. I will go higher than the 10 I currently can do, up at least to 13-15.

Instead of the hill workout one day and the track workout another day, I'll bring them together. Focusing on the track while the weather is still good then pick some local roads for the appropriate distance needed to the repeats when the track is no longer an option. The local roads by nature will include some hills if not inclines and declines to help add that element to the plan.

The paced or tempo run is something I currently do alone. It will be good to see if others are willing to give this a try and join me for the run.

So what do you think? Will you give it a try?

If you would like some help "personalizing" this plan for your own goals, let me know.

You can read the full Runner's World article here.
You can visit the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training website here.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Good Sunday Run

The weather was cooperative today. Approximately mid-60's, no humidity to speak of. A good day to run. Three other Pacers joined me for the 10K fun run this morning. Plenty of chatter kept us going through the first 3 or so miles, then we hit the long incline up King Street and the chatter slowed (realistically stopped) as we focused on the task at hand.

I am very familiar with this stretch of King and stayed on the left side as the road bent coming to the Rt 495 crossing. The others moved across the street and then ended up coming back to my side as the road bent back past the Parmenter School and we headed into the last mile. I had to stop briefly as I picked up some glass that stuck to the bottom of my shoe. Once that was handled, I was able to resume my stride.

Felt good after the run. My hamstrings were tight but no knee tightness (IT Band) which has been lingering recently. My adjusted running is allowing enough recovery to avoid further complications (I hope). I walked Saturday and did my Narcessian set of lifting to help provide some cross training (and save the legs). One casualty of this adjustment is a drop in the mileage (from 20-25 to 10-15) but the quality is good so I will not allow that factor to drive my thought and make me change back at this time.

As mentioned previously, I have 4 races coming up in a span of 8 days and need to maintain fresh legs. The races are shorter overall (400, 5K, 7.1 miles, and 1 mile) than the previous 4 races in 10 days (then they were all 5K or better). I have done the prework required on the hills, the track and good distance. So the tapering now is really appropriate. I will get the mileage back after this stretch in preparation for the race-a-month routine I look forward to in Sep, Oct, and Nov.

My mind set will be as critical as keeping my legs fresh. I am focused and need to remain that way without going overboard. Life presents plenty of opportunity for dissonance. I need to let it slide by me.

I hope your running is going well! If you need someone to talk about it, whether you want to adjust your plans or just need re-enforcement on how you are going, let me know.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Summer Sizzler Results

I ran the 400 tonight at the Summer Sizzler meet at Franklin High School. It was warm but I have run in warmer weather this summer. I was assigned the 4th or outside lane in the open heat, all the other runners were inside (and behind) me due to the staggered start. I was not worried. I have run in all lanes at one time or another. They stayed there. I did not hear them coming at all. And when I reached the finish line, they were not close. I managed to finish well in 64.9 This was down one second from a couple of weeks ago. But still off what I want to do. I know I have at least a 62 in these legs. I'd like to think I can get below 60 but time is already running out this summer.

Next week would be the last chance. The following week, the Pacers hold their Grand Prix mile at the same track meet. I prepared for that by running the 1000 also tonight. I ran a good 6:00 mile pace; going through the half at 3:00 and finishing at 3:44. Not bad at all.

I will be adjusting my mileage and effort to stay healthy and keep the legs fresh. They did feel good once I had warmed up tonight. I want to get some distance in this weekend. I have the 400 again next Wednesday, followed by the next Pub Run on Thursday and then the Falmouth Road Race on Sunday, closing out with the Grand Prix mile the 17th.

This is a busy stretch of running coming up with some key performance opportunities. My head is in the right place. Now I need to keep the legs fresh and we'll see what happens.

Happy trails to you!