NOTE: If you would like to follow my progress or send cheers during the race, there is info at the end of this post on how to do that.
The Waiting Game
So, now I wait. Or rather, I taper. Tapering is a needed but disconcerting time of training. It’s where you reduce your workouts in mileage and intensity as you get closer to your goal race. In the case of marathon it is usually 2 weeks with the first of those being just a mild reduction and the 2nd week being a much more severe reduction.
This past week I ran my usual 5 days but didn’t do as many miles and I didn’t do a lot of hills. But I did do speed work, even though I wasn’t planning on it.
Waiting, waiting, waiting
Over the past weekend we found out that the elder statesman of Tulsa running, Bobby Bomer, had to have emergency abdominal surgery. He leads our weekly workouts at the University of Tulsa track on Tuesday mornings and evenings. I was called to take his place on Tuesday morning. That meant a 4:45am wake up to get there on time. I was planning on just leading the warm up and encouraging people as they ran, maybe doing some light running, but not doing the sprints. But Bobby’s wife Judy was there to help lead so I gave into the temptation and ran. It turned out to be wonderful. It was the first true fall day, with temps in the low 50s as we started. It was refreshing and exhilarating. Later that day I led my usual group on our afternoon run (not speed work) and that same feeling continued. It was cool and dry and we ran strong and fast for the entire time. I was thinking ‘I hope my race is at this temperature!’.
At the end of our early morning speed workout the TU Students were warming up for theirs.
Reducing and Refining
The rest of the week I ran just the mileage I would normally run with my group, nothing extra, nothing intense. I also ran just what Pathways was running on Saturday, 10 miles. I didn’t do any extra before or after. It was odd after so many weeks of continually pushing the weekly miles up to be reducing them.
Strong Runners at Sunset in Broken Arrow, OK
Aches, Pains and Fences
One of the worst things about tapering is ‘ghost injuries’. I had 2 days this week where I ran with my big toe aching quite a bit. An injury? A problem? Serious? Long Term? What does it mean for my race? Will I be able to run? Then a day later it disappeared. My back was aching, probably will be a problem I am sure. Next morning, it was gone. I felt weak a few afternoons ago. Maybe the flu? A cold? What if I am sick for my race? But the truth was I just needed to eat lunch. What is that all about? It’s about freaking out about every little thing. You have invested so much for so long in running towards this goal that when you are so close you see the tiniest little thing as a potential game changer or ender. It does sometimes happen of course, but the vast majority of time it turns out to be nothing.
The other thing you worry about is doing some other random activity in these taper weeks that will wipe you out. For example, in the 2 weeks before my first marathon in 2010 I rebuilt a fence in my backyard. It had to be done, the fence was falling apart and we had 2 dogs who were about to get out. But it was back-breaking work and I came to the start line of the race with a very sore back. I learned my lesson that day – no heavy lifting, no DIY projects, no fence building in the weeks leading up to the race.
The old fence during a hail storm – note the chairs blocking the gaps so the dogs wouldn’t break through.
And of course I am constantly checking the weather for that day. What would be my ideal conditions? Probably about 45-50º to start and moving up to 60 or so, with cloud cover and just enough wind to keep the air moving. What does it look like it will be? As of now, it appears it will be about 53º to start moving up to about 70 by the time I finish with a mild wind. It will be part sun, part clouds. That sounds pretty good to me, I’ll take it.
Beautiful sky during our first true fall run.
Tomorrow we head off to Washington DC. If you would like to follow me and find out how I am progressing during the race there are a number of ways to do it. Feel free to spread the word to others you know who might be interested.
Go to the MCM website and you will find lots of options.
I suggest the simplest, which is the ‘RUNNER TRACKING’. All you have to do is type in my name or bib number (24944) and put in how you want alerts to come.
A cooler way to follow is to do the ‘MAP TRACK’. It has a map that allows you to see in real-time where I am on the course.
I am also registered with the MOTIGO app. You can record cheers and encouragements and they will be played wherever in the race you tell it to play.
And the very best way to do any of that is to download the MCM app.
That is it for now! Next time you hear from me I will hopefully be tired and smiling with a big medal around my neck!
See you running,
A Good Soaking
Do you know my favorite weather for a run? I will give you a hint: it’s the exact opposite of what many, if not most, people would say is their favorite weather. Many would say their favorite would be sunny and maybe about 80º, right? Most runners wouldn’t say that, though 80º isn’t that bad, at least not when you live in Oklahoma where there are about 60 days over 90º every summer. But most runners would also not say their favorite is my favorite because my favorite is rain. Yes, GLORIOUS EXHILARATING CHALLENGING ENERGIZING FUN LIBERATING RAIN! My favorite marathon (Dallas 2014), the one I crossed the finish line feeling best, was the one I ran in a torrential downpour from about mile 22 to 25 (with much of the rest of the marathon in light rain as well). How good did I feel? My last 6 miles were faster than my first 6. That tells you something.
Fleet Feet Runners in the Rain!
This week I had the best rain run of my life. It was raining and about 70º. But it wasn’t just that it was raining, it was that it had been raining all day and the streets were wild flowing rivers by the time we started our run. We ran exactly one block before we hit our first river and had to splash at least one foot into it. Within another 2 blocks we had already given up trying to avoid puddles and rivers because our shoes were soaked already. And that’s when it got fun. No longer worrying about getting wet, we were out to enjoy ourselves. We had a challenging 5 mile course that was new to most of us. We went up and down busy streets with driveways of water. We ran over sidewalks that had never been edged, had about a foot of width to them and about 4 inches of water. We ran down small town streets with puddles the size of small towns. We jumped, we leaped, we splashed, we oohed and ahhed. Most of all we smiled and laughed. Ok, most of all we watched where we were going to avoid falling into a pit or something, but after that we smiled and laughed a lot! We did what adults never get to do unless they are runners, and that is play in the rain.
After 5 miles in the rain, happy as a clam!
In the meanwhile I had an injury scare. On Tuesday morning I was doing my usual stretching and calisthenics when I heard a very loud and distinct crack in my rib cage while using some 5 lbs weights. It hurt and I immediately stopped. It felt like I had been punched really hard in my ribs. It was way up high on my right side, even with my man boob but under my arm pit. I got up and walked around. I breathed deep. I bent over. I sat down. What was it? A cracked rib? It certainly sounded like a crack, but maybe it was just a pop or a snap I heard, not a crack. The fact that I could breathe deep with no extra pain made me think it wasn’t a cracked rib. It was probably just a pulled chest muscle of some sort but I didn’t know.
I spent the rest of the day doing what I usually do and monitoring the pain level. It wasn’t that bad but it definitely was there. I have a pretty high pain tolerance so I have to remind myself that just because I can handle it doesn’t mean it is ok. I was pretty nervous about what it could be, especially this close to my goal race. What if it really was a cracked rib, then what!?
I went to my scheduled run that evening. It hurt as I first started running, the impact definitely was jostling it. But after a few miles it started to mellow out. After I got home the pain didn’t increase so I decided I would sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning. Wednesday morning I woke up and it was a bit sore. I skipped my stretching that morning. I went through my day and by mid morning I had forgotten about it. By about 1 pm I was testing it and it surprisingly felt like it was barely there. As a matter of fact the only time I really felt it at all that day was when I laid down on the floor to show my wife Linda exactly what I was doing as it happened. I didn’t reinjure it then, just noticed the pain. Wednesday night I did the rain run mentioned above and felt great. Thursday I did another run of equal length and felt great. If I press in that spot I can still feel a soreness but other than that it’s like it never happened. Whew, crisis averted!
The Rest of the Week
The long run this week was supposed to be 16 miles. I did 3.5 miles with the half marathon group, then did 9 with my Pathways group. We actually did a mock Tulsa Run (their 9.3 mile goal race). We did a slow jog to the exact start line and then ran over 3/4 of the race course. We ended at the exact finish line.
Amazing and strong PW1 at the end of our mock Tulsa Run!
I had to quickly run back to the store to get some veggie trays my wife had made that I had in my car to bring to a nearby church for a funeral. I had until 9:30 to do it and got it there by 9:15, yay me! Then I ran back to the finish line and met the rest of Pathways as they came in. I took pics of them all and then ran another mile at cool down pace. That gave me 13.1 for the day and that felt like plenty. When you are this close to a race it’s better to be safe and end healthy than to push for a certain amount of miles.
Two weeks to go and now I start my Taper! More on that next week. If you would like to read the rest of my Marathon Training posts simply click on the ‘series’ drop down menu on the right and pick ‘marathon training’.
See you running,
Week 16 – After a Long Run
After you run a long race you are supposed to take at least a few days, if not a few weeks, off to let your body recover and rejuvenate. But after a long training run it isn’t the same. You are still in training and you still have your goal race ahead of you so you still have to run. However, you should consider the punishment you put your body through on that long run and remember not to overdo it the next week.
I didn’t do that very well after my 20 miler and I could feel it. My legs were tired most of the week, my joints were aching and my muscles sore. I thought it might get better as the week progressed but by the time I ran my fourth run of the week I felt pretty wiped out. I was able to do all the runs and keep my pace, but it was definitely harder than usual. Luckily my long run of the week wasn’t a LONG run in the scheme of things. It was supposed to be about 12 miles. I ran 3 before the group run and 6 with my Pathways group and said, “You know what, I am good with nine miles.” and was done for the week. It was a smart move. It wasn’t much less but psychologically it was a good decision.
Also a good decision was stopping in front of Good Ol’ Ben and taking our picture. This house has a statue of Jesus as well. Maybe next time we will get a pic with him!
The Pathways 1 team giving the thumbs up for Uncle Ben.
Week 17 – The Even Longer Run
This is it, the big week! This week was shaping up to be the longest mileage week of training. I expected to hit get close to 50 miles and I did, getting 48.4. I front loaded the week with longer mileage runs and ended with a short run on Thursday. I was able to get in a bit of speed work and a progression run as well. Friday was a rest day and I needed it. My knees, which have never been a sore point, definitely had a bit of soreness and I was a bit anxious about that in anticipation of the long run.
The Long Run
What does a really long run look like? Here it is:
- Wake up time – 4:30am – Cheerios and a banana for breakfast (my long run habit)
- Solo start time – 5:20am – 4 miles – Electrolyte tablets at the start, water and energy nutrition gel at end.
- M2 group start time – 6:15am – 18 miles – 5 water stops with Nuun (electrolyte drink) and water. At 3 of the 4 water stops I had another gel and at one of the later water stops I had 2 more electrolyte tablets.
- Moment of Falling – 7:am (approx) – fell while gabbing away but was able to break the fall lightly with my hands and then roll to my right and get up. Slight scrape on my elbows but didn’t hurt myself and was able to keep running just fine.
- Finish time – 9:20am – Stretching, water, OJ and bagels at the store.
- Daylight Donuts – 10:15am – 2 jalapeno sausage rolls and a donut (another long run habit)
- Home – 10:25am – Jump in bed and watch Good Morning America with my wife while I eat.
- Later – shower, nap, football, post pics, second nap.
Those are the basics, But it doesn’t tell the story of how much fun it is to run with great people for that long. Conversations ebb and flow in an organic and natural way. We told funny and helpful stories about marathons (of course), the National Anthem protests and other social issues, ‘where the hell are we on our route?’, my unexpected fall (see above) which led to all sorts of falling stories, injuries, heart rate monitoring, fitness tests, beautiful homes and landscaping (which we saw in abundance), running through pain, long run recovery techniques including Cryo treatments (super dooper cold ice treatments that last 3 minutes), and more ‘where the hell are we on our route?’. And that was just a small part of what I happen to be part of. I overheard in the background a lot more talking among runners that I didn’t know what they were talking about.
Here are my stats for the 22 miles.
I have 3 weeks to go until the Marine Corps Marathon on October 22nd. This coming week will be less mileage and then I start my 2 week taper with even less mileage so I am in prime condition for the race.
That’s it for now! If you would like to read the other marathon training blog posts use the Series drop down menu on the right and choose ‘marathon training’
See you running,
In The Long Run
inside a long run are many short runs. These segments might be physical, emotional, psychological, but whatever form they take, they make for mini-ecosystems within the larger one.
My friend and fellow marathoner Cindy Knull wrote this last week and I thought it fit how I feel as a long distance runner.
“Running long distance is a metaphor for life. The sun sets and it rises. It rains and freezes. The sun shines and it thaws. Pain comes and we push through. The high comes and we exude joy. We fret and we revel. We fight and we win. We fight and learn to rise again. Sometimes we trip and get bruised, but we get up and try again. We get sidelined–for a season–then we come back new. We run in sun, rain, night, day, dark, light, winter, spring, summer, and fall, the cold, the heat, the wind, the freeze. Breathe in breathe out. Running teaches you perseverance in the face of immense obstacles, how to fight your demons, problem solve, meditate, joy in winning, coping with disappointment, how to handle loss, how to keep moving forward, and how to accept where you are but to know when to try harder. It teaches you your limits–it shows you where you stand. And it never lies or gives up on you. It will never take more than you give. It’s not a thing you do…it’s a relationship. My run, my pace.”
Cindy Jackson Knull
In The Long Run, part 2
My long run this week was 20 miles and it was definitely an example of runs within runs. I decided that anything would be better than running all 20 miles by myself so I chose to combine it with 2 races at Fleet Feet Tulsa to see if I could make it an entertaining and interesting outing. My 20 mile plan included 5k at 7:30am and a quarter marathon at 8:30am for a total of 9.65 miles. That left 10.45 more miles to fit in before, during and/or after those races. If I started running at 6am by myself I figured I could finish 8 miles before the first race. I knew I would finish the first race in under 30 minutes and could safely run another 2.5 miles before the second race started. My goal was to be at the start line of the second race needing exactly 6.55 miles (the distance of the race) to get to 20.
It worked out exactly as I planned. I had to zigzag a little on the final straightaway to the finish line to make sure I hit 20, but I did it. I finished the 20 miles in 3:10 for a 9:30 average pace. I felt strong and accomplished at the end. This helps a lot in further defining what I think I can do in my marathon. As of now I am shooting for a 4:15 time. Much will depend on the weather that day. We shall see!
The best part of the run was that my wife Linda was there doing the 6.55 mile Quarter Marathon as well. She is a Race Walker so I had a little time to cool down and get some food then went out to cheer her on at the finish.
If you would like to read the rest of the marathon training series you can do so by using the ‘series’ drop down menu on the right and searching for ‘marathon training’
Thanks for your support and encouragement!
Last week we had Labor Day on Monday. That meant I didn’t have to coach. I could have run the ‘Escape from Turkey Mountain’ trail run but call me cautious but since I am not a trail runner (yet) I didn’t think it wise to go running around rocks and roots with a bazillion other people in front and behind me.
How I imagine it
Since I didn’t have to coach and I didn’t have to race that meant I was going to run on my own, right? Nope. It meant I was a lazy bum and didn’t run at all. I didn’t run the day before either. That means TWO WHOLE DAYS not running. Of course the Saturday before that I ran 18 miles so I had a ready excuse, I was recovering. And that’s just what it was, an excuse. My wife was also gone that weekend, off in Denver visiting her sister. So I ate pizza. And Cocoa Krispies. And Burger King. Why? Because I was bacheloring it. That was my excuse. And just to make sure I didn’t mess things up I skipped my morning stretching and calisthenics workouts over the weekend as well.
Ninja wanted some too
And I learned a lesson I have learned many times all over again. It is SO EASY to be a lazy bum. It makes me believe in the law of entropy. That is the law of the universe that says, and I will try to not get to scientific on you, if you are sitting on a couch you will stay seated on the couch until something comes and kicks you off. Wait, that might be a different law, they can be so confusing. Anyway, it’s the law that took over my life for those two days. Sometimes I like that law.
I also learned something else. I am glad my job is coaching runners. That job is the one that often is the thing that kicks me off the couch and into motion across the universe (or Tulsa, whichever is closest). So, Tuesday rolled around and I had no more excuses. I had to go to work and run. I like my job.
But seriously, if you are suffering from couchitis, find a group to do something with. You may not be a runner, but you are a something. Maybe a bird watcher, or a knitter, or a photographer, or a rock climber. It doesn’t matter. Find your way to a group and join in. You will find that the activity is just a small part of the benefit. The friendships you make while doing the activity are what will really become your joy and your motivation!
We are all different, we are all the same.
The actual runs I did do last week were pretty intense though. I scheduled speedwork for Pathways on Wed and Thurs and I ran both of those. That’s a lot of speedwork. My long run was not long in distance but it was mostly at race pace so it too was a hard work out.
Up next is what might end up being close to a 50 mile week. I have a 20 mile training run and will have to once again figure out how to go about doing it. Whether to do it completely solo or combine it with other runs. The problem is this week Fleet Feet has races so there are no organized training runs, either run the races or run on your own. My question is can I combine the 20 miler with the races. I will let you know what I decide to do.
That’s it for now. If you would like to read the rest of the series, click on the ‘Series’ drop down menu on the right and scroll to ‘Marathon Training’.
See you running,
Some of you may have heard of ‘The Blerch’. It is the ‘fat, little cherub’ that follows you when you run. You can find his story at ‘The Oatmeal‘, a hilarious comic website. He sometimes follows me too but recently I have been enveloped by ‘The Blur’ instead. The Blur is an aerosol spray can of fog that releases its contents over you during these middle weeks of training. It makes you unable to remember individual runs because it’s all just one big run. It makes you unable to talk about anything but running because there is nothing but running. It makes you into a calculating machine trying to figure out the perfect pace, perfect nutrition regimen, perfect clothing and gear. Then once you figure all that out it is the culprit behind why you forget it all and try to figure it out again.
ok, I remember this one! Pathways PW1 in Broken Arrow after the 7 Hills of Hell
I have ‘The Blur’ bad right now. I want to tell you about specific runs but I don’t remember them for the most part. I can tell you about my 18 miler, because it was 2 days ago. But before that? A big blur. All I know is I ran a LOT in August, 156.5 miles to be exact. That is up 16.5 miles from July and is the most I’ve ever run in a month. To give you some perspective and to keep me humble, elite marathoners can easily run 100 miles in a week of training. So my 150 isn’t all that much by that count. But then again my Garmin statistics say it’s more than 99% of other runners my age (60-64) so enough of being humble, I did awesome!
The 18 miler
The memorable run was my longest yet of the training season and I had a lot of anxiety about it before hand. I was torn whether to do it on Saturday when all the groups I lead were running, or whether to just run the minimum on Saturday and get the 18 miles in on Sunday. Running long miles on your own is problematic though since you have to figure out a route, figure out how to have water available or stashed along the way, and get yourself out there to do it before the heat of the day takes you out. I knew Sunday was going to be hot and sunny.
But running with my groups means breaking up the long run into segments and I don’t want to have too much downtime between those segments. Plus I will still have to run most of it solo anyway. But I would have water, electrolyte drink, bathrooms and a route all taken care of in advance. I also knew that Saturday was supposed to be overcast and cooler.
The only pic I took during my long run
Rain Rain, Don’t Go Away
The difference in conditions made me choose Saturday. And it turned out to be my perfect conditions. What are those? First, overcast. Second, temps in the 60s. Third, RAIN. Yep, I love love love running in the rain…IF it’s not too cold or too much of a downpour. This rain was perfect. Rain is exhilarating, it’s cooling, it’s fun, and it makes you feel like a badass. My favorite marathon (Dallas, 2014) was in a light rain, WITH a torrential downpour from miles 22-25. It didn’t matter, I loved it and had my best finish ever as a result.
I had to run the 18 miles in segments, but it was very short downtime between them. I have 45 minutes between when the half marathoners take off and when my 15k runners take off. So, I ran 2 miles with my H2 half marathon group then turned around and headed back to the store. One of my coaches, Susan, was on her way back as well so we ran the 2 miles back together. Pathways, the 15k program I lead, was ready to go by the time we got back. I had just enough time to take some Endurolyte tablets, a Huma energy gel and go to the bathroom and we were off. I ran 4.5 miles with them.
Then I was on my own with 10 miles to go. I had a 4+ mile route that I had already done twice so it was a no brainer to follow that a few more times. That way I would have water along the way and wouldn’t have to think about the route very much. Even with that I did make a wrong turn but it was no big deal, I knew where I was and it added some needed distance anyway. The rain lightened then stopped by about mile 15, when I hit my final water stop. I called my wife at that point because I knew she was on her way to the airport to fly to Denver to visit her sister for the long weekend. That bit of rest made me ready to push out the final 3 miles. I felt great and was able to run the final 3 at the fastest pace of the entire run. I felt like I easily could have gone another 2-3 miles.
That is it for this week. Next week will be more of the same but less mileage on my long run. 7 weeks to go!
If you would like to read more of the series, you can find it here.
If you have advice or comments please feel free to do so here or connect with me on any social media. Just look up NapkinDad and you will find me.
Between the Charlottesville issue, family visiting and the start of a new season of Pathways, I haven’t updated my training for the marathon in the past 2 weeks. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been running. As a matter of fact I had my longest run and longest week yet.
If you saw the movie ‘Race’ last year, about Jesse Owen’s track triumphs in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, you know that there was an argument about whether he should participate or not. Don’t participate and you send a strong message that you will not contribute to the justification of the Nazi regime. Do participate and maybe prove their theory of Aryan racial supremacy false. In the end Owens, an African-American, participated and won four Gold Medals, definitively proving that theory wrong. Now it’s 80 years later and we just witnessed a gathering of people who believe in the same things Hitler believed in, that they are the superior race. It is sad and disturbing and wrong. But how do we overcome that in ourselves or in others?
I was thinking about this the other day in relation to running, how running is a great equalizer. I run with everyone; old and young, thin and wide, tall and short, male and female, black, white, brown, and more. Long haired blondes and bald, muscled macho types. People who are really quiet and people who are really talkative. Ambitious, competitive people and easy-going, mellow people. Really, really fast people and really, really slow people.
I also run with are CEOs, garbage collectors, homemakers, unemployed, retired, middle managers, entrepreneurs, burger flippers, orphans, widows and widowers, liberals and conservatives. I also run with black people and gay people and transgender people and recent immigrants (legal or otherwise) and ancestors of the Mayflower generation.
But who do I REALLY run with? I run with friends. Their identity is based on their desire to run, not the value of their pocketbook, the color of their skin or their agreement with my political ideas. I like that. It doesn’t solve the world’s problems, but it certainly helps.
The past two weeks have been pretty hot and humid, but I was still able to reach my goal of 30-40 miles each week. I have become a bit obsessed with those numbers because it’s an easy way for me to gauge my progress. I know it isn’t as important as quality workouts, but it’s easier to quantify and it’s my version of fun math. What I do is figure out day by day what my mileage is while I calculate what I will have to do the rest of the week to get to 30+. If it is a really long run on Saturday it usually isn’t a problem. Unless the long run distance will get me to 39.5 miles, which it did recently. I was supposed to do a 16 mile run but I needed 16.5 to get to 40. An arbitrary number I know, but I like saying I did 40 so I made sure I ran that extra half mile. Silly me.
The next week I had my daughter Caitlin visiting. She is just starting her training for a half marathon so her mileage was 6 miles. I did the 6 with her in one of the half marathon groups. It was very, very humid but we finished fine. I still needed to do another 6 to get my 12 miles in, which I decided I would do at home so she wouldn’t have to wait around for me. We drove home after our 6, had breakfast with her, her friend Courtney and Linda, my wife. We hung out for almost 2 hours just talking and visiting. Then I decided to go run the rest of my miles.
NOTE TO SELF: cooling down for 2 hours is not a good idea. My legs were stiff and tight and they didn’t want to run. Not only that but it was now 10:15am and the temperature, humidity and sun had all risen. I had a miserable run and got back close to my house right around the 4 mile mark. Here’s where My 30 mile goal came in handy. I was supposed to run 6 more, but really only needed 4.5 more to get to 30 for the week. So 4.5 miles it was!
Caitlin and me after a hot, sweaty run!
I have been diligent about making sure I take my electrolyte tablets before the runs and that I have my gels and tablets with me. I am using the Huma gels pretty exclusively, with a random other brand tossed in to take once in a while. I am practicing taking my nutrition at every water stop or every 45 minutes on the long runs so when I am in my race it will be trained into me to take them at the right time.
Gels on marathon program shirt
That is it for now. If you would like to read the other marathon training posts, you can find them here.
See you running,
Well, here I am at the halfway point in my training. The funny thing about marathon training is there really often isn’t a start date in the traditional sense because people don’t start from scratch, just deciding to start running on day one of training. They’ve been running already, otherwise they really wouldn’t be able to even do the first week of training successfully. In my case there was a number of months of running increasing distances as I recovered from my surgery. The surgery was in November of 2016. in December and January went from a cast to walking. Then I started my ramp-up to training.
- Feb – 7.2 miles
- Mar – 39.6 miles
- Apr – 65.5 miles
- May – 57.6 miles
Training started in June and the mileage doubled.
- Jun – 120.8 miles
- July – 140.1 miles
August is shaping up to be 150+ miles and I expect September to be the same since all my really long runs will be during those two months. October will be less since I will be tapering the mileage as the marathon nears.
Taking the bull by the horns on a HOT day with our Broken Arrow runners!
Racing and Time Trials
One of the important things to calculate in training to race any distance is what is your sustainable pace. To do this it’s good practice to do time trials or races at various distances over the course of your training. This is what I have done recently.
- TU Track 1.5 mile time trial (July) – 11:41, a 7:45 pace. (very hot)
- Maple Ridge 5K (May) – 24:50, a 7:55 pace. (humid and hot)
- Bedlam Run 10K (Aug) – 54:37, an 8:38 pace. (good conditions)
- Tulsa Run 15K (October, before surgery) 1:29:20, a 9:31 pace (I can extrapolate from how I am running post-surgery that I would probably be able to do this race closer to a 9:00 pace)
So, the only distance I haven’t raced recently is a 1/2 marathon. I am contemplating doing one in September just to complete the time trials and get a fuller picture of what I can do. Once I do that I will calculate what looks to be a sustainable marathon pace. Right now it looks like about a 10 minute mile, but I will wait until closer to the race to make a definitive decision on what pace I will run.
After the Bedlam 10K
That is it for now. Feel free to ask any questions or give any comments you want!
In addition, those of you in Tulsa, our 15k running programs starts in less than 2 weeks. We will get you to the Tulsa Run and beyond! contact me if you are interested.
You can read the rest of the series here.
See you running,
Is Nothing Impossible?
You want to make a popular meme? Have it say ‘Nothing is impossible’. You will get a lot of people agreeing with you. But it’s a lie, many things are impossible. You can’t grow another foot taller if you are already grown up. You can’t eat 2 tons of food at one sitting. You can’t become a young child again once you are older. You can’t run 500 miles an hour. Those things are impossible.
What that saying really means is this: things that you assume are impossible, but that are actually not impossible, can be accomplished if you set your mind to it. What or who decides it’s impossibility? You do. If you say it’s impossible, then it will be. But if you say it’s possible, then it may be.
I know this because I am a coach of long distance runners and a long distance runner myself. I started running when a new co-worker of mine turned out to be a casual runner. She would run at lunchtime and I decided to join her. At first I ran about 100 yards, then walked the rest of the way around the part of the river near where we worked. I was amazed she could run the whole 2.75 miles. It seemed impossible to me. I eventually was able to run the entire way with her, but it probably took about 6 months or so.
Making the impossible possible takes time.
My first race, a 5k in 2008
As you know I have been doing a lot of stretching, trying to get more limber and flexible. And it is working. I am able to move and stretch much farther than I ever have before. I never thought it was impossible, I just thought it was going to be difficult, and it has been. But I have stuck with it and am making progress.
Here is something that has made it more difficult than you may realize. When I was 18 years old I was burned on 70% of my body in a boat explosion. My back, the back of my arms and my legs were burned the worse, though much of my stomach and chest got it too. The reason I am telling you this is because of the scars. I have scars that travel the length of my arms all the way to the bottom of my back with no break. The resulting scars are very tight and that means my ability to stretch is limited by them. When I bend over and touch my toes (which I can do now!) it feels like I am one giant rubber band stretched to its limits and wants to snap back. Not letting it snap back can be painful. Not terribly, but painful nonetheless.
I knew I could increase my flexibility if I worked to do so. I knew my muscles could be stretched further. What I didn’t know is how far my scars would stretch. They are not like muscles or tendons. They are hard, fibrous scar tissue that does not want to stretch. How far can I stretch them? What is possible and what is impossible? There is only one way to find out, and that is to do the stretching.
Making the impossible possible is only found out in the doing.
Burn Scars – Left Arm, unstretched and stretched
I did a 14 miler this past Saturday. I did 2 miles with one of the half marathon groups, H2, and then turned around so I could be back at the store in time to lead Pathways. The fastest marathon group, M1, just happened to be passing us when I did the turn around so I joined them. Ok, I joined them for about a half a mile then I couldn’t keep up and had to slow down (they are wicked fast). But even with the slowing down I was still doing close to 9 minute miles back to the store. . At that point I still had over 10 miles to go, only 5 of which I would have company. Those 10 were at a very reasonable pace for me, but the fact I had pushed so hard at on an early mile or two really affected my abilities at the end.
What that taught me, which all runners learn again and again (because we are both a forgetful and optimistic bunch) is that going out too fast in a training run or a race will come back to bite you.
Making the impossible possible demands discipline.
As I write the temperatures have dropped 10-15º. A high of 85, though hot by some standards, feels like a cool ocean breeze when it hits Oklahoma in August. It will be interesting to see how my runs go with better temps and more overcast skies this week. We have a 10k goal race for Pathways this coming Saturday. I will be running as a coach but also as a time trial to help me gauge my racing abilities. Wish me luck!
That’s it for now. Thanks for tuning in. Here is a link to the entire series.
You can read the entire series by choosing ‘marathon training’ from the series drop down menu on the right.
The Joy of Group Running
This past Wednesday I ran a few miles before the group run in Broken Arrow. I passed these 4 kids selling lemonade with profits going to a children’s cancer charity. I told them to be ready because I was going to bring back a LOT of customers. As we warmed up I told my group I had a little surprise for them along the route and off we went. The excitement the kids had in seeing all of us arrive was matched by the fun the runners had in having a ‘lemonade moment’ on a very hot summer’s eve. This is why group running is so awesome!
We found a lemonade stand!
The Open Ocean
A typical marathon training season is between 16-20 weeks. Mine is 19, so I am right smack dab in the middle of it about now. These middle weeks are when you have left the port and can no longer see it over the stern and you also can not yet see the port you are headed towards over the bow. You are on the open sea, at the mercy of the elements but without the ease of turning back or the excitement of knowing the next port of call is there on the horizon. It can be a time of creeping doubt, not sure whether you are headed in the right direction, even if the instruments say you are. I feel like I am best at avoiding falling prey to this problem when I stop looking at the horizon and look down at the water right in front of me. The other element that can have you worried is the state of your boat. It might be taking on more water than you want, or a sail might be ripped in a storm.
Hills just SEEM like they last forever, but they don’t.
Aches and Pains
Ok, enough with the analogy, Marty. What that really means is I just need to do each run as it comes. I know what my pacing and distances should be, I know what sort of tempo, hill or progression runs I should be doing, and I know when I should rest. If I stick with that plan, then the future should take care of itself. it also means, while I need to pay attention to various aches and pains, I don’t have to freak out about them and say the world is ending. It’s not. When you run marathon training miles you are going to have all sorts of random aches and pains. Some last for one run, some come the next day. Some last for a week then disappear, others seem to hang on forever. I have that happening in my elbow right now (did a wonky push up or 20 a few weeks ago) I have it in my side as well (did a wonky sit up or 20). They bug me a little bit, but they are annoyances, not injuries that are going to stop me. I am doing my best to take care of them (no push ups or sit ups lately) but overall I expect them to take a while to disappear, after all I am pretty old and at my age these things take a lot more time to heal than when I was 30 years younger. Of course, 30 years ago I was a lazy bum who never exercised so I didn’t have these issues to compare anyway!
About to hit the water stop!
Last week was even hotter than the week before, with 3 days over 100º. Luckily only one of those days coincided with an afternoon/evening run, which we cut down in distance and pace so all would be safe. That is the thing about having such a long season, any specific planned run can be changed if circumstances warrant and you aren’t going to damage your training. You have plenty of time to either make up the workout if you really feel like it, or just skip it. The only real problem will come if skipping that one workout leads to skipping more. That can sometimes turn into an avalanche that ends with you saying ‘I am too far behind, I am going to quit the season.’
Leading warm up at 98º in downtown Tulsa!
Now, there are times when one has to do that. Life does happen and that can sometimes means weeks on end of family obligations, or an injury that puts you out for months. In that case you do need to reconsider and adapt, maybe to a new distance or maybe to a new race farther in the future. But most of the time that is not what is happening. Most of the time all you need to do is get back on your plan, even if you missed a few workouts, and all will be fine.
As I mentioned last week I am trying to get in some morning runs. This is so I can get my miles in without having to do them all in the brutal heat of the afternoons in Oklahoma. I ran one last week of about 4 miles (ok, EXACTLY 4 miles) and it felt really good, with the sun barely up and the air much cooler, even if it still was quite humid. I was able to get 32 miles in last week with a long run of 10 miles. My average pace for the week (approx. 9:45 per mile) has slowed a bit, due to heat and longer mileage. That is ok because I need to work on endurance and that means slower pace. Next week I hope to do a few more morning runs and get in a few miles before whatever run I am scheduled to coach.
Sunrise as I ran
That’s it for now. Let me know if you have any questions or insights. Oh, and our 15k fall program starts the 3rd week of August. If you are interested, let me know!
You can read the entire Marathon Training Series HERE
See you running,