Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Final Taper

I have been getting some questions in regards to the final two or three weeks before marathon and how to taper for it. I’m assuming that a number of you are getting ready for Detroit, Philadelphia or the New York City Marathon (like I am). I will share with you how I approach the final three weeks, and yes, I do think it’s a good idea to at least have three weeks in the taper.

Three weeks to go 
 With three weeks to go, there will be very few of you that will have a problem with the idea of cutting back. After all, you just spent anywhere between 12 and 18 weeks getting to this point. So the idea of cutting back isn’t that tough for you to do. But by the fourth day of the week, that little voice will start in your head, telling you that you could be blowing the marathon because of all the hard work you’ve done to this point, and you’ve just been lazy for three days. Don’t Listen to That Voice! You deserve this much needed rest. Your body takes a number of days to recover from all of the weeks of training. You will now take that total mileage that you ran into week four and reduce it by 25%So for example, if you ran 40 miles in training this past week that included your last long-run, you will now make a deal with yourself not to run more than 30 miles total for the week. Some key points to remember. One, make sure you’re long-run for this week is at least 25%, up to 33%, shorter than your last long-run. So again, using the 40 miles that you ran last week as an example, year-long run for this week would end up being between 13 and 16 miles. Two, you also need to reduce any tempo runs or speed workouts or pacing runs by that same percentage. I found that it’s a good idea to take at midweek run and plug-in of 3 to 5 mile marathon pace run. What this will do for you, is keep you confident that you can do this pace for the upcoming marathon. Don’t be surprised if you feel like this pace is slow. It should feel that way, but believe me it won’t come marathon Saturday or Sunday.

Two weeks to go 
 Per your last 14 days, you will find it difficult to step back and not want to pop up the mil back to the week before the tapir began. But again you must be patient for these last two weeks before the marathon. It is during this week that you will start questioning and have doubts about your training ability and the conditioning that you’re probably believes that you’re losing. You will then rationalize that maybe if you just did a couple speed workouts this week even if they were short distance it would help you. Believe me that is not a good idea. The only thing you can do here is hurt your chances in the marathon by overtraining or causing a last week injury that stops you from getting to the starting line. So your goal for this week is that for the last weekend before the marathon year-long run does not exceed more than 10 miles. Whatever mileage you choose to do between 7 to 10 miles, you need to make Shearer it is a relaxed run! If you catch yourself trying to do marathon pacing back off from that speed and think of it as leaving gas in your tank for next weekend. I cannot stress too much fat there is very little you can do to help your marathon, but there is a lot you can do to hurt it.

Last seven days 
 For the last seven days, I have a formula I’ve worked out that will help you set limits for how much mileage you should put in before the marathon. Using the 40 mile a week that you did right before the taper, subtract the marathon distance and the remaining mileage will be what you run this week. So simple math sets your limit at 14 miles that you can in before marathon Saturday or Sunday. I would stress not to do more than five or 6 miles in any one run, and to make sure that Ron is at least three days ahead of your marathon date. For five days would probably be better but the three days as minimum. I take account down approach. For example, I days he for the marathon I run 5 miles. Four days before the marathon run for my. Three days before the marathon, I run 3 miles. Two days before the marathon, I run 2 miles. I take the day before the marathon completely off. You probably will walk at least a mile going to the Expo in getting around, so it’s kind of a gimme you will at least get some exercise anyway on the day before. I hope you have found this to give you enough information to get you through your last three week tape or. If you have any additional questions let me know and I’d be happy to fill in any missing blanks.

Good luck to all of you getting ready for your fall marathon!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

St. George, Utah Marathon

Have you checked this morning or last night on the St. George Marathon website to see if you got in and believe that you didn't? You might want to check again. Last night I checked and got the reply that 'Sorry, but you didn't get in'. Later on in the evening, I got an email congratulating me on being selected. I followed up and if you used your middle name when you entered, you needed to supply the middle intial [with a space] in the space used for imputing your first name. For example, if your name is 'John Michael Smith', you needed to enter 'John(sp)M' for your first name, and 'Smith' for the last name. I tried it after these instructions and verified that I was indeed selected. The instructions are now on the website, but wanted to inform everyone in case you only checked the website and not the email address you used in entering the lottery. So, there is still hope.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Did you get in? (ING New York City Marathon)

By now you should have received a notice on whether you were or were not accepted into the 2012 NYC Marathon. Bonnie got in, I did not. Of course, we both entered as Non-Qualifiers (meaning we did not meet the qualifying standards) into the lottery drawing that took place on April 25th. But I will be running it through the charitable organization known as ‘Fred’s Team’, in name of Fred Lebow a founder of the NYC Marathon that died of cancer in 1994. If any of you were like me, you were checking the website to see if you got in [you could check your account for that] and kept getting an error message. This was very frustrating as we were told that we would be able to check that after noon (EDT). The New York City Marathon's website could not handle the load as runner's were searching for status after lottery results were announced. The NYC Marathon website was down for most of Wednesday, I finally got to check on Bonnie’s and my status 8 hours later, but am glad I keep checking or would’ve probably pulling my hair out trying to get through. But sometimes we need to thank God for small favors. If you haven’t heard, the ING New York City Marathons suffered various registration/data issues and errors. Some of the runners waiting for confirmation received emails that told them both they were (and were not) in the race and also failed to correct the mail merge fields so the emails stated "Dear $FullName$, $LineSeparator$". That would’ve been worse in my opinion. But both of us are now registered for November 4th for NYC. I need to do some serious fund raising, so expect to hear for me in future updates. But it does look I have my fall marathon planned for this year.

Monday, April 23, 2012

How many carbohydrates during your long run do you need?

As many readers of my blog know, I have given advice in the area of pre-race loading and how much to eat beforehand. The schools of thought of how much is enough during a long run has varied from runner to runner based on successful long runs or races. Maybe the controversy is over? A reader sent me an article written by Scott Jurek on how to fuel during a long run. Scott should know since he has competed in everything from Half Marathons to 135 mile races. And won most of the ones that involved anything over a marathon distance. So, we have to take seriously anything he has to say about the subject. What I like about his article, is that he doesn’t endorse any jell or supplement, but rather speaks in terms of how many grams a person needs each hour in relationship to his/her weight and distance that they plan to run. He came up with a formula that takes your weight in kilograms (so, your weight in lbs./2.2) and then applies either a factor or 70% or 100% to the result. Can’t be more simple than that. So say you weight 150 lbs., your range would be 48-68 grams of carbohydrate per hour that you need. He says that if you are running 90 minutes to 3 hours, you would stay on the low end of that figure (48 grams in this case) because you would be running closer to your tempo pace than if you were running 3-8 hours. In the case of going beyond the 3 hours, he recommends going with the greater end of the range (68 in the 150 lbs. example). For me this makes sense, as I have often gotten stomach issues if I try to take too much Gu when I’m pushing it hard in the race but it doesn’t seem to be an issue on my slow long runs. I plan to try this on my longer runs and the Half Marathon I’ve got planned for this weekend. Using his calculations, I have been taking less than I need in my runs and races over one hour. In either the runs/races this year, I haven’t had stomach issues, but I guess if I was taking less than I should be, that would make sense. The article showed up last summer in Competitor Online Running Resource == > Since we have a reader than has tried and tested it, I guess it’s my turn (and yours).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Adjustments to the Half Marathon Plan

I wanted to shoot out a note to a number of you that are following my Half Marathon Plan.  My wife, Bonnie, is following it for the Half Marathon at Grandma's, and she asked something that I've also received two emails about.

The question is about the speed workout (shown on Tuesday each week).  Two fold question - does it have to be on Tuesday and does it have to be limited to 400s (1/4 miles)?

The answer to both of these are No.  But I need to qualify that answer.

You can switch doing the speed on Tuesday with any day of the week.  But it's important that you leave a day before and after for an easy or off day.  This is true for the other two workouts - Tempo and the Long Run.

The 400s can also be replaced by doing 600s (.375 mile), 800s (.5 mile), 1000s (.625 mile), 1200s (.75 mile), 1600s (1 mile).  Of course, you would have to slow down your speed to have an equivalent workout distance.  I would suggest slowing down about 6 seconds for each 200 distance you add.  So a 400 @ 8:00 MPM turns into a 8:06 600, 8:12 800, etc.

Lastly, but most importantly, do not exceed the 10% of total mileage rule for speed each week.  If you are running 30 miles, only 3 miles should be done in speed mode.  (20 miles, 2 total miles in speed, etc.)

One last reminder, I do have a heart rate based Half Marathon plan for those of you that aren't trying to break 2 hours in the Half Marathon.  It contains what your heart rate training should be when you train and race.  Again, just an FYI.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Running in Vibrams

Okay, I'll admit, it I got caught up in the 'fad'.

As many of you know, Bonnie did a guest blog where she talked about minimalist running. Some of you told me that you tried it and will never go back. Other shared they were too afraid to try something new when what they were doing was working fine.

But I couldn't help myself. The salesman at REI (Rick) had jumped on the minimalist bandwagon 2 years ago and was totally immersed in the new culture. By the time he finished all the good things he could say about it, I felt bad that I just bought one pair!

So I've been wearing them mostly for my walks and around the house. Every day at least four hours. But Monday, I did something crazy.

I have a 3.5 miler that I do on my 'easy days'. I had done a 2.5 mile walk in the Vibrams on Sunday and on Monday, threw caution to the wind.

[TIME FOR DISCLAIMER: Do Not Attempt The Following Without Proper Guidance From A Professional]

I did my 3.5 Miler in Vibrams. I know, I know, I'm supposed to 'ease' into them. 200 feet on soft grass - Day One, 400 feet on soft grass - Day Two, etc. But I'm old school, in for a penny, in for a pound.

So you're probably wondering how it went. I can report that I actually did my 3.5 miler 50 seconds faster per mile than I normally did. How do I know what normal is? I did it by heart beats per minute. So I just kept it at the same BPM that I run my easy days at (>150 BPM). At first, it was hard picking up the rhythm to run at. The goal, I believe, in this type of running is to NOT heel strike, or as little as possible. So you are landing mid-foot, and for me, that meant on the outside of the mid-foot and slightly rolling in or pronating, and then slightly pushing off the ball of foot and repeating. The reason I believe I was faster than normal is because you do not have wasted movement and are a more efficient runner. It provides a slight bounce to you step if you are not using the heel of your foot, that, when you think of it, is really a break for your movement. All-in-all, a very good experience.

The day after (Tuesday) that's another story. My calves and Achilles were sore. They barked when I went up and down steps. And trying to do a sub 6:00 3/4 mile during my speed workout on Tuesday was something that I had to shake out of my leg. I was able to complete my speed workout but I was still feeling the calves and Achilles from Monday.

Wednesday: I am walking around with the Vibrams, but I did today's easy run in cushioned shoes. I'm not giving up on the Vibrams and I'll tell you why. I believe that they are making my feet and legs stronger. I'm noticing the past two weeks that just wearing them around at non-running events - walking, etc., they force you more toward the ball of your foot. It's not like you can't stand in them, that position is fine, it's when you walk or jog, you find yourself getting used to using more of your mid-foot, which I believe is a good thing.

I think I'm sold on them. If for nothing else, to replace my sandals, Crocs, and old shoes around the house. They give you a better feel of the surface that your feet on walking on.

I'm not saying that I will be running a marathon with them. If you gathered anything from my experience, it would be to take it easier than I did in making the adjustment. But there's more here that I want to experiment with. If my calf muscles continue to recover like they are doing so far, and my theory of them making my feet and legs stronger, I will take this to the next level. At least Monday proved I can do a 5K in them.

For anyone interested in trying them, they are available via Amazon at:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Strategy for running any race over one hour

I completed the Goldy’s 10 miler this past weekend in Minneapolis and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The course was hillier than I remember, but the mind does that sometimes when dealing with difficult courses. I organized and executed a strategy/plan that you can use next time you are running a 10 plus mile race.
Unlike a 5K or 10K, the 10 miler to marathon makes you actually test your endurance. Unless you happen to be reading this from Kenya and can complete that 10 miler in less than an hour. I’ve found than in any race where you need to run in excess of 60 minutes, that you need to learn to pace yourself so that you hold back from a hard sprint so that you make it to the finish line. For 5Ks or 10Ks, you can probably pin your ears back and go. I actually have to do a warm up for those to make sure everything is warmed up and ready to go. Not so for races exceeding one hour.
I broke down the race into thirds. They are not equal distances but rather timed distances where you apply a heart rate zone for. I will share the one I used for the Goldy’s 10 miler and you can adjust it to any distance using this example.
A couple of items to note. I had not run this course before. Sure, I had reviewed it on the map, but the map will not always be accurate with elevations, how tight the turns are, and how accurate the mile markers on the map relate to the actual ones on the course. I knew it was going to be crowded at the beginning (usually is) but I was not sure about the hairpin turns at certain places where the two lane goes into a one lane both ways for the turn. I had run sections of the course for other races, but I had to assume there were unknowns I had to deal with. Also, water stops, water/Gatorade, etc. were all placed at various spots that lend to a certain degree of difficulty.
So what I did, was take my heart rate training and put up a range of how long I would stay in certain zones for certain distances of the race. Since I know that I go from aerobic to anaerobic at 163 beats per minute (BPM), I gave myself 4 miles below 160, 4 miles @ 161-167, and two miles at 168 plus.
Of course if it was a flat course, I could’ve done it by minutes per mile and just use the mile markers but this adds to many variables to consider to be a good strategy. For example, because it is crowded at the beginning, good luck trying to keep an even pace at the start. I was deep into mile 2 before I didn’t have someone directly in front of me. Also, on hills, my pace moved up 30 seconds per mile and the reverse happened on the downhill’s. If I had to use time, it would be a negative thing entering my mind (“OMG, it just took me 9:45 that last mile!”). That was not the case in using heart rate. 160 going up a hill, 160 going down a hill, but of course the speed changed dramatically.
So how did the strategy work? Ran my fastest mile at the last mile. Ideally, that’s what you want. There’s an obvious reason for this: If you can finish strong, it will encourage you for the next race. Sure, later I thought, ‘What if I would’ve started running 168 BPM plus at Mile 7 instead of 8?’. But there are limits to when you step on the gas and go. I know this from past races where I died with a mile or two left in the race. Your ‘all out’ pace cannot be held for more than 20 minutes. Trust me on this one. I’m not talking about doing a 440 dash, but anything longer than a mile will get your lungs burning and legs turning to stone if you try to cut more than a minute per mile pace in your last two miles.
As with everything athletic, it’s all about balance. For running those last 6 miles (which I knew I could do in less than one hour) I knew I had to keep the heart rate close to anaerobic threshold (plus or minus 4 beats per minute). Anything more and I wouldn’t last more than 2 miles (approximately 20 minutes).
But you don’t have to worry about making that mistake, because I just gave you the plan to keep you away from crashing and burning. Try it in your next over hour race and let me know how you do. It’s worked for me (and kept me relatively injury free – knock on wood).