Saturday, July 24, 2010

Accepting Your Running Limits

I've been struggling with setting a goal for my Fall Marathon. I already have one Marathon under my belt for 2010 but with 16 weeks between the summer and the fall one, what goal do you go for? I needed to take down time between the two (three weeks) but now that my mileage is coming back up, I need to set a time goal (running two marathons just for fun gets old).

The logical side of me wants to just set the goal and work towards it – put in the speed, tempo, and long runs based on a stretch goal – like take a half hour off my last marathon (lose one minute per mile by pacing). But the emotional side of me knows that type of commitment could make running a chore.

When I'm faced with this decision, I use the 2.1 half measure rule. Use a race that is half the distance of the goal race to determine a 'reachable' goal. For instance, if you wanted to run a 10K in 50 minutes, then you need to run a 5K in 23:48 (50 minutes x 60 seconds = 3000 seconds/2.1 = 1429 seconds/60 seconds = 23 minutes, 49 seconds).

I think the best way to do this is not to set a goal for the longer race by targeting the shorter race's time. In other words, do it the other way. For the 5K, you need to run the race first, push yourself so you leave it on the course (know you couldn't have done it any faster) and multiple by 2.1. That's what I plan to do in two weeks at a Half Marathon I have on the schedule.

Why half the distance? Because it's the only reliable measure. Based on my 5K times, I should be easily beating a 2 hour Half Marathon time. But running 3.1 miles isn't a great indicator for a 13.1 mile race. I have found that even after having a great 5K, 10K, or even 10 mile race time – that it doesn't equate to the predicted Marathon time.

I do believe in the predictor charts that give you 'expected' race times based on various distances. The trouble with them is that runners use them like a bible. I believe the charts are more of a predictor of your VO Max race times, then your actual race times. They tell you that you have the lung capacity, stride and ability to run a race at a predicted time. But you still have to develop the endurance for that distance.

So even after I race the Half, I still will have to put in the 20 mile long runs to get the endurance to be able to actually 'race' the Marathon distance even if I know the predictor charts say I should be able to do it at a predicted pace.

Try this the next time you move up the mileage on your races and let me know if you don't find the same result.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Running in the Heat

Just finished up a 10 and a half miler in 80 degree, 60% Humidity Heat. Started in 72 degree, 100% humidity. Glad I started by 7:30 am, otherwise I don't know how I would've done it. Took me over 2 hours to accomplish it.

Thought it would be good to just blog a little about running in this type of weather. All runners need to adjust their times when they are faced with temperatures and humidity like this. These are general rules to follow in running in running in anything above 60. Jeff Galloway talks about dressing and acclimating with the 10 plus rule. Temperature plus 10 equals what you are running in after you hit the 60 degree mark. This would mean that you should expect that your body is running in 80 degree temperature when it's 70 degrees on the barometer. So anything 60 or above puts me in a singlet and shorts. But there are also rules to follow to account for what you are doing to your body.

-Hydrate before, during and after every run. Thirst is not a good guide for filling up. Your urine should be clear in judging whether you are properly hydrated.

-Sun screen should always be used. Look for a 'Sports' type of sunscreen, the kind that won't run off as soon as you start sweating. I use one that is a spray (easy to apply) that has a UV protection of 50. Coppertone has a spray that covers these two criteria and is available in bulk at Sam's Club. You may think that's overkill, but 2 plus hours in the sun is pushing it for any sunscreen that is dealing with the sweat loss of most runners. One last note on this, sunscreen also keeps the skin cool, which has the added benefit beyond sun protection for the runner.

-If you are running for more than an hour, always use lubricate your 'friction points'. Any place on your body where the clothes meet (armpit, groin area, nipples, feet, etc.) will bleed when heated up with a combination of temperature, humidity and friction. Body Glide, lotion or just plain Vaseline works for taking care of this.

-Fueling – I'm sure that you realize to bring water. How much depends on what heat you are running in, but a quick guide. Remember if you are taking Gels, you will need more water along because the body needs water to break down carbohydrates in your system. So if you normally take 3 ounces of water for each one ounce of Gel, double that on hot days. I know the warning about hydrothermia that is always flagged in all marathons guides, but on hot days you shouldn't be going for any PR anyway. There are 100 runners dehydrated at a race for every runner that is over hydrated. A word about Gels or sports drinks during hot days. Given the choice between getting carbohydrates or water into your system, the body will shut down faster without water than without carbohydrate. So make water your first priority. How much water? 5 ounces taken every 10-15 minutes is normal, more on hot days.

Now for the 'meat' of my Running in the Heat Blog. How should one adjust their running goals for running in the heat? Many articles have been written about this, but it comes down to a plain simple fact. For every 1.5 degree in temperature above 60 degrees, a runner's performance will be negatively affected by 1 to 2 percent.

So an example from my run today and some quick math might help illustrate this. I planned on running an 11 minute mile pace for 2 hours. Before my start, the temperature was 72 degrees. Since I consider myself a 'conditioned' runner (one that is not new to running, runs 3 or more times a week, and have been running in this type of weather) I need to adjust my time by 12 percent (1.5 percent average for each 1.5 degree increase in temperature. So 1.12 times 11 minutes = 12 minutes, 20 seconds per mile. I ended up with a 12:30 MPM but considering that the temperature was increasing, I was able to complete the 2 hour goal.

Humidity plays a big factor, but you can adjust your own time after you've accounted for the temperature adjustment.

Remember, just one run that you overheat can set you back a month or two in keeping your body regulated. Using these practices can keep you running through the summer and put you in perfect share for a fall marathon/race.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Time to get training again….

Okay, it is officially 4 weeks since Grandma's Marathon. My running has truly suffered for that time a lot of it, just getting the joints (and energy) back to attempt running, let alone, racing again.

I know I am older than most, younger than some, of the other runners, but the recovery time has always seemed to fit one formula. One day for every mile raced. 26.2 miles, 28 days of rest.

This formula has stood the test of time from my 30s to 40s to 50s. Sure, I have run two marathons within 28 days of each other, but neither one of them were a PR. I think you probably have 4 good races that you can gear for each year. More if you are only doing 5K, less if you are only doing marathons. If I had to put my finger on it, I'd say that 5% of all the miles I've run are racing. The rest are training for the race – either a long run, a tempo run, speed workout – or just the enjoyment of running.

I enjoy the time off after a race like the marathon. You can catch up on any activities you've been neglecting (work), skip workouts you can't miss or just spend 4 days not running and canoeing/hiking with your wife in the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area). It's a rebuilding time that allows your body/muscles to get back to the point of wanting to strive for a new goal while allowing your mind to forget just how brutal that last race was.

I think this is what nature intended. Stress/Restore/Replenish. What's my next goal?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Camelbak Octane XCT 70 Oz Hydration Pack Product Review

I bought the Octane XCT based on the idea that it would perfect for carrying enough water to supply me during my 3-4 hour, 20 mile training runs. It has proven to be a godsend for those that are interested in having as little weight as possible balanced with a pack that doesn't keep sweat next to your skin.

I had a Camelbak for a number of years, but as a 50 year-old (plus) runner, the one I own rode on my hip more than the back [a Camelbak for biking, running, geocaching and/or hiking). The XCT puts the weight on the center of the back so that your center of gravity for running is placed perfectly for forward motion.

I have used this for a 2.5 hour, a 3.5 hour and a 4 hour run. Filled to the top of the 70 ounce capacity - i had enough water to get me the whole way with little left. For a 2 hour run, half full can get you there. My 4 hour run was starting in 68 degree weather and ended in 86 degree weather, so I think it was a great test to see if the XCT held enough to get anyone through such a test.

If you are thinking of using this in a similar manner let me suggest a way to keep your water supply (and yourself) cooler in these runs. First fill the 70 ounce Camelbak with ice cubes 3/4ths to full. Fill up the rest of the bag with water. I didn't have ice at the end of my run but it kept the water cool enough so that after drinking the water in the tube the end of the drink was refreshing. I believe it also helped keep my core temperature cooler.

Overall, I am giving this a 5 star rating. My only complaints is that the storage area is small (I use 9 gels when I run - it was enough space for that) and that the storage areas are not see-through (so that you can tell whats in each area. But it is a trade off for a runner. The more you carry, the heavier it gets, so realistically, it is probably a perfect amount. I am able to carry 9 gel packs, iPhone, iPhone charger, Advil pack, toiler paper in plastic pouch, Power Bar, package of peanuts, $20 cash. iPod Nano, ear-buds and small bag of Jelly Beans. (If you're wondering what else would you need space for - there's enough room for extra gloves, knit hat - cold weather stuff.

Again, an excellent accessory for any runner (or biker for that matter) for those 2 hour plus runs.