Monday, March 28, 2011

Grandma’s William A. Irvin 5K almost full, Marathon fees increase on Friday

The William A. Irvin 5K has about 200 spots remaining for the June 17 race. Runners registering for the 35th Grandma's Marathon field (June 18th) have until Thursday to enter the race at a reduced cost. Beginning April 1, the current entry fee of $90 increases to $100

For more information on any of Grandma's Marathon's races or events, visit

2011 Grandma's Marathon Online Registration Schedule

Grandma's Marathon (Limited to the first 10,000 entrants)

Registration Open through June 1


Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon (5,700 entrants selected via lottery)

Registration Closed


William A. Irvin 5K (Limited to the first 1,700 entrants)

Registration Open – 200 spots remain

Getting Your Long Run “Groove” On

Have you ever had a long run that you had to do over the weekend and you weren't sure how it was going to? You tepidly go into it thinking "Boy, I hope I can get that 12-14 miler in…", but you have enough experience to know it might be a struggle? But within the first hour of your run, you realize "Hey, this might be my day..." and end up doing more than you planned?

I had such a day last Saturday. I had a 14 miler planned, but with work, being out the night before at a Fantasy Baseball Draft, I didn't know what to expect. But I followed my pre-long run breakfast, drinks, and morning constitutional ritual hoping that it would be enough to get me through. But, as I described above, within the first hour, I was feeling like Blue Steel. I felt like Forrest Gump, like I could run forever.

But from years' experience, I knew I could harm myself from over-doing it. As I've probably mentioned a million times before, patience is one of those skills you have to learn in running or the probability of injury spikes up. So at mile 9, one and a half hours into my long run, I started to work with the rational side of my brain to decide, just how much farer I should go beyond the 14 miles planned. I knew I could go double the distance I had at that point. I was averaging a 10 minute mile with the 30 second walking breaks I was talking to re-fuel. A quick calculation told me that was 3 hours which would give me 18 miles. The longest long run I had up until that one was 12-13 miles at a little over 2 hours. So I rationalized that I would do something less than the 18 miles with the last half mile walking. 17 seemed safe based on that since jumping from 13 to 16.5 is another 35 minutes of running, not an earth shaking difference but not an easy slide either. So I followed my gut and everything worked. Felt like I could've done more but at the same time didn't want to blow the training to that point by over doing it.

That's the hard thing with long runs, you never know what you're going to get. But I can tell you one thing I did at the end of the run. Wrote down everything I had done that morning, the day before, two days before. As I mentioned before, keeping a running diary is important for making those small advancements in your running program. We each have our own formula that works for us. Sure, you can get advice on the big things that you should do (or shouldn't do) the day before running a Half Marathon or Full Marathon. Yet it is the little things that you do, that are unique to you that will help you perform at the top of your game. PowerBar or toast? Coffee or Coke? How much water the day before? Stretches or no stretches before you go out the door? GU every 45 minutes, 30 minutes, or forget the GU, use Gatorade instead of water?

We are all an experiment of one. What works for you, doesn't necessarily work for everyone. But once you find that formula, use it until you have a bad run and tweak it until it starts working again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Host Families Needed for Fresh Air Kids for the summer.

The New York City Half Marathon is done but the work of The Fresh Air Fund for this summer is just beginning. The Fresh Air Fund is in need of host families for this summer. I wrote earlier in February that the Fresh Air Fund raises money through running teams in the New York area. It is a great cause and gives children two weeks in their lives that stay with them for a lifetime. Almost two-thirds of the kids are re-invited to stay with Host Families after the initial visit. If you live in the 13 northeastern states or Canada, please consider opening your home to be a Host Family.

It's a great way to give something back to what running has given you. For more information go to
You can also email or call (212) 897-8890 for more information. Your efforts can help a child have an experience that will change their life!

Week Eight in Half Marathon Training Plan

Week 8 is the final week where you get a break from the long run until Week 11 where you start your taper for the race. Enjoy it while you can. That said, this week isn't a complete layoff week. You have four 6 milers. You should be able to do all of these by now since your base if very strong by now. No speed, no Tempo runs, just running. It doesn't get simpler than this, 6 milers on four days all done at an easy pace.

Week Eight program:

Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday - off
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday - 6 miles Easy Run (under 70% HRM)

If you are feeling guilty about the time off (I'm sure there are some of you that will) walk a 2 miler on any of the three days that you have off. Bike if you want for 30 minutes. But whatever you do, don't add another run in those 3 days. There is a method to this madness and running additional will not help you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

William A. Irvin 5K – Grandma’s Marathon 5K

For those of you sitting on the fence, or believing you have more time to register… your time is now.

Received word that the William Irvin 5K only has about 200 spots open as of this morning. Register here if you are interested:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Man runs 365 Marathons in 365 Days

Read about this feat last month in the paper and it reminded me of the runners from the 70s that tried to keep certain streaks alive. Most days running every day for at least two miles. Running five miles at least five days a week. Run 100 miles each week for a year.

I'm sure that this guy will probably have a record that will remain untouched for a number of years. 26.2 x 365 days is 9,563 miles in a year. I can't believe that there are people that set goals like this, but I do wonder if his (pick one: hips, knees, ankles, etc.) are going to pay for this later on in life.

I can't say that I admire this feat. I can respect the fact that someone did this, but I can't say I admire it. One thing I strive for, in my training, in my life, in my work, is balance. Stephen Covey in his '7 Habits of Effective People' calls this sharpening the saw. If you don't take time out from your vocation for activities that are your avocation, you ultimately just wear down the teeth of the saw.

I can't believe after his first month of running marathons that he woke up every morning thinking "I can't wait to get out there". After the second month, this had to feel more like a job than an adventure. In my younger years, I tried to put in those high mileage weeks, the ones that you could brag about, but after a while, there was that voice in my head that said "why are you really doing this?" The answer always came back "to impress someone besides yourself". That usually was all I needed to tell myself to get me to stop.

I think anyone that runs something like this a total outlier. Way out of the norm and is probably working out something besides the love of running. Again, I can respect it, because it's an unbelievable achievement but I don't have to admire it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Week Seven in Half Marathon Training Plan

Week 7 is going to start testing your endurance. Hopefully you are up for this test. The next four weeks of the training will solidify your endurance as well as your speed. If you find the speed too difficult to maintain, back off, but realize the speed you move down to is now the speed you can expect to be for the Half Marathon.

Week Seven program:

Sunday, Friday - off
Monday, Tuesday, 5 miles Easy Run (under 70% HRM)

Thursday - 4 miles easy (under 70% HRM)
Wednesday - 6 miles Tempo (80-88% HRM) This you will do by warming up one mile under 70% MHR, then alternate between 2 minutes under 70% HRM and 9 minutes 80-88%, then again between 2 minutes under 70% HRM and 9 minutes 80-88%of your HRM, etc., to a distance of 5.5 miles and then a half mile cool down.
Saturday - 11 miles (under 70% first 8 miles, 70-80% last two miles)

You have now built up to 9 minutes for a Tempo Workout.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Is Fitness All in the Genes?

Read the article [] in the New York Times about this question and thought I'd share my two cents with you.

From my experience, I agree that there are only so much improvement that we can all expect from any training that we do. But I get worried when articles like this give the everyday person an excuse to not even make the effort. If I believed that genetics dictated the physical abilities of everyone, I mean, what would be the point of trying?

This is what I've experienced and what I've seen from other athletes. Genetics do play a big role, but they are not a be all to end all. If I were to put a value on how much certain aspects of running success, I would put it at 50% of it is genetics. 20% of it is training. 20% is age. 10% of it is diet, weight and/or lifestyle [amount of sleep, personal hygiene care, healthy choices, etc.]

My grandmother used to say that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. That may be a crude analogy but I think you can probably make the best pigskin purse by applying the same sewing technics on the pigskin as you would the silk. Meaning that you can get the best of what you've got by applying the best effort.

I've finished many a race behind a runner with better genetics than me. But I've also finished ahead of my share of runners that had genetically better VO2 Maxes than me. Give me a runner with a VO2 Max of 82 with no training at the start of a marathon, and I'll bet you that my VO2 Max body of 48 finishes that race 9 times out of ten before them [if not all ten]. If the genetically superior person does not train their genetically superior body, it limits it ability to provide superior performance.

So I agree you can put in what God left out. But you can play the best hand with the cards you were dealt.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Kindle - Top 20 Sports Blog

Just wanted to send out a Big Thank You to my readers regarding my accession on the Kindle Blog Lists. I have been informed that my Marathon Madman blog has moved up to the #20 spot on the Kindle's Blogs in the Sports category. I do realize that it's you that got me there, and I will continue to work to earn your support.

I really appreciate the support from all of you in achieving this. Your questions and input help me make this a better blog, day-by-day, week-by-week. I take my role in supplying you with running news that is timely and informational very seriously. And I plan to continue helping everyone in the running community keep abreast of topics, training plans, products, events, movies, articles and issues that keep us all out on the roads!

Please recommend my blog to all your other running colleagues, and please give me a favorable rating on the Kindle Store where it asks for your opinion in my blog description. I want to keep the price of my blog to a $1 a month, and every additional reader helps keep it there.

Again, Thanx!!!

Belkin Headphone Adapter with Remote for Nano

I believe I found an answer to the problem that I've had with ear buds remotes that I've been using. I've been using an adapter [less than $15 at Best Buy or $8 on Amazon] from Belkin that literally works with all of my ear buds. It allows you to plug any set of head phone or ear buds and has its own volume up/volume down/next song/previous song and pause.

I've tried it on Panasonic, Apple, Sony, Phillips and

One item I do want to point out is that I've only found this to work flawlessly on the Nano. When I tried to use it with the iPhone, I had problems with the volume buttons. The iPod seemed to work just as well with this adapter as the Nano, but I only used it on the current iPods, the earlier versions may/could have problems.

As you will find on the Amazon reviews, I have been warned that I may not be happy for long. There are complaints that the adapter doesn't last long [earlier reviews have it breaking out with continued use]. But for me it's worked like a charm on the Nano to date. Maybe Belkin improved it based on past review and the one I picked up in January was the improved model. But at $8 on Amazon, it's not much of a risk for you to try. Especially when you can keep your favorite ear buds and just switch the remote out.

For any of you interested, here's the Amazon link to it:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Recovery time for a Tempo workout

Are you doing your Tempo workout too hard, too easy, or just right? There's a simple way to find out, the two minute test.

As you progress in the distance or time that you run your tempo intervals, you will need to walk or jog between the intervals. Each week as you lengthen the distance from .5 mile to .75 mile to one mile lengths and beyond, the time that it takes you to recover should be the same.

Utta Pippig's coach followed the rule that the runner's heart rate should get down to below 60% of MHR before getting into the next internal or repeat. It's a good rule. But you need to also add to that equation the time it takes you to reach that level. Hence, my two minute rest rule.

It should not take you more than two minutes to get your heart rate below 60% of MHR. If it does, you are working too hard, either by running too fast, running too long [distance or time] or not slowing down enough between the intervals. If when doing the tempo runs [in the 80-89% of MHR range] you can't seem to reach approximately 60% of your MHR after two minutes of walking, change slow your speed or reduce your distance. A tempo run isn't supposed to be a speed workout. It's supposed to teach your body to maintain a pacing speed, not a quarter mile speed.

If you find that in your recovery time, your MHR drops from 80-89% of MHR to less than 60% in less than a minute, chance are you aren't running it fast enough or long enough. So, in this case, increase either to reach the more than one minute recovery time.

Either too fast or too slow is not the way to go. Like Little Red Riding Hood, you want a speed and distance that's just right. ;->

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Training for a Half Marathon and a Marathon….at the same time.

Received a question that I'm sure a lot of runners get to sometime in their running careers. If I'm training for a Half Marathon and an excellent opportunity comes up to run a marathon within a couple of months after the Half Marathon race, what should I so to change my training to do both?

Maybe this question seems timely because that happened to me in the last two weeks. After finding out that I [and my family in Team Beaver] did not get chosen in Garry Bjorklund's Half Marathon [Grandma's Half Marathon] lottery, I decided to run the Full Marathon. Okay, that's a heck of a change I know, but Duluth, Minnesota does put on a great show and Grandma's Marathon is on Top 25 Marathons on a number of lists.

Since I was already training for Get-In-Gear's Half Marathon on April 30th, I figured it was a good base anyway. Those of you following my Half Marathon program for it, know that we are putting in a number of ten mile plus runs leading up to the actual Half Marathon race.

FIRST, a disclaimer: From doing past Half Marathon and full Marathon training, here's my hard warning. These are two different race efforts with two different training plans. I would not encourage any of you that are training for your first half Marathon to attempt this for your first marathon. All others read on.

I'm a believer that you pick a race distance and train for it. So just because I'm running Grandma's, I'm not going to change my weekly [Mon-Fri] runs. What I change is the long runs. For example, my longest run before I signed up for Grandma's was two hours. So for the long run I had planned two weeks later, I add 20 minutes, the next one two weeks later another 20 minutes, and so on. That way I don't screw up my speed for the Half Marathon in April while building a base for the marathon in June. It just so happens that April 30th I was scheduled for a 17-18 miler. So I will do the Half Marathon hard and recover with a very, very slow jog/walk. If it ends up being just 15-16 instead of the 17, I'm not worried about it. The Half Marathon fast is equal to a 15-16 miler slow or easy.

Hope this helps you plan appropriately. If you need any help in creating your own running plan in this area, you all know you can contact me at for additional questions.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Easy, Speed, Tempo, and Long Run

Shooting out a quick note this morning for any of you that might have the same question as the one I'm getting on the workout schedule. What speed should I be going for my easy run, speed, tempo and long runs?

If you follow my guide you should be doing this via a percentage of the Maximum Heart Rate. But I know when you are starting something new like this you wonder if you still are going to right speed. If you could let me know what speed you are going for your easy run, ( I could give you a good guide. But lacking that let me share mine with you.

My easy runs are done at 11:00 minute miles. My speed is just under an 8:00 minute mile. My Tempo ends up being between those two at 9-9:15 minutes per mile. My long longs are done at easy pace until the last two miles and I usually end up at something faster than tempo when I finish. Again, this is a quick guide for you to use to see if you are somewhere close to where you should be. You will notice that all four speeds get faster as you get conditioned, but usually not more than a minute a mile over a three month training period.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Week Six in Half Marathon Training Plan

Week Six adds a little new mix to the training. We now start to concentrate on Speed, and holding it for longer stretches. The hard speed in the middle of the week is rewarded with a shorter distance long run on Saturday.

Week Six program:

Sunday, Friday - off
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - 4 miles easy (under 70% HRM)
Wednesday - 7 miles Speed (90-100% HRM) This you will do by warming up one mile under 70% MHR, then alternate between .25 mile 90-100%, then .25 mile under 60% HRM [walk to get to this level, and then repeat to a total distance of 6.5 miles and then a half mile cool down.
Saturday - 6 miles (under 70% first 5 miles, 70-80% last mile.)

You have now built up to putting in a total speed distance of 2.5 miles of pure speed. In a future 5K race, you will note that you will be able to keep this speed for that distance.

These .25 mile efforts should end at the 90-100%, not begin there. So don't expect to start there in the first 30 seconds, concentrate on getting there at the end of that .25 mile. Consistency is more important than speed. So, for example, it is better to do 8 - .25 miles at a 2 minute pace for the .25 mile, than one at 2:15, another at 2:10, another one at 1:59, etc. What you want to accomplish is a set speed for a set distance at 90-100% of your MHR in the last 20 seconds of the .25 mile.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"Hunger Games"

Just finished a long run listening to the last book (Mockingjay) of the Hunger Games Trilogy. Overall, a great story of (what I guessed were in the) future tales of what our civilization will turn into after a coming World War.

I'm not to going to ruin the story by giving away any spoilers. But the story was very easy to follow through the past two weeks of training and very addictive. It got to the point that I was listening to this on the Nano not only during training but also on all my car trips. Following the adventures of Katniss became an obsession.

If youre looking for a great Audiobook for your next Audible or iTunes selection, you couldnt lose go with the Hunger Games Trilogy - Hunger Games (Book 1), Catching Fire (Book 2), & Mockingjay (Book 3).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, March 4, 2011

Not getting into Grandma’s Half Marathon

Well, to all of you that followed my advice and got entered into Grandma's Half Marathon's Lottery – here's hoping you got in. For those of you that didn't, welcome to the club.

We registered a team of six members and none of us got picked. How is that possible? The Lottery rules state that our odds by entering as an individual are the same as the odds as entering in as a group. I know it's been years since by two years of statistics in college, but how would the odds be the same? If any of the six are picked, all six get in. So how can the odds be the same?

Well, my mother always said that when God closes a door, he opens a window. So I did enter the Marathon instead. I know, I know, at my age it's like being penalized twice for losing a Lottery, but Lord help me, the event is so fun I have to participate in it.

Openings are still available for those of you that are looking for an early Marathon to get a qualifying time in for Boston or New York.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Boston Marathon Qualifying Times

The Boston Marathon released new qualifying times for the 2012 Marathon. It's upset a number of runners and for good reason. They essentially moved down the QT 5 minutes for each age and sex category.

In defense of the Boston Marathon, they ran into a lot of runners upset in 2010 when they met the QT (Qualifying Time) for 2011 but didn't apply in time. So the BAC (Boston Athletic Congress) met to determine what changes they needed to make to correct this problem. Moving down the QT 5 minutes would definitely lower the number of qualifiers.

They further removed the +59 second rule they had in place. This means, if a male, 55-59, runs a 3:45:59 QT, he qualifies (even though the QT is The argument here is because there could be a number of factors at the starting or finish line that impedes a runner to get a certified time (lots of runners to run around, varying measured distances, etc.), the 59 seconds would allow him a fudge factor.

They went another step further. They also would open the application time earlier in the season, the third week of September, so that the earlier a runner qualified the better.

Lastly, they also prioritized the applications that would be adjudicated. So if a 55-59 runner applied in the first week with a 3:45 time, BAC would admit a 3:25 55-59 male runner in the first 3 days of the open registration, a 3:30 55-59 male runner in the next 3 days, and so forth.. until the race filled. So, a 55-59 male runner could have a QT of 3:45 and still not get in.

But it raised a lot of other questions.

First and foremost, the basic question of whether the marathon is a people's race or an elitist race?

I'm surprised about the question. For those that didn't realize it, Boston is an elitist race. They do have a QT standard. That said, I do think that there are ways they could make it a people's race.

I ran Boston in 1996 on its 100th Anniversary. Before you give me respect for achieving this, I want to point out that in 1996, Boston had a Lottery. You could enter the Lottery and if you won the Lotterry and had a QT, you would be moved from the Lottery running wave into the QT running wave. If you won the Lottery and didn't get the QT, you ran in the Lottery wave.

I won the Lottery but never got the QT time.

So I ended up being one of the 5000 non-QT runners that ran it in 1996. I hope that someday they ask us all back for the 125th or 150th [probably my best chance to run it with the changes they made to it]. But I did get a registered finished time, shirt, medal, etc. that all finishers got.

I think Boston should have the Lottery every year the same way. Okay, maybe not 5000 entries, maybe a 1000, but whatever the number, give keep those Marathon runners dream alive of running Boston. I would be fine that once you won the Lottery, you couldn't run it again until you had a QT and got in via the rules above. Yes, even if that means I'm excluded from the pool because I got in via the Lottery back in 1996. Because I think everyone should get a chance to run it, its that special.

But I also think the changes that the BAC made will have unintended consequences, some of which I don't think they thought out. I believe that since registration will open in September, a lot of the fall (non-Boston, of course) marathons will see a lot of runners lose interest in running them. I mean, if you haven't qualified by October 1st, good luck getting in before the race fills. And that will have a ripple effect through the running community with runners applying for shorter distance races instead of the marathon, or runners setting their sights on spring/summer marathon races for the following year's Boston.

I can believe that the New York, Chicago, Twin Cities, Steamboat, Philadelphia (need I go on?) marathons are happy with this announcement since they are all run after 10/1/201x. Something tells me that the BAC will be getting pressure to change their rules once again.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

IPod Nano Improvements

With all the excitement today on the release of the iPad 2, some of you may have missed the new iOS that Apple released for the Nano last Sunday. I've downloaded it and love it.

One of the issues that I wrote about in my review of the Nano was that I hated the fact that there was no external speaker anymore. I found it valuable whenever I would pull my ear buds out of the Nano, heard the music/audiobook still playing and then make sure that I turned it off so that I wouldn't drain the battery dry. I can't tell you how many times in the past 6 months I have picked up my Nano just to find the battery dead.

Good news, runners. The latest iOS for the Nano will force it to sleep. After loading the new iOS, just hold down the sleep on/off button for a few seconds, and a small circle will start spinning, letting you know that your Nano is getting shut down. Hold it down again for a few seconds and you will see it 'wake up' from the sleep mode. Long overdue enhancement.

An additional feature that was added was the ability to double click the sleep button, and it will advance to the next song. I realize you can do this from the face of the Nano, but this does it with or without the screen being lite. Again, another nice feature.

With these changes I'm willing to upgrade the new Nano over my last review, but still not to a perfect score. I did like the external speaker and video that the earlier Nano had. But this is a definite improvement.

For any of you interested in upgrading your Nano, just pull it into iTunes and follow the instructions to upgrade the operating system. Let me know if any of you find additional features that I missed.