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).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fatigue after a Marathon

Read a Runner’s World article about Neuromuscular Fatigue ( last week and really hit home about what I dealt with last year when I ran two marathons in a span of 20 days. The mind-body connection is a tricky one. Your mind can tell your body “If you ran a marathon while taking walking breaks every 5 minutes, just imagine how you will do by taking then at the end of each mile!”

Yeah, but the body knows you already maxed it out by running the first one and being out there for 5 hours. Good luck trying to attempt that again within the next month…

It was a lesson learned, but this article was important because it pointed out the beyond the body, there’s another part of you that needs a rest – your mind. It seems as if the mind prepares for a marathon just like your body does. It logs into your subconscious all of your thoughts, feelings, high points of your training, the low points, and everything in between. Just as your body heals up after a long run, your mind is also recoiling upon itself, storing the confidence that you survived another run and gets you ready to face the next one. After you apply that training (by running the actual marathon) your body AND mind need a rest.

For those of us that have run multiple marathons, this will come as no surprise. In my earlier marathons, I had what I can only term as a post-marathon depression. I’m not claiming that its anything that women go through after the birth of a child, but it was a down time similar to the after Christmas Blues that kids go through about December 27th. You have look forward so long to the big event. You run it and blam – the day of the event never ends, but the days afterwards you get the blues from realizing it came and went. I’ve run bad marathons and good ones, and at least for me, that feeling is pretty close to the same. The actual result doesn’t make the blues any shorter. You just look back at what could have been. If you run a bad one: “Man, if only I had only run slower the first half, I could’ve finished at least 10 minutes sooner”. If you run a good one: “Man, if only I would’ve picked up my pace a little earlier, my time would have been unbelievable.” But th real truth is that you are just blue because your version of a running Christmas just passed.

Of course, the answer to get you out of the post-marathon depression (if any of you are still in it) is to schedule a future goal/race. No, it doesn’t have to be a marathon; it can be any distance race. But as pointed out earlier in the article, your mind needs time to process all of it, just like your body. Remember this next time you plan back-to-back races over the next year.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Running on Hotel Treadmills

Last week on an out-of-town trip, I spent a morning on the hotel (Marriott) treadmill. Why is it that hotels do not invest in good treadmills?

I'm talking about the ones that you can easily find in local gyms or workout facilities.

Anyway, I actually try to get outside when I'm traveling. I find that you can find out more about a city or culture just by doing a 3 miler in or around your hotel. How many runners are you running into? Are there any running paths that are dedicated to runners? Are their sidewalks always crowded? Do they even have sidewalks? (This comes up running suburban areas all the time.) Does the area promote being outside or just enough access to get to public transportation?

It's interesting when I read the billions that they put into public transportation (light rail, subways, commuter train, etc.) but the lack of funds dedicated to a running path that is a thousandth of the cost if we did it in the same location. With all the concern around obesity in the United States, there should be a dedicated effort to get access to these areas. It's one thing to ask everyone to get moving, it's another thing to show it by providing that access.

Anyway, back to my treadmill experience. since I had speed listed on my workout schedule, doing a fast tempo on city streets was not going to work for me. Weather along with location put a damper on that. So I got the Nano going and just warmed up for a one miler and then kicked it into high gear [the fast tempo pace].

I realize that I'm a big runner. Okay, not 20 pounds overweight [although I was not so long ago] but on the high end of what is considered normal for my height. If you were in the pool [in the room next to the workout facility] every time my foot strike landed on that belt, you would think that a 747 was landing in the room next to you. I just turned up the volume on the Nano. But my embarrassing claim to fame cam when I finished 3 miles at this pace and jumped onto the running boards alongside the treadmill belt. Both [yes, both] snapped off like I was trying to catch branches of a Birchwood tree afterr having my parachute not open. Embarassing? You bet. I felt the need to let the desk know. They were kind enough to tell me not to worry about it (but not kind enough to tell me that it happens all the time.)

So I need to adjust my future travel plans to inquire as to where the nearest health club is next time I find myself roaming from home.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, April 2, 2012

17 Day Diet Book Review

I’ve been asked to tell me ‘secret’ from an earlier blog about how I lost 13 pounds in 13 days ‘safely’. I will share with you how I did it so quickly. It was following a Book written by Dr. Mike Moreno called ‘The 17 Day Diet’.

First, I need to do a little background on why I chose this diet. I had weighed myself in January after an 11-day vacation that included a Caribbean Cruise. I came up about 22 pounds overweight to what is considered ‘normal’ for my height. No, not BMI, but what almost any insurance table or normal would be for a male at 6’ 2”. I knew that running would help me lose it, so I started there.

After about two weeks of losing three pounds total, I realized that I was going to enter the spring still overweight when the road race season began. I also wanted to see if there was a more sensible approach to losing all of this weight, something that would give me a quick weight loss so that I could plan to actually do speed workouts or tempo runs without risk to my legs of injury. After seeing his book reviewed, and comments by runners on how successful they were, I thought ‘Why Not’?

I’m not the kind of person that can stay on any ‘diet’ long. But the suggestions that Dr. Mike (as his patients refer to him as) made a lot of sense to me. He asked for 17 days and after that I could decide if I wanted to, or needed to, continue with the program. His patients had shown results of 10-14 pounds in a 17 day period, so that looked like he could get me back to normal within what I was looking for.

The diet is simple to understand and even simpler to follow. His basic premise is eating high quality protein with a small amount of carbohydrate the first 17 days. As a runner I’m away afraid of low carbohydrate diets. But with the 10-14 pound promise and the fact I was just starting a running plan for a half marathon, I thought this could work. And it did.

The high quality protein diet does help you control your appetite. Not once, after the first two days, did I feel the need to eat more, like I was getting full enough. I did worry at that time that I wouldn’t get the amount of carbohydrate that I needed to continue training but I found that was not the case. That said, I did notice on runs longer than 45 minutes, I would get mini-Charlie Horses in my legs that I never noticed before. Since I was at the start of my Half Marathon training, this didn’t affect more than one or two runs. But I do wonder if runners training for a Full Marathon could’ve stayed on the diet.

I give it high marks on the diet side. I learned some great knowledge on how to win the weight war. Everything he promised in the book, he delivered on. But I do have to point out I was only on it for the first 17 days. He has 3 more 17 day “periods” where you move more and more carbohydrate into your diet. Since I had already got to the weight goal I was hoping to achieve, I just moved back into my diet (except for the fact of staying away from sugars and starches which I learned were probably what caused my weight gain in the first place). I have continued to lose weight at a clip of about 1.5 pounds per week since then, so I am glad for the jump start this diet gave me.

I do have a slight criticism of the book, I don’t think he ‘pushes’ his patients and/or readers into enough activity. For exercise, he recommends a 17 minute walk to go with his 17 Day Diet. I, of course, was training, so I exceeded this recommendation. But I have to assume his book is aimed at non-runners so he is hoping to just get them active. But I think 17 minutes of any exercise is not enough to get anyone to the point of getting ‘in shape’. I believe that most literature has 20 minutes at a minimum for exercise that is beneficial. I’ve also read studies that say that the real fat burning begins at about 15-20 minutes since your body burns carbohydrate in the first 15 minutes. So I think he should’ve pushed that time period beyond 17 minutes to something that would really be beneficial to the patient/reader.

The key learning is this: You can lose weight more by diet than you can by exercise. I realize that I will get some debate about that, but for me, I’ve never lost weight as fast or as for as long as I did by diet. Of course, I realize that running will help me maintain my ideal weight, but it was diet that truly got me back to a normal weight in the quickest time.

For anyone interested in trying ‘The 17 Day Diet’ you can click this link for more information:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Minimalist Running (Guest Blogger)

Jim asked me to do a bit of journaling about my entry into minimalist running so here goes. I've heard of barefoot running and have had the book "Born to Run" on my Kindle for a couple of years but have never gotten around to reading it. I've got what I consider very sensitive feet and have struggled for years with a Morton's Neuroma and some osteoarthritis in my feet - I definitely didn't think this minimalist movement was for me and, because I've been injury and pain free for a long time (knock on wood), I didn't want to mess with a good thing - after all, I can't even walk to the end of my driveway in bare feet, let alone run! However, the little I had heard seemed to make some sense…

So last Saturday I went into our local REI store to use my dividend and 20% off coupon and was taken aback by the direction REI has taken with their footwear department. Vibram and Merrell are definitely dominating the section and the area was packed with people trying them on. I nudged in to the area to see what I was missing out on and, admittedly, got sucked in. I left REI with a brand new pair of Vibram Seeya's.

I arrived home and sheepishly showed them to Jim - he won a pair a few years ago and after the teasing he got from friends and family the first time he wore them, never put them on again. I then proceeded to read everything I could regarding barefoot and minimalist running. I found many blogs and articles and am thru chapter 4 in the book "Born to Run". (Note that I was talking about the book at dinner last night with my sister Barb and her family and was surprised to hear that my 14 year old nephew, Quinn, is about 1/2 way thru the book and loving it - he's a soccer player so I'm not sure what specifically interested him in the book but I see this as promising to future generations).

Some things I've read that have struck a cord with me are that, indeed, people with sensitive feet like myself are the people that might benefit the most from minimalist running (MR from now on) - I might be one of those folks who have had their feet controlled for so long that their feet have forgotten how to operate on their own and have turned weak and "stupid". Using the theory "if you don't use it, you'll lose it", I've lost what it takes for my feet to function on their own without controlling shoes. It's kind of the same theory regarding doing the "third world squat exercise" (basically doing a full squat with your butt near the ground and feet flat on the floor) - this exercise is difficult for many of us because we've lost those muscles (so important to posture and back/leg strength) because we sit in chairs all our lives.

The other interesting note is that the majority of the people raving and blogging about their successes are NOT the nimble, skinny runners you might imagine (those people that already know they can run in their racing flats all the time and don't notice that there's no cushioning in them). Many of them are larger people with frames more conducive to any other sport than running but have been plagued with bad knees or other leg/foot related injuries. These are the success stories that interest me.

What I've learned so far is something I've found applicable to almost everything in life: just about anything done in moderation is good for you - too much, too soon (or too little, too infrequently) can be catastrophic.

I'll cover my reflections and progress on the first week of my minimalist progression and then try to update weekly. Because I'm not totally sold on barefoot or MR and don't want to mess myself up, I'm completely at ease going into this SLOWLY and progressively. The day I purchased my Vibram's I wore them around the house for about an hour - for the most part, I spent that hour just sitting. I then downloaded the pdf guide from Vibram which contains the recommended progression and some exercises.

I've found the exercises interesting and somewhat frustrating. It's recommended you do 3 sets of 20 reps, about 3-5 times per week. What I find frustrating is that I can't do some of them and really struggled - especially the one where you're supposed to pick up a towel from the floor and transfer it to the other foot - I can't do that once, let alone 20 times! I can pick up the towel using each foot about 6-7 times and that's going to have to be my starting point - I'll work on transferring as I go! My legs were a little tired but for the most part, the exercises are going well. After doing them tonight, I'll have 4 days this week. I've also tried to wear my Vibram's around the house for longer periods of time and ran to the mailbox (our mailbox is actually 2 houses away from us). Yesterday (the 5th day) was the first day that my "medium arches" felt sore. I took the Vibram's off and put my Chaco sandals on - that gave me some arch support but still left my toes unencumbered. The other thing I did was to order some minimalistic shoes to help the transition. I ordered a pair of Brooks purecadence - my thought is that I'll run short distances in those as I transition away from my Asics Gel-Nimbus (with Superfeet pink inserts). That transition may be as far as I get - we'll see what happens and what the next week brings….


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Get-In-Gear 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon set to go up on April 1st.

For any of you that are planning on running the 35th running of Get-In-Gear K, 10K or Half Marathon, there's a fee increase on April 1st. So you should register now to save money and save your space (the Half Marathon filled last year). Get-In-Gear is one of the oldest 10Ks and in the Top 15 10Ks in the country in terms of registered runners. It is the largest 10K in Minnesota.

Click here to get entered ===>

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Changing The Long Run

I feel like the kid on the new TV Series "Touch". Have you ever had an epiphany while reading different blogs, newspapers, and magazines about a trend that is like a thread that runs through all of them?

That happened recently as I caught up with books by Matt Fitzgerald, marathon plans by the Hanson brothers (The running ones, not the hockey ones), and Runner World's advise columns. And the change is in what they are all warning about regarding the Long Run.

It used to be, more is better when it came down to the long run. Galloway had you run/walk more than the distance of the marathon in the runs leading up to the marathon. Joe Henderson also referenced that as long as you took walking breaks, you aided your endurance without setting your body back too much. Amby Burfoot, Boston Marathon 1968 winner, admitted that, yes, even he too is taking walking breaks so that he can keep up the mileage needed to finish those long runs.

But the new trend is a limit to the long run. The latest trend is to say that you should limit the time/distance of your long run. The Hanson's plan is that you should never run more than 16 miles for any long run. Runner's World advisors as stating that anything longer than 3 hours [no, it doesn't matter if you are doing a 6 minute or 12 minute mile] is counter productive. A Boston Qualifier told me that she never did more than 2 hours on any long run until 3 weeks before, when she did a 2 and a half hour long run [yes, just one before the marathon]. She told me that allowed her to do more strength training, speed workouts and tempo runs before the marathon - and that, was the key for her.

It's an interesting change. As a 55+ year old runner, it makes sense to me. My recovery times last year were brutal. Sure, some of it was the weight I was carrying but age was also a factor. I know my first three months have been progressing nicely with my training for a Half Marathon instead of the Full Marathon for the spring/summer races. I will not have a run over 15 miles in any of that training and it should show in my times (I hope).

If any of you have followed a marathon training program with a limited long run distance described above, please share it with me. I ill advance to the full marathon training after Grandma's in June and I would fully embrace any training that was successful that included a limit on the long run [time and/or distance] during the coming summer months.

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Location:Eagan,United States

Sunday, March 25, 2012

William A. Irvin 5K (Grandma’s Marathon 5K) Filling up Quick

June 15th Race Expected to Fill Quickly

(Duluth, Minn.) Registration for the 18th annual William A. Irvin 5K opened at 12:01 a.m. (CDT) on Thursday, March 17. There’s currently a buzz that even though they added 200 spots over last year’s total spots (from 1700 to 1900), the race is going to fill no longer than sometime this week.

The field limit for the 2011 race is 1,700 — an increase of 200 from last year when the capacity was reached in less than a week. To register, runners should visit The entry fee is $30.

The 3.1-mile run begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 15, near the permanently docked William A. Irvin ore boat on Duluth’s waterfront and is the first of three major running events during Grandma's Marathon weekend. Registration remains open for the 36th annual Grandma’s Marathon set for Saturday, June 16, while the entry process for the 22nd annual Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is closed.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Barefoot Running

My wife Bonnie has found a number of articles citing the benefits of Barefoot Running. As a heavier runner, I've always thought this wouldn't make sense because the weight that the runner is carrying would need all the cushioning he/she could get in a shoe.

But the articles had commentary from heavy runners that actual endorsed the barefoot running concept, saying it actually helped them slowly get into running since it emphasizes the stretching /walking at the beginning of the training.

She is going to try it in the coming months and I'm interested to see if any of my readers/followers have tried this or know someone that has. Please write me if you have and let me know. I would like to integrate your experiences with Bonnie's as she goes through this trial.

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Location:Hamilton Dr,Eagan,United States

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to stop viewing weight loss by total weight loss.

I reported in an earlier column about my finding of weight loss and it's realtionship to my running times. One of the ideas I pushed was to not use total weigght but fat weight when judging success on the weight wars.

Here's what I've found so far in my lost weight. For the 23 pounds that I lost, 14 of those pounds came in the form of fat loss (in pounds). I don't know if everyone will have the same experience but that has been mine. Another way to look at it, is that I've gone from 24% body fat percentage down to 18.9% body fat percentage. Okay, the USOC will not be sending me an invite to represent the USA in London this summer anytime soon. But it is encouraging in my personal experiment of me.

Here's what I noticed. Back in January, I was hard press to break an 2:05 in the quarter mile. Knowing that I ran a 6:47 mile back in 2005, this was very discouraging. A 2:05 1/4 mile calculates out to a 8:35 mile, almost two minutes slower than my 2005 mark. But again, I knew I was no where close to being in shape back in Janaury.

Fast forward 8 weeks, and yesterday I completed 12 reps of 1/4 mile between 1:50-1:55 per 1/4 mile. Sure, it's only 10-15 seconds faster than January, but I went from a predicted 2:20 Half Marathon to a 1:57 Half Marathon prediction in 8 weeks! When's the last time you took 2 minutes - per mile - off of a Half Marathon? (I admit, I still have to run the Half Marathon but the tables say that it's completely doable as long as I keep up my endurance runs.)

So how do I know for sure my training is working and that fat/total weight loss is having an effect? My heart rate. As I mentioned many times, I keep track of the heart rate continually through my training to make sure I'm not only training hhard but training right.

Back in Janaury, I was hard pressed to keep my heart rate under 174 for 6 1/4 mile reps at 2:05. Yesterday, I never saw any heart reading over 170. So I know that not only am I trying at a faster speed with more endurance (repetions of the 1/4 mile) but I'm also not even reaching 90-95% of my max heart rate in doing it.

I'm still putting together all the things together that I did right (and yes even wrong) but I believe I've found a very effective way to lose fat weight while at the same time as not having my training suffer as a result of it.

More to come.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fit Leagues

I've found a great new website for those runners that are just getting started as well as those veterans among us. It called Fit Leagues and it's free. I was directed to the site by Joyce Aarsvold, a runner/walker that teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.

The concept is pretty simple. You join and keep track of your mileage on the website where it compares you to like runners/walkers that share your interest. A few key features that I like about it more than the NikePlus website...

First, it doesn't have a million runners that you end up competing with. I've found that to be ridiculous when you see that you put in a 25 mile week and are currently in 24,805th place for 2012. With Fit Leagues, there is a manageable group of runners/walkers/bikers that you show up with, and accruing a point only takes you a 1/10th of a mile to do it.

Secondly, it has a reward system that gives you immediate feedback. It's great to get that email after your first day of more than 3 miles telling you that you achieved the 'Bronze League' status.

Third, I like seeing how I compared with Joyce, maybe because I know her, but also because I don't have to search threw 25,000 runners/walked to do it. But the real benefit here is that they restart the mileage each week, so everyone has a refreshed status that doesn't turn stagnate after 21 days of following. I don't have to get my friends to join or find a league that will accept me, the website does it all for me.

Lastly, but probably a great plus for any RunKeeper followers, it saves you the problem of keying any of the information if you are keeping track of it through your RunKeeper app or website. As followers of my blog have seen, I am a RunKeeper groupie. Mainly because it free, but also because it works with any smartphone and is a great way to social your run with any of the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc.. You can also just send it from the Fit League website if you want to, but I like having all of it done instantaneously.

The website is the creative genius of Dan Oachs, out of St. Peter, Minnesota. He is very engaged with any suggestions to make it better. If you are looking for a great way to stay connected with your running progress while at the same time following the progress of runners/walkers/bikers just like you, here is the link to get you connected

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Running in Boston

A point of clarification here. My Blog post is titled 'Running in Boston', not to be confused with 'Running Boston' which will take place approximately four weeks from now. (Not for me, but for the elites.)

Spent the last five days in Boston an the weather couldn't have been worse. Okay Sunday got us out of the 40s, but with overcast and rain, it made for a miserable week. But as we all know, runners carry their own weather.

Bonnie and I got out yesterday morning and got a 10 miler in along the Charles River. It was gorgeous. Reminded me of during what we call the 'Bridges Run' in the Twin Cities. The Bridges run can be a circle route that can take you four, six, 10, etc, miles depending on which bridges you want to cross over the Mississippi.

The Charles River was very similar that way. We started in North Boston at the Boston Garden, away from the city, crossed over between Boston College to the Harvard side and back.

It was a straight route on a path that is shared by the bikers but with ample room for both runners/bikers in both directions. Little stop and go for any car traffic. On the way out, you can view all of the Harvard Campus. One the way back, you can see the State Capitol with its Gold Dome that you can follow back into the city. They call Boston 'the city built on a hill'. Until we ran back in on that side, I never knew why they did. But you can see it from the side as you come into the city. It is built on a hill, and ever landmark viewable from that side.

Along with this route, for any walkers in your group, there is the 'Freedom Trail'. It's clearly marked, and starts from Bunker Hill and goes throughout the city through 16 major historical sites. As someone that enjoys history, I would give it high marks.

If you are interested to test what kind of shape your in, try doing the 294 steps up the Bunker Hill Memorial. Oh sure, I ran 3 marathons last year. But when I got out of there and started to walk down the steps by the Massachusetts Gate, my quads were burning. Something I noted in my running journal for future training.

All-in-all, I would rate the Boston running/walking routes 4
(out of 5) stars. I also found a lot of runners out there each morning that took advantage of their running routes. Boston is ideal for the running tourist.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Running for weight loss

In the past 7 weeks, I have loss 23 pounds. It started with a trip to the scale after a January Cruise that showed me in the overweight BMI range. I know a lot of folks blow off the BMI since it varies by body type (small, medium, large for example) but for me it was a wake up call.

So I took to the task in hand. How to get back into a range that I found acceptable.

I've shared the need to keep running journals with all of you. These became really valuable to me. After a review of 30 years worth of them (yes, I have them all the way back to 1983 when I started doing 5Ks) I started to glean a few insights that I want to share with you.

My best running times were tied to my lowest running weight. I know, I know, no big surprise here. But I also found there were times that I wasn't at my lowest weight (in fact 10 pounds heavier) but I still had a good season. What I did find is that my pounds of fat (fortunately we did pick up a scale that measured that along with total weight) had a direct correlation.

So how to use this information? Well, I attacked it by making a goal of reducing the pounds of fat, instead of the overall weight pounds. As a lot of us know, it gets pretty frustrating when you diet up for a week and don't see the pounds come off. Okay, maybe 2-3 pounds, but when you feel like you should've lost 5 and see 2, it does get discouraging.

I will be following up this blog with tips and items that I'm learning as the pounds melt off. But for right now, if any of you are trying to lose weight, I want to stress the need to get a scale that measures three things - BMI, Total Weight, and Fat weight (in pounds or kilograms - for my English cousins following the blog).

If you are looking for a recommendation, I would go with a Wiithings scale (if it fits your budget). The added bonus with a Withings scale is that it syncs with the WiFi in your home. This will allow you to keep track on your iPad, iPhone, RunKeeper, or literally any internet site or program. I've heard that many friends and /or partners that are trying to lose weigght together use this to keep each other motivated as they work on weight loss. (I'm of the other bent - I'm too embarrassed about my weight now, I'll wait until after I've lost another 10 before I move to that step.)

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Location:Constitution Rd,Boston,United States

Monday, February 27, 2012

Did you get picked for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon at Grandma’s for June 16th? Did you get picked for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon at Gr

I have received notices that even before anyone has received an email this week congratulating them on being selected in the lottery for the GB Half Marathon, that some entrants have received an email from the credit card company letting them know about their payment being processed. If you can’t remember the email you used during registration, you can check with your credit card company for a charge from “ / Web Marketing Associates” for $80.40. If you have been charged, then you’re in.

All runners chosen (and even those not chosen) will receive an email this week (February 27th) letting them know if they are in or out. Good Luck to everyone that entered.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nike HTM Flyknit

Normally, I have a hard time getting excited about a running shoe before it comes out, but the details behind the new shoe covers by Nike has got my attention. A weight of 160 grams? The idea that a shoe will have both a form (more pliable and flexible) and function (less weight) is something that any runner from the 5K to Ultra Marathoner would love. If this shoe holds up for 3-6 months of training and can cut its previous model’s weight in half, Nike will be selling these like Apple sells iPhones.

I understand that many of our USA’s Athletes are already training in the Nike prototypes. The rest of us have to wait until July to get our hands on the models for running so that Nike can sell these with their sponsorship of the Olympic Games.

For more information, check the attached link:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Twin Cities Marathon Price Increase Starts Tomorrow

Are you thinking of running the Twin Cities Marathon on October 7th, 2012? If you are, you have until tonight at midnight to save $10 off the increase set for tomorrow to $105. To enter right now before the price increase, click the following link and get registered.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012 Disney 5K

If you are looking for an inexpensive way to "RunDisney", Ive found the best way to save a buck from running either the Half Marathon or the Marathon.

After running the Half Marathon in January, 2011, we thought about running it again before a planned cruise leaving Port Canaveral, Florida.  Because of the cost of the cruise, $150 for a race hits the budget kind of hard.  The 5K still costs $50, which isn't cheap for a 5K.  In fact, they bill it as a family fun run, but seriously, how many families can afford that?  Come to think of it, there weren't many kids at the starting line for it.

The 5K has the 'wave' format so that it isn't a madhouse at the start.  The three waves are based on the following time splits; Under 7 minutes per mile, 7-9 MPM, and 9:01 MPM and above.

If you looking at a great cheap option to the other longer races, I would highly recommend this one.  You are only allowed to go through Epcot, but the photo stops with the characters, the support from the staff and the recovery food/drinks at the end of the race were Grade A.  The only deficient points for the race is the medal and timing of the race.  You are not timed at this race and no one can look it up on their website when you finish.  Youonly have your race number as proof you even ran this one, and who knows, you couldve slept in as far as that proof goes.  The 'medal' is soft rubber and does look cheap.  But again, it does prove you ran it.

You will need to take a extra day of work off since it is run on a Friday morning.  Also, you have to be on the grounds by 5:30 am, which means a before 5 am wake up call to be there by that time.  But the earliness of the race allows ample time to get back, shower and get to the parks before they open.  So my overall rating was A- for those of you interested in a very fun 5K race.   

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Steve Jobs and what works

Finished reading "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson and found it a good read into the mind of Apple's creative genius. While Job's batting average was pretty good on knowing what would work, I found an interesting tidbit on how other products just fell into his lap. Jobs didn't see how the iPod Nano would be a great success. But Jobs wasn't an athlete in training like the rest of us. When you're running a 20 miler in training, the ability to take a 1000 digital song player has great application. Same for running a 5K for a PR and wanting to eliminate any excess weight for a Sony Walkman or hand held radio. The runners at Apple had to talk Jobs into pursuing the Nano. And as it turned out, its success geared one of the values of all of Apple future products when you think about it. Smaller, faster, more capacity, and more functions with each year/version of the product. Another benefit that running has added to person-kind. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad