Workouts: working with others and other stuff

Workout notes: last night, 3 run/walk with the group; we went over the bridge.
Today: after my final exam, walked .3 to the start of Bradley park, 3 “slightly more than 1 mile” loops on the grass (almost exactly 13 minutes each; 39:18 total), 1.7 mile walk back.
In days past, those were 10-11 minute loops.

I felt the effects in my legs; my thighs worked. The knees complained some and the back got a bit stiff.

The night before, I took the group over the Bob Michael Bridge. It was hill work for them as they were not used to it. But this group is more intense than they were last year; they WANT to be challenged and they have told me that they enjoy it.

I did look with envy at the 9 minute per mile pace group: they did some speed work. Of course, the group leaders were younger and slender, as one might expect.
There was a time when 9 minute miles was an easy recovery pace for me…but that has NOT been true for several years now; perhaps a decade or so?

So, I am getting to the age where some of the pace groups are simply too fast for me to even think about leading. And frankly; our leaders are growing grayer each year; we need new blood.


May 8, 2015 Posted by | running | , | Leave a comment

Running training: djusting to reality

Today: I ran 4 miles on the university indoor track (9 F outside) and then did 2 separate miles on the treadmill and some light squats.

Track: 37:24 for 32 laps in lane 2; 10:21, 9:53, 8:36, 8:34. That was work. Then one 10 minute mile on the treadmill (including two 2 minute segments at 1.0 elevation), rest, 10:40 mile. I was done.

I had intended to do 4 treadmill miles after the track, but the 17:10 2 mile was too harsh for a tempo run for me; I have to accept that 8:30 now feels the way a 6:40 used to feel, and 10 minute miles are like my old 8:15-8:30 miles.

I’ll try again for 8 miles on Thursday and do some hills, but I’ll have to be realistic.

November 19, 2014 Posted by | running | | Leave a comment

On the edge between overtraining and training

I thought about doing an 8 mile run on this chilly, crisp morning but soon realized that I was running out of gas. So I jogged the first 4 miles or so in 45 minutes (hilly) and then walked the next 4 in 1:01-1:02; I stopped to throw some trash away.

My legs were simply out of power; I think that half marathon run was more of an effort (on an untrained body) than I wanted to admit.

But I enjoyed the combination run/walk and practiced some hills.

October 23, 2014 Posted by | running, walking | | Leave a comment

Unplanned 5K: Strides for Justice

I wasn’t going to do this as I had a “maximum effort” walking marathon planned for tomorrow. But a cold took me out of that, so I am dropping to the half marathon (walking at a “leisurely, see the course” pace) so I decided to try a local 5K. It is one I’ve done before (Strides for Justice 5K) but I did a spring version of this as a walker (2010).

So, I signed up the day before and bought some new trail shoes for the upcoming Mc-Not-Again 30 miler on November 8. That race has a 10 hour time limit, which I should be able to meet, provided I get in a mix of distance and hills over the next 4 weeks. I need 2-3 5 hour plus walks which feature tough hills and some trail stuff.

So, what about today?
Screen shot 2014-09-27 at 10.46.44 AM

Splits: 7:50/8:15/9:46 (uphill 1.1)

As you can see: just slower than the median male, not quite upper third but of all who finished ahead of me, only 4 were my age or older. Gads, that is sad isn’t it: I am still babbling about age. πŸ™‚

I took a 2 mile warm up (using part of the bike path) and then started gently; the downhill (kind of steep) was nice; 7:50 mile one. I couldn’t sustain that on level ground right now; I was coughing at times.

I saw Pat up ahead; trying to stay with her would be a losing proposition for me right now. I did have some targets though. I was to get a few of them; sadly 3 of them got me back. But not all did! πŸ™‚

There was a bit more drop; I saw the leader and smiled to myself. The turn around was coming. Sure enough, it did; I was 12:29; realistically I knew that sub 25 was out of reach with all that uphill coming up. The second mile was a mix of down and up and probably represented what I could do on level ground: 8:15. I caught two guys who later got me back. Then came the loooong final 1.1. I did slow on that hill but was able to pick it up…a little on that final .25 or so. I could feel the burn and the legs get heavy. I did hold my lead on MOST of the people I caught but not on those two guys.

I wondered if the course was measured on the tangents or not; my guess is that it may have been a few seconds (10-20?) short; perhaps not (.02-.03 miles by my experimenting on google). Then again, on the way back, running tangents was impossible due to traffic. Close enough.

So I walked back and cheered for some; I saw T finishing (walking a little) so I joined her. Then with about 300-400 meters to go, she put forth a sprint that I could NOT stay with. She finished 7 minutes behind me today as she is getting back into it, but still has a sprint that I can’t match. I’d bet that she’d be good at the mile.

Afterward was fun; I got to talk to Bill, Herb, Michael Ball, T, Crystal and others.

What I learned is that people are very different in their warm up needs. For example, Michael is 59 and STILL runs under 20 minutes for the 5K (his marathon PR is 2:59; 5K is 17:20). But he has one 30 minute interval workout and his warm up is all of…800 meters.

Me: I don’t start sweating until 12 minutes or so. Even in swimming, my first 500 yards is slow, no matter what. I really do need a minimum of 10-12 minutes of war up; 15-20 minutes usually works better. But Michael is fast and slender; I am terribly slow and heavy. I have more body to warm up.

Whatever works, I guess.

5K for 2014: post blood donation

27:06 68F, 65 percent
27:41 73F, 69 percent
27:23 74 F, 67 percent
25:53, 70 F, 72 percent
26:38, 78F, 87 percent
26:38 (head cold, slightly long course)
25:53 (head cold, cool weather)

September 27, 2014 Posted by | running | , | 1 Comment

A change in my body (re: running)

If I want to run better, I need to make some changes.

When I was running my best (roughly 20 minutes for a 5K in my late 30’s, and roughly 3:40 for a marathon) I mostly did straight mileage with a race and a tempo run. And, when I ran in those local one mile races, I’d beat people who were beating me at the 5K and up. The mile was my best “distance” race; that was consistent when one looked at the “race time equivalent” calculators, the Daniels VDOT tables, and the like.

The same was true for judged racewalking: my best judged racewalk was an 8:31 1500 meter walk in 2003. My best judged 5K was only 30:42 and best judged 3000 was 18:03.

But that has seemed to change over the past 4-5 years or so.

I looked up race results from previous “Main Street Mile” events and people who run the 5K at roughly my pace just kill me on the mile. They absolutely blow me away. And yes, I am looking at people who are within shouting distance of my age.

I think that my period of doing long ultras (2004-2009) kind of ruined what little speed I had left, or at least sent it into hibernation.

Is there a solution? I don’t know, but my guess is that I have to change what I used to do. In the past, I didn’t seem to benefit from 200-400 meter repeats or from doing an occasional “hard mile” in practice.

This year, I seem to have benefited some; I appear to at least stopped my 5K slowdown.

So, right now, I’ve been doing some 200 meter repeats (200 walk/jog recoveries) and I am up to 8 at a time. I’ll see how long I can stick with them; I can feel some soreness in my butt which is a good thing. Perhaps I can eventually work up to doing 16 of them.

June 25, 2014 Posted by | running | , | Leave a comment

Why have I slowed down so much? It isn’t all age…

I’ve been interested in running performance and the various factors that affect all of us.
I’ll probably do a more detailed analysis later (after math projects are done) but given that I am not working out this morning (good reason), I’ll make some conjectures here.

I’ve talked about this a couple of years ago:

The data:
2003: 22:09, 22:54 (22:09)
2004: 23:31, 23:39 (22:30) 1:01
2005: 23:08, 23:46 (22:39) 0:29
2006: injured (piriformis, then knee)
2007: 25:17 (23:01) 2:16
2008: 24:10, 24:33, 24:36, 25:30 (23:12) 1:02
2009: 24:00, 24:07, 24:14, 24:29, 24:45, 25:40 (23:24) 0:36
2010: injured (knee)
2011: 25:35, 25:48, 26:21, 26:56, 27:30, 27:44, 27:45, 27:52, 28:46 (23:45) 2:10
2012: 24:34, 24:51, 25:02 (23:46) 1:22
2013: 24:56, 25:14, 25:22 (23:58) 0:58
2014: 24:17, 24:40, 24:42 (24:10) 0:07

Since courses, weather and time of year vary, I’ll look at specific races over known courses: (2010: I was out with knee surgery)

year RFC R R
2009 24:29 25:40
2011 skip 26:56
2012 25:13 25:03
2013 25:48 24:56
2014 25:27 24:42

So if one just looked at the above data, there would be no statistical evidence of much of a slow down since 2009; in fact from 2011 to to 2014, one might be able to tease out modest improvement.

But that is why I am skeptical of studies like this one (I recommend reading it)

I know that I’ve slowed down a great deal; just look at 1996 through 2002 (best times for the 5K)

1996: 21:47 (restart running)
1997: 20:02
1998: 19:53
1999: 20:47
2000: 20:47
2001: 20:47 (no: not a misprint)
2002: 21:36
2003: 22:09

So, what is going on? Well, age is certainly one factor. But there are others:

1. Injuries: I had Achilles problems off and on, but the knee problem in 20120 knocked me out for a long time. I was sucking wind when I finally got back.

2. Sports: during 2002-2009 I flirted a bit with ultra marathons. I did 3 one hundred mile races from 2004 to 2005 and a 4’th in 2009; in between I had numerous 24 hour races where I got from 60-83 miles. That slowed me down.

3.Training: I added walking and swimming and did less running.

4. Ability to handle training: I really can’t run all that much anymore; 3-4 runs a weeks is about what I can handle, especially if I race, do speed work and get in an 8-10 mile run.

5. There is a thumb rule that most runners have a 7-10 year period from the time they start “seriously running” in which they improve; improvement halts after that.
It appears to me that my window of improvement shut down in 2001; that was my last “good” year of running. That was the last time I got sub 1:40 for the half marathon and my last sub 3:45 marathon. I haven’t broken 6 minutes for a mile since 1999 and my last “sub 7 minute mile 5K” was in 2002.

What I can do about it: I have to switch my training a bit; I really need to do either one short race (5K or shorter) on speed session every single week, even if it means doing some 200 meter repeats on the university track. If you look at my “running” photos, I appear to be walking. That is because I lack the leg and butt strength to lift off of the ground.


In 1999, I had much more of a “running” gait:

So, moving forward, lower body strength and speedwork will be key to success. I’ve had some luck in the 5K so far this year. And yes, body weight is also a key; it helps me to stay about 180.0.

June 21, 2014 Posted by | running | , , , | Leave a comment

Running: slowing down with age

Workout notes We had more thunderstorms so I took it to the university treadmill. I had a pleasant surprise: Tracy showed up and so we were side by side for much of it. That made the workout much more pleasant.

1. 5 mile run: 10:26, 9:47 (20:13), 9:10 (29:23), 17:20 (46:43), so you might say I had a 26:30 tempo run after a 20:13 warm up. I kept the elevation at .5 after the first .5 mile. I admit that this was NOT easy for me.
2. 3.4 mile walk (3 in 43:50) varying the incline. Since I’ll be walking much of the marathon I need to practice walking.

Navel Staring
I admit that my moving back in the pack in running has distressed me a bit. Because so many new runners and not-in-shape people show up at the 5K events, my demise is a bit disguised. But this sure came back to me “front and center” at last week’s half marathon. I was a bit distressed that so many “wide bodies” are now running faster than I am.

I looked at one of my old training diaries. In 1980, I weighed 200-205 pounds, bench pressed 250 and ran a 3:33 marathon. In 1982, I weighed 195, benched 240 and ran a 39:50 10K. In 1985 (fall), I weighed 220, ran a 23:00 5K (last Saturday in September) and benched 300 in the second week of November. In each of those cases, I had a wider body than I have now and STILL ran MUCH faster. 😦

So what is going on? Some of it is age. Some of it is accumulated injuries. And some of it: just too many “miles on the tires”?

I used to run with a guy who was unhappy with the way his performance had deteriorated over the years. In his early 20s, he said, he had been super-fast. A couple of decades later and about 20 pounds heavier, he had lost that amazing speed.

β€œToo many miles on the tires,” he would say. His idea was that if you start racing when you are young, you will be worse in middle age than if you started fresh when you were older.

But is it true, and if so, how does it happen? Do athletes accumulate injuries, for example, or just get mentally fatigued after competing nonstop for decades?

Gina Kolata on exercise.
There are no definitive data on this question, but there are some suggestive findings, said Dr. Vonda Wright, an orthopedic surgeon and exercise researcher at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Wright’s study of senior Olympians β€” athletes age 50 and older who participated in the National Senior Olympic Games, a track and field event β€” found what she considers a surprisingly small rate of decline in performance until age 75: just a few percent a year in their times. After that, though, the athletes slowed down considerably.

She asked the athletes when they began participating in sports. In her survey, 95 percent said they were active in sports when they were teenagers and 85 percent said they were active as young adults.

But the survey did not ask what sports they played when they were younger β€” the same sports or different ones from those they were competing in now β€” or when they began to compete (it is likely that many of the women, growing up before Title IX, did not compete when they were young). Both factors bear on whether late-blooming athletes have an advantage as they get older.

Hirofumi Tanaka, an exercise researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, has some data that bear on the question, albeit obliquely. He and his colleagues measured the maximum oxygen consumption, or VO2 max, of 153 men ages 20 to 75. Because VO2 max describes how much oxygen can get to muscles during exercise, it is measure of how well a person can perform. Sixty-four of the men in his study were sedentary, and 89 were trained endurance athletes.

The results were something of a surprise. The endurance athletes had a greater VO2 max than sedentary men of the same age, but this measure also declined more swiftly with age among the athletes. And although Dr. Wright may be right that each year performance times decline only a few percent, that steady decline year after year takes its toll. […]

I know that many runners deal with this. What I’ve seen: it seems that many of the runners who ran years ago no longer run races. And of those that do: the gap between us is roughly the same; it is just that we’ve all slid back roughly the same amount.

Now you might notice that median times for the age groups at a race slow, but not that much. That is true. But if one tracks individuals, you do see a slow down.

So what to do?

I see the slow down as resulting from a loss of strength (my current bench press is about 190-195) and from a loss of VO2 max. So I might have to cross train, do some hard VO2 max type running (at least one speed session a week…can be a short race) and do some hill work, emphasizing knee lift.

Goals: work on my half marathon.
1997: 1:40
1998: 1:39 (day after a 5K)
1999: 1:37, 1:34
2000: 1:42, 1:35
2001: 1:37
2002: 1:43
2003: 1:53
2013: 2:01:19 (so far)

April 18, 2013 Posted by | running, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment