Day 1 Week 17 – Live & Learn

5 mile tempo run at 7:39 – 7:57 pace, 2 mile warm up, 1 mile cool down. 59 degree Fahrenheit, ideal for running.

My body shuddered when I stepped outside for my morning run as cool breezes swept fall leaves to the curb.   The lounge warm up I normally do took some of the edge off the chill, but the 2 mile warm up was what I needed as my feet hit the pavement.

The temperature was actually ideal for running.  Just right to keep the body cool and sweat minimum when the body started to move at a good pace.  “Comfortably hard,” I reminded myself as I sped up for today’s tempo run.

Of course a cooperative weather is every runner’s dream.  When it happens, the run is more pleasant,  including the tempo runs.  That is the case with my workout today.  I am also glad the different pieces of the marathon training are coming together on my last marathon specific week.

Because of the run by feel approach I am using this season, I am driving myself.  I know what is the right pace and if I am ready.   This is a far cry from before when I engaged external methods (e.g. stop watch or arbitrary paces) which often lead to injuries or feeling of guilt.

Live and learn.





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Week In Review – 15 Oct 2017

Total miles ran this week: 44

Third week of Marathon Specific training, workouts intend to condition my body for the 26.2 miles challenge.  Workouts like the hill to tempo, tempo intervals, and surges aim to train my legs to run while tired.  Because even at the race pace, a marathon will test my legs’ stamina.

Increased intensity in these workouts elevates the importance of related recovery. Whether it’s clearing the lactate acid, engaging different leg muscles (switching from slow twitch to fast twitch), or simply just rest, I can feel my body is locking in my race pace.

This is why trying anything new during the marathon is never recommended.  With me less than a month from the marathon, the balance training becomes more like the seasoning in a cooking process.  No changing of ingredients.  Only to enhancing the flavor of the dish.

Through the years of training I have undertaken (Harrisburg Marathon will be my 18th), my perspective on the marathon training has evolved over time.  My overall goal remains the same, to improve my running. Whether it’s the running gear, style, or philosophy, my training has however evolved over time similar to aging.

Have a good week.

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Day 6 Week 16 – Running Surges

14  mile long run with 6 x 90 second surges @ 5K pace and 5 min easy jog in-between the surges

At the beginning of today’s run, my legs felt sluggish.  Not a good sign.  Perhaps the built up of fatigue from the week was dragging my feet?  While pressing on, I said to myself, “it’s going to be a long one.”  I was grateful for the cool weather which was the silver-lining in that scenario.

After mile 7, I started my surges.  Each one as if I was in a 5K race but only for 90 seconds. The surges not only made the second half of my run faster, they also gave me the opportunity to fine tune my running posture.  Specifically, relaxing my diaphragm and my lower body which resulted in what felt like a lighter and possibly faster run on my feet.

So the twist of what started out negative ended up positive has an interesting lesson: no sense dwelling on the negatives or putting it another way, suffering is optional.  Today’s run is a gift and  the reason why I keep running.

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Day 5 Week 16 – A Day Off

Friday the 13th – no running today. Not because I am afraid of running into a black cat.   But because it is my day off from running, a scheduled day of rest, and a day I savor so so very much.

The long and intense running of late has been putting strain on my body.  One of my toes, for instance, feels like it is having a structural fracture after running a couple of miles.  I am certain that is not the case.

But as a precaution, I have been wearing running shoes instead of my sandals in my workouts to give the feet more cushion and protection.  Safe to say, a day off my feet is a welcoming respite.   Can’t afford to get hurt when I am one month away from the marathon.

With this morning off, I was able to get plenty of sleep, a critical  piece to the body’s recovery.  Also, I indulged myself in a full body yoga practice, a chance to get in touch with different parts of my body and most importantly, balancing my mind and body.

My wife told me that a friend of ours is running a marathon this weekend.  So I checked online to see which marathons are on for this weekend.  To my surprise, over twenty marathons (across the country) are planned this weekend alone.  Must be the popular Fall marathon season all right.

How do you spend your day off?

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Day 4 Week 16 – On Aging

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6 mile recovery run, cool, 65 degree Fahrenheit.

The security of knowledge and possession of skills and material necessities are common goals for many of us.  Their ownership builds confidence for individuals and by extension the society as a whole.

To that extend, I used to see the world with a sense of wonder.  New places, people, and things enough to capture my fancy and hold my attention.  In fact, people watching is still a favorite pastime of mine to this day.

Now older with more gray on my head and wrinkles around my eyes, I see the world a bit differently.  Yes, different places, people and things allow me to seek out what is different and interesting.

The twist in aging is that I no longer thirst for more.  Instead, quality appeals me – how things are done better, people with innovative ideas, and places that feel serene.  Not an indictment against ownership.  Just a refinement from growing older.

How has your perspective changed over time?

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Day 3 Week 16 – Thoughts on Tempo Intervals

6 x 1 mile @ 10K pace (7:42) w/ 90 sec rest, 1 mile warm up & cool down, overcast, 72 degree Fahrenheit

Ran today’s tempo intervals over a mile course back and forth.  My time were as follows: 7:22, 7:45, 7:20, 7:50, 7:32, 7:57.  One thing clear was the changes in elevation over the mile was enough to make a consistent 20 – 30 second difference (faster in one direction).

And no matter which direction I was running, I got slower over time.  Presumably, more tired towards the end.  I associate tempo runs with the mantra “comfortably” hard.  “Comfortably” so not to over-do it.  But the 12 second difference in the same direction indicated perhaps I still ran a bit unevenly.

Be that as it may, today’s tempo interval is the last of my make-up lactate threshold runs. Overall, my tempo run has become better executed since I started run by feel.  It makes so much more sense as compared to what I used to do which was pacing according to my watch.

Lastly, according to the Runner’s World, the tempo runs are ‘the single most important” workout for improving speed.  Because the they teach “the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently.” In other words raising one’s lactate threshold. I certainly hope so.

What is your take on the tempo runs?


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Day 2 Week 16 – Recovery, Recovery, Recovery

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6 mile recovery run, humid, 75 degree Fahrenheit

Wouldn’t you know it? My legs were sluggish this morning.  Remnant of yesterday’s hill-to-tempo workout which made the recovery run today albeit more difficult and yet more beneficial.

Difficult because my legs were still tired.  Trying to move them felt like lifting them with lead boots. But deep down I know the run would bring blood circulation to the very same leg muscles that were sore and help them recover.

The hard part was to convince my mind that the recovery run was what my body needed.  Because at the time it did not feel that way.  Moreover, I included a few power naps throughout the day to allow that mind-body connection to sync in and followed up with a yoga practice for my tired legs.

What is your preferred recovery method?

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Day 1 week 16 – Hill To Tempo

4 x 90 sec hill repeats at 7:00 w/jog down rest, 3 min rest, 3 miles @7:39 – 7:57, humid (thanks to hurricane now turned tropical storm Nate), 72 degrees.

Another marathon specific run today, hill to tempo.  The hill I chose was only 33 seconds long.  So I ended up doing 12 x 30 sec hill repeats.  And let me tell you that by the time I was done with those hill repeats, I was ready to call it quit and go home.

My mouth was gasping for air like a fish out of the water, and my legs putty.  The three mile tempo to follow was an impossibility.  In fact, my thought went something like if I could just finish the 3 miles at whatever pace, I am good with it.

So after a seemingly very short break, I went for the 3 mile run – twelve laps around the track.  After four very trying laps, I was surprised to find my time was 7:35.  It would be a lie to say that I felt great and was ready to pull off two more miles just like that.

No Sirree.  Instead, I kept focusing on one lap at a time.  Five, six, seven, eight, the second mile was 7:47.  And nine, ten, eleven, twelve, the third and last mile took 7:42.  I was beyond happy to have completed today’s workout, particularly under such a humid day.

What’s your favorite marathon specific training?

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week In Review – 8 Oct 2017

Total miles ran this week: 53

In my marathon specific phase, I am still making up some of the lactate threshold runs. This requires a bit of juggling of the schedule and doubling up on the intensity of my weekly workout.  So, at five weeks out from my marathon, I am feeling the load and fatigue on my body.

Luckily I am not totally consumed by my running.  I contemplate on ideas such as how to be & stay in the present – particularly when I am running mile after mile – and how not to over-do-it.  Important to keep a balance between the mind and body regardless running marathon or not.

Lastly, this year the devastation of hurricanes hit home to America. Whether it’s Harvey (landfall in Texas), Irma (Florida), or Maria (Puerto Rico),  the indelible lost of life and property inflicted in a short span of time (from Aug to Sep) demonstrates how vulnerable we are in spite of our technology.  Let alone man-made disaster.

Have a good week.

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Day 6 Week 15 – Marathon Finish

16 mile long run w/ 11 – 15 @ goal MP or faster, and as fast as you can towards 15 (fast finish)

In today’s “fast finish” workout, I got a preview of what a marathon finish could be in five weeks.  You see, yesterday, I did steady run to pre-load my legs, so they were tired when I got to mile 11 today.

From mile 11 to 14, I ran by feel at my marathon pace. Then as fast as I could from 14 to 15. This marathon specific workout is designed to engage my fast twitch leg muscles when the slow twitch muscles are tired.

While I do not know how fast I was running on that last mile, I like the feeling that I was pushing myself toward the finish.  In a real marathon, all kinds of emotions conjure up at that point when the finish so close and yet so far away.

And usually two extreme scenarios arise depending on one’s efforts: can’t remember it (when you have given your best)  or can’t forget it (when you don’t).  Having the opportunity to practice that critical part is well worth it.

What experience do you have with race finishes?

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