Round the Roo 5K

Pretty happy with how this played out. I've had a really good 5-week block of base training this winter, averaging 61.5 miles a week thus far, but wasn't feeling race fast as my only hard workouts have been things like a weekly session of 4-5 x 4:00-5:00 @ 10K effort in cold, windy and snowy conditions. Was really nervous how that would translate to a 5K race, which is a total VO2 max blast. As I drove down to Akron to race this indoor track 5K on Akron University's state of the art 300 meter track, part of me was scared that I would struggle to run 6:00 pace. I felt sluggish during my warm up, but once I got in some strides and a brief 3-minute tempo I started to wake up. The race went pretty well. I settled into what felt like the 'right' effort and hit my first mile in 5:37 and continued on to the 2-mile mark in 11:15 (5:38). Good sign! I started to feel kind of rough with about 1200 to go, but just tried to focus on each lap and hold my effort. With about 600 to go I noticed a few runners coming back to me, which helped a lot and I managed to finish my last 300 fairly strong for a final time of 17:37 (5:40 pace).

Photo by johnnydajogger

The race was put on my teammate Jim Chaney who heads up Chaney Events, the best race organization company I've come across thus far. Jim's an excellent runner and he knows how to put on events that appeal to serious runners (i.e. results posted immediately online, not 3 days later like some NE Ohio race organizations!). Round the Roo was limited to 90 runners (3 heats of 30 runners) and each race went perfectly without any hiccups.

As for this week, it's back to the basics again as I get rolling on the second half of this 10-week block. This week calls for 3 key workouts, consisting of a tempo session of 2 x 15 minutes, hill repeats, and a 2-hour long run on Saturday. The weather is supposed to get rough again, so I'll take it day to day. Hopefully I can hit 65-70 this week. I'm really happy with how I've been handling the higher mileage this winter. I seem to be recovering faster than I used to on this amount of volume, which I hope translates to some great races this spring.

Round the Roo was a nice start to 2011. Hope that Jim puts this on again next year!


Couple of good weeks in the bank

As I type this entry, I'm getting ready to head out the door for a 14-miler, which will give me 67.5 miles for the week. Last week I was at 66.5. The first month of my winter training block has gone really well thus far. Nothing fancy, mostly easy miles with a longer run on the weekend and weekly aerobic strength/tempo and  hill workouts (short sprints or long reps). This past week my key workouts were 4 x 5:00 on Monday and 6 x Rockcliff hill repeats on Thursday. Rockcliff is definitely tougher than Detroit Ave. (my usual choice) but I think I prefer this one more. Forces you to focus on form as it is impossible to sprint so to speak. Next weekend I'll be jumping in an indoor 5K race at Akron University. While I feel really strong from the past month of training it'll be interesting to see what kind of wheels I have. Should be a good rustbuster and it'll be great to wear shorts and a singlet again!


Racing Weight

If you aren't running as fast as you think you should be, chances are that you are not running enough and that you could also shed a few pounds. Matt Fitzgerald's recent book Racing Weight has garnered a lot of attention for good reasons. It's an excellent, easy-to-read guide geared towards endurance athletes. Fitzgerald makes specific recommendations for the following sports: running, cross country skiing, rowing, cycling and triathlons.

Before reading Racing Weight, however, I would definitely check out Pete Magill's article in the most recent issue of Running Times, entitled "Why Masters Runners Should Stay Lean." As Magill notes, "The average American male gains a pound a year from age 35 to age 60. Proportionally, women gain even more. We'd like to believe that this weight gain represents increased muscular strength. Or at least excuse it as a byproduct of decreased metabolism. But there's no denying its impact on our running performances."

So how light should you be? Magill provides examples of elite masters runners who still race at their college or even high school weights and also quotes esteemed coach and exercise scientist Tom "Tinman" Schwartz, who states that "A 45-year-old male who adds 10 pounds to his 142-pound frame will lose about 1 minute on a 17:30 5K time." That quote hit home with me as this past fall I was about ten pounds heavier than my high school racing weight (same height more or less) and was racing about 1 minute slower than the Age Grading tables indicated I should have been based on my best AG performances at age 17. Back then my best times fell into the 87-88 range, while now I tend to be in the low 80s.

So what do we do? Fitzgerald recognizes that "In no other sport is a low body weight more beneficial than it is in running. Without a doubt, getting as lean and light as possible without undernourishing their bodies is the greatest weight challenge runners face." Fitzgerald recommends that consistent high volume training is the way to go because it "sends a message to the body that all excess fat stores and even muscle tissue must be thrown overboard for the sake of maximizing running economy." Elsewhere in the book, Fitzgerald provides charts for ideal weight ranges depending on your sport. In general, you should be in the top 80 percentile for body fat proportion.

The chapters on diet are excellent and eye-opening. Fitzgerald provides charts that rank food quality, which makes me never want to crack open a soda or eat a french frie again! Over the past month since reading the book, I have been eating way more whole grains, fruit and veggies, no fried food whatsoever, almost no sugar other than dark chocolate (which seems to be the desert of choice in many of the sample diets of elite athletes that are provided in the book) and I've been feeling much more energetic. I've also been taking peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to work as snacks so I won't succumb to the endless amounts of baked goods that people bring in.

Right now I'm about five pounds lighter than I was a month ago and over the last month I've upped my mileage from 40-50 a week to 60-70. One thing I am doing, which Fitzgerald also recommends, is taking a down week now and then. My current pattern is two up weeks of 60 plus miles followed by a down week of 50. This is the best way to build mileage while also letting your body repair.


Winter Miles

It's a new year and time for me to get off my butt and update this blog a bit. I have been getting off my butt to run, but haven't done much of anything else so I need to make a resolution to update here once a week or more and try to add reviews to the community blogs I'm involved with, Nostalgia Equals Distortion and Finally Checking It Out. As for the running, after taking off the week following my Charlotte race, I'm on week 3 of my winter base training. First week back I hit 53 miles, last week I hit 62.5 with a few key workouts (5 x 3 minutes on Monday, hill sprints on Thursday and a 12 mile long run on Saturday). Similar workouts this week though I'm doing a little less on the filler days and will end up with about 55 miles. After that I plan to hit two weeks in the 65 range and bring it down again the week of my indoor 5K race.

I've read a few great books over the last week that I'll review in more detail soon. Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald is excellent. Really tells you what you need to know about staying lean, eating right and training right. Even if you don't need to lose weight so much, almost all of us can eat better. I fall in the latter category and have made a real effort to stop eating crap. I've been bring PBJ sandwiches and cliff bars for snacks at work in order to avoid eating the baked goods people at work are always bringing!

The other book I highly recommend is Healthy Intelligent Training by Keith Livingstone, which is a modern interpretation of Arthur Lydiard's training philosophies.


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