Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Sled Dogs

On Saturday morning I got up for my typical long run and headed out to start out at Edward's Ferry.  It was crisp, cold, but clear skies, as the sun was just beginning to rise.  I ventured north on the towpath to do a 20 mile run that consisted of 2 loops.  As I headed out towards Whites Ferry, it was silent.  The way I liked it.  I could only hear and feel my body moving over the ground circa 6:15 pace.  It seems low 6's are becoming more often my normal long run/easy run pace.  It's really all about the effort.  My breathing was controlled, and the only thing I could feel was the miles I had been putting in my legs the past several weeks.  I was on my way to another 90-100 mile week.

Then as I approached mile 4 into the run(about a mile from White's Ferry), I then heard a noise.  What is that? I thought.  Though faint, it sounded like a sort of singing.  I looked ahead, and as I got closer to White's Ferry I could make out what the noises were.  They were dozens of dogs, howling and barking.  But what kind of dogs? Were they just barking from an owner's house/farm nearby?  I arrived at White's Ferry out of the woods where the trail opened up and the sunlight came through.  I could see some people with dozens of Siberian Huskies barking and howling, attached to sleds.  It looked like they had just gotten the dogs out and were getting the sleds ready.  The Huskies were beautiful, and stared at me as I ran by.  I looked at them in awe.  They looked ready to run.  I zipped by to turn onto Old River Road(a dirt road that goes back out to Edwards Ferry).  Then, about 7 miles into the run, a couple of foxes ran by.  I covered the first loop in 64:00, and did a second loop in 60:00, hoping I would see the sled dogs again, but they were gone.

96 miles for the week. 

Past 6 weeks mileage:

96, 86, 106, 100, 90, 96.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 18: 10 x 1200m

Yesterday I did a really good Threshold workout. The goal was to get as little rest as possible between each interval to build strength but also make sure not to run too fast. I slightly worked the pace down but other than the first and last intervals all of the intervals were pretty much within a second of eachother with very little variation. The laps were evenly paced as well.

The workout was 10 X 1200m w/ 200m jog recoveries, all on the track. Beforehand, I did a 20 min warm-up, some stretching, and then a 1 kilometer pace build up at just under 5:20 pace to get the legs going. I then did the following workout:

1200m splits (+200m jog recovery times):

3:48, (1:20 jog)
3:47, (1:20 jog)
3:45, (1:20 jog)
3:45, (1:30 jog)
3:45, (1:25 jog)
3:44, (1:05 jog)
3:44, (1:35 jog)
3:44, (1:40 jog)
3:44, (1:30 jog)

I averaged 3:44-3:45, or 4:59-5:00 pace per mile. Total time was 50:00. I felt like this was a really good 10 mile race simulator.  I am pleased with how well I am responding to the limited rest I have put in my workouts lately.  I started doing this more in August, and since them it has really gotten me fit.  These types of workouts I believe have yet to show in my races.

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 9-15: 100 Miles/Week

The last 4 weeks I have gone 96, 86, 106, 100.  When running this much, I try to get as close to 50% of the week's mileage on soft surfaces.  The more you run, the more important this becomes.  In addition, plenty of stretching, foam rolling, and strength training must be kept up.  I need to get in the pool at some point again though to get in a solid cross training session.  It was cold on Wednesday, but not nearly as cold as Thursday, which was a good thing I didn't wait until Thursday to do the track workout.  In the meantime, I am finalizing bits and pieces of my 2014 schedule, and am focused on the half marathon championship in 5 weeks.

Monday: PM: 10.5 miles(Riley's Lock/Seneca Road Loop)

Tuesday: AM: 13.5 miles(Sycamore Landing/Poolesville roads),
+ Strength Training

Wednesday: AM: 7 miles
PM: Track: Ladder Workout w/ 200m jog recoveries(1:15-1:30)
:200(35), 400(71), 600(1:46), 800(2:25), 1000(3:03), 1200(3:38),
1000(3:00), 800(2:20), 600(1:44), 400(68), 200(34),
9.5 miles total w/ warm-up + drills and cool-down
Really happy with how I ran this workout. 
Negative splitting is what I have been working on.

Thursday: AM: 3.5 miles shakeout run
PM: 5 miles easy

Friday: AM: 13 miles(on towpath Pennyfield Lock to Great Falls)

Saturday: AM: 20.2 Miles(Capital Crescent/Rock Creek Park Loop)
w/ Chris Mills in 2:16.  We started at Fletcher's Boat House circa 6:45 AM and headed towards Georgetown, picking up Rock Creek trail from there.  We started easy but picked up the pace the second half of the run.  We sped up and hammered a bit the few last miles down the CCT.  It felt nice going downhill toward the end of this run.   

Sunday: AM: 11 miles @ DC/MD line and Rock Creek Park Trails
PM: 6.5 miles @ Seneca Creek Park Trails.

Total: 100 Miles

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday, 12/11/13: The Ladder Workout

After 7 miles this morning, this afternoon I did the following ladder workout below. The recovery time was also minimal (200m jogs).  It was a really good pace builder, and I hit the backend with negative splits.  This is the second track workout in the past 2 weeks I have done all negative splits on.  Getting much better at this! 

200m: 35
400m: 71
600m: 1:46
800m: 2:25
1000m: 3:03
1200m: 3:38
1000m: 3:00
800m: 2:20
600m: 1:44
400m: 68
200m: 34

All with 200m recovery jogs between each (about 1:15-1:30 recoveries)
Average pace: 4:46 mile pace for 7200m
Conditions: COLD.  But no wind.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

12.02-12.08: 106 Miles/Week

Really great week.  I wanted to do some hard running off tired legs, and accomplished that on Thursday.  It felt good to do intervals on the track again.  It was my first track workout since October.

AM: 8.5 miles(7 x 1/4 mile hill hard w/ jog downhill recoveries)
PM: 7 miles

AM: 12.5 miles

AM: strength training
PM: 13 miles

AM: 8 miles
PM: 10 miles(Track-5 x Mile w/ 1 lap jog recoveries: 5:01, 4:57, 4:54, 4:52, 4:49)

AM: 9 miles

AM: Long Run 22.5 miles(nice and slow easy pace), 2 hrs 40 min

AM: 10 miles
PM: 5 miles

Total: 106 miles

Monday, December 2, 2013

Winter/Spring 2014 Races

Photo above: 2013 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, 13th place

I really can't complain too much about the way 2013 racing went.  One thing I would say is perhaps I did not race enough(but I think I also needed to not race a lot this year).  I ran some PRs, and had some good placings.  I only did 9 races.  Although I had top 10 finishes at both of the half marathons I raced this year, I think Cherry Blossom was the highlight placing for me, finishing 13th overall in that race.  I just got invited to do that race again, and I will be aiming for top 10 this coming year.  In terms of race times, I PR'd in 1 mile, 5K, 10K, and 10 miles, but came up short in the half marathon.  I think the half marathon will happen with time, and there are certainly workouts I have done that indicate I am ready for a breakthrough in that distance.  In hindsight, I ran PRs this year, but haven't made any major breakthroughs.  And now I am looking to do so. 

But I need to get to work.

I need to increase my mileage.  Over 2011, 2012, and 2013, I have averaged 75-77 miles/week(upper end 100s/week, lower end 50s/week) for each entire year(roughly 4,000 miles/year), which I think has worked for me during these years, but in order for me to make the jump to the next level I need to average at least 90s/week now(and get a lot of 100+ mile weeks).  My workouts are good, I just need to add more volume.  One thing I really have going for me is that I am incredibly durable.  My body doesn't seem to get injured with increased mileage/intensity over the years, along with racing faster.  But I think that is also because I pay close attention to the little things like foam rolling, stretching, strength training, sleep, and nutrition which I will continue to do.

I am pleased to say I got accepted into the 2014 USA Half Marathon Championships, in Houston, TX.  The race is on January 19, 2014.  I don't want to put a lot of pressure on myself for a certain time, I just want to compete well and hopefully place well.  It's certainly awesome competing in a championship race, and it's inspiring to meet other people around the country who either are Olympians or elite runners who train very hard.  Nonetheless, I am training hard, and feeling pretty darn good.  I think it is a really good thing I didn't do a marathon this year, since that takes more recovery.  Last year it took me a while to get back into my training, and I was pretty beat up after the Philly Marathon in 2012(see one of my earlier posts from last year).  The week after the Richmond Half Marathon(where I placed 10th in 1:09), I was amazed how recovered I felt.  In fact, it felt great to just run mileage, which I certainly did hitting a 96 mile week after.  Last week I hit 86 miles, and decided to jump in the Bethesda Turkey Chase 10K, where I placed 2nd.  My goal was to tempo it at 5:05 pace, and I hit 5:07 on a pretty hilly course.  On Saturday, I did a long run with Capital Area Runners' Christopher Mills(a 29:00 10K guy), covering 2 hours and 10 minutes in much of Washington, DC.  This morning, I did some hill repeats, and will do another run this evening.

As for the rest of my 2014 schedule following Houston, it is still in the works.  But another thing I want to do is to get back on the track and really sharpen up on my
speed this spring.  I am looking to do a few indoor track races, perhaps at Virginia Tech in February.  I want to do a fast indoor 3,000m race.  I think I will really benefit from that leading into the spring season.  Then there is Cherry Blossom on April 6, followed by Pikes Peek 10K on April 27.  Pikes Peek is always a PR course, and I run well there, so it seems logical to do that, but I am also debating about a track 10K.  I am still looking into races.  Chris mentioned Bucknell as a great track meet, and it looks like a possibility, the only problem is that it is a week after Cherry Blossom.  Decisions, decisions.

Monday, November 4, 2013

On to Richmond

I first want to cover Army Ten Miler, which I feel pretty good about.  The race was a build-up for me for Richmond Half, which I will race on Nov 16.  I wanted to go sub 51:00, but I'll take the PR of 51:35.  The start of this race is always a bit chaotic, which I began quite conservatively(first mile was 5:09).  Although, ironically, 5:09 ended up being my average pace for the race in the end.  The race started off with the lead pack, followed by a chase pack, and then myself a few yards back.  We made the uphill turn onto Arlington Bridge, running along the uneven stones for a short time before getting back onto pavement.  I patiently keyed off of GRC's Sam Luff, who was at the back of the chase pack.  By mile 3, as the race unfolded, the chase pack broke apart, with Sam and I gradually passing runners who went out too fast.  I wanted to run right next to him, however, he seemed to maintain this consistent 3-4 seconds on me, but both of us were running the same speed and passing people.  We passed the 5 mile mark in just under 25:30, which was on target for sub 51.  We hammered down Independence Ave, catching a few Ethiopians who had fallen off the pace, and I passed through 10K in 31:49, and mile 7 was 35:50-something.  I saw Charlie Ban, who took a sweet picture of me turning the corner towards the 14th street bridge(above).  The 14th street bridge would then slow things down.  This course certainly is slower than Cherry Blossom, mostly because of the last 3 miles of this race.  Sam and I hammered up the 14th street bridge as efficiently as we could, and caught a few more guys.  It certainly felt like I was running 5:00 flats, but my next 2 miles were a lot slower than it felt(averaged somewhere around 5:12 splits), even though I felt I had picked up my pace, and continued to pass a runner every now and then.  The bridge is deceiving.  We finally, finally exited off the bridge, after mile 9.  Sam and I had surged ahead of a few other runners, but one runner was right behind me, Graham Tribble, who had clocked a 1:07 half marathon back in Sept.  The last mile is a few twists and turns, with the last 1/2 mile uphill towards the finish.  Graham started kicking past me, and appeared to have beaten me, but I drafted right behind him for one last charge.  With a 1/4 mile to go I surged past him and never saw him again.  I ended up finishing 4 seconds behind Sam, in 25th place.

Overall, this race is a really good build-up for me to race the half marathon.  I have been coasting since then, hitting 56 miles the week after the race, and 72 miles last week.  My long runs were 17 miles each week, along with some extra cross training.  This time of year I always feel the need to add a little cross training to my routine.  I got my bike out for the past few weekends, getting about 20 miles of riding each session.  Nothing crazy, just work without the pounding.  While I was in Florida in the beginning of October I added pool running again too, which I have continued to do weekly.  I will do a tune-up track workout this week, but nothing too taxing to take anything out of my legs.  Just enough to get me in the right zone.

I now look to Richmond, to compete well, and in the process of doing so, to finally, finally take down my 1:08:39 half marathon PR.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


This has been a long stretch of racing very minimally, if at all since the summer.  I dropped out of the Philadelphia Half 4 weeks ago, which was sort of a race-tune up I suppose since I raced the first 6 miles.  Since then, I've continued to fine-tune things and my overall average mileage has dropped somewhat.  I ran 73 miles during the week of 9/30-10/6.  On 10/2, I did 8 x 800 meters with 2 minute rests, in 2:21, 2:20, 2:19, 2:21, 2:20, 2:21, 2:20, 2:18.  It was a good sharpening workout to get ready to race.  During the week of 10/7-10/13 I was in Naples, Florida, and ran 71 miles, but with (intentionally) no workouts.

I feel hungry to race now, with Army Ten Miler coming up on the 20th.  It has been a while since I've had a good race, and feel a breakthrough right around the corner.  It's time to go all out and see what I have in me.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Truth

Dear Letsrun,
My name is David Torrence. I am a Professional Track Athlete and Road Racer. I’ve run in front of packed sold-out stadiums, and in front of empty bleachers. I’ve run in Road races with 10k participants, and some with 10 total.
Upon reading the recent discussion on Competitor/RnR events, the value of elites, popularity of the sport, etc…something has struck a chord with me. Specifically with what John Bingham said in the comments section of Toni Reavis’ blog “Dumbing Down, Slowing Down”
Bingham wrote, “I invite ANY winner of ANY race to join me (cheering on finishers) instead of rushing back to their hotel after the awards ceremony. I guarantee that the first ‘elite’ to show even a LITTLE interest in the rest of the pack will become a hero overnight.” (bold my emphasis)
Well John, that comment… how can I put this politely… really frustrated me.
Show even a little interest in the rest of the pack? Guarantee overnight fame?
I have signed autographs in Zagreb, Croatia, t-shirts/hats/shoes in Eagle Rock, CA. In Falmouth, the day after racing the track mile, I voluntarily chose to jog the road 12km with the “rest of the pack” to interact and chat and cheer people on. I have driven myself at 4am to Fresno and sat for hours giving out and signing hundreds of autograph cards with personal messages to HS runners at the CA XC state meet. I have co-created my OWN track club to reach out to the community with greater numbers and unity. I have put on my OWN race (BAXC) where we paired up the average casual runners with the elites and had a scored meet. I recently went to Compton to kick off a weekly run event that the Mayor created for her community that lacks a strong running culture, and jogged 2miles with the youth of the city. I signed autographs and interacted with fans so quickly after my race in Stockholm, for so long, and standing so still (due to the stairs) that my body was unable to clear the lactic acid like it normally does, and I vomited during my cool down for the first time in my entire running career.
Am I an international phenomenon? Am I a national hero? Do people even recognize me on the trails in my own CITY where I train and live 6months out of the year? No, no, and no.
The blaming of the elites HAS to stop.
Are there some who don’t give back and selfishly head back to the hotel room? Yes. But in my experience, they are far and few between.
The vast majority are NOT jerks. They are people just like you. And are honestly some of the nicest/humblest people I’ve ever met. I feel honored to be a part of the professional running community.
But what more do you want us to do? What more CAN we do? Why aren’t NBA, NFL, MLB, Tennis, NASCAR, professionals held to this same standard of fan interaction?
Who are the ones that are creating this disconnect between the Elites and the casual runners?
I’ll tell you what is to blame: Television.
TV has done the absolute WORST job of promoting our sport and our elite athletes, and to put it simply: make us look cool. Every race is scripted to the point that the announcers only really know the top 5 seeds (2-3 in track), and if a lesser known athlete is leading and/or wins…he/she is often ignored completely, or mistaken to be one of the athletes that is on their sheet of paper. Track and Road Races are broadcasted the EXACT same way they have been broadcasted for DECADES. There has been very little innovation, very little creativity, very little drive to try and make it more entertaining on the screen.
And for those who say “well, running just doesn’t lend itself to entertainment on the big screen”. That is just a lazy response. Running is amazingly exciting, IF YOU KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON. If you are educated enough to know the splits, the moves, the surges, the falls, etc. Every NASCAR race has almost half the screen filled with stats of speed, position, name, etc. Without it, it’s just cars going in circles. Which is exactly how running is broadcast.
EDUCATE the public. Create BETTER TV broadcasts, and don’t just SETTLE for how things have always been done. As great as it is that Running gets on TV, I honestly believe that every time a meet/race is aired, we LOSE fans who tune in and think “gosh, this is the most boring thing ever.”
Take some CHANCES for crying out loud.
Secondly, (this is for track specifically) create a better in person meet experience. All the dead time, the lack of focus, the lack of ANY attempt to entertain fans between races and events, has created meets that lose any energy that it gains from amazing performances. If you go to any NBA or NFL game, every timeout, quarter break, or play review is CONSTANTLY filled with some sort of fan interaction. Be it cheerleaders, t-shirt bazookas, fan contests, cameras that pan to the fans. Just silly games to keep people engaged.
For road races, create a Fan-Zone like Brendan Reilly mentioned where people can interact with the elites. Or organize cooldowns with the elites and the fans that wish to join.
I sincerely wish that USATF would hire somebody that manages the in-house experience of NBA games, and have them bring their recommendations, expertise, and know-how to the USATF championships, and make a meet that for ONCE is entertaining for the casual fan that knows nothing about track.
If we can accomplish these feats, then we will have made serious headway. But what is holding us back? Who else is holding us back? Is it money? Is it meet management?
I don’t know those answers, but I can tell you who are not the problem: elites.
- David Torrence

This could have not been said better.  Thank you David Torrence for summing that up so well.

While I am by no means on his level, I can clearly understand his frustration.  People are always looking for someone to blame, such as the elites themselves.  But the problem is much more complex than pointing to the group that always finishes in the front of the pack. 

Elites and sub-elites do not have it easy, especially when there isn't a lot of money in the sport.  To put it in perspective, the best professional runners in the world make 1/100(if that!) to what an average NFL player sitting on the bench all season makes.  Rephrasing the quote actor Brad Pitt makes as Billie Bean from the movie Moneyball,   

"There are rich sports, and there are poor sports.  Then there's 50 feet of crap.  And THEN there's professional running."

Competitor cut out Elite support from all of their events, including the (once known as Philadelphia Distance Run-historically known as one of the fastest half marathons in the world), as a monetary decision to invest better for their business.  It is a shame that Philadelphia(despite the winner running 59 minutes this year), will become less and less competitive/deep.  In fact, it already has this year.  My time from 2011, when I placed 57th in the race in 1:08, would have put me 28th or so this year(and this year's conditions were nearly identical to 2011).  Many famous runners have competed here, and world records have been broken on the course.

I came to a screeching halt when I saw this, and while I obviously am not good enough to get appearance fees, I was wondering if they were still honoring comp'd entries that elites were entered by under a separate system.  I wondered, if I was entered in the race still? Thankfully I found out I was, thanks to Matt Turnbull, who I have only good things to say about.  Matt has done a tremendous job of helping support elite runners and the sport of road racing.  Having support for not only the top but second-tier athletes is crucial for the betterment of U.S. distance running.  I thank him for all he has done.

For more insight and to a man who knows the sport really well and has great ideas, I suggest reading Toni Reavis' blog:

Moving on...

I hadn't felt great the week leading up to the Philly Rock n Roll Half.  I felt tired and sluggish, and was sleeping a lot.  I actually was contemplating doing the race still, but my buddy Matt Linman and I already had a hotel payed for, and he was certainly going to race(his debut).  I decided I would go for it and see what I had on the day.

I passed GRC's top man Sean Barrett around the 4 mile mark, but I had a feeling he wasn't having a good day.  I wasn't feeling great either.  I had passed the 5K mark in 15:45, but once I got to 4 miles I could tell that I just wasn't quite ready to race 13.1 miles.  As I approached 6 miles in just under 31:00, I pulled out of the race.  That was all I had in me, pretty much a tempo run, or perhaps I should have done a low key 10K instead.  I later learned that Sean had also pulled out of the race.

It's easy to ask myself "Why did I enter the race if I was going to drop out?" but it is necessary in order to "save" the energy for when it counts.  A good friend and runner who I have known since high school, Lucinda Smith, dropped out of a half marathon one month before she placed 18th(11th American) woman at the Chicago Marathon.  It can be mentally difficult during a "race" to do so, but I am very, very happy now that I made that decision.

The truth is, the lower mileage weeks of 58 miles(9/2-9/8), 42 miles(9/9-9/15) for the first 2 weeks of September gave me a really beneficial "rest period" to absorb all of the hard training I had done over the summer.  September 16-22 I did 62 miles, and felt really refreshed and rejuvenated going into last week, which was really great training.  A strong 5 x mile workout, a brisk 20 miler, and a 95 mile week let me know my fitness is as strong as it ever has been.  I will do another mid-week workout next week, and then get ready to race Army Ten Miler on Oct 20.

Week September 23-29:

Monday: AM: 9 miles/
PM: 4 miles

Tuesday: 10 miles

Wednesday: AM: 8.5 miles/
PM: 1.5 mile warm up, 5 X 1600m: 4:48, 4:46, 4:46, 4:48, 4:46, all with 2:30 rests.  1.5 mile cool down.  

Thursday: 8.5 miles

Friday: 12 miles

Saturday: 20 miles(1:59:00)

Sunday: 15 miles

Total: 95 miles

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review of Summer Training

June 1-August 31: 1,184 Miles
Average: 91 Miles/Week

I trained my ass off this summer.  This summer's training has been really strong, because of the combination of quality running and overall mileage.  I have had the best workouts of my running career.  I think not racing much at all this summer really helped.  I am hopeful all the work I have put in will show through this season.  I tapered down last week(58 miles) and this week am doing light mileage to get ready to race the Philly 13.1 this weekend.  Below is the continuation from my last build up for the past 3 weeks.  This week is just short, easy runs.

August 19-August 25: 92 Miles

Monday: 10 miles(67:00)

Tuesday: 9 miles(61:00)

Wednesday: AM: 15:00 warm-up + drills, 4 x 1.5 miles on track w/ 3-4 min rests: 7:21, 7:21, 7:29, 7:27,  20:00 cool-down
PM: 45:00 easy on trails

Thursday: 11.5 miles(82:00)

Friday: 10 miles(73:00)

Saturday: 20 miles(first 10 miles: 70:00, second 10 miles: 60:00)

Sunday: 14 miles(1:40:00)

August 26-September 01: 86 Miles

Monday: 14.5 miles

Tuesday: 6.5 miles

Wednesday: AM: 2 mile warm-up + drills, 7 X 2K on track: 6:15, 200 meter jog, 6:12, 200 meter jog, 6:12, 200 meter jog, 6:17, 2-3 min rest, 6:14, 2-3 min rest, 6:24, 200 meter jog, 6:24, 1.5 mile cool-down
PM: 6.5 miles easy

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 13 miles(1:32:00)

Saturday: 17 miles(1:52:00)

Sunday: AM: 11.5 miles(83:00)/PM: 3.5 miles

September 02-September 08: 58 Miles

Monday: 6 miles

Tuesday: 10 miles

Wednesday: AM: 1 mile warm up + drills, 3 X 5K w/ 4 min rests @ towpath: 15:58, 15:47, 15:43, 
3 mile cool down
PM: 3 miles easy

Thursday: 6.5 miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 11.5 miles(86:00)

Sunday 7.5 miles

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Build-Up

The solitude and tranquil nature of this place re-captured my soul.  I felt alive.

My summer started off with shorter intervals working on speed and jumping in the mid-summer night's mile race.  The primary focus was to keep up leg speed before diving into the real training.

The week of July 15-21 I did a workout of 5 x 800 meters to get things going.  It was just a moderate effort, working down to no faster than 2:24.  I was to race the Rockville Twilighter 8K that weekend, which was cancelled.  At the time it was cancelled, I had a really good feeling, because I knew that I needed to continue to just train.  Besides the Midsummer night's mile on July 12, not racing for the rest of the summer was EXACTLY what I needed.  The workouts speak for themselves the past several weeks.  From there, I did a solid build up of workouts while also averaging weekly mileage of 95/week.

Below is my progression of workouts/mileage during the past month:

Week July 22-28: 107 miles/week
Track: 1 x 1200m: 3:45, 5 x 1600m: 4:55, 4:54, 4:57, 4:56, 4:57
Long Run: 20 miles

Week July 29-August 4: 90 miles/week
Track: 10 x 600m w/ 200m jog recoveries: 
1:57, 1:51, 1:48, 1:47, 1:46, 1:47, 1:47, 1:46, 1:47, 1:47
Long Run: 18 miles

Week August 5-August 11: 99 miles/week
Monday: 10 mile progression hilly route in Boyds(64:00)
Tuesday: 9 miles
Wednesday: AM: Track: 10 x 1000m w/ 200m jog recoveries: 
3:03, 3:00, 2:59, 3:01, 3:00, 3:02, 2:59, 3:01, 3:00, 3:03/PM: 4 miles
Thursday: 9.5 miles
Friday: 14 miles
Saturday: AM: Long Run 20 miles(2:17)/PM: 6 miles
Sunday: AM: 7 miles/PM: 9 miles

Week August 12-August 18: 84 miles/week
Monday: 6.5 miles
Tuesday: 8 miles
Wednesday: Track: 25:00 warm-up, 10 x 1600m w/ 2:00 min rest recoveries:
5:06, 5:05, 4:59, 4:58, 4:57, 4:57, 4:57, 4:55, 4:57, 4:56, 15:00 cool-down
Thursday: 13 miles
Friday: 12 miles
Saturday: Long Run 16 miles
Sunday: 13 miles

I can confidently say I am on a different level now in my training.  The difference really is in rest(which has been less than in the past).  These have been some of the best workouts I have ever done.  The 600s were the perfect distance to start the build up, and by doing the 200 jog rest gave me short recoveries.  The 10 x 1000m was a build-up from that by adding a lap to each interval, and by running close to the same pace.  Then the cooler weather broke through on Wednesday morning, and I did the best workout of my career thus far: the 10 x 1600m w/ 2:00 minute rests all averaging out to sub-5:00 pace.  If the weather is good at Philly in 4 weeks, I feel I can run very fast.  But I need a good day for it.

Blacksburg, VA(August 9-11):
Blacksburg is one of my favorite places to visit and train.  I have fond memories here when I was on the Virginia Tech Cross Country team.  On Friday I arrived and went to Pandapas Pond for an afternoon run.  The trails of the Jefferson Forest were exactly as I remembered.  I parked off Route 460 in the usual small parking lot and headed out into the forest.   There are miles of trails which have a series of ups and downs and different climbs.  I hadn't been here in 4 years, but I knew exactly where to turn.  Pretty soon, I was out in the middle of nowhere.  No cars, no traffic lights, no noise.  Sure, this is also why I train in Poolesville, MD, because of it's secluded/rural nature.  But nothing compared to training out here.  I need to come out here more often, I thought to myself.  The solitude and tranquil nature of this place re-captured my soul.  I felt alive.  And I re-discovered my joy for running more than ever.  This was truly, living.  I climbed up and down the hills, feeling my lungs take in all the fresh air they could get.  I pressed the pace on the way back to get in 14 miles that afternoon.

Saturday morning I got up early for a long run.  I decided to drive out to the New River trail, about 30 minutes from where I was staying.  The sunrise below was awesome.

The new river trail is actually flat, and is 57 miles long.  I started at Draper, pictured below, near milepost 6.  I headed out to milepost 16 and turned around to make it a 20 miler in 2:17.

Later that day, I drove out to the Blue Ridge Mountains to take in some awesome views.  I drove out to the Parkway to view the Devils Backbone, Elevation 2687 ft.

Saturday evening I did a second run along the Huckleberry Trail, which starts right near the Virginia Tech Campus/downtown Blacksburg.  I got in an easy 6 and felt quite good for having run 20 miles that morning.  The next morning, I ran on the trail again for another 7.  I drove back during the day, but stopped at Harper's Ferry that afternoon/evening to get another run in.  I got in 9 miles to finish up my 99 mile week.  As I drove home back to reality, I still had the above image in my head.

I will return to Blacksburg again, hoping sometime this fall.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Good, Hard-Working Runs of Summer

As my racing teamate Matt and I ran along Haines Point in DC, we chatted along quite comfortably at 6:30 pace.

"I feel like we could run this pace forever," he said.

He would cover 19 miles for the day as I would cover just under 21.  The weather felt amazing compared to the brutal heat the week before.  My body felt good.  It felt strong.  Maybe it was a good thing the Twilighter 8K was cancelled, I thought.  It was certainly not an important race to me, as what I am focusing on now is that target half marathon PR.

I have noticed a few different things in my recent years of training/running.  My body is able to recover much quicker than it used to.  I can handle more mileage and intensity than I used to.  The trick is finding the right mix of workouts combined with long endurance type runs and the right amount of mileage.  That comes to the next difference.  I have noticed, that my overall paces are faster combined with higher volume.

In a nutshell, I am able to handle more intensity at high volume.  

My summer started with doing shorter intervals(300 meter repeats, 400 meter repeats), and jumping into the MidSummer Night's Mile race.  Georgetown Running Company's Joe Wiegner would run it, and I was looking to hopefully run the race close to his pace.  But Joe is a kicker, and he certainly has been concentrating on the mile much more than I have.  I learned I was not a miler in high school, and still never will be, but it is a good race for me to work on what I would describe as a very uncomfortable, short, gasping for breath type of running with little to no oxygen.  I hung with Joe for the first 800(we went out fast-at least for me-split was something like 2:10).  The third lap he gapped me, and though I am competitive with my former roomate, the race certainly was not long enough for me to give him an honest fight for the win.  But it was a good workout to get in, as I always like to get in some type of shorter race over the summer.

The next morning, I went out to Edwards Ferry and pounded 20 miles in 2:09:00.

The following week, I did my first semi-longer interval workout of 5 x 800 meters.  It was nothing special, I started 2:27 and worked down to 2:24.  I anticipated to save my legs for the Rockville Twilighter 8K that Saturday.  If only I had known it would be cancelled, I would have done more.  I only hit 82 miles that week, but I felt good going into the next.

These past several days have been awesome.  Today, I drove out to Harper's Ferry with Travis.  He was to do 17 for his long run this past weekend but pushed it to Monday instead.  Luckily we both had the day off from work.  I had planned on 14 today but figured to do a few extra miles and help pace him.  We ventured out on the towpath and enjoyed the magnificent scenery.  The cooler weather felt awesome, and although I had run 107 miles last week, I felt quite good.

Last week I did a very good workout.  I did a 1200m at a moderate effort followed by 5 x1600m on the track.  I also got in plenty of hill running in Poolesville.  It is one of my favorite places to train.

Monday: 10 Miles: 62:00(Edwards Ferry/Whites Ferry Loop)

Tuesday: 15 Miles: 1:40:00(Hilly route in Poolesville)

Wednesday: AM: 2 mile warm up, drills, 1 x 1200m: 3:45, 5 x 1600m: 4:55, 4:54, 4:57, 4:56, 4:57, all with 3 minute rests between, 1 mile cool down/
PM: 8 miles: 55:00(Swains Lock)

Thursday: AM: 3.5 miles recovery/
PM: 9 miles: 60:00(Pennyfield Lock)

Friday: 12 miles: 80:00(Rileys Lock/Seneca Road loop)

Saturday: 21 miles: 2:22:00(on towpath towards DC/VA with Matt)

Sunday: AM: 10 miles recovery: 82:00(with runners in my training group at Rock Creek)
PM: 10 miles: 69:00(Sycamore Landing/Seneca Road loop)

Total: 107 Miles

I'd lie if I didn't say training like this is hard as shit.  It is not just running for fitness.  I am trying to do something that is very, very difficult.  But the challenge is what keeps it going.  As Kennedy said, "We don't go to the moon because it is easy, we go to it because it is hard."

-Chris Sloane

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

7/1-7/7: 92 Miles/Week

Monday:  PM: 11 miles

Tuesday: AM: 14.5 miles

Wednesday: PM: 8 x 300m: 48, 48, 47, 47, 46, 46, 46, 46 with 1:30-2:00 min rests

Thursday: AM: 8 miles/PM: 9 miles

Friday: AM: 12.5 miles

Saturday: AM: Long Run 17.5 miles

Sunday: AM: 11 miles

Total: 92 miles

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

6/24-6/30: 103 Miles/Week

I got in 103 Miles last week.  I've been getting in great mileage.  My endurance is strengthening, while also acclimating to the humidity.  Once a week I try to get out on the back roads of Poolesville (pictured above).  I really do love it out there.  On Wednesday, I did my first speed-workout since May.  It was also my 30th birthday.  On Saturday I did my long run, and it was quite humid, even though I started early.  During the 2 1/2 hour session, I went through 16 ounces of water, which is a lot for me to drink while running.

Monday:  11 miles @ Riley's Lock

Tuesday: 14.25 mile Edwards Ferry/Club Hollow loop

Wednesday: AM: 10 miles
PM: Track: 8 x 400m: 67, 65, 65, 65, 66, 67, 65, 66, ~6 miles total

Thursday: AM: 9 miles
PM: 4 miles

Friday: AM: 8 miles
PM: 6.5 miles

Saturday: Long Run 21.5 miles 2:30:00

Sunday: 12.5 miles + strength training

Total: 103 miles

Monday, June 24, 2013

6/17-6/23: 98 Miles/Week

I ran 98 miles this week.  My mileage has crept back up there.  On Monday afternoon, I met the Red Fox aka Jake out on the trails of Lake Frank.  I had an eerie feeling Fox had something up his sleeve, as you can tell by reading his blog post here:  Nevertheless, he stood down.  We got in 10 for the day.  The next morning I headed out on the towpath towards the Chain Bridge and took that over to VA to explore a few trails along the river, which were quite serene.  I got in 11.5.  Wednesday was a double: 8 miles in the morning, followed by another 11 miler in the evening along the Millennium Trail.  Thursday morning I met up again with Jake, Jerry Greenlaw, and Joe Wiegner at Riley's Lock and got in 13 miles on the towpath and some back roads.  Interestingly enough, as Jake pointed out, we had all finished Pikes Peek 10K this year in under 31 minutes:

Wiegner: 30:31
Sloane: 30:43
Greenlaw: 30:48
Klim: 30:52

Friday was another double: 6 miles in the morning, 5 miles in the evening.  The heat of the summer is here, so I have been trying to get up earlier.  On Saturday, I started my long run around 6:45 AM on the towpath and  ventured into DC/VA on Mount Vernon/Rock Creek trails for a while before heading back.  I got in about 19.5 in 2 hours 8 minutes.  Sunday was a double again: 9 miles in the morning(finished JUST before the rain came down), and 4 in the evening.

This week I plan to get back into doing workouts again, while keeping the mileage high.  I haven't done any type of speed work in a month, since that road mile I ran on May 27.

Monday, June 17, 2013

6/10-6/16: 94 Miles/Week

Monday: 12 miles

Tuesday: 12 miles

Wednesday: 13 miles

Thursday: 11 miles

Friday: AM: 4 miles, PM: 10 miles

Saturday: 20 miles(2 x Edward's Ferry/White's Ferry Loop), 71:00/59:00

Sunday: 12 miles

Total: 94 miles

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fall 2013

Philly 9.15.13
DC 10.20.13
Richmond 11.16.13

Aside from a few regular summer races I do, I thought long and hard about my fall season.  It was difficult to decide NOT to do a marathon this year, since it is a distance I love to train for over the summer and into the fall.  I ran a PR last fall, although it certainly isn't quite up to par with my other performances.  I believe it will catch up to the others as I age, since it actually caters to that, but right now I have a greater interest in the half marathon distance.  It also just feels right.

I've run 1:08 for the half marathon twice in the past year and a half.  I'd like to surpass that barrier now.  It's going to take a lot of work, and I am going to have to train very, very hard this summer.  My ultimate sight is on the 1:05 qualifying time for the 2016 Olympic Trials.  The qualification window for doing so opens this August 2013, and ends sometime before the 2016 Trials.  This is a long term process that I've been thinking about even before the 2012 Trials.  I knew I wouldn't qualify for 2012, however, and wasn't expecting to, because I was not ready to do so.  My goals at the time were to run perhaps under 1:10, which I happily did in 2011.  The following spring, I qualified for and competed in the USA Half Marathon Championships, a race which I was not happy about performance wise, but proud to be a part of.  But I've learned to look at the bigger picture.

I believe I am now beginning to enter my prime as a runner.  I turn 30 this month, and while I am not a kid anymore, I am lighter, stronger, faster, and smarter than I have ever been.  I have learned how to train for different races, and to coach others.  I have learned how to deal with bad races and move on.  I have learned what I am capable of.  I am ready.  I will go all out, with nothing held back.  The time to do it is now.

This fall I decided I would do 3 major races stretched out over a 2 month window.

9.15.13: Philly Rock and Roll Half Marathon

10.20.13: Army Ten Miler

11.16.13: Richmond Half Marathon

Originally, I was thinking of doing Philly(11/17) instead of Richmond, but I like the way Richmond's course is layed out and looks quite fast.  Plus, it's nice to do races in 3 different cities.

Over the summer, I will do a few short races to keep from getting stale.  I'd also like to see if I can go sub 4:20 in the mile.  The Rockville Twilight 8k I placed 6th last year, and I'd really like to crack top 5 or even win the damn thing...

7.12.13: MCRRC MidSummer Night's Mile

7.20.13: Rockville Twilight 8K 

I may add additional races, but for now, the important ones are noted.

Mileage was 81 this week.  The base continues to build..

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Finish of Spring: The Loudoun Street Mile

I drove to Winchester, VA, for an assault on my first road mile race.  It sure was fun, and over so quickly!  I am certainly not a miler, but I was curious to see how fast I could go for a road mile off of the training I have done.

The race started off crazy with people sprinting ahead of me before slowing down and me having to make sure not to run into them.  I stayed patient and remained somewhere around 10-15th place.  The first quarter mile is downhill so we hit a fast 63 split, but then immediately uphill again for the second quarter mile(68), hitting 2:11 for the halfway point.  Over the hill, we slammed down towards the third quarter mile(jesus this race is already almost over...I thought...and I felt like I was just warming up).  Over the third quarter I pulled ahead of several runners, and worked my way up, passing through in 3:19(68) with a quarter left.  I probably was around 11th going into the last quarter mile, but I punched it hard.  I sprinted and gritted it out, passing a GRC guy, some other dude, and friend Brian Flynn who had gone out hard trying to hit top 5(which earned cash prizes).  I ended up finishing in 8th place.  As I crossed the line, I was certain I had run around 4:23-4:24.

Well, unfortunately, the race timing got screwed up big time.  Go figure.  In a 4 minute race, where every special second counts, it gets screwed up.  My watch seemed to be on schedule with the clock, so I don't know how they lost 2-3 seconds for most people's times.  Flynn thought he had gone 4:25, and is at 4:29, while I'm at 4:26.  To be conservative, I'm calling it a 4:24, if not faster.  But 4:24 is a PR, so I'll go with that.  Seriously, most races I have a pretty good idea of what time I ran before results are posted.  But these results seemed very wrong.  At least they got my place right(or so I think).

The spring season is over.  And I feel pretty good about it.  I would have liked to PR in the half marathon this spring but I was very very close.  I think I needed to run a couple of 1:08 halfs before I can make that next jump.  Adapting the body is necessary before the next push.  I ran 80 miles this week.   I feel good running more again.  I need to.  I am working my way back into the high mileage zone again.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

May Training

This year began with high mileage(90-100/week) and has moved down gradually to lower mileage(averaging 50/week).  The reason being relative to getting my body to hit every system I am trying to work on.  The workouts have gradually changed from marathon pace, down to threshold, down to interval training, to even somewhat sprint training, while the mileage simultaneously has decreased.  By training this way, I create the desire and physical readiness for high miles again.  The recent weeks work on stimulating the body for shorter faster sessions, while the body is also recovering from higher miles.  In fact, I am already starting to yearn for higher volume now.

It was a difficult decision, but I decided against competing in the USA Half Marathon Championships again this year.  I have lowered my mileage too much to be able to do well in it, and for better reason because I am putting money in the bank for the fall right now.  This summer I am going to train very, very hard, with lots of high volume and lots of doubles.  It will be the hardest I have ever trained in my life.  But the important thing is that I know I am ready for it.  The time is now.

That aside, I have one more race to conclude my spring.  I will race the Loudoun Street Mile in Winchester, VA this Memorial Day.  I have never raced a road mile so I am looking forward to it!  This race is quite competitive(4:03 won last year), so it will give me a chance to hopefully run pretty fast.  I am not a miler, but I certainly think it is good for me to work on this distance, in certain dosage.  My speed training has definitely been solid these past few weeks.  I feel pretty fast(especially after doing 14 second 100 meter repeats this week).  Yes they aren't Usain Boltish, but the point of doing them was not to see how fast I could go, but to maintain that speed/effort and repeat several times.  So, by having a recovery of only about 45 seconds between each allowed me to gradually get tired, and rely on using my aerobic system.  In contrast, a true sprinter will go faster but with much longer (full)recovery.

Below is the past 3 weeks of training:

5/6: Rest
5/7: Rest/Strength Training
5/8: 9 miles progression run
5/9: 600m(1:45), 400m:(67), 4x200m:(30, 29, 29, 28), 4.5 miles total
5/10: 5 miles
5/11: 8.5 miles
5/12: 4.5 miles w/ strides
5/13: Swarthmore 5K: 14:53, 8 miles total w/ warm up and cool down
5/14: 3 miles
5/15: 9 miles
5/16: Rest/Strength Training
5/17: 4 miles, then 8 x 45 second hill w/ jogs downhill, 10 miles total
5/18: 9 miles
5/19: Rest
5/20: 14.5 mile Long Run(Edward's Ferry/Club Hollow Loop)
5/21: 11.5 miles
5/22: 9 miles
5/23: 8x100m: all 14 seconds each, 2x200m: 30, 29, 1x400m: 62, 5 miles total
5/24: 4 miles
5/25: 9 miles

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Racing 5,000 Meters

8 minutes, 50 seconds into the race:

Ok, here it is, you're in 3,000 meters, and you're going to drop out.  Just drop out dammit! You're a longer distance runner anyway.  Your body is going to shut down.  Just get a workout in and call it a day!  Who cares about the 5,000m?  You are not feeling good...

I felt as if I would fall over if I kept going...


May 13, 2013
Swarthmore Outdoor Track Invitational
Location: Widener University

The warm-up was always relaxing.  I preferred doing it alone, as I always do.  I needed to stay in my own head.  Sometimes things can get a bit crazy out there.  I could see my breath in the crisp cool air of the night.  It was quite cool out, almost cold.  I yearned for a hat but didn't bring any.  Fortunately I had a pair of gloves with me that I wore pretty much up until the start.  And no, the reason for me wearing them is not for comfort, but more for preventing the body from wasting energy trying to keep itself warm.  Cold weather is good for a distance race, but its important to not lose energy trying to keep from freezing.  It was quarter till 9 O'Clock in the evening.  This race is always late.  For some goddamn reason they run the 5K as the last event of the day.  I couldn't really eat anything substantial during dinner-time, so I snacked on some pretzels and peanut butter and washed it down with a bunch of water.  Fortunately, the meet was running ahead of schedule, so the 5K would start approximately at 9:45.  There were 3 heats(about 25 runners in each heat), and I was in the fastest one this time around.  I have never gotten into the fast heat of this race.  Time to get on the pain train.
As always before a 5K, doing strides are essential. I did a few and felt pretty good.  I had my Nike Victory Track Spikes on which probably had only a race or two left in them.  Doesn't get better than that.  They are completely molded to my feet.  I wasn't as nervous as I usually was.  Well, I was nerved up, I suppose.  But my mind was calm.  My mind had already accepted that the pain would come, and that it was ready for it.

I lined up with 25 men, some who were club runners like myself and the rest were collegiate runners.  I lined up as #15.




I sprinted to get a solid position and as close to the inside lane as I could.  I was in the 2nd lane.  Dammit.  We all jostled for position like wild animals.  I then sprinted past a few guys and locked myself on the inside lane.  Then someone shoved me.  Thanks for the boost.  34 seconds for the first 200 meters in.  Not too fast.  I relaxed on the next straight -away and let some guys go by me.  What was that, a 69 for the first lap?  Somewhere along there.  I wasn't wearing a watch.  I wanted to run this race by feel.  1000 meters in I hit 2:55, so I was running a solid 4:40 pace.  I think I hit mile 1 in 4:40 or 4:41.  I then began the journey.

The journey of suffering, that is.  I believe, that if you run the 5K right, it can be just as hard if not harder than the marathon.  Ok, well maybe not harder, but it certainly can be fucking excruciating.  It is a different type of pain, yes, but when you are running at your maximum aerobic capacity, you feel as if you can't go on, just like in the marathon when your dead legs tell you can't go on.

It's already hurting.  After 4 laps already?  My stomach wrenched in pain.  My breathing labored.  I was suffocating, gradually.  Jesus, RELAX!  Get through the next few laps.  Break up the race.  Stay on pace, dammit!

I pushed through mile 2 and began to fall off pace a bit.  I went as hard as I could without having to stop.  Or did I?  7 1/2 laps in, I felt it.  The desire to drop out.   

Ok, here it is, you're in 3,000 meters, and you're going to drop out. Just drop out dammit! You're a longer distance runner anyway. Your body is going to shut down. Just get a workout in and call it a day! Who cares about the 5,000m? You are not feeling good... 

An instant passed and within a split second I felt I had lost grasp.  I felt like it was going to happen.  My body was not ready to go on, no matter how much I tried.  I felt as if I would fall over if I kept going...


...but then it happened.  I passed the 3K mark in 8:50, and my legs pressed on for dear life towards the 2 mile mark.  I must've passed through 2 miles in 9:26 or so.

Focus!  Concentrate!

I had 4 1/2 laps left and my body did not want to keep going.  But my mind concentrated on the runners ahead who had gapped me.  I locked my eyes on those ahead, and I started to catch them, one by one.  Others who were in pain and slowing down.  I surged and then coasted by them with 3 laps remaining.  I was starting to make my move.  Keep going, dammit!

The pain got no more worse, but I felt like I had so little left.  Would I have enough??

800 METERS TO GO!  12:33 on the clock.

800 meters, dammit, that's all you have left.

I surged around the track for yet another grueling lap as my lungs went into oxygen debt.  1 1/2 laps to go, my body screamed to stop. Jesus, just hang in there!!!  I caught up to another runner but he passed me back.  I could see another runner not too far in front of him. 

13:45 with 1 lap to go!

I dropped the hammer like a son-of-a-bitch and surged all out, holding nothing back, and passed the 1st runner who had passed me earlier.  The other runner was still ahead.



200 meters to go.  Everything felt blurry at this point.  I could still see the runner ahead, reigning him in.

Just a little more...

At first I caught him at the beginning of the last straightaway, but then my legs gave out with 75 meters to go, and he passed me back.

Well I guess that's it, I'm just not a kicker...

..Ah, there it is!

The right leg extended out a bit furthur, the arm swing a bit more powerful, as I beat my competitor to the line.


I gasped for air.  I bent over.  More than exhausted.  It didn't sink in yet, that I had beaten the guy in the final sprint.  It didn't sink in yet that I had run 67-68 for my last quarter, and run a new PR of 14:53.

It was a great kick.  And I'm proud of it.  Even though I hadn't won the race(final results listed me as 19th out of 78 total of all 3 heats), I had beaten my opponent in the final sprint.  I do not have the reputation of being a good kicker, and there are many races where I have PRed, but lost in the final sprint.  This one, I can claim as a victory.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Training 4/29-5/5

I did very low mileage this week.  I even took 2 days off.  But it works.  I feel my legs getting strong and fresh.  I did the best 800m repeats I have ever done.  I have never run this fast.

Monday: 4 Miles

Tuesday: Rest/Strength Training

Wednesday: 3 mile warm-up, 
6 X 800m w/ 2:30-3:00 rests: 2:20, 2:19, 2:17, 2:17, 2:19, 2:18
4 mile cool-down

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 9 Mile Progression Run: 56:00

Saturday: 14 Miles at Difficult Run trails, VA

Sunday: 10 Miles easy

Total: 47 Miles

Based on workouts, I feel like 70 second quarters is a good 5K goal pace-that would give me 14:35.  Even though this would be a 23 second PR, somehow I feel this is doable.  I am going to do another "sharpening up" workout this week.  I'm thinking a short reverse ladder like 1600m, 800m, 400m, at quality pace(s).  I'm ready to roll.  

Monday, April 29, 2013

The 5K Distance

Post Pikes Peak I feel good, and fast.  I really enjoy working down in distance.  My next race is the Swarthmore Outdoor Track Invite on May 13, though apparently it will be held at Widener University this year, where my cousin Drew is!  Drew is one athletic guy.  Every time I visit him I enjoy watching him playing basketball.  I can't play basketball to save my life, so I just enjoy watching!  Drew actually finished his first 5K recently, and he placed 3rd out of 150 runners!  Not a bad way to start at all!

The 5,000m is a race that has helped me improve a lot in the longer distances.  I have proven myself wrong that I can be pretty darn good at it, but I am also not surprised either.  Any race that is primarily aerobic I will be stronger in, and the 5,000m is still roughly 80% of aerobic energy being used.  The 10K is about 90% aerobic, and anything longer than 10K like the half marathon or marathon is obviously pretty much 90-100% aerobic.  When you drop down to a 1,500m or 1 Mile race, however, the aerobic energy required has dropped to 50%, with anaerobic energy completing the other 50%.  *Note: These percentages can vary based on pace.  They are referring to the optimal energy breakdown for a very high-level trained runner.  Someone who's mile PR is 8:00, probably is using higher than 50% of aerobic energy for the amount of time required to complete that race.*

One of my goals to become a better distance runner is to maximize my VO2Max, or Aerobic Capacity.  The best way to improve VO2Max is by doing 3,000m-5,000m(or a 10-15 minute race in duration, which for many is about a 2 mile distance) interval training.  10K racing still uses a significant portion as well, but the closer to 5K for a highly trained runner, the better.  The energy being used for the 5K is still primarily aerobic, but it is at the absolute maximum power it can be used.  This creates a more stressful feeling of ventilation vs longer distances of over an hour where ventilation is more calm.  This is also why if your breathing is uncomfortable in the early stages of a half marathon race, you are going out too fast, and will be forced to slow down.  Although VO2Max training is ideal for a race distance of about 5,000m, it is still an important part of development in the longer distances.  This is because aerobic energy is being primarily used for these durations.  Pretty much anything less than 3-4 minutes of all out racing is not really going to relate much to longer distance, and ideally, 10 minutes or longer is primarily using our aerobic system(s) for energy.

Having said all of this, if you want to predict your marathon time, going out and running a 5K all out is not going to give you an ideal prediction as much as running a half marathon does.  Still, the marathon, as I have learned, is a much different event than the half marathon, and is almost a separate event entirely.  Thus, there is no question that VO2Max training relates more to the half marathon distance/or shorter.

On Wednesday I did a very nice short interval training session, which I will build off of this week.  I did 10x400m with 1-2 minute rests, averaging 65 seconds a piece.  While 65 second 400s are not my 5K race pace, doing 10 of them faster than race pace improves my Anaerobic Threshold.  This level of work is above the amount of energy required from the aerobic system.  For a runner of my pace, anaerobic energy is about 20% used in the 5K, which is why this is important.  10% is used in the 10K, and less than 2% in the marathon.  However, this week I will do the more critical part of 5K training: longer intervals of 800m repeats, which will be closer to my VO2Max/5K race pace.  Still, these will be quite fast, but probably no faster than 2:15 a piece.

Training 4/22-4/28:

Monday: AM: 11 Miles

Tuesday: AM: 7 Miles

Wednesday: PM: 3 mile warm up, drills,
10 X 400m w/ 1-2 minute rests: 67, 66, 65, 65, 65, 63, 65, 65, 65, 64
3 mile cool down

Thursday: AM: 3.5 Miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Long Run: 18 Miles

Sunday: AM: 10 Miles

Total: 58 Miles

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tracy's Training, Boston, & Pikes Peek

Boston Marathon
April 15, 2013

I woke up on Monday morning, April 15, to set out for my run, but was more excited than usual.  It was the day of the Boston Marathon.  Thankfully, I have Mondays off, and my geeky runner self was eager to watch the race live through the website on my computer.  There is no excuse for this race not to be broadcast live on national television.  Perhaps it will be next year though.  One of my athletes, Tracy Heichelbech, was racing her first Boston(and only her 2nd marathon), and I was excited for some friends I knew running, so it was cool to track their progress.

Tracy hasn't been running that long.  She completed her first half marathon in 1:55 in the Spring of 2011.  Less than 2 months later, she did another half in 1:50.  She then had the desire to train for a full marathon that fall, and aim to qualify for the Boston Marathon(3:55 for her age group).  The target race for her was the Marine Corps Marathon in October of 2011.  As she ran more, she got fitter and fitter.  I knew she was capable of achieving this goal.  Sure enough, she qualified with a 3:49.  Since 2012 registration was already completed, she would register for the Boston 2013 race.  The following Spring, instead of doing another marathon, she worked on getting her 10 Mile-13.1 times down.  She ran a solid 1:46 for the half marathon, followed by 80:00 at Cherry Blossom.  I knew this would also help her, instead of wearing her out by doing another marathon.

However, the fall of 2012 was tough.  Originally aiming at another half marathon, she was unable to race and got a few injuries, and really had to stop running for a while.  I was keeping my fingers crossed for her because I knew how hard she had worked to run Boston in 2013, and she had already registered for that race when registration opened in September.  She was determined to run it, and deserved to.  It took her weeks of strengthening and foam rolling and working with a physical therapist to get everything on the same page.  Our goal was to have her start training for the race in December.  However, I knew that she needed to go into December with a moderate level of fitness.  Thankfully, she was able to get some running in, and worked up to 4 mile runs by the time she was ready to begin in December.  But we had to be careful not to overdo things.  It was tricky to build appropriately so she could avoid injury, but at the same time get the mileage up again.  The marathon does not lie.  You need to run mileage.  And this wasn't just any marathon.  It wasn't a tough mudder.  This wasn't just any race.

This was, the Boston Marathon.

Slowly, but surely, Tracy worked back up her distances.  In January I remember her asking me, "Do you think I can run close to the same time I ran in 2011, or even PR?"  I told her it was too early to tell, and that Boston was a much more difficult course.  My goal was to get her to finish this race healthy, and train her uninjured, because she had worked so hard just to get there.  I'd rather undertrain her instead of overtrain her.  I was very conservative with this.  I also needed to get her ready to run downhills hard, and maybe I could've done better with this.  I didn't want her to run too hard on downhills, because I didn't want to risk injury.  But at the same time, she needed to get ready for that.  It was a delicate balance.  Certainly, the hard uphill efforts were great.  She thrived off those workouts and it really payed off.

Then, her first 20 Miler was on March 3.  I had her do the Duel Ferries(Whites Ferry to Edwards Ferry) Loop twice, which is exactly 10 mile loops.  They are rolling hills and all soft surface.  I got in one loop myself, then got back in my car and drove on the course to see how she was doing.  She looked much different now than when she began.  She looked stronger, her form was solid, and she was just clicking off the miles.  She completed the run in 3:03.  At this point, I think she was starting to find a new gear in her, and had gotten into her zone.  3 weeks after that, on March 24, she completed a 22 miler in 3:14.  This is when I knew she was not only ready to crush the race, but that she had a shot to run a personal best, even on a tougher course like Boston.  Adjusting for the course, I thought she would be capable of anywhere between 3:43-3:48.

The WAY she ran this race is something else.  I had hoped she would start out easier, but she hammered through the first 5K in a blistering 8:23 pace.  "Shit!", I yelled at my computer.  But a friend of mine, a strong masters runner, Brandon Hirsch(who I also coach), told me the first 5K always starts fast, and he remembers how downhill it really is.  That calmed me down, but I was still worried.  Ideally, I would rather have her go out in 8:45 pace no faster.  The next 5K she slowed a bit to 8:30 pace, which made me a little more relaxed, thought she was still running quite fast.  She came through halfway in 1:51, a blistering, and strong pace.  Once she hit the Newton Hills, I knew naturally the pace would slow.  I just hoped she saved enough for the hills.  She maintained 9:00 pace throughout the hills, which was strong enough to tell me she was doing fine.  At mile 21, the hills were over, and now it was all downhill.  Still though, I'm sure the legs are shot at this point, and it's hard to change gears like that.  Well, Tracy certainly impressively dropped her pace down to 8:50, and then 8:30!!   After all those ups and downs, and starting off really strong, she finished in 3:48:24, an average of 8:42 per mile.

Of course, after the race was a different story.  My immediate happiness for Tracy turned into immediate fear and worry.  Deep down, I had a feeling she was alright, because she finished well ahead of the bombings, but I needed to know she was ok.  Finally, I found out she was, and other friends I knew(many who ran under 3 hours) were thankfully ok.

After I found out she was fine, I told her,

"Despite the horrific events that happened, you must not forget what truly remarkable race you ran.  I could not be prouder for the way you ran today."


Pikes Peek 10K
April 21, 2013

After such a rough week, I needed to shake things off with a strong race, so Pikes Peek was the perfect opportunity to do so.  My PR was 30:56.  I wanted to go out hard in this race.  I wanted to hammer my legs to get them tougher.  My plan was to go out in 15:10 for the first 5K.  We started off strong and I tucked in behind the pack of lead Africans(I never seen so many fast runners in a pack-there were strong numbers this year).  Shortly though, they began to surge a little bit ahead, and I knew if I went with them I would be running 14:30 5K pace, which would not have been a good idea.  I stayed back and ran my own race.  I went through the first mile in 4:45.  WOW.  That was fast.  This was my PR 5K(14:58) pace.  But I actually didn't feel too bad, which is a great sign.  My aerobic capacity is improving, and this race was tapping into that a bit more.  I remember going through 3 miles in 14:30-14:33 or so, so I imagine I was 15:05 give or take at the 5K mark. A bit faster than I wanted, but it really didn't feel too fast either.  I think one day I will be able to just do this back to back and go sub 30.  I reeled in a few Africans, and went through mile 4 in 19:30-something.  So, now I had slowed a bit, but was still eyeing to pass more runners.  Then the mighty Joe Wiegner (GRC's #1 man) pulled up next to me, and we ran stride for stride.  It helped that someone was running with me now.  I looked over my shoulder.  He looked good, and fast.  Joe is one talented runner.  It then dawned on me how I had never been this close to him in a race before.  The last time we raced this 10K together was in 2011 when he ran 30:40 and I went 31:26.  We hammered together past the place where we used to live, right near the Pancake House.  I knew he and I were thinking the same thing, but neither one of us said anything due to being in oxygen debt.  I groaned at mile 5 (just under 24:40).  I pressed the pace.  I felt him working hard.  He certainly would have to work hard to beat me.  I don't make it easy.  The last mile he began to gain a bit of ground on me, and I was grinding at this point, trying to keep the turnover.  He definitely looked strong, and it was great to see him back out here.  He earned the victory of PR-ing himself in 30:31, as I crossed the line in a new PR as well in 30:43.          

I feel stronger after this race.  I needed a PR, and just some pure, fast running.  The other thing is, this tells me that I am capable of really tearing up an all out fast 5K in May.  I did really want to go out hard, because my goal at this point is to really maximize my speed and aerobic threshold.  Basically, I ran 4:50 pace for the first 5K, and then 5:00 pace for the 2nd, averaging 4:56 per mile.

I am now ready to make an all out assault on the 5K at the Swarthmore College Last Chance Meet on May 13.  I feel like sub 14:40 is possible.  I have 3 weeks.  I will do some solid VO-2 Max workouts and see where I'm at.  The faster I can get my 5K time down now, the better.  Here we go.

Quick Edit: Joe and I cooled down and talked after the race, and indeed we found out we were thinking the same thing:  That we both wanted to stop by the Pancake House and have a good meal!  But we figured we would be finishing at White Flint anyway where there was more food..