Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cherry Blossom Season

It is that time of year again.  It is Cherry Blossom season.  Washington, DC is a huge attraction to tourists this time of year, with people coming out to view the Cherry Blossoms in peak condition.  I love this time of year in DC.  Particularly, because one of the best races in the country is run right in Washington, DC- The Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run.  This race is special because it is professionally done, attracts famous runners, nearly 20,000 people run it, and the course is right in the heart of DC.  There are all kinds of runners who do it-elite, competitive, fitness enthusiasts, first time 10 milers, and so on.  Everyone running may have different goals, but everyone also has the common goal of reaching the finish line.  As I have run this race year after year, many of the mid pack runners have cheered for me DURING the race and I always feel bad because I cannot glance to see who they are or call their names(because of the speed I am running), but it is really cool to hear-so if you are on of those people-thank you!!  It helps!!  What I enjoy doing immediately after finishing or as soon as I can catch my breath, is to cheer for runners/clients I coach or know as they approach the finish.  It's a really nice thing for me after I'm done racing to focus on someone else's race other than my own.  (You can get so caught up in your own head after a race!)  Since 2010, I have done this race every year.  One very cool thing I found out this week is that Meb Keflezighi is running.  I hope he races, which I would guess he is.  Whatever he ends up doing, it's cool to have him in the event this year.  He is certainly one of the most inspiring runners in America today.  He made the Olympic Marathon Team-and he is nearly 41 years old!

Below I give some tips on the race:

*Run your OWN race.  Meaning, focus on what YOU know works for YOU.  Don't let others dictate how you run your race.  If they start out too fast for you, let them go.  You'll run better at the pace that works for you.  Run by what feels right.  So don't get too caught up in numbers.  It's not uncommon for runners to surprise themselves by running a quicker pace than they thought they would-the key is as long as they feel OK.  If it's the other way around, slow down and pace yourself!

*Take advantage of the many people around you(especially if you are in the mid-pack), and use them to help you run your goal pace!  Cherry Blossom is a unique race where there will be many running the time you are trying to run.  Out front it is less opportunity to do this.  If you are trying to run 8:00 pace(and that is a realistic goal for you), find others shooting for the same.  Working together will help you achieve your goals.

*Run the Tangents: Tangents are the shortest point from a certain location on the road to another.  Watch the road you are running on and look ahead at the curves to run as straight of a line as possible.  That will get you quickest time.  One runner I coach, Tracy, followed this advice and improved her 10 mile time from 1:17 to 1:16(she was also in better shape, so she beat her time by well over 1 minute, but running the tangents certainly helped her cut even more additional time off).

*Visualize your race before.  Practice meditation as to how you will run your race and what you will need to focus on to achieve your goal.

*Bring sunglasses!  Sunglasses help the face stay relaxed while racing.  When you are squinting, your face tightens up, as well as your body.  You will run more smoothly, which will help your muscles move better!

*Don't think too much.  Seriously.  Don't worry if some of your splits are off, just run by feel and go for it.  You will get a lot more out of your race and yourself if you do this.  Think of a race as getting from point A to point B as fast and efficiently as you can.  Don't rely on your GPS watch(they aren't 100% accurate!) because the mile markers are what counts in the race.  Look at those around you and tell yourself who you can catch.  I think it is ok to race with GPS watches, just remember the course is layed out and measured-so that's what will count, regardless of your GPS beeping before you cross the line.

GOOD LUCK to all racing and running Cherry Blossom this weekend!!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Training & The USATF 15K Championships

USATF 15K Entrants:

Bor, Hillary

Bor, Emmanuel
Butler, Ian
Connor, Reed
Daniels, Matt
Dinzeo, Aaron
Finan, Eric
Foster, Kenneth
Hehir, Martin
Jewkes, Nate
Kebenei, Stanley
Keehn, Cory
Kipchirchir, Shadrack
Landry, Christopher
Leak, Gregory
Lowry, Dan
Lutz, Craig
Marantz, Cameron
McClain, Andrew
McDonald, Matt
Monroe, Alex
Ritchie, Tim
Serafini, Louis
Shrader, Brian
Simbassa, Abbabiya
Sloane, Christopher
Wacker, Andy
Watson, Cole

Below are my last 5 weeks of training:


M- am: 4 miles/ pm: 7 miles

T- am: 6 miles/ pm: 10 miles
W- am: 400m @ 72, 10 x 600m @ 1:48, 11 miles
pm: 5 miles
Th- am: 6 miles/ pm: 9 miles
F- am: 3 x 300m sprints/drills, 6.5 miles/ pm: 6.5 miles
S- am: 8 miles/ pm: 6 miles
S- pm: 16 miles

Total: 101 miles


M- 6.5 miles

T- 10 miles
W- am: 4 miles/ pm: 7 miles
Th- 8 miles
F- 7.5 miles
S- Virginia Tech 5K: 15:13, 11 miles 
S- 20 miles

Total: 74 miles


M- 2 miles of 50's, 5.5 miles

T- 2 x 3200m: 10:08, 10:02, 8.5 miles
W- 15 miles
Th- am: 4 mile tempo: 20:35(splits 5:14, 5:09, 5:07, 5:04), 7.5 miles/ pm: 7.5 miles
F- am: 2 x 400m sprints(66, 65)+drills, 6.5 miles/ pm: 5 miles
S- am: 4 x 600m: 1:52, 1:48, 148, 1:48, 5 x 800m: 2:22, 2:22, 2:23, 2:23, 2:24, 10.5 miles
/pm: 3.5 miles
S- am: 18 miles/ pm: 3.5 miles

Total: 92 miles


M- 2 miles of 50's, 6.5 miles

T- am: 10 miles/ pm: 2 x 3200m: 9:58, 9:54, 7 miles
W- am: 15 miles/ pm: 2 miles w/ drills
Th- 11 miles
F- am: 8 x 100m sprints @ 14 sec each, 6 miles/ pm: 6 miles
S- am: 2 x 600m: 1:48, 1:48, 2 x 800m: 2:21, 2:20, 3 x 1200m: 3:34, 3:34, 3:35, 9 miles
/ pm: 7 miles
S- am: 20 miles

Total: 100 miles


M- 2 miles of 50's, 6.5 miles

T- 7 miles
W- 9 miles
Th- 6 miles + drills
F- 4.5 miles

Monday, March 7, 2016

Sloane's Analysis of Race Conversion Times

In this post I will talk about my analysis of converting race times to other race distances.  The purpose of this post is to explain what the conversions can really mean and how they can help you learn more about your abilities as a runner.  I think some runners tend to say these conversions are inaccurate, and perhaps some aren't as accurate as others....but I also look at them as an opportunity to gather more data about what the best distances and performances are for a runner.

For example, someone who runs the mile in 4:09 might not be able to run the equivalent performance in the marathon(McMillan gives 2:20).  Vice Versa: the 2:20 marathoner may have a tough time running an all out 4:20 mile.  But, both of these performances might actually be equal.  You could debate which is harder to do.  The fact is, anything done well is hard to do.  If someone is a great piano player, they might not be a great guitar player.   And a great guitar player might not be a great piano player.  But both are great musicians.

But there's more to this than simply looking at what's the equivalent performance.  It's also about recognizing where your strengths and weaknesses are as a runner.  I am using myself as an example below, where I put down my PR's and put 3 sources that I like to look at(McMillan, Daniels, and Runners World).  What I found was interesting.  McMillan and Daniels both "agree" that my current half marathon time is my best performance.  Runners World, interestingly enough, rates my 1 mile time as my best performance(barely though....the half marathon is a very close 2nd).  You can see all the data below and conversion of times.

Chris' PR's:
Mile: 4:21
5000m: 14:49
10K: 30:43
10 Mile: 50:32(split)
Half Marathon: 1:06:50

Daniels Running Formula:
Mile: 4:14
5000m: 14:34
10K: 30:17
Half Marathon: 1:06:45
Marathon: 2:19:50

McMillan Running:
Mile: 4:09
5000m: 14:26
10K: 29:59
10 Mile: 50:06
Half Marathon: 1:06:50
Marathon: 2:20:39

Runners World:
Mile: 4:21
5000m: 14:28
10K: 30:10
10 Mile: 49:57
Half Marathon: 1:06:33
Marathon: 2:18:45

Looking at this data, in terms of equal performance, I feel that Daniels and McMillan are more accurate than Runners World.  But, what also may be true is that Runners World recognizes more how a distance runner such as myself doesn't need a blazing mile time to be really good in the longer distances.  What I can conclude with this analysis is that in terms of performance, it is more difficult for me to perform equally at the shorter distances vs the longer distances.  I also can conclude that my prime events are above 10K.

The Unknown

There is another part that is interesting for my example.  While I get better as the distances get longer, it seems to come to a crashing halt when I hit the marathon distance.  I have struggled with performing well in the marathon so that seems to be where I hit my limit of performance.  At least it appears so.  I haven't finished a marathon since 2012, however, and one could argue that I haven't really hit my potential in the distance yet.  It will be interesting to see where I will finish out as my peak running years in this distance.  It remains as the unknown for now.

Finding Range

To a certain extent, I think doing both weaker events and prime events will help a runner maximize potential.  I can say that getting my mile time down to 4:21(May of 2015) has helped me become more efficient, as well as my 5K(14:49).  But let's say I were to work on racing 100m- that really isn't going to do me much good, because it is outside of the range of the type of runner I am.  If anything, it could hurt my training for long distance, as it is basically the opposite type of training required.  Distance runners are primarily aerobic runners, and even a race like the mile is still a good portion of aerobic.  Once you get towards 800 meters it begins to shift towards more anaerobic energy being used.  In contrast, doing marathon training has helped me maximize my endurance for 15K-13.1 racing.  This can trickle down to shorter distance runners as well.  If the mile is your prime event, I believe it is good to do some 3K-5K racing to help strengthen your endurance end of things.  But also, to do some 400 meter and 800 meter races to sharpen your speed/anaerobic energy required for the mile.

There are some really great marathoners I know that do some ultra distances, and I think those have helped their marathons because of the over-distance development.  But, I do believe that maximizing some shorter distance times(could be 15K-13.1 for some people) is just as important for development.  Some people doing the extra long stuff may need to go back to the shorter stuff eventually.  It's constantly shifting back and forth.  We just need to find what we need to work on for each period of time.  For me, I think I have done a pretty good, consistent job working on the shorter stuff to support the longer races.  I keep giving the marathon a try, and failing, but it actually HAS improved.  And I keep getting faster at the shorter stuff, which I have improved in the most.  Perhaps the next time I train for a marathon, doing some over-distance training runs of 30+ miles will be what I need to do, in order to race the 26.2 to my actual potential.