Monday, January 26, 2009

Taper is here - Counting down to Austin 2009

It's here.  I have entered the taper for my training going into the 2009 Austin Marathon.  

Seasoned marathon runners often have lots to say about the mystique of the taper period.  How do we really know if we are ready to run our best race in three weeks?  Should I taper for two weeks instead?

On one hand, I am confident.  Confident that I have worked harder and put in more consistent, quality workouts than ever before.  I've got some great indicators that make me feel really good about my progress.

There's another part of me that is cautious and reserved.  I haven't run a single mile in Austin, Texas in my life.  The course elevation chart shows hills.  Am I prepared for these? 

My training has been largely made up of treadmill workouts over the past several weeks.  Will this be a factor? 

I have averaged nearly 65 mpw for the past 4 weeks - all of which have included a range of killer pace, tempo or simulated race workouts - and a decent amount of incline work.  Suffice to say, I am ready.

For this past week, I nailed 66 miles in the plan.  I did it with careful planning and discipline.  For those of you who don't read here often, I am a careful follower of Pfitzinger's training schedules and am devoted to the "up to" 70mpw program at present.

I committed to myself last week that I would get outside for at least some of this week's mileage - particularly my final 20-miler yesterday.  Unfortunately, we've not been able to break out of this arctic cold snap.    

I did get outside for a little while by doing half my 9 miler on Friday night outside.  Yesterday, I set a goal of doing at least 10 of my 20 miles outside, with a quick transition if necessary to the treadmill in the house.  And that's precisely what I did:
  • First 10 miles - outside in single degree F temps / light wind: 1:11:34 (7:10 average pace)
  • *** 5-6 min changeover period ***
  • Second 10 - treadmill w/ incline intervals: 1:09:35 (6:57 average pace)  - Final 3 miles at sub-goal marathon pace.
  • Total workout - 20 miles in 2:21:09 (7:04 avg pace)
I will spend the next few weeks mentally preparing for running my first sub-three-hour marathon.

Monday, January 19, 2009

All signs point to "Sub-3" -- 4 weeks to Austin

I now have another indicator of my running fitness that bodes well for achieving my goal to run a sub-three hour marathon in Austin.

Yesterday, I nailed a simulated half marathon on my treadmill at 1:24:25. If this were a real race, this would be nearly a 5-minute PR! My total mileage for the workout was 18 miles.

OK, I realize it's not a real race. After all, I'm on a treadmill. The incline is set at 0.5%. I have access to fluids right at my side and don't have to weave to find a lane or the water station. The temperature is perfect with a fan blowing on me. I get to watch playoff football on the TV in front of me. Not exactly what you find at your local 1/2 mary.

The way I do a simulated race workout is as follows:

  • Warm-up with a recovery mile (usually 8:30-8:50 pace range).
  • Kick it in to race pace after the warm-up mile. Track splits with wrist watch.
  • Gradually increase pace toward the end of the run and finish very strong.
  • After the race mileage, ratchet the pace back down to recovery pace.
  • Gradually work back up to easy run pace (anywhere from 7:40-8:00) to finish out the targeted mileage.
When it's wintertime in Chicago and there are no races for months, I have found that these simulated races are excellent confidence boosters and a great way to prepare my body for the rigor of a competitive race.

I had a detailed pace plan written up with me on the treadmill targeted to a 1:24:50. I was amazed when I cranked up the pace to 5:26 for my final 0.1 miles. My 13th mile was a 6:05.

A 1:24:25 half marathon on the McMillan predictor table puts me at an astounding 2:58:02 for the marathon.

For the second week in a row, I did all of my mileage on my treadmill. That's 132 miles in two weeks all indoors.

I realize now that I need to get outside for at least some of the miles for this week's workouts. I need to feel the pounding of the pavement.

The forthcoming week plan is for 68 miles with a 20-miler next Sunday. Then I cruise into the taper period.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Monumental 72-mile week -- 5 weeks to Austin

It's official. I am in the best running shape of my life.

I proved that to myself this week with a PR of 72 miles in a single training week, which included a range of workouts from recovery to 6x1000m repeats, and was capped off today with a sensational marathon pace run.

Here's the kicker: All 72 miles were done on my home treadmill, which was repaired on Tuesday this week.

I realize running only on a treadmill is not ideal, but it is the best solution given the conditions right now. I have been smart enough to work in incline intervals in all of my runs, which I hope will reduce risk of any injury.

On the other hand, today's long run had zero stops, which helps really build the stamina and simulate a race situation. That's not likely to be possible outside with snow, ice and traffic. And the treadmill teaches pace control.

I can't believe how easy it was to run 19 miles on a treadmill today with 15 of them at an average pace of 6:46. I kept myself honest with incline and decline intervals ranging from -2.5% to 5.0% (yes, my treadmill has decline). I only had 17 miles w/14 at goal pace scheduled, but I felt so strong that I decided to add on.

The most mileage I had ever run on a treadmill before was 15 miles. The home treadmill has changed the game for my training. I have access to fluids, a cool fan, no max time limit and cable TV with a remote. I watched most of the Giants/Eagles game while I nailed this run.

You can see the details of this week's workouts in my online training log.

I am on track to run a 2:59 or better in Austin on Feb 15th. I am stoked.

Running club update

The initial steps of organizing the PRRC are well underway. I've secured support of the head coach of Track and Cross Country at the local high school, who is very interested to get involved and help launch it.

I also have lined up three other runners who will help organize. I also have received a couple of e-mails from new members who are ready to join. Not bad progress in a single week.

Monday, January 05, 2009

2009 Goals / Sub-3 training on track

I mentioned at last post that I would post my 2009 running goals. It took me a few days longer than planned, but here they are.

I have decided to keep it simple this year and focus on three main goals. If I can hit these three, it will be a successful year.

1. Run more total annual mileage in 2009 than I did in 2008 (2,276 miles)

This is getting harder every year. But I still may be able to pull it off this year with a treadmill.

2. Run a sub-three hour marathon.

Currently, I have three marathons lined up: Austin - 2/15/09, Boston - 4/20/09 and San Fran - 7/26/09.

Sure I want PR's in the half marathon and other distances, but I am going to place emphasis on getting that sub-3. Every thing else will fall into place.

3. Start up a local running club

Yes, folks, this is a new one. I've decided I have put in way too many solo miles. This is largely due to the fact that I love to be able to control my schedule and not drive excessive distances to meet groups.

It's time to connect with other runners locally and teach beginners the joy and glory of running.

Since there is not a running group in my town, I have decided to form one. I have a lot of passion and leadership that I can bring to a running club.

Please see my new website at and let me know your thoughts.

This will be the most challenging goal of the year. I am both excited and daunted about being able to pull together people and form a regular club.


Regarding training for last week, it went pretty well. I am back on track for my sub-3 run at Austin.

I cut back some of the recovery mileage so that I could nail the solid 22-miler that I cut short last week. I hit 22 strong yesterday with an average pace of 7:33 and a strong finish.

Perhaps the highlight of the week was the simulated 10k race that I did inside on a treadmill in 38:08. This is undoubtedly a PR for me (if I can count it). More significantly, however, is that it lines up with a 2:59 marathon.

I have no pain in my shin, so it must have been due to all the treadmill running I did for 2.5 weeks. It felt great to put in some outside mileage. I feel great and again very challenged as I approach my second attempt this year at a 70-mile week.

Please see my new online training log at The link is on the "Useful Links" on the left. This is a great site that Wayne pointed out to me, so I am going to give it a shot.