Showing posts with label strategy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label strategy. Show all posts

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Strategic standing and overheated running

The scene of the summit but we had less chairs.
Today's run (street): 3.7 miles

Work took over all aspects of my life this week. I hadn't done a single run since last Sunday, but I spent a couple of days on my feet at a leadership summit. We did a lot of strategic exercises, so at least I got a mental workout. The summit was held in the ballroom of a beautiful mansion called the Tarrytown House. The days were a grind, but the food was awesome.

My schedule prevented me from getting in a weekday run, so this morning I knew it was time to pay the piper. Unfortunately, I was exhausted when I got up at 6:00 AM and did a rare return to bed after having coffee with my daughter. I didn't get my butt out the door until almost 11:00 and wondered at that point if I'd have the energy to get around the neighborhood.

The temperature was 45° with a "real feel" of 41, but it felt much colder. Due to that, I overdressed. I felt fine through the first mile, but then the heat started to build. I managed to get through the run, but I wasn't ready to do a lot of distance. Next time I'll leave off the extra layers.

It's a three day weekend so there's time for me to get in a couple more runs before I go back to work. I hope I'm feeling more energetic tomorrow. If so, I'll probably head to Stillwell or back to Bethpage. So far no snow in January and I need to take advantage of that as much as I can.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Workout pending...

Today started early and was spent in the city. Last night I'd considered pulling out my headlamp and reflective vest and doing a 4:00 AM run, just like old times. But reality prevailed when I got up and I decided to forgo my workout. While nostalgia has its place, so does sleep.

By the time I got home, it was a sunny 86 degrees (according to my car's display). That discouraged me from going outside for an afternoon run. I'm still considering a climate controlled workout on the treadmill later, but then again, it may be better to wait and resume tomorrow. With my friend Chris coming by for a Stillwell run tomorrow, I'm going to need to conserve some energy. His idea of an easy run differs greatly from mine.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Will what I do today affect how I'll do tomorrow?

Aspiration or underestimation?
I've only run once since last Sunday and this will go down as the lowest mileage week I've had in over a year. There's no one reason for this lapse, it's mostly circumstantial. Monday was my rest day, Tuesday was taken up with family activities, Wednesday I ran, and Thursday and Friday were days in the city that started very early and ended late. Tomorrow I'm running a 5K so I need to decide whether I should do any running or maintain my hiatus/taper.

I'm tempted to run some intervals to activate my fast twitch muscles (assuming I still have any after a week of sloth) or play out my extended rest and see if that produces a better than expected time at the race. There's an argument for both, although one involves  a lot more sweat and effort. I usually rest two days before a race, although I sometimes cut that to one day for 5K's. If I stay on the rest vector and do well, it might result in a new taper strategy for future races.

Given my utter lack of focused training for this race, my goal for tomorrow is to finish below 27:50. If I met that goal it would be the slowest 5K I've ever competitively run, but I'd still be okay with it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Upping my game to reach an elusive PR

Today's workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

Tabata training and intervals have got me thinking about my current racing performance. The good news is that, since last June, I've been on a streak where I've set new PR's for 4 miles, 8K and 10K. In addition, I've achieved best ever times on five races that I do every year. The bad news is that I'm about to come around again to those races and the challenge of meeting or beating my best times will be much harder.

I believe that my improved performance is attributable to three things: more racing experience, smarter preparation methods and better weather conditions. I can't count on the weather and there's not much more I can do in terms of race day prep. The key for continued achievement in 2012 will be better training. I have a few ideas about that.

My next race is six weeks away. It's a 5K and I generally run those races as a controlled sprint. 5K is the only distance where I didn't PR in 2011, even though I ran three of them. My 5K PR is 25:50 (8:19 pace) from a race I ran in 2009. I came within 16 seconds of that time last December, but almost doesn't count.

The key to my training for the Marcie Mazzola 5K will be a much greater focus on intensity. This, coupled with increased core and strength workouts, may help me move the time needle from 25:50 towards 24:52 (8:00 pace). I have no expectation that I'll get there in April, but I may yet beat my 8:19 PR.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Reflections on the 2012 Long Beach Snowflake Run

Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

Ran the race, got the t-shirt
Yesterday's 4 mile PR was a nice surprise. I'm hoping it had more to do with my training than the fact that the race is run over a fairly flat course. As always, there are lessons learned after a race. Besides the obvious (don't wear threadbare Hattori's in freezing cold, wet weather) there may be deeper discoveries.

For one thing, I learned that my ideal pacing for a four mile race should be more similar to running a 5K than an 8K. Going all out on the first mile yesterday didn't hurt me and I was able to maintain a credible pace for the remaining three. On 8K's and 5 mile runs, a start like that would put me into bonk territory before the end (and it has).

Second, although I've run about 25 races since 2009, I had never taken advantage of following a "pacer." This is a fellow racer who runs a little faster than I would normally go. The pros use them and now I understand why. Locking in on a stronger runner, and blocking out everything else, helped me maintain a competitive pace through the last mile of the race.

On the same theme, I continue to exploit a lesson that Dave taught me a couple of years ago regarding start position. Even though I tend to finish in the 30-50% percentile, starting closer to the front (especially on races that don't provide a starting line sensor) is a great way to achieve a fast first mile. It's like the pacer concept, except everyone around you is helping. A high tide lifts all boats.

Despite everything I've read about essential rest after a race or a hard run, I continue to go out for easy recovery runs the next day. I did that today, in the 7 degree weather (with wind chill) because I was still a little wired from Saturday. I purposely maintained a pace that was minutes slower than yesterday's and it felt good for the first half hour. At that point the strain of the race (and poor rest overnight) caught up to me.

I toughed out the last half mile and was happy to have put in a couple of good efforts this weekend. Next weekend I will start my half marathon training where I'll need to complete at least one seven mile base run. The training never ends, and neither does the learning.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Will there be snow at the Snowflake race?

They are now predicting that we'll see snowflakes at the Snowflake race in Long Beach this Saturday. I have no issues running with a little snow, my biggest concern is that they'll yank us off the boardwalk again because of slippery conditions.

I'm enjoying day one of my two-day rest period prior to Saturday's event. Not counting the New Year Hangover 5 mile (fun) run, this will be my first race of 2012. I'm hoping that I've trained correctly for this race.

Four mile races are similar to 5K's, except that they require a little more strategy in terms of parceling out speed. Where 5K's are basically fast runs that get faster at the end, a 4 mile race requires a little more pacing.. I'm looking to make my first mile my slowest, and pick up speed as I go. The condition of the course will factor in as well. I'm still hoping for the boardwalk, but you never know.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Running with the fast crowd

Today's run: (treadmill) 25 minutes

During Sunday's race I was passed quickly by a group of high school-aged boys near the one mile point of the course. This group turned left soon after they passed me and followed the signs for the 5K route. It didn't occur to me until today that those boys had probably started five minutes after me (the 5K start followed the 10K start) and had covered the same distance in almost half the time.

I'll never be a 5:00 miler so it is rare that I would have an experience racing with them. I usually start mid-pack and end up there at the finish. Last year in Long Beach I started near the front and was puzzled by the frenzy of runners who overtook me so quickly. I wondered why I was running so slow. It wasn't until I passed the first mile clock at 8:05 that I realized I was comparing my performance to runners who might end up winning the race or their age division.

There really are multiple races within any race. The people up front are locked into an almost constant sprint, all hoping to finish first. The middle packers, like me, are hoping to do better than last time and considering it a victory when we pass more people than we are passed ourselves. Those in the back of the pack are often working the hardest. Completing a 10K, or even a 5K is no trivial thing. To many of them, the race is to finish, perhaps within a goal time.

I'm on the fence whether I'll start near the front of the line at Sunday's Turkey Trot like I did last year. They didn't have a chip sensor at the start so those closest to the front had the smallest gap between gun and net time. I don't want to get in anyone's way, but I do like the idea of being swept along by the speediest runners. A high tide lifts all boats. And I could certainly use the lift.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Post-doctoral run

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

A check of the weather last night showed the possibility of early morning rain. I decided to think positively and prepared my gear for an outdoor run. I figured that I could always defer to the treadmill if necessary.
I was pleased to step out to dry, cool conditions and a full moon. The low cloud cover defused the moonlight but it was still plenty bright. Satellites acquired, I bounded down the driveway feeling like I'd have a good run.

After Monday's "holiday" spent doing medical exams and tests, I was ready to come off my rest day and run hard. The first road along my route is slightly uphill. I normally wish to get past that section quickly, but today I wished that it was a longer road. This wasn't because I was enjoying the run (although I was), but because I feel like I need every hill I can get to prepare for Saturday's 5K.

I finished up with a credible overall pace but I hope to beat that time by 40 seconds per/mile during the race. It will all come down to whether the slowness going uphill will be offset by the speed that I can generate going down. I won't really know until I see the hill. Could it be as bad as Cow Harbor's James Street? I truly hope not.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Getting strategic

This is my fourth consecutive day without a run. It's probably the longest I've gone without running since recovering from pneumonia over a year ago. My knee has responded well to the icing and compression and is much improved today. If it wasn't so close to race day I would have tried an easy run this morning. I felt like I needed to do some type of workout when I got up so I did a series of core exercises that included push ups and sit-ups. I'm not sure how much benefit I got from all that but I did work up a sweat.

I'm thinking a lot right now about my strategy for hydration and nutrition during the race. I'll carry electrolyte drink in a hand bottle and also rely on the water stations to supplement my supply. I've used GU Espresso Love and Roctane gels and I like them both. Per discussions with friend FS, I'll plan to take one 30 minutes prior to the start, another at around 4 or 5 miles and the last one at the 10 mile mark. My friend and accomplished marathoner CMc stressed that I should start slow and work up my pace as I go. Sound advice on all counts.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Race taper: winding down before winding up

Yesterday's run (Central Park): 3.15 miles
Today's run (Street): 2.5 miles

My experiment with more moderate paces on a taper week continued this morning with a run that toggled between an easy and a mildly challenging pace. My intention was to do the whole run slow to allow for continued muscle recovery but a little voice kept prompting me to pick up the pace for short distances. It ultimately turned out to be a tempo run but my tempo that was closer to andantino than allegro.

Yesterday I ran with JQ at lunchtime in Central Park. Conditions were ideal, sunny and cool with occasional breezes. We did our usual loop and covered a range of topics as we made our way around. We came by the location of the NYC Marathon finish and I saw that they still hadn't broken down the spectator stands or cleared out a lot of the signage. Both today's and yesterday's runs felt good and I'm hoping that this strategy won't soften me up too much to be competitive on Sunday. It's been a while since I've done a run with any intensity. I'll know this weekend how well this method works.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New taper strategy - easy runs

In recent weeks I've heard a lot about how volume training can be more important than speed work. People I know advocate running longer distances 2-3 minutes slower than race pace. I've started adding more length to my weekend runs because I have more available time on those days. With this change, my weekly average has exceeded 20 miles since August. I only have enough time to run about 2.5 miles during my weekday 4:00 AM workouts so almost 2/3 of my distance is achieved over the weekend. I try to get in 8+ mile runs whenever possible. An article in the current issue of Trailrunner Magazine says that "Runners often perform workouts at speeds that are too fast to obtain the desired result." They advocate slow running saying "Remember that it is the volume of aerobic running, not the speed, that represents major stimulus for adaptation."

I know I enjoy a run more when I am able to hold a conversation or observe the sights, sounds and smells of fall running without constantly peeking at my Garmin to ensure that my pace is on track. I'm planning a lunchtime run with JQ today. The timing is perfect because we'll run at a comfortable pace that will work for my taper. In the past I've focused on more intense running for the workouts leading to a weekend race. I'm going the other way this week and hoping that these easy runs will provide a race day benefit that's greater than what I get from speed workouts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Running your own race

Watching the NYC Marathon yesterday got me thinking about the 10K I'll be running next Sunday. Many of those marathoners who went out in the later waves probably hadn't reached the 5K mark by the time the women and men's winners had crossed the finish line. To the outside world, the race ended with the elites but for the 45,000 others on the course the race ended hours later. When you're pounding away for position among the crowded field the only race that matters is the one you're in. Every race provides an opportunity for success: completion, a PR or just participating in the experience provides a great reason to do it. I can't wait to hear from FS on her experience.

I'm not sure how I'll do next Sunday. The 10K distance has never yielded great times for me in competition. My hope is to come in under an hour and, ideally, pace below 9:20. I'll probably finish my taper with runs on Tuesday and Wednesday at very easy paces and I'll complete my pre-race activity on Thursday with an elliptical session. I plan to run the best race I can without concern for those who cross the line in half the time it takes me to finish.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I stand corrected

Today's run (street) 2.4 miles

Yesterday I wrote how fitness and performance levels tend to decline in middle age. I believed that to be true and, absent proper training, it probably is true. Out of curiosity I looked back on my running history on Garmin Connect and compared my performance (street runs only) between April 1 and October 31 to the same period last year. Some things surprised me. It was almost uncanny that the number of runs, year over year, were virtually identical: 119 in 2009 and 118 in 2010. However, it was the differences that caused my surprise.

Gains for the period 4/1 to 10/31 (2009 vs. 2010)
  • 12.4% more distance overall, average distance per run was up 12.5%.
  • Cumulative running time was 9% overall, average run was 9% longer.
  • Average pace was 4.6% faster.
  • Average cadence was 3.6% greater.
  • Median distance per run was up 11.5%
The only thing that declined year over year was average heart rate, dropping 1.4% this year. I use the HRM intermittently so that one comparison isn't statistically valid.

So despite what I'd read I have seen some real improvement. Emerging Runner friend and contributor James suggested that I focus more on building a base with comfortably paced runs and using that conditioning to improve my speed. James is an accomplished and dedicated runner who structures his training well. I've already started doing what he's suggesting by focusing more on distance and less on performance. In addition, almost weekly, I'm running with a friend in the city where we pace minutes slower than my current goal rate. This weekend Dave and I are planning an LSD run in preparation of our first (of two) 10K's that we're running this month. If running slow and comfortably will help me on race day I'm all for that.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Deconstructing the Cow Harbor course

Moo-ve along runners!
I'm done with my taper and now on my second day of rest from running. This is my standard methodology when preparing for a race. I assume that a marginal day of recovery is more beneficial than a marginal day of conditioning. Anyway, that's the plan. Since I'm not running today I feel especially energetic. It's psychological of course. At least I think so. It would be disappointing to reach my peak on the day before a big race.

I've reread BJS's notes on his practice runs along with an article from a local newspaper that broke down the race mile by mile. Cow Harbor seems like a series of mini races aggregated into a 10K distance. Mile one is more downhill than up - a trap for those who look to bank time early by ripping through the streets at maximum speed. Mile 2 is the infamous Widow Hill where those who came out too fast quickly regret that decision. Mile 3 is for recovery and I need to be careful not to push too hard knowing the worst hill is behind me. Mile 4 provides an opportunity to gain time lost early on the hill and mile 5 is more challenging because it's a slight incline along Waterside Ave. that can wear you down by the end. Mile 6 has another hill but compared to earlier, it's more about annoyance than intimidation. After the hill it's a toboggan run to Main Street and then the finish line. This last part is where I hope to have enough left in the tank to keep my goal time on track.

I'm planning to do my race number pickup tonight to save a little time tomorrow morning. I'm excited for this race and looking forward to the experience. I'll need to set up the DVR tonight so I can watch myself cross the finish line on the News 12 broadcast. See you at the finish!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The taper begins

I went to bed last night feeling ambivalent about running this morning. Though I usually run on Fridays I thought that resting prior to the weekend might be a better way to prepare for some long runs. Over the past few weekends I've driven up my distance running and I'm feeling stronger at the 6+ mile mark than I have in a long time. Last Sunday's run in Northport helped me understand my limits and after running the Great Cow Harbor course (supplemented by BJS's notes) I think I'm mentally prepared for the race.

My plan for this weekend, as I begin my taper, is to reinforce my stamina so I can sustain my goal pace throughout the 10K. Besides compiling lots of quality miles I'm going to need to do hill repeats. There aren't too many hills in my area that can stand in as training resources for the James Street challenge but I have some ideas. It may be worth paying the entrance fee at Bethpage State Park to run the hilly bike trail. That trail is long enough to allow me an 8+ mile out-and-back run that culminates with a large hill right before the exit to the trail head. I always dread that hill, especially because it often comes after an hour of running in the heat. This weekend I will embrace the hill knowing that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Or in this case, a ton of prevention for a megaton of cure.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The incremental distance conundrum

I covered more than 20 miles last week, putting me about three miles ahead of my normal weekly total. The long run on Saturday accounted for almost a third of my week's distance and it really underscored the fact that while I run often, I usually don't run that far. I've concluded that the progress I've made on speed has not helped to increase my stamina. I really need to improve my endurance if I want to run well at my next race. Looking at my history on Garmin Connect I see that my average run length is about 3.5 miles but my median distance is slightly less than three. This is no surprise because many of my runs happen in the early morning hours when I hit the streets at 4:00 AM and have no more than 25 minutes to get in a run. Best case, were I to push my speed to 8:30 (a reasonably fast pace at 4AM) I would only cover 2.94 miles within that time. I do want to increase mileage and I think it will take some combination of the following:

- Earlier rising to get out sooner, providing more time to run.
- Sleeping in my running clothes to reduce amount of prep time before I run.
- Running faster.
- Giving up some post-run recovery time in favor of more run time.
- Running on my rest day (Monday).
- Running on my cross-training day (Thursday).
- Doing no less than 5 miles on my weekend runs.
- Focusing on adding a mile every week from my prior week's total.

I'm sure doing these things will help increase my weekly distance total but not every option is practical. In reality, it's not adding the incremental fractions of a mile that will make a difference, it's increasing the frequency and distance of my longer runs. My friend FS said that a focus on time running, rather than specific distance or speed, may be the key. That's good advice. I'm hoping to get three 50+ minute runs in this week. It's a start.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Smartening up for Sunday's race

Today's workout: Rest day

It was a beautiful morning today in Washington DC, the temperature was 65 when I woke up at 4:00. I looked out the window just as the sun was coming up to see two runners making their way along D Street. How I wished to join them! Unfortunately my schedule was too tight today to do any running, but next time I return I plan to do a few loops around the National Mall. I've reconciled my missed opportunity by acknowledging that I usually rest on Mondays anyway. Technically I'm tapering for an 8K I'm planning to run this coming Sunday.

I'm excited to be racing again for the first time since early April. I blew it on my last race, arriving the day after the event. This time I'm pretty sure it's on the 13th and since I've pre-registered and pre-paid I'm going to pay a little more attention to the details. Last year I ran the New Hyde Park 8K with no understanding or expectations of the course. I started fast and did about 8:25 for mile one and went downhill from there. The course isn't challenging in terms of hills but there are a few elevated sections. I recall the moment I knew I had overstepped my conditioning, I was on a section of road heading east when I started getting passed by other runners. I can remember the sound of approaching steps as one, two, three and more runners ran by and though I tried to speed up to hold them off I just couldn't sustain it. The fifth mile was brutal although I did manage to put enough energy into a final sprint that kept me under nine minutes for pace. Barely under: 8:59.

I have not run too strongly in the last week and my pace numbers reflect this. I had been hitting 8:40 fairly often and I'm almost a minute behind that of late. The good news is I don't really care. I'm judging the value of my runs by my level of satisfaction rather than purely by performance. However, I do want to beat last year's pace on Sunday and finish feeling stronger. I guess I'll need to run smarter as well.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Strategic thinking for Sunday's 5K

Today's workout: Resting for 4/11 race

My new PDO armband
What a difference a week makes in terms of running gear. I now have a fully functional running watch (Garmin FR60) that's a real improvement over the 50 that it replaced. I bought a new PDO iPhone armband that seems much more durable than the iLUV model that fell apart after only being used a few dozen times. Most importantly, our Sole treadmill belt slip issue has been fixed so I can now run at faster speeds without worrying about straying too far right on the belt tread. Ironically, I'll need to wait until after Sunday to try out the repaired machine because I'm not planning on doing any running until 8:30 AM on Sunday.

I've been thinking about my racing strategy and I looked to my post about last year's event to help prepare me for the conditions. The thing I worry about most is THE BIG HILL. It took me by surprise last year and I clearly had not done the right amount of training to prepare me for the length of this monster (1/2 mile). I've done a fair number of hill runs over the last month and I'm hoping this conditioning has prepared me for what's to come. In the six races I have have run since last year's Marcie Mazzola race I have learned to moderate my pace for the first mile and not get sucked into the stream of fast moving early starters. I expect to be fatigued somewhat from the hill so I'll conserve more energy than the last time I did this race. This year the race distance is 5K, not 4 miles, so I'm hoping to push the speed a little more near the end. I anticipate that temperatures will be in the high 40's to low 50's at start time so I'm planning to run in short sleeves and racing shorts. Heat is my (and most people's) kryptonite so I'll do everything I can to minimize that issue.

Am I over thinking my strategy? Should I just get out there and run and figure it out as I go? It's hard to say whether a defined strategy makes big difference. I know that in business, when I do a public presentation, the work I do to prepare always pays off and things sometimes go badly when I wing it. I've had more negative racing experiences when I failed to think through the the various elements: weather, course, pacing, etc. I prefer to error on the side of over-strategizing and I'll know soon enough whether it made a difference.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thoughts on my upcoming 5K

I'm working from my home today and due to my schedule I was not able to run this morning. So far this week, even including Sunday, I've run less than ten miles. I don't know if I'll have a chance to get out today so this will likely be a low mileage week. That may be a good thing since I spent most of last week feeling tired during my runs. I'd really like to go out for a long trail run this weekend for a change of pace but I also feel like this is the last chance I'll have to train for my 5K. I looked up the layout of the course and saw that it's relatively flat but there are a couple of good hills along the way. It may be a good idea for me to try some hill training at the industrial park at some point. I also plan to get home early on Wednesday so perhaps that's the time to do that as a last hard workout prior to the race.

Saturday will be the last time I race in 2009 and it will be the 6th time I've participated in an organized race this year. Saturday's 5K will be the second time I've raced that distance this year so I have an opportunity for a new PR. The last time I raced a 5K I did it at 8:33 and won 2nd place in my age division (it clearly wasn't a competitive field) so I'd really like to beat that time if I could. On the other hand it might be fine to go out and just have fun and enjoy a race close to home with my family there to cheer me on. Right now my competitive spirit is winning so I think I'll do that hill training. I need to look at the race calendar to see what's happening in early 2010.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween weekend running - no tricks, just treats

Compared to my usual weekly distance, I've covered a lot of miles this week including over 11 this weekend. I'm thinking that between now until the 28th (the date of my next race) that mileage will be less important than speed conditioning and leg strength. If I want to make a 5K PR I'll need to do better than I did yesterday. This might also be a good time to return to core exercise to strengthen my glutes and work on my right quad that tends to cramp on runs that exceed five miles.

It was a very fun Halloween weekend for the family and I was happy to relax and watch the NY Marathon coverage on DVR between other Sunday activities. At around 4:30 my daughter asked me to go for a run and despite the fact that I was psychologically finished with running until Tuesday I could not say no. We did our usual loop of 1.25 miles at a ten-something pace. Perfect for me because I could run at that speed without breaking a sweat in the 50 degree weather. As usual, we had a ball, the running was fun and the conversation was great. For the rest of the month I'll concentrate on speed instead of extra miles - unless the miles include other opportunities to run with my daughter.

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