Friday, February 25, 2011

A Running Bet
Check out this awesome article about a Vegas running bet.  If you modified this bet a bit could a "normal" runner log say 130 miles in a 24 hr period. Would you give odds say 4-1 your $10,000 to make $2500?  How would you split up the run so you get enough rest and not risk injury? Makes you think a little bit.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Top Secret Training - Matt Larsen #1

From time to time we are going to take an inside look at some of our favorite runners at various points in their training. The challenging balance of career, family, and for many, high school coaching duties, leads to crazy weekly running schedules.  By seeing a glimpse of a typical week for these runners you'll see that you are not alone in the challenges you face and the humorous moments you experience along the way.

Today we will check in with former University of Wisconsin Whitewater three time All-American Matt Larsen, whose training is rollin towards a sub 2:37 effort at the Boston Marathon on April 18.  Matt has personal bests of 14:45 for 5k, 24:49 for 8k, and 2:47 in the marathon.  Matt teaches at Oconomowoc High and coaches cross country and track.

Matt Larsen #1
I am currently training for Boston, and I believe that this is my 125th comeback into the world of running. Matt mentioned the idea of doing a blog, and I figured it would be fun and hold me accountable as I can be a wimp in training and can get lazy with little things like logging miles. I guess my serious Boston training started in November, and I am about where I hoped to be regarding mileage and little fitness tests along the way. I also teach and coach and hope to maximize my training volume in the weeks leading up to track, as I can get pretty busy during the season.

My training has been pretty simple with focus being on one workout per week (usually a Tuesday) and one long run (usually a Sunday). In the middle, I just try to get in whatever mileage is necessary for my weekly goal (anywhere from 6-12 miles with the paces being pretty slow). Last week was my first 70 mile week in quite a bit of time, and my recent weeks have been primarily in the 50s and 60s. I’ll give you the highlights over the last week and a half.

2/08- Pettit Center- The plan was run a 3 mile warm up to run 4 one mile repeats ranging from 5:25 to 5:20 with 2 minutes recovery followed by a 3 mile cool down. The workout went a little better than that, as I ran 5:21, 5:20, 5:20, and finally 5:13. I had the benefit of Matt Thull and Eamon Mckena to operate as pace cars which was very helpful. The first repeat did suck, and I spent the last quarter mile trying to think of injuries to fake or reasons not to finish the workout (you might see that as a reoccurring theme in my training until I get a little tougher.) Anyway the rest of the workout went well, and I felt very good. It actually gave me a little confidence to feel as comfortable as I did at that pace.

2/13- Delafield Roads- 18 miles with Mr. Thull. The plan was to find a route Delafield and get in a decent groove. We found a decent hilly route on a nice day, but didn’t find much of a fast groove. The effort was good, and I was a little tired. It was my 3rd week of doing an 18 miler on a Sunday which might have accounted for the fatigue.

2/15- Pettit Center- The plan was run a 3 mile warm up followed by a 5 mile tempo at 5:40 pace and cool down 3 miles. I had the benefit of Eamon M. as a pace car. We started out slow. (3 minutes through the half mile as we where both just not paying enough attention)- We went through the mile in 5:50 (at this point I thought again about ways that I could fake injury and call it a night. I was hoping I could find someone in spikes that might throw a kick my way and draw a little blood - no such luck. We soon found a rhythm of about 5:37 pace that actually felt really comfortable. We kept that rhythm until mile four and closed the last mile in about 5:25 for a total time of 28:08 for the 5. I ran a three mile cool down and then ate all but two pieces of a frozen pizza; I felt that I really showed restraint by leaving those last two pieces.

2/16- Oconomowoc Roads- I ran with 3 of Oconomowoc’s finest runners Todd Irvine, Patrick Middleton, and Charles Olson who I also coach with. I was hoping to go 7-8 miles, but settled for a little less than 6 in 39 minutes. These guys looked good, but I was run down. California native Patrick Middleton showed the people of Oconomowoc his legs, as 40 some degrees allowed for less cold weather gear. I could tell the ladies on the road where distracted by Patrick. I even saw a few of them appearing to cry as if they had just seen Justin Beiber. It helped me to muscle through a tough run.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend Race Update

It was a huge racing weekend for the ThunderDome Running Crew.  We had runners racing in Colorado, New York, and Pennsylvania...the Wisconsin race was canceled.  It is finally rolling into the time of year where all the hard work (base training/mileage) is paying off and the legs are coming around.

Dave Romano raced to a 5k PR of 20:42 in the 2nd of 3 races in the Frozen Foot Series held in Elizabethtown, PA.  Dave has been running for less than a year and continues to train and race tough leading up to his half marathon in a couple months.

Kathy Fodor's team raced in the Runner's Edge 3 x 2 mile winter trail relay held at Bethpage State Park, NY which was the site of the 2002 & 2009 US Golf Open. Kathy's team placed 4th out of 39 teams. The cool part about Kathy's team is that her team was made up of the most awesome running family in NY. Her son Thomas ran a blistering 2 mile relay leg along with her husband Will. Will is the elite runner race director of one of the all-time best road races in the United States the Cow Harbor 10k in Northport, NY. Kathy is prepping for a 5k in New York City the Coogan's Salsa, Blues, and Shamrock 5k on March 6.

My wife Erin raced for a second weekend in a row. She ran the 5 mile and I raced the 10 mile at the Snowman Stampede in Littleton, CO Saturday. Coming off of a 40:45 effort at the Cullen run 5 mile in Wauwatosa, WI, Erin raced to a new 5 mile PR of 39:54 on Saturday. PR's at altitude do not come very often.

I stuck to my 8 week base training plan by just logging miles & strength workouts and expected to have tired legs going into the race. The "just compete" goal worked great - ran 52:50 for 10 miles and ended up 2nd behind a 24 year old runner who ran for Penn State and is now a part of Brad Hudson's Boulder, CO elite training group. He won the race in 52:09.  Up until the 8 mile mark I was 12 seconds down but just could not hold pace over the last 2 miles, it is still early in training so eventually that fitness will be there.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Stick to Your Training Plan - Race Goals during Base Training

There are many times where a race "gets in the way" of your specific training plan. This might mean wanting to cut out miles or cut workouts short so you are rested for a race that is at the end of the week.  The goal runners need to have when these races pop up during base training or very high volume training is a goal that is not attached to a specific time. What is the #1 thing you want to take away from the race that doesn't involve a time goal?  Your fastest times should come at the end of a training cycle or when you are peaking to run your best so now is not the time to worry about your overall time.

Sometimes in a race week you are actually on a reverse taper (not actually reducing your weekly mileage) and you just have to stick to your training plan. Be confident that you will find that one positive (not time based) out of the race.  I have been roughed up mentally by this reverse taper a few different times in my training over the past two months. This week of training during my visit to Colorado will end with the 10 mile Snowman Stampede in Littleton, Colorado.

My goal for this week of training is 105 miles. This will be my 7th consecutive week of running 100 miles. Week 8, my final week of base training, will follow next week.

This race week has played out like this:

10 easy miles average pace of 7:59 (1/2 of the run with a client at a slower pace)

Mini Workout day - 1 easy warmup mile - 12 miles over hilly course harder at 5:50 pace - followed by 1 mile cooldown for 14 miles total. Then travel to Denver.  (Medium Effort)

-before the race all runs are in Denver/Altitude and I cannot seem to find a flat route.  Each 1st mile of the runs are always slower because I run it with my wife to warmup.

- AM - over hilly course -11 miles - 7:25 pace
- PM - 5 easy miles - 6:57 pace

- AM - 12 miles over hilly course - 6:56 pace
- PM - 4 miles slow because I had a Burrito and Cookie 30 minutes before the run

 - AM - 10 easy miles, held back because of race on Saturday - 7:11 pace + STRIDES
 - PM - 4 easy miles

This week with logging higher mileage, not being as fit as I plan to be in May/June, and having only raced at altitude once before; I need to have a goal that gives me the best opportunity to compete yet take these pieces into consideration. My one and only goal is to compete over the second 1/2 of the race and not get caught up in feeling sorry for myself because my legs are tired (based on where I am in my training plan). I am flexible about the finishing time but do not want my effort to slack.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ThunderDome Running Race Field Trip - Denver

I think one of the best parts of this crazy running game is getting a chance to get out there and race after all the work is put in especially during the winter months. There is just something about that feeling where nothing else matters for those intense minutes while you are racing. That time is yours with no outsiders messing with you giving you the chance to just own it.

Running affords everyone the chance to get out there to pick and choose races and for me the most fun I have had in the sport is traveling to races throughout the United States. This Saturday February 19 is the Snowman Stampede in Littleton, CO held in Hudson Gardens. There is a 5 mile and 10 mile race. I noticed though that you can sign up to run both the 5 mile and 10 mile races with about 25-30 minutes apart depending on how fast you finish the 5 miler. At first this sounded awesome but then in taking into account the 5600' of altitude I decided against racing both.  The winner of each race along with an awesome racing tour of Hudson Gardens gets a brand new pair of New Balance shoes.  My father in law and wifey are also racing so it should be a fun one and a great workout.

This year get out and checkout a new race outside of your home racing area. You do not really know what you are missing for other races until you get off of your home turf.  Would THE WARRIORS had as much "fun" getting back to their home turf of Coney Island if they did step out and go on a little field trip to checkout Cyrus speak in the way?

Post a link and share some info about some of your favorite races so everyone can checkout some new races.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Race Day - Triggers

What trigger gets you into the frame of mind to be ready to attack race day and not wimp out?  How do you flip the switch to go from your easy run days and intervals during the week to race day mode when you try to be in total control having to just ignore all the potential negatives to maximize your race day effort?

Race day is hopefully a fun setting but the events and time leading up to the race take on more meaning because it is race day. Did you get enough sleep the night before? What if you only get say 4 - 5 hours of that enough? What if you wake up race day with a messed up stomach? What if your warm-up is the worst one you have ever had and your legs are just garbage?  What if you tripped and fell on your warm-up? Those are all questions that your race day trigger will hopefully cancel out.

The attacking race day attitude (even with all of the questions I mentioned above) just does not happen and that is the part most runners feel like they do not need work on. The attitude, confidence, and race plan you bring to the line on race day has to be practiced and everyone should have a trigger to get this action ready to be carried out hours before the race. That trigger might be a song, a memorable quote, or maybe just your significant other saying "Don't embarrass me out there."  Sometimes you might have a second trigger as late as five minutes before race time like another runner talking some trash about what amazing shape they are in all along forgetting that you are even in the race.

Do not walk into race day without having the eye of the tiger and that trigger in your bag of tricks. Have a trigger and mindset to get you to that unstoppable mentally tough point in time one hour, 30 minutes, and finally five minutes to race time.  This takes practice. 

Would love to hear some of your race day triggers that get you into that Rocky IV toughness mode like when Rocky was training in the old Soviet Union before boxing Ivan Drago.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Day After Your Workout - Pace

Here is the jackpot question of the day. Do I have to plan or think about the pacing on my post workout day runs?  The short answer is yes. Going by feel the day after your workout is a bad idea because after most workouts or harder efforts you feel the really tired legs and body two days later not always the very next day. So by going out that next day after a hard effort or workout and just rolling with the pace because you feel fine gets many runners into trouble because of that two day lag. What ends up happening is you have the interval effort day as a hard day, then you roll the next day because you feel good, and what you end up with are two hard efforts in a row and then on day three your legs are trashed. Just show some patience and discipline post workout day and you will be fine. Hold back on the run even if your legs feel just fine - allow for the slow active recovery run. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bad Weather Long Run Modification - just roll with it

With the Wisconsin Blizzard we had mid - week and the snow and ice across the US all winter, runners have had to be creative getting in runs outside. The tough running surface with ice and snow presents issues with your stride. Your stride is shortened and you end up holding back on the pace sometimes putting on the brakes just to stay upright. All bad habits that runners do not want to get into day to day.

A modification on your long run over this weekend that works great and is fun yet challenging is to split the long run in half. Log half of the miles outside then switch into a faster pace by getting inside on the treadmill or if in the Milwaukee area the Pettit Center. Use your long run this weekend as a confidence booster with that last half faster when you can finally get onto a normal running surface off of the snow and ice. I am sick of running outside and am totally looking forward to the mini long run workout and this is going to get me through my Friday and Saturday runs outside before the pre-Super Bowl long run on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Keys to Running Comebacks

I have been running for the past 20 + years and have never been surrounded by so many running comebacks both personally and coaching as I have been over the past year. Maybe all these comebacks have something to do with age and having more life responsibilities, being more susceptible to injuries, or younger runners just not having direction after college outside of the team environment.

The key to a comeback is having both daily and weekly goals - that you can log and check off. A goal that is one year down the road is awesome but make sure to have those short term running goals that are right in front of you on a daily basis. There are different comeback stages like the transition to running "X" days a week, to completing runs feeling good, to feeling fit, to being confident you can race.  The process all takes some time and try not to make the mistake of comparing fitness and race results to what you have done in the past.....train in the present. Each build up and training cycle takes on its own feeling and features.