Tuesday, February 28, 2006

VO2max 8 miles w/ 3x1600m @5K pace

Today's training: 8.31 miles per STraM (8.36 per t6 logbook), 3 mile neighborhood loop + 3 x 1 miles at elementary school track, 1:16:51 (9:14 min/mi), avg 152 bpm

Well, Pfitz isn't nuts. As predicted, jogging wasn't going to get me below 130 bpm during the rest periods. After I got to the low 140s by jogging for about 3:45, I walked until I hit 130 and then jogged back to the start line.

  • 43.8 (156), 46.0 (166), 44.2 (170), 44.6 (171), 44.2 (174), 44.5 (175), 44.3 (174), 44.0 (175), 45.0 (176), 44.0 (176) -- rest 4:28 (avg 149, min 137)
  • 43.6 (152), 45.0 (168), 44.6 (172), 43.7 (173), 43.6 (176), 43.8 (177), 43.8 (177), 44.1 (178), 43.7 (178) -- rest 4:34 (avg 152, min 138), ugh lost count and only did .9 miles
  • 43.8 (153), 44.6 (168), 44.4 (172), 44.3 (174), 44.7 (176), 44.5 (176), 44.1 (178), 44.4 (177), 44.4 (177), 44.2 (179)
  • paces 7:25 min/mi, 7:20 min/mi, and 7:23 min/mi
The plan was to run 7:20 pace (predicted 5K), so the execution wasn't too shabby. I did a better job of not going fast on the first lap. It seems to take about 30 secs for my breathing to catch up to my pace as I start, so I have to fight the urge to go faster at the outset.

Monday, February 27, 2006

This week's schedule -- Rest

Today's Training: Rest
Weight: 170

This week's schedule
  • Monday. Rest
  • Tuesday. 8 miles w/ 3x1600m @5K jog 2 minutes in between
  • Wednesday. General aerobic + spd 7 miles w/ 6x100m strides
  • Thursday. Rest
  • Friday. Medium long run 12 miles
  • Saturday. Rest (rest on a Saturday! taper is my new favorite word)
  • Sunday. Medium long run 12 miles.

I had to flip-flop Tuesday and Wednesday from the Pfitz schedule for convenience. Hopefully, I'll be rested up enough to do intervals without hurting myself tomorrow. I feel OK, but 1600m intervals again make me question Pfitz's sanity. 3x1600m @ 5K pace is almost running a 5K! I really need to make sure I don't run any laps faster than 5K pace, which is 44 seconds per 0.1-mile lap for me. You got that Greg, 44 seconds! I'm also condsidering extending the rest period to get my heart rate down. Bob Glover recommends 130 bpm. Looking at my January 24th 0.6 mile intervals with ~2 minutes rest, I only got down to the low 150s during the recovery. I'm not sure I can get below 130 in a reasonable amount of time without walking, however.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Lactate threshold update, T6 logbook and STraM distance differences -- 16 mile medium long run

Today's training: 15.87 miles, 3+ lake loops, 2:29:27 (9:25 min/mi), avg 155 bpm

Another great Sunday run. My iPod shuffle again had a great sense of timing and played Jackson Browne's Running on Empty as I finished.

Turns out it wasn't windy yesterday. Today was windy. The lake had white caps for most of the run and when going over the dam the first time, without the cover of trees, I found my first step landing about a foot-and-a-half to the right as the wind blew me sideways. Wow.

My split times/average heart rates for the three laps plus out and back were 45:20 (147), 44:25 (152), and 42:14 (160) for the three lake loop and 17:27 (163) for the rest. I was still tired from yesterday, but thought today was a good day to just put one foot in front of the other. After all, I know I'll be tired at the end of the marathon. I set the max on the heart rate alarm at 155, but started to bump against it around mile 9. Sometimes your "gear" is a few bpm above where you're shooting for. For example, yesterday during the staircase intervals I just tried to find the next natural gear, because there wasn't a comfortable way to run example 8:30 min/mi (or 8:00, etc.).

Notice I got a little frisky a couple of minutes into the third lap. I thought I'd feel for a somewhat faster gear and see where that fell with marathon pace. If you use the 4.65 miles per loop average that STraM gave today, I ran the 3rd lap at 9:04 min/mi pace. It was pretty comfortable. I wasn't able to breath comfortably with a 4-4 breathing rhythm though. I fell into 3-3 breathing after a while although 3.5-3.5 would have been perfect :-)

Last year I erroneously thought 2-2 breathing was 2 strides in and 2 strides out (actually 4-4 breathing) instead of 2 steps in and steps out. When I'd have to breathe faster than that I took it as a sign I was struggling. I believe I did the whole marathon with 4-4 breathing. I'd also heard that if you couldn't do 3-3 breathing during your long runs it was a sign you were going too fast. I'd try to force myself to do my version of 3-3 breathing, which was actually 6-6.

Bob Glover's Competitive Runner's Handbook says a "3-3 pattern is good for very easy days" and the "3-3 ratio may be beneficial for the first few miles of a marathon, but for most racing the 2-2 pattern works best." What's the matter with me? Today I was doing 3-3 breathing at over 80% of my max heart rate 15 miles into the run. I wouldn't call it a "very easy day." As I said before, it took me about a mile and a half into my 10K to force myself to use 3-3 breathing. It's not like I have super lung capacity or anything. According to the printout from the breathing test my doctor did after I got over bronchitis, my lung capacity was 88 percent of predicted for my height, weight, age, and gender.

Anyway, maybe I've become something of a wimp expecting things to be too comfortable. I'm considering going back to the strategy I used in my first race last spring before I "knew" anything -- start slow and then keep passing people until I'm breathing as hard as the group around me. Well, it's a thought anway.

Lactate threshold update. Willem graciously analyzed my data (for which I'm much appreciative) and after tuning STraM (by fixing my breathing rate) and using some of the Suunto Swiss Army Knife's expert tuning boxes, he found my heart rate at lactate threshold to be 173 bpm. He also interpolated between the lap speed to get 7.3 mph or 8:13 min/mi pace. Marathon pace would then be 8:39 min/mi. Still pretty close to the 8:29 min/mi McMillan predicts. 8:45 min/mi would knock an hour off my first marathon, so I'd be happy with that. I haven't firmed up my exact marathon goals though. I'm toying 4 hours as my realistic goal with 3:50 or maybe 3:45 as my dream goal. Here's Willem's handiwork.A recap of what I did wrong in the analysis:
  • I should have set the watch to 2 second time resolution from the default 10 seconds.
  • I should have used SAK to come up with better personal parameters (mainly breathing) and then fed those back to STram and reanalyzed the data.
  • I should not have read the heart rate at lactate threshold by looking where the cloud of red dots intersects VO2 at lactate threshold (VO2.LT). At higher VO2 the heart rate shifts upward (possibly because of lactate accumulation) and you should look at where the line extrapolated from lower intersects VO2.LT.
  • I should not have included the low heart rate points (from my jog to and from the track).
As an "exercise for the blogger," I might try my hand at this using the new METS (13.5) from my recent 10K time instead of the 13.1 that is currently in there from my 5 miler last November.

I realized I didn't try to back out heart rate at marathon pace yesterday, so I'll try my hand today. 8:39 min/mi is pretty close to 8:41 min/mi (166 bpm). It's less than a tenth of the way to 8:20 min/mi (172 bpm) so we'll call my heart rate at marathon pace 166-167.

By the way, I came to this conclusion by feel during my marathon pace run (15 miles with the last 12 at marathon pace) about a month ago. I ran at about 9 min/mi on a relatively flat course during the marathon pace portion. In retrospect I think the calibration factor was about 1 percent too high so call this 9:05 min/mi pace. As the graph shows I started at about 160 and drifted up to 166. I figured at the time I could probably start the marathon at 166 (after a few miles of warming up) and drift into the 170's by the end of the race. I assume that my lactate treshold heart rate drifts as well, so I wouldn't be "over the line" with such a strategy.

T6 logbook and STRaM distance differences. I did three laps plus a little out and back until the foot pod said I'd gone 16.01 miles. Viewing the logbook on the watch showed the laps as 4.70, 4.67, and 4.67 miles, and the little out and back as 1.97 miles. After STram was done it had cut my 16.01 miles to 15.87 and reduced the splits to 4.67, 4.64, 4.64, and 1.96 miles.

Section, "Differences between the DISTANCE values," of Willem's document seems to address this, but I don't think it accounts completely for what I'm seeing. If I'm reading correctly, STRaM only reports the distance at the sample at the time before the mark, which could be up to 10 seconds old. The logbook also reports with 1 meter precision while the marks in STraM only have 10 meter resolution. Still this doesn't seem to explain it. Ten meters is less than 0.01 miles and even at 8 minute per mile pace 10 seconds is only .02 miles. 16.01 minus 15.87 is .14 miles. Around a .1 mile difference between the t6 logbook and STraM is typcial for my long runs. Willem's document says he doesn't see differences of more than 20 meters. Since he's using only metric units, is it possible this is only seen with English units? I'm sure there's something I'm missing and that it's somewhere I haven't found on Willem's web page. Perhaps I should run with 2-second resolution and see if the magnitude of the STram-logbook difference changes just to experiment rather that read :-)

I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

finding my lactate threshold -- "staircase intervals"

Today's training: 8.2 miles, ran to highschool track around 7 x 1200 meters at increasing paces and jogged back, 1:14:48 (9:07 min/mi), avg 162 bpm

By the way, this run was pretty hard (STraM called it "overreaching"). No guilt needed for missing the 10K on the schedule. In fact, this was hard enough I think I'll remember it during the 16 miler tomorrow. (Yesterday's back pain seems to have disappeared though thankfully.)

The experiment. As I planned earlier, I attempted to find my lactate threshold by running a series of 1200 meter intervals of increasing pace while wearing my suunto t6. A picture is worth a thousand words
It doesn't look like I controlled my pace too well, but I think I did a pretty good job. The first hundred meters or so I would usually jump out too fast on each step up by then I settled in. The wind was a factor though.The 15 mph wind was along the long axis of the track so in my face down one straightaway and at my back for another.

I ran 7 x 1200-meter intervals with the following paces and heart rates: 9:51 min/mi (146 bpm), 9:12 (157), 8:41 (166), 8:20 (172), 7:57 (177), 7:33 (183), 7:05 (189)

Analysis. I used Willem Minten's t6 Swiss Army Knife (SAK) version v2.3.0, which can be downloaded from the WristopTrainers yahoo group files section. I imported my sdf file in and looked at the fitness thresholds tab. This is the graph I got.
It looks like it found the elbows in VE versus VO2 pretty well. It looks like the elbow occurs at VO2 = 39.5 liters/minute.

The HR versus VO2 line, however, seems wrong. I guess its confused by the low heart rate from the slow jogs to the track and back (and stopping at the red light). Should I split the log, including only the 7x1200 intervals, and try again? If the only purpose of the line is to fit the heart rates, then I can do that by eye. It looks to me like the red dots at VO2 = 39.5 are at about 176 bpm.

I can then use 176 to interpolate between 8:20 min/mi or 7.20 mph @ 172 bpm and 7:57 min/mi or 7.55 mph @ 177 bpm. 7.20 + (176-172)*(7.55-7.20)/(177-172) = 7.48 mph or 8:01 min/mi pace.

My marathon pace should then be .95 * 7.48 mph = 8:26 min/mi. If I use the book Lactate Threshold's 94.3%, I get a slightly slower 8:30 min/mi.

Before, I looked at various marathon pace calculations based on my 10K race time of 47:21 and they came between 8:29 and 8:35 min/mi. So everything seems to line up. Of course today's run was on a track, so maybe my pace at LT is a little slower on a road course (although my marathon should be pretty flat and hopefully less windy).

While the pace at LT seemed to confirm what I knew, I did pick up my heart rate at lactate threshold (if I did this right): 176 bpm. If my max heart rate is still ~200 bpm then that's 88% MaxHR. I'm no longer sure of my Max HR though.

Is my MaxHR lower now? I felt like the last 1200 meters was close to redline and I tried to sprint down the straightaway to see if I could get my max. I got about 60 meters before deciding I wasn't going to get much higher. The most I saw was 191. In last fall's 5 miler I averaged 186 bpm and maxed at 199 crossing the finish link. I noted that my 10K heartrate seem much lower and topped out at 190 near the end. Is the 190 a result of the greater distance and just being too tired to max out or has my Max HR actually dropped? Here's a graph comparing today, the 10K two weeks ago, and the 5 miler last fall. I have EPOC on there just to show that today was a tough run!You can see my sprint effort at the end of the 10K (the drop off is me forgetting to turn the watch off after the finish line) and today's workout. It certainly looks like 190-191 bpm is my max. But look at the 5 miler. I was above 190 for a lot of the time.

Update: Pete Pfitzinger says here that the max hr of an untrained person can decrease by 7% with training. Now, having finished a marathon 3 weeks before the 5 miler (and having run a 10K in between), I wouldn't say I was untrained, but is it possible it's gone down since because I'm in better shape?

Should I retune STram and try again? Besides my max hr potentially being wrong, my METS and respitory rate could use tuning. I played with the STraM tuning page and using my 10K time from two weeks ago I get a METS of 13.5. I had 13.1 in STraM based on my 5 miler last fall. My breathing topped out 55 bpm (as I've seen in other max efforts). SAK suggests using 57 bpm. I still have the (strangely low) default value of 41 bpm in STraM. I believe changing these will alter VO2 and VE at lactate threshold, but unless the shape of the curves change significantly I don't think the values I care about, heart rate and speed, will change much.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Back pain -- Recovery 4 miles

Today's training: 3.89 miles, neighborhood 3-mile loop, 37:58 (9:45 mi/mi), avg 142 bpm

The distance is again accurate. 3.89 t6 distance versus 3.90 for google earth.

I felt very strong today and a little guilty. The mileage has been so low this week with only 9 miles in the last 3 days (including today). I know Pfitz is setting me up for a 10K I'm not running, which is why I feel guilty. My legs felt like they wanted to run a 10K this morning. I suppose I'll be well-rested for my heart rate test on Saturday (although I barely slept last night). To ease the guilt I might tack a few more miles on tomorrow, but I won't go over 10 total. I have 16 scheduled for Sunday.

Back pain. It's about 8 pm and after professing my strength this morning, my back is killing me. It hurts on the right side a few inches below my rib cage, when I pick up my right leg.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

a little more on vital capacity -- Rest

Today's training: Rest

a little more on vital capacity. Once again, if you can make your way through it, Willem Minten's document on the t6 answers all. It says, "To calculate ventilation, the model estimates first the volume of one breath from the intensity of the activity and the person's vital capacity and then multiplies this with respiratory rate." Perhaps the role of the vital capacity parameter is a little more than simply scaling the breaths per minute.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Recovery 5 miles

Today's Training: 4.91 miles, 3-mile neighborhood loop, 49:52 (10:09 min/mi), avg 139 bpm

Standard neighborhood recovery run.

After downloading to STram, the mileage was 4.91 miles. I "google earthed" the route to mile 2 and got 1.98 miles, which when added to 2.93 for a loop gives 4.91 miles. So I'm going to start using the mileage after downloading from STraM even though it's lower. Did I mention it's hilly and includes walking down "knee break hill" for 45-50 seconds each 3-mile loop? Still 10 min/mi at 139 bpm (~70% MHR) isn't bad for me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Vital capacity -- VO2max 8 mi w/ 5 x 600m @ 5K pace

Today's training: VO2max 8 mi w/ 4 x 0.4 miles @ 5K pace, 3-mile neighborhood loop + elem school track, 1:15:19 (9:24 min/mi), avg 152 bpm

I did the neighborhood loop and on to the elementary school track, which is 0.1 miles. .4 miles is about 640m so I did that instead of the 600m called for on the schedule. I lost count and did 4 instead of five intervals. Argh. Here's the graph The splits (each lap = 0.1 miles) and average heart rates are:
  • 43.2 (167), 1:27.9 (2 laps, 175), 43.7 (177)
  • 42.1 (171), 43.0 (178), 42.5 (181), 43.0 (181)
  • 41.0 (173), 42.5 (180), 43.2 (180), 42.7 (180)
  • 42.8 (165), 43.1 (174), 42.9 (179), 42.5 (181)
The paces for these intervals were 7:17 min/mi, 7:07, 7:02, and 7:07. It seems to match the watch pretty well. From the graph it looks like the suunto recorded the paces as between 8.2 mph (7:19 min/mi) and 8.4 (7:08 min/mi). Pretty close!

When I did the 41 second lap, I noticed that I instinctively did something I did during the last mile of the 10K when I was going all out. I naturally held my arms a little lower, swung them farther away from my body, and held my hands more open. Has my brain/body somehow decided this is more economical?

Vital capacity. One of the personal parameters that can be set in STram is "vital capacity" which is basically the volume of air your lungs can hold. I'm not sure what the benefit of setting this parameter is, but I had a breathing test recently, so I had a chance to find my vital capacity. I had the breathing test because of bronchitis. In the follow-up visit, after the bronchitis had cleared, my "forced vital capacity" was 4.68 liters. I've used that for "vital capacity" in STram, but honestly can't tell you how the program uses vital capacity (except that it probably scales ventilation) or how it defines vital capacity ("slow" or "forced" or something else) or what I will do differently now that I know this piece of information. Anyway, there it is: 4.68 liters.

Monday, February 20, 2006

This week's schedule, race substitute -- Rest

Today's training: Rest
Weight: 171

This week's schedule
  • Monday. Rest.
  • Tuesday. VO2max 8 mi w/ 5x600m @ 5K jog 90sec in between
  • Wednesday. Recovery 5 miles
  • Thursday. Rest.
  • Friday. Recovery + spd 4 mi w/ 6x100m strides
  • Saturday. 8-10K race called for. Can't seem to find a race. Should I do a time trial at the track, some other kind of test or bag it? If I bag it should I rearrange the week's schedule since Wed-Fri seem geared to resting up for the race. I could probably run 10 miles Thursday and move Friday's recovery to Saturday.
  • Sunday. Medium long run 16 miles. Again, 16 the day after a 10K seems crazy.
Race substitute. What to do on saturday is obviously the question. I can't find a race, so I should stop wasting energy on that. OK. If I don't do a race, what do I do? The first question I suppose is "why is there a race on the schedule?" Advanced Marathoning just refers to the psychological benefits of dealing with pre-race preparation, adversity, nerves, etc. and providing a benchmark for your training. I obviously can't the benefit of race experience without a race, but I could find a bench mark. One possibility is to use a time trial (20-24 laps around the track to get to 8-10K as fast as I can). I could also use a different test. I'm not really commited to the idea, but I'm toying with it. What I'd really like to know is what pace and heart rate I should run the marathon at.

First, there are various schemes to predict marathon times from other race times. Using my 10K that I ran in 47:21, http://mcmillanrunning.com/ says I should run the marathon at an 8:29 min/mi pace which seems rather scary to me, although it also says I should be doing my long runs at 8:59 - 9:59, which I'm doing with relative ease (although the great lake loop length mystery comes into play here).

How about another source? A book I got at the library called Lactate Threshold Training by Peter Janssen says a marathon is run at 94.3% of "V4" pace and a 10K is run at 104%. By the way, V4 comes from velocity at a lactate level of 4 mmol per liter, but is really a handle for the pace at anaerobic threshold, which typically occurs at 4 mmol per liter but can vary from 3 to 6 depending on the person. V4 doesn't really matter for my purpose since it gets factored out. Anyway, 7:38 min/mi * 104 / 94.3 = 8:35 min /mi. Hmm, another conspirator.

What does good old Bob Glover say? When I need common sense, I look to good old Coach Glover. The Competitive Runner's Handbook has a table with some goal marathon times and indicators of whether you can achieve them. The sub-3:45 marathon (8:34 pace) lists a 47:45 10K. Et tu Coach Glover?

8:34 pace? Still doesn't seem right. I'll probably end up shooting for something slower, but I'd still like to know my heart rate at a given pace. I'd also like to try to figure out my heart rate and pace at lactate threshold since you're supposed to run a marathon below this pace.

One approach for getting heart rate versus pace is just to run with a heart rate monitor and step up the pace 0.5 km/hr every 200 meters. This is essentially the Conconi test. Looking at the HR versus pace curve should also reveal a deflection that indicates (anaerobic?) threshold pace. Many consider 200 meters too short to get a stabilized heart rate at a given speed, however. Willem Minten's site suggests using 5 equally space speeds with 1200 meters per speed. (This is also used to develop a calibration factor versus pace chart for the foot pod.) Lactate Threshold Testing describes a similar protocol with between 800 and 1200 meters per speed depending on how fast the athlete is (shorter for slower athletes), but it also has 50 second walk breaks in between. The recovered heart rate is supposed to show a change at the anaerobic threshold. If I'm reading it correctly Minten's site suggests the recoveries can make the data more difficult to read and his favorite test doesn't include them.

Anyway, I guess I'll plan on jogging to the track (2 km) and doing 5 x 1200m at paces from an easy run to 5K (or near 5K) race pace: 9:30, 9:00, 8:30, 8:00, and 7:30 min/mi. Add another jog back and that gets to 10K total. Not a race, but a decent workout and I should be fresh for the 16 miles on Sunday. I might need to shift the 7:30 a little faster though (maybe 7:20) to make sure I get well past the anaerobic threshold. In reality of course, I can't control my pace quite that well.

What does this translate to on the track? 9:30 min/mi equals 2:21 min/400m or 1:10 min/200m. Since 1600m is about 1 mile than each 30 secs/mi faster is about 7.5 secs per 400m faster or 3.75 per 200m. I can just start at 2:20 or so per lap, which is a pretty natural pace (my 3 lap calibration run was 6:57 or 2:19 per lap), speed up 30 secs /mile using the watch and then just double check that I'm about 7-8 seconds faster per lap. On the last 1200m, I'll just go with what feels like a 5K race pace.

I didn't know what I was going to do when I started writing this. This thinking by writing stuff seems to work.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

20 mile run comparison, lake loop distance -- Long run 20 miles

Today's training: 20 miles, 4+ lake loops, 3:15:30 (9:46 min/mi), avg 154 bpm

First, this was a great run. I ran strong the whole time and never even got the usual "transitional lightheaded" I usually get around 12-14 miles. It was 13 degrees this morning and I opted to wait until later in the day when it "warmed up" to 18. As a result, I ate my usual Sunday pancake and egg feast a few hours before my run instead of after. I think this could have helped. I took a gel at 17 miles, but it wasn't an emergency. By the way, orange burst Gu gets a big thumbs up as do Bob Seger, Jackson Browne, and Wilson Pickett. I'm going to miss my music during the marathon.

My pace was good today. I thought I'd consider today a total victory if each of the four laps were at less than 46 minutes. My times and heart rates were 45:00 (147), 45:11 (152), 45:04 (153), and 45:39 (158). I felt strong the whole way. In the latest mile, I was anxiously awaiting being done though, but I think this is just my mind saying, "OK buddy, you said we'd be done at 20, so let's stop screwing around!" This always seems to happen when the end is in sight.

I messed around with the heart rate limits again today. I set the alarm for 155 max for most of the first three laps, but ran through the beeping a few times in the second and third laps before I adjusted it to 160 at mile 12.5. After having to slow down several times on the 4th lap (which I believe caused the 30-40 second slower lap time) with beeping at 160, I upped it to 166 and ran comfortably until the end. A few gentle uphills required ~163 to keep my pace. In general I think once I've figure out a pace that will let me smoothly transition up to 166 by the end (Pfitz's 83% MHR max for long runs), it's best just to keep the pace and let the heart rate follow.

20 mile run comparison. These were nearly identical runs. The only difference is the recalibration of the foot pod which caused me to run a little further today. At the four lap mark, however, I was 3:21 faster than two weeks ago. After lap 4, I tacked on 1.5 miles today to make it 20 total. Two weeks ago, the watch said I only had 1.3 to go, but despite the extra distance, I was still about a minute and a half faster overall.The graph shows heart rate and EPOC, which stand for Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. It's supposed to describe your accumulated oxygen debt and measure how hard a workout was. I just think of it as a cumulative effort function based on time spent at a given heart rate. I was a little faster (~10 seconds per mile) at a slightly lower heart rate (154 verus 156 average) and EPOC.

My intuition tells me this is from improved running economy. I just seem to have found a groove for running faster after the intervals and the 10K. Running easier at a given pace is something like learning to juggle. I can juggle now, but I can't explain what I'm doing differently. I believe that Tim Noakes (author of Lore of Running) is right to emphasize the neuromuscular aspects of running. The brain's role is probably underappreciated since it isn't as easy to express as the oxygen consumption model (the more O2 you can utilize the faster you can go). We tend to use models in proportion to how well we understand them and often use them beyond their ability to explain observed phenomena.

Lake loop distance. I've become rather obsessed with how far it is around this lake. The conventional wisdom is that it is between 4.6 and 4.8 miles, which ought to be close enough, but not for me! Today the foot pod said between 4.60 and 4.68. STraM said between 4.57 and 4.62.

One thing that annoys me a great deal about the suunto t6 is that the distance on the watch at the end of your run doesn't agree with what STraM shows after you download it to your computer. I stopped the run when the watch read 20.01 miles. For both this 20-miler and the last one it showed 19.89 after downloading into STraM. It's half a percent difference, but damn it, I did 20!

I attempted to use my forerunner 201 as a cross check on distance. I abandoned it last fall since it frequently lost signal due to line of sight. Along the trail it was useless. I thought I'd give it another shot in the winter when the trees were bare. It didn't give its weak signal indication but the distances were poor. It showed 4.44, 4.31, 4.30, and 4.38 for the four laps plus 1.51 for the extra out and back, giving 18.94 total. I loaded the data into SportsTracks which lets you look at the routes overlayed on satellite imagery. You could see significant deviations from the path and short cuts (like across the lake). (Unfortunately, much of the path is too tree covered in the imagery to use http://gmap-pedometer.com or google earth to find the distance.)

It shouldn't bother me that much, but 45:13 per lap on average divided by 4.6 miles is a 9:49 min/mi pace. If it's 4.8 miles, that's 9:25 min/mi. It's a significant difference if your goal is to run a 4 hr marathon, which requires a 9:09 min/mi pace. The truth probably lies in between.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Neighborhood route, Suunto recalibration -- Recovery 4 miles

4 miles, high school and back, 39:38 (9:54 min/mi), avg 147

I ran the 1.25 miles to the high school, 5 laps around the track, ran back and tacked on a little extra per my newly calibrated footpod to make it 4 miles. Not really positive of the the total distance. Because of the calibration this ended up being 3 separate logs, but I just used start and stop clock times to the get total. I then subtracted the 1:40 I waited at a stop light. Heart rate is a weighted average (by time) of the three logs.

Today seemed harded than it should I think. My heart rate is also high for my pace. Jet lag is evil I think. The 15 mph wind I was running into on the way out and half the time around the track probably didn't help either.

The calibration on the foot pod has been off giving me too much credit, which I knew. The 1200 meters around the track was reported as 1229 (a 2.4% error). The new calibration factor is 1.053. The 3 laps took 6:57.4 which is a 9:19 min/mi pace and my average heart rate was 151 bpm. This is actually a decent heart rate for the pace, so I might be worried about nothing.

I investigated my "3 mile" neighborhood route a little further. http://gmap-pedometer.com calls it about 2.97. I thought it might be a hair longer since the web site doesn't include elevation and it's pretty hilly (although hills add less than you might think though). Anyway, I downloaded google earth which includes elevation in its calculation. It said 2.93 miles. A pretty significant difference from 3 miles (2.4%). Update: I re-checked with http://gmap-pedometer.com and got 2.94 miles.

Friday, February 17, 2006

General Aerobic 10 miles

Today's training: 10 miles, 3-mile neighborhood loop (snow is gone!), 1:35:10 (9:30 min/mi), avg 148 bpm.

Jet lagged after flying across the country, I ran shortly after I got home at about 6pm. I still had a very slight burning in my quads left from the 10K and a little of the "tired in the teeth" feeling from Wednesday's intervals, but after the first couple of miles, I warmed up and felt good.
I did the normal routine and set the max HR for 160 although I let myself go above it for short periods on some uphills (you can see my cheating on the graph). I figure it doesn't make that much difference and I just want to break the habit. The big downward spikes in heart rate correspond to walking down "knee break" hill.

I was having pain to the right of my left knee when on hills. I started walking some downhills and it got better. I still walk the steepest descent (it's ridiculously steep). Tonight was the first time in weeks though my knee acted up. I only noticed it when walking after the run. It was a little swollen and I put an ice pack on it.

Suunto distance was again off. The watch read 10.22 at the end. STraM then said 10.16 after downloading. I think the 3 mile loop is probably a few hundredths shy and I know the first "mile" mark I use is a little short (the second is a little long).

Tomorrow is a 4 mile recovery. I think I'll jog to the track and recalibrate the foot pod. Sunday is the last 20 miler. Don't want to screw this up. Hopefully all this short stuff the last two weeks hasn't made me soft.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

recovery + speed 5 miles w/ 6 x 100m strides

Today's training: 5 miles, 49:43 (9:56 min/mi), avg 136 bpm

Did this on a treadmill. First mile was at 5.5 mph and heart rate was in low 120s (~122). Next three plus miles were at 6 mph (10:00 min/mi) and heart rate slowly rose from ~132 to ~138. Did the 6 x 100m strides by ramping up the speed to 8.5 mph (7:03 min/mi) and running until .06 miles passed and then ramping down. Max heart rate was 169. My heart rate at a given pace appears to have dropped considerably since starting the Pfitz plan. I'd guess that my heart rate for 10 minutes miles would have been around 145 last fall.

Suunto distance was again well off. At 10 min miles it was saying 9:35-9:40. Total distance was 5.19 miles when treadmill was 5.00. I saw 6.49 instead of 6.2 after the 10K. This indicates it's giving me 4-5 percent too much credit. I really need to figure out just how long my long route is. Knowing what pace I've been doing my long runs at would help me pace myself for the marathon.

I'm concerned my marathon pace run wasn't at 9:01 min/mi. I believe it was definetly slower than that, but not slower than my goal pace of 9:09? I really don't think so. These 4 and 5 percent errors have me worried. I'll have to check the calibration again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rest yesterday, VO2max 10 miles w/ 4 x 1200m

Work precluded running yesterday. I probably needed the off day anyway.

Todays training: 10 miles w/ 1 x .5 mile and 3 x .75 miles, 1:34:20 (9:25 min/mi), 153 bpm avg

This was done on a treadmill. Started
  • I screwed up the first one. I set the treadmill at 8 mph (7:30 pace) and did 3 min 45 secs, which of course is the half mile I had stuck in my head from the last interval session.
  • On the second one, I again ran by time after ramping up to 8 mph. Trying to do math in my head while running at 5K race pace, I figured 5:52.5 was right. I watched my watch and stopped when I got near 6 minutes.
  • The last two I just used the distance on the machine! Again they were at 8 mph.
  • About 2 minutes between each "workbout"
  • I didn't really have any trouble although I had to suck it up for the last one. I didn't split into tenth miles like the track so here are the avg and finishing HRs for each interval along with time and what suunto called the pace (treadmill was 7:30 for all):
    • 171/177, 3:45.7, 7:23 min/mi
    • 177/183, 6:00.5, 7:20 min/mi
    • 181/185, 5:36.5, 7:24 min/mi
    • 183/186, 5:38.7, 7:20 min/mi
    I believe I'll do the 5 mile recovery w/ 6 x 100m strides tomorrow to make up for what I skipped on Tuesday and then I'll be back on track.

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    This week's s schedule -- long run 17 miles, make that 14 miles

    Today's training: 14 mile long run, icy neighborhood and a parking lot, 2:25:00 (10:21 min/mi), avg 145 bpm

    I could feel the tired in my teeth. After the interval training last week and after the 10K, I get this feeling for a few days that tells me I probably shouldn't be doing more than a recovery run. My chest feels tight and when I run, I don't really feel the exertion in the same way. I'm kind of numb.

    Anyway, it was very tough trying to run on icy streets and sidewalks. I picked my way around for hours and ran a lot of miles round and around in a school parking lot (~0.1 miles around) before I gave up at 14 miles. I didn't have the urge to stop. It was just late, my legs were sore, I was tired of picking around ice patches, and I didn't think I was getting a lot of benefit from it. Overall bad day. Too slow. Heart rate too low.

    This is the first run on the schedule I've cut short, so I'm not too happy about that. I told myself when I started the Pfitz schedule that I was marginally qualified and I'd cut back if needed. I can't ever imagine running 17 miles the day after a 10K. I looked at Bob Glover's Competitive Runner's Handbook and even in his advanced schedules he gives you a break from the long run on race weekends.

    • Monday. 17 mile long run. (delayed from Sunday and shortened to 14 miles)
    • Tuesday. Rest or try to still get Recovery + spd 5 mi w/ 6x100m strides? Is there anywhere I can do the strides?
    • Wednesday. Vo2max 10 mi w/ 4x1200 @ 5K -- usable track? Can I do this on a treadmill? I might just do the 10 miles and forget the intervals.
    • Thursday. Rest.
    • Friday. General aerobic 10 miles
    • Saturday. Recovery 4 miles
    • Sunday. Long run 20 miles. This is the absolute key run. Don't want to screw this up.

    Weight: 173

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

    aborted 17 miler = Rest

    Today's training: Rest

    10 hour car ride. a foot of snow at home. 1.6 miles before slipping and falling on my backside. Gave up to live and fight another day.

    Saturday, February 11, 2006

    heart rate, basic speed, breathing - 10K race

    Today's training: 10K race, 47:31 official (~47:21 watch), 177 bpm avg

    The race was relatively flat. A little hillier than the 11/02 5-miler I think but not much. Per suunto, total ascent was 112 feet and descent was 131.

    Here are the splits I have: 1-7:41.3 (avg 167 bpm), 2-7:37.6 (175), 3-7:41.5 (177), 4-7:45.2 (178), 5-7:38.5 (182), 6-forgot to hit lap, 6.2- est. 8:57 (7:27 min/mi, 183 bpm)

    The last time is estimated based on my eyeballing the finish line clock and subtracting 10 seconds, which I believe is the delta with my watch based on the mile splits they were calling. I forgot to hit stop on my watch at the finish!

    Heart rate, basic speed, and breathing. Notice that my heart rate is considerably lower than the 5-miler. I was around 190 after the first couple of miles in the 5-miler and averaged 186 for the race. Here I couldn't get my heart rate up today except in the near sprint in the last mile or so.

    Today, my breathing was 4-4 to start and I tried to force myself to run faster and get to 3-3 breathing after about a mile and a half, but I didn't really need it and I was kind of in between 4-4 and 3-3. Between mile 3 and 4 we hit the uphill portion and I started passing bunches of people. They were laboring, but I kept my pace easily up the hills. It really felt to me that I just couldn't figure out how make my legs go fast enough in a relaxed manner. After 4 miles I decided to push it and get myself to 2-2 breathing even if I wouldn't be going much faster. I went into a near sprint at about 5.5 miles, not thinking about the .2 miles after mile 6 (doh!). I couldn't quite catch the pack ahead of me in the last .2 miles and slowed a bit in the last 100 meters or so and 3 or 4 people passed me at the very end. Argh.

    Suunto distance. The suunto gave 6.49 for the total mileage. This makes me worry about my marathon pace run where the distance was based on the watch. On the other hand the watch was calibrated at a much slower pace and I believe the calibration factors generally go down with faster pace. The watch was miscalibrated during the 5-miler telling me I was slower than I was. Here it was telling me I was faster. I know the slow readings definitely had a motivating effect during the 5 miler. Did the opposite happen here to some degree?

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    Breathing - 4 mi Recovery + speed w/ 6 x 100m strides

    I think I've misunderstood the definitions of 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, etc. breathing rythms. In this post I refer to using 1-1 breathing during intervals, which is twice as fast as I breathe during regular runs. What I meant was one stride (two footfalls) while breathing in and two footfalls while breathing out. Reading other sites, it appears that 1-1 usually means that 1 footfall in and 1 footfall out. E.g., in with the left foot and out with the right foot. If this is the case, then I'm doing all my running with a 4-4 breathing pattern. I've at time tried to force myself to breathe in what I thought was a 3-3 pattern just to make sure I could do it and wasn't doing my long run too fast. I had trouble maintaining it for more than a couple of minutes. Because it was a 6-6 breathing pattern?!

    Today's training: 4 mi (w/ 6 x 100m strides), parents to elem school and back, 38:50 (9:45 min/mi), 141 bpm avg

    Lower legs (muscles to the outside of shins) were quite sore. I don't think I've recovered from Tuesday's intervals.

    This route is pretty flat and much flatter (110 ascent/105 descent) than my normal neighborhood route, which probably explains the lower heart rate. (These are read off my watch, not STRAM).
    • 2.53 miles prior to strides at 9:59 min/mi, avg 138
    • got in the 150's during strides (don't think I saw 160)
    • last 0.95 miles at 9:34 min/mi, avg 144

    A 10K tomorrow seems like it would be tough given my soreness and 17 miles the next day seems crazy.

    Thursday, February 09, 2006


    Well deserved rest. Since this I believe I was marginally qualified for the Pfitzinger up to 55mpw program, I've not tried to push it by doing anything other than rest on the "Rest or cross-train" days. Also, it's nice to have a day off.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    11 mile medium long run

    Training today: 11 mi MLR, 3 mi neighborhood loop, avg 147 bpm, 1:47:15 (9:45 min/mi)

    This seems like most of the MLR days I've run after a hard workout (tempo or interval). I felt very tired, but ran a faster pace at a low heart rate. I feel like I'm crawling along but I look at my pace and I'm faster than I think.

    The 9:45 min/mi is somewhat deceptive because I believe my 3 mile neighborhood is relatively hilly. (Everybody has an excuse, right?) For the 11 miles today, my suunto, which gives barometric altitude, says 623 feet of ascent and 630 descent (start and stop at same point). By the way, I never set sea level, so the altitudes aren't correct in absolute terms. I'm pretty sure we're lower than that.

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    VO2max 8 mi w/ 5 x 600m @ 5K pace

    Today's training: 8.2 miles w/ 5 x 0.5 mi @ 5K pace, 1:17:30, avg 152 bpm
    first, notice I forgot it was 600m and shot for 800m which is how I got .5 miles. Argh.

    "Perfect, lung-searing intervals." This is a phrase I read in a running book somewhere and an ideal that someday I hope to attain. Today was not that day. My heart rate didn't get anywhere near the 95-98 %MaxHR I believe 5K race pace is supposed to be. On the other hand, I ran some of these at a pace I'm sure I felt couldn't sustain for 5K. What's normal for intervals?

    The elementary school track where I ran is one-tenth mile and made of crushed gravel track. It was designed by the architects who build the high school tracks and I'm assured it's a tenth of a mile. I've also double-checked it. On another day I jogged to the high school's 400m track and calibrated my suunto foot pod. I then jogged back and ran around the elementary school track at the same pace. It was dead on. The tenths ticked over within a stride or so of the same spot each lap.

    It was cold out this morning and I was a little stiff from Sunday's 20-miler, so I started slow for the first few miles. I picked the pace up just a little in the mile and a half before I reached the track for the intervals thinking that maybe I wasn't warm enough on my last intervals session, during which I only managed to run at about the same pace as last fall's 5-miler, but my average heart rate on the last lap of the last interval was 178, which is lower than the 186 I averaged for the whole 5-miler. During those intervals I had a hard time finding a gear any fast than that pace even though I wasn't really out of breath.

    Today I tried to push myself to do them a little faster. I probably started out a little too fast since I felt like I couldn't run relaxed at that pace and couldn't imagine running a 5K like that. Here are my splits. Each one is .1 miles, so 45 seconds equals 7:30, which is my predicted 5K pace based on the 5-miler. Each .1 seconds translates to 0:01 min/ mi. Below are the interval data -- lap seconds (avg heart rate in bpm).
    • 41.8 (156), 41.6 (173), 41.8 (179), 42.3 (180), 42.6 (181)
    • 40.0 (164), 42.3 (178), 42.4 (181), 42.5 (182), 42.6 (183)
    • 41.7 (165), 43.5 (177) , 44.5 (180) , 43.5 (180), 44 (181)
    • 42.6 (164), 43.7 (177), 43.9 (180), 44.4 (180), 44.2 (181)
    • 43.1 (169), 43.6 (178), 43.7 (181), 43.9 (182), 44.2 (182)
    • The paces for each of the sets are 7:00, 6:57, 7:14, 7:18, and 7:17 min/mi.
    After the second set, I decided I was running them too fast and just concentrated on 1-1 breathing (breath in on one stride -- two steps -- and breath out on next stride) and running relaxed. I felt like I could realistically run that pace for 5K. I was supposed to jog 90 secs in between each set, but looking back it was more like 2-2.5 minutes. Oops.

    I'm wondering if I can figure out anything about how I'm doing relative to my 5-mile race based on these interval paces and heart rates?

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    Nutrition, This week's schedule - Rest

    Nutrition. What should I be consuming during my runs, particularly my long runs? What should I consume during the marathon? Should I carbo-load the week before the marathon and if so, how? What should I be eating day-to-day? Lots of unanswered questions here.

    Last time around, I drank a lot of powerade and a fair number of gels. For a 20-miler, I might have had 60 oz of Powerade and 2 (or 3?) Clif Shots. I felt like I had a lot of stuff sloshing around in my stomach though and there's no way I could make use of the carbohydrates at the rate I was consuming them.

    Not having put that much though into the whole thing except reading this article at McMillanrunning.com, I went to the opposite extreme this time. I've just been drinking water (probably 20 oz in 20 miles) and have had no gels until recently. The theory is that not having carbohydrates during training would somehow stimulate me to use a higher percentage of fat and draw down glycogen in the muscles more, stimulating me to store more. Right after a long run, I'll have a Clif Bar while I'm stretching. Then after I'm home, I'll have a spectular amount of pancakes and eggs. I started this maybe four or five weeks ago after reading this article.

    Now, I said no gels "until recently." When I reached my 18 mile run two weeks ago, I slowed considerably in the last 4-5 miles (about 1:00 min/mi slower). I interpreted this (perhaps wrongly) as slowing because of glycogen depletion. Anyway, I wasn't sure whether this was good because I was forced to burn more fat and stimulate that mechansim or bad because I was hampering recovery, and reinforcing poor form. Whatever the answer, I knew it was bad for my psyche. In my 15 mile run with 12 at marathon pace, I took a gel at mile 9 without guilt because I knew the purpose of this was sustaining marathon pace. In the 20 mile run, I took a gel at mile 14 when I felt a little lightheaded.

    I haven't done enough research in this area to know the answer of whether carbohydrates during training are good or bad. I'm not sure anybody has. I've only got two long runs left and I'll probably just have a gel at mile 14. I'm debating whether or not to drink gatorade just to make sure I can tolerate it.

    During the marathon, the plan is gatorade and gels all the way. Not sure how many gels though.

    Carbo-loading? I'm inclined just keep this simple and follow this advice of the great Ted Poulos: eat a big pasta dinner Friday night and drink enough water on Friday and Saturday to make my teeth swim. The guy has run over 3000 races. If experience counts for anything...

    Everyday nutrtion is something I plan to work on after the marathon. I'm really terrible about this. I don't eat breakfast and I eat whatever is quick for lunch (which is often a slice of pizza). I'm down from 187 a year ago when I started running to 172 this morning. I'm 5' 10'' (OK 5' 9 3/4'') and have a fairly small frame. I have plenty around the middle to lose. I could lose 20 lbs before hitting the metropolitan life table weights. Couldn't hurt not to carry around 20 extra pounds.

    This week's schedule
    • Monday. Rest
    • Tuesday. VO2Max 8 mi w/ 5 x 600m @ 5K race pace
    • Wednesday. Medium long run 11 mi
    • Thursday. Rest
    • Friday. Recovery + speed 4 mi w/ 6 x 100m strides
    • Saturday. 10K tune-up race
    • Sunday. Long run 17 mi
    By the way, 17 miles the day after a 10K does make me question Pfitzinger's sanity. Guess we'll see.

    Weight: 172 (as a convention, I'll try to record my weight Monday mornings)
    Today's training: Rest

    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    Marathon, long run heart rate zone - 20 mile long run

    Today's training: 20 mile long run, lake trail loop, 3:17:01, 156 bpm avg

    Great run! The shuffle played Wilson Pickett, Bob Dylan, and Bob Seger. At the end, Bob Seger was singing, "I'm older now, but still running... against the wind." Outstanding. Only complaints were the post-run Clif Bar (peanut crunchy something -- no more peanut Clif Bars for me thank you) and some nipple bleeding. Body glide didn't do the trick. Back to vaseline?

    The best part of the run was that I maintained my speed throughout and didn't slow down or have any urge to stop. I changed my heart rate game plan slightly from normal. A lap around the lake is about 4.7 miles (depending on who you ask). Usually I give myself a 155 bpm max on the first lap, 160 for the middle laps, and 166 for the last four or five miles. I've had the "problem" lately that I seem to be much more comfortable running at higher heart rates these days and I felt I needed keep that in check. My guess is that it's the training (I swear the lactate threshold runs are magic), but the slightly warmer weather is probably a factors as well. Anyway, I restricted myself to 155 for the first two laps, 160 for the next, and at mile 16 (on the third lap), I gave myself 166 bpm max. This worked really well. I might have gone to 166 at mile 15, but that's splitting hairs. Lap times were: 46:19, 46:23, 45:24, and 46:06.

    Marathon pace heart rate. I'm still puzzled about what heart rate I'll run the marathon at and whether I should watch my heart rate at all. When I was on vacation last week, I did my 15 mile with 12 miles at marathon pace run. I used my foot pod for speed and shot for 9 minutes miles. (I'm hoping to run a 4 hour marathon, which is 9:09 min/mi.) I ended up running them at 9:01 min/mi. (It looked a tad faster on the watch, but for some reason the distance is always about a tenth shorter in the computer program?) The heart rates were pretty low though. They split averaged range from 159 to 163 bpm at the end. The course was very flat there compared to my normal long run on the lake trail. Should I have run them faster? Anyway, the psychological boost of running my marathon goal pace at what I believe is a sustainable heart rate was a shot in the arm.

    I still don't know what heart rate at which you should run a marathon. I read somewhere that people run marathons at 80-89 %Max HR with elites at the 89% end and dorks like me in the low end. I'm guessing the difference is where your lactate threshold is. I have this book called Lactate Threshold Training by Peter Janssen that puts marathon pace at 94% of lactate threshold pace. Maybe I could just figure that out with one of the tests like staircase intervals or Conconi. This article also has some presciption on using heart rate for marathon pacing that matches pretty well with my marathon pace run.

    The plan right now is just to run 9 min/mi, which it seems I can do and should give me my 4-hour marathon on a flat course (if I don't hit the dreaded wall). I have a tune-up 10K next weekend. If I have some kind of breakthrough maybe I'll reevaluate.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Marathon training rationale - 5 mile recovery run

    I like to learn and find that writing down what I think I've learned is the quickest way to figure out that I really didn't know what I was talking about. If I write it down and it still looks right, then I figure it probably is. If I put it in a blog, maybe someone will check my work. Maybe they'll even point me in the right direction. OK, I'm blogging. Here we go.

    I'm interested in a ridiculous number of things, but I'll start with running. I took up running consistently a little over a year ago (my 2005 New Year's resolution). I started running to get in better shape, but like everything with me, it has become an intellectual exercise -- one of many learning projects. With running, however, I'm the guinea pig in the experiment. In this post, I'm basically rationalizing my plan for marathon redemption. I'll see if it still makes sense after I write it down.

    Marathon redemption? I ran my first marathon last fall, and while I finished, I was disappointed in my time (4:50) since I believe it is less than I was capable of. I haven't run that many races, but here are my times.
    • 10 miles, 1:24:49, 4/05
    • 20 miles, 3:06:05, 9/05
    • marathon, 4:49:21, 10/05
    • 10K, 50:13, 11/05
    • 5 miles, 38:39, 11/05
    Based on my previous race times, I'd have expected something in the 4:10 - 4:15 range. This is conservative, allowing for greater than normal fall off with distance. The popular McMillan running calculator predicts a 3:57:33 given my 10 mile pace, which I ran after having run for only four months. The 20-mile time would predict 4:07:50, but I didn't run that all out because I was training for the marathon. (I layed back the first half and ran the second half 5 minutes faster.) Even assuming the 20-mile time was the best I could do and the falloff with distance would get worse with the marathon that still only gets me to maybe 4:10 - 4:15. 4:50 is hard to understand.

    So what actually happened in the marathon? Did I start out too fast and crash? I don't think so. I started slow and got slower. Then I hit the wall. Here are the splits: 2-21:51.20 (missed mile 1 marker), 3-9:54.06, 4-9:39.76, 5-10:14.78, 6-10:01.25, 7-10:47.81, 8-10:14.15, 9-10:00.25, 10-10:15.26, 12-20:02.24 (missed mile 11 marker), 13-10:16.00, 14-9:45.00, 15-10:39.31, 16-10:08.00, 17-10:25.94, 18-11:45.24, 19-11:02.27, 20-12:09.24, 21-12:24.95, 22-12:47.96, 23-13:19.97, 24-13:29.84, 25-13:50.03, 26-11.29:07, 26.2-2:54.13

    I could tell my heart rate was high early on and running was harder than normal from the beginning (in the 20-miler I felt like I was coasting). I slowed down and tried to run at my training pace (what you're supposed to do for your first marathon anyway). That lasted until mile 17 when I succumbed to the urge to stop and started mixing in walk breaks.

    What went wrong? Some theories:
    • I don't think I was feeling well. The day before I felt like I was sick and on my 3 mile jog, I had a heart rate was higher than expected. I attributed it to nerves, but maybe I was under the weather.
    • I have to say that I quit to some extent after I realized I wasn't going to get a time near what I expected. I probably could have gutted out the last 9 miles better and saved maybe 10 minutes.
    • I might have undertrained after the 20-miler (5 weeks prior to the race). I started wearing a heart rate monitor (didn't wear it during the race though) and doing all my runs at an easy pace after that. (This theory, however, is somewhat contradicted by the 10K and 5-miler I ran during the next month which are my best times. I didn't do any extra training for them, since I was recovering and running low, easy mileage.)
    • I screwed up my last 20 mile training run (3 weeks prior). I ran the day after returning from a west coast trip (jet lagged) in an absolute downpour on a puddle-filled trail. My shoes literally weighed 3 pounds and it took 4 hours and 14 minutes as I also tried to keep my heart rate low. In retrospect I should have bagged it early on and ran the next day.
    • My training schedule really wasn't enough to do more than get me through. I did the Bob Glover "casual marathoner" schedule (which peaks at 40 miles and has long runs every other week) and did all my miles at an easy pace. From that I probably couldn't expect to do much more than get through the marathon. To be clear, I think Coach Glover is absolutely fantastic, his Runner's Handbook is great for new runners, and following his program is probably what kept me injury free. I probably just shouldn't have had any time expectation.
    • My nutrition was poor. I ate too much junk the last week especially. Carbo-loading shouldn't mean candy and soda.
    The plan for redemption started with signing up for a March marathon and a lot of reading. I checked a number of books out of the library, read them, and found what seemed to be sound, scientifically-supported advice. Jack Daniels, Pete Pfitzinger, and Tim Noakes seemed to all be saying basically the same thing and offered evidence to back it up.

    I decided to use Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning because it has explicit schedules. Since my time was somewhat short until my chosen marathon, I chose the 12-week, less than 55mpw program. I followed his 5 week recovery schedule after the previously mentioned disaster marathon, held at 35mpw for a few weeks, and then started the 12 week schedule.

    In my thirst for data, I bought a Suunto T6 heart rate monitor (HRM) that will let you store the data and download it to your computer. I also got the foot pod thingy for measuring distance. I wore it during the 5-miler and sprinted to the finish in order to try and ascertain my maximum heart rate. I started sprinting too late, however, (wasn't sure exactly where the finish line) and as you can see in this graph, my heart rate looks like it was still on the way up at 199 bpm when I crossed the finish line. I've been calling it 200 bpm to be conservative and make the math easy. I'd guess my real max is a little higher.

    I've been using 50 bpm as my minimum heart rate. This is based on wearing the HRM while sitting in front of the computer and relaxing until I saw 49 bpm. I haven't really tried to check it when first waking up, so chances are it's a little lower, but I've been basing my effort on % max heart rate, so minimum heart rate doesn't really matter. This wikipedia article explains the heart rate terms.

    Pfitzinger prescribes the following heart rates for the various workouts:
    • VO2max: 94-98 %MHR, 93-98 %HRR
    • Lactate Threshold: 80-90 %MHR, 76-88 %HRR
    • Long runs: 73-83 %MHR, 65-78 %HRR
    • Recovery: <75%
    For recovery runs, I set my HRM alarm to 150 bpm and follow it religiously. For long runs, which I do on Sundays, I set it to 155 for the first 5 or so miles and then set it to 160 bpm. I'll let it go to 166 bpm after 15 miles if I need to (which I always do) to keep pace. Initially I just set it to 160 from the beginning, but decided after I wasn't fully recovered for a Tuesday run that I would limit myself to 155 at the beginning, since it's possible to go to hard before you warm up otherwise. This seems to have worked well.

    Pfitz also has general aerobic and medium long runs (MLR) in his schedule, which are really just shorter long runs. It has to be 17 or more for Pfitz to call it a long run. (For some reason I find using "medium long" to describe a 16 mile run a little insulting. Why am I OK with a 15 miler being "medium long?") For GA and MLR, I just set the alarm to 160.

    I've tried doing the lactate threshold and VO2max (the single one I've done) by pace using my 5-mile run time and the McMillan calculator to find my 15K-Half Marathon and 5K paces. My route is very hilly though, so I've modified the lactate threshold pace some and kept an eye on the HRM. For the one 5K pace VO2max session I've done, I couldn't make myself go fast enough to either get into the heart rate zone or hit my predicted 5K pace. I ran about my 5 mile pace. I think my body just hasn't figured out how to go that fast yet.

    The race is 5 weeks from tomorrow when I do my first 20 mile run of the schedule.

    Today's training: 5 mi recovery on 3 mi neighborhood loop, 49:14, 144 bpm avg