Thursday, June 23, 2011

Something, Something, Something, Something...Evidence!

WARNING: The following post comtains MATH! If these excerpts bore you, simply imagine the teacher from "Peanuts" is talking and move on. It gets better. I promise!

I am starting to understand the math behind running. Before I started playing golf, I was amazed when a friend instantly knew the par for a course after someone told him how many par 3s and 5s there were. Now that I have played some golf, I know that many courses are par 72 with 6 each par 3s, 4s, and 5s. 4x18=72 so as long as the 3s and 5s are equal you get 72. If there are more threes it is less than 72 etc.

Now I am starting to get that same mathematical sense about running. I was supposed to do 5x1000 repeats at a 7:28 pace this week. I figured the best way to do that (besides my uncanny inner running clock) would be to time 200m splits. So 7:28 is 32 sec under 8:00 so each lap would be 8 sec under 2 min and every 200 needed to be 4 sec under one. So my splits needed to be something:56, something:52, something:48, something:44, and something:40. Conveniently that got me to 4:40 per 1000 which is exactly what my little chart said as well. Not to mention that, even at that pace I could count backwards by 4s. There is a lot of math I CAN'T do wile I run (so I have learned) so this little bit of elementary school subtraction was just enough mental stimulation to keep me from realizing I was running more than 2.5 min per mile faster than my first 5k and only 10 sec per mile slower than my 5k PR pace.

Now all of this is evidence that that I am learning new math (the running variety) AND getting faster. My track work is paying off big time. I still don't think I have "unleashed the beast" within, but I have turned a corner for sure. What started out as some tinkering with form and desire to run faster has turned into an obsession with speed, "the plan" (I like to stick to the plan), and the science of running faster.

Now, being a running nerd in search of running ubernerd status, I know enough not to say that everyone should try to change their form. Hoverer, I do believe that everyone CAN improve their form. To use another golf analogy (and I promise this one won't be so boring), everyone tinkers a little bit wih their swing. By "tinker" I mean things like, "put a little more weight on the inside of your right foot" or "keep your right elbow in". These "swing thoughts" can help immensely (at least for a few shots until the beers and/or bloody maries start kicking in).

Running is no different. I have "stride thoughts" like "lean forward from the ankles up", "head steady", "wide shoulders/arms parallel", "knees up", "don't reach", "faster tempo", "more effort/push", "feet behind you", "smooth", "you're the f#cking man" get the picture. Now of course I don't think all these things at once. In the same way that that many thoughts would result in a recipe for disaster in golf, trying to do all of those things at the same time would guarantee that you would do none of them.

So based on my entirely unscientific sample size of one, I have proven that you can improve your form and in the process run faster easier.

For anyone who has stuck with me this long, you are probably wondring about the title of this post. If not, you recognized it from "Weeds" inthe episode where Uncle Andy joins the Army and his buddy gets hit in the chest with some kind of missile/drone shortly after they record each other lighting their farts on fire with their Army-issue cell phone/missile target.

The end.

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 Race Into Summer 5k

Saturday was a unseasonably cool morning for even early June in Florida. It was also the date of the local running club's annual fundraiser 5k. This was a target race for me. I did 1.5 rounds of Furman FIRST 5k training before I realized I needed to start training for my half marathon before this race would arrive. Going into the race I actually felt like the longer distance workouts would help me maintain pace and hopefully not bonk. I started out at a quick but (somewhat) relaxed pace and settled in behind the front pack but also kept some distance ahead of the next bunch.

The course was an out-and-back (a first for me since all of my prior races had been loops). It started at mile 0 on a paved trail that was marked every 0.5 miles. This meant that I had some pretty good pacing cues. Apparently I wasn't as relaxed as I thought because the volunteer at the 1 mile mark called out "6:45" just before I crossed. My actual time was probably closer to 6:50 which is still a personal best mile split by about 5 seconds.

So I took my foot off the gas a bit and hit the turnaround point at 10:52 and suddenly had hopes (although not overly rational ones) of finishing under 22:00. However, by 2.5 miles that opening 6:45 split came back to haunt me with a resounding "BONK!". I crossed the finish line at 22:37 - a personal record by over a minute from less than 2 months before.

I learned a few good lessons during this race:

  1. I start too fast. I did the same thing on my last race. I backed off more quickly that time since I had a GPS squawking at me, but this time I went by feel for the whole first mile. I guess it needs to feel slow.

  2. Training at longer distances helps. While I was doing training designed for 5k distance, only my long and tempo runs were over 3 miles. Now even my speed work is hitting 4-5 miles. This means I am pushing myself harder longer so keeping up the pace for 3.1 is easier.

  3. Changing my form has helped. I almost completely eliminated my heel striking and concentrated on cadence and body lean as my primary form thoughts for this race. I think I still have some conditioning to do on my upper legs to get used to this form, but it is clearly easier to run faster longer.

  4. At my current level, I was able to get huge gains based almost entirely on effort. While I did train hard for 2 months between these 2 races, I'm not convinced I am really over 20 sec per mile faster. Maybe 10-15. Maybe as little as 5. I don't know if I left anything on the table for this race so 22:00 will be the result of training. However 23:00 was as much guts as conditioning.

Overall it was a great, fun race. Seeing the leaders run past me in the opposite direction was new and interesting. The most satisfying part was running to my full (speed) potential for the first time in my running "career".

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Running Prowess?

So, this might be the most ridiculous thing to do, or maybe it is normal. It occurred to me that I don't have an official record of my official race times. Now I will.

DateRaceDistanceBib #AgeOverallGenderDivChip TimeGun TimePace
2/28/2009RBC SOAR to the Finish5k9053537 (of 109)8 (of 16)31:33.931:33.910:11
9/25/2010Miracle Miles15k71437759 (of 1716)454 of (749)67 (of 109)1:32:581:34:499:58.5
1/9/2011Walt Disney World Marathon26.2 mi12462374098 (of 13551)2892 (of 7273)573 (of 1305)4:27:354:46:2510:12.8
4/14/2011Corporate 5k5k23:457:38
6/11/2011ORC Race Into Summer 5k5k963725 (of 191)18 (of 95)6 [30-39]22:377:18
8/13/2011Florida Fallen Heroes 5k5k743743 (of 232)36 (of 123)3 (of 8)24:44.737:59
10/1/2011Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon13.1 mi242038952 (of 8254)641 (of 3041)129 (of 576)1:58:392:04:469:03
6/9/2012ORC Race Into Summer 5k5k723871 (of 232)6 (of 12)26:1326:138:26
9/22/2012Miracle Miles 15k15k111339622 (of 1679)391 (of 759)601:27:381:28:109:25
11/10/2012Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon13.1 mi73739838 (of 11,599)554 (of 3,933)109 (of 709)1:55:401:56:308:49
1/12/2013Disney Half Marathon13.1 mi42032391241 (of 23,126)977 (of 9,998)179 (of 1608)1:50:501:52:098:27
9/21/2013Miracle Miles 15k9.3 mi22140192 (of 1,761)139 (of 707)24 (of 103)1:15:031:15:138:03
10/27/2013Marine Corps Marathon26.2 mi16843402492 (of 23,526)1974 (of 13,537)327 (of 1,761)3:42:133:47:328:28
11/10/2013Baldwin Park Half Marathon13.1 mi1874037 (of 315)6 (of 31)1:43:107:52
11/27/2014Tallahassee Turkey Trot5kBib41818 (of 3865)30:1731:029:45
2/28/2015Best Damn Race Half Marathon13.1 mi252141154 (of 1000)98 (of 383)17 (of 57)1:52:39.61:52:50.68:37
3/5/2015Purple Pride 5k5kBib4175622:437:18
4/17/2016Disney Dark Side Half Marathon13.1 mi75242338289541:45:011:49:168:00