Friday, December 5, 2008

Knock Knock!

Not at all running related. But funny.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Criminally Fit

Ever think you could get arrested for exercising? Well, that's what happened to Kieran Clark. He has been exercising regularly in the same spot for the last 25 years but recently police arrested him.

The world is getting crowded. Some of the most beautiful views in the country are privately owned. In Santa Monica, the Fourth Street median is very much like any other boulevard. It is public property. Unlike all property it is located in a posh neighborhood with breathtaking views of the beach and ocean. As a result, many people come to this spot to enjoy themselves. The neighborhood residents, in an attempt to address the noise, garbage, and crowds fought to pass ordinances prohibiting people from squatting in front lawns. The law was also origionally intended to keep homeless people from camping out in the boulevard. Recently, police have began to heavily patrol this area. In fact, a police vehicle now sits in the area all day. Watch the video and decide yourself if this is a case of the law run amok or a good example of zoning to control a crowded space. I believe in private property but also realize that ownership of certain assets carries a special responsibility to society in large. This responsibility goes beyond the letter of the law and strikes at basic human decency. This responsibility cannot be legistlated it is completely up to me. If I am a stickler for seclusion, I wouldn't buy a property in a high traffic area to begin with. This is controversial because it pits the individual rights of people against the public. Enjoy and comment. Happy Thanksgiving!

Why Lying Is Better Than Viagra

Some friends will stop at nothing to garner the slightest edge. But now they are taking things to the next level. I am reading in the New York Times about how Viagra will improve my running times?? On reflection it makes sense. After all, it is a male PERFORMANCE enhancer.  I mean you don't think aspirin knows to work only on your headaches do you? Of course not. The drug effects all systems and the head, er or your other appendages in the case of Viagra are merely where we first notice the effects.

This gets me to thinking (I am a bit paranoid)....Hmmmmm. Many of my friends are getting to the age where they can feign a "legitimate" use for this stuff. Plus, last time I checked, there were no blood tests of the age group winners at the Morton 5k. Believe me. The BWS (AKA Bastard Jag Bag) will do anything to beat me in a race (you should hear the voice mail he just left me). The next time I am running with the pack, I am going to be very careful. If I feel anything resembling the pointed tip of the spear, I am pulling over! I noticed even Schroffy is wearing those loose fitting shorts and big droopy t-shirts. Coincidence????

Now, before you go grindin your blue smurf tablets up in your Endurox, here is my advice to you jags. If you are going to cheat or lie, go big! Swallowing a blue pill just to be faster than Schroff is thinkin small. What do you gain? I say, why EVEN pace your next 5k and pick up a second when you could have sprinted off the line and gone for 5 minutes! Trust me, YOU WANT TO WIN BIG! You NEED the satisfaction of knowing you put it ALL on the line! JAGS, JAGS, JAGS...I'm not talking about drugs, I am talking about lying! And not just one of those little white ones either. I say GO LONG MEN!

So, your goin in for a penny GO IN FOR A POUND!  Are your tired of not getting enough time to train? Is your wife always coming up with useless stuff to do?  Just tell her you have lymphoma!?!***

I figure it will take her a month before she catches on to the fact you are not really sick. Think about it! That's 30 days of not having to watch the kids, take the trash out or do any laundry!

[IMAGINATION: Scene 1, Rob Lies about Having Cancer]

Rob:  "Honey, I just found out I have Cancer.  Lymphoma.  Most likely I'll be dead in a year."
Shev: "Poor baby, can I take the kids for a few hours so you can get another run in? "
Rob: "But what about you honey? Don't you need to train too?"

Shev: "Don't sweat it hon. I am a survivor just like you. As long as your still here with us and healthy, I don't really need to exercise. You just go. Later, after I fix you dinner, let's have sex again. We really need to make the most of these moments while your still healthy." (eyes fawn, and she grins)  
Rob: "Sure Babe" (yawn)

Shev: "What's wrong honey?"
gazing into her eyes lovingly...
Rob: "I noticed your eyes are a bit uneven, and by your eyes I mean your breasts."

I swat her butt and jog out the door.... 

[IMAGINATION: End of scene 1]

Disclaimer: Despite her claims of my continued effort to drive her out of her "goddamn mind" and turn her every waking hour into some kind of living nightmare my wife admitted (under duress) she still loves me! 

Awww, now ain't that cute :-)!

*** I don't have the guts to actually try this experiment because my wife can bench press over 175 lbs and I've seen her mad.  For the time being, it's  just a thought experiment but I am hoping one of you might try it let me know how it goes IRL.

Ford Re-Introduces the Model T Line That Made It Great

DEARBORN, MI—Still reeling from a $12.6 billion loss last year and a steadily declining customer base, the Ford Motor Company announced plans Monday to invest its entire third- and fourth-quarter manufacturing and advertising budgets into reintroducing the Model T, one of history's best known and most innovative car models.

While Mulally admits that the initial cost of producing the so-called "Tin Lizzies" will be an enormous investment, the company will save millions of dollars by paying workers on the man-powered assembly lines—once considered a revolutionary breakthrough—wages at 1911 rates. Working in back-to-back 10-hour shifts, employees should be capable of producing 20 to 25 units per week, meaning the 32,000 Model Ts that Mulally believes will lift the company out of near bankruptcy will be on the road within six years.

Regaining Historic Market Share

Source: The Onion

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Real Life Pac Man

Ok. This is really immature but then again, so am I. If you grew up playing Pac Man you will immediately get this.....I couldn't stop laughing. Wish I'd thought of it first.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Here Today, Here Tomorrow.

On my way into the office I notice a billboard for my hometown bank that read "Commerce Bank. Here today. Here Tomorrow." While it is certainly an achievable level of service that won't create unrealistic customer expectations don't, you agree it's kinda lame? I mean, another way to read this is "We promise not to go out of business and close our doors." Is it possible for my bank to offer less service? How about, "Commerce. We Don't Do Anything but we are open every day."

I am pondering this all after dropping the kids off. I pull in and fill up my tank with really cheap gas (one upside of economic recession). I get back in the car and the darn thing will not start! Cripes! Anyway, I call the dealer who happens to be caticorner (wtf is caticorner?) to the gas station. Not 2 minutes later a van pulls up, jump starts my car and I drive to the dealer. THey immediately drop what they are doing and put a new battery in. 20 minutes tops and a free coffee later I am back on the road to ruin! I turned them down but they even offered a free wash! THAT IS SERVICE (although, this story really doesn't work on a billboard)!!!!!


Now here's the kind of signage that makes me want to pull in and check it out!

I will say that Commerce is a fine bank and my family business has had accounts for many years but I have to give em a hard time about this one.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Same Old Crap

A lot of people are saying that the guitar work on Sympathy for the Devil, off The Runs' latest CD (Same Old Crap), is "the best jamming [they've] heard since early Angus Young," or "on par with Neil Young makin' it scream live on 'Down by the River'" or "simply cannot be played loud enough or often enough." But that's just most people.

-- Anonymous (ok, maybe not)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

See Surfwise!

Jon Poskowitz from MarieLynn on Vimeo.

This is not running related but check out satarist Stephen Colbert's interview of former world long board surfing champ Jon Paskowitz. After watching this interview I rented the documentary featured in this interview. The film is Surfwise. It centers around his family. His father is a medical doctor dedicated to treating the poor. Dr Paskowitz lived a very unusual life. He believed he was giving his family the most valuable and challenging education they could ever hope to receive by living on the beach (in a 14 ft rv camper) and surfing. I am guessing that not in a million years would my wife agree to any of this. She hates to even use the restroom at Denny's let alone live in a camper. It is facinating to see someone do something you'd never dare to do. Hey, I guess it works for them. Although unorthodox, they aren't any more neurotic than the rest of us.


Quote of the day.....

its looking like i may have to push to 6:15 departure time. i've got to take collin to theater at 6:00

i've got a headlamp and am not afraid to use it...

-- Mike Krause replying to my email

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ryan Ori's Thoughts on The New Garmin 405

I've been using the Garmin 405 for a few months. The first one they shipped repeatedly froze up, but Garmin mailed a new one and it works great. One of my regular running partners also has the 405, and we both agree it takes some time to get used to the touchiness of the bezel. If you accidentally wander into the wrong mode, it can be extremely confusing trying to navigate back to the correct screen. Once you get used to jumping around by light taps on the bezel, and once you learn to keep the watch in locked mode while running to prevent accidental taps, it seems a lot easier to use. One other minor complaint: the 405 seems like it needs to be recharged more often than the older models.

On the plus side: The new model seems to be remarkably accurate and consistent in computing distances. My old Garmin used to cut out in heavily wooded areas, around taller buildings, etc., but the 405 does a much better job of holding a GPS signal. The 405 isn't as bulky. It looks and feels more like a regular watch. If you're big on lots of bells and whistles, like downloading workouts or loading course maps into your watch before a race, the 405 offers plenty of toys.

I would recommend getting the watch and playing around with it before using it in a race. Once you're comfortable with it, you'll really like it.


Ryan lives and runs in with the Illinois Valley Striders in Peoria Il. He writes for the Journal Star to support his running addiction.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Use Hills To Your Advantage! (alternate title: How to be Eff'n Faster Than Schroff)

-- By Adam White

Simply stated, hill training is imperative to the success of any runner. I don’t care if you are shooting for the Olympic 5k finals or trying to break four hours in the marathon, at some point, getting faster will require more strength. One of the purest and most direct tools in developing “running strength” can only be gained by hill training. Now stating that, I don’t want to get into some hair-splitting argument about the exception to the rule, for in everything, especially running where anomalies are ever-present, there is a case to prove or disprove anyone’s point. I will agree there are some people who have achieved great successes without doing much hill training. There are also some individuals whose body simply doesn’t respond well to hill training for a variety of issues. Consequently, that person has to keep hills out of a training program. Nonetheless, my argument would still be the same, how fast could they have been if they had run hills?

I want to clarify the phrase “running strength.” I regard running strength as a fusion of the psyche and body within the act of running. If you want to get faster, you have to get stronger - both physically and mentally. Neither of these two happens by accident. Getting stronger in these two arenas requires one to push his/her body into areas that cause the senses to be bombarded by a variety of different degrees of discomfort. Invariably, pain is guaranteed to clash with your senses. As a result, you must train you body and mind to respond to this physical pain and psychological anguish. One might think that I’m being overly dramatic. Admittingly, my enjoyment of running has sadistic and masochistic roots, but I don’t think that I’m overstating anything when I say that running uphill ‘effin hurts!! Granted, it’s also rewarding as all get up to persevere through a quality hill session. However, the thoughts that go through most people’s heads ¾ of the way up a hill is usually, “Holy S*@#! I think that I need to slow the down!! I might ’effin die!” Being able to overcome these intense feelings and thoughts takes practice. Thus practicing running uphill aggressively in a variety of different applications is necessary. This builds strength, true running strength.

It’s probably a good time to re-state that which goes without saying: when running hills, good form is more important than pace. Proper form when running hills is making sure that your both is properly positioned against the incline of the hill. If you are asking yourself, “What does this mean, and how would I know how to find this position?” This position can be found by imagining a rope coming from the center of your skull pulling your body straight upward toward the sky. This position should place your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles in a straight line with one another exactly against the percentage of incline. Consequently, when ascending extreme grades, the ground in front of you just might be within reach!! Now that we have our shoulder-hip-knee alignment established we can focus on the leg and arm mechanics.

Strong arm and knee drive are critical to strong hill running. The arm drive helps lift the knees. So, if you can’t lift your arms then your knee drive will slow. If you knee drive slows then so to will your pace – rapidly!! When you lift your knees make sure that your foot is properly dorsiflexed and coming down with as close to a mid-foot strike as possible. If you are over-striking your heel then your body’s momentum is being broken when trying to ascend. By the same token, if you are prancing too much on your toes then you are putting more stress on your calves than necessary. This can lead to prematurely “deadening” your legs in the workout or race. Remember, properly running hills is supposed to hurt! I would far rather have an athlete be walk-running up a hill but with perfect form than seeing someone flailing through a workout. Compromising form quality in a hill workout will drastically diminish the quality of results of that workout.

Since racing is an application of training, let’s start with hill training. What is the best way to do hill training? The answer to this question is not a simply one, for there are many different applications of training on hills depending on what part of the engine you are trying to work. Traditional “hill repeats” are commonly found in successful training programs. These repeats refer to finding a hill that is 200m to ½ mile in length and doing a number of repeats at a certain pace with a specified recovery. However, hill training should be more than just doing a few hill “repeats” every couple weeks. Some type of “hill” discipline must be happening far more frequently.

As an athlete who still enjoys competing and one who has a small bit of experiencing, I think there are two other hill workouts that need to be worked on regularly. The first is a workout that consists of taking a particularly hill route and establish a time for the run…say 70 minutes. Give yourself a set warm up and cool down time (10 minutes) and you’re off! Now after your warm up, every time you come to the bottom of a hill you need to pick up the pace for a period of time (usually 2-3 minutes). Now if your time is expiring just as you are coming to the bottom of another hill, then it is time to do another one. At 35 minutes turn around and continue with these “surges” until you have ten minutes remaining and then cool down.

The other workout is done on the same type of course but this time you must surge hard at the top of every hill for a period of time (1-3 minutes). The same rules apply. Naturally, there is a ton of opportunities to modify and customize these workouts. The principle of the workouts must be maintained: While engaging in continuous running, a runner must learn how to successfully respond to the entire hill.

Notice, I said respond. I am not suggesting that all runners who want to get faster need to learn how to annihilate hills, that’s silly. Responding to a hill means that one is able to evaluate the hill at the bottom of the hill the energy it is going to take to maintain a solid pace and form through the incline, and still allow the runner to crest the top by truly accelerating back to “race pace” as soon as possible as the inclines levels off. This is the point of hill running that people often forget. Getting up the hill is half the battle; the hardest part is teaching the body and mind to accelerate at the top of a hill when all of its senses are saying “we’re at the top, time to relax cause I’m hurting!”

Now might be a logical time to that some of you will be asking what percentage of total effort does all of this translate out to? “Am I supposed to start at 50% effort, and then ¾ of the way up go to 80%, and then being at 95% effort at the top? Or should I start at 70%, drop to….?” You get my point - forget percentages. You’re already over thinking the hill. The hill doesn’t think, it simply is. Your job is to conquer the hill, not let the hill conquer you! If you are training with a GPS you should be pushing to have your pace be virtually the same between ascent, level, and descents. That should be your goal. I know easier said than done. You conquer a hill when you are strong enough to endure its length while being able to come off the top and physically surge in order to make up time from the time you may have lost going up the hill. If you run hills thinking of this, I think that most people will find that hill running cannot be dissected mathematically, hills must be finessed. No one can out-muscle a hill, that attitude will lead to the hills conquering you by going out too fast and getting served half way up the hill or half way through the workout!! Either way, you didn’t pace yourself properly and didn’t leave enough fuel in the tank to either crest the top or finish the workout. The bottom line is when you get to the top of a hill and you are racing, your legs and lungs should hurt. However, you should have the strength, psychologically and physically, to overcome that discomfort and step down in order to return to race pace as quickly as possible.

By being able to surge at the top of a hill is not only important to help one return to race pace as quickly as possible, but it is also a great opportunity to gap your competition. Since the natural tendency of a person is to relax at the top of a hill, and it is clear that most people don’t incorporate adequate hill running into his/her training program, I think it goes without saying that one who has trained on hills has a great opportunity to gain an advantage mentally or physically by gaping their competition going up or coming off the crest of a hill. A person who has trained properly on hills has composure on the ascent. This is something that can often be sensed and seen in a runner while moving “up” the hill. While everyone else is straining to keep pace, the properly trained runner moves with greater ease and relaxation. While everyone else’s breathing elevates and becomes increasingly shallow, the properly trained runner only elevates. Finally, as the top approaches and everyone else is slowing to the point of sometimes that of a walk pace, the properly trained runner can literally accelerate in the final stages of the ascent and continue that surge through the next 200-400 meters.

I know that I have not differentiated between the differences between practicing on hills and racing on hills. Practice teaches us to race. Therefore, when practicing hills, it should be with the thought and effort that one will eventually need to race on hills. Consequently, practicing hills is often times more uncomfortable than actually racing on them. Practice your hills with intensity and tenacity, the same way you want to race on them. Successful hill running is not the one who attacks the bottom of the hill kamikaze style and crawling up the last half. A successful hill runner is one who can maintain pace as much as possible on the ascent and who can surge over the top. Train with control and composure, always putting forth an “A” effort when your training calls for a hill workout!

-- Adam White Owns Running Central in Peoria Illinois. He's ALWAYS helpful and one of Peoria Illinois best! I asked him to be a contributer to Faster-than-Schroff (thanks Adam!). The address for the store is 700 Main Street phone (309)676-6378. You will NOT be dissapointed!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Canal Connect 2008


Halloween Fun!

I beat my family home on Halloween so I could get a 4 1/2 mile barefoot run in around my neighborhood.  It was a bit farther than I had run barefoot in a while and my feet were feeling it.  Then I decided to go trick or treating barefoot as well which in hindsite wasn't such a good idea.  I had a 20 mile run planned for Saturday and by the end of the night I found standing in the cool grass to be releaving.  Not a good sign.  Luckily I didn't get any big blisters and my run went off w/out a hitch.  I dressed up as a monkey in running gear and the Danimal came by with his daughter to join the fun.  

Friday, October 31, 2008

Barefoot Rob....AKA Jesus teams up with Chuck Norris!

I get tens of hits to this blog every day.  People from all over the country check in regularly( except a few Red states that will remain nameless).  Runners follow this blog not because I pay them, but for the hard hitting journalism and extensive coverage of the sport of running you can only get here.  This site, Faster-than-Schroff is my dedication to me someday kicking Dave Schroff's ass in every distance event ever invented except ultras (because they really suck).   Yet, I am also about SOOO much more.....I'm also about being one with running and loving all of nature (oh yeah and into all that family crap too, blah blah blah).  So in pusuit of a perect soul, I am about loving every bee and stepping over the ants on the trail (sorry, little guys, if you come in my house your toast!).  On the other hand, I have an awesome roundhouse kick!  And still, at the same time, I am about barefoot running. Not just because shoes hurt the world, pollute the environment, make me insensitive, and are used in war, but because I am as tough as rawhide and I have an incredible threshold for pain!  Still, I cry on movie night when we watch Beaches or Steele Magnolias.  I've been known to listen to Kenny Logins.  Yet being a Marine, I will not hesitate to kill a suspcted terrorist with my bare hands.  For all I am... For all I do... for all of us, the democrats will not to tax me.  I am very special and you are very lucky to be reading this.  Even still, something is not quite right.  I mean, I can do the running, but I cant quite make a total transition from regular runner to barefoot runner.  Really, I feel it's more mental than physical.  I lack a certain style.  I visit the other popular barefoot running sites (you know, the MEGA sites) and notice most guys have beautiful gray but full mane's of scraggly hair and long beards.  They kind of look like fit grateful dead fans.  I WANT THAT LOOK! But, I can't seem to be able to grow facial hair on that scale.  Plus, unlike Jesus, I work in a factory where barefooting is seriously frowned on.  Oh, well.  Screw you OSHA!  

So, if I wan’t to be both the bad ass and the freaky crunchy granola guy.  Just imagine me to be a shoeless Chuck Norris/Jesus!  Maybe not quite like this guy but close....POW!

So Schroffy, on one hand, I give you strength (brother) to carry on while at the same time I promise to never relent in my pursuit to kick your ass!  Awesome isn’t it?

Your bud,


P.S.  Do they have the Internet in North Dakota yet?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My biggest problem is that when I wake up at 5 I have to make a deal with myself to get myself out of bed -- "Okay, I'll run, but not fast."  -- Jay Covey

Friday, October 24, 2008

Running on Ice

When watching elite athletes run I am keenly aware of how similar they are.  This video is about efficiency.  Run as if you are running on ice.  Near the end of the clip, the author, Dr. Nicholas Rominov actually runs on ice.  Rominov, is the founder of the pose method of running.  When we think about how we run and try to minimize the forces that slow us down we also may be avoiding unnecessary forces that cause injury.  When you run, envision you are running on ice.  It might prevent you from overstriding or leaning too far back.  Watch the video and comment as you see fit.

Here's another:  Haile Running in Slow Motion (Beautiful)


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

They ran like this....

This is a terrific slide show of Greg White (Big Dog), Glenn Latimer, Phil Lockwood, Mike Sonnemaker, Steve Shostrom and the rest of the gang. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be around that many great runners. In one shot, taken at Sheridan Village, Greg notes that he ran a 32:22 10k and came in 9th! Talk about a tough crowd! I would say they wrote the book on tough!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot :-). So I asked Greg about that hat...He says:

"In those days it was a painters hat made of paper or the early Tyvex. I found that hats worked great as both an insulator to keep heat in and out by soaking it with water at aid station to go as far as throwing ice in the hat and letting it melt. also great in the rain and on sunny days I could turn it around and protect my neck. Also kept my Perm in place. Hat also I thought kept me from squinting and adding tension to my face which I thought would progress down into my shoulders. also at times it made me look Cool in pictures."

I agree Greg, way COOL!

Celebrating on a bus bench in Chicago. "We could party anywhere"


Friday, October 17, 2008

Not having a good day? How bout you try being more negative! - By Glenn Latimer

(Glenn Latimer tells Rob what it takes to be faster than Schroff!)

Greg asked me to comment - see his post below
Depending on the marathon race course, even splits or negative splits are the way to go in a marathon - otherwise you feel you are "hanging on" and trying to survive/get through the last third of the race.
As Blair and Greg have correctly identified, it is training and simulation which allows one to do this type of racing.  I always preach "have your wheels under you at 30k"  - i.e. you can still control your pace when the race comes to the tough part.
Liken it to driving your car - you either control the accelerator pedal, or the car controls you.  Most people running a marathon do not have control of the accelerator pedal, and therefore the race is controlling them.
Elites train to run different paces, make injections of pace, and recover.  Most elites and sub-elites know exactly what pace they are on by experience and by feel.  There is no reason why everyone can't get the feel for pace, whatever speed they intend to run.
Age brings wisdom (maybe?) - when I ran another marathon when I reached 50, I ran the first 10M at a controlled pace, the next 10M at about 15 seconds per mile faster, and the last 10k was the fastest per mile pace of all. Wish I had practiced that when I was racing with Greg!!
Elites run within themselves through the first half of the race. Then the race really starts between 25k and 30k.  The fittest, well-trained guys run even or negative splits usually. 
The guys in Chicago last weekend got a crazy idea about 15k and ran a couple of miles at 4:36 and 4:38. As predicted it buried most of them, and lost the winner the chance of a course record. Too much too soon.
Next April in London we are planning a first half of the race in 62:00  - that is not too fast if you can run 59:00 for a half marathon.  Extrapolate accordingly to whichever level you run at, as the same principles apply.
Consult with the experts like Greg and Blair on how to do this sort of training simulation.  Greg correctly identifies that most people in training don't simulate, and therein lies the key. Put yourself under stress to learn to simulate and "control" of the pace.  Remember this is complex because you need to be able to control the pace (maintain or pick it up) just at the time when you body is "changing tanks."   Consult with the experts in Greg and Blair - they can help you.
Hope these comments help.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Greg and Blair Weigh-In on Negative Splits

Negative splits...what a question!  I've been trying to figure that one out for over twenty years without an answer but I do have some thoughts about why the elites can do it and we can't. First we don't practice it enough. Everyone is afraid to run fast in training, then run faster in training. We do a lot of GP running, but at maybe too short of distances and with too many rest intervals.  It may be best to alternate doing a 3 miler at goal pace followed immediately by a 3 miler at faster than goal pace.  Then recover to your resting pulse rate and repeat again. This may be a better way of doing a 12 mile run than a continouse 12 miler where we start slow and try to pick it up throughout with just the last 1/3 at MGP.
We also don't race at distances long enough to practice negative splits for a marathon.  Today we race too many 5K's and don't have the oportunity to RACE (I MEAN RACE !!!) a 10 miler, 20K, 1/2 or even a 30K.  Without these races, it's impossible to figure out a goal pace should be let alone determine negative split paces.  The charts out there for interpolating what you can run a marathon in rarely work unless you have 10 milers through 30k races to plug in.  For instance, using my 5K to 10K PR's showed I could have run 2:32:00 I ran 2:23:00.  But by plugging in my best 10 miler or my best 1/2 marathon time theprediction table more accurately showed I could run a 2:21:00.  This is much closer to reality but i never did that either. In other words we either need to race more at longer distances, or do more test runs to determine our ideal paces for the marathon.   One problem runers make is to set up a 10 to 16 week training cycle yet not adjust our goal paces (either up or down) for where we are in the cycleTest runs of 15 to 16 miles could do this as long as you duplicate the lead up days and you do your test on the same loop each time with weather being the only variable.
Looking at elite performances and compairing how fast these runners can race a 1/2 vs what they can run for their marathons we see they are much closer than non-elites.  When they do the first half at 2 to 3 mins slower than their PR's they are to a lesser degree resting at closer to thier training pace. Then they race the second half at close to their 1/2 marathon race pace!  Wmost often do it the oposite way because we don't know how fast we can actualy race the 1st half in before we are forced to drop back to training pace.  If you look at splits in marathons for most of us, the first thing that happens before we crash is that we slow down to the training pace of our long runs.  Then we crash.  If we knew the correct pace using a series of test runs or longer races (not past Marathon pace) we could possibly use this as an opening pace then speed up the 2nd half.  This would be a closer mimic to what the elites  do.
I did test runs without knowing it because I ran all my long runs on the same course, Boredom, adding the 4 mile Grand View loop to get to 20 miles.  So I guess I knew where I was in my cycle.  I was always able to race 30'sec faster per mile in the marathon than my 20 milers on Boredom and my 2:23 pace was my normal pace.  It was usually around 5:20 for my 12 milers on Boredom and around 5:50 for my 20 milers. I can't say this works for everyone but it's been the same for a lot of runners I worked withI'm not saying to use Boredom for your long runs exclusively, but I do believe in running somewhere that gives you regular test runs.
I'm going to quit now because I need to do my workoutI think better on the move so maybe I will come up with more thoughts.  You  know me I like to talk about training the OLD WAY!!
Greg White


When I swam competitively, distance was my specialty. We constantly worked on even pacing or negative splitting our races. The coaches felt by doing this one would conserve carbohydrates for later in the race, delay lactic acid build-up or reaching (or crossing) your anaerobic threshold too early in the race, and that you would be more efficient overall. You had to learn not to start out too hard/fast and settle in a pace you could maintain for the race, maintaining dead even splits or coming back a little faster than you went out.

Running is the same way. Look at the world records in the distance events. They were all done with even or negative splits. The front half is never more than 2-3% off the back half (e.g., out in 1:32, and back in 1:28 or vice versa for a 3 hour race). The hardest thing is to hold back in the early part of a race. You need to be cautious about not starting out too fast (Danimal) and cause the body to produce more lactic acid than it can handle. Once that reaches a critical point...the runner/swimmer will slow down or's the only way to clear it...

Greg and I worked and worked with Peggy Joseph on this type of pacing...wanting her to try and run even splits in the 15K at Steamboat. She was one who always went out way too fast regardless of distance, and tried to keep from slowing down toward the end and being passed. She hadn't won the 15K to this point in time. We worked with her a full year to where she could run even splits....not going out too fast...running somewhat conservatively early on....letting people go....only to keep her pace even and reeling in these runners as they slowed later in the race. She won Steamboat that year by running the second half of the 15k slightly faster than the first.

You need to establish a goal and your training should be geared toward reaching that goal. Run against the clock, not other runners. This will require you to hold back and follow your plan. Train at the pace you want to race at....tempo runs are great for this, or repeat miles done with very short recovery periods. Using a Garmin will help monitor pace for the miles and make sure you're on track.

I read one article on negative splits where it does state that it's very difficult to run even splits in a marathon, so it's usually better to err slightly to the conservative side than to be a little overly aggressive. Not by an average of 5-10sec/mile over the first half...which is 1-2% for most runners. Another states that if you've accurately pegged your race goal, then it doesn't matter if your splits are positive or negative as long as they are no more than 2-3% apart...that close is essentially even splits. Terrain, weather, etc....all play a part in your plan as well.....

Running and swimming even/negative splits takes time, practice, and patience to the point where it becomes second nature. I practiced this in both my swimming and running (even in my 5K's) and felt that it made me faster overall in both disciplines. It was always nice speeding up in the second half when others were slowing would give me such a mental boost passing people....

Hope this helps, Blair

Over 40, under 3? Determine the pace!

I am 43 years old.  A johnny come lately, I've been attempting to run a sub 3 hour marathon for a couple of years now.  I am making progress although it's been a journey of many dead end paths.  In Chicago, I was very close and feel had I had cooler temps a 1% increase in pace could have been realistic.  That would have allowed me to obtain my goal.  Regardless, the fact remains I didn't do it. Now, my friends who also ran the race chose what they deemed to be the "correct" pace to run the race. Some ran into unexpected difficulties. Some in aticipation, chose to fight another day. Here are our splits for each 5k segment (click on the graph to enlarge):

I started thinking about why we determine our paces in the first place.  The three hour marathon is a lofty goal for many of my running friends.  Some have smashed through this objective while others struggle with me.  Despite our varied talents and fitness, the goal remains one of the most sought after for my group.   Matt Fitzgerald wrote an interesting artical about 
marathon pacing where he speaks of the difficulty of determining an accurate pace given all the uncertainties of the marathon.  He writes:

"Can we even assume that even pacing is the best marathon pacing strategy? 

The fact that most of the fastest men’s and women’s marathon times ever recorded involved negative splits would seem to be strong evidence that negative splitting, or at least even pacing, is the optimal marathon pacing strategy. One of the world’s top experts on pacing strategies, Ross Tucker, Ph.D., finds this logical irrefutable. “I'm a big believer that there is such a thing as ‘natural selection’ when it comes to performance,” he wrote in an email. “In other words, if the very best athlete runs a negative split, then that is most likely the optimal way [for everyone] to go about it. Because given that hundreds of world-class athletes are racing, time will eventually ensure that the optimal strategy is settled upon. If a positive split were better, I have no doubt that all the great athletes would be going out and doing it, simply because it works.” 

The big problem I have here is the anectdotal evidence does not support even splits for the non-elite athlete.  There are two problems with the supposistion that it's best, first does the non-elite runner really know what the correct pace should be and is the pace for them at which a negative split becomes possible as fast for the entire marathon as the pace they might pick were they to run a positive split?

Fitzgerald continues....

"However, just because even pacing seems to be the optimal pacing strategy for the world’s best runners doesn’t mean it’s automatically the best pacing strategy for you and me. There’s a large and possibly crucial difference in the fitness levels that elite and non-elite runners bring to the marathon event. It’s plausible to me that the more modest a runner’s fitness level is, the more likely it is that he will achieve his fastest time by running somewhat aggressively in the first half and then “hanging on” in the second half. Put another way, it’s plausible to me that the smaller the difference between the most comfortable pace a runner could sustain for 26.2 miles and the fastest pace he could sustain for the same distance, the more likely it is that a slightly positive pacing pattern would produce the best overall result. "

From talking with even our very best runners seems to support this argument.  Do you agree?  Please weigh in on this if you have a moment?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chicago Marathon 08 Race Report

I headed up to Chicago on Saturday morning.  The family and I got to the expo at about 1:00.  Adam White (thanks for the donkey shirt!) had a booth for Running Central at the expo and that was pretty cool.  He really needs to get that web site point of sale set up for his store.  When you go out of your home town folks will want to order via the net.  I'd love to order on-line from him as well.  Anyways... The guys planned to all meet up before the marathon just to say “hey” and the expo at McCormick Place worked out well for everyone getting together.  I ended up hooking up with Schroff, Krause, Danimal, Matt, Jared, Robby and Lorne.   I probably spent more time than I should have walking around and talking but I was having a good time.  The BWS and his wife beat us all to the expo (a preminition of things to come) so they headed out to get to their room before I got there.  Too bad, I could have used some of his fastness essence!  After the expo, Shev drove me to the hotel and dropped me off.  She and the girls were staying with my niece at her place.  That was fine, I am not much fun the night before a marathon.  I really just want to get off my feet and chill.  Matt and Jared were planning on crashing in my room.  We all had dinner at Pizzano’s on State Street (2 blocks away). Dinner was excellent.   I chose the Pasta A “La” Dino which is a Bowtie shaped pasta sautéed in garlic and olive oil with sun dried tomatoes, shrimp and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese (a value at 15 bucks)!  It came in a HUGE bowl.  I only finished half (I could have horked it down but thought it unwise) and had a Newcastle on draft with water.  The wait was about 40 minutes but expected and we didn’t sweat it because we were off our feet.   Eat early or be prepared for long waits downtown.  Especially if you want pasta on marathon weekend!  After dinner they left me at the hotel and went out for a few adult beverages and to enjoy the Chicago scene.

The morning went really smooth.  Robby, who stayed with his uncle, met us in the room at about 6:30.  We were pretty much ready to go.  I ate a bowl of lucky charms because they are magically delicious (figured I could use a bit of that).   It was warm enough that I didn’t need any cold weather gear.  I was a bit concerned about the heat playing into the marathon.  I planned on going out really slowly knowing it would not be easy.  When the gun went off, I went out and looked down at my Garmin.  It was reading 7:45 actual pace but then it almost immediately read 6:40.  My first mile was 7:05.  Perfect.  By the middle of the 3rd mile I could see the 3 hour pace guy and I just kept him in sight.  The pace felt very easy, almost boring.  Judging by how bad it got last year, I knew the feeling wouldn’t last long so I decided to enjoy the feeling until it left me.  By mile 6 I felt a bit weak but then it passed.  I was careful to hydrate at every stop and I took gels every 5 miles.  I hindsight I am very glad I did that. As I passed the 7 mile mark, I started looking for my family.  I asked my niece to make her sign stand out more this year (I comepletely missed her last year) so she wrote “Run Fatboy Run….Go Rob!”.   I saw it right away but tried to act like it wasn’t for me.  I need to thank Shev, my niece Candace and all my buds especially Matt Stevenson.  They kept me entertained during the morning.  Conditions were much warmer than I would have liked but WAY better than Chicago 07.     By the 11 mile mark it was becoming more work to stay with the group but not terrible.  I got a bit confused at the half when I came across and the clock was showing 1:34.  I was hoping to be no slower than 1:31 and was really worried about how hard I was working then I figured it out.  It kinda freaked me out until I heard one of the guys around me say he was right on time for his 3 hour goal.  In the end it didn’t matter, I didn’t have it in me.  However, I am encourage that the pace did seem much easier than it ever did before. I fell off my 3 hour pacing goal at the 30k (the lucky charms magic must have worn off) and I spent the better part of the next 2 miles chasing  a dude dressed up like Mini Mouse.  Wouldn’t that have been a great finishing photo!?!   I would definitely have to buy that one!  Matt worked with me for the last 4 miles (thanks so much) and so I finished the Chicago marathon on Sunday with a new PR 3:05:01.  I was pleased.  I really had to work to get in in that time and don’t think I had any more left to put out there.

Two of my friends really stood out, Scott Willi and Eric Bush.  They were on top of their game Sunday.  Eric ran a 2:33 winning the mens masters division (whoa)!  Scott accomplished his goal of running a sub 3 marathon (his first of many).  Great job guys.  Some of us had really tough days.  The weather definitely played a role.


Oh yeah and we had plenty-o-water this year!  Thanks Mr. Pinkowski!  Now I see I still need to improve upon my stamina in order to reach my goal of running a sub 3 hour marathon.  After all the world record is very much sub 3!   My next 26.2 will be at Boston in April.  Shev is running the Marine Corps Marathon in DC in two weeks.  After she quals (and she will) we will run it together (well at least on the same course together).  I am going to pursue my goal of achieving a personal best on a very challenging course.  In order to do that I am going to have to make some more improvements to my running.