Little Fish, Big Pond

Little fish, big pond. That about sums up where I am with my racing right now. Nothing in my life has been as humbling as my racing results since moving away from Rochester. In western NY, I could expect to finish top 5 in nearly every race and certainly top 3 in my age-group even in the biggest races. At the most competitive races like the Lilac 10k or Bergen 5k which served as the USATF Niagara Championships I never finished worst than 4th in my age-group and that was running my second slowest 10k time of 36:14 at Lilac in 2010 30-39 age-group.

Since moving to New England I’ve been handed one ass whooping after another. And while I have lost a bit of time (OK more than just a bit) even if i was running my master’s PRs I’d still be looking up at the finishers on the podium at many races. For the past 2 years I’ve been using that as an excuse for not running my best, and not training as I should.

The New England USATF 5 Mile Championship (AKA Ribfest 5 Miler) was my wake-up call. I allowed myself to start 6 or 7 rows from the front. I tried to shuffle around people for the first half mile which I ran in 3:11. It was right then and there that I decided I had to get serious about my training and my racing. I may not be in peak shape anymore but I am not yet resigned to shuffling along in the middle of the pack. If I had merely started closer to the front and run the first half mile in 2:50 (a very reasonable 5:40 pace) I could have finished 3rd in the 40-49 age-group. My gun time/chip time difference of 7 seconds was double that of everyone that finished ahead of me. I’d convinced myself I didn’t deserve to start with the leaders, so I didn’t finished with them.

I managed to close the last mile in 5:32 feeling great on a very hot and humid day. I need to take that feeling with me into each workout and race. Maybe I’m not as fast as I was 2 years ago, but I’m not ready to be an also ran just yet. I’m stuck right in the middle of my age-group with no good excuse for poor performances. So as the other Dylan said…

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Ribfest Results here.

 

9.344 Meters

I love the mile, but I don’t really trust the 1600.

Let’s do a bit of math. If you run 1600 meters in 4 minutes 38 seconds you are running at a speed of 5.755 meters per second. It also means it takes .174 seconds to run 1 meter. The mile is 1609.344 meters long. If you run a 1600 meter race in 4:38 you would add 1.62 seconds to your time to get your mile equivalent for a time of 4:39.62 seconds.

Ready set go.
Ready set go.

That is exactly what I did a few weeks ago at the final Mid-Hudson Road Runner’s Club Twilight Track Series meet. One of my goals is to see how many years in a row I can break 4:40 for the mile. So now the question becomes have I accomplished my goal for the year?

6
Head down chin up.

For once I ran a pretty steady race. According to the split clock I ran 69.x 70.x 70.x 68.x which is as close to dead even as I’m ever going to get. It helped that I was being relentlessly pursued by Mike Chow all 4 laps.

4
Mike’s still there

There was also a fit looking HS junior on my tail and I just kept waiting for him to blast by me the last 600 meters, but it was Mike who really kept the pressure on.

3
Stretching the pack

I just couldn’t get rid of the sound of Mike’s footsteps, even on the last lap where I was sure I could pull away with a quick burst of speed. He held on the whole time finishing about a second behind me closely followed by the high schooler. Results here.

The quandary now is, do I have to find an actual mile to race or can I count the conversion? The race wasn’t FAT timed, but my 4:38 was rounded up. That makes me feel pretty good about counting it as a sub 4:40 mile. But what if I tripped in that last 9 meters? What if I made a wrong turn? What if I suddenly got really tired and sat down with .1 meters to go? 1600 meters is not 1 mile… I’ll have to start hunting for a late summer early fall mile, or wait for the winters series to begin.

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Lisa back on track
Lisa back on track

In other happy news. Lisa is getting back into racing shape. After a several month setback this spring she is increasing her mileage and even hitting the track for some workouts. With no workouts and only a few miles a week running May-July she managed a nice 6:20 1600 at the last Twilight Meet. While it wasn’t a great performance in her estimation she showed a lot of guts and Run Tuff spirit during the last 2 laps. I think she will be ready for a new 5k PR this fall.

Nice form!
Nice form!

Hazel and Roo also raced that same night. Hazel even won her first ribbon that wasn’t just a participant ribbon by throwing down a nasty 200 meter to kick off her 200/50/400 triple.

All business
All business

Roo was all business during the 200 and 40 meter dashes, wearing her 3x too big Wally Waddle shirt new running shoes and bib. We expect big things next summer from this one.

Stay tuned for the Bergen 5k race recap which I’m sure someone in Rochester is frantically cobbling together.

Sometimes 6 weeks is all you need

If you’ve ever wanted to race the mile but weren’t sure the best way to go about it, Roadkill has you covered. If you have built a decent base training for 5k or longer races you can easily make the switch to the mile. I’ve added this as a training page as well so it will be easy to find later.

This a 6 week plan intended for runners doing 25-45 miles per week of training. You will focus on getting comfortable running at mile pace while maintain the aerobic fitness you already have. During this 6 week phase it is fine if you back off your usually mileage a bit while you adjust to the stress of the faster paced workouts.

If you do not know your 1 mile or half marathon race paces you can use this calculator to estimate your paces based on another recent race time. I’ve only listed workout days. Most other days should be 30-60 minutes of easy running with a long run ever 7-10 days of 90 or more minutes. By easy running I mean running at a conversational pace, the best way to make sure you are going at an easy enough pace is to run with someone else and have a conversation with them.

Please see the notes below for more explanations and suggestions.

Week 1 Training Pace Example times for a 6 minute mile
2(8×200 meters with 200 meter jogging rest) 4 minutes rest between sets 1 mile pace 45 seconds per 200 meters
5×1000 meters with 200 meters jogging rest half marathon pace 4:28 per 1000 meters
Week 2
8×400 meters with 400 meters jogging rest 1 mile pace 90 seconds per 400 meters
4×1200 meters (1.5 miles) with 4 minutes rest half marathon pace 5:25 per 1200 meters
Week 3
16×200 meters with 200 meters jogging rest 1 mile pace 45 seconds per 200 meters
6×800 meters with 400 meters jogging rest 5k pace 3:20 per 800 meters
Week 4
no early week workout
8×300 meters with 100 meters jogging rest 1 mile pace 67 seconds per 300 meters
Week 5
8×400 meters with 90 seconds rest 1 mile pace 90 seconds per 400 meters
5×1000 meters with 3 minutes rest 5k pace 4:12 per 1000 meters
Week 6
4×400 meters with 3 minute rest 1 mile pace -3 to -5 seconds 85 per 400 meters
Race

Strides:

Strides are a great way to work on your form and your top end speed. They teach you to run fast but relaxed. At least twice a week you should do 4-6 strides after an easy run or work them into the last mile or so of your easy run. Start slow and build speed for 5-8 seconds until you are near you top sprint speed, hold that speed for a few second then gradually slow down to a jog, jog for 30-60 seconds before starting your next stride. A stride should take about 15-20 seconds or about 100 meters.

Warm up/Cool down: 

You should establish a warm up and cool down routine and try to do it the same way every workout and every race. This will help prepare both your body and your mind for the hard effort. A proper warm up doesn’t just prepare your muscles but it also primes your cardiovascular system. While everyone has a slightly different routine I would suggest doing roughly the following.

40 minutes out: 15-20 minutes of easy running, start at a shuffle but end the last few minutes and your normal easy run pace or even slightly faster.

20 minutes out: Change into whatever you plan on racing in, bathroom break, final sips of water or sugar drink.

10 minutes out: Head to the starting line (or where ever you are going to start your workout). 4×20 seconds strides at 5k race pace with 1 minute between strides. Do any dynamic stretching (high knees, butt kicks etc) you prefer.

You should finish your warm up routine as soon as possible before the start of your race. Standing around for more than 3-4 minutes will negate much of the work you just did to get ready. There is no time to work into a mile, you need to be ready to run hard from the gun so a good warm-up is critical. I strongly encourage you not to do any static stretching before a race or workout as it robs your muscles of power and likely does nothing to prevent injury. Save the static stretching for after.

Cool down: 10 minutes of easy jogging followed by a good mix of carbs and protein.