2:59:59 PODCAST EPISODE 6–BOSTON MARATHON REVIEW AND RECAP

The 2022 Boston Marathon is done! What a great experience. I share my time at the race, my results and assessment of my performance. I explore the elite performances on the men’s and women’s sides as well as taking time off after the marathon and enjoying it.

2:59:59 PODCAST EPISODE 5–BOSTON MARATHON SPECIAL: ELITE FIELD NEWS AND NEW PREDICTION, SOAKING IN THE ATMOSPHERE, COURSE STRATEGY AND PERSONAL GOALS

A shorter podcast focusing on the Boston Marathon. Big news from the elite field as Kenenisa Bekele is out. Sarah Hall is out too. Three new additions on the men’s side promise to make for a competitive and thrilling race. I get into the energy and atmosphere of the Boston Marathon then dive into expectations for myself and course strategy.

2:59:59 PODCAST EPISODE 4–BOSTON MARATHON, HALF MARATHON AND 10K RACE REVIEWS, MARATHON TRAINING HIGHS AND LOWS

We start with Boston Marathon training, a good half marathon race, a bad 10k race and what can be learned when you don’t run as well as you would’ve liked. We get into the Boston Marathon race itself, the course and what you should and shouldn’t do. We end with our commitment to running and how we sometimes find all kinds of ways to run, including waking up WAY too early.

2:59:59 PODCAST EPISODE 3–TEMPO RUNS, STROLLERS SUCK, BOSTON MARATHON ELITE FIELD ANALYSIS

I get right into tempo runs and why they’re important if you want to run your best race. The Boston Marathon elite fields for the men and women could be the best ever. I focus on six women and six men to keep an eye on. I also explain why I don’t like strollers during races and how two stroller racers were nothing but showboaters and disrespectful.

You Can Call It A Comeback

As you probably noticed, I have not posted at all for several months now after my London Marathon race in late April that didn’t go as planned. There are a few reasons why that are related.

First, I didn’t run all that much after the race. I wanted to recover and heal from the training and those nagging injuries that plagued me like shin splints, some kind of hip flexor/groin strain and overall wear-and-tear on my body. Training for a marathon is grueling and taxing physically and mentally. I don’t think I was very smart with injury-prevention practices, especially since I’m getting older.

Second, I developed a nagging calf strain–again mostly through my own stubbornness and neglect in taking injury-prevention seriously.  What happened was that I started to run again and took things slowly as far as mileage and pacing. I ran easy but developed a pain in my right calf. I just figured it for run-of-the-mill soreness that usually isn’t a big deal. I was running one day in July when I felt a sensation in my calf that went up to the back of the knee and lower hamstring. I stopped and rested for a couple of days. I tried to run again but the calf was still sore so I stopped and decided to wait until the soreness subsided. I tried to run again about a week later in late July. During a warm up, I heard a little “pop” in my calf. I then felt some discomfort. I immediately stopped. I instantly became worried that I did something serious. Fortunately, the pain was never that bad. There was no swelling and no major pain when walking. However, there was still a sensation that told me the calf wasn’t well. It wasn’t pain. I can only describe it as a signal indicating the muscle is weak and not to be used for strenuous activity.

I rested again for two weeks and ran for three days in mid-August when the sensation decreased some. I ran no more than 1.5 miles. I decided that my calf still wasn’t quite right. I stopped and decided to aqua jog at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center. It was also recommended to me by my mother that I stretch more and learn yoga techniques. I’ve always done some form of stretching before runs and sometimes after but never as seriously as I should have. Since I’m now 40 my body isn’t as sturdy. It needs more maintenance and work to stay healthy.  I think I took my general good health and lack of significant injuries for granted and never thought it would happen to me. But it has. Now is the time to get serious about injury prevention if I want to keep running the way I have been.

Fortunately, I’ve had a tool at my disposal for a few years now that I haven’t used as much as I should have. It’s a book called Healthy Running Step by Step by Santa Monica-based physical therapist Robert Forster. He’s only trained numerous Olympians and high-level athletes like Jackie-Joyner Kersee and Kobe Bryant. I had the pleasure of interviewing him a couple times. Forster is a major proponent of static stretching. That’s when you hold a position to stretch such as reaching down to touch your toes and holding it for 10 to 15 seconds. Forster believes keeping the muscles loose prevents strains and other nagging injuries. In the book, there are roughly 20 stretches to do that work muscles from the calf to the neck. I decided I need to follow this routine daily if I want to continue marathon running. Along with aqua jogging, I would do this routine. It takes anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes to complete but I can feel the difference after four weeks. I’ve been stretching muscles I never have before and now my legs feel a bit lighter and even a little stronger!

After four weeks of aqua jogging, walking to and from the pool and no calf sensation anymore, I decided to run again. I’m starting back up slowly. I ran two miles yesterday and two miles today. I felt good…much better than expected. I’ve lost some conditioning which I’ll get back but there’s no calf sensation or pain. My calf feels pretty good though I’m still a little nervous. I’m wearing calf compression sleeves too to try to help reduce the chance of a strain or cramp. I think this time I can get back into it without any setbacks. I’m doing the full body stretches before the run and stretching some after too. Let’s hope it works.

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First day back running was a success! Day two was too. Let’s hope I can get going again without any calf or other problems. (Fingers crossed but a thumbs up)

It was these setbacks that really discouraged me and got me down which hurt my motivation. This is the final reason for the lack of posts. Being injured and not being able to train or compete is highly frustrating. Bad thoughts go through the head like wondering if I’ll be able to run at the highest level which I can attain and wondering if the thrill of finishing a big race will ever be there again. I think it’s natural to get down and have these thoughts. The important thing is to be patient. I’m learning that it will pass and races will always be there for us. I decided I needed to take some steps to slowly get back to normal through stretching and aqua jogging. We’ll see how this comeback goes. I’m determined to see it through. I hope you are too if you’re also struggling with an injury.

Running With You,

Donald

P.S. Big news coming on the 6-Star front. Stay tuned!

London Marathon Training Week #12 Review–Ups and Downs and Ups Again

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

Due to what was a hectic and busy week outside of running, I was unable to post with a daily journal entry. Instead of combining all six days of training, I’ll just sum everything up in a week-in-review and we’ll see how it goes.

Total Miles: 61.7

The mileage total was about what I wanted heading into the last hard phase of training. My goal is to do at least four consecutive weeks of 60 to 70 miles. If I can, I’d like to go over 70 two of these weeks but we’ll see how things shape up.

The week started with an 8.5 mile run that was fine and uneventful. My long run was the 20-miler. I plan to do four of these 20-milers  before the big race and this was the first. I ran at night due to my schedule. I always seem to run slower at night. Maybe it’s my subconscious slowing me down because of the lack of vision of the road…I don’t know. I took it easy anyway. The weather was nice and cool and I finished the run with no real problems. Yes, I was worn out as I always am after a 20-miler but I didn’t feel completely exhausted.

I ran my 6-mile recovery run the next day at night and completed the run but the time was slower than what the effort felt. I wanted to take the run easy and I did time-wise and effort-wise but it still felt slower than my perceived effort. What does this mean? It probably just means I’m a little fatigued.

Due to work scheduling, I woke up at 4am the next day, to attempt a tempo run of between 8.5 and 9 miles. I knew this would be hard and I was dreading such a long and busy day anyway since I wouldn’t be home from 7:15am until 10pm. I already convinced myself this day would be no fun for me. Clearly, not a good way to start the day with that type of thinking. I started my run just before 5am. It was dark and I’d knew my time would be slower than what I hoped. I told myself it’s ok as long as the effort is strong. Sure enough, the first mile was 6:50 which is slower than a typical tempo run. The second mile was mostly downhill so it was faster.

When I hit mile four, I started to feel fatigue. My legs started to hurt more and I had a nervous sensation in my chest. It wasn’t connected to my heart rate as that was normal but I felt anxious. I also developed a headache. I think that was due to possible dehydration because I didn’t drink a lot of water the previous day or after my long run. At the 4.75-mile mark I stopped. I simply ran out of gas. My legs didn’t want to continue. I rested for a minute or so but was determined to finish the run. I continued but kept stopping every quarter-mile to half-mile. I would rest about a minute then continue again. It was a struggle. Running uphill felt like the hardest thing in the world. I never felt this way before during any run. I have stopped in the middle of a run and I have felt bad but not like this. I stubbornly ran/stopped/ran/stopped until finishing a little over eight miles. Finishing those final three-plus miles was pointless and did nothing to help me other than add to my mileage total. I couldn’t even run them hard.  I think dehydration was a factor as was lack of sleep, proper eating and stress/anxiety. Not only was I physically unprepared to run long and fast but I wasn’t mentally ready either. I made sure I drank lots of water the rest of the day and ate. I also told myself one bad run is no big deal and I’ll bounce back.

I did bounce back. I ran in the early evening the next day which gave my legs about 36 hours of recovery. It helped when I ran my 12-mile semi-long run. The run was fine. I felt good and my legs didn’t feel worn out. I felt better mentally too as I knew I had a day off the next day which would give me a chance to sleep-in and focus just on running.

The week ended with a descending/ascending interval workout. I ran four sets of 1-mile-800 meters-400 meters which totaled nearly 7 miles. I gave myself about two minutes to 2:15 of recovery between each rep. This workout teaches the body to adjust to different paces since I run each distance at a different pace. In races, you need to be able to pick up the pace or slow down sometimes. If you practice doing that, it becomes easier to manage in a race. This workout was the best interval workout I’ve had since training for the Berlin Marathon. My times were better than I thought and my legs held up well. This workout gave me additional confidence heading into the next three difficult weeks of training.

I started the week off well, finishing a 20-miler with no major struggle, followed by a disaster of a tempo run that may have been my worst ever. I then recovered and had a very good interval workout two days later. The body and mind are quick with the recovery. The mind is quick if you tell yourself it’s ok to have a bad day as long as you know why you had it and learn from it.

Let’s move on to Week #13.

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #10 Days 5 and 6 Closing Out a 4 Tough Weeks

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

Location: Pasadena, CA.

Temperatures: Day 1–Sunny 56 degrees, Day 2–Sunny 59 degrees

Types of Run: Day 1–Easy, Day 2–Intervals/Speed

Lengths: Day 1–8.34 miles, Day 2–5.59  miles (6 x 1,500 meters)

Types of routes: Day 1–gradual uphill and downhill with one uphill climb and two downhill descents; Day 2-400-meter oval track

Times: Day 1–1 hour, 7 seconds; Day 2–32 minutes, 6 seconds (5:26, 5:19, 5:22, 5:21, 5:19, 5:19)

Paces per mile: Day 1–7:12, Day 2–5:45

Reason for Run: Day 1–This was an easy run meant to add to the weekly mileage total. This easy run is longer than the easy/recovery run following the long run. I like this run to be anywhere from 7 to 10 miles. The pace should be comfortable. This run is easy because it’s usually sandwiched between the tempo run and an interval/speed workout and is done either a day before or after the semi-long run.

Day 2–This interval workout is meant to improve running economy and efficiency. It helps the body get used to the intense effort of a race. I chose to do longer intervals (1,500-meter reps) to work on pacing, leg turnover and build strength. I decided on 1,500 meters to mix thing up. I don’t want to get bored always doing 1-mile repeats so I thought I’d change it up a bit. I wanted my pacing to be at least slightly faster than half-marathon pace but not too fast that it’d wear me out. I ended up running these at around 10k pace. I gave myself between 2:00 and 2:15 of rest between each interval. I didn’t want my body to get too much rest between each interval because there’s no rest during a race. This article here explains why intervals are so beneficial.

How did I feel? Day 1–Not bad. My legs were a little worn from all the running in the prior days but I kept the pace comfortable so it wasn’t difficult to complete this run. I just wanted to get the mileage in without any struggle and I was able to do that.

Day 2–Fine. My legs are getting stronger each week during interval workouts so I’m happy with that. This wasn’t an easy workout though given the shorter rest time. I was pleased my reps were consistent and that the pacing was where I was hoping it’d be. The plus was that I felt I had one to two more reps in me if needed but my legs were definitely happy this workout finished when it did. This concluded four straight tough weeks in which I averaged 56 to 57 miles a week. This upcoming week will be a recovery week of sorts meaning I’ll take it easier and decrease the mileage. The purpose is to rest my legs a bit so my body can recover and lock-in the gains that were made during these four weeks. After that will be four straight weeks of, hopefully, around 60 to 70 miles per week.

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #10 Days 3 and 4 Two Months Until Race Day!

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

Location: Pasadena, CA.

Temperatures: Day 1–Partly cloudy 59 degrees, Day 2–Mostly cloudy 58 degrees

Types of Run: Day 1–Tempo, Day 2–Semi-long

Lengths: Day 1–8.3 miles, Day 2–11 miles + 4 sprint strides

Types of routes: Day 1–gradual uphill and downhill with one uphill climb and one downhill descent; Day 2–gradual uphill and downhill with one uphill climb and one downhill descent

Times: Day 1–51 minutes, 46 seconds; Day 2–1 hour, 17 minutes, 59 seconds

Paces per mile: Day 1–6:14, Day 2–7:05

Reason for Run: Day 1–This was the weekly tempo run. A tempo run is done at a comfortably hard pace meaning it’s challenging but shouldn’t exhaust you. The purpose is to build endurance, strength and to mimic the higher intensity required to run in a race. Again, as I’ve written before, to race well your body has to be prepped and ready to handle the increased intensity. You can’t do that unless you have hard training runs. For marathon training specifically, I like to build up to at least one or two 11 to 13-mile tempo runs along with a half marathon race, which I completed about a month ago. For tempo runs under 10 miles, I like the pace to be faster than goal marathon pace of between 6:20 and 6:30 but slower than half marathon pace of 5:55 to 6:10. For tempo runs of 10 miles or longer, I like to run at least marathon pace but if I feel up to going faster then I will. I decided to make this route somewhat challenging by throwing in a long hill climb during mile 6 and a short hill climb on mile 7. This would test my endurance.

Day 2–This was the semi-long run for the week. A semi-long run is a longer run than usual but shorter than the long run. The pace is usually faster than the long run except for this week because I ran 8 of my 18 long run miles at a hard pace which skewed the per-mile pace average. I like the semi-long run distance to be between 10 and 14 miles during training. The goal is to build endurance and get used to running for an extended period of time. The strides are done between 75% and 90% of full speed. The purpose is to increase leg turnover, stride efficiency and speed.

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I plan to be one race closer to this bad boy in exactly two months.

How did I feel? Day 1–Good. The much cooler winter weather that FINALLY hit southern California has been wonderful for us runners. It makes the runs so much more enjoyable. It also makes my times faster because the body doesn’t expend as much energy trying to cool off. The low humidity allows my sweat to evaporate which keeps my body cooler, allowing me to run faster. I can say the cooler weather made this run much better and faster for me than had the temperature been 10 to 15 degrees warmer. The longer the run distance the more a factor weather becomes, especially when that run is as intense as a tempo run. My first mile was my fastest at 6:02. That was good because it didn’t feel I was running that fast. It was bad because I knew it’d probably be my fastest. I was comfortable with my splits the first five miles. The final three miles were tougher because of the hill climbs. I knew those would slow me down but I wanted the challenge to build both physical strength in the legs and mental strength.

Day 2–Very good. Again, the cooler weather made this run so much easier and faster than had it been warmer. The weather plays such a big role in performance and time for endurance athletes. I wanted to take this run at a comfortable pace. My first mile was 7:10 which was faster than I thought but I stuck with it since it felt comfortable. I kept my pace fairly consistent throughout the run. At no point did I feel tired. My legs held up well even though they were a little worn out. Hooray for colder weather!

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #8 Day 7 Week #9 Days 1 and 2 Feeling Stronger and Tougher

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

Location: Pasadena, CA.

Temperatures: Day 1–Partly cloudy 61 degrees, Day 2–Partly cloudy 62 degrees, Day 3–Partly cloudy 64 degrees

Types of Run: Day 1–Speed/Intervals, Day 2–Tempo, Day 3–Long

Lengths: Day 1–5.24 miles ( 3 x 1mi-800m-400m), Day 2–8.02 miles, Day 3–18.13 miles

Types of routes: Day 1–400-meter oval track; Day 2–some flat, gradual uphill and downhill, one uphill climb and one downhill descent; Day 3–gradual uphill and downhill with three uphill climbs and two downhill descents

Times: Day 1–29 minutes, 44 seconds (5:53, 2:47, 1:18; 1:18, 2:45, 5:46; 5:49, 2:49, 1:18); Day 2–49 minutes, 58 seconds; Day 3–2 hours, 15 minutes, 41 seconds

Paces per mile: Day 1–5:40, Day 2–6:14, Day 3–7:30

Reason for Run: Day 1–This was an interval ladder workout. That means you go up and down in distance. The purpose is to build speed endurance and help the body adjust to different paces that may take place during a race. I started with one mile then worked down to 800 meters then 400 meters then I went back up and down. I want my body to be able to get used to changing paces so it doesn’t get too comfortable. Gains are made when the body constantly has to adjust. I find these workouts effective in helping the body get used to the intense effort of a race. I gave myself 1:30 to 1:45 of rest between each rep.

Day 2–Usually, I start a new week with an easy short run or a long run. However, there were extenuating circumstances that caused me to adjust. I took a day off in between the interval workout and this day’s run which was a tempo run. A tempo run builds endurance and strength because you run a fast pace. It helps the body feel a more intense effort for a continued and sustained period of time without rest like you’d get in an interval workout. A tempo run mimics a race, basically. If you’re training for a marathon, I feel tempo runs should be done at least at marathon pace. I prefer to do them faster than marathon pace but slower than half marathon pace.

Day 3–The was the traditional long run. Usually, there should be at least be one day off between the harder workouts of the week (long run, tempo, speed/intervals). Again, there were extenuating circumstances so I adjusted. One week of back-to-back tough workouts isn’t going to harm me. The long run builds endurance and helps the body get used to running for a long period of time because that’s what you do in a marathon. Your body has to be used to working for a long period of time before you race a marathon otherwise it won’t be able to handle the distance. Makes sense, right?

How did I feel? Day 1–Good. I feel like I’m slowly getting back to where I was before the Berlin Marathon. The cooler weather helped with my times. I felt my legs held up better than the previous couple speed/interval workouts. I could’ve completed another set of reps if I wanted but it’s best not to do too much too soon.

Day 2–Good. Today was a day I felt I was “slower” than what I was. Anytime I can run this route under 50 minutes, it’s a good day. I was able to do that even if it was only by two seconds. Even though I felt “slower” I still thought my pacing was fine for my first tempo run of at least 8 miles in over four months. One thing I noticed again is my mental outlook. It’s best to go into tougher workouts thinking–“I’m just going to do the best I can today.” It sounds corny but it’s true. When I get hung up on running at a certain pace, I usually have a subpar workout. When I just go out and run and am not as concerned about hitting a certain pace that’s when I have a good workout.

Day 3–Good. I took this run at a comfortable pace. I started off slow and built up, negative splitting each 6-mile segment and also negative splitting the second 9 miles. My last mile was also my fastest. This was encouraging as it shows I’m regaining my endurance and leg strength. I felt ok after the run. Yes, my legs were worn but not that bad. I wasn’t tired or exhausted. The cooler weather did help as it made the run easier.  I think the key to a good long run is to start very easy and pick up the pace. This saves energy and fuel for the legs. If you start too fast, you’re likely to have exhausted legs at the end. That’s never good.

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #8 Day 6 Good Run Minus the Blister

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

Location: Pasadena, CA.

Temperature: Sunny, 76 degrees

Type of Run: Medium-long

Length: 10.26 miles + 2 sprint strides

Type of route: gradual uphill and downhill with four downhill descents and three uphill climbs

Time: 1 hour, 16 minutes, 35 seconds

Pace per mile: 7:28

Reason for Run: A medium-long run is another staple of marathon training. It’s a longer run usually between 10-14 miles. The purpose is to build endurance and put mileage on your legs. This run helps your body get used to running longer distances. Doing two long runs of  15 to 20 miles a week is probably too taxing on the body for none-elites but a long run coupled with a medium-long run a few days later helps build strength. The pace of the medium-long should be a little faster than the long run. Strides help increase leg turnover and efficiency. I ran two today at about 80% of full speed.

How did I feel? Fine minus the blister. I developed a blister on the back of my right foot during the run. It’s not bad and certainly not the worst blister I’ve ever gotten. It was caused by new shoes and low socks. My skin had no protection against the chafing. I’ll take preventative measures next time I wear these shoes. Other than that, my pacing was comfortable. The route was fairly hilly which is good because running hills builds leg strength. All in all, it was a solid run that was finished with no struggle or difficulty.

Running With You,

Donald