Back to Racing at the Rose Bowl

The last year of running has been extremely challenging for me as I’ve dealt with several nagging injuries that have derailed my training. It started with shin splints and some type of hip or groin pain right before the London Marathon. That sent me to the pool for aqua jogging for a couple weeks and got me out of my routine.

After the race, I took some time off to heal and came back but then dealt with a calf strain that hampered me for a couple months. I also gained 5 to 10 pounds which I still haven’t lost and which slow me down a bit. I decided to take it easy with my training in the buildup to the Tokyo Marathon on March 3rd, which will be my sixth World Marathon Major. However, I then got a strain in my piriformis muscle. That sidelined me in December for about two weeks as my training was just starting to pick up. This was very frustrating to say the least. All these nagging soft tissue injuries were all on my right side. I decided to visit a professional and find out what was up and learn how to prevent these injuries. I had been doing a stretching routine before and after runs consistently so I was quite bothered when my piriformis muscle was hurting. I contacted chiropractor Steve Smith based in Pasadena. He’s a runner himself and specializes in treating runners. I figured if anyone can help me it’d be a fellow runner. He’s written a book about healthy running and also founded the well-known and popular Pasadena Pacers running club.

After asking about my running history, training, shoes and other information he told me everything I was generally doing was fine. He did say sometimes after marathons, the body is worn out and may seem fine but isn’t fully recovered which could lead to soft tissue injuries if a runner isn’t careful. He suspects this could’ve been the case after London and even in 2017 after the Berlin Marathon.

Upon physical examination, he quickly found the problem, which was my piriformis muscle. That muscle can put pressure on the sciatic nerve which can cause pain down the leg. He said I could run still but to take it easy until the pain goes away. I got a deep tissue massage and electric stimulation. I did that twice and it helped immensely. After just two visits in three days, the pain started to go away.

I picked up my training toward the end of December but only had four weeks until the Pasadena Half Marathon. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run the race as fast as I would like since my training was limited and stalled. I was able to bounce back and decided to treat the race almost as a tempo run leading up to the goal race which is obviously the Tokyo Marathon. My best time on the Pasadena Half course was 1:19:21 set in 2013. I ran 1:20:43 last year but knew both those times were not realistic and chasing them could strain my body ahead of Tokyo which would not be worth it.

I didn’t have a time goal but felt if I could run under 1:25 then that’d show me I have a pretty good chance to run sub-3 in Tokyo. I felt if I could manage a 6:25-6:28 pace that would be sufficient as I’d have about four to five more weeks to improve before Tokyo.

Me after the race in front of the Rose Bowl

Fortunately, muscle memory exists. Your body and mind get trained to do something and doing it again comes back quicker than you think. This race is also my first since London. Since I started running again as an adult in 2009, I had never taken this much time in-between races, which was just about nine months! That’s just too long.

Anyway, race morning arrived. I woke up, drank beet juice and a bit of my hydration drink, some Gu energy gel and a banana. I stretched too and headed down to the Rose Bowl where the start and finish are.

Lucky for me, I didn’t have to drive. It was a nice walk/warm-up jog of about one mile. I arrived and saw thousands of people there getting ready to run and accomplish their personal goals which is always inspiring. Starting outside of and finishing on the field of such an iconic stadium makes this race worth it.

The course isn’t easy nor is it extremely tough. I’d call it challenging. It’s hilly but not terrible. There’s a long hill at the end of mile 2 up California Blvd. and a shorter steep incline up Colorado Blvd. headed to the historic Colorado Street Bridge. There are also period of gradual uphill and downhill. The last mile is all downhill which is a relief. That last mile finishes a loop around the Rose Bowl and adjacent Brookside Golf Course. The toughest part of the course is between miles six and nine because almost all of it is gradual uphill and includes the incline up Colorado Blvd.

The great part about the race is you pass by the city’s hot spots from, obviously, the Rose Bowl to Orange Grove Blvd. (where the Rose Parade begins) to Colorado Blvd. (which used to be part of Route 66) to Lake Ave. (known for shopping and restaurants) to Caltech (one of the best universities in the world) and then back to the Rose Bowl with a finish at the 50-yard-line.

Beer tastes better after a race

Before the start, as I was in the corral, I told myself not to go out too hard. It wasn’t worth exhausting myself. This was to be a marathon training run to show myself I’m in shape enough to run at or a bit faster than my idea goal marathon pace. This was important because my ego can sometimes get in the way and I want to try to best my previous times on the same course. This is where mental discipline comes into play.

The race started and thousands of us were off! My first mile was at 6:14. I wanted it slower at about 6:25 to 6:30 but that was ok since a good portion of it was downhill. My second mile was slower at 6:24 but under 6:30 which was good. My 5k time was under 20 minutes at 19:48. I felt comfortable which was good but I also felt that I couldn’t really run much faster, and if I tried, I’d exhaust myself quickly. As the race progressed, I followed about 10 seconds behind a pack for much of the way. My mile splits were mostly consistent if you factor in the gradual up and down. My lovely wife saw me just before mile 3 and at mile 8.5 (both in the same spots at the top of Colorado Blvd.) and said I looked the same and didn’t look to be in pain. I wasn’t.

As I headed down from the Colorado Street Bridge to the Rose Bowl for the loop around, I saw my 10-mile time and figured I’d have a good chance at sub-1:25 which would be good. My 11th and 12th miles were my slowest of the race (6:36 and 6:33) but almost all of that stretch was gradual uphill. Mile 13 was my fastest (6:10) but that was all downhill.

Of course, because it’s a half marathon, I felt fatigued toward the end like most everyone but not exhausted and worn out. My wife saw me with about a quarter-mile left and said I looked the same as earlier. I felt a bit tired but not weak. I didn’t have much of a kick and cruised to the finish line in 1:23:40–good enough for 29th place and 5th in my 40-44 age group.


Me and the wife. I ran but she got the blister

Even though my time was three minutes slower than last year, I was pleased to make it through without any pain and without my legs feeling like mush. The bottom of my feet toward the end were burning just a bit so I’ll have to find new shoes for the marathon but that wasn’t a big deal. My time, I believe, puts me on track for a sub-3 at Tokyo. But there’s still work to be done in the next few weeks.

My legs feel fine now though I can tell I did run a half. I’ll be back out training this week but on the easier side. My goal in the next few weeks is to run three 20-miler long runs, two to three tempo runs of 10 to 12 miles and at least one 8 x 1-mile interval workout or a 3 x 5k interval or both. That’s ambitious but I’m feeling good physically and this race gave me the added confidence that I can make a sub-3 happen in Tokyo. I don’t expect to run a a personal best but I don’t have to.


I’m a Bruin. He’s a Bruin. We’re at the football home of the Bruins. This picture just made sense

The lesson here is to keep pushing to bounce back and please be patient. You have the time. Races aren’t going anywhere. Gradually build up again and don’t worry if you’re not hitting past times yet. You’ll get there. I’m not hitting those times yet but in four to six months, I might be. Who knows? Trust in your training and trust in yourself to make it back from a setback or two or several.

Running With You,

Donald

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 #14 Days 1 and 2 Another Long Run Finished

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–Mostly sunny 61 degrees, Day 2–Mostly sunny 73 degrees

Types of Runs: Day 1–Easy, Day 2–Long

Lengths: Day 1–6.01 miles, Day 2–21.1 miles

Types of routes: Day 1–gradual uphill and downhill with one downhill descent; Day 2-gradual uphill and downhill with three uphill climbs and five downhill descents

Times: Day 1–43 minutes, 53 seconds; Day 2–2 hours, 38 minutes, 52 seconds

Paces per mile: Day 1–7:18, Day 2–7:32

Reason for Runs: Day 1–This was a short, easy run. The goal is to just give the legs and body some work but not too much. I like to keep the mileage low for this run as it’s between an interval workout and a long run. I don’t want to stress my legs any further.

Day 2–The long run is a staple to marathon training. In fact, if you had to choose only one difficult weekly workout to do while training for a marathon then the long run would be the one to keep. It’s the run that will boost endurance and help the body adjust to the distance and length of time on its feet. Generally, the long run is done at an easier and more manageable pace. Sometimes it helps to throw in some miles at marathon pace but  not during every long run. This was my third of four planned 20+ mile long runs. Why 20? Part of it is a mental thing for runners. If they can get to and above 20 then that can give them the confidence they can complete the race. Also, it’s important for the body to feel what it’s like to run that far so it’s not a shock come race day. The body makes changes after long runs. It learns to burn glycogen and fat better. Capillaries grow to allow more blood/energy to reach the muscles. The heart gets stronger too and learns to pump blood efficiently.

How did I feel? Day 1–Good. I took it easy and made sure I was comfortable with the pace. My legs felt fine a day after an 8-mile interval session. I met up with my wife who was walking. I ended my run near her route for a nice walk back home.

Day 2–Fine. My legs felt good mostly. Of course, they started to wear down toward the end of the run which is normal. The weather was a little warmer than it has been but I don’t think it was much of a factor in my performance. My pacing was generally good and consistent considering the route had almost 1,000 feet in total climbing. It was a hilly route so mile splits can vary, especially if you have a big climb in the middle of a mile. My perceived effort never really changed during the run. 21 miles is a long way to go. Sometimes I get bored on my long runs and anxious to finish them. That’s not always good as they can seem uncomfortable when the focus is just on finishing. Today, I was more patient. I took it mile-by-mile until I was done. Of course, I was counting down but I wasn’t anxious about finishing. I think if you focus on each particular mile at that moment and running it a certain way (fast, easy, etc.) then the long run will seem less grueling and time consuming. Easier said than done but that’s why you practice it. Hopefully, that advice can help with your next long run.

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #13 Day 3 An Easy Day With Tired Legs

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: Cloudy, slight drizzle, 66 degrees

Type of Run: Easy

Length: 6.14 miles + 5 strides

Type of route: Gradual uphill and downhill around Rose Bowl 5k route, one downhill descent and one uphill climb

Time: 45 minutes, 17 seconds

Pace per mile: 7:23

Reason for Run: This is the weekly easy/recovery run done a day after the long run. The goal is to take it easy and give the legs some work on reduced mileage while they recover from the long run. The strides help improve leg turnover, speed and efficiency. They’re run between 70 and 100 meters and should be performed at 75 to 90% full speed.

How did I feel? Decent. My legs are still feeling the effects of the long run so they’re feeling a little heavy and worn out. This is not unusual and no cause for concern. My pace was comfortable today. The strides got better with each rep so that was good. I was able to negative split so I ran the second half of the run faster than the first. That’s a good sign my legs can take the added mileage lately. When running a marathon, you will have to run on tired legs so it’s good to do so during training. If you can handle it during training then you can handle it during a marathon.

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #13 Days 1 and 2 Another 20-Miler Done

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–Mostly sunny 64 degrees, Day 2–Mostly sunny 64 degrees

Types of Run: Day 1–Easy, Day 2–Long

Lengths: Day 1–5.19 miles + 4 strides, Day 2–20.45 miles

Types of routes: Day 1–gradual uphill and downhill with one uphill climb and one downhill descent; Day 2–gradual uphill and downhill, some flat with two uphill climbs and two downhill descents

Times: Day 1–37 minutes, 49 seconds; Day 2–2 hours, 31 minutes, 43 seconds

Paces per mile: Day 1–7:17, Day 2–7:26

Reason for Run: Day 1–This was an easy and short run. The purpose is to get out and give the legs some work and add to the weekly mileage total. The pace is comfortable and in control. The strides are between 70 to 90 meters long done at 75 to 90% full speed. The goal is to improve leg speed and turnover.

Day 2–This is the weekly long run. It was my second of four planned 20-mile runs in preparation for the marathon. The long run is generally done at an easy and comfortable pace. The goal is to increase endurance and help the body become more efficient at burning both glycogen and fat. The marathon is obviously a long race so the body needs to be able to handle running long distances for long periods of time. The weekly long run helps the body handle that.

How did I feel? Day 1–Fine. I kept the pace relaxed. The weather was nice. It was an otherwise uneventful run that was completed without any struggle.

Day 2–Fine. I kept the pace comfortable throughout the run. It was a little humid but the weather was cool enough that it wasn’t a major factor. My pacing was fairly consistent throughout the run and I did run the second half faster than the first which was good. My legs felt worn at the end of the run which is to be expected after running 20 miles. But there was no struggle for me physically. However, mentally, sometimes you have to push to keep going because part of your mind just wants the run to end. When that happens, it’s easy to focus on things like your legs being sore or the discomfort of feeling warm and sweaty. Those thoughts can slow you down. It’s best to just concentrate in the moment and tell yourself it’ll end soon.

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #11 Day 3 A “Negative” Run That Turned Out Positive

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: Partly cloudy, 56 degrees

Type of Run: Tempo

Length: 6.18 miles

Type of route: Gradual uphill and downhill (Rose Bowl 5k loop)

Time: 39 minutes, 49 seconds

Pace per mile: 6:27

Reason for Run: This was a variation of the standard tempo run. Since this week is a recovery week for me, I’m decreasing the mileage and intensity of the workouts. I decided to do a tempo run in which I would negative split each mile. That means I’d run each mile faster than the previous one. The pace of the run is gradually increased. This is beneficial because it teaches the body to adjust pace and pick up the intensity when required. This will help if you’re in a pack of runners that starts to surge. It also helps with marathon preparation because the first few miles of the marathon are done at a slower pace than goal pace to preserve energy. You’ll need to increase your pace after those early miles to hit your goal.

How did I feel? Good. I did this run exactly the way I wanted without a hitch. Each mile was faster than the last. My first mile was 6:55 and my last was 5:50. I felt good to start and was able to pick up the pace without much problem. The only thing I had to control was how fast I picked up the pace because I didn’t want to increase it so much that negative splitting would be very difficult. I wanted a smooth build up and I did that. Knowing I can increase my pace during a run should give me extra confidence that I can do it during a race, especially if I’m trying to catch or lose someone or if I need to speed up to reach a time goal.

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #11 Day 2 A Brisk Run in Cool Weather

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: Partly cloudy, 54 degrees

Type of Run: Easy

Length: 5.19 miles + 4 strides

Type of route: Gradual uphill and downhill with one uphill climb and one downhill descent

Time: 36 minutes, 58 seconds

Pace per mile: 7:07

Reason for Run: This was the usual easy recovery run done a day after the long run. The goal is take it at a comfortable pace to give my legs some rest after a hard workout like the long run. I usually like the run to be between 6 and 7 miles. But since this is a “recovery” week in which I reduce my mileage, I ran a little more than 5 miles. The strides are done at 75 to 90% full speed with the purpose of building speed and improving leg turnover and efficiency.  They should be between 70 and 100 meters long.

How did I feel? Good. Usually, my pace is slower for this run. But the weather was nice and I found my brisk pace was not a bother. The weather plays a big role in how fast distance runners can go on any particular day. The longer the distance, the greater factor weather becomes. A 5k run in 75-degree weather can still be done quickly by those in good shape. However, a marathon run in 75-degree will slow even the best runners down considerably. You can forget about a PR (personal record) in that weather regardless of the course. When the weather is cooler, it’s easy for the body to regulate its heat. It doesn’t have to work extra hard to cool down. You’re basically expending less energy to keep cool. That extra fuel goes toward you’re running therefore making you faster. That’s a simplistic explanation but I don’t think you have the time to read about the biology behind it and I don’t feel like writing about it. Suffice to say, I like running in cool weather and you should too.

Running With You in Warm and Cool Weather,

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 #10 Day 2 Another Good Recovery Run

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: Mostly sunny, 54 degrees

Type of Run: Easy

Length: 6.18 miles + 4 sprint strides

Type of route: Two hills climbs, two downhill descents, gradual uphill and downhill with some flat areas

Time: 46 minutes, 3 seconds

Pace per mile: 7:27

Reason for Run: This was a recovery run done at an easy and comfortable pace. It was a recovery from the 18-mile long run. The day after a long I like to run a shorter distance of between 6 to 7 miles to give my legs a break. They were taxed enough during the long run. They don’t and shouldn’t be worked hard the next day.  I mixed in two tough hill climbs to give my legs a little bit of work. The strides at the end of the run help improve my leg speed and turnover. I like to run them 80% to 90% full speed.

How did I feel? Fine. I was happy with the pace. I felt no need to push myself today. It was a challenging course with the hill climbs but I took it easy and kept my pace steady while climbing. When you run up a hill you will naturally slow down. Don’t every worry about that. Focus on maintaining good form and shorten your stride a bit so you don’t wear out your quad muscles which work hard while climbing as it is.

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