Finally getting it?

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This topic contains 18 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  ksrunner 9 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #11536

    ksrunner
    Participant

    I've been a casual reader of these boards for several years. Though what I am posting is probably just common sense for most here, for me I feel like I am finally beginning to understand where I've been and where I'm going.

    Recently, I am finding that I have a greater amount of determination to train and run well. Perhaps it is turning 40 late last year. I think that a lot of it is that I know that I can run faster times, but that I am just not investing the time required to chase them.

    A few months ago, I started by looking at my training log. I've kept a fairly detailed log in an Excel document since 2001. The first sheet lists all of my runs and the remaining sheets break down each year by days, weeks, months, and quarters. As I was looking at this, I decided to add another row on the sheet where I show daily statistics for each year. On that row, I showed the percentage of days run. I knew that I was inconsistent, but it turns out that in my best year I still averaged better than 3.5 days off out of ten. All of the other years were better than four days off out of ten. The other thing that I knew is that I wouldn't be able to run my best at 180 lbs. (I'm now down around 170.) Though I haven't adopted any special diets, I have adjusted portions a bit and skip seconds more frequently. My wife runs a goat dairy, and the girls are pretty much at peak production right now. So, I am enjoying home made ice cream nearly every day. It doesn't seemed to have impacted the downward trend for my weight though.

    The other thing that I have noticed just from observation of my training is that I am simply slow. That is a product of practicing slow running. Though on some days, I ran fairly fast for my regular run. I did no speed work, no strides, and no form drills. So, I am incorporating a couple of days of long or short intervals or hills each week and following up some runs with strides. Before interval or hill workouts, I am doing the form drills that we did in college. When winter rolls around, I will likely at least maintain some sort of fartlek workout and some strides, but I will shift my training emphasis toward greater volume. I have also decided that for me, there is no need to run a marathon. Though I have run a marathon before and I do long runs with people who regularly run marathons, I am not going to dedicate myself to running enough miles to be properly trained. I will enjoy the 20 mile long runs and then go run my 5Ks or half marathons. Since most of my runs will be 5Ks, that will be my primary focus. I will also run some half marathons and once or twice per year, I will have an opportunity to run a shorter race on the track and I would like to run decent for those races as well. I think that I can find a happy medium in there somewhere. I don't want to worry about peaking. I just want to be decently fast when I do choose to race and I want to race a bit more frequently than I did in the past — but not every weekend.

    I've arrived at this plan through some observation of my training and my logs and through some reading. I have especially enjoyed Pete Magill's blog which I've seen quoted here several times. You can probably guess from my comments about my log that I am a person who enjoys looking at the numbers related to my training. But, I also really like the idea of training more by feel. When I read about it in Pete's blog, the “rightness” of it just resonates with me. Right now, I am trying to do a hybrid. I still wear my Garmin for runs and start it and stop it with each repetion if need be, but I am not looking at it during my workouts. I have even configured the Garmin so that if I do glance at my wrist, I won't find enough information there to cause me to alter what I'm doing. So, while I am running, I can run by feel, but when I get home I can enter the information into my spreadsheet and see the numbers.

    Currently, my Garmin is showing signs that it is on its last days. Several times now, it has turned itself off for no apparent reason. If my Garmin does die, I won't stress about it and I won't replace it. From August 2004 until November 2006, I ran without a watch. My watch died and I refused to buy another. I felt that it should have lasted longer and didn't want to waste my money a second time. Interestingly, 2005 was my best year of running performance wise. But that is primarily because I ran more miles and more consistently. In November 2006, I won a small half marathon and the prize was the Garmin that I am currently using. I wish that I could blame my decline since 2006 on the Garmin, but it is really because I did not place a high enough priority on running during that time.

    One of the things that I have read on Pete's blog and elsewhere is that a person can expect 5-7 years of improved performance with consistent training. As I look at it, 2009 is year 1. Though I do expect to see some improvements in my race times later this year (I already feel some difference.), I know that I won't really see the benefits of this year's training until 2010 or beyond. Someday, when I do manage to run one of the fast times that I think I'm capable of, someone will ask me about my training. I am sure that I will answer with my current mileage and something about my current workouts at the time, but hopefully I will remember to say that it started in 2009.

    Steve

  • #27809

    ed
    Participant

    Excellent post and nice breakdown of issues that gave you your highs and lows.  I hope that people who are still searching and learning take something form this and grow.

  • #27810

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Finally or otherwise, I think you're getting it. So much in there just fits with what works. The ignoring the watch/Garmin (I almost always wear a watch – I race much better when I almost never look at it during training runs). The consistency of training. The workouts. Even forgetting about the marathon for a while. It's no secret that I've done the same and I honestly enjoy my running much more when doing the shorter races and forgetting that there is anything as long as a marathon.

    You can have 5-7 years of improvement from when you really start taking running seriously, maybe even more. In fact, an old coach of mine who began running seriously in his 30s said you have about 10 years of improvement and he hit 10 years almost dead on. Likewise for me, from 1993 when I really got serious, I had about 10 years. I think I could have had more but I decided it was time to move on with other parts of my life.

    I look forward to seeing how you can progress into the next 5-7 years, if not longer. You're on the right track. Enjoy the ride.

  • #27811

    Andrew A.
    Member

    I've arrived at this plan through some observation of my training and my logs and through some reading. I have especially enjoyed Pete Magill's blog which I've seen quoted here several times. You can probably guess from my comments about my log that I am a person who enjoys looking at the numbers related to my training. But, I also really like the idea of training more by feel. When I read about it in Pete's blog, the “rightness” of it just resonates with me. Right now, I am trying to do a hybrid. I still wear my Garmin for runs and start it and stop it with each repetion if need be, but I am not looking at it during my workouts. I have even configured the Garmin so that if I do glance at my wrist, I won't find enough information there to cause me to alter what I'm doing. So, while I am running, I can run by feel, but when I get home I can enter the information into my spreadsheet and see the numbers.

    Precisely, the numbers should simply be a product (a measurement) of the work done, and not vice versa. 

    Plenty of good thoughts in your message.  Just FYI, you have not been alone, it seems to be an unfortunately common approach that you are leaving behind.  It is interesting to look on, just for example, a marathon-focused forum (elsewhere) that clearly has a heavy emphasis on the numbers (mostly short-sighted) yet when the posts of yearly mileage go up it is revealed that essentially none have averaged 80+ miles/week for the year — and none seem to see any issue with this and so many often wonder why they fail to see expected improvements in the marathon.  It is highly illustrative and instructive, it is proof that such an approach is fundamentally unsound.

  • #27812

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    It is interesting to look on, just for example, a marathon-focused forum (elsewhere) that clearly has a heavy emphasis on the numbers (mostly short-sighted) yet when the posts of yearly mileage go up it is revealed that essentially none have averaged 80+ miles/week for the year — and none seem to see any issue with this and so many often wonder why they fail to see expected improvements in the marathon.

    In fact, if you're referencing the place I think you are, relatively few average as little as 50+ miles per week for the year. Interestingly, some of those averaging less than 50 miles per week for the year consider themselves at least moderately high mileage runners and think they are really getting the most out of their training (and this is in a marathon-centric place). Maybe for half of the year but, if you really want to get the most out of your training, you need that consistency not even for one whole year but year-round for years on end. Just because your highest week is 93 doesn't mean much when your average over a lengthy period is 47.

    You'll get more out of a max week of 75 and an average of 65 than a max week of 90 and an average of 50.

  • #27813

    ksrunner
    Participant

    Thanks for the responses.

    I am already doing a bit better at listening to my body. This week, I cancelled the workout that I had planned for Wednesday. Initially, I put it off until Thursday, but on Thursday, I was still not recovered fromMonday's short hill repeats. (They didn't feel hard at the time, but it is my first time I've done hill repeats in a long time.)

    I still need to learn what the effort level should feel like for each type of workout that I plan to do. I've had a couple of workouts lately where I've pushed too hard early and had to alter the workout. I don't feel that the hill workout was one of them. I finished that and still felt I could do more. It's just that it is new and takes my body longer to adjust.

    Tomorrow is a 1500m race — and possibly a 5000m race as well. It didn't cost extra to sign up for the 5000m, so I put my name down for that. It might be interesting to run 5000m on a track. I've never done that. I will see how I feel after the 1500m.

    On another topic, I have stopped trying to run in the Fivefingers for awhile. My feet got bruised up once on some gravel and now I am introducing many other changes to my running. I will try them again some day.

    Steve

  • #27814

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Perhaps just using the 5-fingers for walking around (at home in the evening and on weekends) would be of benefit.

  • #27815

    ksrunner
    Participant

    We live in the country and my wife runs a small goat dairy. Between all of the rain that we've had this year and the honey locust thorns, it's not a very conducive environment for the Fivefingers. I always go barefoot in the house and sometimes throw on the Fivefingers to walk down the drive to check the mail or something. Lately, I have been leaving them in the van when I drive to work — thinking that when I run in town after work I might decide to do a little running in the Fivefingers after my workout. Perhaps I will try to start wearing them for strides in the grass afterward — or just do the strides barefoot.

    By the way, the 1500m last weekend went okay. They ran it in 10-year age groups and scored it in 5-year age groups. I missed the 5000m because they rescheduled it to the first event of the day and I never saw that email. I think that it was a very late change. They started the 5000m while I was pinning my number on. Only 5 or 6 people were registered and only one of them showed up to run. I would have skipped it anyway due to the time change. The 1500m was my primary focus and it was the next event after the 5000m — though there was a women's 1500m heat and 3 men's 1500m heats before my race between the 5000m and my race.

    At the start of my heat, two guys went out hard. I went with them initially — hoping to compete for the win in my heat, but I decided that they were going a bit too fast and backed off after 300m. A friend of mine passed me in the first 100m of the second lap and I was racing in 4th place and he put about 20m between us. There was also a gap between myself and 5th place — though I don't know how much. That is pretty much how we stayed until the bell lap. In the last lap, I picked up the pace, but I really didn't know if I might catch Chris. With 200m to go, he started coming back to me. I always get a rush when I see someone coming back to me. I was about 3m back as we entered the home stretch and  I surged by him to take third in the heat and second in my age group in 4:40. The pace was slightly faster than the 5:07 mile that I ran a couple of weeks ago. I had submitted 4:40 with my entry and my official time was 4:40.13. Too bad there wasn't a time prediction competition. 

    This race somewhat followed the pattern of the mile run that I did a couple of weeks ago. Both times, the early pace felt a bit too fast and I backed off late in the first lap, but then finished strong to catch someone who had built a gap on me in the second lap. I always feel that if I want to compete, I need to be with the leaders from the start, but perhaps I would be better served to be more conservative in the first lap and then start pressing in the last half of the race. I don't know that I've ever run a negative split, but it seems like it might be something to try sometime.

    Steve

  • #27816

    rehammes
    Member

    Steve, it sounds like you've got  a pretty good handle on your level of fitness ;).  Nice race. 

    That would've been a lonely 5k with one other runner. 

  • #27817

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Something I have noticed gain mention used as minimalist shoes (perhaps a 'gateway') are cc flats, such as the Saucony Kilkenny in particular.

  • #27818

    ed
    Participant

    Five Fingers are pretty expensive – are there any other types of shoes like these that do not cost as much?

  • #27819

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Similar in what regard?

  • #27820

    ed
    Participant

    Similar in design and/or purpose?

  • #27821

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Never seen any other shoe with 5 separated toes.

  • #27822

    ed
    Participant

    The five fingers seems something more akin to an aqua sock than to what is typically considered a shoe. 

    I'll have to do some barefoot runs in grass – but I am always worried that I'll end up cutting my foot on something and being down for a while.

    There is always a balance between risk and trying different things.

  • #27823

    ksrunner
    Participant

    Andrew,

    I'll think about the cross country flats. One of the guys in the group that I do long runs with is the Saucony rep in our area, so I can probably get a pair of those even if the local store doesn't carry them.

    Right now, I have a couple of pairs of training shoes in the rotation and we have a pretty tight budget, so I cannot see buying any more shoes until one of these pair wear out or I manage to win a gift certificate at one of the local races.

    Though I would like to be running in minimalist shoes — or even no shoes though I don't see that as viable where I live — my primary running goal is to improve my performance over the next several years, so I think that I will try to take the evolution to more minimal running shoes very gradually. I see myself now moving toward training in racing flats with my next couple of shoe purchases. If that goes well, I will see if I can move from there toward the cc flats or the Fivefingers.

    It is likely that I will get a pair of the cc flats before I am ready to test them as everyday trainers. This year, I have run three races on the track and I have one cross country race planned. I expect that to continue each year. My 22-year-old track spikes are starting to show their age and the cc flats would probably serve well in that role.

    Steve

  • #27824

    ksrunner
    Participant

    Ed,

    I have never worn aqua socks, but I expect that Fivefingers would resemble them somewhat functionally since Fivefingers were originally intended to provide good traction on a boat deck. I have not looked at aqua socks in a long time, but I believe that the sole of the Fivefingers will prove more durable and will be thicker on the toes, heel, and ball of the foot than the soles of the aqua socks. The separated toes are nice, but it is also possible that rocks or sticks can get stuck between the toes — requiring a stop to remove them. (I sometimes have to do this with traditional trainers that have a hollow spot in the heel where rocks can lodge.) With either Fivefingers or the aqua socks, if you step down a largish stone, you will probably end up with a bruise. The last time that I ran in the Fivefingers, I underestimated the amount of loose gravel on the roads near my house and bruised my feet such that I had to stop and walk home to avoid further damage. When that happened, the bruises did not seem to be very deep and did not affect my running in my more traditional trainers. My feet must be tougher from running regularly on gravel because several years ago I did get some deep bruises through my traditional training shoes that lasted for a couple of weeks and affected my running until they healed.

    Perhaps it is possible that I could grow acclimated to running on gravel in Fivefingers. Right now, however, running fast is a higher priority than running in Fivefingers. The Fivefingers are not going anywhere.

    Steve

  • #27825

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Depending on the size you would take, I do know of some sources for getting that type of shoe quite inexpensively.  I have some cc flats (these) that I just use for regular walking around, it helps doing even just that in something that has a rather thin sole.  Beach shoes are not so different, like cc flats they tend to have a thin layer of sheet eva underfoot to protect the foot from protrusions.  However, unlike the typical cc flats they tend to have drainage features to better allow water to escape (as well as enter) the shoe. 

  • #27826

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Ed, I'd guess that the aqua socks are probably the closest thing to Fivefingers functionally that you could find. However, the big selling point of the Fivefingers is that they allow your toes freedom to move independently. You're not going to get that with anything else that I'm aware of on the market. Actually, I remember a long time ago that I believe Nike had a shoe where the big toe was separate from the rest of the toes but it wasn't the same as these and I'm not even sure if you can get it anymore (…or maybe you can – the Nike Rift…). Still, while this more resembles the Fivefingers than other shoes, I would question how functionally similar it is, especially with that thick midsole.

    Steve, I would recommend a transitional phase to get to the most minimal if that's where you want to get to. Over time, we've weakened our feet and legs by wearing too much shoe. To go straight to minimal might overstress previously underused muscles, tendons, etc. and cause injury. A more gradual transition would allow your body time to adjust. That's my take at least and that's how I've been doing it.

    That said, I never really thought of cross country flats. That would be an interesting next step for me to try. I almost got some aqua socks recently but, after trying them on, thought it might be too big of a transition from where I am now.

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