Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Blog Rundown

Less and less I'm interested in the running blogs that have become extensions of fitness-gear marketing departments. Not that the reviews aren't honest or helpful. I just find that the more time I spend reading about cool new stuff, the further removed I become from the true rewards running offers me.

I'm also losing my appetite for reading about someone's latest diet experiment in which this category or that other category of food is off limits because an author, armed with a study or two—likely to be contradicted in a few years, because that's what always happens with nutritional "science"—has with evangelical fervor made a compelling case to do so. Grains evil? Coffee toxic? Green tea the cure for all your ills? Yawn. Michael Pollan is right: If you're going to avoid anything, avoid the fads. Embrace what you know is good for you. You do know.

I'm trending in the same direction when it comes to reading about training regimens. Mostly I confine myself to Science of Sport-type discussions that try to tease what's real from what's myth.

Instead of gear, diet and how-to-train blogs, I now find myself reading the sites that exhibit and explore a deep connection to running. For example: Anton Krupicka's Riding the Wind. He writes infrequently but compellingly. As here:
Heading down Greenman (the upper section down to Saddle Rock is excellent for descending right now with an almost perfect amount of snowpack) I encountered no knee pain but was treated to a most excellent night-time view of the city as the clouds lifted virtually right before my eyes. This was the view I'd been waiting for all day and it sparked a stretch of that kind of running that only comes along every once in a while. Every footstep is perfectly placed without trying, the growing darkness adds a sense of increased effortlessness and speed, and the steep drops and rocks and roots all provide giddy moments of acrobatic proficiency instead of the more typical tired and awkward navigation. I'd forgotten how much fun it can be to run trails at dusk.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Not Quite

Danny Dreyer:
The information from Lieberman’s study isn’t new information, but it is fabulous to finally have some scientific backup for our claims that a midfoot strike and minimal shoes can help you reduce or avoid many common running injuries.

Is There Anything Wrong With Heel Striking in Running Shoes? Not necessarily! Many people like to run this way and do so without injury. But some runners get repetitive stress injuries each year (estimates vary from 30-75%) and one hypothesis is that heel striking contributes to some of these injuries. We emphasize though, that no study has shown that heel striking contributes more to injury than forefoot striking.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Simplifying It

Greg McMillan: "My belief is that for our runners to be successful in the marathon, they need to be able to run between 120 and 150 miles a week. That’s what almost all of the great runners have done. We need to get them to that point and we need to be smart in how we get them there. Once they can do that, then we can step back and we can look at how can we push the pace faster, how can we get marathon-specific training going. And that’s what we’ve done with Brett (Gotcher, who ran 2:10:36 in his debut marathon at Houston earlier this month). We took two and a half years to build him where he can get into that zone and he’s just in it. We only had five weeks before the marathon above 120 with one week above 140 so he’s certainly getting in good volume, but I’d love to see us get in six or eight weeks above 130 and average 135 or so."

Sure, there's incalculable difference between elites and 47-year-old weekend warriors. Understood. But adjusting for that, the principle stands: The way to become faster is to run more miles. (And, of course, the key to running more miles is figuring out a way to do so without incurring injury.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Makes My Head Spin

When he ran 2:54:48 at Toronto in 2004, Ed Whitlock was 73 years old.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It Doesn't Add Up

Does a 1:28:51 half-marathon followed a week later by a 1:28:52 half-marathon equal a 2:57:43 marathon? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Losing the Half-Marathon PR Touch

What can I say? Last week I ran 1:28:51 at the Cascade Half. Today I ran 1:28:52 at Vancouver Lake. If I keep slowing down 1 second per 13.1 miles per week, well, hell, eventually they'll have to shut the course down on me.

Strange race. I was dreading the rain/cold/wind combo plate being served up an hour before the start, but then by race time, at 10 a.m., the rain was for the most part eighty-sixed. Once we got going I never felt uncomfortable.

We were running on roads and bike paths on the flatlands that separate Vancouver Lake from the Columbia River. If you look at a map of the United States and see where, not far from the Pacific, the line between Oregon and Washington makes a sharp turn north, that's where we were, on the Washington side.

Sidenote: Yesterday Niko and I were just across the Columbia at Kelley Point Park, the northern tip of Portland and the confluence of the Willamette and the Columbia rivers. I was going to say, "where two great rivers come together," but I don't think the Willamette quite qualifies as great. Pretty good, certainly. A major drainage. Much-bridged, and prettily, too, here in PDX. Visiting Kelley Point we learned that Lewis & Clark missed the Willamette, both coming (to the Pacific) and going (back up the Columbia). Bozos.

I liked seeing lots of familiar faces at the race today. Many Red Lizards, and Steven Livermore, kicking butt as usual. I liked, too, the flatness of the course and the many long straight or slightly bending stretches but I wasn't crazy about having to do three 180-degree turnarounds. For an old guy like me you don't want to have to crank it down for the turn then crank it back up out of the turn. It hurts.

The second turnaround, coming at six miles, was especially obnoxious because it sent us into the wind for a couple of miles. That's when I ran my worst mile split, a 6:57. I got a little better after that, and even mustered enough late-race oomph to do mile 13 in 6:37. But too many six-fifty-somethings in the second half cost me my shot at a PR.

Afterward I realized this, my sixth half-marathon, was the first time I didn't PR the distance. I had always gotten faster. Well, I don't suppose going balls-out last Sunday was really the best way to prepare for the race. Nor was running 15 miles on Wednesday, eight on Thursday and seven on Friday.

It probably wouldn't have hurt my Eugene training to back off a bit this week. Certainly I would have had fresher legs today if I had. But psychologically it was important for me to keep the focus on the marathon. I think it's OK to run tons of shorter races leading up to a marathon. Races keep running fun. But I can't get sucked into adjusting my marathon training in order to excel at the shorter races. I've got a job to do at Eugene.

Official results:
3/34 M45-49
35/200 Men
38/407 Overall