Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Speed or distance: which do you prefer?

Running a 16 minute 5K (or alternately a 34 min 10K) or running a marathon or ultra marathon at a slow pace (just completing it, not racing it). Both feats seem challenging. Which would you rather accomplish and why?

Personally, I have confidence that with adequate training at relatively easy aerobic paces, I could complete a race of any distance, if I put my mind to it, but I am much less confident that I would ever be able to run a 16 minute 5K, even if I trained as hard as anyone else for it. Truly impressive speed seems more out of reach than truly impressive distances. So, I guess if I had one running wish to be granted by some running genie, it would be the 16 minute 5K.

After that, knowing I'd be unlikely to improve much on the time, I'd probably turn to longer distance pursuits. However, I'd still need to go for more speed each time to convince myself to do any given event more than once, most likely.

I do enjoy a nice, gentle, easy run at times, but I guess I don't enter events just to get from the start to the finish. I enter them to see how fast I can do so, and then subsequently to see if I can do them even faster the next time.

So, what are -your- thoughts on the subject?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Racing a "Virtual Partner"

Is my Garmin Virtual Partner taunting me?
I run with a Garmin Forerunner 305, which like other Garmin sports GPS units has the "Virtual Partner" feature, which allows you to compete against or run with a little virtual runner dude. Basically, you can look down at the display and see that you are ahead or behind virtual runner dude, which you've set to some desired pace. There's a little running man icon that represents the virtual runner on one display, and another that represents you, and the position of these changes to depict who is ahead or behind and how much so. A numeric display may tell you have far you've run, or how far ahead or behind you are relative to your Virtual Partner.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Running in the cold: what to wear

A look at the forecast for Thanksgiving morning in Fort Collins suggests that during the local Loveland Turkey Trot 5K and the Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day 4 Miler the ambient temperature in the area is going to be between 8 and 12 degrees...  That's pretty cold, on it's own, but the 9-12 mph winds are expected to contribute enough wind chill to make it feel like -3 to 0 degrees (all Fahrenheit). So, Turkey morn will be a cold one for anyone running these events.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

From doughboy to fence post

Me, June 2008 (left) vs. April 2010 (right).
In my adult life, I have mostly eaten healthy and been active enough to stay reasonably healthy, but twice I sensed that I started to slide. Both times, I've been able to solve most of my weight problems with a healthier diet, and by eating reasonable serving sizes of the healthiest versions I can find of normal everyday foods I've been able to lose significant weight.

Monday, November 15, 2010

VO2 Max: It's not everything, but it's very important

running away and going no where
What is VO2 Max?

VO2 Max is a measure of the amount of oxygen a person (or animal) consumes when exercising at their maximum rate during a sustained exercise activity. It is expressed in units of mililiters of O2 per minute per kilogram of body mass (i.e., weight), or L/min x kg. If you take body weight out of the equation, it's just the total volume of oxygen used per minute, but the number has less utility in assessing fitness, because in addition to fitness, body mass itself has an impact on overall oxygen use. This is why VO2 Max is corrected or normalized to body mass by dividing L 02/min by weight in kg.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tortoise and Hare Race Series: Warren Park 5K

The second race of 2010-11 season in the Tortoise and Hare Race Series, the club race series of the Fort Collins Running Club, was the the Warren Park 5K.  The weather was comfortably cool, and runners started at in the Parking area off of Horsetooth at Warren Park, running on the sidewalks along Horsetooth and Lemay, which border the Park, then into the neighborhood south of Lemay to a turnaround in a small circle drive, and back. The first mile is relatively flat until the last quarter mile, when you climb a slight hill into the neighborhood. From there it's lightly rolling to the turnaround, so the second mile has some up and down. The third mile goes back down the hills out of the neighborhood onto Lemay, then it's relatively flat again back to the finish.

Me and at least one other runner had run one of the Heart Center of the Rockies Races the previous day. Having just run my fastest ever 10K by far the day before, I suspected I might be a bit short on glycogen stores for this 5K, but I felt pretty good.

Since it's close to my house, I ran about a half mile of warmup to Warren Park to the start area, checked in, met with a couple of other runners I know in the club, and wen it was my turn, I was off. I didn't have any expectations, but it was a pleasant surprised to see 6:11 on the lap pace field of my Garmin when I looked about 0.3 miles into the race. I smiled, but pulled back a little thinking I might burn out more quickly at that pace. By the time I reached the hill going up into the neighborhood, my overall pace was around 6:30, and I just eased up the hill, finishing Mile 1 at around 6:40, with a cramp starting in my diaphragm.

I slowed a little more and did some deeper "stomach" breathing for a bit, and let myself speed up as the cramp dissipated. Then, it was up and down, and up again to the turnaround, and down, and up and down to the start of the third mile. Mile 2 was done in 6:53.

The start of mile 3 has a little bit of downhill in it, and although my legs were tired. I tried to ratchet the pace up a little, and then just keep a hard steady effort until the last quarter mile, when I knew I would probably find some strength to pick it up still more and cross the finish strong. I passed a handful of people during the race, and was passed by a handful, mostly in the last mile, to finish in 20:37, according to my watch (20:38 official). This was a PR for me by a bit over 30 seconds, which I was quite happy with after the big 10K PR effort the day before.

Afterwards, the top 5 finishers (I wasn't one of them), were given their awards, and most of us headed the Rocky Mountain Bagel Works on Timberline in Fort Collins for the traditional Club breakfast, which is a great opportunity to network with other local runners and meet some new people with shared interests.

Another enjoyable morning of hard running and a delicious breakfast behind me, I ran with my wife on her first run when I returned home, and called it a "cooldown" run.

Heart Center of The Rockies 10K: Race Report and Review

The 2011 Heart Center of the Rockies Half Marathon/10K/5K/kids runs were held on November 6, 2011. After planning in advance to run the Half Marathon, I opted in the end to run the 10K, because it was more affordable. I have to think about things like that in the down economy. Last year, this 5K race was my first organized race, so I was eager to get out there 365 days later and see how much I had improved. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Running Spouses

ground running style #1

When I started running again 15 months ago, my wife watched with interest. She was interested in how well my body would take it, how long I would stick with it, and how serious about it I would be. She had just watched me bicycle several hundred miles for fitness before I started running, but I think she thought running would be too hard on my body and would only really be an occasional thing for me. She never said anything discouraging, but I could tell she had her doubts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My running report card: 12 months of races

Ok, it’s been 15 months since I took my first steps back into running. I ran in my teens and twenties for fitness, but stopped sometime in my early twenties. Since then, I have been anywhere from moderately active to sedentary, depending on what kind of work or activities I was have been involved with.

Early in 2009, I started cycling, and loved it. Eventually, I wanted to do what I could to improve my cycling, and running a couple times a week as a form of cross training seemed like a good option. So, in three months, I had improve my running condition enough with occasional running and continued cycling to run a 5K race, when my wife suggested it.  I loved it, and that was the beginning of my latest journey into running.

Since that first race, I’ve run 11 more, from 5K to Half Marathon (13.1 miles/21K).  My running frequency has increased to four to six days per week, with weekly mileage ranging now usually from about 25-45, and occasionally exceeding 50 (when training for the half marathon). I’ve also been through three periods of when I couldn’t run much, when I was suffering from ITBS in from December 2009, well into February 2010, when I started some core strengthening exercises and changed many aspects of my running form.  Later, the lengths of my runs were limited by pain from an impinged nerve in my right foot in March-April 2010.

My first race in 2010 came in early May, and I have raced fairly regularly since then. The races have been a great way to assess my progress in running, so I’ve decided to reflect on how my running performance has changed over the last 12 months.

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