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Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: mile

Chasing a Seventeen-Year-Old Me (updated 11/30/2016)

“Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us.  They are essential to really keep us alive.”  — — Robert Schuller

‎”You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ~Jack London
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Call it a mid-life crisis.  Call it dreaming.  Call it whatever you want.  I am chasing the shadow of a 17 year-old me.  I was 17 when I consistently ran 4:45 for 1600 meters.  I was 17 when I ran a half-marathon in 1:20:48.  I was 17 when I got tendinitis.  After a couple of years of doctors, specialists, & physical therapy, nobody could figure out why I had this tendinitis.  I would run once in a while, but my competitive days were done… or so I thought.
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My tendinitis issues started in 1984.  Now fast forward to 2003.  I decided that I was getting out of shape and I started jogging.  This time, my tendinitis did not show up but I had knee issues.  Another specialist and another round of, “There is nothing we can do.”  I was told to stay off hills and run 3 miles or less.  So for a few years I jogged 3 to 7 miles on a feel-like-it basis, every so often.
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When my life was turned inside out back in 2009, I needed stress relief badly, so I turned to fitness.  I joined a gym and started training for a marathon.  Well, I should say that I started running a lot and hoping that would help me finish a marathon.  I can’t really say that I had a plan.  In the 2010 Knoxville Marathon, I totally bonked at mile 17 and walked the rest of the way…mostly in the cold rain…shivering..muscles locked up… but I finished.  5 hours and 35 minutes.  It was hell.  I was hooked!
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I put the weights down and focused on training for the 2011 Knoxville Marathon.  This time, I followed one of Hal Higdon’s plans.  I modified the advanced I plan.  I also learned about electrolytes and Yasso 800s.  I felt fast enough to run 3:40 or so, but alas I had still not learned enough about electrolytes and nutrition.  I had to settle for 3 hours and 55 minutes.  Much better than the first try!
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After this one, I followed Hal’s advice and used the momentum from this marathon to earn some personal records (PRs) in shorter distances.  He was SO right.  I had done very little speed training.  Most of my track work was about pacing more than speed.  Still, my training had made me much faster.  I found myself running a 5k in less than a 7 minute pace for the first time in over a quarter of a century!  A month later, I averaged a 7 minute pace for a 10k!
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“What else can I accomplish?” This was the question That I asked myself.  Moreover, “What do I WANT to accomplish while I am still young enough to get fast?”
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I set my sights on a 6 minute mile.  In the next 5k, I ran the first mile in 5:47.  I obviously couldn’t maintain that speed, but it was my first sub-6 mile in a very long time.  I ended up finishing the 5k in 20:46.  I kept pondering…”How fast can I get?”
. As of 11/30/2016, my best times (not including high school) are:

Marathon

3:08:22

Half Marathon

1:27:42

10K

39:43

5K

18:35

 1 Mile

5:23

800 meter

2:21

Full Triathlon (Ironman 140.6)

13:59:43

Half Triathlon

6:06:30
I am now 49 years old and I have qualified for the Boston Marathon on the courses at:
  • 7 Bridges Marathon, TN
  • Shamrock Marathon, VA
  • Indianapolis Marathon, IN
  • Savannah Marathon, GA
  • Boston Marathon, MA
  • The Seqouyah at Pinson Mounds, TN
At this point I am still wanting to achieve a sub-3-hour marathon.  It is not about the final destination, however.  It is about loving the journey.    🙂
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Qualifying for Boston was just bucket list item #1.  Also on my bucket list:

  • Run 1 mile under 4:45.
  • Run a 5k under 17:40.
  • Run a half marathon in less than 1 hour and 20 minutes  ( I can probably make it faster, but this specific time would be enough to defeat the 17 year old me)
What I am not doing is setting time limits.  I obviously can’t wait forever, but injuries/mishaps will occur along the way.  I have to give myself that latitude or I will go crazy.  I set goals and display them publicly to push myself, but I want to enjoy the ride.
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I am chasing the shadow of a 17 year-old me…
I am finally getting close enough to see him…
and I think I can pass him before this race is over!
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Happy Running!

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Seeking Greatness as a Masters Runner: A Non-traditional Approach

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that,
but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

― Mark Twain

 In four years of training, I have managed to move myself from a sometimes runner to a locally competitive status.  I have gradually learned the advice doled out to all typical runners and some of the newer info from research.  Those things have helped me make this progress and I appreciate that.  Furthermore, I have shared those details as a running coach as well as sharing them with you through this web site and my books.

So a few months ago, however, I turned a started a new phase in my running career.  I set some unreasonable running goals for myself.  Among those goals is to run 800 meters is 1:58 or less.

Phase 1 was moving from a occasion runner to becoming competitive in my age group regionally.  It took me four years of consistent training to reach this goal.

Phase 2 is to move from solid age group competitor regionally to becoming a great masters level runner.  I fully expect it to take another four years to reach the goal of Phase 2.
To achieve my goal, I am doing some crazy stuff.  After 4 years of running 6 days a week, I am now running only 3 days each week.  No, I am not resting on the other days.  I am swimming, biking, and lifting weights.  Different folks seem to think I have gone crazy, each with their own reason.

  • Dedicated competitive runners lift weights some, but not usually for power.  I am lifting to add muscle.  That sounds crazy to some people.
  • Most people my age think that getting down to 12.7% body fat is  a crazy goal.  They think I should be satisfied.  My new goal is to get down and stay between 8% and 9% body fat all of the time.  That sounds crazy to nearly everyone.
  • Most competitive runners looking for big gains in running ability avoid other sports.  My goal is running, but I am using swimming and cycling to get to my goal.
  • I have been talking about marathons and training for them for several years and my main goal is now only 800 meters.  That takes a completely different kind of training.  Why the big switch?  It doesn’t seem to make sense.

My logic and sanity has been questioned several times lately.  My allegiance to running has also been questioned. These people have good intentions, but are not looking at the big picture.  Put the pieces together and you might be able to make sense of my strategy.

What is the big idea that underlies all of these changes and makes this strategy make sense?  Physics.  Simple physics.

  • To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.
  • Force = Mass x Acceleration
  • Inertia – An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon

I am a guy with a relatively big frame for a runner.  That means that even if I drop weight, I am still going to be moving more weight that elite athletes.  That means the amount of force that it takes to move me is greater than those of those elite athletes.  The result is this:  compared to elite runners of my age, I need a bigger push to get my larger frame moving up to the same speed if I am to catch them.  In short, I need more power than I have.

This is why I am training for power right now.  I am building a more powerful set of muscles.  That does not mean that I am “bulking up” but it does mean that I am gaining some muscle weight.  That brings in the body fat issue.  I have to have more muscle, but more weight means more to carry in those long distance races that I love.  The result:  I must drop body fat in order to trim my weight.  I am not starving myself.  I have to feed my body carefully to support muscle growth and speed development.  I have to lose fat only.  That is a tough trick.  I am refining my nutrition and training for this purpose.  More High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) helps to lower body fat.  It is also great for building power.  I do four workouts each week that have some form of HIIT, two in running, one in cycling, and one in swimming.

I am adding muscle power, but lowering my overall weight.  All of that is great, but why am I swimming and cycling?  That’s easy.  Because I am getting older.  No, I am nowhere near retirement, but I am 46 years old.  A ton of mileage might work for some, but it just wears me down.  Cycling and swimming both offer opportunities to train my cardiovascular system for long periods of time.  They also give me additional HIIT workouts.

The biggest difference in my new system is the wear and tear of training.  I do not believe that running wears you down more or less than cycling or swimming.  When I only did one sport, however I had a few spots that seem to always feel the wear and tear of the constant activity.  raining in all three sports distributes that wear and tear out throughout my body.  There is no one spot that is getting more sore than any other spot.

That explains everything except for the change in focus.  I was focused on marathons and half marathons, but now my focus is on training for 800 meters.  Isn’t that going to hurt my long races.  The answer is a yes and no.  Yes, in the short term the fewer miles might have a negative effect on my long races.  Before and after I achieve my 800 meter goal, however, I am going to capitalize on on of my favorite facts of fitness.

Remember This:

It is much easier to maintain your level of fitness than it is to gain it in the first place.

As I work towards breaking 1:58 in the 800 meters, I will also rotate longer runs and rides into the scheme.  I am racing in the Boston Marathon in April.  I will still have long runs that build over time.  My endurance level will be at least maintained if not improved.

After I have achieved this goal, I will maintain the speed and turn my attention towards stretching my new speed to longer distances.  I am reasonably sure that I will not run a sub-four mile, but if I run 1:58 for 800 meters that makes a 4:30 mile look very reasonable.  If I can run a 4:30 mile, then I could probably manage a 15:00 5K.  How cool would that be??

And it goes on from there all the way back to the marathon.  I will still be doing marathons throughout it all.  How fast will I run a marathon?  Who knows?  Here is what I do know: it will be faster because my power base will be stronger.  As I maintain my new power and refocus on endurance, I will become a much faster marathon runner.

A Final Word

Who am I to aspire to be great?  I believe we all have the potential for greatness. It is not specific to me. Most of us just do not believe it.   I do not believe that I have anything more special about me than you do.  What makes me different is that I have begun to believe.

Remember This:

When you believe there is greatness in you, you are right. 
You must find a way to allow that greatness to shine so bright
that it become a light for others.

To my nay-sayers, just know this.  I have a plan.  There is a solid reason for everything in my plan.  It is not traditional because I am not in a traditional spot.  I am not starting in my youth and gradually building to peak performance in my twenties or thirties.  I started this training at age 42.  I am half way through and I expect to peak at around age 50.  I have seen no other plan for becoming a great runner at a late age.  I had to create my own plan.

As the plan unfolds, I will keep you posted about my progress.

If you want to see my daily workouts, I always post them on Facebook and Twitter.

I will also write a book based on my findings of what worked and what did not for taking a good masters level runner to becoming even better.

Until we meet again…

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Wise Running: Fighting the Complacency Monster

 

 

I am 46 years old and I just ran a 5:25 mile on slight rolling hills.

That’s pretty good, right?

How did I feel after the race?

Like somebody just shot my dog.  I felt horrible.

What is wrong with my perspective? 

The short answer is that I am fighting the complacency monster.  I would like to blame my performance today on my gluten intolerance issues, but that was not it.  Physically, I was capable of running a 5:15 mile today.  The problem was mental.  The problem was the complacency monster.  The problem was me.

dash (2)

What started me down this path to complacency?  I set high goals and didn’t come anywhere near them.  I have been frustrated for months by little nagging issues with gluten, aches, and pains.  None of them were of a factor at all today, but they did feed the complacency monster in the months leading up to today’s race.  When I planned this year’s training and racing goals, I set my sites on a 5 minute mile.  I have managed to do some pretty good training towards that goal, but not as much as I had planned.  Minor gluten issues periodically kept holding me back from getting as much training as I needed to accomplish that goal.  Gluten was not a factor at all today.  It does not excuse today’s complacency.  It just set me up for it.

I did the smart thing and restructured my goals for today’s race.  I originally wanted a 5 minute mile.  After everything that happened this summer, I decided that finishing between 5:10 and 5:15 would be very good for the circumstances.  With that mindset, I started today’s race exactly the way I should have.  I settled in behind the leaders that were aiming around 5:00.  As I crossed the halfway point, I was still in good enough shape to finish at 5:15 if I had just kicked it up a notch.  But I didn’t.  I kept a comfortable pace and managed to average a 5:25 mile pace and the 3/4 mile mark.  I rationalized that I was saving up for a strong last 1/4 mile.  This would have been practical.  My training and racing this summer told me that I am fully capable of shaving 10 seconds off in the last 1/4 mile.  I can do that.  I could have done it today.  I didn’t.  I was complacent.

What happened?  I could have met my restructured goal of 5:15 by pushing hard in the 1/4 mile.  I was not too tired/fatigued.  Why did I not follow through?  I was complacent.  I looked ahead and decided who I could catch if I kicked it into high gear.  I did not do it.  Why did I not follow through?  I was complacent.  Why?

I smiled and congratulated my fellow runners.  I cheered for Muna as she beat her goal by ten seconds.  I talked to friends.  In the back of my mind, however, I was busy beating myself up for not following through, for not sprinting the last 1/4 mile.  Why did I not do it?  Why did I settle for less than my best effort?  Why was I complacent?  I was tortured.

I volunteered to clean up after the race, so I stayed around and helped out.  I kept smiling when I could, but… I was tortured.  Why was I complacent?  Why did I settle for less than my best?

The Underlying Problem

It took me a while to sort it out.  I drove home, got some food, took a shower… Finally it hit me; it hit me hard.  It did not feel like it was worth an all-out effort to run a 5:15 mile because it was 15 seconds slower than what I had originally planned.  I didn’t want a 5:15.  I wanted a 5:00.  I know it sounds crazy to most people, but a 5:15 mile would not have felt like an accomplishment.  It would have felt like a failure.  Why would I put that much effort into a failing cause?

This is what happened:  I had mentally chosen a 5:15 goal, but emotionally I was holding on to the 5:00 dream.  My heart was not willing to push incredibly hard just to get  5:15 and feel inadequate anyway.

This explains the why, but it is definitely not a healthy mindset.  Giving less than your best in a goal race is not acceptable, even if you will fall short of your original goal.  If I had understood what was going on, perhaps I could have given myself the “”Suck it up, Buttercup!” speech and pushed through to that 5:15.  Hindsight is 20/20.  I did not have access to that info during the race.  I had to analyze for a while to understand the source.

Remember This:

Complacency is often rooted in fear of failure. 
As with all fears, the only way to get over it is to face your fear head-on.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.

I was not afraid of failing to achieve 5:15.  I was afraid to work that hard and still be 15 seconds shy of the goal that my heart was set on.

At least I now understand what happened.  Now I can deal with it.  I can learn from it and become a wiser runner.  🙂

I will fight complacency:

  • by recognizing it,
  • by acknowledging the underlying problem, and
  • by running with passion regardless of the expected outcome.

 

On the Bright Side

The good news is this:  I can have a flat, unmotivated race and still run a 5:25 mile.

I am still fast.  Not as fast as I wanted to be, but faster than I was last year.

I am still making progress.

There is reason to celebrate.

Ice cream for everyone!

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Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

P. Mark Taylor

wise running logo 7_25_12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Less is More: Focusing My Running Goals

“I want it all. I want it all. I want it all, and I want it now.”
— Queen

Desire.  Goal-setting.  Dream big.  It all sounds good until you want too much.  When you go after too many things at once, most of the time you end up with little or nothing.  If you do this with your running goals you will end up disappointed and/or injured.

I have been wanting too much.  My biggest goals have been in the 1 mile and the marathon.  It may not surprise my friends when I divulge my dirty little secret.  I have set huge goals in both distances and failed miserably.  Yes, I have made big gains in my marathon, just not as big as I had planned.  Yes, my mile is faster, but nowhere near the pace I set out to conquer.  I am tired of being disappointed.

secret city 2012You see, there is an inherent conflict in training for both goals.  There is a certain point in marathon training when the experts warn that you must stop doing true speedwork.  Marathon training requires fast miles, but not for the purpose of running a mile faster.  The primary focus of marathon training is to cause your body to be able to run fairly fast and maintain that pace.  The fast marathon training miles are much slower than the fast mile training pace.

The beginning of my last training schedule had me doing repeats at a 5:30 pace per mile.  I did quarter miles, half miles, and mile repeats.  In the middle, the focus changed to intervals at a 6:30 pace.  Did these help me run a faster mile?  Yes, but only by a little bit.  My goal is to get my mile time down to about 4:45.  How can I ever expect to reach that when my fastest training is done at 5:30?  I can’t.  Expecting that would be just plain crazy.  No, to train for a 4:45 mile, I need to be doing quarter-mile & half-mile repeats at a 4:30 pace or better.

I had been thinking that I can use the time in the marathon off-season (April/May/June) to do my mile training.  This does make some sense, but it simply not enough time to meet my goal.  I have to choose between my two biggest goals.  I proven to myself that I can’t accomplish both at the same time.

I firmly believe that a narrower focus will lead to greater success.

I also believe that while focusing on one goal, I will still make gains in the other.  With this as my new philosophy, I will now focus my efforts for the next year on running the fastest mile that I can run.  I can’t tell you how fast that will be a year from now, but I believe it will be under 5 minutes.  The question will be “How far below 5?”

Does this mean that I will not run a marathon?  No.  It does not.  I will still maintain my schedule of one marathon each spring and one each fall.  It means that my training will not be focused on those marathons.  I will maintain a year-round focus on increasing my speed in the mile, but I will not neglect distance running.  I will still schedule long runs of 13 to 18 miles periodically.  I will still gradually increase mileage as the marathons get close.  What I will not do, however, is give up my mile training.  I will maintain that all the way through the marathon schedule, stopping only for the taper and recovery periods.

This change in focus is a big one.  I have heeded the traditional marathon training advice and my goal in the mile has suffered.  I have made the mile wait for marathon training to end.  I have denied it the attention it deserves.  The mile shall wait no longer.

I love running long, but I love running fast too.  It is time to focus.
It is time to specialize.
It is time to run like the wind, with no more speed limits imposed by marathon training.
It is time to rock the mile.

Train hard, eat well, & enjoy the run!

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The Gift of Running,by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book.

Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

Ebook Version for Nook $2.99

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