Tag Archives: Training

Interesting year on the roads

31 Dec

All in all, 2012 was a good year for running.

I logged 1,174 miles in 2012, which was nearly a 40 percent increase from the 845 miles logged in 2011. Since I had set a goal of topping 1,000 miles at the beginning of the year, I was pleased.

As you might expect, my average run distance increased, jumping to nearly 7 miles from 5.3 miles. My overall average pace was a bit slower, which shouldn’t be too surprising since the run distance increased. But on the brighter side, the average pace for a run under 6 miles was a bit faster.

The last few miles were tough, but the feeling was sweet at the finish line of the Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon.

The last few miles were tough, but the feeling was sweet at the finish line of the Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon.

A nagging hamstring injury had kept me out of marathons for three years, but in 2011 and 2012, I learned how to manage the problem a bit better. This year, I rarely ran more than 4 times a week. And when the hamstring bothered me, I’d take extra time off, backing off for a week or two several different times throughout the year. If you are smart, when you get older, you realize that you can no longer just power through an injury. That’s been a tough lesson for me.

I was able to run three marathons in 2012. New Orleans in March was the highlight, setting a new PR. I ran my first trail marathon in September, although I should have stuck to the plan and made the run just another training day. And I ran the Des Moines marathon in October.

After a high in the spring, the fall was actually a downer. My times in the September and October races stunk, and I really had high hopes heading into Des Moines. But I learned a couple lessons: you can overtrain and you need to leave room for a taper.

I had been toying with the idea of an ultramarathon for my birthday in early 2013 — 50 miles on the 50th birthday had a nice ring to it. But that won’t happen. I needed to take some time off after the October race, and I haven’t ramped it up enough to make 50 miles in just a few weeks. But I may still log the 50 miles in my 50th year.

Despite the highs and lows, it’s been a blast. I’m thankful that I’m healthy enough to run. I love being outside, whether it’s 15 degrees or 90 degrees, whether it’s a sunny Sunday morning in May or a dark Tuesday night in December. I can watch the eagles along the Mississippi River and the turkeys in the nearby woods.

It’s fun to travel to races around the country, to see new places and to cut loose with family and friends. But there’s also a special satisfaction in lacing up the trainers, relieving some stress on the roads around Keokuk and simply reveling in the workout.

How were your workouts in 2012 and what do you have planned for 2013?

No one outruns Father Time

2 Oct

The last few miles were tough, but the feeling was sweet at the finish line of the Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon.

But then again, how do you know who is in the lead?

After a three-year hiatus from the marathon, my race season got off to a great start in 2012. My winter training sessions were productive, and in March, I set a new PR at the New Orleans marathon.

With those results in the bank, I was feeling good about the chance to PR again in a fall marathon. But the progress just didn’t seem to be there throughout the summer. The numbers in my training log haven’t led me to be optimistic.

I log all of my training runs. I record the distances, the pace, the temperature, my weight and more. I can analyze the results by my daily pace, my pace for distances over 6 miles and under 6 miles and my average pace for the month; I know what my training volume is by week and by month. Yeah, I’m a bit OCD, but it gives me something to do.

When I reviewed my summer training, I didn’t see the same sort of progress that I did over the winter. I thought this summer’s excessive heat might be to blame for the lack of progress. It’s hard to improve your pace when high temperatures add so much strain to even an easy run.

I don’t think I did myself any favors when in mid-September I turned what was supposed to be a 22-mile long run into a 26-mile effort in my hometown’s inaugural trail marathon. I didn’t record a very good time, but even that sucked my energy and made recovery more difficult than it should have been.

And last but probably not least, I have to wonder if I haven’t crossed that line where even the best of efforts won’t lead to new PRs.

No one outruns Father Time. As we age, we lose muscle mass, strength and function. The medical term for this is sarcopenia. According to Dr. William Roberts in a “Runner’s World” column, sarcopenia starts at age 40 and accelerates after age 75. The effects are greater for the inactive, but it also impacts the active, too.

Runners slow about 7 percent per decade in their 40s, 50s and 60s — and even more quickly after that, according to an article in “Running Times,” which was reporting on a study from World Masters Athletics.

I ran my first marathon at age 40, so with a fairly late start in life I was bound to see improvements at first. But at some point, the improvements have to fade.

The first question is: Have I reached that point?

And, if so, the next question is: If PRs are a thing of the past, where will I find my motivation?

For the past decade, my motivation has been partly fueled by the drive to improve my times. I’ll never win a race, but the beauty of running is you can compete with yourself. And if that is no longer possible, I’ll have to find other motivation.

I guess I’ll be closer to answering the first question when I run the Des Moines Marathon on Oct. 21. And I think I’ll let the second question roll around in the back of my mind a bit longer — and make sure I’ve definitively answered the other question first.

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