"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


There are three things that keep me from being a decent runner and they're connected: lack of focus, being easily discouraged and constantly being injured. While I have the focus of a wolf stalking prey during races, it's hard to keep that up for long races and I'm forever wanting to do too many different races, with conflicting needs. So, I'll run a race, do well but not as well as I'd like, then think "maybe I should (fill in the blank)." I'll change my plans, sign up for a race a few weeks out, beat the crap out of myself in training, stagger to the start line and start the process over again.

That's why I can coach anyone but myself. I don't seem to learn.

Now that I've done the mental assessment, let's look at the physical part. For a guy my age, I have an unusually large heart (and consequent low resting heart rate) and a relatively high maximum heart rate; that suggests a good measure of maximal oxygen uptake, which is best correlated with races of 3-5K. I can pop off a good 5K without training. When I was running my best decades ago, I was skeleton thin (6 feet, 132 lbs.), the low weight corresponding to a high VO2(max), but I wasn't strong enough to maintain speed for any distance, especially on hilly courses, so my race times dropped off precipitously beyond about 15K.

I have the build of a 5K runner. If one looks at the heights and weights of top runners, sprinters are all tall and muscular, marathoners short and thin. 5K runners tend to look more like me.

Milers can run at their maximal heart rate for the length of the race, but I can only manage a second or two, no matter how I train, so the mile's too short a race for me. I can run just short of my maximum heart rate for about 75 minutes, so I can manage good times up to about the 1/2 - marathon distance, but it gets dicey after that.

In the marathon, I'd run the first half hard and crash at 75 minutes (I ran a 2:43 with the first half in 1:14 once). So, just start slower, right? If I ran a little slower, I still crashed at 75 minutes, just further from the finish line. Ideally, I'd start with a very slow (for me) heart rate and let it build throughout the race, but that never worked; I wouldn't sleep the night before the race, fill up on coffee, get to the start later than planned and then need a port-a-potty 5 minutes before the race with lines a half hour long - my heart rate would be up just from stress - no matter how I started, my heart rate was near maximum near the start.

First you pay, then you really pay

I think I'm going to train for a marathon again. I could reasonably train to run 3:20-3:25, given the shape I'm in, but that has no appeal for me. I'm going to "boot camp" myself to a point where I have a 1-in-1000 shot of breaking 3 hours (about 3-4 weeks, probably), then try to train reasonably and increase the probability of doing well week by week.

This week:
Monday 6-10 miles with sprint work (done)
Tuesday 10-12 with the last 4 done as 3x 1 mile in 6:00, with 1/2 mile recovery (sort of done)
Wednesday 6-10 miles with one-mile pace "striders"
Thursday 10-12 with 12x400m in 85 - 400.
Friday 6-10 with drills/form work. Then snort coke off a hooker's ass.
Saturday 12 with 3 in 19.
Sunday 16-18 with last 5 at marathon pace.

Changed my mind. See? Uncoachable, I tell ya!


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Changed my mind. See? Uncoachable, I tell ya!

Right, because now you want to snort the coke off the whoo-wer's tits, like a MAN!1!

nwgdc said...

What marathon? I'm still chasing that sub 3 as well. You can pace me to the finish.

SteveQ said...

Nic, if Twin Cities hadn't filled a few days ago, that'd be my choice. Mankato sounds good, maybe Whistlestop or Lakefront.

Emz said...

hmmmmmm, yes.......I was all about TRYING to copy your workout schedule but then "Friday" happened . . . hey coach, any subsitiution available!? ;)

RBR said...

*shakes head*

I will have to come back to comment on these last two posts.

Cursed cherubs

nwgdc said...

I'm pretty sure Lakefront is full also. Whistlestop doesn't work for me. Rails to Trails?

RBR said...

I vote San Francisco Marathon.

Scream'n Turtle said...

Mankato Marathon (First one this year) is my home town race. But they(race organizer's) decided to PUSS -OUT BIG TIME, and make it a fairly flat course and leave out the tough hills Mankato in noted for.
Maybe then we can finely be on the same starting line-UHHH?

Colin said...

Another vote for Mankato -- I'm planning to run the Half Marathon there.

RBR said...

I am still stuck on "6 feet, 132 lbs?!" Holy Christ!

So is it the coke that makes you faster or the whore's ass? Curious. I am not all that hardcore, I guess. Just trying to learn from you real runners.

Xenia said...

Wow. Now my Fridays seem a bit too tame. Crickey.

SteveQ said...

Time to fess up: I was listening to my favorite local band "Hookers and Blow" when I wrote that. I always find people's schedules to be unrelentingly tedious reading and wondered if anyone actually read them.

Turns out they do.

Yeah, RBR, ther's photos of "the white Ethiopian" out there. You can count the ribs. I've, ahem, bulked up a bit since then.

RBR said...

You speak of these photos, yet none seem to surface....

I am certain I prefer the bulked up version (Shut up, G)

wildknits said...

"Bulked up"?!? You?!? I guess it is all relative... ;->

Oh yeah - and on a completely unrelated side note: yours is the only blog I can access while at work. Must be that medical stuff you sprinkle in from time to time.

SteveQ said...

@Wildknits: Firewall? We don't need no stinking firewall! This blog scoffs at attempts to block it!

wildknits said...

And thank goodness for that!