Monday, February 17, 2014

An Experiment.

I had a pretty easy recovery for this marathon considering how much was run at a fast pace. Of course the peak was Tuesday morning.. (DOMS). I didn't run until Thursday although I did make sure to do some brisk walking every day.

Date   Miles   Pace    BPM WHR%   Elev+   Elev-     YPB
2014-02-06 Thu 4.6 9:22 119.6 60.4 18.2 21.7 1.573
2014-02-07 Fri 7.4 9:10 122.0 62.3 81.6 81.0 1.581
2014-02-08 Sat 2.8 9:11 118.2 59.2 9.0 9.7 1.582
2014-02-09 Sun 9.2 8:55 125.7 65.3 286.8 286.2 1.591
Summary 24.0 9:07 122.5 62.7 395.5 398.5 1.583

Legs tighter than normal on the foam roller, but they were feeling ok when running. 

Sunday, I really pounded:...9 miles at MP+5s and 280' of hills. Monday a rest day


I felt a bit schizoid  with Surf City: had a great time for most of the race and amazingly ran my 3rd fastest marathon WALKING part of well as being annoyed: why couldn't I predict my fitness level better.

I spoke with coach Jill via email a bit...clearly I was lax in the strength training. My bad. Pressed for time I skimped on it.  As we get older it's even more important to keep the leg muscles built up. When you are young, it's easy..lots of HGF (growth hormone) so a small stimulus gets big you age this drops off so you need to work harder.

Another issue is that I've just not done many full marathons in the last year.....Jill suggested I take my current fitness level and run another marathon 2 weeks after...and then again 2 weeks after that.  Some people find they get stronger with each one a bit. 

That was an interesting experiment to try but due to time constraints I couldn't run a real race. I  decided to try to draft some pacer(s) to help me run a time trial long run at MP to see if I was still tired from the race or stronger or ??

I put out the call on a running forum and work and snagged my co-worker David and another fellow, Noel to help me with this project.. 

A few runners recommended against this idea: I was courting injury, it was all the wrong thing to do, etc, etc. So many opinions! 

I was going to do it despite the dire warnings, i'm a Maniac after all ;)

I have run 8 marathons in 322 days and I've run 2 in 2 days, with no ill effects so running 2-ish in 2 weeks doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

After deciding to do this long run experiment I only ran about 12 miles in the 2nd week after Surf in order to fully recover, i.e. a total of about 33 miles of running in the 2 weeks between. (too much?)

On Sunday morning I drove to our meeting point: the so-called 'barfing man' statue. (Not his real name but he does look like he's hurling out the window ;)

I had mapped out a 6.6 mile loop in Shoreline park.  I would run the first loop by myself starting at 8am, David would pace me for 2 loops and then Noel would take over for the last loop..the terra incognita loop.

The day started at 50F but it was full bright sun rather than the forecast cloud, by the time I was done it was 60F.  Full sun adds an equivalent of about 10F in my experience, so it was a bit too hot....but what can you do?

I tried to make the vibe as much like a real race as possible: I wanted to start exactly at 8am (also so Noel and David would know when I'd be coming by the loop start), not just heading out at random. Counted down the minutes and drank a bunch of water and had a GU 5 min before like I usually do in a race.

The first loop was no big deal..kept right on pace and enjoyed the morning runners and bikers out and about on the paths. I saw another guy almost my age out there with a wipro sf marathon shirt and a camel pack doing his long run. 

David was right there on time for the 2nd and 3rd loop...which was GREAT...I have been a pacer once but this is the first time I was the pacee and it really helped. After the second loop David had kept me to pace and we had done a lot of talking but it was getting harder. Not a good sign after only a half marathon. I told him I would be doing less talking from now on ;)

We got into a good mode: David ahead of me, with me dogging his heels. I was able to hold pace only because he was there. It was almost as good as a real race situation (Best would be race with pacer!). Sometimes i would start to lose contact, he would ease up a bit and then pull me back on pace.

Our watches disagreed terribly on the current lap pace. I had David reset his laps when my autolap chirped so that our watches would have autolaps at the same time, but they still disagreed quite a bit even late into the lap. His watch might say 9:05 pace and mine might say 8:50m/m ! I expect that early in the lap, but not at the 3/4 mile point!

But it didn't matter: David just kept to what was about the right pace and the total average pace I had was showing was 8:55 so we were doing fine. I was getting more and more toasted but was able to hold pace. 

At the end of the 3rd loop, we could see Noel was waiting, GREAT! I stopped and took a photo of the three of us before starting out again.

Noel, Me, David. (My normally clear photochromic glasses are super dark due to the clear skies and bright sun.)

Noel and i started out and it was very clear to me that i was not going to be holding pace. I told Noel just to try to drag me along and not lose contact. I was slipping pace.... realized that running the full 26.2 was going to be quite a slog and that i'd have to slow way down to avoid crashing. 

At mile 22 I decided I had enough..I could gut it out and walk run  but that's what i already did at Surf so why bother...that was plenty of running and i got what i needed.

2014-02-16 Sun
SplitMiles  Pace      HR% WHR  Elev+Elev-    YPB

Noel and I talked about running and ironmans etc while getting back to our cars.  It was nice to talk to another runner on the way back...

I do feel I should be pushing myself a bit harder than i have been if I want to get to the next level with others is probably good for me to do that as well as more fun.

.... later in the day Toni and i attended a Jonathon Biss piano concert, and then after that a dinner party with friends. A great (and eclectic) set of activities on this day!


1) I don't think I was stronger after 2 weeks and I don't think I was weaker either..the sun was hot and I have done most of my running in very cool (40-50F) temps so far this year so that hit me a bit.  I think this run showed about the same level of fitness as Surf...not enough to hold 8:55 m/m ..perhaps 9:05-9:10 is my proper pace right now?

I think 3 week spacing would also work pretty well...perhaps better.

2) So, running 2 week back to backs is doable, and useful in order to deal with some races being a bust due to weather etc even if you don't get stronger.

Even though I'm having problems reaching my goal pace I am not getting injured and recovering normally.  I have run a lot of years and miles and found a happy place (knock wood!)

3) Being paced makes it possible to train harder. I should join a group to keep me motivated to train properly. I should cultivate more running friends that can pace me at a hard pace (at a pace that is easy for them ;)

4) More muscle fibers
         more lower body strength training, drills, one legged hopping, box jumps, squats.
         hill sprints hill sprints HILL SPRINTS at least once a week.
5) too much same pace MP running? I should do more quality workouts and then slow down to slow base pace on easy days. Result: much stronger runner. 
i.e. I have not  been doing the hard/easy thing with enough modulation!

Other thoughts out there?


  1. If you ask me, joining a group can only reap huge benefits. There is no doubt that you'll push yourself harder - friendly rivalry between runners will always make you go just that bit harder. Plus you'll have a whole new social group to enjoy.

  2. I've done many back to back marathons and even back to back ultras. I believe if you don't push for good times it is OK. Running PR's is a bit different. I agree with Jill but no more than that if you go for good times. I'm more of an ultra guy so my slow pace allows for more distance. It does make you strong, very strong, but be careful to trade off pace against strength. I got slower because of many ultras and marathons.


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