How I trained for the Boston Marathon 2016

2016 was my 4th Boston Marathon.  My first in 2013 lived up to all the hype and, I think, was still the best race I have run.  My time in 2013 was 3:19:55, with a negative split (very hard to negative split Boston) and almost a 3 minute PR.  2014 was an emotional year. Every runner took back the finish line.  I didn’t run that smart of a race, but still was able to PR and finished 3:16:44.  2015 I got a bit over confident and a week before injured my foot.  I still ran but I was not at 100%, I finished 3:16:48.  This year I started to wonder if I’d hit the limit of my marathon.  Is my age (52) catching up with me?  I started racing late (44) even though I have run all my life.

The weather was not perfect: 70°F in Newton at the start. So I held back a bit and ran a smart race.  Still not a negative split. First half was 1:35:12 and I finished at 3:13:35. It was my best marathon to date.  Not only the fastest, but I never hit the wall, ran 100% and no bathroom breaks.  Trust me, I hurt at the finish and really wanted to walk from mile 18 on.  There were a lot of runners I passed who did give up and walked. I don’t want to say this was an easy race, but I was happy with the results.

Having said all that, I wanted to share and document what I did.  Maybe I can help someone else BQ and also help me remember what worked for next year.

My training plan is simple: I run 5 days a week, base is 45 miles, and during the sharpening phase (or as I like to call it Hell month) I go to 65 miles a week.  I taper for three weeks and reduce mileage by 25% each week.   The five days I run, three are hard workouts (speed, tempo, long) and two are easy (recovery or easy).  As a coach once told me, always know what you are working on when you run.  There should be a reason for every run.  Focus on that.  For example, a long run is working aerobic conditioning, If you run anaerobically (too fast), then you are missing the point of the workout. Also never do a hard workout back to back.  You should have a rest day or recovery run before and after a hard workout.  That does not always happen, but try to.

You will notice a lot of races in my training.  I look at a 5k as a speed workout.  As for the half marathons, I use them as training runs with water stops along the way.  I might run them at MP.  I only race one Half and that is 8 weeks from the Marathon.  Lastly the 50k,  is a trail run, for sure a long run at an easy pace—NOT AT RACE PACE!

Training Plan 1Training Plan 2

Here are my training paces.  Keep in mind I live in Texas, so if it is hot, I adjust a pace run to effort not the actual pace.  I use heart rate for easy, pace, and temp runs.  On interval days, I stick to the pace times as much as possible.  To understand your Hearth Rate zones better I recommend a V02 Max test. Ask at your local runner store and they should be able to help you find someone who can do that test.

training paces

I also get a deep tissue massage every month.  During hell month (March), I get one every week.  If you live in San Antonio, I recommend Jenny at Palser Chiropractic and Massage Therapy(210) 444-9277.  I can tell you that without Jenny’s help I would have been injured for sure.  Recovery is always my main focus.  How do you know you are recovering enough?  When you start any hard workout, you should feel stronger than the last time you did that same workout.  For example a long run, you should feel stronger than your last long run.  Same goes for track and pace runs.  What if you have a pace run on your training plan and you still feel sore?  Then you run easy/recovery instead. Overloading yourself past the point of recovery is not improvement.  It is overload.  The result of overload is injury every time!

Nutrition is an important part to any training plan.  No soda’s, I normally to not eat out, but if I do only water or un-sweetened tea.  Do not let yourself over eat because you worked out.  Most runners start running to lose weight. The compensation effect has been known to cause runners to actually gain weight while training for a marathon.  Remember that every lb of weight lost will improve your marathon time.  Losing weight by far is the single most beneficial thing you can do to improve your time. A four hour marathoner who loses 10lbs without any fitness change would run their next marathon in 3:45.  What other workout do you know that will improve your marathon time by 15 minutes?

To add to my nutritional needs I take these supplements every day in the AM.

  • Kirkland Mature multivitamin (Health of individuals over 50)
  • CoQ10 200mg (Heart health)
  • MegaRed Omega-3 350mg (Heart health)
  • Baby Asprin 81mg (Heart health)
  • Vitamin C 500mg (Helps recovery)
  • Glucosamine HCI 1500 mg,MSM 1500 mg (Joint health)
  • Potassium 99mg (Electrolyte)

I take these supplements every day in the PM.

  • Glucosamine HCI 1500 mg,MSM 1500 mg (Joint health)
  • Potassium 99mg (Electrolyte)
  • Magnesium 400mg (Electrolyte)
  • Calcium 600mg + D3 (Bone health)

One week before the race I add these each day one in AM one in PM of each.

  • Endurox Exel (Helps recovery)
  • True Athlete Kre-Alkalyn 1500mg (Helps recovery)

Carbohydrate loading is very important. Your body can go for about 1.5 hours on stored glucose.  But you can store up to 1800 grams in your muscles and live of glucose. Unfortunately, carbo loading will not get you to the finish.  You will still hit the wall around mile 20-21.

I use Karbragous, UCAN, Carbo Gain to supplement each day. This helps to not be so full all the time and eating way too much. I also tried a bottle of the 100% food on Sunday. It has 100g of carbs. Did not upset my stomach, but tasted like crap.  I target 3g per lb Friday, 3.5g per lb Saturday, 4g per lb Sunday.  I weigh 160lb.  So goal was Friday 480g, Saturday 560g, Sunday 640g.

Friday 486g
Saturday 534g
Sunday 406g

Hydration is linked to carbohydrate loading.  Two water molecules attach to every carbohydrate molecule you store. I add Nuun to my water to help ensure I get enough electrolytes.   To make sure you are hydrated before a race, monitor your urine. If it is dark yellow, you are not drinking enough water.  Light yellow is perfect.  Clear is too much water.

My race day fuel plan

  • 4 hours before race.  Bagel, Banana.
  • 2 hours before race, drink of one scoop UCAN and one scoop Karbragous (12oz water)
  • Every water stop, drank water and poured the rest on my head/back.
  • Every 5k drink 4oz of water (used amphipod water belt with 2 x 10oz bottles)
  • @ 5k (3m), 15k (9m), 25k (15m) Salt capsule and bite of Cliff Bar (Peanut Toffee Buzz)
  • @ 10k (6m), 20k (12m) Clif Citrus gel
  • @ 30k (18m) Clif Double Expresso 100mg Caffeine
  • @ 35k (21m) Amino Energy Cafe Vanilla 5 scoops mixed with 8oz water

That’s my plan.  I hope it can help you on your next Marathon.

Posted in Injury, Interval, Long Run, Marathon Training, Nutrition, Race Reviews, Running Coach, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Boston Marathon 2016

Another Boston Marathon has come and gone. That year went very fast.  Pun intended. Let me catch everyone up if you have not been following me.

Last year, 2015, went as good as I could hope for, almost too good. I remember saying a few weeks before Boston 2015.  My training was going great, I felt faster, stronger and more ready then ever.  I had PR’d in the 5k and half, and everything was working right. Then one week before Boston 2015, I went on a 5 mile run and got a cramp or what I thought was a cramp in my left foot.  I ran through it thinking it would go away.  It didn’t. After the race it hurt, and the next day it hurt.  Anyway, I still ran Boston, but it was a just finish and qualify for 2016.  I did that, and it was a hard lesson to learn.

Fast forward to 2016.  Training was going OK, my half marathon 8 weeks out from Boston went like crap.  I ignored the weather and went out too fast, crashed and burned at the finish.  I was road kill.  Mentally, I had just quit in the race.  I kept telling myself how bad it was going to be (knowing the weather was not good).  And sure enough it was bad. The hardest half I had ever ran.  I finished 1:35, 7 minutes slower than just one year before at the same race.

Well I made somewhat of a revelation from that half.  Training is important, but your attitude is very important.  If you say it will suck, it will.  If you say you are doing fine, even though it sucks, somehow you will work it out and make it a great race.  It is the mental part of a race.  I though I understood that, but clearly I didn’t until my half.

So I focused on a positive attitude for Boston.  Even though the weather was not ideal. High of 70°F.   But instead of saying how bad it was going to be (what I did in the half) I said, be smart, run a conservative first half and then if you feel good go for it.  So instead of a 3:00:00 goal, I set a 3:10:00 goal and planned a 1:35:00 first half split.  I also refused to be upset at the weather.  It was what it was.  Deal with it and run a good, smart race.  I started off the first 5k (all downhill) at an average pace of 7:22 per/mile.  Just a little slower then my plan of 1:35 half (7:15 per/mile).  But that was ok, start easy, pick it up a bit and settle in.  So I increased my pace for the next few miles and settled in at a 7:15 per/mile overall average pace by mile 8-9.  I hit the half way point right at 1:35:12.  OK, now get to heartbreak hill and maintain, then finish the last 5 miles strong and get under 3:10.

The weather was starting to heat up right at the worst place, the Newton Hills.  I stayed positive and refused to let myself say how awful it was.  I slowed a bit going through Newton, but not much.  My 5k splits were as follows.

Lap Pace

As I got to the top of Heartbreak Hill I was hurting.  But I had not slowed.  Keep going, I said, finish strong.  You got this!  I started to pass a lot of people who were giving up and walking.  The heat and hills got them.  I gave a few thoughts to walking, but I have been there before and walked at mile 25 and I knew that was not going to make me feel better. It feels worse.  So I said to myself, pick it up, you are going to do this. You can walk at mile 26.2.  So I did, I pushed it, and maintained my pace.  I didn’t notice, but my HR was going max and then some.  The heat put me in a higher HR zone for the first 21 miles, it was higher then I would have liked.  But this is a race, it is not supposed to feel easy.  FINISH I told myself.


I crossed the finish line at 3:13:35.  My last PR was 3:16:44—a PR of 3+ minutes.  With the weather being what it was, I was very happy with the time.  It was not my adjusted goal of 3:10, but it was my best.  As Meb would say, Run to win.  Give it your all, run a smart race. Today the best I was going to run was 3:13:35.  Nothing I could have done would have changed that other than going out faster finishing with a time much slower.  Or to say how awful the weather was and hit the wall, mentally give up. The results as measured in time does not reflect the effort given.  I had learned from the half I ran in February to, run happy, do not force a race to be what you want, but run the race that is presented to you. Mentally I learned that not only is it key to be relentless but, to be positive, keep telling yourself you are doing great, you got this.  Do not allow yourself to say how hard it is, and that you should just stop and walk like everyone else.

I can’t wait for 2017.  It will be my 5th Boston in a row.  I’m sure no matter what the weather, it will be the best one ever!

I will Never forget 2013 and those who lost their life.  Martin Richard, Keystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, and Sean Collier.

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The 5-4-3-2-1 workout!

Are you training for a Marathon?  Well if you answered yes, then this workout is for you.  Around 6 weeks from your race on a long run (20 + miles) do the following.

  1. 2 warm up miles
  2. 5 miles @ MP
  3. 1 easy mile
  4. 4 miles @ MP
  5. 1 easy mile
  6. 3 miles @ HMP
  7. 1 easy mile
  8. 2 miles @ 10K Pace
  9. 1 easy mile
  10. 1 mile @ 5K Pace
  11. 2 cool down miles

The key is on your 1 mile easy, make sure you recover, if you have to walk then walk, let your HR get back to 65% or less (zone 1).

This workout will simulate the tough miles as you get to the 3-2-1 sections and push you to the limits.  If you don’t hit your pace targets, that is ok, just don’t give up.  Just like in a marathon, the last 6 miles are the hardest.  This workout will help you with them.  Not only physically, but mentally.

I did this workout today for the first time.  Here is what it looked like.  My MP is ~7:25, HMP ~6:45, 10K ~ 6:30 and 5K ~6:10

5-4-3-2-1 long run

Posted in Advanced Runner, Long Run, Marathon Training | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Boston 2015

The Boston Marathon has become my main race for the year.  Prior to running this race in 2013, my plan was to run it one time, check off the bucket list of running Boston and find the next race.  Well sometimes plans change.   After running Boston I realized there is just no other Marathon that compares to it, so now my plan is to run it every year.  At least as long as I can qualify to run it.

Training for this race was going great.  I remember saying almost too good.  Well, during the last week of my training on a easy 5 mile run I started to feel a pain in my foot.  It felt like a cramp that would not go away.  Not a good time for an injury.  I rested the last few days, iced a lot and hoped for the best.   I figured my perfect race, and dreams of running a sub 3 hour marathon was not going to happen.  So I adjusted my goals, just finish and try to PR, but if all else fails, at least qualify for next year.  There is always another race.  Injuries are all a part of running, life goes on.

Before running Boston in 2013 I took a lot for granted.  Now I know that my problems are nothing compared to what other people are facing.  All of the victims from the 2013 bombing, it is hard to imagine losing a limb and the sacrifices so many people have made so that we can run Boston.  So as long as I can run, I will honor those that can’t and do my best at Boston, no matter what obstacles are in the way.  It is unfortunate that it took that tragic event for me to learn that lesson.

So (my wife and I) arrived in Boston on Friday the 17th.  We had a few hours before we could check in to the hotel, so we went to get lunch at Doyle’s. Of course we had to have a Sam Adams (well I just took a drink from my wife’s).  Doyle’s is the first restaurant that started serving Sam Adams.  Normally we go to the Sam Adams tour a few blocks away, and then go eat at Doyle’s every year.  We missed the Sam Adams tour this year, but not Doyle’s.


We finished lunch and checked into the hotel.  We stayed at the Newton-Boston Marriott.  It is reasonably priced (compared to downtown Boston you could say it is cheap).   This is the same hotel I stayed at for 2014.  The course for the race is only about 1 mile away; it is also close to the riverside T station.  So getting to Boston using the train is easy.  The hotel has a shuttle that will take you to the T and pick you up.  We have rented a car each time in Boston, but now I think it might be easier to just use the train.  That way we don’t have to worry about parking downtown.  Which is crazy as you can imagine during the Marathon.  The garage they recommend to park in cost $32 a day.  So ya, I’m a slow learner, but no more car rental for us.  Also another perk using the train is it is free for runners on race day.  Just show your bib and they let you ride.  That made it easy this year to get to the Boston Commons and back after the race.

Saturday I woke up around 4am and got ready for the 5k.  I drove to the garage (remember I am a slow learner) and parked.  The plan for the day was run the 5k, test the foot and see how I felt.  Then go to the expo, packet pickup.  Then go see Meb at the UCAN presentation.   Then back to the hotel to rest and maybe site see.

The weather was perfect for the 5k, 54^f and sunny.  It was crazy packed, I didn’t remember there being this many people last year, but I think there was.  It was so packed that the corral for 7:00-8:00 pace group was too full to get in.  We had to wait for the race to start till there was enough room to get in.  I took the first mile easy, the foot felt great.  The 2nd mile was not as packed so I picked it up a bit, still felt good.  So the last mile I did MP ~7:10 and I could feel a bit more pain, but it was manageable.  That was encouraging; I had not run for 3 days and was not even sure I should run the Marathon.   I had a little bit of hope that I could finish and maybe re-qualify.



After the 5k I found out Ben True and Molly Huddle not only won but both set a 5k USA road record.  Ben finished @ 13:22 and Molly @ 14:50.  Molly also won in 2014, she is one of the fastest 5k runners in the world.  Ben finished 2nd last year, so it was good to see him win this year.


Ben and Molly

The expo was somewhat un-eventful.  I got my packet, bought a few things and was off to the UCAN presentation.  Last year I went to the same presentation and got to see Meb before he won.  For sure something I will remember for a long time.  I think last year there were about 50 people maybe.  Everyone had a seat and it was not packed at all.  This year, wow, there was at least 300+ people and I was a bit late I guess so no seat for me.  Meb is such a great ambassador for not only running but for the USA.  So humble and as Johnathan (the boy that really is the reason UCAN was invented) said in his speech (yes I teared up a bit), Meb is just a really nice guy.  This year’s presentation was a bit more promotional, but still Meb took time to take a picture with everyone that came.


So back to the hotel, shower from the 5k, yep I was still in my running clothes and did not smell good.  I stopped and got lunch and we ate in the hotel.  We had planned to go see some friends, but I was tired and needed to rest, ice and electronic plus massage my foot.  One of the items I bought at the expo, to hopefully help my foot a little.

We found a small Italian restaurant in Newton, Comella’s.  Not fancy, but good food and close to the hotel.  I got Grandpa’s mess (ravioli with meat balls and sausage).  Then it was back to the hotel after dinner and to bed.  Not easy to rest when you are just waiting for Monday and it is Saturday night.  Tick, Tock….

We got up around 8am, kind of late for me, and decided to take the train down town as a test run for me taking it for the race.  We took the hotel shuttle to the T and bought a $10 Charlie card.  That was much better than paying $32 each day for parking.   The T was relaxing, no traffic.  We got off at Park st. right across the street from the Boston Commons (Buss loading and bag check for the race).  We both needed to find a bathroom after the train ride.  That was a challenge since there were 30,000 other runners in town, most shops would not let you use the restroom unless you bought something.  So we stopped at McDonald’s and bought an iced coffee so we could use the bathroom.

Then we walked over to the commons looking for the Freedom Trail tour, our site seeing plan for the day.  It was about 2 miles of walking and stopping, the tour guide covered all the history of Boston or at least a lot of it.  After the tour we stopped at the Beantown Pub for lunch.  This is located right across the Old Granary Burial Ground, founded in 1660; it is the city of Boston’s third-oldest cemetery and the final resting place for many notable Boston Patriots including three signers of the Declaration of Independence – Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine – Paul Revere, and the five victims of the Boston Massacre. The cemetery has 2,345 graves, but historians estimate as many as 5,000 people are buried in it.  Yes we learned that in the tour.  The Bean-town pub is the only place you can have a cold Sam Adams while looking at a cold Sam Adams (joke from the tour guide, haha).  Yes we both had to have a Sam Adams out of respect for the dead of course.


So we learned a lot and had a good time walking and taking it easy.  Took the T back to the hotel, then we ordered to go at Comella’s back to the hotel and eat dinner and rest the rest of the night.


My Race face


Not many other runners, just people going to work.

I woke up early and took the shuttle to the T from the hotel.  It was busy and had a few other runners but mostly everyone just going to work.  I got to the Boston Commons early around 7 am.  Now there were more runners around and the race atmosphere was everywhere.  I checked in my bag, head to the bus and got right on.


The bus ride to the start seems sooo loooong.   It took forever.  And of course it started to rain on the way.  Another runner on the bus offer me a trash bag, I had not prepared for rain.  Finally we arrived at Hopkinton.  Of course the tents were packed.  Last year I was able to find a spot and lay down to rest.  This year you were lucky to walk.  I managed to get some coffee and found a few runners that I knew.  It was great to see Maria, this was the first year I knew someone there and saw them.   Before I knew it, they called my corral and I started the walk to the starting line.  I stopped at the porta potty’s just before the corrals.  I ran into another friend, Carlos.  With 30,000 runners it is amazing to find someone you know.  But as soon as I said “Hi” went to the porta potty, I had lost him again.  I worked my way to the 2nd corral.  Went through my normal race rituals and I was ready. No rain at the start, temps were in the 40’s and that was perfect.  A bit of wind, but I guess you can’t have everything.  I started off at MP and all was good.  Of course the first 4 miles are downhill so that meant nothing.  At around mile 3 the rain started.  Not a down pour so not bad.

All was going great, my foot pain was manageable.   One of the great things about the Boston Marathon is going through each small town.  It lets you set smaller goals and not look at the finish line.  As you pass each one, seeing the signs leaving Hopkinton; Ashland; Framingham; Natick; Wellesley; (by far the loudest section); Newton; Brookline; and then Boston.  Each one you start to believe you are going to make it and hit your goal.

This year I choose to wear my A&M Texas shirt.  I learned that yelling gigem and giving the thumbs up can cause your arm to go numb and use some energy that I might need later.  Next year I plan to wear the same shirt, But not yell gigem back.  Need to save that energy ;-/

At the end of the race I was not able to hit my 3:15 goal, I did finish with a qualifying time and that was my back up goal.  The weather was just not good this year.  Being in the 40’s and raining takes out too much energy to have a good race.  So, lets hope 2016 will be better.


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When all the planets align for your race!

How do you find the perfect race?  That Unicorn, or as I like to say, when the all the planets align.

This last weekend was a great example when the planets did not align in Fort Worth, Cowtown.  This is my favorite half in Texas.  It was my 5th time running the 5k and the half.  Last year I finally reached my sub 1:30:00 half at Cowtown (1:28:52), but even with the best race of my life, I still did not place in my age group.  I was forth again.  Why did that matter?  It was still a great race.  I finished strong, had a negative split and PR’d.  I was happy but I was not done.

The reason placing in my age group was important, or at least became a goal I had to reach was the first time I ran Cowtown I had missed 3rd place by 8 seconds.  So every race after that I made sure that I was reminded of those 8 seconds.  Don’t get beat again by 8 seconds I kept telling myself.   In a way, that one race provided all the motivation I needed to work harder and reach for that goal that before was not a goal.  So each year I came back to Cowtown and pushed harder.  And each year I left without reaching it.  I did win the Overall Master in the 5k, but that seemed too easy.  I wanted to place in the Half.  Yes, I have placed in all the local races and none of them meant placing in Cowtown.  Why, I have no idea other then it was harder and I had not been able to do it.  So each year I pushed and trained.  In 2015 I thought for sure it was my year.  The weather was freezing and snow on the ground.  They had to cancel the 5k, and on Sunday they canceled the Full and Ultra, but the half was a go.  All the runners in the Ultra and Full ran the Half.  The temperature at the start was 32 and slush was on the streets.  The announcer at the start said, today was not going to be a PR, so just be safe and have fun.  I somewhat agreed and figured it was just not the time to race.  But the first few miles came and went and I felt great.  I was on target to break 1:30:00.  By mile 10 I knew I was feeling great and the Planets had aligned, this was the race.  Even though I had the race I had hoped for, I still was in 4th place.  Of course the first three finishers were originally running the marathon, but since it was cancelled, they ran the half.  Well they did beat me, so next year I would be ready to break 1:28:00.

I continued to train and get stronger.  Race day came and I was ready.  No snow or canceled races this year.  I ran the 5k and said I will just take it easy, well I did take it easy the first mile, but then the 2nd and 3rd were downhill and I felt too good to go slow.  To my surprise I finished 1st in my age group, and was 2 seconds off from overall master.  But that was not my goal, I wanted the half.  So I carbo loaded, rested, and the next day felt ready.  My only concern was the weather.  It was windy, 16-20 mph winds from the south and a bit warm, 58 at the start.  Looking at the course, the last 7 miles would be into the wind.  And the worst part of it would be a straight away for 3 miles and the end of the straight away, a ½ mile hill at mile 9.

Well I told myself, I can’t do anything about the weather, just run as planned and take what the race has.  So I started out with the wind at my back.  At 5k I was right on pace to break 1:28:00.  10k came and still on pace.  I had slowed a bit, but nothing to worry about, only a few seconds.  Then I made the turn to the 3 mile straight away and there is was, 16mph wind and the hill steering me in the face.  I could feel the wind was slowing me down.  I tried to keep up my pace, but also didn’t want to lose all my energy on this one stretch with 3 miles to go after the hill.   Well in the end, the wind won.  I slowed and could not maintain my pace.  Struggling mentally I wanted to stop, but I knew the only thing that was going to make me feel better was the finish line.  So I pushed, it was everything I had to keep up a 8 minute pace.  I knew my goal of breaking 1:28:00 was long gone, and I was sure placing was a lost cause too.  I had become road kill as each runner who saved their energy was passing me with ease.

This was the toughest half I had run, and it was my 35th Half, never had I felt so mentally and physically beat.  How could I be so wrong about being ready?  What went wrong?  I had trained just like the year before.  I was hydrated, tapered (ok, I ran the 5k a little too fast, but I didn’t feel any ill affect from it), I carbo loaded, got a good night sleep.  What happened?Lap times

It is easy to see, I was more than ready to run a good race, but the race was not ready.  The planets did not align.  I knew the weather was going to be a problem, but I ignored it and still tried to run a 1:28:00.  That was my mistake.  I should have adjusted my time, planned for a 1:33:00 and started off slow to save my energy for the wind that I knew was going to have an impact on the race.  As it would turn out, I finished 1:35:32.  It was almost my worst time at the Cowtown half.  I was, to say the least, disappointed.  How could I have been so hard headed and not adjust my time and pace.  What a fool.  Everyone has to run in the same conditions.

At the finish line I almost collapsed, never had I felt so drained, even in a marathon.  I got my gear and headed back to the hotel, head down and disappointed at another bad race.  I looked up the results and to my surprise I had finished 2nd in my age group.  I had missed my goal by over 7 minutes, and had almost quit.  You know they say a race is 90% mental.  Well I was very close to being beat mentally.  In fact, I was beat.  I had told myself how bad I had run.  When in fact I had put more effort into running 7 minutes slower in conditions that were not ideal then I had the year earlier when conditions were perfect.

Every race, I learn a little more.  This race taught me to never give up, never let go of your goal.  And more important, each race is different.  The finish time does not reflect the effort it took to get to the finish line.  My goal was to place in my age group.  I thought I needed a 1:28:00 to do that.  Turns out, when the planets are not aligned, everyone is affected.  I know if I had run a smarter race, I would have been 1st.   The time to beat was 1:33:57, not 1:28:00  Next year, I will be back Cowtown!   Let’s hope I learned to run smart!  Run my race and let the chips fall at the finish line.

Posted in Beginner Runner, Half Marathon Training, Race Reviews, Running Coach, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment


OK, did I get your attention with the title?  Here is a good workout if you need a change from the normal.  I call it my E-Fart workout.  Effort Fartlek, (yes pun intended, who names a workout fartlek and can’t laugh at it?)

1) Start with a warm up, 1-2 miles easy effort.

2) Run at 100% effort for as long as you can, when you feel like you are slowing down, then recover.  The pace or distance is not important, I would guess anywhere from 400m to 1000m if you have to have a number for distance and just as fast as you can run without falling. (O.o)

3) Run easy until you have recovered.  HR and breathing Effort is easy.  Again distance is not important, If you have a HR strap and know your zones, you should be in zone 2.  For me that is ~130bpm, but everyone is different.  You should be able to hold a normal conversation without gasping for breath.

4) Repeat Steps 2 and 3 until one of two things happen.

  • You can’t recover enough in step 3, it never gets easy.
  • You have 1-2 miles left in your workout.

Remember this workout focus is on the Recovery, so if you don’t recover, then don’t start another Fartlek.

5) Cool down with 1-2 easy miles, walk if you have to.

You can run this anywhere, up hill, down hill, track, and you don’t need a watch or anything.   Just run by effort.

This was what my HR looked like when I did this workout today.  Notice each rest interval I did not start until my HR was in the green (easy).  Two times, at 2 and 4 miles I did a pit stop switching the dogs I was running with (They need to exercise too) and you can see I really recovered there.  If you focus on recovery during your RI, you will find that you have a much better workout during the Speed section because you recovered properly.  It also helps you see how fast you can burn out in a race if you start out too fast.  This is a good fitness test.  Maybe the first time you try it you can only do a few intervals.  That;s OK, keep training and as you progress you will see results.

E-fart workout

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Marathon Carbohydrate Loading

SpaghettiOk, so you have a Marathon coming up.  You have trained for the past 14-18 weeks, put in the long runs, and now it is time to race. Everyone knows to “carbo-load” right?  So the night before a race you’re going to go out and eat a big plate of spaghetti, right?


Although that is what I did the first few races, I now know now how wrong that is.  Most endurance athletes make that same mistake and their performance suffers because of it.   Carbo-loading is mainly for endurance events longer than 90 minutes.  Carbo-loading when done effectively is the best way to prepare for that endurance event.

Your body stores carbohydrates (as glycogen) in the muscles and liver to be used later.  Without carbo-loading, your body stores only enough fuel to last for about 90 minutes of exercising.  After that you will “hit the wall,” or “bonk”; no matter what you call it, it will not be pleasant.  Carbo-loading also helps you hydrate for your race.  For every gram of carbohydrate you store, three grams of water attach to it.  So if you carbo-load effectively, you will gain around five pounds.  But not to worry, it is water weight and fuel that you will use up during the race.

So how do you carbohydrate load effectively?  For a 150-pound person, eat 560g – 700g per day for 2-3 days.  To reach that goal, it isn’t necessary to radically increase your calories, just simply increase the proportion of carbs on your plate.  Eat little and often to get enough carbohydrates. Instead of three super-sized meals, eat three regular-sized meals and add three snacks between meals.  Eating 560g of carbohydrates can be tough, so if you find it too much, instead of eating every day 560g build up to it.  Eat 3gx (your weight in lbs) the first day, 3.5gx (your weight in lbs) the second day, then 4g times your weight in lbs the third day.  So in the example above, a 150lb person eat 450g the first day, 525g the second day, and 600 grams the third day.  When you carbo load, don’t just eat everything you see.  Eat foods high in carbohydrates, like Potato’s (sweet potato is best), Rice, bread and of course noodles. When you break out your calories for the three days leading up to the race, try to eat 70% – 80% carbohydrates.  Remember, don’t just stuff yourself.

Here is the plan that I use:

  • Breakfast:
  • 1 bagel with 2 tablespoons strawberry jam (71 g)
  • 1 medium banana (27 g)
  • 8 ounces fruit yogurt (41 g)
  • 8 ounces orange juice (26 g)
  • Total 165 g
  • Morning Snack:
  • 2 Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey Granola Bars (29 g)
  • 8 ounces Gatorade (14 g)
  • 1 scoop Karbragous  (40 g)
  • Total 83 g
  • Lunch:
  • Large baked sweet potato with ¼ cup of salsa (69 g)
  • 1 sourdough roll (40 g)
  • 8 ounces chocolate milk (26 g)
  • Total 135
  • Afternoon snack:
  • 1 Clif Bar (42 g)
  • 8 ounces Gatorade (14 g)
  • 1 scoop Karbragous  (40 g)
  • Total 96 g
  • Dinner:
  • 1 chicken burrito with rice, corn, and black beans (105 g)
  • 1 scoop Karbragous  (40 g)
  • 1 scoop Generation Ucan (20 g)
  • Total 165

Add that up and you have 644 grams of carbohydrates.  Honestly, I never get that much, but it is just a guide.  I don’t eat the exact foods but use the numbers to help.  I do drink the Karbragous and Ucan that much is for sure.  Everything else is on the table, just fill in the numbers.  So now you know how to properly carbo-load.  You will still need to refuel during a marathon using UCAN, GU or sports drink.  Remember never try a new fuel in a race, use what you have been training with. But with proper carbo-loading, you are sure to reach your potential and hit that PR goal instead of the wall.

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