Keeping a Positive Attitude About Running As We Age

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As with every ache and pain I've had over the last 25 years of running, I've gradually recovered from my latest injury, self inflicted about six weeks ago.

Today I ran 9.25 miles in about 1 hour, 15 minutes, pretty much without stopping - the exception being I stopped a handful of times to take photos, like the one above. 

Last week my body wasn't ready for an hour long run and I had to stop for walk breaks several times. Ten years ago that would have really bothered me. Today I've changed my outlook and acknowledge that it's ok to stop once in a while.

While I'm not racing much at all these days, I still have the drive in me to get out there and enjoy a weekend long run. The earlier, the better, to beat the heat.

I know my body well enough now to know when to stop, when to take a break, and when to go for it. Onward!

Interval Training on the Roads as an Alternative to the Track

There's no arguing that if you're looking to improve your speed, doing intervals on the track will help. A standard 400 meter track makes it easy to run any distance in repetitive format. I prefer simple workouts like 400s at 5K or faster pace with a 200 or 400 meter jog in between.

But I don't like running on the track for various reasons. It is always challenging finding/making the time to get over to the track when it is open. Running in circles isn't particularly fun for me. And I tend to get injured on the track.

As an alternative, a few weeks ago I started to do a little stealh interval work on a local road. Starting out with only 4 repetitions from one point to another on a slightly downhill surface, I'll jog back to the start, a noticeable crack in the pavement. The finish is a sign adjacent to the road. Nothing fancy. I don't even know the exact distance (though I'd estimate it is about 450 meters).

I feel fitter already, having done this routine just once a week. I'm up to repetitions. This upcoming week will test my commitment with the Daylight Saving time change...one less hour of sleep this week!

So think about mixing it up in your own routine a bit. You'll definitely notice a difference.

Advice to Someone Looking to Run Their First Full Marathon in Less Than 2 Months

Crystal posted the following comment to another post covering marathon training tips: 

I'm running my first marathon ever, the full 26.2
I have less than 2 months to train for it.
I'm active but had a baby, and a few surgeries this past year...
All I need is someone to tell me I can do it. In such a small amount of time.

Well, Crystal, the quick and dirty answer to your comment is YES, you can COMPLETE the full 26.2 marathon in less than 2 months. Barring injury or illness, anyone can cover the full 26.2 mile distance in my opinion. But "how" you complete the full marathon is the real question.

Someone walking at a casual pace of 3 MPH can complete a full marathon, but it'll take you close to 9 hours to do it. I think most people can walk at that pace and cover close to the 26.2 mile distance without much training.

But for Crystal, I'm assuming that she has some running base on her, say 10 to 20 miles per week. Maybe her long run is 6 to 8 miles. With 2 months to go, I can see her possibly increasing her long run distance by 2 miles every other weekend, getting her theoretically up to 14 to 16 miles in 2 months.

I think 13 miles would even be enough. Here's a story from a previous post relating to someone that I helped to convince could run his first marathon 20 years ago:

I remember it well.  Barack (not his real name...but I do know of one Barack) started his marathon training at probably 240 lbs at a height of 6'.  Most of that weight was in Barack's belly.  Barack was a busy executive who didn't have a lot of time to train, but he took it seriously.  However, 2 months before the 1996 Los Angeles Marathon, he confided to me that his longest run was only 10 miles.

Barack was determined to run his first marathon.  I told him that if he could ramp up his long run to at least 13 miles (half the marathon distance), I think he could slog through the whole marathon.  I could have taken a harder stance and told him to do at least 16 miles, but I knew that wasn't possible for him at that point.  He would probably injure himself.  He needed the mental encouragement more than anything.  He could finish the marathon indeed...but he may have to walk/jog a good portion of it.

Sure enough, 2 months later Barack was ecstatic.  He finished his first marathon.  He was thrilled to earn that medal on his neck.  It took him 6 hours or so to finish the race, but he did it.  I don't think his peak mileage was more than 25 miles.

26.2 Tips to Run Your First Marathon

Interview with John Fedoroff of Thousand Oaks, Winner of 2012 Malibu Marathon

John Fedoroff of Thousand Oaks demolished the course record at the 4th Annual Malibu Marathon on Sunday, November 11th. His finishing time of 2 hours, 37 minutes placed him nearly 12 minutes before the 2nd place finisher and was almost 5 minutes faster than the previous course record.

I met John several years ago at The Oaks Mile in Thousand Oaks and was impressed by his speed. In 2011 he ran the Boston Marathon in a personal best time of 2:34:45. He had trained to run the New York Marathon on November 4th but the race was cancelled on the 2nd as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

John is married, has 4 kids and at age 43 is running like he is in his twenties. I figured, why not ask him about his training as perhaps we can all benefit from whatever he's doing!

1. How do you feel about your performance at the Malibu Marathon? Were you happy with your time, given the challenging course?

I ran about what I expected I was capable of running. I didn't think the course was that challenging compared to what I was expecting in New York which would have been over 2x the elevation gain. The hills toward the end of the race were a bit challenging, but I was expecting them so I made sure I had enough left in the tank to finish well.

2. Were you expecting to win the race? At what point did you know you were going to win? Was there any point in the race where you felt any self doubt?

A couple of days before the race, I spoke with Blue Benadum (the Malibu Marathon race director who placed third in the Santa Barbara Marathon the day before in an impressive 2:28) who warned me that I would probably be running by myself. I wasn't necessarily looking forward to running by myself, but I just thought of it as a training run with aid stations. My goals were to win the race, run a course record and try to run as close to six-minute pace as possible. 

There was a point at about mile five where I thought I might not be able to finish because my hamstring started acting up. I thought, "Oh no, this would be embarrassing--dropping out of a marathon at mile six," but I was able to relax just a bit and the pain went away. Half the battle, as you well know, is getting to the start of the marathon in one piece.

I had several setbacks during the final weeks of this marathon build up. It started with a groin strain during a 20-miler I ran the day after running a cross country race with the kids I help coach. I learned it's not a good idea to run 20-milers the day after a race. As soon as I started getting over the injury I ended up catching a cold which set me back another couple of days. As soon as I was well enough to run I went out with the kids on a 10-miler and got hit by a car! I had to take a few days off of running to allow my knee to heal.

As soon as I was ready to get back to the marathon training I went out and bought some racing flats to try out on a 15-mile marathon pace run. The problem was that the shoes were a bit too small and I developed blisters on the ends of my big toes. Unfortunately, I developed a strep infection and had to take two different antibiotics to get over the infection and I had to have my toenails removed.

Thankfully, I still had about two weeks before the NYC Marathon so my toes had time to heal. After all of the travel to New York I returned home feeling exhausted, but still wanted to run a marathon so I decided to run one last tempo run. Unfortunately, I didn't warm up properly and felt a strain in my hamstring which took several days to recover from. As any master's runner knows, running at this age is mostly about managing injuries.

[Editor's Note: HOLY %^&*!! And I thought I had a lot of setbacks in my training! Wow!]

3. The marathon started over half an hour late this year. What goes through your mind when this happens and how do you deal with a change in plans like this, both mentally and physically?

I figured it would start late having read that it started late last year. I heard they were waiting for a bus to arrive from Santa Monica. When it comes to punctuality I do not have a very good track record, in fact I'm one of the worst. I joke around with my family that we should change our last name to Feder-late-than-never! I just kept doing my warmups and tried to stay warm. Also, I was happy that I had the chance to use the bathroom one last time.


4. Speaking of change in plans, where were you when Mayor Bloomberg cancelled the 2012 New York Marathon on Friday, November 2nd, what went through your mind, and how did you end up choosing Malibu?

I was in a toy store in Montclair, New Jersey with my family when I received a call from my friend telling me about the marathon being cancelled. It was a hard thing to hear and at first I didn't want to believe it was true. So much time and effort--not to mention the travel expense--goes into preparing for a marathon that it makes it hard to think about things rationally. My thinking was that since they ran the marathon after 9/11 that they would run this year as well. However, it was just too soon for a lot of people. It was a sad time to be in New York and we returned home sooner than we had planned. I still wanted to run a marathon, but found that all of the big races had filled up. After all of the travel I felt it was best to run a local race. I couldn't run Santa Barbara because of a conflict with high school cross country CIF prelims at Mt. SAC, so I decided to contact Blue to see if he could get me into Malibu.

5. You ran a fantastic time at Malibu. Can you give us mortals some training advice...how about the most important things you did in your training?

I try to follow the Jack Daniels approach to running which breaks up training into four phases. The first is the Foundation/Injury-Prevention (F/I) phase where you just build up your miles by running easy. The second phase, called Early Quality (EQ), involves short repetitions (200s/400s) at mile race pace with long rest to work on running economy. The third phase called Transition Quality (TQ) is the most difficult phase where you run longer intervals (1000s/1200s) at 5K race pace with equal rest based on time. Lastly, there's the Final Quality (FQ) phase which focuses on race-specific workouts which for marathon training involve a lot of tempo runs and marathon pace workouts. I try to get my miles up to about 70-80 miles per week during the F/I phase so that my body can handle the more demanding phases to come. Daniels says that it's important to know what the purpose is for every run. Before I read his book, Jack Daniels' Running Formula, I really didn't understand how to prepare for a marathon other than just go out and run. I don't always follow the plan exactly because of injuries or other interruptions, but I know how to get in the necessary work so that when I step on the line I am confident that I can run my goal pace for 26 miles. Probably, the most important aspect of marathon training can be distilled down to just one word...consistency.

6. Some specific training questions: What is your peak weekly mileage, how many long runs did you do prior to the marathon, do you do any speedwork, how often do you take rest days and how long was your taper for the marathon?

For this marathon build-up I think I got up to 90 miles once, but I usually just try to hit 70 miles per week. I always hope to do more, but injuries, etc. seem to get in the way. I got in about six long runs ranging from 16-20 miles in the final three months leading up to the race. I definitely try to get in speed work in preparation for the marathon. If you want to run fast you need to run faster than marathon pace in your workouts. It's not always fun especially when you are training by yourself, but if you can workout with some runners that are close to your ability it's much easier to finish the workouts. A typical week consists of a long run on Sunday followed by two or three rest days then an interval workout followed by another two or three easy days and then a long tempo or marathon pace workout. I'm not a big fan of the long taper because my immune system lets down when I back off the training, so I usually just taper for one week. However, I was forced to taper two weeks due to the cancellation of the NYC Marathon. I actually felt like I was ready for a faster race on less rest a week before Malibu.

7. You are a self-employed graphic artist with a wife and 4 kids - how do you balance your training with work and family?

The short answer would be I don't--if you have figured it out please let me know! Unfortunately, all of these other areas in my life take a hit because of my obsession with running and yet, running has helped keep my life moving forward. I can get down sometimes when the business isn't going well or a family relationship is strained, however the very act of just putting one foot in front of the other keeps up the forward momentum.

One of my favorite verses from the Bible is found in Philippians which says, "…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Probably the best thing that has come out of running is that it can be an inspiration to others.

My wife, Adriana has been running for about a year now. Also, our daughter Bella started running cross country at Oaks Christian High School this past season and made some really good friends along the way. Our oldest son, Nathan just finished his first season of cross country with the Newbury Park youth cross country team. He's really gotten into running this past year. For example, he had an assignment in his 5th grade class to write a famous person and he chose one of America's greatest marathoners. He was so excited when he received a handwritten full-page letter from Ryan Hall a couple of weeks later. Lastly, our boy Xander said the "R" in his name stands for "Runner" in a recent school project (hey, it's a start!) and our youngest boy, Christian considers himself the fastest runner in the family because he's beaten me in a couple of "races" down our street.

Thank you so much, John, for sharing such great advice and inspiration! I think any runner will find your advice quite useful. Keep us posted on your next big race!

Cruised Through an 18 1/2 Mile Run This Morning Powered by GU

Armed with a single water bottle and 4 packets of GU, I managed to get a decent spur of the moment long run down the hatch this morning.

Sometimes just the thought of running a particular race provides the motivation I need. After passing on the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon next year, I thought, maybe it would be fun to try the Los Angeles Marathon. My marathon P.R. was set on the L.A. course many years ago but I haven't run L.A. in recent years. And the "Stadium to the Sea" route sounds like pretty interesting.

GU Energy Labs Gu Peanut Butter 24 Pack

When I looked at the L.A. Marathon website, I discovered they have 3 "bins" of people at the start of the race: Sub 3 hours, 3 to 4 hours and over 4 hours. I decided that the only way I would run L.A. is if I can qualify for the sub 3 hour bin.

I've run 18 sub 3 hour marathons through the years, but the last time this happened was 8 years ago, at the 2004 Long Beach Marathon. My time that day was 2 hours, 48 minutes, good for 2nd master. I was actually on pace for a 2:42 marathon that day but had to pull back due to groin pain.

Since then, life has become more complicated! Kids, jobs, injuries, etc. have taken their toll on my training and, while the passage of the years has also slowed me down, I feel like I'm running nowhere near my full current potential.

While I don't expect to hit my full potential because I'm not doing the right things...in particular, getting adequate sleep, hard training and speedwork.

That said, with moderate, consistent, injury/illness free training, I still think I can run sub 3 hours on most marathon courses. So...I'm considering...not "committed" yet...but considering...signing up for the Malibu Marathon on November 11th.

What will determine if I sign up or not is how my training goes, and perhaps a few races over the next few months. I've signed up for a half marathon in Camarillo in mid-October. If I can run it in 1 hour, 22 minutes or less, I'll probably sign up for the Malibu Marathon. Why? I use an old rule of thumb; your potential marathon time equals 2.1 times your half marathon time. So a 1:22 half equates to about a 2:52 full marathon, leaving some cushion.

That said, even if I AM in decent shape for Malibu, there's definitely no guarantee of running sub 3 hours. The sub 3 hour time has been run on that course a measly14 times in the first 3 years of the event. The course is great, but quite hilly over the last 3 to 5 miles and there are significant headwinds over many sections of the route along PCH.

In any case, with this 18.5 mile under my belt this morning and a 17.5 miler last weekend, with some luck I think I can actually do this.

On a side note, I recently discovered the Peanut Butter GU flavor, which immediately became my favorite flavor. There are many sports energy gels out there but I still like GU best over all these years. They aren't as overly sweet as many seem to be.

With 2012 Men's Olympic Marathon Around the Corner, the 1968 Event Comes to Mind

One of the most memorable scenes from any recent Olympics marathon came not from the winners' finish but from the last placing marathoner's finish at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

74 runners were entered in the event and 57 finished, with winner Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia finishing over 3 minutes in front of the next closest runner.

But the story that filmmaker Bud Greenspan brought a lump to our throats was about the last place finisher, John Steven Akhwari of Tanzania, who limped to the finish in 3 hours, 25 minutes, over an hour after the winners crossed the line.

Mexico City sits at an altitude of over 7,000 feet. If you haven't trained at that kind of altitude, running a marathon can do a number on you. Before the halfway point of the race, Akhwari was jostled by other runners and fell, injuring his knee and slamming into the pavement. Most would have stopped at that point, but he decided to keep running.

Interviewed at the end of the race he said something along the lines of "My country didn't send me 5,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5,000 miles to finish it." Truly inspirational.

Time, Training and Tenaciousness Tames the Training Tiger

This past Saturday I ran a hilly 11 miles and change in 1 hour, 24 minutes. This was my longest run since my first detached retina surgery on September 15th. A comeback milestone while I decide if I will run the Boston Marathon in April.

What was most satisfying about this run is that it felt effortless. The weather was agreeable as I stepped out the door around 8 a.m. Not particularly prepared for a longish run, I had a few glasses off sweet tea and brought no liquid with me. But I was perfectly fine.

Dogged by tight hamstrings since and sluggishness since getting back into running 2 month ago, as has been the case in previous layoffs, suddenly, out of the blue, my body kicked back into gear. No explanation, no rhyme or reason.

But maybe there are some reasons for this. Perhaps it is my knowledge and experience from nearly 19 years of running that it was only a matter of time. The passage of time, the consistency of my training and the tenaciousness in my mind that I would keep the faith in my comeback.

As with anything in life, success is not easy to achieve. It takes effort.

In any case, the next day, Sunday (yesterday), was the 2nd Annual Camarillo Marathon. The first running of the event on October 3, 2010 was dogged with problems, including a lack of fluids and port-a-johns on the course. The 2nd annual event was originally planned for last October but scheduling issues ensued. The marathon race results this year showed 96 finishers; about a 40% drop from the prior year. That didn't stop 27 year old Peter Ellis of Issaquah, Washington from blowing away the field in 2 hours, 45 minutes, a full half an hour before the next finisher.

Next year's Camarillo Marathon is planned for January 6, 2013. Something to consider, if you like flat, low key marathons.

Well That Was Quick...Entry to 116th Boston Marathon Has Been Accepted

I applied to run the 2012 Boston Marathon last Wednesday night, September 21st, thinking I had applied too late in the process to get into the race (especially after hearing that the 2011 race sold out in 8 hours). At 10:30 a.m. I received the following email notifying me that my entry has been accepted. I'm in!

Wish I could say that I'm going to start training for it today! My eye is still in healing mode after a vitrectomy to correct a detached retina 2 weeks ago and my doc says NO RUNNING still. <grumble>

But I'm out there walking every morning. Better than nothing. Hoping in another couple weeks I'll be back to my usual running routine.

Dear Conejo Joe,

This is to notify you that your entry into the 116th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16, 2012 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate.

A Confirmation of Acceptance card will be mailed to you via US Postal Service mail in October.

In early April 2012, an official Number Pick-up Card and Welcome Booklet regarding the B.A.A. Boston Marathon and related race week activities will be mailed to you via US Postal Service first class mail. If you do not receive your Number Pick-up Card (required to claim number) and brochure by April 7, please contact our Registration Office at registration@baa.org. Registration related inquiries may also be directed to 508-435-6905.

Note that bib numbers will not be distributed on Race Day. Your travel arrangements should take into account picking up your number at the Seaport World Trade Center in South Boston on Friday, April 13 from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., or Saturday, April 14 or Sunday, April 15 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

JetBlue is proud to be the Official Airline of the Boston Marathon! Take $10 off each way with Promo Code RUNBOSTON12. Book your flight to Boston between September 24, 2011 and April 11, 2012 for travel departing April 12-15 and returning 16-18. Promo codes can only be redeemed online at www.jetblue.com/promo.

Get the best hotel rates by using the Official Lodging form from Marathon Tours and Travel. For more information, email info@marathontours.com or call 617-242-7845.

For additional tourist information, please visit www.bostonusa.com

We look forward to seeing you in April! Best of luck in your training!

Sincerely,

Boston Athletic Association

Oh What the Heck, Let's See If I Can Get a Boston Marathon Entry

I've run the Boston Marathon two times. The 100th Anniversary race on April 15, 1996 was the world's largest marathon ever (at least at the time) with nearly 39,000 entrants. I signed up for that race to be part of the celebration.  Then I ran the 2000 Boston Marathon on April 17, 2000.

The 1996 race was supposed to be purely a "fun run" for me to be part of the big celebration. I had run a 2:37 PR Los Angeles Marathon on March 3rd and my body should have been resing for 3 to 4 weeks afterward. But I looked back at my records and boy was I intense back then. I didn't even take a day off, and after a "light" week was ramping my mileage up to 60 to 80 miles per week. Then I raced 2 5Ks in 7 days, with times of 16:18 and 16:23. That was 9 days before Boston.

Boston came and mentally I'm pumped to race it given my recent performances. But it was a biting cold day that I wasn't prepared for physically...yes, I did not bring warm enough clothes and there was snow on the ground. I was miserable before the race.

I knew I should have just stuck with my original "fun run" goal but my ego told me to go for it and see what happens. Well the details are blurry but as I recall the last 6 to 8 miles were a death march, though I managed to pull my lifeless body to the finish line in 2 hours, 45 minutes.

The next Boston was another "milestone" race....the "New Millenium" Year 2000 Y2K race (remember all the stress and concern over Y2K...ah yes, the good ole days). I ran a 2:36 at the Long Beach Marathon in November 1999 and was set for a decent performance at Boston.

In that 2000 race I was doing pretty well up until Mile 15, when I had to make a pit stop. Pit stops are never good for me...completely take me out of my rhythm. I was at 1:18:30 at the halfway point, exactly half of 2:37. But with that pit stop and shivering cold winds (I noted there was a strong headwind and my teeth were chattering loudly at the end of the race), I managed a 2:43:49. The good news is that this was my Boston PR. But my performance was not up to par.

At that point, I had run 2 miserable, cold Boston Marathons and I was done. Put a fork in it. I love Boston but that was it for me. No mas. Finito.

That bring us to today, the 7th day in a row that I have not run, due to my retina surgery last week. I've pretty much written off my Fall Malibu Marathon plans. What to do....

I was checking out one of my fav running websites, MarathonGuide.com, and noticed an article indicating Boston Marathon 2012 has been open for registration since September 12th and ends September 23rd. Today is the 21st.

Last year the race sold out in like 8 hours. This year they changed the process to help ensure the fastest runners have a better chance of getting into the race. So the first 2 days of registration was limited to runners who beat their qualifying standard by 20 minutes or more. I looked back at my Malibu Marathon time of 3:05 last year and saw that it beat my standard by 25 minutes (sometimes it pays getting old).

So I thought, well what the heck. My wife wants to go to Boston, so why not just sign up and see what happens. I qualify for sure but given I signed up 9 days after registration started, I'd say my chances are pretty slim at getting in. I don't see how it would be possible, unless they see I was way under the standard and let me in to the club.

If not, I'll be slightly disappointed but also relieved. I'll keep my $150 and start pondering a West Coast race.

Interesting, I had to "acknowledge that my ($150) entry fee is non-refundable, even if the race is cancelled." That's pretty intense.

Training for a Marathon Only 6 1/2 Weeks Away

Nutella on a toasted bagel is not a bad pre-run snack, though I encountered this empty jar recently.On April 20th, I committed to running the Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon on Sunday, June 5th. Generally speaking, this is not something I normally do. Usually I give myself 4 to 6 months to train for a marathon. In fact, the only times I've given myself such a short amount of training time is when I've already run a marathon, feel recuperated, and decide to use the mileage base to run another one soon thereafter -  like running the Tucson Marathon just 4 weeks after the Malibu Marathon late last year. That didn't work out so well for me!

But this race sounded fun and it is a first time event. Plus it has a nice downhill. So without any particular time goals in mind, I'm signed up for it.

One thing I do have going for me is that my base mileage year to date is a consistent 40 miles per week, which to me is enough base to be able to ramp up my long runs to get a few 20 milers in before race date. I did 15 on April 21, 18.7 days later on the 24th, then another 18 miler last Saturday, April 30th, on a windy day. 

Tomorrow it sounds like I'll be blessed again with overcast skies and cool temps in the morning as I seek to get a 20 or possibly 22 miler out of the way.

With 6 1/2 weeks before a marathon, I really only have 4 1/2 weeks to train, factoring in a bare bones minimum 2 week pre-race taper (usually I taper down the mileage over 3 weeks).

So with only 4 1/2 real weeks to train, a decent 40 mile/week base, but no long (16+ mile) runs on my body since last year's Tucson Marathon, my strategy is to focus on getting 3 or 4 long runs in. There's not much time to consider speedwork or a 10K tuneup race. I'd love to fit a 5K or 10K into my training, it probably will hurt me more than help me with the marathon just 1 month away.