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Monday, February 25, 2013

Weight vs Speed - Revisitted

This blog post was pointed out to me as challenging on the "2 seconds per mile per pound" theory that Runners World had put forward many moons ago.

As a man of science, I buy most of it, and I'm a bit irked that Runners World presented so much as fact based on what was really one study.  Lots of extrapolation and overreaching from scant evidence.

What I do take issue with is this statement:
That adaptation might involve weight loss, it might not. Either way, you’ll run faster because you trained to run faster.

That's a bold conclusion, and supported by as little evidence as Runners World.  Further, it doesn't speak to whether you will run to your potential, which is really what people want to know. 

If I do the same training and also drop 10 pounds, would I be even faster?

I'm very convinced that for myself the answer is "yes".  I have results from many different weights, and it is the single biggest factor in how I perform. 

It stands to reason that more weight takes more energy to lug around.  Obviously you can take that to extremes and hurt performance - lose the muscles you need to move yourself around, and that's not good either... so there's a point where it becomes counter-productive.  At my weight and BMI, I'm nowhere near that point, so healthy weight loss here I come.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Race Report: Peterborough Half Marathon 2013

Previous Results

Original flat course:

2007- 2:07:06

2008- 1:53:55

2009- 1:49:17

2010 - 1:45:26

New hilly course:

2011 - 1:38:54 

2013 - 1:43:18 (119/400, 23/40 M35-39, 97/223 Men)

Weight and Race Pace

Before the race, I looked at my weight journals.  When I did the race in 2011, I was 174 lbs.  Today I weighed in at 184 lbs, almost exactly 10 pounds heavier.

I wrote previously on the weight penalty - it supposedly works out to about 2 seconds per mile per pound of extra weight.

So for a half marathon - 13 miles - that's 26 seconds per pound.  For me, at 10 pounds heavier, that's 260 seconds - 4:20.

And today I was 4:24 slower than 2011!  Quite remarkable how accurate that ended up being.  Sure, it could be a bit of a fluke, but it's been pretty accurate for me in the past too.  

Ultimately I will take it as my run conditioning is on target from where I was a few years ago, and so it's just my excess weight that is holding me back.  I'm confident I can lose 10 pounds in the next 10 weeks prior to marathon day, which should leave me lean, mean, and ready to rock.

Consistent Pace vs Consistent Effort

I had a lot of people pass me up hills today, and I passed a lot of people going down them.

My guess is that people try to keep a consistent pace throughout the race.  But on a hilly course like this that's a bad strategy - it's far better to keep the effort even and let the pace fluctuate based on the terrain.  Killing yourself up a steep hill may help your ego but does nothing for your overall time!

I used my perceived effort and heart rate as guides to keep things even, and it seemed to work out pretty well.  I didn't quite have the oomph to finish things off right - by 19km I was pretty sacked, but mostly it worked out.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Race Preview: Peterborough Half Marathon 2013

This was the first running race I had ever done... waaaay back in 2007.  Seems like a lifetime ago!  I had just started running and for some reason thought a 1/2 marathon was 10km - probably should have googled it first.

2007- 2:07:06

2008- 1:53:55

2009- 1:49:17

2010 - 1:45:26

2011 - 1:38:54 (new hilly course!)  

Last year I missed the race due to recovery from an injury, but I'm back this year...  

Unfortuantely I'm not yet in race shape.  I've been getting the workouts in, but my weight is higher than I would like and I'm coming off a few weeks of being sick (and a week of vacation in Orlando too!). 

But hey, it's February.   I would like to hold a 4:45/km pace, which would bring me in around 1:40.  That might be a tad ambitious in my current state, but it's not out of whack with my marathon goal time in a few months, so...

I'll go for it, see what happens.    

Monday, February 18, 2013

Rowing as Cross Training

I bought myself a Concept2 rower to use for cross-training.

The nice thing about rowing is that it mostly uses different muscles than running or biking, yet it's a full body workout that gets the heart rate up!  

It also fits in nicely with some of the adventure racing I have been doing in recent years.  Paddling and rowing are different, but there is enough overlap in the muscles you use that I should get a head start this year.

Things I Learned

  1. Use a Low Stroke Rate - I started out with the running/biking mindset that high cadence is good.  In rowing it's not so - you lose your form if you try to row too quickly.  The ideal stroke rate seems to be around 20-24 strokes per minute.  I started out in the high 30's by instinct - but my speed went up a lot when I slow it down.  Which brings me to my next point...
  2. Pull harder, go faster - this is a bit different from biking, where if you can increase your cadence without changing gears you go faster.  Instead with rowing you can pull harder with the same cadence and go faster!  So two guys with the same resistance and same cadence can go entirely different speeds if one is pulling harder.
  3. Resistance is Futile - the instinct is to try to pull the highest resistance possible, but in fact most professional rowers prefer to set it in the 3-5 out of 10 range to mimic the resistance of real water.  No matter what the resistance is set to, you can pull lightly or hard.  The computer is smart enough to base your speed on how much you're actually pulling.

Is It Boring?

Like any indoor workout, it can be... I crank the music and watch the rowing computer for my current pace, which seems to pass the time OK.  You could probably watch TV, although you'd be getting further from it, then closer, then further, the closer 20+ times per minute...

Does It Make a Difference?

I haven't been using it that long, but already I feel like my core is more solid, and my triceps certainly feel the burn!  Hopefully that all translates into a better paddling season when we get onto the water.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Running At Disney World

We went to Disney recently, and beforehand I did my research into where I could run 32km.

Most of the routes suggested were way too short... and then I got there and figured out why!  No sidewalks on many of the major routes, certainly not connecting any of the parts I was in.

This is the run I ended up doing.  What I learned - most of the big roads don't have sidewalks and you can't get out of the hotels to get near the parks.  Goofy (so to speak).

A few places of note, though, if you are out for a shorter run:

Beuna Vista Golf Course (approx 6km)

Most of the golf course trails you can't run on, but there is a nice little train that is open to non-golfers that follows this river/creek thing.  

If you don't mind taking a bit of a shortcut through the "cast members only" bridge, you can also run through these treehouse resort thingies.  Very neat.

Team Disney (short)

Ok it's not that long, but if you happen to be running by the Downtown Disney area, Team Disney has a neat little pond-type-thing you can run around.  Quiet and away from the tourists (yours truly excluded of course!).

Downtown Disney

It's nice, but when I ran through there it was early (9am) and it was still overrun with idiot tourists walking 4 and 5 abreast.  It's more for gawkers and walkers than running, but it's nice, so... try it at your peril.

Bottom Line

It's a crappy place to run.  Good luck.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Marathon Plan Trying to Kill Me

I've never done a marathon plan that called for 32km runs so early on.

Last week - 32km @ 5:42/km
This week - 29km @ 5:33/km
Next week - 32km @ 5:33/km!


It's probably a good thing, having crapped out near the 30km mark in previous marathon attempts... but still, it's wears on you pretty good.  And it's not over yet - I still have 3 more 32km runs to go!

I sure as heck better be fast after all of this!