Tuesday, October 28, 2008


What the heck is a Turbo-Charge?

This is my little tapering trick that I have come to find gives me about an extra ~20 seconds per mile of extra speed on race day.

Someone asked me what's the best way to do this turbo-charge routine. I spent a little time on the response back giving the background and than my current strategy - here it is - I'm interested in any other data points so if you happen to try and find success or no success - please share the experience:


I can't say for certain duration/intensity that returns the best results so I'm planning the easiest workout that I've seen deliver the results for my pre-marathon.

To chose from I've got 7 times creating this effect including Houston and Seabrook Marathons, the "Wow what a work-out" link in the race report, 3 treadmill runs pre Anchorage (One, Two of these 3 runs) and this 1/2 marathon on Sunday. Details of each of these is burried within each of these posts if you wish to look - the one that probably summarizes the best is the "Wow what a work-out" if you want to see what got me onto this thinking - but to summarize:

Houston I have no idea how it happen and was a total surprize - I had too many variables I was tweaking in that particular tapering and I paid not attention to pre-race weather conditions that seemed to just happen to give me something extra. Looking at the weather motionbased for the runs prior it seemed the warm stuff was the prior weekend but then I did so much goofy stuff that week including the end of 10 days of depleting carbs and short MP runs every day that its too many variables to isolate just the heat treatment impact. I was convinced at the time the turbo-drive came from the 10 day depletion although I don't think so any more.

That "Wow" workout - which got me onto this line of thought - was after a very hard Tempo workout (5T+5min+4T+4min+3T+3min+2T) in hot conditions.

Seabrook - I ran in sweats T, W, Th workouts for a Saturday race – each about 10 miles with T/Th easy runs and W an attempted Tempo workout. The data showing the improvement is a bit cloudy by the fact the marathon was on trails vs street so my pace improvement was actually slight but the trail vs road impact was eliminated - typically ~10-15 sec/mile impact I've seen from other runs on same surface.

Boston I attempted but didn't achieve and later learned a critical variable to make it work is extra focus on hydration after the run and until the race. I messed up both hydration and fueling for this race in my looking back on it.

The two treadmill runs pre Anchorage were both after hard outside hot race days 1 or 2 days prior to a longrun on the treadmill.

The last treadmill test run pre Anchorage - after seeing I could achieve in one day from the prior two treadmills experiences was a planned experiment where I ran outside for 12 miles in the hot/humid (no sweats required) measured 6 lbs sweat loss (about 50% more than what I see on the treadmill with the house cooled to 70°F) at a medium effort that felt like a long run effort although the heartrate ran a little higher.

I attempted the same procedure 2 days pre-Anchorage without sweats thinking it was hot/humid enough but it wasn't - only lost 4 lbs and even trying to make up next day with a 5 miler slow in full sweats - didn't get the boost at the race. I've come to know that I must be seeing at least 1 mpm slowdown in my pace vs Heartrate to know the workout is effective. I was only just barely getting this on this last Friday's workout and almost came inside to finish on the treadmill in the warmer house a couple times but the pace was slowed just enough that I stuck with it outside.

Haven't been able to do any experiments over the summer as once I got heat acclimated to Houston I figured the benefit wasn't there anymore.

Last couple weeks I've avoided the heat since a 10 miler race to try to de-acclimate - mostly that meant running early as the weather cooporated but a couple times I had to jump on the treadmill - then I did the 12 miler in sweats on Friday loosing 5.6 lbs - Saturday's easy 8 miler now that I look back on it - showed the 10 second or so improvement on HR - and of course so did Race day Sunday - so did today's morning run too btw so I'm thinking of shifting this workout back one more day for fresher legs. The surge still being there today somewhat surprized a little - on the prior times after one long workout/race - the surge was gone next day - but I guess since a 1/2 marathon is not really that long it didn't deplete the plasma volume enough to make the surge go away.

The Plan

So there it is.......my plan for San Antonio is to do a 12 miler targetting 6 lbs sweat loss by whatever means (extra layers, inside) and do it 3 days prior to the race.....assuming the forecast gives me hope for a cool race.

The Execution of the Plan

Todays cloths for this 60*F 95% humid day was:Shoes, Socks, Shorts, Two pairs of sweats pants with cotton inner layer, 2007 black cotton longsleeve boston marathon shirt, 2008 boston marathon jacket, Winter cotton hat, Running gloves.

One of the hardest 12 miles I've run all year - averaged 8:35 mpm and lost almost 6.5 lbs sweating

I was just trying to keep moving at an easy pace (in mile 10 I had to walk a few minutes) - looks like heartrate worked its way up to just below what it is during the marathon for much of the run. Usually I bring a 16 oz bottle with me but I forgot - around 10 miles in I happenned across a sprinkler that was broken off and spouting up a couple feet - I had to stop and take a swallow.

The Results

My slow runs on 11/14 and 11/15 didn't yield any performance improvement - in fact the mileage splits would plot above the pink line below which concerned me a little (~7:30/140). Could just be the humidity on those runs but I thought maybe it could be too low electrolytes so I munched on pretzels all day Saturday along with the hydration focus. Don't know if that mattered or not.

Results of the Turbo-Charge at San Antonio - worked like a charm:

For much of the middle miles I kind comprimized mentally - I was seeing 6 mpm splits at the lower HR so I didn't push it although I think I could have (always easy to say what I could have done).

In training - Tempo was typically 5:50-6:00 and MP was typically 6:10-6:20 pace - on the rare occasions it was cool - most of the time it was slower than that with some heat and/or humidity. In the race the pace was more like my Tempo although the heartrate was a little lower than my MP levels.......I like running with the turbo-charge....I just feel lightning fast!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Koala Houston Half Marathon

Race Summary – Good pace for first half – I planned a negative split so was dogging the first half a little at a 168 heartrate target vs 170 which I believe to be what I can average for a race (minus first mile). After a pitstop mid race loosing over a minute I lost my racing momentum and adjusted to run the back half not so hard since I no longer had a shot at winning my Age Group or even getting an award - really I just wanted an excuse to slow down I think - actually as it turns out with a full effort back half I think I could have scored 2nd if I really fought for it - so anyway - for whatever reason - I ran the back half at a marathon pace heartrate. I must say I just enjoy the marathon pace MUCH more than the faster pace – seems like I can hold that pace forever’ish.

The Learning – don’t have late (finished at 9ish) night dinner before early (7am) race – not the first time I’ve learned this – after my last mistake like this I made a rule - 14 hours pre-gun no solid food – just liquid carbs – but I broke my rule last night under the illusion "It's only a HALF marathon".

The race – Start 54 F Finish 63 F average 57 F @ 90% humidity with ZERO wind. 2076 Finishers

Per Garmin:
1 5:47 152 (Max 166)
2 5:39 169
3 5:50 168 Some underpass hills – I tend to speed up down hills and slow uphill – Gerardo and Brett ribbed me a little after as looked to them like I was doing fartleks mid-race.
4 5:54 168
5 5:46 168
6 5:46 168 Mile 2-6 average 5:47/168 – Projecting 170 pace 5:41 (My theoretical best pace I could have maintained for the day).
7 6:13 165 Pit Stop – stopped watch for 66 seconds
8 5:56 165
9 6:09 163
10 6:04 163
11 6:10 162
12 6:03 161
13 6:04 163 Mile 8-13 average 6:04/163 – Marathon Pace
13.26 1:31 169 Ran it in to just get under 1:20.

Total 1:19:58
Place 19th
AG 4th. (really 6th with Sean taking Win, Wilmer taking Masters and Gerardo, Francisco and Adam taking top 3).

Although the race itself wasn’t all that good – I do like the fitness indication I got from it. From it I’m thinking a 2:40 marathon is likely, a Sub 6mpm pace is a stretch at San Antonio (Assuming good conditions) although if I could get another 10F cooler than today maybe I could nail the Sub6mpm.

I tried my “turbo-drive” taper for this race which involves running a medium run with as much cloths as I can stand to sweat as much as possible - did this on Friday morning – 12 miles 7:44 pace with heartrate 150-158 (would typically be ~6:30-6:45 at this heartrate). It seems to have helped as on a pace test prior on Thursday in similar conditions (57F) at 170 bpm for 3 miles, the last two miles averaged 5:51 vs the 5:41 from miles 2-6 today – so appears the “turbo-drive” workout gave me ~10 sec/mile - past times I've got as much as 20 sec/mile so didn't quite capture all the potential. I think that turbodrive workout would have been more effective if it wasn’t so cold outside when I was running in sweats (45-50F) – the chill in the air made its way thru my sweats to cool a little and I didn’t sweat quite as much as I have in the past on these “turbo-drive” runs (yes I weigh myself before/after these workouts to see how effective they were). Definitely planning to keep this workout in the plan pre San Antonio and maybe I'll add an extra layer if it's cold out. Here is the results graphically

3 weeks to go then time to ROCK that Rock n Roll Marathon in San Antonio…

Thanks for reading - JOHN.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Space City 10 Miler

On a whim I jumped into a 10 mile race today. I was planning to run 10 for Texas next week but then noticed Friday on the website this race was postponed until mid-November. Unfortunately I noticed this AFTER my hard 18 mile with Tempo run on Friday and I was committed to a club run on Saturday for another 13 miles so I was on anything but "fresh" legs. Also the weather report made me also want to skip it with mid-60s and muggy - same weather as when I raced it the prior year and scored my personal worst race of the year (1:04:51 with walking) - but I felt the need to push myself a little so I went ahead and raced it.

Race Plan - Mile 1 - 5:45-5:55 pace, Mile 2-3 - 172 HR, Mile 4-5 - 170 HR (I wanted to go for negative split so back off a little these miles), Mile 6-10 - 172 HR - overall I was expecting 57-58 minutes out of this strategy.

Race Morning - Arrived about 6:15 for a 7 am start time - felt a little flat - not my normal jazzed up race ready self. Get my bib and get all my gear set and find my race plan screwed up by a dead battery on my Garmin - must have been left on all night and drained.....grrrrrr.....I am no good running by feel whatsoever - every race I've tried that has been a disappointment. No choice today - I go ahead and line up and just try to "feel" my way thru the race.

Race Conditions - 71°F, 68°F-Dew Point (91% humidity) (I thought it felt a bit better than last year but now that I look at the weather history - it looks a bit warmer).

705 Finishers.

Gun fires - although the pace "felt" relaxed - apparently I was knocking out 5:30 miles for the first two miles according to Gerardo (apparently I dragged him out a little too fast too) - I didn't know this and still felt a little relaxed. After 3 I ratchetted back the effort a little according to my "plan" and got to the 5 mile marker at 29:10'ish (this was the only time check on the course). Race plan was to pick it up but I just didn't want to - I maintained pace feeling like I should and could go faster but just not pulling it up - a couple guys ease by me without much resistance on my part. Around 8.5 I hear more steps coming up from behind and decide not to get passed anymore so kick in another gear. By the end I pass one guy then around the corner for the last 0.4 mile dash to the finish I hit high speed to go fast by another guy (to give him no chance to fight back) - he makes a move as I pass like he might fight then seemed to figure it was futile and lets me go - I push it in the last 1/4 mile worried he'd reconsider - apparently he didn't and I had a pretty good gap on him by the finish . Iwatch the clock count up thru the 1:00:0X's until I could cross.

First 5 - 29:18 (19th place)
Second 5 30:58 (23rd place)
Total - 1:00:17 (19th place) (PR by 4:34) (VDOT 58 - a 6 month Personal Worse).

Overall I get 5th for my age group - I stuck around for awards thinking I'd scored 3rd AG award since the 1st place for my AG (Sean Wade) got 2nd Overall and 2nd place would then take the Masters leaving me 3rd - but - unlike other races apparently this race allows runners to double-up so Sean took both 2nd Overall and the Masters prizes leaving me the spot one guy refers to as leader of the loosers - 4th place AG :-). Gerardo faded less than me and at least scored 2nd AG (congrats Gerardo - watch-out for me in the 1/2 marathon). A pretty poor race overall proving to myself once again - I just don't race well running by "feel" - although truthfully I may not have known the exact pace, it "felt" closer to marathon pace than 10M pace for those middle miles - I knew I wasn't pushing it hard enough. Without the HR/Pace data to do a proper post-mordom I really can't say what it says about my current fitness. Recent training runs in cold weather - especially in California this last week make me think I'm as fast as I've ever been - I just need some nice cool weather to see if I can deliever on race day.

Next Up - Koala 1/2 Marathon - 10/26 for a last tune-up race then on to San Antonio 11/16 for the 30,000 runner big race.