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!!!

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