Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gale Fischer Sets New PR at the Illinois Marathon

Here is a rave review on the inaugural Illinois Marathon held Saturday, April 11th! This just came in from Gale Fischer.

I had a great time at the Illinois Marathon this weekend. The event was much bigger than expected with nearly 9000 participants in all events with almost 2000 in the marathon. Featured speakers for the expo and pasta dinner were Bart Yasso and Dick Beardsley. Listening to Dick Beardsely speak was worth the drive down. I finished 31 overall and was the 4th in my age group. I set a PR by over a minute and a half coming in at 2:56:52.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Beyond Boasts Martian Marathon Finishers!

Huns Brown qualifies for Boston 2010 at Martian Marathon
Reports just came in from the far reaches of outer space that Beyond Marathon Results are starting to roll in. At Sunday's Martian Marathon, Angela Van Heest finished her very first 26.2 despite becoming ill with a stomach malady midrace. “It was the best first half marathon I ever ran,” reported Angela. It comes as no surprise that the super fast Huns Brown ran a Boston-qualifying 3:09:46 Martian Marathon and finished 19th overall for the men. Despite defecting to Borgess Run Camp earlier in the season, Joel Pennington reported in that he ran a 4:01 Martian as a “training run.” Congratulations to all our Beyond Marathon Training Martian Marathon finishers. Let us know if we missed anyone!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pace It or Break It!

Predicting Marathon Pace

As the spring marathon season approaches, it is important for you to nail down your best marathon pace. Improper pacing is the number one mistake that marathoners make so having a really good idea of what is a reasonable pace can make your marathon experience much more successful (and enjoyable!). During the winter training months, tune up races are few and far between, and training runs are usually slowed due to slick road conditions making marathon time prediction even more challenging. Below are some methods recommended by exercise physiologist Greg McMillan in a Running Times E-Newsletter. Thanks to Chris Crowell for passing this information along.

For those running the Boston Marathon, make your own Boston Pacing Bracelet at You can chose from a variety of pacing strategies including even effort, fairly even effort, even pace, fairly even pace as well as customized.

Ways to Predict Your Best Marathon Pace

Runners and coaches have found several ways to estimate your best marathon pace. Here are a few good ones:

1) Race a half-marathon (if you are doing Boston or similar timed marathon, it is late for this option). Take your half-marathon time and double it then add five minutes. This has long been a quick rule of thumb for predicting marathon time. Doubling your half-marathon time and adding seven minutes is a bit more realistic for most marathoners. Of course, you can always use one of the many race time calculators and charts available online and in many running books to also gauge the marathon time predicted by your half-marathon performance.

2) Perform eight to ten 800 meter repeats. Run each repeat in the minutes and seconds of your goal hours and minutes of your upcoming marathon. Take equal recovery jog between each. For example, if you want to run three hours and thirty minutes for your marathon then run eight to ten 800 meter (2 laps of the track) repeats in 3 minutes and 30 seconds taking 3 minutes and 30 seconds jog between each. If you can perform this workout without having to strain to hit the time then this would predict that your marathon pace is reasonable. Special thanks to Bart Yasso for this “Yasso 800” workout.

3) Perform two to four marathon pace runs where you warm up then run for four to 10 miles at your goal marathon pace. If you can build up to an eight to 10 mile marathon pace run and not have to work exceedingly hard to maintain the pace, then your goal marathon pace is reasonable.

4) Run marathon pace at the end of a few long runs. If you can run the last four to eight miles of a long run at your goal marathon pace then your goal pace is reasonable. Do this on two to four long runs in the last couple of months before your marathon to get another gauge of whether your marathon pace is reasonable.

All of these methods are good but most coaches and runners find that there is no one single best predictor. Rather, it is a good idea to use several of the predictors listed above to better determine your best marathon pace. If you have a “best effort” recent race time of any distance, you can also use the McMillan Running Calculator to predict your marathon time as well as a wealth of information on your appropriate training pace.
McMillan Running Calculator

Greg McMillan is an exercise physiologist and certified USA Track and Field coach. He helps runners via his website

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Everything You Need to Know About Taper Time!

No, that isn't what was meant by tapering.

We didn't conspire to all wear red...Promise!

Why Taper?
Rest is as important to your marathon or half marathon training as your workouts. This is especially true for the taper period, or the two to three weeks before the big event! Training provides the long term improvements necessary to successfully complete a marathon or half marathon. Training leaves athletes a bit tired most of the time. The 3-week cycles in the training schedules provide some reduction in fatigue, but it is not enough to completely eliminate it and allow your body full physiological recovery. The goal of tapering is to balance continued training and resting to allow for the best possible marathon or half marathon experience. The International Journal of Sports Medicine examined over 50 scientific studies on tapering and concluded that there is no doubt tapering works. Studies have found improvements in performance of up to 16% with most studies showing 3 – 5% improvement. At a 5% improvement, that means a 3:30 marathon can become a 3:19 marathon or a 1:40 half can become a 1:35 half through proper tapering. A single workout, on the other hand will give you less than a 1% improvement in performance!

How Long Should You Taper?
Studies show for the marathon one should taper for a minimum of 2-weeks with 3 weeks being optimal. Too short a taper will leave one tired on race day while too long will lead to a loss in fitness. For the half marathon one should taper for a minimum of 10 days. A good rule of thumb to follow for distances shorter than the marathon is to taper 1 day for every 2 kilometers of race distance. It is wise to err on the side of tapering too much than not enough. NEVER try to make up for lost time due to injury, etc during the taper weeks. By this time any gains in fitness that will impact marathon performance have already been realized and attempting to make up for lost miles or workouts will just leave you fatigued at the starting line.

How Should You Reduce Training to Improve Marathon Performance?
Evidence indicates that the key to effective tapering is to substantially reduce mileage while maintaining intensity.
Reducing mileage reduces the accumulated fatigue. High intensity effort maintains fitness level. Exactly how much to reduce training mileage depends on your current training mileage, age and health. Older runners tend to need a longer taper than younger runners.

Marathon Taper Mileage Percentage
Studies have shown as a general rule of thumb for the marathon:
3rd Week Premarathon: Taper 20 – 25%
2nd Week Premarathon: Taper 40%
Marathon Week (6 days before): Taper 60%.

Three weeks before the marathon is the most important time for a successful taper. Marathoners often do too much this week because the marathon still seems a long way off. It is much better physiologically and psychologically to allow your body to start to rebound this week, or you will find yourself feeling flat the last two weeks. Often marathoners also decrease training efforts. This can result in a small loss in fitness as well as a lack of psychological reinforcement. It is more effective to intersperse harder efforts within the recovery trend. For example, the High Intensity schedule has 3 x 1-mile intervals the 2nd week pre-marathon. Marathon week itself is all easy recovery, with the exception of Tuesday or Wednesday where it is recommended you do a 6 – 7 mile run with 2 miles at marathon pace. This is a dress rehearsal, even wear the same shoes and clothes you will wear for the marathon! By this time, if you have tapered properly starting with the 3rd week, you should feel light on your feet, like you can fly…this will provide a great psychological boost!

Carbo-loading and Hydration During the Taper
It is vitally important that your muscles and liver be stocked with glycogen at the starting line. Marathoners used to deplete glycogen stores for 3 days (sometimes even completing a long run up to 20-miles the week before), then carbo-load the 3 days prior to the marathon. This is no longer recommended since carbohydrate depletion can suppress the immune system (this is why many marathoners get a cold the week after a marathon – glycogen stores have been depleted) and the long run will leave you sore and tired. What works just as well is to eat a normal diet until the last 3 days and taper your training program. Then the last 3 days, eat a high carbohydrate diet and do a short, slow run these days. Your body will store glycogen to almost the same level as if you did the whole depletion and loading program.
Also, make sure you are well-hydrated in the days leading up to the marathon so that you don’t arrive at the starting line suffering from accumulated effects of dehydration.

What You May Experience
While many runners welcome the time of rest and decreased training during the taper period, for some it can be a challenging time both physiologically and psychologically. Physiologically, your body is repairing itself after months of hard training. It is not uncommon for runners to experience a variety of aches and pains as your body goes through this process. Rest assured this is normal during the taper. Many runners have a hard time psychologically during the taper as well. It is easy to feel like you should be doing more or to fear losing fitness. The taper is the final ingredient necessary for an enjoyable marathon experience. Consider the taper to be part of your training and instead of heading out the door for the long run, dive into a good book, get some pending projects done around the house or spend more time with family. You will be glad you did when you cross the finish line of your marathon!

Sources: Pfitzinger, P., and S. Douglas. 2001. Advanced Marathoning. Champaign, IL:Human Kinetics.

Pfitzinger, P., and S. Douglas. 1999. Road Racing for Serious Runners. Champaign, IL:Human Kinetics.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Memories of an R Avenue 20 Miler!

Angie smiles enroute to her first 20 miler

Headed for Hell (Michigan that is) for the Dances With Dirt Registration Mud Slide

Those R Ave Rollers weren't that bad, were they?

Boston will be a piece a cake after this

There is a simple explanation for this; I fell into a Lake on the way over here


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