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Category: Road Race

2014 Running Notes – Tips for a better season next year.

If I PR in just one distance, or place in a race I say my season was a success. I was second for the Upper Dublin Duathlon, and I took 6 minutes off of my marathon.  These are a few of my lessons from the past year I’ll take with me.  I also started a new training method mid-season so I have even higher hopes for next season.

  • Strength is critical late in the race. I have to focus more on strength.  I knew this but still neglected strength training for some reason.
  • Get your feet to the ground as quick as possible. I need to have incredible fast turnover while running. Do not spend excessive time in air.  Vertical motion wastes energy.
    • Over striding causes injury, uses more energy and is the biggest mistake people make with running.
      • I noticed lower heart rate the quicker I get my turnover.
  • Diet can slow recovery.
    • If you work out every day your body is in constant repair.  Eat food that promotes recovery.
    • Focus on more healthy fat / protein.  Train your body to use fat as a fuel source.  You will get less inflammation in joints and muscles depending on what you eat.  Excessive carbohydrates and refined sugar are not healthy and turn into fat.
    • Diet change can help get rid of the nagging injuries.
  • The race profile must match training.
    • You have to match the race elevation profile in training.  You can’t just expect to deal with a 1000 extra feet of climbing if you didn’t train for it.
  • In the marathon there are no surprises so don’t expect much better than training.
    • For longer distance races, you need to have quality training sessions.  There are no surprises that will happen race day, if you haven’t had some breakthrough in training.
  • Keeping low HR means quicker recovery, and more quality workouts.
    • This is also a form of injury prevention.  Using a HR monitor helps limit workout stress.
    • Lower perceived effort makes it easier to run faster.
  • When dining out always choose the low carb option and drop unnecessary sugar.
    • Wraps and salads.
    • Do not have excessive sugar with your meals.
    • Our bodies can’t use nearly as much energy as we take in with refined sugar.  The rest turns to fat, skip it when possible or have very small portions if necessary.
  • Race pace should be set and maintained the ENTIRE race.
    • Don’t fly off the start!
    • Don’t chase.
    • Put the ego aside.
    • Have a plan and execute it.

If I can remember these for next year I should have a better season then the last.

Lesson of the day: Pacing

As my season comes to an end I’m excited for next year.  I’ve had a poor performance at the Blues Cruise 50K, but other than that it went well.  I did learn a very painful lesson, but it helped me realize some of my shortcomings.  I need to be patient and put my ego aside.  That means setting the correct pace when the race starts, not getting swept up with the front runners, and not heading out too fast.  Let people pass you!!  Odds are if they fly out at the start you will catch them,  if you can run a consistent pace.  I did the exact opposite with that race and I deserved the outcome.  I also noticed I was about 1000 feet short in training for the elevation.  There should be no surprise come race day.  You should have run the distance, pace, and elevation profile before the race.

A few months back when I started with the Maffetone method, things were going very well.  My MAF tests were improving, and my weight was dropping from the new diet.  I stopped weight and anaerobic training workouts because of the unwanted stress.  I would say that both of those things combined ended up hurting me during the race.  It’s not that the fault of the Maffetone method, it’s just that it should not be implemented in the middle of your season.  If you are looking to convert to his style of training, it really should be started in the off season.  This gives you plenty of time to build a cardio base.  Once that’s complete, you can add in the other components, like strength and anaerobic workouts.  Don’t get me wrong, it definitely works.  At the end of my season I have been running very consistent times, and have had a few PRs at different distances.  I hope to take 10 minutes off of my marathon time with my final race of 2014.  I’ve been seeing the results in my training, so it won’t be any surprise come race day.  The hardest part is implementing the plan come race day.  If you set the pace too high you could put yourself in an anaerobic state.  Once that happens it is hard to get back to where you are running aerobically.  Keep a constant eye on your heart rate monitor and set alerts if it gets too high.  This is what happen to me at Blues Cruise, and that’s why I had such a difficult time in the race.

This was a learning process for next year.  I know the things I should change next season.  Perfect pacing!!  It’s the most important lesson you can learn as a runner.  Almost every long distance running record has been set while running even or negative splits. The men’s world records in the 10,000 meter run, two were run with nearly identical splits for the first 5k and second 5k, and the other three were run with the second 5k being as much as 13 seconds faster than the first 5k.  That’s proof that you need a plan and pace set before EVERY race.  During your training, you should have been running at a pace you can sustain.  Running with a HR monitor is just a form of pacing.  It forces you to be consistent with your effort and that’s the most critical part of the Maffetone method.  There are some exceptions, if it’s a hilly course you need to be conservative on hills, and for hot days you may need to slow your pace.  The wind can also play a factor as well, so set your pace accordingly.  When the race starts it should be easy.  The perceived effort is always low in the beginning.  You should not be passing people, and that’s where most people get in trouble.  It’s hard to put your ego aside, or not get swept up with the crowd.

I’ve realized that running is 3 things: diet, strength, and a good cardio base according to the Maffetone method.  Master those things with a set pace for race day and you’ll get the time/PR your trying to achieve.


At&t Back On My Feet (BoMF) 5-Miler Philadelphia Race

The Back on My Feet organization had their 2nd annual 5 mile race, on West River drive, this Saturday.  If you are unfamiliar with BoMF, the idea behind the organization is using running, to turn your life around.  They have partnerships, with homeless shelters, in multiple cities across the US.  They provide housing resources, jobs, and support to homeless men and women, and use running as the tool to keep them motivated and sticking with the program.

As much as you think running can be a solo activity, the BoMF organization shows just how much the support of others is needed to be successful.  That’s the whole idea behind the program, people who have found running using it as the tool that helps change the lives of those less fortunate.

Conditions for the race this year were a little on the cold side for March.  That still didn’t stop over 700 people from coming out for the event.  The course was perfect, it wasn’t the typical boring out and back along West River drive.  They used the large hill located on Lansdowne Drive, which you get to from Sweet Briar.  You ran past the Please Touch museum, then headed back down to West River drive via Black Road.  This adds an extra element of speed and strategy as you had to factor in the climb, which can be brutal if you haven’t been doing any hill work.

They have definitely attracted some faster runners this year, which is typical for a race in its second year.  The top time last year was only 31:13, this year it dropped down to 26:59.  I wish I had a chance to get in some more speed work cause I might have had a shot at one of the top 3 spots.  I’ve finally gotten over a recent injury so my training volume has been low.  I was still very happy with a PR in my 5 mile time of 31:05 and taking 2nd place male 30-39.  They gave out some nice medals to all of the age group winners.

bomf medal

I have to give credit for At&t of doing a great job of supporting the race.  They had iPads at the end which allowed you to quickly look up your results to see how you did in the race.  They also offered hats, t-shirts, head bands, and even had a photo booth to get a pic with your friends.  I took my second best buddy in with me for a photo, and my wife was also there to support me at the race.


Back on My Feet is about support.  Everyone needs it even in a solo sport like running.  Everyone knows the benefits of joining a running club,  you can meet new friends and pick up running tips.  Except the Back on My Feet running club you get more than just faster times in your 5K.  They give people hope, opportunities, housing, employment and so much more.

If interested in volunteering and running with BoMF you can sign up on their site located at