Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mediocre Miling

Hi everyone!

So after last week's big mileage/big intensity, Peter and I decided I had to cut the volume back a little. Too many weeks in a row over 95 leaves me kind of stale and while there's a time to push volume, the middle of racing season is not that time.

Anyway, here's the log-

Monday- AM 3 miles easy
PM- 2miles warmup, 3xDrummer Miles (6:00, 5:53, 5:50), 4xDrummer 400s (62, 60, 60, 58), 4x Drummer 200s (28, 28, 26, 25). Great workout- it felt easier than last week's despite the addition of a mile and the faster paced 4s and 2s. The hill was very slushy and slippery today, which cost me some time. On a sad note, that 6:00 first mile was the first time I have ever failed to break 6 minutes on the hill. If I cared about workout PRs, that would bother me. 2 miles back to school, one-legged hops and stair bounds.

Tuesday- AM 3 easy
PM- 5 easy- the light easy days are how I'm limiting my volume this week.

Wednesday- AM- 4 easy
PM- 2.5 miles warmup, 4xmile (same uphill/downhill road sequence as last week) 4:53, 4:43, 4:53, 4:37 with 4 minutes jog rest (covering about 100 meters more than we covered during the rest last week). Much better workout than last time- I wasn't as sore from Drummer this time and the miles actually felt easier despite averaging about 10 seconds faster on each. 2.5 cd, hops and stairs back at school.

Thursday- AM 3 easy
PM- 5 easy

Friday- 7 easy, slushy out- I was in the shower before I realized I had forgotten to do strides.

Saturday- Terrier Invite at BU- I got bumped from the first heat of the mile and got to watch my buddy Eric (who narrowly defeated me in a 3k a few weeks ago) go 4:03, a massive 7 second PR. I wish I had been in that heat- I know I can run with Eric and I think I would have gotten dragged to a 4:04/4:05. As things worked out, I had kind a weird race. First off, they moved it up ten minutes and I kind of cut my warmups close anyway, so I almost missed my heat. Second, apparently everyone in the 2nd heat was content to run slow, so after a slow opening lap (32.xx) I went to the lead in an attempt to get after it. I never really got into a good rhythm or felt relaxed, the whole race just felt like I was gutting it out. I got shamed in the last 300 by Dominic Channon from Providence, who closed in 27 or something silly like that and crushed me, 4:06 to 4:09.7. It was still a PR but I know it isn't at all indicative of the shape I'm in right now. It was very frustrated to reach for the change of gears and not find it for the second mile of the season- my last 400 was only 61 or so. Splits for the race- 62.5, (32.high first lap, which had the extra 9 meters) 2:05.3, 3:08.7, 4:09.7. A PR but not a particulary good or well-run race.

Sunday- 14.3 miles 1:34:30- first 7 easy, moderate progression 7-10 (Eric had to poop and picked it up- not knowing the reason for the pickup I followed) then 4 miles progressive, going 6:11, 6:10, 5:40, 5:32 alone. Basically I didn't want to be out there for any longer than I had to be, so I picked it up to get out of the wind and cold (2 degrees in Keene this morning, pre-windchill). Everyone else stopped at 10 so I had a lonely last 20 minutes or so.

Total- 80

Looking on the bright side, this week was pretty good. I had two of my best workouts all season (and they felt much easier than past workouts) and one decent race. While I'm pretty unsatisfied with the way the race played out, I will at least say that at Dartmouth two weeks ago, I got dragged through in 3:08 and ran 4:11. This week I was 3:08 and 4:09, leading until the kick. In a month or so I should be able to roll through in 3:06 and close it down respectably. I'll look at the positives but learn from the negatives. This coming week is my last week of strength-based training for this little cycle of work, then we'll switch up to doing shorter, faster stuff. I'll be keeping my volume up for another 3-4 weeks and then hopefully my hellacious kick of old will return.

Before I go I gotta mention Nate and Ruben going 14:04 and 14:05 in the 5000m at Terrier- I unfortunately had to leave early and missed the race, but let's just all say GODDAMN! at once. Both of them are now qualified to run the 3000 at USATF indoors and Ruben is the new Umass Lowell school record holder for the indoor 5k! Congrats both of you!

As always, thanks for reading and feel free to ask questions


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Old Man Drummer

Well, another consistent week of training has come and gone. Training camp at Keene marks the team's return to Drummer Hill Road, our winter workout residence. It's about two miles from campus and is one mile of brutal, brutal climbing. The hill starts right away with the steepest section, a several hundred meter climb that just trashes you no matter what speed you're running. From the bottom of the hill to the top of the steepest part is a speed limit sign we use as a "400" because it equates (eerily so) with a 400 on a track. Obviously it's a little less than 400 meters, since we're not running 60 second quarters up a speed hill, but we just call then Drummer quarters. After a few mile repeats on Drummer, (usually 2-3 depending on ability level) we'll do some quarters and 200s (we just stop halfway up the "400").

Anyway, here's the week's log:

Monday- AM 5 easy
PM- 7 easy, strides.

Tuesday- AM- 3 easy indoors (we have a little 160y jogging track we avoid at all costs- it's concrete and sucky) with Peter

PM- Drummer- 2 miles w/u, 2xDrummer Mile (5:53, 5:46), 4x4 Drummer quarters- 61, 60, 61, 61, 4xDrummer 200s- 28, 29, 30, 28. 2 miles back to school, plyometrics (one legged hops for distance, 10xbounding up stairs), 2 miles c/d.

Wednesday- AM- 5 easy with Peter, 38:20
PM- 7+ easy, (52 minutes, so maybe 7.5) 6x slight downhill strides after

Thursday- AM: 3+ easy with Peter
PM- 2.5 w/u, 4xmile on a road course we use- going one way is uphill, the other way is downhill. We did up, down, up, down with 4 minutes jogging rest in between. 5:03, 4:56, 5:00, 4:46. Very tough workout- I was even more sore today from Drummer than I was on Wednesday. It didn't help that it was negative 15 degrees out before the windchill and that I stuck to trainers because flats still hurt my feet. Still, a pretty solid effort. 2.5 c/d

Friday- AM- 5+ easy indoors with Peter
PM- 7 miles easy, 6x slight uphill strides.

Saturday- Tufts Invite, just a speed day. I ran the 600 in 1:24.7 (26.x, 27.x, (54) 30.xx. Bad, bad rig. I was never really in the race and just kind of gave up mentally. An hour later I came back and ran the 1000 and pr'd with a 2:28.75 win. I was lucky in that the early pace was pretty quick (59, 1:59) then with 300 to go I just went for it. It wasn't a hard race, I was pretty pleased. After another hour break, I ran a leg on our 4x400 team and split 52.0 (25.4/26.6), another PR. I was pleased my speed is where it is right now- last year at this meet I only ran 2:00 for the 800 and 55 on the relay, and that was only about three weeks removed from a 4:11 mile. My strength is really good right now- I'm excited to see what happens in a month or so when I start doing some fast stuff as a prep for indoor nationals. With warmups and cooldowns and stuff I got in 13 on the day.

Sunday- Blizzard hit Keene! Only a few of the Keene guys braved the storm with me, so thank you Eric and Brandon for going the first ten miles with me. There was about 4 inches of snow on the roads on top of a layer of ice, so it took me 2 hours to run my 15 miles, but I got it in.

PM- My friend Amy, who runs for us, needed someone to run with, so I did 4 miles indoors with her. Peter saw me coming down from the indoor jogging track and was less than pleased about my "Secret Miles." Whoops.

Total- 99, a very good week. I was pleased with my times in the shorter events (except the 600, where I should have gone 1:22.high, 1:23 low at worst) considering I've done nothing faster than a few strides and am running something like 14 miles a day. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do after 7 more weeks of this kind of training. The success at the shorter stuff has convinced Peter to let me run the mile at Terrier on Saturday instead of the 5k. I definitely think if I could run a 2:28 1000 on the double then I could come through the K in a mile around 2:34 and keep it rolling. We'll have to find out, though- I'm really looking forward to this mile!

Thanks for reading


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Let the Good Times Roll

Hey guys- had another solid week of training and racing. I didn't quite hit what I wanted for mileage, but that's New England winters. . .you never know when the next ice storm is a-comin'.

Here's the log-

Monday- AM- 4 miles easy, icy roads.
PM- 10.5 easy, hilly course, partly with Pinkerton guys, strides.

Tuesday- AM- 10 miles hard hilly course, 58 minutes- started off a little over 18 minutes at 3 miles with some Keene teammates, got it down to about 5:30s. Felt like dogshit- it was freezing, hilly, and miserable.

PM- 2miles warmup, paced KK through a hill workout- 4x400 (73-75) 2 minutes rest, 1x800 2:49, 1x600 1:50. We do these on hilly loops by my high school- the 400s are about 7 seconds slower than a track, the 800s about 10, and the 600s somewhere in between. After the morning's hard work, I was dead tired for this one but I felt bad making KK work out in the ice alone.

Wednesday- 7 miles easy, ice storm. Bad roads. Also, I strained the ligaments in the top of my feet- they kill when I run downhill.

Thursday- 13 easy, hilly course, mildly progressive effort but no watch. Top of feet very, very sore.

Friday- 3+ easy. Longer than three, shorter than 4.

PM- 3+ warmup, 6x800 around the campus loop, 2:38, 2:30, 2:28, 2:29, 2:25, 2:22 with 400 jog rest. Brutal, brutal workout. It was single digits with the windchill, 20+mph winds, and I was by myself. This workout was much, much harder than last week's 3xmile. Running the equivalent effort indoors on a nice track I would be hitting 12 seconds faster at least for each 800. Had to wear bulky trainers because my feet were so swollen. 2 mile c/d.

Saturday- 12:00pm- Back at Keene, 5 miles easy with Geoff.

3:30pm: Colm, one of our freshmen, had no one to run with. 7 miles easy with him- 48:20 (he had a watch). Felt sluggish and slow.

Sunday- Dartmouth Relays! The biggest challenge of the meet was surviving the drive there through an unplowed highway and blizzard. Once we were there, 3 miles wu, 1-mile race for 2nd, 4:11.66, 3miles c/d. Then later, 2 miles w/u, 1xmile at perceived 3k effort (no splits) in 4:20.4 to anchor a DMR team. 3 miles c/d.

Total- 88


I was pretty happy about this race. I wasn't sure what to expect since the fastest work I've done in over a month has been a mile in 4:26 at the end of a workout. The race went out fast- a Canadian kid was out in 59 and 2:02; I got dragged through in 3rd place in 61 and 2:05. At 1000m, sensing the slowing pace, I got antsy and made a big move to chase after the leader and ran a 60.xx 400 from 1000m to 1400m. I paid for my impatience with a 32 last lap. However, I wasn't unhappy with the rig because at least I ran tough and went for it. In another few weeks, there will be more gas in the tank and I'll have the fitness to go 30, 30, 28 for my last three laps instead of 30, 30, 32. With no other split changes, that alone brings me down to 4:07. I think 4:05 is a tough but reasonable goal, but for me, time goals are secondary anyway. I just want to race my best when it matters.

The next few weeks will be interesting- I'll be switching to shorter stuff next week (800/400 or 600/1000 I think) to bust open my legs a little bit before taking my shot a 14:30 5k at the BU Terrier Invitational. I'd like to stick with the mile for now with the occasional foray into 3k territory, but I suspect Pete has other plans for me.

Also, big props to Ruben Sanca and Nate Jenkins, two local guys, who went 8:08 and 8:09 in the 3k today, just behind a very good 8:05 run from Ben True. Always good to see them do well.

Thanks for reading, everyone. As always, questions and comments are welcome.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Training Philosophy

Aaron (who thus far is the only commenter on the blog) asked me to outline my training philosophy a little bit. A fair question-I will try to answer without rambling too much.

My running "heroes," if I have any, are most definitely Frank Shorter and Jack Bacheler. Between the two of them, they puzzled out about 95% of training optimumly, and they did it in way back in the late 60s, early 70s without the benefits of labratory testing, knowledge of VO2 anything, and fancy treadmills or recovery devices.

My philosophy mirrors the stuff Bacheler and Shorter (and other runners in the Florida Track Club, I'm sure) figured out for themselves. On being asked, once, why the two-time Olympic medalist never wrote a book on training, Frank Shorter had this to say (forgive me for paraphrasing):

"Why haven't I written a book on training? Because it'd be like a page long, that's why. If you wanna get good, here's what you do: run two workouts a week; one shorter stuff, one longer stuff. Run two hours or 20 miles at a comfortably fast pace on Sundays, whichever of the options (2 hrs or 20 miles) comes first. On the days in between, run twice a day as slow as you need to in order to recover for the next workout, and cover as much distance as you can without getting hurt. Most runners race once a week, but if you don't have a race that weekend, just do a light fartlek instead. Do that for four or five years, and you'll get good."

That pretty much sums up what I believe in, and the way my coach, Peter, trains me. My training week doesn't change all that much during the year. The specific workouts change, of course, but the structure doesn't really change too much. Pretty much year round, I'll run two hard days a week and either a race or a fartlek on the third hard day. In the summer, I tend to hammer my long runs. During peak competitive times, the long runs is just a nice regenerative jog, pretty much. On my easy days, I don't usually run with a watch- because I don't care if I'm running 5:45 pace or 7:45 pace. I run easy on my easy days and it doesn't really matter what the pace is. In workouts, I try to stay controlled and within the parameters of the workout. If the goal for the workout is to hit 4xmile at 5k effort, I do that- I don't go apeshit on the last one like a lot of runners do.

"Long" and "short" workouts change depending on the time of year, of course. In July, my "long" workout might be a 15 mile run with the last 7 or 8 miles pretty hard, cranking the pace down by feel. "Short" might be 4 miles hard on a hilly course. Early in XC, long might be a 10 mile fartlek and short, some 800 meter hills. During late-season outdoor track, "long" could be some 600s at 800 effort, and short some 300s with near-full rest. It all depends on my needs at the time.

Fortunately for me, my coach is a genius at looking at a runner and determining the specific needs of that runner. Six days out from the mile prelims at DIII indoor nationals last winter, Peter had me skip my planned workout of 400s at mile pace and instead do a 10 mile fartlek over a hard, hilly course. I ran over a minute faster than I ever had over that course and felt supremely confident in my fitness. A few days later I ran a few speed-sharpening 400s with a lot of rest and ended up getting 3rd at nationals. The 10-mile fartlek proved to be exactly what I needed- which is probably the other 5% of training that Shorter didn't spell out. You need a coach (or be sufficiently self-aware, which I don't think any high school athlete and maybe 1% of college athletes are) who knows you so well he can determine what you need to run your best. Note, this involves TRUSTING your coach and not constantly asking him "so how come I'm doing this workout? Is it for my lactose threshold? is for for my J03 max? Am I maximizing my anaerobic circuitry?" That kind of stuff will only make you question your training, which makes you question your fitness, which means you'll race like crap.

This turned into an epic post. . . I tend to rant. Allow me to summarize. A good training program should include:

1) Two good workouts a week, staying within the agreed upon limits of the workout. One longer, one shorter (which is determined by context of current training needs)

2) A solid long run- not too short, not too long. If I had to pin it down to a number, I'd say 15% of your weekly mileage if you're 5k and down for events, and no more than 20% of your weekly mileage if you're 10k-above.

3) Easy days at whatever clip you need to run to recover for the next workout

4) Not being retarded. That means eating with common sense, sleeping enough every night, and not being a drunk/druggie

5) Good amount of volume. What's a good amount? How should I know, I don't know you. Figure it out for yourself.

6) SELF AWARENESS. Learn to listen to your body and actually be able to interpret what it's telling you.

7) a good coach. Note, I didn't say "the best coach." I said a good one. Chances are, you won't get a perfect coach. But make an effort to have a good coach-athlete relationship, don't be an asshole to him about workouts, but communicate to him effectively. Peter isn't perfect, but we get along great and I trust him to know what I need. I do disagree with him sometimes, and we talk out those disagreements and compromise on what to do (actually, usually, he explains his views to me and I end up agreeing with his original decision).

Anyway, I hope that helps. There really are no secrets in training, as cliche as that sentiment is. Be consistent, train sensibly hard, and race every race like it's your last one. And most importantly, have fun with it! You should be having a blast when you go running, because if you don't love the sport, you won't be in it very long.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Staring Off 2009 The Right Way

Hi, everybody. The first week of 2009 proved a fruitful one- I had one of my best workouts in a long time and set a pretty significant PR at 3000 meters at the last Mini-Meet at Boston University. Here's the week's log, with a few comments and a little race analysis.


AM- 9 miles easy, 63:30, feeling better than yesterday.
PM- 4 miles easy, no watch, approx 26 minutes.


AM- 3.5 easy, including pacing my friend Kaitlin Kwiecien (sorry, KK, I probably misspelled your last name), one of UNH's 800 runners, through the last bit of her workout- an 80 second uphill quarter and a 2:55 800 over a hilly, windy course.

PM- Indoors, Hampshire Hills Dome (320m indoor track). 2.5 easy, 3x1600 in 4:36, 4:28, 4:26, with 800 meters jogging recovery (avg 3:32). Total- 4.5 miles in 24 minutes. Wore my new Victories to break 'em in, felt really good. Almost no effort required. 3 mile c/d, got hungry and felt dizzy towards the end.


AM- 7 miles easy with my little brother and our friend Doug, through a blizzard (20degrees and about a foot of snow). My stubble froze over and I had a fun ice beard by the end of the run.

PM- 6 miles easy with my old high school teammate Owen, blizzard abating.

Thursday (New Years Day): Vicious hangover, off. Couldn't walk til 6:30 at night, couldn't even choke down water til 7pm. I really really can't recommend against doing that enough. I have never been that miserable in my life.


AM: 3.5 easy w/my old high school coach, Kevin McGrath.

PM- 10 miles easy with my roommate, Geoff, 69:50. Didn't eat anything all day, was starving the whole run.


AM- 2 mile warmup, strides. 3000m race at the BU Mini-Meet- 2nd place with an 8:24.94, 16 second PR. After Tuesday's mile repeats, I knew I was in really good shape. I ran in 2nd or 3rd the whole way and was 4:28 through the mile. Generally in races I try to avoid listening to splits, since any time I run I'm trying to win and the pace is irrelevant, but I heard the mile split and knew I was on for a good time, since I hardly felt like I was running at all. At 800 to go, my friend Eric (Ashe, of BU) made a move and gapped me- a rookie mistake for me to let any gaps develop that late in the race. At 400 to go I made a pretty strong move to close the gap, but coming around for the last lap, the officials thought I was getting lapped and told me 2 laps to go instead of 1. I thought I had miscounted the laps and slowed, then saw the clock and realized I had to only have one left. Kicking, slowing, and kicking again cost me a little time, but I was nontheless pleased with the PR. 3 miles cooldown with Eric.

PM- 7 miles easy when I got home from BU- didn't eat again, felt really dizzy the last 3 miles.


AM- off

PM- 15.5 miles easy with Geoff and Jared, another Keene guy who lives near me. We ran a pretty hilly course and were chatting the whole way- fortunately, no one felt like hammering the last 5 miles (as will often happen on a long run with us) because I doubt I could have managed anything much better than the 7 minute pace we were going. 1:49:54, not sure if it was a touch longer than 15.5 or not.

Total: 82


Not a bad week: one good workout, one good race, and 82 miles despite missing a day due to my being a retard. Not to get on the soap box and preach here (although, what the hell is a blog for, then?) but drinking is about the most retarded thing you can do if you want to be a serious runner. Especially drinking in the amounts I did on New Year's Eve. Pete, my coach, always said "the best way to fuck up a good week of training is a good night of drinking" and I totally agree with that. Still, I came away from the week with a solid PR. Tactics wise I was a little rusty, letting Eric gap me with only 800 to go, but you can't be too upset about a 16 second PR in the 3k.

I'm still at home right now, but I'll be heading back to Keene sometime this week for winter training camp. Right now the tentative plan for the next few weeks is to keep my mileage up around 90-100, get strong, get fit, and get fast. Although I do focus on the mile, I've always run well in the shorter distances when coming off a block of high mileage- in a similar vein to Steve Scott or John Walker (though that's about where the comparisons between those guys and me end).

When I get back to Keene, I'll likely switch from the tempos/long repeats mode I've been in for a while to doing heavy, heavy hill workouts. Pete is a huge fan of hills and I'll be spending most of the rest of the winter doing repeats up Drummer Hill, which I'll talk more about in my next entry.

Goodness, this is a long post. I hope no one found it too tedious to get through. You all will to forgive my rambling; I suppose it's the consequence of an English major writing a blog. If anyone has any questions, feel free to leave them as comments and I'll address them in a post. Thanks for reading guys!


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hello, Internets!

Welcome to the first post on my new blog. Having gotten so much good advice from various training blogs over the years, I decided to start my own. As one of my favorite philosophers once said, allow me to re-introduce myself:

My name is Craig MacPherson, and I'm from a small town in New Hampshire called Derry. I ran one season of cross country and track when I was in 8th grade, but didn't really get serious about running until my sophomore year of high school. I ran for Pinkerton Academy in Derry (and regardless of what some people have said, I was not "recruited" to run for the private school- Derry doesn't have a public high school and the town paid my tutition for me to go to Pinkerton, which is funded through very high property taxes in Derry).

Currently, I'm a sophomore at Keene State College in Keene, NH, where I run for the team there and am coached by Peter Thomas, who, I'm convinced, is one of the best middle- and long-distance coaches in the country. I'm a miler by preference, but I run everything from the 4x400 relay to the 5000 on the track. I hate cross country, but I love (and specialize in) track.

This year I'm hoping to have something of a breakout-- last year, in my first collegiate season, I managed to lower my mile PR from 4:20.2 (1600) to 4:10.44 (legit mile). This was despite adjusting to college life, (much!) harder training, etc. I'm hoping to further lower my personals bests across the board, and I'll be chronicaling this hoped for improvement on this blog.

See you next week!


Anyway, I'll keep this first post succinct. I'll be posting about once a week with the week's training and any other thoughts I might have. Feel free to leave comments or email me.