Ctl C, Ctl V, Tweak

As I was working out what my training this summer was going to look like, I realized that my goals were very similar last year. Since I was quite happy with the outcome last year I could use a similar training plan. My “A” race this year was a similar length to the “A” race last year and they are within 3 weeks of each other. This is very convenient for training plans. I would only have to copy and paste the training plan from last year.

I can’t quite remember how I came up with the plan last year, since it was mostly my own creation but with a bunch of my own tried and true things that work for me. It is very similar to a standard marathon training plan but with bigger weekends. But the best part is that I had written down the training plan and had mostly stuck with it. So I had a very good record of how much I ran. I don’t have a record of how I felt during the training period but maybe the end (race day) justifies the means (training), especially since I don’t remember much in terms of injuries.

Right now the plan that I’m looking at from last year looks pretty daunting. Saturday: fast, semi long. Sunday: Very long. Monday: sometimes off, sometimes just a little. Tuesday: run length varied. Wednesday: hills or speed. Thursday: more running. Friday: OFF!! (or biking). Worked up to 110km per week. 400 km per month for 2 months before the race.

The easy part was the copy and paste. Now I need to work my busy life around the plan, or to work the plan around the busy life. So lets start tweaking.

Copying my own plan from last year works for me since I know what works and doesn’t work and I am confident enough in determining how I feel to be able to tweak it as necessary.

But copying someone else’s plan to your own plan can be more tricky. Be very cautious if you are doing that and be prepared to change it up as necessary.

One thing I do need to do is to be more diligent with recording how the training is going, so that when I try to copy this plan again next year, I will know  where to tweak, instead of blindly following the plan.

P_20160403_071326 (1280x885)
Training plans need to be tweaked in all kinds of ways when your travels take you to Nigeria 
This would be a great idea for an aid station!

When do You Wave?

Running etiquette usually involves acknowledging other runners. Everyone does it differently. But how do you do it properly?

Some people do small waves, some do big waves. Some flick their wrists. Some nod their heads. Some shout something cheery. Some mumble something under their breath. Some look others directly in the eye, and others do everything possible to avoid eye contact. Some smile.


That all applies if you are running toward each other. But what if you are passing someone, or they are passing you? Wave as we’re passing? That can be awkward. Mumble something encouraging?

And how does a race situation change it? On an out-and-back race, rarely do the fastest runners acknowledge the rest of us coming the other way. But those not quite as competitive are more apt to be encouraging and friendly.

I have learned that runners definitely do not wave at cyclists. And if you are cycling, you do not wave at runners. This is especially hard to remember if you are training for a triathlon. Back when I was switching my running and biking every day and not fully conscious which sport I was doing that day, I occasionally had to swallow a wave (pretend there was a mosquito) to keep from looking foolish.

I suppose it is a cultural thing too. Different countries would develop different ways to appropriately acknowledge each other. It would be different for urban versus smaller town folks. City versus trail runners. I haven’t studied this in depth but I’ve passed a lot of runners. I’d love to know if anyone has any insight.

When I am doing my speed work I am more focused and less likely to acknowledge others. When I am on a lonely trail I am more likely to acknowledge someone than when I am on a busy urban pathway.

Does anyone have any rules of etiquette to share around?

Which are the friendliest cities to run in?

Keeping my Feet Inspired All Day Long

I love a work place where you can wear your running shoes all day and no one even looks twice or comments on it. Everyone here knows I might jump up at any time and go for a run at lunch, late lunch, coffee break, or just run home.

My most comfortable shoes are running shoes. Why not wear them as much as possible? Why not keep my feet inspired all day to run?

Thinking about it, I don’t have many shoes that are not running shoes. Hmm, maybe I should diversify my footwear. But no, I have enough shoes already. I don’t need more (unless it is another pair of runners).


Coffee-free experiment (update)

The no-coffee experiment has gone quite smoothly (except the first couple days). In March, beginnng with the start of lent, I decided to be coffee-free for 10 weeks leading up to the marathon. Then on marathon day, I would have one (or maybe two) for the performance enhancing energy boost that it would provide. Maybe a good idea, maybe not. It’s an experiment.

Well it is 3 days until the marathon and how is it going you ask? I am totally coffee free except for twice last week. I succombed last week to a cup (couldn’t refuse politely), and then two days later I actually made myself a cup. Mmm, tasted so good. Then I buckled down and haven’t had another since.

I have been drinking one cup of caffeinated tea on most work days and the odd coke here and there so it is not a caffeine free diet.

But now I am nervous about what a cup might do to me on race day. Maybe I will have a cup over the next couple days and see what it does to me.
If I wait until race morning, either I will be peeing a lot on race day and therefore spend my gained time in the toilet, or it will give me the jolt I need to get up those hills.

Even if I don’t take a coffee until after the race it has been a good exercise in self discipline.

Any other crazy rituals or experiments anyone has tried?


Caffeine-free water? Great concept. Hope it catches on.

Not forgetting the core

This last month I have been fairly consistent with the stretching and core workouts. Two to three times per week for 20 minutes seems to be about enough for me. I could definitely do more but it is hard to make it a priority.

My current routine is 4 or 5 upper leg and hip stretches, 2 sets of situps and pushups, and shallow knee bends. This routine definitely changes as I have more or less time and as the “event” gets closer. My Sunday swimming and bike commuting are adding to the core so I feel I should be in fairly good core shape by May 3rd – my upcoming marathon.

My daughter just got a new bike so the family bike rides should be a good excuse for some casual leg stretching over the next few weeks.

For me, keeping that core strong is nearly as important as speed work.


It’s complicated

There’s has got ot be a better way to manage my running and biking clothes at work. It is complicated. I have a system that works most of the time but when it fails, it fails miserably.

It failed this week. Yesterday I took the bus in and then ran home. Today I biked in. Wednesday, I ran at lunch.

Now I have 3 jackets (2 of which are thick winter coats), 3 pairs of shoes (no running shoes), 3 pairs of pants and 2 backpacks hanging behind my office door right now. The problem is that I don’t run or bike to work every day. Sometimes I take the bus, and sometimes I only run one direction and take the bus in the other direction. And some days I run at lunch.


Now I have the challenge to get it all home for the weekend on my bike (including my laptop) in one small backpack. And then to get some of it back on Monday after it is washed.

If I could pre-pick my mobility method to / from work and then meticulously plan the week out, theoretically it could work. But alas, plans are prone to change, and my plans don’t have that much detail.

Idea #1: Work from home (not going to happen)

Idea #2: Laundry service at work (not going to happen)

Idea #3: Drive on Mondays and Fridays (not going to happen)

Idea #4: Get a bigger backpack to lug it all around (maybe, but awkward)

Idea #5: Wear the same work clothes all week (hmmm, maybe)

Idea #6: Make a spreadsheet to optimize clothing transportation methods (hmmm, I like spreadsheets)

Other ideas?

Strava, Training Plans, and All That

My running app, Strava, congratulates me so much it makes me feel like I’m doing amazing. But am I really?

On my long run yesterday apparently I had 19 achievements. 19? Yes, 19. Of the 19, one was a PR since January for 30k distance, and 4 for 2nd best time since January for a shorter distance. That’s all great but says nothing about last year or last month. The other 14 achievements are speed records for me for short segments along the route. Since this was a popular route there are many registered segments. Out of the 23 segments of varying distances, I got a PR, 2nd best, or 3rd best time since January in 14 of them. Most of the segments are less than 1 km long so out of a 32 km run, they are really quite irrelevant. There are so many achievements that it makes you feel amazing.

And Strava gives me all kinds of other stats which are interesting but they have nothing to do with my goals.

I had set a goal time for this run and I did beat it by 4 minutes, but that isn’t recorded on Strava because my training plan isn’t on Strava. I need to add that result to my other run recording application, which currently is http://www.Jantastic.me. On this one I set weekly and monthly goals and try to meet them, not break them.

However, neither of these is related to my end goal of keeping up with my training plan for my marathon in 6 weeks or my even bigger goal of a race in August. That training plan is on my phone calendar, and it only has distances on it. I can’t really record on my calendar what I actually ran and then compare weekly or monthly totals later.

I’ve used a couple other apps in previous years, like Adidas miCoach and they do a better job of comparing training plans with actual training. But the interesting stats and connection with your friends wasn’t quite as good.

There is no perfect app. The new cool one is Strava right now. A couple years ago it was Endomondo or Runtastic or a host of other ones. But next year, who knows?

Strava on phone
Strava Achievements on Phone
Strava Achievements on Phone
Adidas MiCoach
Strava on Web
Google Calendar

The key, I think, is that you can look back on months of training and be super encouraged that you are making progress toward your goal.  And that it is easy enough that you want to record and track it.

Recovery is key

Recovering from a big weekend of being on my feet (and eating horribly)

Wednesday – Stuffed race packages in the evening for the local St. Patrick’s Day Race (pizza)

Thursday – Handed out race packages (mac and cheese)

Friday – Handed out race packages (mac and cheese)


  • pi day! 3.14.15. 9:26:53 We ate pie at a geocaching event
  • 2.5 hour run
  • chinese dinner out for my wife’s birthday


  • Volunteered at St. Patty’s Day Race – 6am-12pm
  • Cheered on my girls to amazing 10km finishes!
  • 2:45 hour run
  • Collapsed on couch
  • Mac and cheese


  • Recover until next weekend


St Pat Photobooth 2015-NZ-5752 (1)

Looks like my nutrition needs some improvement!


My training plan this time around calls for every Friday to be an off day.

I have run enough this week and I deserve a break.

But a day off means that the next couple days are big days. That’s how the plan works. The day off is NOT necessarily supposed to rest you up from the weekday hard workouts, it’s to make sure that you can give it all you got for the hard back to back days on the weekend.

Saturdays tend to be fast and fairly long. Sundays are just long. Very long. So to make sure I can get all the bang for my buck and make the weekends really pay off I needed to be rested first.

So, my feet are up and actively resting so tomorrow can be a great run.

See you on the trails – tomorrow.



Cramming for the Hiatus

I am excited to be heading off on a two week trip to help in an orphanage in Haiti. I have done this kind of thing before and each time it is an amazing experience. However for my running addiction (and marathon training plan) this is hardly ideal. I rarely get much exercise while I am there. We tend to work too hard and long and the weather is too hot and humid for there to be much energy left at the end of the day. So I end up swimming a little but rarely running much.

These bad boys on the loose would get me running, not matter the heat.


So my only partly successful remedy is to try to cram in a couple extra run sessions before and after I come back so as not to lose too much fitness.

Today I ran twice and both were hard runs. ,A couple days earlier, Saturday and Sunday, I did some tough runs too. When I come back I plan in a long run in the first day or two as long as my catch-up-with-life to-do list allows it.

So my theory is that as long as I don’t injure myself and I can jump back into my training plan without too much difficulty I can crank it up a bit for a few days to make up for missed key runs.

It is probably a good thing I don’t have a coach because I can’t imagine they would agree to this approach but as long as I don’t get carried away, it seems to work.

We are now off to the airport in a few hours. My legs will be happy for the break. And hopefully they will jump back in the game when I get back.

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