10 Miles, 10 Smiles, +10 cadence

Ahh, the post-marathon blues. There’s only one way to shake them off, and that’s to go for a run. Which I did.

If you’re not familiar with it, Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s answer to Central Park, only smaller and has fewer tourists. The road loop is popular with runners and cyclist alike, and is exactly 3.33 miles long, making 3 laps 10 miles. Today was intended to be a relaxing ‘as you feel’ recovery run after last week’s heroics in the NYC Marathon, but I also had half a mind to run this at a slightly faster pace than I’ve been running this distance during my training. Also in the last few weeks of my marathon training, I started to focus a lot more on cadence, which is something I am ashamed to say I’ve somewhat neglected over the last few years.

There is a lot of debate around cadence, however ideally it’s supposed to be 180 steps per minute, or about 3 steps per second, or faster. That should apply whether you’re strictly a casual runner, a club runner or you’re an elite. Speed is determined by a combination of stride length, or stride rate (cadence), so increasing one or the other (or both) obviously increases speed.

Many of my training runs have an average cadence in the high 150’s or into the 160’s. I am very rarely getting into the 170’s, but I have noticed that when I am feeling good and have faster runs, it’s my cadence that is higher. Let’s take a look at my 10 mile run today Vs my 10 miles run in September (which was actually a race!) in regards to cadence.

Bronx 10M Cadence
Bronx 10m race in September, 167 SPMM

My stride here looks pretty consistent, and averages 170 spm. You can see the poor miles I had (7, 8 and 9) and frankly the paces were all over the place. An 8:30 followed by a 9:30 and then a 10 and 11:34. This is my normal ‘mono’ stride approach to running, if you ignore the fact I ran a poor race!

Prospect Park 10m Cadence
Casual run today, but an improved 172 cadence.

So here there is less consistency but a higher average. The consistency is really down to when I am focusing on my faster stride rate, and then I slow down when I lose a bit of concentration (or tire slightly at the end). Prospect Park is also hilly which impacts your cadence slightly, with downhills inviting longer strides as you recover a little cardio and uphills inviting shorter quicker strides. My pace though is far more consistent with only a 10 second variance after miles 1 and 2 (on a hilly course) and then a nice negative split at the end. Even if I do say so myself.

I am going to be focusing a lot more on cadence in the next few months and running up to my NYCHalf in March where I’m hoping to not only PR but get closer to that magic 180spm!

Let’s Talk about Long Runs (20 days to Marathon)

So today I ran 20 miles as part of my preparation for the NYC Marathon on November 5th. It’s the longest run in my training plan, and arguably the hardest day so far. Before we go into how I did over 20 miles, let’s talk about 18 miles.

Below is a chart showing my 18m run in 2014 Vs my 2nd attempt at it in 2017. I did manage to finish my 1st attempt a few weeks earlier, but 70 degrees plus more than 90% humidity and a crisis of confidence meant I actually stopped at mile 12 and walked off the course. I was fully intending to quit but after sitting down and eating a Honey Stinger for 5 mins, I (literally) got back into the race and finished. There were a few 11+ mins miles in there…

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Pretty much by mile 5 there is a 30 second difference, which stays constant up to about mile 12, and then widens significantly to well over a minute. Not good.

Now in 2014, I never actually ran a 20-miler. I ran 20 miles during the weekend of my Staten Island Half, but really in 4 broken parts. A warm up for the race, the race itself, a cool down and then 6 miles to get what was eventually 21 miles. I remember feeling pretty beaten up by the end of it and was doing 10mins/miles during those last 6, which back then was very slow (although I’d take it this year!)

Enough about the past, let’s talk about today. In short, I screwed it up. I’ve been having issues with taking on board fluids and gels, I get an acid reflux when taking water or gels when running, so often try and hang on with minimal intake. That’s not particularly bright on a day when it’s pushing 73 degrees and there is 83% humidity. My NYRR coach scorned me for only taking 3 gels and drinking about 30oz of fluid every hour, when I should have been taking in about 20oz every hour.

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The net result was a continuously slowing pace after mile 15 (10:32, 10:58, 11:27, 11:32, 12:40!) Given my sole goal is to beat my 2014 time of 4:33:33 this is bad news, and it puts me around a 5 hour finish time. I’ve got three weeks to fix thing…

Reboot. Restart. Marathon Day.

It has been five months since my last post, and I’ve had a somewhat indifferent summer of running and I’m heading toward a disappointing year. I set out with the best intentions and didn’t have the focus, will power or determination to see things through. My head hasn’t really been straight in regards to many things this year, perhaps I am falling into a mid-life crisis of sorts, but my running is definitely one area I thought I’d persevere. But I didn’t.

It all started reasonably well with 5k and 4m PR’s back in April… but I didn’t push hard enough in the Brooklyn Half Marathon to get my PR (course best but 3 mins short of my half PR). My Queens 10K was respectable, but again short of a PR I set in 2014 by about a minute. After that, I’ve done nothing special and frankly barely keep up the weekly miles to stay still – I’m struggling to maintain 10 mins miles.

Even the relatives easy You Vs Year challenge on MapMyRun / Under Armour challenge is now something I could miss out on. I’m barely 40km ahead of schedule, whereas at one stage I was 200km ahead.

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Just staying ahead of the baseline!

In the first half of this year, I averaged 16 miles a week (no a lot, but enough to maintain a point of fitness). In the second half of this year, I’ve average barely 8 miles per week. Not nearly enough to meet the goals I set out to achieve.

So what now? Well today is NYC Marathon day… I am going out for a run right now, will target 8 miles (a well known course I do) and take a look at my time and statistics Vs other times I have run that exact course, and see what I can do to pull things back into shape in the remainder of the year. I’ll be right back, after that run…

…back! So after a puffing 8.01 miles @ 10:04 pace, I actually feel a bit better about things. First of all, being able to run 8 miles non-stop after a pretty atrocious few months of barely keeping in touch with running, is somehow hugely motivational. My body seems to be telling me, I’m still hanging in there with you!

I have two 4-mile races coming up in the next 4 weeks, the first on Nov 20th and the second on Dec 3rd. It would be great to end the year on a high and set some new goals for 2017.

Also, yesterday I completed my volunteering for NYRR, which means I am on target to be eligible for next year’s NYC Marathon as well as running all of the major Borough Races; Fred Lebow Half, NYC Half, Brooklyn Half, Queens 10K, Bronx 10m and Staten Island half.

Onward and upward…

The Taper

Today is the first day of my marathon taper, and the first day I have moved my blog away from the evil clutches of Google over to the (slightly) less evil Tumblr. Let’s see how that goes.

On July 13th 2012, I wrote this:

So while I am not exactly balding, over-weight or suffering from senior-skin syndrome, I do in fact feel very 40. For most of this year I have been struggling with chronic back pain caused by a herniated L5 disc, and a growing feeling of losing the moment to ever get into shape is intimately paralyzing. If I’m honest, I’ve never really loved exercise in the crazy way you’re supposed to. Never really loved the agony of pushing myself to the limit, the feeling of about to puke because I ran just one more mile, or the feeling of being sweat saturated and sun-lashed. But, I am told, that’s because I am out of shape and don’t exercise. Apparently, if I just push through for long enough, I’ll start to love it. So, I’m going to become a runner. Yes. That’ll be me jogging in the bike line, startling your dog and flicking sweat in your face feeling all smug and superior. I’ll be loving the pain and begging for more. Apparently.

And here I am two years later, less than 2 weeks away from running the NYC Marathon in 2014. It’s been a 2 year journey that is moments away from the climax, when I find out whether it was all worth it. Today’s ‘long run’ wasn’t really that long, in the scheme of things (10 miles) and it’s all down hill from here until the big day.