Thursday, December 31, 2015

Race Times and Weight

So....I thought I would post about "racing weight", as I think this has a pretty big impact on performance.

Disclaimer:  The last thing I want is to create any body image issues for anyone, or to encourage  ANY unhealthy habits - the goal with this post is only an honest discussion around how body weight can affect running race times.

I've always been a relatively light weight guy.  "Back in the day" when I was in my 20's and racing bicycles I weighed around 135 (at 5' 9").  This made me pretty good at  climbing hills, but I couldn't sprint for crap (not enough anaerobic strength).  My only chance for a good placing was to find courses with big hills, closer to the end the better.   Cyclists know that going uphill is a power to weight calculation, but on flat roads drafting is a bigger factor (much, much bigger than when running).

When I starting running earlier this year I weighted 152 (in my late - 40's).  Not that heavy, and I was in decent shape.  After a few months of running, my weight went down to 148.  That's what I weighed in my first 5k in May, 2015.  I finished in 21:09.  In June, weighing about the same, I ran 20:47.

I got interested in seeing if I could run faster, so over the summer I ran more, did some track workouts, and lost some weight.  The weight loss was not based on a strict diet; more about higher mileage and "eating more healthy".  In August I ran a 5k in Leesburg VA on a little bit hilly course in 19:51; I weighted 142.  Then, in September I ran a 5k at the Dulles Airport on one of the runways.  PERFECTLY flat course, my time was 19:12 - I weighted 140.    20 years after my cycling days, I'm within 5 lbs. of my "racing weight" 5k PR came down almost 2 minutes and I lost 8 lbs.  I'm a new runner, so dropping 2 minutes in a 5k over 4-5 months is not that exceptional (I think).   But, how much of this is due to my weight loss vs. training?  I've heard every lb. is 2 seconds/mile.  So 8 lbs is about 50 seconds over a 5k (rough math).  Plus I changed shoes from NB Zante (8 oz) to NB RC5000 at 3 oz.  I think this gave me a few more seconds advantage....this could be debated...but the RC5000 do make me "feel" faster.

Overall I think about 1/2 my performance improvement is from weight loss and 1/2 from training.   I figure if I get my weight down to 135 (like the good old days) I could take another 30 seconds off my 5k time without being any better conditioned. I want to do this?  I dunno.  I got to 140 fairly easily, without strict dieting.  But my weight loss stopped there.  Not sure I want to sacrifice that much more to lose another 5 lbs.  My new training plan has my weekly mileage climbing from 30 to 45, so the weight might come off just due to that.... I over emphasizing weight loss in my  performance?  I see a lot of people work very hard on their training and provide specifics on their daily workout in blogs and elsewhere, but very little information on how weight change might have helped or hurt their recent race results.  All the very fast pros discuss their least I know they seem to work to be at a "race weight" for them on their key races...and they're all pretty light people.

A lot of people are working hard to make PRs, and it seems weight would be part of the effort to achieve faster times....unless of course you're already at your best racing weight....but I don't see much discussion around...

As I mentioned at the top - this is only a discussion around HOW weight would affect race performance, not that anyone SHOULD lose weight. 


Running Gear

I'm relatively new to running.  When I started I found it helpful to see what other runners use, so I'll post here the gear I have.  Running is nice in that you don't need too much (unlike cycling, which was my passion about 20 years ago).

My feet are fairly narrow (front and heel) and I have a high arch (you know that test where you put your wet feet on a piece of paper to see how high you arch is?  When I do that I have NO arch section showing).  So, my main concern as far as fit is keeping the heel down tight and not sliding around in the forefoot.
When I first bought shoes I went to my local running shoe store and they put me on a treadmill and determined my "gate" is neutral.  I've read a lot since then, and I'm on the side of "less shoe" as far as support, posts, etc.  Oh, and I weight 140 lbs (5' 9") if that makes any difference.

New Balance Zante - I like these shoes, and I'm on my second pair.  I use these for training, when I'm not looking to "pick up the pace".  They fit well, but be warned that even with my high arch I can "feel" some support in the mid-foot area.  Drop is 6mm per Running Warehouse.

New Balance RC5000 - for track intervals and 5k races.  These shoes are SUPER light, have nothing to them, and make me feel fast.  Per  Running Warehouse they are 3 oz, and drop of 6mm which matches the Zante.  My longest run in them was a 3 x 3200 on the track....that's about as far as I would go in these.  Not sure I would want to go that far on the road (track has softness and bounce you won't get on asphalt).  I ordered 1/2 size down and that was the right choice.  A little snug in the forefoot, but okay for shorter runs.

Asics Hyperspeed 6 - Good shoes, they feel light and have a 6 mm drop and about 5 1/2 oz.  I use them on faster tempo runs, so far up to 10 miles.  I have to crank the laces down some to avoid some slipping in the forefoot, but when I get it right it's good.  I will probably use these shoes for 10k and half marathon races as well.  Note:  NB has that extra lace eyelet at the top that I use to "lock" my heel down, Asics doesn't have this....wish they did, but I manage.

Saucony Fastwitch 6 - I wanted these shoes to give my something a little uptempo but still good for longer runs.  These shoes are NOT doing it.  The ride is just too firm for me.  It's almost like from the mid foot back they are too stiff(?)  Whatever it is, they aren't the best for me.  I will still try the Kinvara's at some point, but probably not another pair of these.  However, I did pay for I'll wear them on my shorter runs, because they aren't hurting me in any way, just not comfortable.

Shoe shopping list:  Saucony Kinvara 6.  I might try these when the Zantes wear out.  The NB Vazee look good too, looks like NB is replacing Zante with these?  Or, maybe the 980 is becoming Vazee?

TomTom Runner GPS with heart rate monitor.  I chose this watch for two reasons: 1) big main display....I wear glasses, but not when I run, so a big main display is very helpful.  I can't see the two smaller displays, but I just toggle up/down using the separate control thingie.  I pretty quickly figured out which display I'm on...all good.  2.) built-in heart rate monitor - no strap!  Nice.  turns out I don't use this too much and rely on pace more than HR.  It records a little "funky" too,  but I think that happens with strap HR monitors too.  The price is reasonable at $230 too.
I'm starting to get some "Garmin envy", as I see a lot of other runners use Garmin and I think their software might be better....but I'm happy for now.

I run a lot by myself, so I need something on me in case I keel over or get hit by a car or deer.  I use RoadID bracelet, and recently/reluctantly I started carrying my phone with me on an arm band.  Reluctantly because I like the idea of being "unconnected" during my run, but my wife won the battle, so now I carry it!  (My wife ALWAYS wins these battles by the way....happy wife, happy life as they say)

Foam roller, stretchy bands, medicine ball.  I've found these helpful to avoid injury.  I use them for rehab routines for my IT band, core work, and dynamic stretching.

Training Log - Week Ending 12/27/15

This was my first training week using the training program provided by Jason Fitzgerald at Strength Running.  I searched out Jason after getting ITB Syndrome in my left leg as a result of creating my own program (without knowing what I was doing).  I didn't do any running specific strength work, but did a lot of interval, as anyone would expect, I got injured.  Being 48 didn't help.

After being down with my injury for a few weeks and a few weeks of easy running and strength/mobility exercises, I started Jason's program.  This week total miles:  31

Monday - rest (ran 9.5 miles @ 7:20 pace yesterday)

Tuesday - 4 mi @ 8:00 pace on country roads around my house + 4 strides.  Core work and hip mobility exercises.

Wednesday - 8.2 mi @ 7:22 pace (First 5.2 miles @ 7:45 pace; last 3 mi @ 6:50 pace).  ITB rehab work (Jason Fitzgerald at Strength Running has a good video) + single leg deadlifts with 20 lb dumb bell in the hand on the same side as the deadlift (makes a difference I've found).  Upper body strength work (pull ups, push ups, overhead press, etc).  I did this run on the W&OD path in Leesburg.  I was supposed to run the last 3 @7:00 pace, but it was slightly down hill and I was feeling good.

Thursday - off.  Did some dynamic stretching and mobility work.  I find doing only 5-10 minutes at night really "gets the stiffness out", and makes the next day better

Friday - 6 miles @ 8:00 pace.  Felt easy and good.  Foam rolling, dynamic stretching.

Saturday - 3 miles @ 7:50 pace + 4 strides.  Core work.  Easy day.

Sunday - 10 miles @ 7:15 pace on C&O Canal.  This is a long run for me, but I feel good about it and the faster pace surprised me.  I felt good the whole way, I didn't intend to run this fast, but I felt good.  ITB rehab routine + single leg dead lift, Upper body strength work (pull ups, push ups, overhead press, etc)

Notes:  I live close to two very nice paths/trails in Virginia and Maryland (I live in Virginia, but close to the border of Maryland about 50 miles west of DC.).  Whenever I can, I run on the "C&O Canal towpath".  I really like this path because it is a softer surface of hard packed gravel/dirt, has no vehicle traffic and only a few runners/bikers/dog walkers, who for the most part are very courteous to those around them.  The other path I like to run a lot is the "W&OD" which is a nice paved path that runs from DC to western Virginia.  It is paved and in good condition with side dirt paths every now and then that I always take (again, softer surface for my 48 year old legs).

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Running / Racing Blog Introduction

Hello Everyone.

This is my first post for the Speed Limit 40 Running blog.  I'll be posting on my running, training, and racing.  The name "Speed Limit 40 Running" came from the local country roads around my house that have a speed limit of 40 MPH (which is not always obeyed which can keep on full alert).

I've been running for about a year now, so I'm a new runner but a far from new person (48 years old last summer).  During my first year of running I've learned a little bit, and realized I have A LOT I don't know.  2015 in recap:

January 2015 I thought it would be a great idea to start running.  I used to race bicycles (20 years ago), and I wasn't too bad at it, so I figured I'd run a little and maybe enter a 5k.   Pretty quickly my competitive nature (or obsession) took  hold and I quickly created my own training program by sampling the internet and cobbling together what I liked and remembered from my cycling days.

After getting some general fitness and running a bunch of weekly track intervals I was able to get a 5k PR of 19:12 at the Dulles Airport 5k in September.  I was excited to have the fastest time in the 'Men 40-49' category, so of course I decided to step up my training and see if I could break 19:00 before the year is up.

I ran a couple good track workouts (6 x 800 @ 6:00 pace) followed the next week by (4 x 1200 @ 6:03 pace) and promptly strained by left IT band!  After being down for a month I decided to find a good program that would let me get faster and avoid injury.

I found Jason Fitzgerald at Strength Running who gave me a 20 week program that includes strength and mobility exercises to keep me healthy as my training increases.

I'll be posting my training soon and look forward to comments.

I'll add pictures and make this blog a little easier to read once I learn how!