Sunday, November 23, 2014

Half Measures

I don't understand the compulsion of runners who train for marathons trying to use shortcut approaches.  I've run plenty of marathons on short training.  I would say that out of the 20 marathons I have run, only 6 of them were done with what I would consider an appropriate amount of training leading up to them.  As you can probably guess those are the 6 fastest marathons I ever ran, 2 were under 2:50 and 1 under 2:40.
1986 Grandma's Marathon
Ran 2:51:42 in hot conditions
Before I met coach Tom Dowling in 1985, my marathon training was haphazard at best.  A long run to me was 10 miles and I had never heard of Arthur Lydiard.  An incredibly painful 3:11 marathon in the spring of 1985 when I thought I was in decent shape led me to Tom.

Following Tom's Lydiard based principles of building a very large aerobic base before attempting a marathon I can honestly say those 6 marathons were the easiest I ever ran.  For each and every one of those marathons I had at least 6 good months of aerobic base before attempting those marathons.  Yet, I continually come across runners who want to train and compete in a marathon with 4 months or so of training, many just running 4 days a week.

I understand that men and women with children cannot run 6 or 7 days a week.  But I cannot understand why aspiring marathon runners don't take the time, ie; months of building up long runs, to run a marathon.  Trying to go from a 10 miles long run to a 22 mile long run in just 4 months is an invitation to injury.

When I ran my fastest marathon, I literally spent a year preparing for it.  The payoff was a 9 minute PR and the easiest marathon I ever ran.  I checked my old running logs and the year leading up to the race.  I ran 25 runs of 16 miles or more, 8 of them were 21 miles or more.  I should add that I missed an entire month early in the buildup due to a hamstring injury 10 months before the marathon and another 3 weeks of training just three months out from the race itself due to a sore achilles.

All of my long runs save one, was at 7:15 to 7:30 pace.  The one was a 26 mile run done two weeks out from the marathon done at 6:55 pace with 5 water stops lasting about 2 minutes each.  A lot of runners I meet feel the need to try and run their long runs at something approaching race pace.  That's foolish at best and defeats the purpose of building your aerobic base.

I did plenty of speed specific training in the weeks leading up to my marathon PR.  It included mile repeats, tempo runs of 6 to 10 miles where I would be at marathon pace or better for at least the last third of the run and plenty of races used to sharpen my speed.

Again, several people I see preparing for marathons seems to forsake running 5K's or 10K's ahead of their big races.  That's a big mistake.  Racing gets you used to using the water stations and dealing with other runners.  Even experienced runners need prep races before their goal race.

My last marathon, in 2010, I was under raced and under trained.  I hadn't run a marathon in 7 years due to several surgeries.  In the 10 months leading up to that 2010 marathon  I had only four runs of 16 miles or more.  I ran only a couple of races leading up to the big race.  I paid the price.  I ran 3:56, my slowest marathon by 40 minutes.  The last 9 miles were a difficult shuffle in extremely hot conditions.  It was on the same course where 20 years earlier I had run 2:39:24 PR.  A marathon without proper preparation is a humbling experiences.  My half-assed training got me exactly what I deserved.

I know that most runners cannot see their way to breaking 4 hours in the marathon.  But with a proper amount of base training, you can make a difficult, brutally tough race, a lot more tolerable.  A marathon doesn't have to mean misery.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Oops Hoops

Usually this time of the year I offer up my first assessment of Kansas basketball.  This will undoubtedly be the most interesting ride since Bill Self replaced Roy Williams in 2003.  An 11th straight conference title will mark Self's best coaching job ever, despite the fact that he has the most athletic team I've ever seen at K.U.

Here's the problem.  When I watched the Jayhawks step out onto the court last night to face Kentucky, my jaw dropped.  It was men versus boys.  Kentucky is big.  Kentucky may have the finest collection of talent since John Wooden ruled basketball at UCLA with Bill Walton at center.  Now don't get me wrong, Kentucky is going to lose a game or two this year, sorry Larry Brown.  Great teams playing 40 games always have one slip up.

Kentucky exposed Kansas in ways I've never seen a Bill Self team exposed.  This version of the Jayhawks looks like a squad straight out of the Roy Williams era.  They played soft.  Super frosh Cliff Alexander is the only interior beast Kansas has this season.  Jamari Traylor simply shrank when it was his turn to take over the spotlight.  Perry Ellis is a perimeter big man.  Traylor and Ellis never worked the high-low post the way we're used to seeing the Jayhawks play it.  This is really troubling.

Kansas fans will never admit it but they missed Nadir Tharpe.  His presence would have brought the much needed toughness that Self seeks from his point guards.  Frank Mason tried to play the way Self needs his point guard to play, but pushing the ball into the post on foolish runs to the basket only exposed his inexperience.

Worse still, Wayne Selden, who will be expected to be the go to guard this season, is probably K.U.'s fourth best option on the perimeter.  The three freshman, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Sviastolav Myhailiuk and Devonte Graham are already better than Selden.  Kansas will have to be an inside-out team this season rather it's normal outside-in team, unless Traylor finds his inner Marcus Morris and Cliff Alexander can learn to stay out of foul trouble.