Friday, January 11, 2008


Way back in High School, I used to run sprints up to the 400m.  Back then we never really did much if any distance training - it was typically all anaerobic work - 200m repeats, 800m repeats, etc.  The coach also had me doing a good deal of lifting on legs as well as killer sets on the stationary resistance bike.  

By my junior year I was a state section level runner, and as a senior I missed going to state finals in the 400m by one place in the sectional meet.  (top 5 went to states, and I got 6th of the 8 in the sectional final)  

I realized at that time that my lack of any aerobic training was probably holding me back from becoming a better runner.  I also realized that although I made the sectional finals in the 100m as well, I didn't have enough speed to be a sprinter at the division-1 college level.  I figured my best chance to continue running in college was to do some heavy aerobic work in addition to my speed work and perhaps become an 800m runner.  I had run the 800m in under 2 minutes in practice, but I never ran that distance in a meet and I knew I certainly was not trained properly for that event.  

Thinking that I had some potential to become a fairly decent middle distance runner in college, I met with the track coach early in my freshman year to see if I could join the team.  Well, unfortunately for me the track team was loaded w/ middle distance runners, but they didn't have many guys who ran the sprints very well.  The coach told me he had a place for me on the team as a member of the 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.  

In hind sight I should have accepted this offer, worked my butt off, ran on the relay teams while doing the training necessary to become a good 800m runner - but knowing for sure that I did not have enough speed to run as well as I would have liked against division-1 sprinters in the 100m and 400m, being enrolled in an electrical engineering program that I knew was going to be tough and require a lot of time, and just being 18yo and not all that keen on not being able to do exactly what I wanted to do. . . . I didn't join the team . . . and that was pretty much the end of my running career.

. . . . Fast forward 18 years.  I came across the Masters Track and Field Rankings on the web and started looking through the times.  My first thought was gee, this should be easy.  I'll go out and get in shape for a few months and I should be running w/ these guys in no time.  Not-so-Much!!  After doing some running for about a month or so I went to the track to see what kind of 400m I could run.  (after all my solid 1 month of training in the past 18 years certainly should have prepared me for an excellent time)  I felt pretty good going around the first turn, nice first straight away.  I started to get a little gassed in the middle of the 2nd turn and did my best to give it all I had to get in.  "Sure", I thought "probably lost a little time during that last 130 yards, but how bad could it be?"   I felt pretty good the first 220 meters or so.  I took a look down at the watch. . . .Sixty-one point five.

"WOW - what the hell happened to me! How did I ever get THIS slow!?"  I figured I'd be able to run a 1/4 mile under a minute until I was about 80yo!  Needless to say, my appreciation for Masters running jumped about 10x in those 61.5 seconds.  I continued to train although I really didn't know exactly what I was doing, just going through old workouts that I remembered from HS.  In another couple of months I brought my 400m time down to 59.4, still a good 10 seconds away from my top HS time.  A short time after, I got really busy w/ work and before I knew it, I stopped running all together.

About a year and a half later I began getting the itch to run again.  But this time, I wanted to train properly, I wanted to add a lot more aerobic running, and I wanted to focus on events that were longer than 400m, namely the 800m, 1500m/mile and even 5k's and 10k's.  Additionally, I wanted to develop a training program that I could sustain as all the constant speed work I was doing before really got mentally draining more so than physically.  

I started doing some running in September '07.  I got one of Galloway's books and although I certainly got some useful info there, his style just wasn't for me.  A guy who owns a running store where I live (he also won the '07 Oregon Marathon in his first ever marathon in a time of 2:25) showed me Daniels' Running Formula (2nd edition).  I immediately got hooked.  By November I was going through some of his general fitness programs and by December my fitness level was significantly better than it was back in September-October.  However, one thing was missing. . . .my aerobic fitness was WAY behind my speed.  I realized I really needed to focus on base training for a solid chunk of time before gearing up for the 2008 summer season.  That's when I began to read runners' blogs and started reading up on some of the Lydiard teachings.  By late December I decided to dedicate 16 weeks to base training before jumping back into the Daniels' stuff (which will be either his 800m or 1500m program)  

So here on January 11th, I've been running for about 4 months, and I'm into the 4th week of my base training.  I'm primarily training for the summer track season where I plan to compete in the Masters 800m, 1500m, and mile events.  I will also be running some 5k's along the way.  The current plan is to go back to base training in the fall after the track season ends and perhaps add some 10k races at that time.  

If you're an experienced runner and have any advice, I'm certainly willing to listen.  As I've said, I don't have all that much experience in training for middle distance or longer distance events and I'm hoping to learn as I go.   

1 comment:

Gordon said...

Hey Mike! Gordon here, and I've been fascinated with your blog. If you turn to this month's (Jan. 09) issue of Runner's World, you'll see a story on Finding Your Ideal Distance...with a big anecdote on my experience.

I was always a sprinter, not in track, but in football and rugby, though I did run a hung-over 54 second 400m in college. But after college, I graduated to long, longer and longest endurance stuff, including three-day adventure races.

Well...long story short, I lined up fairly recently with my track club's monthly workouts/races and wound up sub-60 for the 400, which I wasn't too proud of until I looked at the age-graded results.

Anyway, thanks for the inspiration! I too am looking forward to getting on the track and competing. Let me know (gwright at competitorgroup dot com) if you ever make it up to Marin