Thursday, May 29, 2014

SF half, beep test, heartrate, Run Less Run Faster


SF half marathon:
Pulled the trigger on the SF half marathon (2nd half), cost was pretty insane to me - $130 after a $10 convenience fee lol.  What is with convenience fees on races?  Why aren't these just built into the final cost?   I haven't done a half marathon in forever (SJ RNR 2010 was last one), but do they always cost this much?  Side note, but after my rant last post about how much Sportphoto was charging for photos, SF marathon announced that they were offering free race photos!  This is what I'm talking about - and the arrangement is exactly what Coach Dion was suggesting, that a sponsor of the photos get's their logo on the photos in return for them being free.  I hope that every major marathon follows along with what SF marathon is doing.  And no response from Sportphoto about my rant, which is not surprising at all.  I wish that someone from that company had stepped up and responded back to me.  I would respect them a lot if they responded.

Every time I do Bay to Breakers, I always seem to be fascinated by the elites and the centipedes.  I guess because I love seeing elites run.  Seems like the Impalas are one of the squads that fascinates me, they are just super fast.  Runners World had an article about them, and Roserunner did a post about them a while back too.  The club has sent a member to the marathon Olympic trials every time the trails have been held, which is really impressive.

Beep test:
While watching the US men's national team's training on ESPN, the team did an interesting test - the beep test.  Anyone ever heard of it out there?  Apparently it is done by setting up 2 cones 20 meters apart, and then basically running in between them when you hear beeps.  And you keep going until you can't keep up with the beeps (the beeps get closer and closer together).  It looked like awful punishment seeing the men's national team do it, and I thought it looked like a great workout to try.  So sometime I'm going to give it a shot.  I downloaded an app for the test, anyone have a suggested app to run it from your phone?

In looking at my recent mileage, I realized that somehow I ran a PR at Bay to Breakers despite only running about 10-15 miles a week - this seems kind of odd to me.  This is partly due to tax season happening, which cut my mileage down since I simply didn't have time to run as often - I was only running twice a week then.  Now that tax season is over, I am back up to running 3 times a week, and around 20 miles a week or so.  I guess it showed me that I'm probably still not running at my peak, since I should probably be doing more mileage for the races that I do.  Something to shoot for.

Race heartrate:
I was just curious about what my heartrate was for various races, so I looked up the numbers for every race that I could track down with a heartrate monitor:
Not sure what correlations if any there are here- it would help if I did a race for the 3rd time to see any sort of pattern - so next years Bay to Breakers and 408K might provide some clues.  I may also need to replace my HRM based on this post from Page, since mine is now like 3 years old lol.  I guess the main thing that surprises me is that my Bay to Breakers 2010 heartrate is lower than my 2014 heartrate - I'm thinking that is because during 2010 I was in marathon training, and was mainly doing all runs at slow ish pace, and I was probably in better overall shape.  This year I've generally done all runs at medium pace ish (7 miles max), and so was specifically training for B2B.  I didn't have any more effort to give in either race, so a little surprising that my heartrate is so much higher this year than it was 4 years ago.  My max heartrate must still be close 200, since I've seen numbers as high as 193 or so during Bay to Breakers while on course.  Not sure what that means - that I have a high tolerance for pain or heart capacity or what.

Pace bands:
Not sure if that many people use pace bands for races, but I saw this site on the internet for custom pace bands for every marathon out there.  Apparently the site even adjusts for the course elevation and the like.  Something to consider.

Run Less, Run Faster plan:
A while ago I bought the Run Less, Run Faster book - which mainly preaches that you only need to run 3 days a week in order to train up for a race (including 2 days of cross training), which sounds like my kind of training plan.  The half marathon training plan is 18 weeks, so I definitely don't have time to follow this plan for the SF half marathon, but maybe I'll try to follow it for the San Jose Rock N Roll half on 10/5 though.  So for now, I'll likely just follow the Hal Higdon intermediate plan for SF half on 7/27.

In looking in detail at the Run Less, Run Faster plan, the paces are intimidating.  Based on my recent San Jose 5K time of 20:16, the training paces seem really fast.

Some pace examples for me based on the charts in the book:
400m training pace: 1:28
800m training pace: 3:00
1600m training pace: 6:17
Short tempo: 6:50
Mid tempo: 7:05
Long tempo: 7:20
Easy: 8:25
half marathon pace: 7:12
half marahton pace +20: 7:32
half marathon pace +30: 7:42

For example, here is the first week of the 18 week plan broken out:
  • Track - 10-20 min warmup, 12 x 400m (90 sec RI) at 1:28, 10 min cooldown
  • Tempo - 2 miles easy, 3 miles @ short tempo pace (6:50), 1 mile easy
  • Long - 8 miles - HMP + 20 sec/mile (7:32)
All 3 of those runs sound way too hard for me.  If/when I start doing this training program, I'll likely add a minute to my 5K time to get some somewhat easier training paces that seem more attainable.  Because the last thing I want to do is to get injured during this plan.  Anyone have experience following the Run Less, Run Faster training plans?  Should it feel this intimidating?

Side note - but I played with the Runners World race time converter based on some recent race times, interesting what it came out with:
  • Based on 5K time of 20:16 - half marathon prediction of 1:33:14
  • Based on 5 mile time of 33:18 -  half marathon prediction of 1:32:30
  • Based on 10K time of 42:43 (note that this time is from 2009, but I think I can beat this time now) - half marathon prediction of 1:34:15
  • Though all of the races above are flat, so maybe I have to add a couple minutes to their guesses since SF half is certainly not flat lol. (though this works for SJ half marathon, which is totally flat)
SF 2nd half marathon elevation profile is actually somewhat similar to Bay to Breakers, with basically 1 big hill at the beginning (inside Golden Gate Park), then mainly flat or downhill the rest of the way.  It looks like the main hill goes from 100 feet at mile 1 to 300 feet at mile 4.  Which is way easier than B2B in terms of distance - B2B goes up 200 feet in less than 1 mile.  I remember running this during SF marathon in 2010 and thinking, when will this hill end? lol.  At least the hill is gradual, unlike Bay to Breakers.  It looks like the course is basically the Bay to Breakers course backwards, with a bit of Stow Lake mixed in there as well.  

Anyone have experience following the Run Less, Run Faster training plans?  Should it feel this intimidating?  


  1. Hey there -- been meaning to post for a bit but always read on my phone and can't seem to comment. Anyway, well done on Bay to Breakers --I was thinking of you that day. Glad to see how well you've done.

    Did the Run Less Run Faster years ago and the paces were a bit hard to do. I was a new runner at the time so really didn't have much experience. I'm thinking on using it for the SJRNR too -- because running 3 days a week seems to be all my body can handle. All fun and games.

  2. I like to think that is the way I training... That said I run evey day, but back in the 90's I was running up to 100miles a week, and now, while I would love to have the time and energy I don't, so I have to make the session count.

    Now while it soulds like a good idea and does work, all the top runners have really improved by running big miles... the run less works for people who have never done sessions. Think of it like this: if you go for an easy run every day, come race day you will only know how to run easy. So if you run hard/fast, by doing sessions and then resting, running fast becomes easy!

    So run the 3 days they talk about, and while they say cross train 2 days a week, run easy, and cross train!!!

    Good luck.

    Oh one more thing, an 18 week is too long, I would guess you can cut out the early weeks and pick up the training somewhere in the middle!

  3. Ugggghhh, no, SF Marathon is *very* expensive (which is why I refused to run it until I ran a qualifying time for the seeded division, which I think got me like 30-40% off?). Rock N Roll races are pretty expensive too, but I think even SJ Half the last time I ran it (four years ago) was only $85. Personally I don't think a half should ever cost over $60.

    My boyfriend works with one of the Impalas that went to the Olympic Trials at Twitter! Her name is Brooke Wells & I internet stalk her all the time. She used to have a blog but I don't think she writes it much anymore.

  4. Hi Nelly,
    I read RLRF but never used it to train , partly because the paces did seem fast and partly because for the marathon i think there isn't enough mileage. Your 5k time is perhaps extra fast but your endurance isn't there (yet). I think your idea of notching back the paces to start is a good one.

    I think Coach Dion is also right in saying you don't really need 18 weeks to train for a half marathon.

    Re: SFM. I have run the half once and the full 3 times and I probably will run it again but I find it obnoxiously expensive and crowded Your choice of the 2nd half marathon is the best...the bridge is always too crowded.

    Happy summer running!

  5. Hey - thanks for the shout-out! :-) Good luck at TSFM! I'm intrigued by Run Less, Run Faster as well, so I look forward to hearing about your experience should you decide to follow this for San Jose RNR (which I've just signed up for myself). But for the time being I'm also using a Higdon plan for my next half at the Santa Rosa Marathon.

  6. I tried the RLRF thing a while back and abandoned it after a week as I found the paces too aggressive. Mistake I made was predicting what I wanted to run in the marathon and using that to pick the plan. What I should have done is some sort of fitness test and base the plan on that. I think using a recent 5K is a good start, but with such a short race it may be dangerous to only use that as a predictor of finishing times for longer distances.

    If I were to follow this plan again I'd go and run each of the "three key workouts" that they base the program around, keep track of HR to make sure I was getting the proper training effect from each, and then assess the times I was able to achieve after the fact to slot myself into the proper program. I must say that doing 12 repeats of 400m right off the bat, for someone like me, is a guarantee of injury so I'd likely want to be running repeats leading up to that test phase to ensure that I could manage this workload without fear of breaking down.

    Just my 2 cents! Good luck!