Friday, January 18, 2008


"By7", let's do you first. Your comments on my training and recent race results follow:

"I would like to offer my personal opinion:
1) it was a mistake to run the Tucson marathon, but only a slight one
2) the real mistake was not taking it easy after the marathon and do not allow time to recover ...26 Miles are always 26 Miles..
3) but the real root cause is that Mike "chased" the Mileage at all cost and all those miles damaged the performance in his key workouts: if you read back, most of the "critical" workouts were not too good because Mike was tired or still recovering from the day before.
After Tuscon Marathon I was 99% confident that Mike was going to hit easy 2h35', but later he begun to struggle at every key workout and still "hammer down" miles the following days. So I personally started to feel that he was overburning.
Probably for him today running 100 Miles are still too many, considering the work/family commitments. He must save some freshness for his key workouts.
On a more positive note: I believe that if he takes 2/3 weeks recovery and 1 month of "specific" training for marathon (long tempo run, MP, long runs with MP sections), he can make a fantastic marathon in mid/late March and hit easy the 2h35'"

"Mike has 'felt too much in love' with his own training and forgot that the purpose is not to run strong every day but to be ready on race day.
too many hard "easy runs" and poor recovery sealed his fate."

"The issue of the "marathon prediction" is quite interesting.
From his workout, I think Mike was ready to run in 2h35'.
In his 1000m interval, he was hitting "easy" sub-3'20".
For comparison, I recently did a 2h38' marathon and my 1000m interval were more in the 3'20"-3'25" range.
Probably he should have taken part in a 10k/HM race 4/5 weeks out from the marathon and really push the ball to understand the actual levle of fitness in racing conditions (eg: mini taper).
Anyway, we welcome further comments of Mystery Coach on the subject."

May of 2004 was the last time I ran a marathon without suffering through what I'll call bonking for the last 6-8 miles of the race. I faded horribly and lost big time during marathons in January and June of '05, January of '06, June of '06, December of '06 and October of '07. The amount of time I lost when this inevitably occurred varied from 2 to almost 20 minutes. I'm still not certain if some of the problem was psychosomatic-performance anxiety-mental fatigue, a fueling or fuel management issue, gross pacing errors or over-estimation of my abilities, or if I was simply not addressing my specific training needs with my running. The Tucson marathon, scheduled five weeks out from the Phoenix marathon, offered me the opportunity to break the cycle with a low pressure training run. Yes, in hindsight I ran a bit too aggressively. However, in all honesty I wouldn't change things. I came out of that race with a huge boost in confidence, and also a better understanding about how a conservative start could pay big dividends during the last ten miles. I believe these factors helped me run a better race in Phoenix and got me "over the hump", so to speak.

Now let's get down to it. Just for the record, I'm not you.

As a former coach you should know this. Just because you've shown us in your blog that you break down easily and often injure yourself when running moderate miles doesn't mean that the same thing necessarily applies to everyone else. I've averaged about 80 miles per week during the past two years, which includes holidays, vacations, down cycles and sickness, so to accuse me of "chasing mileage at all costs" is nonsense when I'm only averaging between 100-120 miles at my mileage peak. 1/3 more mileage during peak load over one's yearly average isn't pushing it.

My "critical" workouts actually came off quite well with the exception of the period where I was sick towards the end. I think Tinman has you a bit brainwashed with the adamant adherence to "CV" intervals and "big workouts". You seem to be a bit obsessed with interval times and distances, without really understanding that the actual stimulus counts much more than just the minutes or seconds.

Recovery is very dependent on the individual, both in duration and intensity. Easy is easy, sometimes at 6:59 pace and sometimes at 8 minute pace. I time it to leave myself a trail, but quite honestly for all the grief I get sometimes I second-guess posting it.

You did well to run your 2:38, but honestly you seem pretty arrogant about knowing what I've done wrong in my training. Perhaps you would do better to wait and better your own performance first.

In Arthur Lydiard's "Running to the Top" Arthur says he often tells young people, "Look, last year, you ran the best race of your career. Everything went right and you performed at your very best. Now, if you know why that happened and you put your training plan together properly to reproduce that peak performance again on the day of the first race you want to win this season, then I would say you know something about training. Until you can do that, you don't know a damn thing about it. You are just a good athlete who, one day, without realizing why it is happening, will run a good race." I look forward to your next attempt.

End of rant. I've taken it easy this week, skipping Monday, then putting in 5 easy miles on Tuesday and 6 on Wednesday. Wednesday night Finn came down with a virus, which meant a boat-load of vomit, four changes of bedding, and next to no sleep for anyone. By the time Thursday morning arrived I was in no mood to run, so it was nice not to need to. Last night Finn only made a few wake up calls and stayed in his original pajamas, so I felt good while trying out the new racing flats for 5 miles.

Training: 1/18, 5 miles, 34m, 6:42 pace
1/17, 0
1/16, 6.2 miles easy in 43m
1/15, 5 miles, 37m, 7:20 pace


duncan said...

Ok, my turn.

Mike, I think you wasted too much time responding to BY7.

You nailed it when you determined that this recent marathon was a victory for you because you sustained the last 6-8 miles very close to pace. You may not realize it now, but you have become a sub 2:35 marathoner. Your mileage shows it; your dedication shows it; your workouts show it. It's only a matter of time.

Back up on the horse you go.

Do the same thing you are doing: More 100+ mileage will bolster the legs; more 1K workouts will increase the confidence. Most importantly, more marathons will increase the sample size, giving you an increasingly better chance to have the weather and the heart and the legs and the lungs align in a grand planetary display of 2:34:59 naysayer-disproving magnificence.

Keep at it.

Keep doing what you are doing.

Remember this Japanese proverb: "It is not by force but by steady dripping that water pierces the stone."

Anonymous said...


I am very surprised about the tone and nature of your post.
Was not my intention to be "Arrogant", may be my sentences were too direct, but as non-native english speaker, I lack the mastering of the language for articulating everything in softer tones.
We(me too) have gone down on you maybe too hard because of the common disappointment (I guess) that your extraordinary energy into preparing for this marathon did not give many harvests.
In any case, I guess that the purpose of comments in a runner's blog is to gather praises as well as critics/suggestions,
otherwise we can just assume (if you like) the role of cheer leaders and stop the exchange of experience through the honest discussion.

Going back to the core of the discussion:

- I avoid any further comments on the issue of 1000m intervals: my comment was more related to a question from another reader on the source of predictions from Mystery Coach and the relationship between this kind of workout and the marathon pace.

- I stick to my thought that you were "overburn" on race day: the fact that you start to "labour" already after 20k is more a syntonm of "lack of mental/physical energy" than a real "bonk". I do not know if there is also some relationship with pre-race food/diet, but It is somehow weird that an athlete that easily cover 100M/weekly have a decline so early in the race, unless already fatigued at the start.
- My observation about "chasing Miles" was not related to the total mileage itself, but to your tendency to always "add" miles at any workout, in spite of the program. Too many entries in your blog were kind of "felt good after 10 miles, added other 4", or "I felt like crap, but wanted to make 10 miles anyway". All these "extra-miles" come back to you in Phoenix, I believe. Also the pace of your "recovery days" was always digging in the sub-7/mile.
- about the individuality of each training program, I can not agree more. We are all different. Since I am an engineer by education and vocation, I like to stick to numbers and quantitative data, but obviously other philosophies are equally valid (luckily we are not all engineers, i would say). The "big workouts" or anyway the "2 weekly heavy workouts" may be are a "Tinman's dogma", but I noticed that also Jack Daniels in his book put forward a marathon training plan that is quite similar in his guideline concepts: 2 serious workouts, long runs with interval/MP, all other days are easy. And the program by Daniels seems to me the best I found around for "involved amateurs".
- I strongly believe that if you give some "freshness" to your workouts and scale down the pace/distance of your easy days, you have 2h35' in your legs even in 6 weeks. If you feel confident to go on training as you did in the past, do as you feel best, but maybe you should reconsider why 100/110 Miles weekly did not prevent what you feel like lack of endurance.
- lastly, the challenge to make better next time: well, I take it. I was already planning to run my next marathon again in December and try to tackle 2h35'59" before I get too old. I will try my best and gaining example from your training, I will try to raise the mileage a bit more. As a runner, I am a wreckage, true, totally unsuited for running and with poor bio-mechanics, so I must avoid injury and overload at all costs. I also hope that life/family/work duties will be cooperative as it has been in 2007, otherwise even the best training can not make much if the outside stress is too much.

my best wishes for the next marathon


Ron said...

Mike I totally agree with Duncan. Ignore the junk and keep doing what you're doing.

Anonymous said...


I been reading your blog for a while and first want to congrats you for being able to run the volume you do with a job and family. With that said I mean no disrespect with the following but really just want you to succeed because you deserve it:
1) you have been doing 100+ mileage weeks for quite sometime now and your pace (if really the true pace) on your easy runs is just too fast according to your race results, just try slowing down on these runs and see what happens, honestly you could probably do 85-90 / week and improve just the same, read Daniels disminishing return theory
2) I believed you mentioned your height and weight on one of your entry's and compared it to the height:weight ratio for distance runners, you were around 20lbs over the ratio, trying to lose 10lbs and you would notice a world of difference especially in the marathon

Again no criticism(sp) here but just encouragement, try these ideas, either way good luck

Mike said...

10 lbs!! Now you're hitting me where I live! Seriously, there are just too many baked goods where I live (you've seen the scone pics, haven't you?).

My racing weight has been 168-170 for the past year, and I think dropping 10 would be of some help if I could keep it off.

As for the miles, I actually quite like it where it is. The easy run pace probably is accurate or even slower than written, as since Twin Cities I've taken whatever the Garmin has said and added 5 seconds per mile to it when I write it down in the log or on a post. The exception is the track work, which is by the numbers since it's measured. I started doing this after noticing that two marathons worth of data supported that my Garmin was showing me between 1-4 seconds faster than the measured courses.

My plan for the coming year does involve slowing down the second run considerably if I do doubles. Since I plan on more doubles as a matter of routine, it will slow down the cumulative average paces for the week. The main runs will probably be about the same, but many will be shorter without a marathon on the horizon. Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...


you can lose the weight, set your goal for 20 pounds and with 10 pounds being the realistic figure

slowing down the second run of the day will work well for you, don't even bring the watch, better yet lose the garmin and run by feel, if you want to check the pace make sure it is slower than 7:30 pace, check out the Hanson's runners training logs at and notice there second run is always at a snail pace for them

good luck and stay away from those scones!!!