It was a bit warmer and more humid than expected at 8:35 this morning as we headed out from the Sleepy Hollow High School parking lot onto the Old Croton Aqueduct trail, the “we” being a goodly portion of Warren Street’s Masters team, Paul, Stéphane, Peter, John, and me. The Park was fairly crowded, with some folks going mighty fast. (I saw my friend Jay Duggan of WTC afterwards, who was just setting out, suffering from a knee issue that has been causing him a good chunk of trouble.)

Here’s a view familiar to most other Masters teams:

Heading Out to the Rockies

I cannot believe how much thinner the other guys are than I am.

I was able to hold on until we stopped at the Visitor’s Center at 65 minutes, where we got some water. By then, we had climbed a goodly number of hills, and I was spent. The group split shortly after we started up again, with me heading back to the parking lot while the other 4, aiming to do two hours, headed off for more hills. My left Achilles tendon, however, was bothering me a bit and then a bit more so I stopped at 76 minutes, walking the rest of the way.

Before that, however, I paid attention to how we and others we saw were striding. The subject of a possible post, I didn’t see anyone landing on their heels. Our group were all mid-foot strikers, as were all the others I noticed. Granted, this universe may have been on the faster-than-average side. At that level, the natural, efficient foot-plant appears to be mid-foot.

Now Stéphane warned everyone that I was go to be the Boswell of the run, recording all of the thoughts and words of the participants, but I was struggling too much to take note of that.

I do recall, however, that as we approached the Hudson near Rockwood Hall, Paul mentioning that people frequently come up to him — he’s the top masters runner in the area — and ask him what the “secret” is. To which he responds, that there is no secret, as well all know. I said that of the bloggers I followed, who vary in speed and experience, virtually all know that the secret is that there is no secret.

Which brings us to breakfast at the Horseman’s Diner in Sleepy Hollow. Joined by Sham, Paul’s wife, who had done 1:40 while we were out, the talk turned to training. John brought up marathon training, and we veered into three areas.

  • First, how long is long-enough? I’ve tapped out at twenty miles. Should I go farther?
  • Second, what about speedwork?
  • Third, what about rest?

John’s argument is that the key to marathon training is to train the body to get through the point during the race, at 21, 24, or whenever, when readily usable fuel sources become exhausted. One aspect of doing this is to be running for the time-period you’d be running the race. Subject of course to conservative mileage-increases so as to avoid injury. I’ve never gone longer than 20 miles. Definitely food for thought.

JG, Stephane, Peter, John, Paul

JG, Stéphane, Peter, John, Paul

More interesting was the discussion about the role tempo and interval runs play. As to the former, a good type of workout is what he refers to as a “TLT,” or tempo/long/tempo, in which you do, say, a 5K tempo run followed by an hour run followed by a 5K tempo. This would be a core training workout, with the length of the tempo run gradually increasing.

I’ve done similar workouts based on Daniels. I’ll restore them this coming season.

More more interesting was the interval concept. It was mentioned that Warren Street workouts sometimes lag in terms of recovery. By that I mean the recovery is too long. The key to “intervals” is the “interval,” i.e., the period between runs. You want to keep the recovery short enough so that you’re able to get into your VO2max point quickly and thus for the longest time during the workout because that period is when the work is done. This is pure Daniels as well.

John suggests, and Paul agreed, that you need to keep the length of the run to at least a 1000 and the interval at no more than 50% of the run. 4 minutes running/2 minutes break.

They were also of the view that shorter, faster stuff is too dangerous. I, on the other hand, like to do Repeat workouts periodically to help with my form. For me, at least, the pace for these 200s and 400s has not created an injury issue.

I also chimed in that I thought lots of Marathon Pace runs are important, particularly in dealing with “race management” issues. By this I mean my experience in NY 2006. I went out too fast and knew I was going out too fast but was powerless to do anything about it. I figure that by doing longer MP workouts, I’ll be better able to keep things under control on race day.

And, finally, the consensus was that a second longish run during the week is important.

We then ventured off into what seems to be a touchy subject, rest days. I take one day off a week. Stéphane doesn’t. The rest of us were in the middle. This, I think, is a real whatever-works-for-you thing. Stéphane argues that he feels stale if he takes a day off and is concerned about the slippery slope of getting accustomed to doing so. Paul is more flexible. John wanted to pay Stéphane to take a day off for recovery. He takes days off. (He and I were the only 50+ guys at the table.)

We finished by talking about group running. Fortunately, although I am the slowest of the group, the range is close enough so that even if I am at the faster-range of an appropriate pace and Paul is at the slower, we can all run together (assuming I can get my mileage up).

To some, the year-long Club competition may seem a bit silly, grown men, and women, donning their colorful singlets — Warren Street blue or green, CPTC orange, NYAC red — and racing around Central Park. During races, I sometimes wonder what tourists in Hanson cabs are thinking as we go by. And the whole NYRR team-competition. Warren Street won the male masters category last year and much of our talk today was about this year’s competition, who’s still in, who’s too far back. Yet Paul (who’s our franchise-player) trains in part for the team competition. I run races on the off chance that the team will need me. Yet if you go to the finish-line of any of the NYRR team races you’ll see adversaries invariably congratulating one another afterwards.

The NYRR has been putting on the Club Championship for many years; I ran it in the early 80s. The expansion to the year-long system is one of the best things NYRR has done.

Added to that is the notion of training with clubmates.

For the record, I had the “hungry boy” breakfast (eggs, pancakes, sausage, bacon, toast, and homefries, with coffee) and while two ordered Eggs Benedict, the Frenchman among us went Mexican.