Tag Archives: Jack Daniels running

Checking In 7/20/2021

I took weekend trips to Flagstaff and Big Bear for long runs. While these are locations known for high altitude, I’m not taking these trips with the intent to altitude-train. In fact, only being there for a day or two at a time, I don’t think I get much of the altitude benefit from these trips (you typically need to live in these places for several weeks or more), though I certainly feel the effects on long runs and dial back my intensity accordingly.

I’m mostly taking these trips because it’s hot in Las Vegas, training long in the heat or on a treadmill is rather difficult, and these places have cool weather that make my long runs more do-able.

If there is some altitude benefit for my body from these training runs and visits, then great. I’d find it more likely that the key effects aside from the long runs themselves (and the hills, because these places have some challenging hills) are a chance to relax, perhaps sleep a little better, and improve how I bounce back after a long week or two in-city.

My Monday morning break runs felt rather strong, after taking Sunday off from training (and to drive back from Big Bear). I did also get a decent amount of sleep Saturday night into Sunday morning.

I have to wonder if the Vegas heat is a factor in my sleep. With monsoon weather coming in the last couple days, it’s been cooler in Vegas, and my sleep last night was somewhat better. Obviously, it was cooler in Barstow and Big Bear.

Last night’s workout didn’t go to plan. I did strength train just fine, but before that I had to cut my planned treadmill run short.My morning break runs felt terrific, and I had felt good throughout most of the day.

I realize in hindsight I hadn’t fueled as much during the day as I had forgotten several of the items I usually bring or eat. I usually have eggs in the morning and I didn’t. I had yellowfin tuna to bring with me and I forgot. Protein matters, it turns out. I did eat a big dinner and ultimately was fine, but what I didn’t eat made a huge difference with my workout. Let that be a lesson, folks.

During my Big Bear trip I found a tiny used bookstore with a modest selection. But in it they happened to have a copy of Daniels Running Formula’s 2nd edition. I have the 3rd edition and have worn it out with how often I have read and cited it (and yes, I’m a Certified VDOTO2 run coach). The 3rd edition is clearly superior in the overall information offered, but it’s missing one valuable item from the 2nd edition: The fabled Plan A marathon training plan.

Plan A is a softer landing compared to the Daniels 2Q plan in the 3rd edition, the latter of which is rather challenging (and by some accounts possibly mis-transcribed, explaining why some of the workouts are rather brutal). Plan A is more of an intermediate bridge plan, and the workouts are more within reach for most serious runners.

I’ll have more to say about this later but I was fairly thrilled to find this edition and get a hold of the plan.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling good this morning, I definitely will remember all my food today, and am looking forward to a better workout this evening.

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The Marathon Training Mistake People Make In Organized 20 Mile Runs


Logo for the Chicago Area Runner’s Association’s annual Ready To Run 20 Miler, held about 3-4 weeks before the annual Chicago Marathon.

In many major cities with major marathons, organizations will hold an official pay-to-play 20 mile run 3-4 weeks before the marathon, to coincide with most participants’ final planned long run before their taper. The official events mark out a course and provide aid stations every 3K or so, much like an actual race.


Though these events are technically held and run like an official race, the clear idea is that participants will do this as their longest training run before the marathon, since most training plans typically ask for runners to peak with a 20 mile long run a few weeks before the race. The idea is not just so runners can do their long run with a like minded group of runners, but that they get support along the way with water and electrolyte sugar fluid every 3K or so, as well as the usual commemorative gear like a bib number and race shirt.

While I totally support the staging and usage of official 20 miler runs for marathon preparation (provided your training plan calls for said 20 mile run), there is a significant mistake most runners make when doing the 20 miler.

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Comparing training and race paces from different methods, coaches and materials

Various training approaches will give you comparisons of the times you can run at different race distances based on a recent finishing time in another race. For example, each method may take your 5K time and, from that, estimate how fast you would run a marathon.

They also provide estimates of your pace in easy runs as well as during recovery intervals between speedwork reps.

Of course, these approaches don’t estimate times the same way. Out of curiosity I decide to compare these different time estimates on a spreadsheet. I didn’t have any sort of scientific hypothesis or goal behind this, other than mere curiosity.

I compared:

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Volume: The key to base training

Most training plans, whether or not they map it out, follow at least three general phases.

  1. There is a base training phase, where you establish the volume and habits you will generally follow throughout the training cycle.
  2. There is a fundamental phase, where you develop speed and aerobic endurance.
  3. And then there is the final sharpening phase, where you work more specifically on preparing for your goal race as well as taper to heal up in the days/weeks before that race.

(Some split that 2nd phase into separate development phases, one where the 1st part is speedwork-centered, and the 2nd is built around tempo and endurance with that tempo.)

Most people follow a pre-written training plan, which usually starts with a minimal weekly mileage that gradually builds throughout the plan. The base training may establish an initial pattern of speed/tempo workouts, but the volume typically is low and increases during the life of the training plan.

I do think we get it backwards.

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Back to running… with an 800 meter time trial

Most recommend easy running after returning from a running hiatus. Meanwhile, after 2 weeks off, I come back to running with an impromptu quick mod-effort run to coffee carrying a 10 pound backpack, then run to the track this afternoon and run an 800 meter time trial at full effort.

Let’s just say I was chomping at the bit to get back to running. The coughing fit that preceded my cooldown run back home wasn’t the product of anything other than dusty air, but it did at least get me to slow down and relax on a run for once today.

Of course, during the two weeks off, I still did some running. It was just in brief, incidental bursts. Running across a street, chasing after a bus, etc. I even ran a little bit on my birthday while going to the store to get ice cream.

I was fine to run a few days after the marathon. I just made sure not to get in any formal running over a mile during the two weeks because that was my plan from the start. So there’s not much of a need to ease back into running, other than to take it easy on the volume for a couple weeks until I’m back to what I’m used to.

Still, why run an 800 meter time trial? Why not a mile time trial instead?

Trick question on that last one. I am going to run a mile time trial later this week. I’m running both. AND I’m running a 400 meter time trial this next weekend.

I decided to get a more comprehensive idea of my overall speed. Most only do the mile time trial. The 800 and 400 require more sprinter-type speed, and obviously would be run at a quicker pace than a mile. Both still require a modicum of aerobic capacity, and all three together can be matched to form a solid idea of your top speed, VO2max, VDOT, whatever you call it.

I’d like to do a 5K or two before the end of the year, and I want to get an idea of what pace I’m capable of training for. I can adjust the average of the trials down to a 5K, 10K, whateverK pace, and train intervals at that pace while stretching back out.

In Daniels Running Formula, Daniels points to 400, 800 and mile times as a barometer of whether your strength lies in speed or in endurance. Depending on which time is best, it’s possible I have strength in one vs the other, but we’ll see. I’m more interested in seeing overall how much I have improved.

Already, off the 800 time alone, I may be capable of smashing my 5K PR by a lot. But, of course, we’ll see.

Mostly right now, I’m just thrilled to be running once again.

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