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GPS devices, I’ll bet Coach Kubatzky’s next paycheck on this!

On what exactly? On the fact that your GPS watch will nearly never say the same distance that you just raced. Why is Humphrey so fired up, you ask? I’m not really, but I just answered an email from a very fast woman I coach who is insisting that she alter her marathon goal pace so that she can account for Boston being a long course.

We’ll live and die by our GPS watch, but not think twice that it’s not 100% accurate.

Now, I am not really that fired up. For one, we were really splitting hairs about the actual pace- it was a matter of 1-2 seconds either way. However, what worries me, is that she is accepting that her GPS is more accurate than the standardized certification process for race courses. That she is more willing to say that one of the biggest marathons in the world would be up to 0.25 miles long, rather than think that her GPS might just be a little bit off. What is really troublesome is that her thoughts are so common in the running world. We’ll live and die by our GPS watch, but not think twice that it’s not 100% accurate.

garmin_tn

Here’s a couple articles I found doing a quick Google search:

With all of those articles, and I just picked a few, there’s no need for me to go into the measurement and the process. I can tell you- I’ve run though downtown Chicago, Boston, Manhattan, and other cities. Heck, the first mile of the Chicago Marathon goes down a hill and under ground for about 200-300 meters and my GPS loses signal there every single time! You have satellites trying to pick you up between massive skyscrapers and it’s bound to be off at least a couple feet. We all know that a couple feet here and there, over the course of 26.2 miles can add up!

So what do we do? Well, as much as it pains me, coach Mike Morgan offers up some advice that he uses for his marathons. I have adopted this for the last couple I have done, too.

  1. Turn the auto lap off! Take your splits manually. I really like this. That way you aren’t getting a buzzer where your GPS is trying to tell you where the mile mark is, rather than where the race is telling you where the mile marker is.
  2. I’m referring to Garmin here, because it’s what we have. I use two screens I can see. The first shows my lap pace and lap distance, I use that really more for a mental trick towards the end of the race- I can see how close I’m getting to the next mile and can convince myself to focus on maintaining my pace for that much longer. The second screen shows my average pace as one big number. Sometimes I’ll just flip to that so I can focus on keeping that average pace within my goal pace. Again, this is more of a mental trick than using it for measurement purposes.

Is doing this 100% accurate?

Well no, because I’m starting off with a device that’s not going to be perfect. What it helps with though is fighting that deflation feeling of hearing my watch lap buzz 50 feet before the mile marker sign and then 100 feet, then 150 feet… I know how deflating that can be to your mental state, which directly leads to slowing down and being frustrated. Nothing worse than having that feeling for no reason.

Alright, I’m getting off my soapbox. As always, thanks for reading!

Luke

 

 

2014 Chicago Marathon

Where do I start? Maybe with a unified slap in the face from all my athletes that I tell to be conservative in the first half!

High Expectations:

I ran the Houston Marathon in January after barely surviving the worst winter in recorded history of the universe. The result was a very respectable 2:16:34, a Olympic Trials qualifier and a new lease on my career. Since January, I had been healthy, run some decent times, and felt able to take on a challenge for a big fall marathon.

The training segment itself went very well. It was the most consistent segment I had had in a long time. For instance, my average weekly mileage was about 95 miles per week for the 12 weeks leading into Houston. The 12 weeks leading up to Chicago was about 115 miles per week, on average. I was hitting workouts that I hadn’t in a long time. So, I thought I was really ready. In retrospect, I was ready to vastly improve upon the 2:16:30 I had run in January.

 

The race itself:

At the end of the day, I was simply out too hard. I just don’t know if I was ready to run 5:03-5:05 pace yesterday. However, looking at results, I don’t know how different I could have played it. The group I was with was 1:06:49 (I probably should have been 1:07:15-1:07:30). However, looking at results, I had the group I was with, or be at 1:08 something. That would have been slower than my first half at Houston. The last thing I really wanted was to be in no man’s land for 23 miles. I’ve done that enough to know that it is miserable, especially if you are fighting the wind.

The second half was brutal. I don’t know if I truly hit the wall, because I was still coherent. I just couldn’t move my legs. And after seeing my pace fade, mile after mile, I just think the motivation was slowly fading along with it. It was plain old, TOUGH. The end result was a 2:18:13 and a tough day at the office.

While disheartened, like we all are after a tough one, I still wanted to find the takeaways of this experience. So, here you go:

 

My takeaways:

  • You have to be conservative when riding the fine line of trying to run a great race
  • If you want to hit a home run, you have to know that there’s an increased chance of striking out
  • The fitness you gain from being consistent for a very long time (more than just one segment) is crucial to making big jumps in performance
  • Be patient and have faith in what you are doing. If you don’t believe in what you are doing, you’ll never be successful.

 

I made a somewhat calculated risk and it didn’t work out. In hind site I should have done things a little differently. However, I do think that all the advancements I made in training this segment will only be beneficial the next time around. And, you know, sometimes you just need a good reminder of how not to do things. They are painful lessons to be reminded, but so very valuable!

 

What l wanted to add yesterday: Why despite good training, I wasn’t quite ready:

One thing I wanted to discuss with all of you yesterday was why I probably wasn’t quite ready to run what I set out to.

 

  • Long runs: when I’m really fit, I’ll be able to get close to 1:50-1:52 for 20 miles. The same type of effort was about 1:55 for this segment. When we had hard miles at the end, I struggled. That was a big sign that the strength wasn’t quite there yet.
  • So, my general endurance was good, but the strength wasn’t really where it should have been. To me it does really make sense after looking back.
  • For instance, I finally could handle 120+ miles per week on a consistent basis for the first time since the last Olympic trials. For me, that’s a big deal. Basically it means I’ve had 3 years of reduced mileage and consistent training. I simply had lost a little bit of those gains I had worked for over the years. Not much at all, but enough to have a pretty decent impact. It seems silly now to think that it’s all going to come back in a 12 week segment. Now, if I can do that a couple more times I think that I would be right there again.
  • Goal MP never really felt comfortable. It always felt that I was right on that edge. If I would have backed it down to 5:08-5:10/mile, I would have felt much better and I think something around 2:15:30 would have been much more reasonable.
  • Again, I truly think that another segment backing up this segment will maybe not make 5:03 pace feel good, but 5:05 pace would feel a lot more comfortable. Another consistent year and 5:03 pace seems more reasonable.

 

 

 

Tapering?

There are a few different theories on taper and it’s something we screw up pretty easily. Many people complain that the Hanson Methods don’t allow a taper, which I don’t agree with. We do taper, We just don’t follow a plan that takes drastic measures. Tangent: I feel that those who have to make severe cuts to their training will often have to, in order to compensate for a training segment that was too long, too intense, or both.

Back on topic:

The point is that we often mess the taper up and we over-think it. Here’s a good blog post from Steve Magness that supports our ideals and can maybe explain it better than I can alone: