Tuesday, August 29, 2017

National Capital 20-Miler--20 Miles of Racing and Training

I teach for a living, so for me, summer is over.

For you, those of you who are not teachers, summer is still here, for a few more days, at least.

Nevertheless, the fall racing season is fast approaching, and it is with that in mind that we are happy to publicize the National Capital 20-Miler and 5-Miler, organized by DC Road Runners.

The 20-Miler is scheduled perfectly for a final tune-up run for a fall marathon.  It could also serve as a great training run for a fall half marathon or 10-miler.

The 5-Miler is similarly excellent for tempo run purposes or for a race event all on its own.

The details, including registration instructions and course information, are available on the race website.

Both courses run on the C&O Towpath, so they are flat and fast, allowing runners to stretch out for some good pacing work.

We wish everyone--including the event organizers--the best of luck!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Running Reading: Too Much Data?

I know that I'm a bit late to the game on this one, but late is better than never, as they say.  As part of The Ringer's "Inefficiency Week" special feature (from just earlier this month!), Molly McHugh penned a great article that examines contemporary applified exercise routines.  "Can an app make you a better runner?", she asks.  It's a great read, so spend a couple of coffee breaks, or a commute or two, checking it out.

For my part, I think I've done a decent job of avoiding app intrusion on my workouts.  Those who know me well know that I am very much a Luddite--still to this day not possessing a smartphone. Therefore, I don't have the means to participate in various social media workout stuff.

Beyond that, I have deliberately avoided the incessant tracking of calories burned and pounds gained (and lost) and miles logged.  I have always been a bad keeper of statistics.  I have a general sense of what my PR's are, but I never seem to know how many miles I've run in a fixed period of time, and I usually very quickly forget what my race performances have been.  When I was in high school and college--back last century!--I had an uncanny knack for running pace-perfect 400 meter repeats without a watch. Things were so much simpler in 1996.

These days, I do use a GPS watch, and I do upload my data to my online GPS account.  That's about all I do, though, and even with that meager app application, I have noticed that I'm more conscious than I should be about my daily pacing and making sure that I'm always following my scheduled workouts to the absolute letter of the law.  All of that is good for discipline, but I'd argue that a hyperconsciousness about our workout details can override a more intuitive awareness of how we are feeling on any given day.  Sometimes our bodies are telling us to back off; sometimes they are telling us that we can push it a little harder.  We need to be able to listen to those instructions without app-assisted clutter, I think.

Again, though, read McHugh for yourselves, and weigh in down in the comments.

P.S.  I spent a not insignificant amount of time wavering on "much" vs "many" in this post's title. Here's a good blog post on whether or not data is a plural count noun.  It's not a simple matter at all.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

August 2017 Kiprunning Sports Club Saturday Long Run Update

Now that the summer is starting to wind down (ugh, so sad), we will roll forward the start time for the Kiprunning Sports Club Saturday long run.  Beginning on Saturday, August 12, 2017, we will begin our long runs at 6:30 am.

As usual, we will continue to meet at Georgetown Running Company, which is located at 3401 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20007. 

If you have questions about joining the Sports Club, please contact me

Run steady, and enjoy the extra sleep!

Coach Wilson

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Wilson Komen: Five Memories from My First Marathon

Though I have been fortunate to have had much success in the sport of competitive running, I always like to remind my trainees that I wasn’t always confident, and I didn’t always know everything that I was doing. The first marathon that I ran was the Detroit Free Press Marathon. It was a marathon of many firsts. It was also almost my last marathon.

Today, I am sharing with you five memories from that experience. I hope to encourage all of you, no matter what your experience levels are, to enjoy the training and the racing that you are doing for what it is. Don’t worry if you feel like you don’t know everything that you need to know or that you aren’t adequately prepared. Enjoy the experience, and learn from your past performances. That is exactly what I have done throughout my running career.

Split photo with left image showing a Kenyan countryside and right image showing runners in the Detroit Free Press Marathon
Right Image, Detroit Free Press Marathon, Credit: Windsor Star
The Course

Image of the course map for the Detroit Free Press Marathon

Right out of the gate I have to say that the course itself is my best—and my worst memory—about the marathon. The route was fine; however, running on asphalt was not. Before this marathon, I had never run completely on asphalt. In Detroit, I felt like I was getting beat up with every step. I was used training on unpaved roads and hills in the countryside of my hometown. In Nairobi, national parks and the hills are easily accessible. There was no need to train on hard surfaces. What kept me going during the race, besides the hope of winning prize money, was that the course was well marked, the hydration stops were frequent and well-organized, there was music along the way, and there were lots of wonderful cheering spectators. Still, everything was new to me.

The Weather
The morning of the marathon was cold, a lot colder than I was used to. I am from the Rift Valley of Kenya, and I was used to running in temperatures that fluctuated between 50 and 75 degrees Celsius throughout the year. The weather is the one thing that can either make or destroy your marathon. You can only prepare so much for the weather, and you can’t control it. All you can do is make the appropriate adjustments, and run your best race. When you finish, you still have completed a marathon, which is an excellent accomplishment.

The Expo
It was my first time attending an expo. To me was like a huge Saturday outdoor marketplace, only that it was filled with sporting goods instead of vegetables or chickens. I really liked it because I could learn more about sports products.

The People I Met
I had to meet find new friends on my way finding the expo. The buildings and the street signs looked about the same to me. It was my first time in the United States, and I wasn’t familiar with how things were labeled. I had to stop some runners as they were walking across the street to my hotel to ask directions to the expo. They turned out to be two brothers from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The brothers were great people, and they offered to drive me to the expo and later to the pasta dinner.

The Pasta Dinner

Split image with right photo depicting Kenyan food and the right photo depicting pasta
Kenyan Food Left, Pasta Right
At the pasta dinner, it was great to see the entire elite athlete field I was going to compete with the next day. Dinner was another different experience for me. Obviously, I ate pasta, which at that time, I never eaten before a race. I didn’t know if it would sustain me for the marathon. It did, though. I survived my first marathon!

When I look back on that day, I just remember that it was a beautiful cold morning that filled me with excitement for the challenge ahead. My goal was to run anything under 2:25, which I achieved with no race strategy plan (remember, sometimes it is best just to enjoy the experience).

After the race, I asked myself if I should give up on marathons and concentrate on other distances. Fourteen years later, with countless races behind me, I am still running marathons. In fact, it’s now my favorite distance.

What do you remember about your first marathon? Share your story with us.

Run Steady,

Coach Wilson