A Learning Experience

Romayn Richards got a BQ in his first marathon attempt but learned a lot along the way…

I completed my first ever half marathon on 09/19/2020, with an unofficial time of 1:26:43 (per Garmin), and instantly decided I wanted to try running a full marathon.

I figured if I was going to run a marathon, why not sign up for a Boston Qualifier (BQ) marathon, just in case I’m able to achieve my age group’s qualifying time of 3:00:00. I knew from the beginning this was going to be a long shot, but I had to have something to aim for. 

Initially, I signed up for the Millinocket Marathon (in Maine), scheduled for early December. This gave me a little over 12 weeks to prepare. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled and the only remaining BQ marathon in all of New England for 2020 was the Manchester City Marathon (in New Hampshire), on November 8th, which gave me exactly 7 weeks to prepare.

Coincidentally, a guy I occasionally road bike with owned a copy of Daniels’ Running Formula (2nd edition). He offered me the book after I mentioned wanting to run a marathon. I not only read the entire book, but I ordered and read the entire 3rd edition; all within a week timeframe! (Thank you, Amazon!)

I then reached out to Run SMART for help with preparing for my first marathon in the small amount of time I had. Thankfully, they quickly responded and provided me with a very simple training schedule for the 6 weeks I had before the marathon.  

3…2…1… GO!

The first 15 miles felt absolutely perfect.  I held a 6:21/mile pace (WAY TOO FAST), and I had no doubt in my mind I would finish in under 3:00:00. But after mile 15, things began going south very quickly. My legs were fried, my form began failing, my breathing was sporadic, and my running form no longer felt fluid. I’d be lying if I said the thought of quitting never crossed my mind during the last 11.2 miles. 

Fast forward to the end: my final 3 miles were all over 8:00/mile, and I practically stumbled across the finish line. My wife told me that when my father saw me approaching the finish line he asked “Why isn’t he running?”

Thankfully, I officially finished the marathon in 2:58:20. I will not attempt to sugarcoat anything… This was hands down the most physically and mentally challenging event I’ve ever experienced. I obviously dug myself a hole early on by trying to hold a unrealistic pace, and I spent the final 11.2 miles paying for it!

Looking back on it, I would not advise anyone to attempt to prepare for a marathon in 7 weeks… It’s now almost 72 hours after the marathon and still barely able to walk. I have a peroneal tendon injury on my right foot that’ll likely take a few weeks to heal, both quadriceps still hurt to touch (let alone stretch), and I have nasty blisters covering the entire tip of three of my toes. 

But now that I have my first marathon under my belt, I would like to reach out to Run SMART for a proper training plan, seeing how I have adequate time before my next scheduled marathon (18-24 weeks), which is tentatively scheduled from early May 2021.

I cannot thank Jack and the entire Run SMART team enough for all their help! 

Jason Snyder Sets New Marathon PR

Jason Snyder continues to make great progress even during the pandemic. Congratulations on your new PR. Plus, with virtual racing you can finish two marathons at the same time!

Get The New VDOT Calculator

The recent update is now available on iOS and Android and includes:

  • New UI + support for Dark Mode
  • Full translation into Japanese, Portuguese and Thai
  • Ability to calculate distances, not just pace and time
  • Ability to calculate by VDOT
  • New distances on the training paces tabs
  • Ability to adjust for altitude and temperature both ways (anticipating effect and converting a result)
  • Keypad typing in addition to wheel selection

A Virtual XC Relay Race

Dr. Daniels used to organize an annual “postal” cross country relay competition for teams in the state of Oklahoma.

Here he writes about how it works…

I have thought that we might be able to have “postal” or virtual competitions for runners around the country (or world) that would be able to race without being in contact with other runners during these difficult times. To eliminate the varying difficulty of different XC courses we could have all runners run on a track.

Five Person Relay, 9600 Meters Total

#1 goes 4 laps (1600m) and hands off to

#2 goes 6-laps (2400m)

#3 goes 2 laps (800m)

#4 goes 4 laps (1600m)

#5 goes 8-laps (3200m)

For more information on organizing these events please contact us at [email protected].

New VDOT Podcast

The team at VDOT O2 launched a running podcast this year called Conversation Pace. You can follow episodes on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Check out their recent episode with masters runner Dan King. There are some great lessons for all masters runners on diet, recovery and cross training methods.

Dan set the WR for the M60 age group when he ran 4:49.08 at the South Carolina Trackfest this past August. If you take his 5k PR (14:34) at age 20, the VDOT equivalent for the mile is 4:13. That means he essentially slowed down less than one second per year on average for over 40 years. His 4:49, according to Jack Daniels’ formula, equates to a 3:46 mile (Alan Webb’s AR) for a prime aged runner.

20-Year-Old PR

Bradley Geilfuss is now faster than his 26-year-old self. His sub-18 virtual 5k smashes a 20-year-old PR. He’s now set a PR in every distance from the mile to the marathon under the guidance of coach Gary Berard.

Don’t let the pandemic get you down. Keep training. Challenge yourself.

Safety First

Here are some health and safety tips for runners exercising during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Safety is paramount. All runners must lead by example and closely follow local health advisories/guidelines. If you can’t keep your distance, depending on your location, or when in doubt, we strongly advise staying at home until you’re able to do so. Here are guidelines from the CDC on staying safe.
  2. Managing stress. For many, running is a light in a dark period. It helps maintain sanity, reduce stress and offers a bit of an escape. As long as you can maintain distance stick to your routine but adjust and consider how stress might make typical training paces feel harder. Go by effort. Now is not a time to add in more stress or maintain a rigorous training program. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental/emotional stress you should compensate and adjust your training to prevent overload on your system (e.g. reduce your workout and weekly volume).
  3. Keep training fun, light. If you’re feeling good, routine is helpful during a time of social distancing. Race will be cancelled for the foreseeable future so enjoy the process and appreciate that you can run. Keep workouts easy and fun. Fartlek running or short Reps are fine as long as you’re adding in lots of recovery so the intensity never stays too high. Also, focus on time-based running, not distance. Dr. Megan Roche is a running coach, medical doctor and epidemiology researcher, she says, “Exercise can help manage stress, boost the immune system, and improve energy levels.” “However, it’s important to stay in tune with how your body is feeling and keep an eye on exercise load and intensity. Overtraining and/or rapid increases in training volume can burden the immune system. ”
  4. Focus on mobility and strength. These are two areas most runners ignore or never do enough of when training. Now is a great opportunity to work with your coach or a PT on developing an at home routine that focused more on these aspects of your training. When you come back this summer/ fall you’ll be an even stronger runner for it.
  5. Stay connected. Find community through your local running store, clubs, training platforms, workout classes online. VDOT O2 now has virtual racing (VDOT Challenges) to help with motivation and social isolation. Participate by walking or jogging using it as your workout on one of the designated race weekends.

Base/Fitness Plans

To help you adapt to our current situation we’ve created 8-week Base/Fitness training plans with Dr. Jack Daniels. These plans are perfect for runners who have been training and want to maintain motivation, structure while road and track races are cancelled for the foreseeable future.

It’s important not to overtrain or introduce new stress at the moment. Plans include Easy pace, short Rep and Interval time-based workouts. We’re also encouraging runners to reduce their overall weekly volume and long training runs at this time. Plans are customized after a coach-review of your current running profile.

Customize your 8-week plan.

New Virtual Racing Series

The team at VDOT O2 has launched a new virtual racing series, the VDOT Challenge, to help athletes stay motivated during this time of social distancing. Races are free and occur every two weeks in 3-day blocks starting April 3rd, 4th and 5th

Challenges are open to all distances 1mi or more. To participate you must save your race result on your VDOT calendar before the race weekend is over. All race results must have GPS synced and <1% net elevation drop to be included in the public results page.

“You’ve Gone And Done It Again!”

Charles Whobrey finished 121st out of over one thousand in the M50 age group…

I just wanted to write and say “you’ve gone and done it again!” I spent most of the LA Marathon cursing you guys thinking: “no way can I keep this up for 26.2” but I sucked it up and toughed it out and just thought about all the targets I’d hit in the personalized training program you put together for me, and… and… I did it! 3 hours 46mins & 37 seconds later I had a new PB crushing my previous time by over 12 mins.

“Trust” is the key word for me here. After the two highly successful training programs you’ve devised for me (I broke 4-hours for the first time in 2019) I completely TRUST that you guys know what you’re doing and that in turn gives me an ever increasing confidence in my performance abilities. Looking forward to the next one. I’ll be in touch!