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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dreaming the Possible Dream - Beyond 20:00

Click for detailed view"The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win."
--Roger Bannister

As my goal is to run under 20:00 for 3.1 miles, weight will be an important factor. I'm making good progress toward my goal, but I think if I drop that bulge around my gut, I should achieve it and then some.

Achieving a goal like hitting an arbitrary time should not be a stopping point. It isn't an absolute goal, like "I want to become president of the United States," or "I want to visit Australia." Those kinds of goals are over once achieved. Running and time are different. I don't believe when Sir Roger Bannister broke the impossible 4:00 mile barrier he concluded, "Got that done, check, I'm through." Nope. He went on to race (and crush) John Landy in "The Miracle Mile."

Weight Loss & Speed
Stepped up on the scale this morning. 130.0. Is it a real weight, or some funky scale issue? No way to know unless I stick there for a while before going lower. Either way, one way or another, I need to, and will lose that weight.

So I lose 10 lbs. Maybe 15. Runner's World Magazine recently explained a formula that suggested if I lose 10 lbs, I'd run 62 seconds faster in a 5K. That would take my 22:21 to 21:19. Get me 15 lbs lighter, and I'm 93 seconds faster, or, at 20:48.

Since training, not dieting, is my method of weight loss, and, unlike the article's research subjects of experienced runners, I'm not fully fit, I'm not sure if, or how this applies. To get to 120-125 lbs, I will have to run at least 350 more miles (10 lbs @ 35 miles/lb) or 525 miles (15 lbs @ 35 miles/lb), and likely much more. I'll wager that I need 1,000 more miles, in fact, to get in that neighborhood. That will take nine months, to around May 15, 2008.

I don't know what I think about that. I could stand to lose the weight, there's no doubt about it. You see me, and you might say I'm hardly out of shape. That depends on your definition of fitness. An unnecessary, removable gut is not evidence of fitness. But with 10 lbs gone, for me, it will not be the same as a 200 lb guy losing that weight. If I'm at 135, 10 lbs off will mean a 7.4% weight drop. The 200 lb guy loses just 5%. Which kind of person did Runners World look at? I don't remember. Most runners are a lighter lot, so I'll guess I'm closer to their norm than the 200-pounder, but I don't know.

I do know, and expect, to run faster with real weight loss.

Dreaming of Speed
I am beginning to wonder what is a good goal after I hit 19:59.9. I looked up some of my old training partners from high school and see some are still running some very decent times. I never ran in college like most of them did, so I missed lots of training and good experience.

Can I catch up?

Am I too far out of it to run fast again? Might be. While I concede I might not see certain times had I been running all these years, I might still have something in the tank? I'm wondering, after seeing that my old pals, my age, are still running well, could I run under 18:00? That might take time, and I'm not ready to say it is possible, but I'm wondering.

What 18:00 Looks Like
Breaking down an 18:00 5K, I'll need to race at a 5:48 pace. That's a minute faster than my fastest mile at the moment. That's also faster, sad to say, than what I generally run a 400 meter interval in.

The 5:48 is a pace time. Races are not run at perfectly balanced paces. I need to find, within the race context, a 5:30. That's a big 18 seconds. I think I need some speed, too, like the capacity to run a 2:30 800, and 75 400.

I need to be able to kick out the poor chap next to me who thinks he will beat me. That will take some strong 50 and 100 meter speed, or, for the more aggressive runner, 200 meters. My current 200s at :45 won't do the deed. I need to get to something around, or better than, :35 to get that job done.

These are real times. These aren't just "Tony got himself into shape and is running a few road races each summer," times. These mean not just weight loss, a few long runs, a little speedwork on Thursdays, and I'm there. This means sitting down with Jim, and go from his once-a-week track workout to a full week program. That's a minor cash investment, but a big time investment.

And pain. Aches. Advil.

And... the beginning of thinking about a marathon. The marathon. First, Chicago, then Boston. Because.

First things first. A 20:00 5K. Weight loss. Consistent, injury-free training.

Success is never accidental.

Read Roger Bannister's story about his running life.
The Four-Minute Mile, Fiftieth-Anniversary Edition

1 comment:

Bert said...


Interesting observations about the sub 20 5K and about the weight issue. I read somewhere that in order to kill your 5K and 10K time, you have to do the training and lose all the weight you can lose safely. There is a point (I've never even been close...) where additional weight loss beyond that point becomes counterproductive, you lose strength etc.

For now I am just shooting to break 21 minutes, will start to think about 20 minutes when I'm 145lbs...

Good luck!