Well, this past week was the Carlsbad 5000. It's a fast, flat 5k running race in Carlsbad, California, that my buddy Kelly O'Shaunessy and I have been running since 1998. I've only beaten him one time in all of those years, but I keep trying. I'll give you all of my excuses and get them out of the way now. He's 5'10 and I'm 6'4", and that means that I out weigh him by nearly 30lbs.
I've always felt that I trained harder than him for the race, but he easily takes me to task each and every year. We actually do 3 or 4 races a year against each other. The Cbad 5k, as we call it is the only pure running race. The others are all Sprint distance Triathlons (1/2 mile swim, 12 - 15 mile bike ride, and 3 mile/5k run) along the Orange County/San Diego Coast. I take an even bigger beating at the Triathlons' than I do at Carlsbad.
What I've discovered (slowly) over the last several years is that I'm more attuned for longer distances (which Kelly won't race me at), and I'll do one or two races at these longer distances each year (one year I did a Half Ironman Triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run). What I needed to admit was 2 things.
1. that 30 lbs heavier for 6 inches taller was too much, and when you swim, bike and run, every pound counts - no matter how much you train
2. that training for distance is completely different than training for short distance speed
I figured these things out during this past fall, (well - i finally admited to them at least) and decided to use the off season to start putting it into practice. I started experimenting with how to lose weight, while not killing off too much of the hard earned muscle that i did need for training. I use the website at www.livestrong.com called 'The Daily Plate' which also has a corresponding iPhone application. Over the next few months, I figured out what settings actually corresponded to how my body actually functions and started losing weight, that didn't seem to adversely affect my running performance. As of March 31, 2009 I've lost 10 pounds, 8 of it the last 2 months.
I started noticing my speed increasing as I lost weight as well. I did two things to improve this. First I started forcing myself to run faster during portions of each run, even if it meant I had to walk towards the end. A friend of mine was a pro triathlete, and he always told me' to run faster, you have to run faster'. So simple it's stupid, but it works, and as I became leaner, this seemed to even increase my speed more. Now when i say more, I mean more for me. I can run a 9 minute mile forever (I can stop running for months and pick up at any time and run 10 miles at a 9 minute mile pace - for some folks that is a big deal. But running an 8 minute mile was a real struggle for me, even for just two miles, much less 3. I ran plenty of 6 minute mile in high school - but nothing in the last 15 years.
Now, in the last 2 months, the increase has been gaining and i went from feeling like I was dying after running a couple 8:30 miles, to running an average pace of 7:40 in the carlsbad 5k (that would be a 23:15 - by far my best time in many years. I've been fluctuating from 191.5 and 193 lbs since the race last weekend and my body is definately processing the big push last weekend, and my metabolism is asking for more food than I'm used to, but i actually find eating more than what is on my schedule and I love more weight. I think it's a next jump in what's going on, and I'm sure I'll be making more adjustments.
My next race is the Newport Triathlon (800m swim, 15 mile bike, 5k run) on April 19th. I have a vision of being 189lbs for the race, and performing even better.