Friday, June 28, 2013

Think I'm Gettin' Better At This Stuff

My first long race in 2008 - a little chubbier then
"Experience is the best teacher!"  When I was younger I hated that phrase.  It just seemed like something broken down old men said to justify their endless, pointless ramblings.  But now that I'm a broken down old man, let me tell you ... experience is the best teacher!  Well, at least in my running career that is.

I guess running is no different than everything else in our lives.   To achieve upward mobility, we have to learn from our mistakes and build on our successes.  I obviously wouldn't call myself a "success" as a runner yet - there are still a lot of things I want to accomplish.  But based on my health, conditioning, and race times, I feel like I'm getting better as I age.

I ran off and on for about 10 years before I started racing almost 5 years ago.  My first "long" race was in October of 2008 at the Kansas City Half-Marathon.  I ran a 1:45:43 that day and remember thinking ... "Wow, that was fast!"   But earlier this year at the Indy 500 Half-Marathon I crossed the finish line in 1:28:09.  And my shorter races have been a little speedier too.  Last year I ran my fastest 5K at 18:29, and I fully expect to run my fastest 10K two days from now.  And hopefully later this year I'll finally break the 3:20:00 marathon mark at Chicago. All race times are obviously relative and unique to the individual.  What might not seem fast to some, will be blazing for others.  My point is - I've been fortunate to experience improvement.

It's not just declining race times that have marked progress for me, my weekly workout times have gradually improved as well.  Looking back at my Garmin data from a few years ago, a weekly Tempo Run would look something like 4-5 miles at 7:00/pace.  Now, a good Tempo Run is more like 6-7 miles at 6:30/pace.  My Speed Runs have seen some pretty drastic improvements too.  I haven't done many long runs lately, but as I start ramping up for my fall marathons, I expect those will be a little quicker as well.

But the most drastic change I've noticed is how I feel.  I was telling my friend Jeff last week that now-days I probably spend more time with recovery, nutrition, and taking care of my body than I do actually working out.  I stretch more.  I eat a lot better.  And I practice frequent recovery runs.  Heck, I completely changed my foot strike to prevent injury.  It's all made a huge difference.  Granted, I seem to have really good genes and just don't get injured like some folks.  But conscientiously making the decision to practice preventative maintenance has made a huge difference.

All in all I'm pretty happy with where I am right now in my running.  This year is really lining up to be my fastest ever ... and I'm almost 45 years old.    But it's not all about race times, and fast training runs.  They just provide benchmarks and validation to an extent.  More than anything, I just really enjoy the "journey".  I love being able to wake up everyday and do something that most of the world cannot do, or chooses not to do.  I've learned a lot, and still have a lot more to learn.  But hopefully, with experience as my guide, I'll be able to write a similar post five years from now with my best races at 50!  Hmm, we'll see.  Have a great weekend!
... be great today!


  1. Excellence is achieved by those who go out and get it. This is something you are achieving. Well done!

    Green with envy of your training. Maybe someday that type of training I might find.

    Thanks c2iowa

  2. you need to give yourself more credit - you are a success. You ran the Boston marthon, which makes you better than 99% of runners out there. And you work harder than any runner that I know except for professional runners lol.

  3. You're obviously doing something right. At your age you're supposed to be starting to slow especially if you've been running for some time. Setting PRs in your 40s is definitely something to be proud of.

  4. Thanks Nelly - you're always a huge encouragement!

  5. Great post, Jim! Inspiring and reminds me I should go roll.

  6. It's great to follow your accomplishments. At 44, I just started "racing" again after taking 26 years off. Reading your blog makes me feel like there might be some hope for me yet.


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