Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Training 5/28-6/3

5/28- Elective rest day.  Drove back to Birmingham.  Not feeling well at all.  Previously, I had doubted that cheating on my diet had much to do with my performances.  The end of last week has proven me wrong.  No penalty today.

5/29- Uninspiring performance.  I wanted to do Johnny's workout again but I was in no condition for anything hard.  I had to settle for a basic run of mill 5 miler indoors.  Started off pretty decent but the wheels came off at the halfway point.  1st half: 18:55, 2nd half: 19:42.  Overall time was 38:37 (7:43 pace), which isn't bad for an easy day.  However, I had done a mere 4 miles in the previous 2 days and have been known to cruise through 8 @ sub-7:20 when I'm that fresh.  Day 2 back on track with the diet.  Not worried yet but if I'm not better tomorrow, I will be.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=5.5

5/30- I don't do tempos very often during speed season but it just fit today.  Trak Shak 5 in 33:41 (6:44 pace). That is my half mary PR pace.   Almost all out and would have been hard pressed to be much below 42 in a 10K race. Sloppy form and still obviously off by about 3-5% but a definite improvement over yesterday.  Kept the pace fairly even (16:42-16:59) on a day that was 90F and dry.  Sore left knee afterwards but that should not be a concern.  Clean on the diet for 3rd day.
Grade:B+/2 credit/distance=5.5

5/31- As expected, the sore knee was not a problem and felt about the same after the run as before it.  My body feels about as sore today as it did after my last half marathon.  The workout went surprisingly well.  6 miles in 45:12 (7:32 pace) with a strong finish. 1st half: 22:42, 2nd half: 22:30.  Still, I should not feel THIS sore.  My GPA looks decent this week so far but it does not reflect how bad I've felt during the day.  If I am unable to do a sprint workout tomorrow, there will be a penalty.  Clean diet for 4th straight day.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=6.5

6/1- 5th clean day in a row.  Energy is starting to improve but I am still too sore to run a short interval workout.  Too much of an injury risk.  Beautiful weather today.  Sunny and upper 70s.  There will not be many more of these until September.  Fast finish easy 5 in an overall time of 35:27 (7:05 pace).  Splits were 7:20-7:20-7:31-7:23-5:52. Very pleased to see that sub-6 at the end.  I didn't feel like I was at full throttle until the final quarter mile either.  I earned an A on the easy workout but I get a penalty for failure to complete a 2nd quality workout this week.  Because I did well on the last mile, it's one full level instead of two.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=6.0

6/2- Crazy J is back and it feels great.  Good run with the Gnomes today.  I ran with a group that included 2 sub-3 marathoners and 3 college runners and I not only kept up with them, I was leading the pack.  The route was nice and flat in the middle of the run but there were some beastly hills in the first 2 miles as well as Mile 8-9.  Finished 11 miles in 80:58 (7:22 pace).  I did drink a Smoothie afterwards, which is a questionable choice.  I should be okay as long as I avoid booze this weekend.
Grade:A/2 credits/distance=12.0

6/3- AM- When I wake up at 6 AM and feel ready to roll, it's pretty safe to say that I am officially hot.  Breezed through a basic Lakeshore 6.5 in 47:21 (7:17 pace).  Just 3 seconds shy of BQ pace and again, it was a breeze.  Temps are creeping back up.  Mid 60s this morning but the rest of next week will be about 90/70, which is about normal for June here.  I might run again this evening.

PM-  Threat of storms forced me indoors and it proved to be a good call.  Another easy 5 with a fast last quarter mile.  Overall time was 36:45 (7:21 pace) with an 85 second final quarter.  That's moving well indoors with all those turns.  Felt strong.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=11.5

Weekly summary:
Winning streak has reached 5 in a row.  Pretty solid overall.  Only downer was that there was not enough variation in paces this week and I missed the sprint workout for the 2nd straight week.  Good week with the diet.  Only the fruit smoothie was somewhat questionable.  The rest of the week was squeaky clean.  My need for Paramin (5:3 Cal/Mag) has increased in the last 2 days.  It could be a healing reaction that will eventually fade.  I'm fine with taking pills as long as I can stay stable and remain on the same ratio every day.  Looking forward to the Possum Trot 10K (Atlanta) in 2 weeks.  It could be a PR course IF the weather is decent.
Distance=47.0/ GPA= 30/9= 3.33

Monday, May 21, 2012

Training 5/21-5/27

5/21- AM.  Woke up without an alarm at 6 AM full of energy and ready to roll.  I used that extra hour for an unplanned workout.  Easy 5 miler indoors before work in 36:44 (7:21 pace) and it was a breeze.  It's official.  I am red hot.  Time to get that Mile goal ASAP before the next slump.  My only concern is that I'm still having some digestive issues.  That's got to be solved before my next race.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=5.0

PM- A new Trak Shak route.  Not sure of the exact distance because the GPS signal cut off in Mile 5.  It was between 7.5-7.6 and I finished with a time of 53:58 (7:10-7:15 pace).  This was a hilly route too.  When the terrain was level, I could handle a 7:0x pace and felt perfectly comfortable.  Incredible energy and it is all natural.  Added a lap around Soho for a cool.  Red hot!
Grade:A+/1 credit/distance=8.0

5/22- Johnny's workout was a challenge today.  I felt good during the day but when the workout started, I wasn't feeling fresh.  Wonder why?  I still did pretty well today.  Workout was 8x400 followed by an 800 to finish and the R periods were less generous this time.  The "A" goal was 75s and a 2:45 finish and I fell just short.  Times were as follows: (78*-76-75-74) (74-75-75-75) then I could only muster a 2:49 on the finish. *Almost no warm up prior to the start.  Unless I'm working out of the office, it's hard to get there on time.  That's why I don't run this workout every week.  One curious detail is that I had trouble getting out fast but held the pace well.  Almost every lap was 37/38.  I suppose that's good for Mile preparation but in a sprint workout today, I would have struggled in 200s and 100s.  Solid performance overall.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=5.0

5/23- Trak Shak 8 in 58:44 (7:22 pace).  The beat goes on.  Effort was easy most of the way.  I did kick it in at the end and threw in a couple of too fast miles early.  1st half: 29:15, 2nd half: 29:29. The miles with flat terrain were in the upper 7:20s, which is just about the norm.  Felt good.  Sure, these workouts are hard but when I'm balanced, I can handle it.  Tried on some Karhu Fluid shoes on a cool down.  Decent pair but I'll likely stick with what I've got.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=8.5

5/24-AM- Not a surprise.  The strain of this week has caught up with me today.  Woke up very sore, esp in the IT band.  Got through an easy 4 indoors in a time of 30:32 (7:38 pace).  Marathoners will run through the fatigue while slowing their paces.  I will back off and come back fresh and fast. 
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=4.0

5/25-Planned rest day.  Drive home to see my parents.

5/26- Jefferson Trail run.  All paved route that is slightly sloped.  1st half is down, 2nd half is up.  Finished 10 miles in 74:42 (7:28 pace).  Faded near the end.  1st half was 36:38, 2nd half was 38:04.  I think the heat and poor hydration had as much to do with that as the slight incline.  Temp was in the upper 70s and sunny when I finished.  Solid performance overall.  The next 2 days will be difficult to avoid beer and I will likely cheat a little.  No races for 3 weeks.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=10.0

5/27- Rather mediocre effort.  Easy 4 in 31 flat (7:45 pace).  Tired and beat up.  I've put myself through quite a bit this week with the travel and not so good diet.  2 mixed drinks last night.  Oh well, this was not intended to be a hard day anyway.  1/2 mile cool for a solid weekly total.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=4.5

Weekly summary:
Another winning week overall.  I'm pleased with how I performed despite the not so good ending to the week.  Not a good week diet wise though but it's hard to stay on track on a holiday weekend esp when traveling.  I had 1 green tea, 1/2 a can of Rockstar recovery (no sugar but 80 mg caffeine), 2 mixed drinks, 1 beer plus some garbage meals while on the road. Not good.  I've learned through the Livestrong website that sugar, caffeine and alcohol all deplete magnesium and throw off the Cal/Mag balance.  Only by staying VERY strict can I hope to be consistent with my training and reach my potential.
Distance=45.0/ GPA= 30.5/9= 3.39  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rant or Rave: Training with members of the opposite sex

This one could be a touchy subject so I want to apologize in advance for any poor word choices that may be taken badly.  I have never been married nor have I been close to it so this may be totally out of bounds on my part.  I do recognize that there are certain things about being married that I cannot understand without being there. That being said, I do need to get this off my chest.

  I've read several posts on running forums about spouses having so much of a problem with having  training partners of the opposite sex that it actually threatens the marriage.  I'd be just as hurt myself if my future wife is upset by it.  What did I do to break your trust and why do think you could ever be anything but the #1 person in my life? My running group recently lost a member who is very close to my pace for that reason.  It didn't stop there either.  His wife made him de-friend all of his female running friends on Facebook as well. To my knowledge, nothing happened that was inappropriate and on the surface, that certainly seems like a huge over-reaction to me. Still, short of unrepentant adultery or persistent abuse, I say do whatever is necessary to save your marriage and if that includes training solo, so be it.

 Here are my thoughts on what is acceptable and what is not:
1. Training and socializing in a group that includes guys and girls- Always okay.  Most people in my running group are married and the non-running spouse is always invited to meet us for breakfast after the morning long run as well as to attend non-running oriented parties. 

2. Going out for ice cream 1 on 1 after a run without telling your spouse- Never okay.  Any socialization 1 on 1 that does not include training is over the line period.

3. Training one on one- That can get a little sticky and I can see both sides of this issue.  If I do get married some day, I certainly would hope that our bond is strong enough to know that there's no way she'd ever leave me no matter what.  If you're doing long runs together, we're talking about up to 3 hours together and if it's a regular event, I can see how it could become inappropriate. Guys rarely have difficulty finding training partners who are fast enough.  However, if you're a female who can run below say (20/42/1:35/3:20), it's tough to find someone who matches your pace.  I've always said that finding a buddy that's a little faster makes you push harder and makes you better.  If my future wife is in that position, I would have to meet and get to know the prospective training partner myself and be sure that he's not a threat and that the sole purpose is to push each other to improve.  If that's the case, I have no problem with it.

  If someone comes along who is interested in me down the road, I will be up front about any potential issues from the get go:

1. the worst of my medical issues are behind me but I still have periods of depression and can be bad-tempered when I am out of balance.  There is nothing that anyone can say or do to make it better.  I usually want to be left alone but that's nothing against you whatsoever.  When I'm back in balance, my problems are pretty much washed away right then and there.  Very few people will be able to understand that.

2. Unless I am injured or sick, I'm running 6 days per week (maybe 5 when I get older).  I'm not a real high volume runner who basically eats, sleeps, works and runs.  If you train at near 100 MPW, that's pretty much all you do and even I don't think I could be married to someone like that.  I will run 40 every week though, maybe 50 if I'm training for a marathon.  I will not stop training and socializing with a group that includes other females though few, if any, will be running my pace.  Also, I want to continue doing at least 1 flyaway race per year as well as maybe 3-4 out of town regional events.  Common interests are so important because they present more opportunities to spend quality time together.  I doubt that I could ever date a girl who is completely sedentary.  Same way with smokers.  They might be fine people with whom I enjoy talking but both lifestyles are completely incompatible with my own.

3. I am a devout Christian and I at least claim God to be first in my life.  I will never date a non-believer and I hope that she inspires me to grow so we can do more for the Kingdom together than we could ever do by ourselves.  The divorce rate for so called Christians remains embarrassingly high but if you look closer, you will see that among the ones who actually pray together and study the Bible together, it is miniscule.  

Now for what could be a little controversial:
   A common objection is the following statement:
"I do trust you and I'm not worried about you crossing the line but I don't want to see other people hitting on you."   In my opinion, that fear is almost always overblown. A High-5 and maybe the occasional hug is perfectly fine. However, I would be careful to avoid any other physical contact and would never make any comment that is even remotely suggestive. A kiss on the cheek or petting of arms and legs goes too far IMO.  If the other person would think that their wife or husband would not be happy with it, all they have to do is say so.  If that doesn't stop it, then there is a problem.
   One of the female Gnomes, who also subscribes to my devotionals, greets me with a smile and hug every time I see her. Nothing wrong with that at all.  She is a friend who has enriched my life and well as others in the running group. It would be a great loss to the running community here if she stopped coming.  Fortunately, her husband is fine with it and often joins us for social gatherings.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dietary restrictions

Edit:  I've been limiting myself to drinking water only and it just might be the final step needed to get off these pills once and for all!

I went to a health screening recently as is required for my job to get a discount on insurance.  As usual, my numbers looked very good.
Height (no shoes) 5' 11"
Weight (clothes) 154 lbs.
BMI: 21.5
BP: 120/80
Cholesterol: 162
Triglycerides: 50
Chest: 38"
Waist: 29"
  The nurse even asked me if I was a runner because she said that it's usually the only time she sees numbers that good all the way around.  I am satisfied with how my body looks on the outside.  Of course, I'm thin but not so much that I look unhealthy. I'm often told by other runners that I "look fast." My BMI is right where it should be right now (20-25).  I was underweight when I was younger but have never been overweight.  I normally feel best around 155 lbs. but if I go above 160 or below 150, I can feel a difference.  Because I burn so many calories and I have a naturally high metabolism, I can eat pretty much whatever I want and as much as I want and I am still more likely to drop below 150 than get above 160.  There's not much threat of high cholesterol or triglycerides either.  When it comes to drinking, I'm not so lucky.  The following items must be avoided pretty much altogether: energy drinks, soda, sweet tea, coffee, liquor, beer, pretty much anything with sugar and/or caffeine or alcohol.
  As hard as it is to avoid all that, it can be tricky.  Just like anyone else on a diet, I can cheat every once in a while (maybe up to 1x per week) and get away with it.  The more that you get away with it, the more you feel that you can afford to cheat.  Then before you know it, you've re-gained 10 lbs. or in my case, slowed down by 10 sec/mile.  Over the last few months, I cheated about 1 in 3 days, sometimes as much as 1/2 and I've paid the price.  Again, I will stay accountable on this blog.  No more energy drinks period.  No more soda or tea period.  I never have liked coffee and don't want to stain my teeth.  As for alcohol, I can cheat for social gatherings or special occasions but those times must be rare (less than 2 times/month) with moderate consumption (no more than 3 beers).
  Recently, somebody posed a question regarding the effects of quitting soda on Runner's World Online.  Most reported that they have gone off and on with soda and though they felt better and lost weight while off, it did not significantly improve their running.  I've always run MUCH better when I go completely cold turkey and the greatest effects often come after 3-4 weeks.  Oh well, I guess everybody's different.  A lot of people say that they'd kill to be able to eat like I do and not gain weight.  Would they want to trade it for other tough dietary guidelines and the need to take precise amounts of pills which must be adjusted periodically and without notice?  I don't think so.
  I once read that quitting sugared drinks can improve your VDOT by up to 2 points with some benefitting more than others.  I figure that if I went out slower in Tupelo, I could have done a low-mid 41.  Without the 1/2 extra magnesium, possibly under 41:00.  That's about 50.5 on Daniels' VDOT scale.  52.0 is a 39:59.  Can it be done with this one change?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Training 5/14-5/20

5/14- Naked 7 miler on Lakeshore.  I estimate that the pace was near 7:40.  Basic run of the mill affair.  Nothing too exciting to report.  Day 1 back on the strict diet.  I had just 2 Gu Chomps but even that was enough to feel the caffeine.  Sprint workout tomorrow.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=7.0

5/15- Sprint workout at Hoover Middle on a crappy asphalt track.  There was a meet at the HS.  Again, I ran naked because it's hard to get an accurate self time and I wasn't sure of the exact distances.  Workout was 4x250 then 6x100 all out with full recoveries.  Perhaps a little sluggish but I feel like my sprinting form is improving.  Added a Mile warm and cool.  The 250s were a challenge mentally.  I'm used to running 200s and I'm running the same effort plus another 25%.  The 100s felt much nicer.  Hopefully, I built some strength and raw speed today.  The real test is Friday's Mile.  At the very least, I want under 5:30 and I want to be at least sub-64 in the 400 even slightly off form. No caffeine.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=3.0

5/16- AM- 3 miles in 23:00 (7:40 pace).  Heavy and sore.  I'm starting to get concerned that sprint training won't work for me.  Not going to panic yet.  I may be having a healing reaction to the lack of caffeine.  This is only day 3.  Trak Shak workout this evening.  Not planning a fast pace.

PM- Planned on 8 miles but had to settle for 5.  Felt worse as the day progressed.  It's clearly the pills.  Perhaps, the cheating on my diet has little to do with this latest slump.  Still, staying on track can't hurt me in any way.  It can only help me.  It appears that 5:5 must be adjusted, probably to 5:4 and in the end, it could go back to 5:3.  Almost forgot to post the workout.  5 mile loop in 39:15 (7:51 pace).  Even pace and it took a tempo effort to run a slow easy pace.  Mediocre effort.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=8.0

5/17- Today was a planned rest day.  Lowered the magnesium to 400 mg. and there was not a significant difference in how I felt during the day.  This was a planned rest day but I chose a junk run on Wisteria to make up yesterday's shortfall.  Finished 2 miles in 14:30 (7:15 pace) with fairly even splits despite an slight incline for most of the 2nd mile.  I did feel a bit better during the run than I did yesterday.  I will try to go back to my original dosage of 5:3 tomorrow.  Not sure if I will do the time trial as planned.  I CANNOT LIVE WITH THESE CONSTANT ADJUSTMENTS!
Grade:Pass/0 credit/distance=2.0

5/18- First day on the 5:3 ratio.  I did my Mile time trial at Vestavia as planned.  Went out at a fast and controlled effort then made a push after 200 (to maintain pace) then tried to hold it to the line.
Splits were 77-81-83-77= 5:18.36 (fastest time since '99) and just 3 seconds off the lifetime goal.  I may have had it if I had worn my spikes instead of the Lunar Racers.  Man, that last 200 was hard.  I knew that I would either make or miss my adult PR by 1 second.  My legs were jello in the last 100 but I managed to run it in 18 secs.
Grade:A/3 credits/distance=3.0

5/19 AM- less than 12 hours later:
Run with the Gnomes.  Pace felt too slow and really felt like a drag to do 8:00 pace so I threw in a couple of pick ups.  Finished 12 miles in 1:31:46 (7:39 pace) and felt good despite having to make one "emergency stop."  That was probably due to continued magnesium excess. Added a mile cool. Despite the strong time last evening, I was probably still off my tip top form by 1-2 % (3-6 seconds).  Weather was good today but I'm afraid that now that I'm back to good form, it's too late to PR due to the heat.  I can wait until late evening but then I have more humidity.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=13.0

5/20- Early morning run on Lakeshore.  Able to finish before 8:30 so I beat most of the heat.  It was still  near 75 and sunny when I finished but not too humid.  I felt rife with energy when I woke up and knew that this would be a good run.  I needed to take it fairly easy because next week will be front loaded due to my trip home over the weekend.  I tried to slow down but my body didn't want to.  Finished 6.5 miles in 47:39 (7:20 pace) plus a cool.  I feel like I could double up and make it 50 on the week but I need to hit it hard early next week.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=7.0

Weekly summary:
Another winning week and this one really does feel like a winner.  I've settled back to my original 5:3 dosage.  Can I stay there?  That's another issue.  I did have two beers on Saturday and a 1/2 bottle of green tea on Friday.  That's okay.  I'm not convinced that my drink choice had much to do with this slump but it can only help to drink more water and less sugar.  Oh yeah, if you include the unofficial 10K this winter, I am only 1 fast lap away from a clean sweep of PRs for 2012.  I am now convinced that the Mile goal is attainable right now.  Probably still need more work for the 400.  Passed 750 miles on the year with Saturday's run.
Distance=43.0/ GPA= 34.4/10= 3.44

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gum Tree 10K RR

I really have not felt consistently well since the end of March.  First, my calcium and magnesium got out of balance, forcing me back on pills.  Then, I caught the flu, which resulted in a DNS for the Kentucky Derby half.  The last 2 weeks have been decent and though I felt my sub-40 chances were slim, I predicted a good race (likely under 41) and a good shot at my official PR of 40:55.  I have run 40:14 in training when I was at my peak just before 3M.

I left work just after lunch so I could pick up my packet the day before race day and have a relaxing night after dinner (porterhouse steak).  Traffic can be heavy near Birmingham on US-78 but once you get out of the metro area, it's smooth and easy for the remaining 2 hours.  Tupelo is my favorite small southern city.  I find people to be very sweet and friendly and this trip was no different in that regard. The swag was very good for a relatively small 10K (tech shirt and finisher's medal).  The course was advertised as flat but I've been through here enough to know to expect gently rolling terrain.  In the end, it was flat enough that it could be a PR course. Temps in the upper 60s with mostly cloudy conditions is about as good as you can ask for this time of year.  I am now halfway to my goal of finishing a 10K in 10 states and this race is probably the best choice for the state of Miss' Sippy.
 Unfortunately, I felt a bit out of sync the day before the race and woke up with nasty stomach cramps.  I won't be too descriptive here but thankfully, I had no such issues during the race.  In an ill-advised decision, I took a half an extra magnesium pill to try to get a little boost. Not surprisingly, it had the opposite effect.

I felt pretty strong warming up and decided that the long shot attempt at sub-40 was on.  It certainly could not end up being worse than the disaster in New Orleans last month.  I met 2 people from Birmingham here and chatted a bit.  The gun went off and I was out at a fast but controlled effort, right around 6:10 pace.  I allowed myself to relax a bit and crossed the Mile marker in 6:15.  10 seconds fast but that's not so bad that I'll be doomed in later stages.  It also felt like there was more down than up in this mile.  Miles 2 and 3 would be a different story.  Just like in New Orleans, my pace slowed to 6:25 by the middle of Mile 2 and my attempt to hold it was too much of a struggle.  Once again, I knew it was not going to be good and I still had almost 3/4 of the race left.  That's pretty demoralizing.  This time, I did not surrender my pride.  Once I hit Mile 2 in 12:45, I simply set my sights on settling into a pace that I could realistically expect to hold for the remaining 4 miles.  The 5K mark passed by in 20:24, 20 seconds down on New Orleans pace but I still felt a bit better.  The first 4 miles were mostly residential and gently rolling.  With about 3K to go, we made a turn on to a highway that was a shallow decline for almost a mile.  That's a good place for an easy section.  My paces continued to slow and several runners passed me but there was no ghastly fade this time.  With just under a Mile to go, we finally reached the hill that I knew was coming after the long shallow decline.  It really was not too bad.  It was not terribly steep and leveled off after about a quarter mile.  Next, it was a bride climb followed by a quarter-half mile straightaway to the finish.  After 5 miles in 33:53, I knew I was going to be well under 43 which was a bit of a moral victory after the wheels fell off so suddenly in Mile 2. In spite of the hill, I managed a pretty solid 7:00 split in Mile 6.  This looks like I'll be under 42:30.  Close competition was nearby and I pulled up alongside a runner who had passed me a few hundred meters earlier.  He managed to hold me off but I was still pleased with my finishing kick.  I finished in 42:07, almost 2 minutes short of a PR but it was exactly 10 seconds/mile better than New Orleans. Age group: 6/44.
6:15 (6:15)
6:30 (12:45)
6:55 (19:40)
7:04 (26:44)
7:09 (33:53)
7:00 (40:53)
1:14 (42:07).

Final thought:
Ehh.  That about sums it up.  Not a debacle but certainly not pleased with this one.  I'm now at .500 on the year race wise.  3 straight PRs to start the year then 2 big disappointments with a DNS in between.  Changes must be made if my next race is another poor effort.  I'm now open to the idea of slowing down my GA pace but since I'm only running 40 MPW, part of me still says to make those miles count. Since my focus is on 10Ks and below, that really should be enough. As for the pills, I'm going to try cutting my dosage while keeping the ratio at 1:1.  My next shot is the Possum Trot race in Atlanta in mid-June, which will likely be too hot and humid for a sub-40 attempt. I'm afraid it's wait until at least the Fall on this goal.  I need a good Mile time trial this coming week to boost my confidence.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rave: Your potential for improvement

How fast can I get?  This is a regular question posed on running forums.  My answer to that is something to this effect: That's for you to find out by training consistently.  I don't have a crystal ball and it's difficult to predict how your body will develop and respond to a steady training regimen.  The good news is that your maximum potential is almost always far greater than your starting point.  Sometimes, it takes time for the talent to come out so don't be discouraged if you are very slow when starting out.  Many of these slow starters turn out to be pretty good runners if they stick with it.  For the record, I've dropped from 1:59-1:28 in the half marathon and 24:55-19:13 in the 5K. My circumstances are not typical but the progress that I have made since starting my 2nd running life is not unheard of for a beginning runner. Some have greater distance between their floor and ceiling than others.  For example, an ex-athlete who stopped exercising for a decade will likely improve faster with the same training than a person who has always been physically active but never trained formally for running.
In my many years as a runner, I've seen folks who start out very slow and end up faster than I am.  On the other hand, I've met just as many who are pretty good from the get go but never get much better.  This phenomenon can be best explained by their training especially as they get older.  It's not too unusual for a 13 year old beginner with loads of natural talent to run a Mile under 5:30 or a 5K near 20:00 despite never really training for it.  However,  if this person seldom trains, that great Jr. High time that they ran will stay the same in high school then begin to get worse after the age of 20.  I know a guy in town who claims to have run in the 17s for 5K in high school.  Two decades later, he still jumped into the occasional local race despite minimal training.  He's now 30 pounds overweight and gets slower every year.  His last 5K was over 27 minutes (3 minutes per mile slower than his PR).  At the other end of spectrum, I've read about some runners who allowed themselves to balloon up to near 300 lbs yet the hidden running talent is still there.  Indeed I've read some inspirational stories about these types who go on to run low-3 marathons.

A few of the Gnomes have introduced their young sons to running.  One of them is only 9 years old and can already run a 21:30 5K.  What is the best age to start?  I'd say it's fine to introduce your child to running around 8-10 years of age but I recommend no real intense or structured training until about 13.  The younger a person starts, the closer they can get to their true ceiling. A 20 year old beginner can improve until the mid-30s especially at longer distances.  30s and 40s year old beginners generally have about 10 years of potential improvement before the headwind of aging wipes out the gains in fitness.  That said, you're never too old to start.  Even a 60 year old can usually improve for about 5 years.

Everyone has their own limit to how fast they can go.  Few people will reach it.  The general consensus is to reach your limit, you must train at 60 MPW with at least one quality session in addition to a long run and sustain it for several years. Very few people are willing and able to put in that type of work.  I'd rather sacrifice a few seconds per mile than risk major injury, burnout or strained relationships.  I've already got the half goal accomplished, the 5K tied and I'm so very close to the rest of them.  Once again, anything beyond the stated lifetime goals is a bonus.  There will be no obsession with a sub-18:30 5K or 1:25 half marathon.

Training 5/7-5/13 (race week)

5/7- Still a little stiff and sluggish this morning and feeling a bit concerned.  I chose not to do an AM run and the afternoon workout will be a basic easy training session.
PM- Excellent run.  Felt better as the day progressed.  6.5 miles at marathon pace plus another 1/2 mile at about 3K pace (6:02) for an overall time of 50:35 (7:14 avg).  Felt great on the 5:5 ratio.  I feel like Crazy J is back and hope is rising for Tupelo.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=7.5

5/8- Johnny's workout as planned.  Fairly mild affair (400-800) times 3.  I wanted to push the 400s hard and my goal was 75/2:45, which I managed to do.  (75/2:45), (74-2:45), (73-2:43).  There was no 2:30 gear at the end.  I was pushing just to maintain the 2:45.  Short recovery then 2 x 100 sprints.  Added a warm and cool.  Good but not great workout.  Ed stuck with me all the way.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=5.0

5/9- Trak Shak route plus extension and cool down.  Covered a total of 6 miles with a moving time of 44:30 (7:25 pace).  Started too fast then slowed to a more reasonable 7:30 for the last 3.  Some leg fatigue but felt good aerobically. Solid.  Last run of any significance before race day.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=6.5

5/10- AM 2.5 mile naked junk run.  This gives me some cheap mileage in my weekly volume and allows a full 48 hours of rest before the gun goes off. Felt fine.  Did not take any pills until after the run.  Of course, I would love to be free but my current situation is not too bad.  A 1:1 ratio every day with no problems if I miss a dose every so often?  I can live with that.
Grade:Pass/0 credit/distance=2.5

5/11- Planned rest day.  Weather looks like it will stay below 70 at least at the start and it may be overcast as well.  The course is advertised as "flat and fast" but I know Tupelo and I can bet that there will be some mild rolling hills throughout the course.  Sub-40 is probably a long shot after such a crappy last month of training.  The realistic goal is to beat my official PR from Silver Comet last year (40:55).

5/12- Felt out of sync since Friday.  Finished Gum Tree 10K in 42:07 (6:46 pace).  1st half: 20:24, 2nd half: 21:43 plus a warm and cool.  Grade seems too lenient but I'm going with it.  Sub-40 is an A+ then it goes down in 30 second increments.
Grade:B-/4 credit/distance=7.5

5/13- AM- Easy 3 that didn't feel easy in 23:51 (7:57 pace) on a lowered dosage.  I now know that won't work.  Legs felt okay but the breathing was very labored.  I'll try again later.
  PM- Mild improvement after more pills but still off form.  3 miles in 23:06 (7:42 pace) with even splits.  Overall, I did 6@7:50 plus a half mile cool.  Mediocre effort.
Grade:C+/1 credit/distance=6.5

Weekly summary:
The good start enabled me to get my 2nd straight winning week but it feels like a loser to me. I'm disgusted by my performance in Tupelo but I know I was good for at least a low-41 without the extra magnesium.  I've been cheating on my diet lately and I'm sure that's hurting me.  I've had either a sugared/caffeinated drink and/or beer in 4 out of my last 8 days.  That stops now and this blog will keep me accountable.  I will get back on track starting today.  Perhaps the sensitivity will diminish in time.  The change in diet took about 10 days to take effect last Fall but I got hot shortly thereafter.
Distance=35.0/ GPA= 27.4/9= 3.04