Thursday Track Report: I Got My Bracket Philled Out Early!

March 3, 2016

March is here, and that means Spring really is just around the corner. And what does the weather do this week of this exceedingly warm Winter? Revert to “Kill Phil!” (Punxsy Phil) weather. Cold, brutally windy earlier in the week. Today, no wind, but still a day to be thankful for the indoor track. Tom Cali, Judd and Davis Michael, Lance Bland, Costas Maranas, Marty Klanchar, Michael Goldfine, John Wilcock, Mark Lee, Andy Maguire, Rob Peterson, Mike Renz, Mike Zimmerman, Mike Martin, Bob Shafer, Seth Senior, Dan Coughlin, Matt Soroka, Callie Burke, Peggy Plunkett, Rick Ducharme, Kyle, Adam Ilgen, Rich Harter, David Lloyd, Amy Blake, and Marty Mazur headed through temperatures in the high 20s for the warmth of the MSF.

Adam Ilgen, who has class most Thursdays this semester, has been doing his workout early and saying “sayonara” about the time we all get to the track. But Adam was good for a suggestion. He did 5X800. The Repeat 800s workout is one of the most adaptable and best all around workouts for most distances, from a 5K up through a marathon. How you do them and how many depends on the race you're training for. Many marathon and half-marathon training programs revolve around a high volume of consistently run 800s at a bit faster than race pace. For 5K training, do them a little faster than that. Mixing the proper rest in depends on pace, but in every manifestation, consistent or controlled pace is the key. With March Madness coming up soon, Bwana’s workout was his favorite “Bracket 800” workout. On the indoor track, 800 meters is about 3-and-a-half laps in lanes 5 and 6 where we usually run. Run 3 laps in lane 5 at 5K race pace. Take a very slow 1 lap rest, then run 4 laps in lane 5 in the same per-lap time. So you’re adding volume at pace. Rest again, then move out to lane 6. Do 4 laps there (each lap is slightly farther) at the same per-lap time. So you’re picking up the pace a bit. After another rest, finish the workout with a 3 lapper in lane 6 as hard as you can go, especially on the last lap. Your kicker. It’s all we had time for, but for a good half or marathon workout, do this workout *twice* (or more!), at a slightly slower, but consistent pace.(You might need to work up to this one, but it’ll pay off!)

Next week is Spring Break. Bwana doesn’t know if we’ll have access to the Indoor Track, but he’ll find out and let you know. Till then, stay safe if you’re going somewhere, and get a run in, even if it’s on the beach!

Thursday Track Report: The Easiest Group Run

February 25, 2016

People are catching on. Another big turnout for Thursday Track. Tom Cali, Lance Bland, Judd and Davis Michael, Costas Maranas, Meira Minard, Mark Lee, Mike Renz, Rob Peterson, Mike Martin, Bob Shafer, Mike Zimmerman, Tony Kwasnica, Seth Senior, Dan Coughlin, Matt Soroka, Callie Burke, Peggy Plunkett, newcomers Rick Ducharme and Ally Kiefer, Rich Harter, Adam Ilgen, Joel Niemann, David Lloyd, John Sheakoski, Amy Blake, and Marty Mazur headed for the indoors, and were thankful for that since it was cold, blustery, and sleeting.

One reason people are catching on is that Thursday Track is the easiest group run. Why? I mean, you’re supposed to work hard, right? Yes, but you get to do it at your pace, and you never lose sight of the group. They’re either right ahead of you, or right behind you by at most 100 meters (or 200 when we’re outdoors). So many people show up for a run with the Rec Hall group and find themselves gasping for breath as the group recedes toward the horizon. Or they come to one of Bwana’s weekend runs and realize they haven’t run that slow since they learned how to walk. But Thursday Track, despite its intimidating name, is not like that. You run the workout at your pace. Chances are, with the turnout we’ve been getting, there’ll be somebody about your pace, or maybe a little faster. If you like a challenge, try to keep up. But if not, just do the workout. The company is great.

So what kind of fun did Bwana have in store today? One of the indoor regulars: 3X3X300. Run the 300s at mile race pace. Not too fast, because you only get less than 100 meters rest between each 300. Do a set of 3, then take a longer rest. Make it 3 sets, and you’re done. And, easy-peasy, you’ll be faster, whatever your pace is, with Bwana to thank for it.

Thursday Track Report: Somebody Find Me A Ladder!

February 11, 2016

We went from a day (last Thursday) when we could have done our workout at the outdoor track if it were open to a day when most people didn’t even want to be outdoors to go from their cars to a warm building. But the Track Crew is a tough bunch (though more of them drove to the indoor track than ran). Tom Cali, Judd and Davis Michael, Lance Bland Costas Maranas, Ken Davis, Marty Klanchar, Ron Cunfer, Meira Minard, Andy Maguire, Mike Renz, Bob Shafer, Mike Martin, Kevin Becker, Kyle and Jesse from Lionheart Gym, Mike Zimmerman, Joel Niemann, Dan Coughlin, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed to the track using whatever conveyance was convenient under very cold, blustery conditions.

We do a lot of ladders at the track: up, down, up then down…(usually not down then up). Last week’s up-down “Girl Workout” (inspired by the Penn State women’s workout showcased on FloTrack) was short stuff: 200s, 300s, and 400s. This week Bwana changed it up. All down, measured in laps in the outside lanes, and longer reps: 6-4-2X2 laps, progressing in speed from 5K race pace on the 6 lapper to mile kick pace for the 2 lappers. Rest was 1 lap very slow jog. The tough part was going from 6 laps (about 1400 meters in lane 6) to the 4 lapper (about 900 meters) with only a lap rest. You should still have felt that 6 lapper through the 4. But if you could pick up the pace per lap in that 4, even a little, you did alright. The proportionately longer rest after the first 2 lapper made that last 2 feel easy. And fast!

Winter will be receding some next week, and hopefully starting it’s see-saw up to warmer temperatures. Pretty soon, we’ll be complaining about being stuck inside. Hopefully, the outdoor track will be available again some time in the Spring.

Thursday Track Report: One Of Life's Little Mysteries

February 18, 2016

Bwana’s been getting crazy turnouts for this Winter’s Thursday Track workout. Nearly 30 runners, including a newcomer, showed up for this week’s fun. As the brilliant sun tried to warm the outside air, Tom Cali, Judd and Davis Michael, Lance Bland, Costas Maranas, Marty Klanchar, Michael Goldfine, Andy Maguire, Meira Minard, John Wilcock, Mark Lee, Joel Niemann, Mike Casper, Callie Burke, Mike Renz, Bob Shafer, Seth Senior, Kyle, Mike Zimmerman, Dan Coughlin, Matt Soroka, Ron Cunfer, Rich Harter, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, newcomer Peggy, and Marty Mazur headed for the track.

The track is an impenetrable mystery. To many, the fact that some people enjoy running in circles is a great imponderable. And to some of those few who do enjoy the track, the many markings and lines are puzzling, despite the fact that there are web sites that explain them in detail. And on our own MSF track, there are the cryptic “unofficial” marks, numbers that are penned into the white line separating lanes 4 and 5. A moment’s thought reveals that they must be the starting lines for runs of varying lengths: 300, 400, 600, 800, etc. But how many laps? And where’s the finish? The answer to the last is obvious: the Finish Line! And to deduce the answer to the first, keep in mind that the indoor track is 200 meters long in lane 1, and successively slightly longer in each lane out from there. So a run of 600 meters in lane 5 must be a bit less than 3 laps. To run 600 meters, find the “600” mark (just after the first turn), run from there to the Finish Line, and then add 2 laps. The mysteries of the rest of the numbers fall out in similar fashion. Today, the Crew concentrated on the 400 meter mark, an old standby that we haven’t done in a while. Find the “400” in lane 5 most of the way through the first turn. Run the rest of that lap and one more. Take a 1+ lap rest and repeat for a total of 6X400. Run at 5K+ or mile race pace. Consistency is more important than pace.

The mystery of when Winter will wind down is starting to creep upon us. Unfortunately, even when the weather turns good for good, we may not be able to ponder the puzzles of the outdoor track markings, since, due to coming refurbishment work, it’s unknown when that will be open again. We’ll just have to keep rubbing our chins indoors until that mystery is cleared up.

Thursday Track Report: Girl Workout

February 4, 2016

It was cloudy, but mild for February, with temperatures around 40. It would be just the kind of day Bwana on which would be dealing with split sympathies among the Track Crew, half wanting to go to the outdoor track, half wanting to stay in. But the outdoor track is closed for renovations until further notice, so Bob Cornwall, John Domico, Tom Cali, Judd and Davis Michael, Michael Goldfine, CJ Wagner, Mike Renz, Bob Shafer, Mike Zimmerman, Dan Coughlin, Matt Soroka, Callie Burke, Patrick Krispin, Kevin Becker and Lionhearters Kyle and Jesse, Alex Wouden, Adam Ilgen, Joel Niemann, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur stayed indoors.

The track and field fan site FloTrack has a weekly feature called Workout Wednesday that gives short videos showing prominent coaches giving their teams a typical workout. It’s convenient that it’s on a Wednesday so Bwana can steal ideas for Thursday Track. This week they featured coach and team were Coach John Gondak and the PSU women’s middle distance team. Bwana watched the workout and figured it would be perfect for the Crew: it’s the right volume (2800m) and just the right type of workout for the season. (And for Indoor Milers competing on Friday, doing part of the workout is a great tune-up.) The only thing not right about it was the speed. And the fact that it was run by 100% girls. (Thursday Track is typically about 5-10% female, but we’re working on that!) The workout was a pyramid: 3X200-2X300-1X400-2X300-3X200. The Flotrack gave the recovery as 90 seconds. Bwana made it medium length, but mixed up: 1 lap after the 200s and the 400, half a lap after the 300s, all slow (walk-jog). And the speed? The best you can do at that distance with that recovery. This is where pace knowledge (and how to push it) comes in handy. The Penn State ladies did their 200s in the low 30s (finishing with one around 28), their 300s in the low 50s, and the 400 in the mid to high 60s. On the other end of the scale, Bwana lumbered through his 200s in the mid 40s, his 300s in the low 70s, and his 400 just under 100. Everyone else was between Bwana's and the girls’ times. And Callie Burke made it an official girls workout today by being the only girl there!

Friday is the last Indoor Mile. Then time to train for Spring 5Ks and marathons. The mile training puts you in good stead for the former, but next week is where the training needs of most of the crew bifurcate. Those doing Spring marathons will want to up the volume at tempo. But these mid-Winter workouts jump started everyone!