Thursday Track Report: Pre-Winter Purge

November 9, 2017

Winter’s really coming this time. It’s supposed to be below 20 degrees on Friday. But for now, things aren’t too bad. High thirties. Drab. Misty. This will feel like Spring’s a-comin’ when it happens in a few months. John Domico, Tom Cali, Bob Cornwall, Michael Goldfine, Bob Shafer, Mike Zimmerman Seth Senior, Mike Martin, Logan Madill, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the IM Fields, and maybe for the last time in a while.

For those training for the Nittany Half, Bwana called longer reps: 5X (1 trip around the fields). Each trip is about 630 meter if you hew to the lines, close to 700 if you go all the way to the end of the field. People seriously training for a long race should do about twice that, at least by a couple of weeks before the race. Keep the pace a little faster than race pace, and take a 3 minute rest between reps.

Keep working on your running, even as we take Thanksgiving off. Maybe best to do a pre-purge in the morning?

Thursday Track Report: Payoff Time

November 2, 2017

The fields were still wet from the morning rain, but the sun was peeping out and temperatures were well above yesterday’s near freezing mark as John Domico, Tom Cali, Bob Cornwall, Judd Michael, CJ Wagner, Meira Minard, Mike Zimmerman, Bob Shafer, Mike Martin, Dan Coughlin, Seth Senior, Logan Madill, Harriet Smith, Joel Niemann, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the IM Fields.

Some of the trackers were tapering for the Richmond Marathon and were at the track just to check the box with Bwana. Zeagle, worried about his tender ankles on the wet ground, wanted a workout with hard reps on the straight only. (Bwana thinks that there is an added benefit to any workout with a hard 90 degree turn, especially on wet ground. The more you slow down to negotiate a turn, the more you need to do a mini-sprint to get back up to speed. And speed shifts happen all the time in races, especially cross-country!) Bwana felt accommodating, and so today’s workout was running the long straights, jogging the short. From line to line on the long straights is about 235 meters (about 270 if you go all the way to the outhouses at the east end of the fields). The rest is only about 90 meters. Do 10 straights at a hard kick pace for a good workout. Some of today’s crew did a dozen.

It’s time to put all the distance, hills, and track work to good use: The Run For Shelter 5K downtown will test your hill climbing and make use of your track time. The people running the Richmond Marathon will put their distance training to good use. And those running the Nittany Half in just 4 weeks will use all three!

Thursday Track Report: Uneasy Lies The Head That Wears A Crown

October 19, 2017

Sunny, warm, and dry. And beautiful! We feel blessed when we get one or two days like in mid-October. But a whole week? And thankfully, the humidty has been turned down all week. About 15 or so runners, including Tom Cali, John Domico, Bob Cornwall, Bob Shafer, Mike Weyandt, Meira Minard, Mike Zimmerman, Judd Michael, Mike Martin, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur turned out at the IM Fields today for the weekly speed workout.

Bwana hasn’t been to the track workout in a few weeks, probably the longest he’s been away from the track in almost 20 years.. Busy, traveling, etc. In the meantime, the workout has moved, at least until bad weather comes, from the MSF Indoor Track to the IM Fields on Park Ave. And in the meantime, a new leader, with new protocols, new ways of calling the workout, has come to the fore. The trouble is, Bwana doesn’t even know who that is! He got to the workout site just as the workout was being discussed. “Discussed” being a term of art meaning "argued over", with Zeagle, Domico, Meira, and a few others trying to figure out what’s the what and who’s the boss of the square. The new protocol involves not recognizing latecomers (even Bwana, apparently). So Bwana and a couple of others were left to figure out by follow the leader. But, it was all good. The IM Fields are foot friendly, with plenty of marked out square fields for soccer or some other lesser sport. Lots of ways to do do reps of the same distance (even if you don’t know what that distance is). The day was great, and a good workout was had by all.

Whoever’s in charge these days will soon find out that the mantle of Bwanahood is not something to take lightly. You’re “in charge”, but nobody to take you seriously. You’re “in charge", but you’ll have lots of arguments and complaints about the workout. Looks like it’s happened already!

Thursday Track Report: Measuring Up

October 26, 2017

It was a little more Fall-like, breezy with cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-40s, as John Domico, Tom Cali, CJ Wagner, Meira Minard, Andrew Maguire, Jaimie Wright, Logan Madill, Harriet Smith, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the track.

After last week’s chaos, Bwana was put back in charge, if only to see if he could measure up to the new venue. But Bwana only proceeded to sow more chaos and confusion. Bwana tried to tailor the mini-front-loader we do at the track to the field lines on the IM Fields. But there was a communication breakdown and so it took a while for everyone to get into the groove Bwana was trying to lay down. Here was the workout: 1 rep is 1 full lap around the rectangular perimeter of the 4 IM fields. Bwana was told that’s about 800 meters (more on that below). Then, follow that with 3 times a circuit of a 2 IM Field rectangle, with just the short rest of 1 side of this rectangle between each go. Do two reps. You recover from the long rep while doing the shorter ones, kind of like what can happen in a race.

So how did the workout measurer up? As a workout, it’s pretty tough to do in the crisp wind, particularly because each corner of each rectangular has a hard slow-down after which you must pick up speed. Harder than on the track with its smooth corners. And it’s also harder than you think to keep up a real pace on grass. Bwana remembers the days when we’d run some hard runs on the Penn State Cross-Country courses that are laid out on the golf courses. There are markings each half-mile, and Bwana recalls that his mile pace was a good 20 seconds slower than it would be on pavement. There are two reasons for this: There’s a bit of slip in the grass, but more importantly, the soft ground absorbs your down step and does not give you much springback. Both of these are the reason competitors wear spikes in cross-country: to have some grip for stability and to push off. So how does Bwana know we were running so slow? Because he measured the distances with his GPS watch. What was reported to be 800 meters by the stand-in Bwana was really about 700 if you go past the field edge markings all the way to the outhouses on the long side of the IM fields, or 625 if you hew to the edge marks. The 2 Field circuit is about 380 meters. Bwana will put these distances on the track markings section of the web site some time in the near future.

Bwana can feel that we’ll be indoors sooner than we think if the weather keeps cooling off.

Thursday Track Report: Summer's End

September 21, 2017

Summer is going out with a bang. After a few weeks of cooling weather after last month’s solar eclipse, the sun has recovered from the moon’s insult and is giving us unseasonably warm days. The last day of Summer saw temperaturs in the 80s, and Old Sol will continue pump out the warming rays into the first week of Fall. Unfortunately, the outdoor track remains closed, so those few who could take the thought of a sunless workout ran on the MSF indoor track. Judd Michael, Costas Maranas, Joel Niemann, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur did their workout indoors.

As long as we were stuck indoors, Bwana decided to call the benchmark indoor workout: NX3X300. Run 300 meters at mile kick pace. Rest for only 100 meters, then do it again, and then again for a set of 3X300. Take a longer rest and then do another set. Or two. The key is consistency. It may be a bit early to think about Winter. There are Fall marathons and ultras to get through. But this workout and some longer pace work are the keys to some great Indoor Mile times!

Bwana will be away next weekend again. Those using the indoor track should probably do sets of longer reps.