December 23, 2018

Okutama Ekiden; Training Well, Feeling Good

After resting for 5 days after the half marathon on Nov. 18th, I ran easy for 5 days, rested for 2 days, and ran a 7.4k leg on one of Namban Rengo's Okutama ekiden teams. This was the 6th leg (out of 6) and was slightly up/down the first half, mostly down, then flat the second half. I ran well, timing 30:40 (4:09/k) and felt good. Passed 2 runners, but passed by 4. Weather was good, about 14° and cloudy. This was 30 seconds faster than I ran 2 years ago.

The club had 4 men's teams and 3 women's teams, so it was a lot of fun. The ekiden is out in the hilly, wooded countryside about 90 minutes west of central Tokyo.
Our A team, which I loaded with fast runners, all of whom run 16:00 or under for 5k, came in 7th, our best showing since 1991. This is a high level ekiden, with several very fast corporate and club teams. Getting in the top 10 is an impressive accomplishment.
The top two women's teams came in 12th and 14th, also good as there are quite a few fast university and high school teams.

After a few easy days, I got back into regular training, although I'm not planning to run a race until April.
Have decided I have to train harder/longer, thanks to being inspired by Gene Dykes, who recently broke Ed Whitlock's 70-74 AG record with a 2:54 marathon. His applicable quote is: I train hard.

So...back to doing long runs once a week, along with a tempo run and an interval workout.

Saturday: 12k — 6k @6:00/k, 6k tempo at about 4:35/k
Sunday: Long — started with 18k, want to work up to 30k
Monday: 10k @5:30 -  6:00/k
Tuesday: 8k @ 6:00
Wednesday: 13k with 6k of track intervals, eg. 1000m x 6
Thursday: 10k @5:30 - 6:00
Friday: rest

With a 30k run that would be 83k per week.
Today I did 24k in 2:24:55, 6:08/k out and 5:56/k in. Felt ok.
Surprisingly, this was my longest run since June 17, 2013. I really got away from doing long runs and I think doing one once a week will be good for my strength and endurance. I'd like to run a good half marathon in the spring.

Merry Christmas and hope you will be running well in 2019.

November 20, 2018


Top 60s guy on the left ran 1:27. After him it was 1:32, 1:33, 1:34....

Quite Happy with a 1:34

My A race, the Toda Half Marathon (just north of Tokyo), was on Sunday, which was a perfect day for running, about 15°C, sunny and no wind. I was targeting 1:35, which is 4:30 per k. Actually, I wanted to run 4:30 pace and then speed up to about 4:20s for the last 6k, and that's exactly what I did.

Felt pretty comfortable at 4:30, within 4 seconds either way. There's a turnaround at 15k and I like to pick up the pace there. Last year I actually slowed from there, but this time the legs felt ok, so I sped up a bit: 4:19/24/19/22/26 and 4:44 for 1.1, which is 4:18/k - managed to kick in slightly.

That was good enough for 4th place in the 60s age group — no 70s! — an oversight which I urged the organizers to remedy. (I urged that last year also, but maybe they'll finally pay attention.)
Prizes went down to 6th, so I got a nice shoe bag.

It was a fun day, the club had 20 people there, most in the half, some in the 10k, and everyone did quite well, with a few others winning prizes.

There were 2,800 people in the Half (283 in men's 60s), so a decent-sized race. And 1,700 in the 10K.

Of course, compared to 70-year-old Gene Dykes, who recently ran a 1:22 half, 1:34 is, well, good but not great. Gene apparently does quite a bit of overdistance, even 50k and over ultras, so maybe increasing my weekly long run to 24k and then 30k will put more strength back in my legs. Of course, I used to do that, so I think I should go back to that.
Since I don't like winter races, I won't run another half until maybe April, so let's see what happens then.

Dec. 2nd I'll run a 7.4k leg on an ekiden team, then no races for 4 months.
Hope to be in Singapore for part of the winter, visiting my daughter.


November 8, 2018

Good Consistency

It's been one month since the 10K race, and now 10 days until the half marathon.
Training has gone pretty well, with no aches or pains, which is very nice! And the most important thing for good training.
(I do get occasional twinges of pain in my left knee when running hard, which is a bit scary, but so far nothing bad has happened.)

I said I wanted to start training harder, so have been doing the usual track intervals on wednesday nights, a half marathon pace tempo run on Saturday and a long run on Sunday, with minor variations.

I'm very wary of doing anything hard after a race, but after 3 days rest out of 5, was brave enough to try a 5K "race" on the high school cross-country course on the saturday after the 10K. They decided to let coaches run in the junior varsity races this year, so I decided to see what would happen. The result was pretty good — 20:58 on a quite tough course featuring two very long hills. Of course, you get to go down the hills also, but I think the uphills slow you more.

Then, interestingly, did an 8k tempo run the next saturday at 4:29/k pace. My pace during the 10K race had been 4:31/k. That's the difference between 34°C (93F) and 21°C (70F).
Then did a 20k run the next day at a decent pace.

The next Saturday was a 10k tempo run, also faster (45:04) than what I ran the race in. 22°C and of course my legs were not as rested.

18k run on Sunday, two easy days and the 5,000m time trial on wednesday, which I did in 20:42. Was hoping to go faster, but it was ok I guess.

Then Sunday the 4th was our club 10K/Half and BBQ, where I ran the 10k as a tempo run in 45:17.
Yesterday's intervals were 6 x 1000 in a little over 4:00.

So...if I can run two 45-minute 10ks and then another k, that would be a 1:35 half. I'm not completely confident about that, but I'll give it a shot on the 18th.

By the way, Ewen commented on my last post about training like Gene Dykes, the 70-year-old who ran 2:55 (which is back to back 1:27s, damn him!). I read two articles about him, which I loved. Best quote: "I train very hard." He's the best 70 year old in the world, so I guess I have to emulate him. Ewen: where did you find his training program? I'd like to take a look at it. Thanks....

October 10, 2018

And a Photo

Me with the second place medal. No prizes! Just a medal... :(

10K Race — Hot, Slow, 2nd Place

Hello to all my 100s of followers. Or perhaps there's only about 3 left. Anyway, I'm still hard at it.

After pretty good and consistent training in August (through brutal heat) and September, I managed a 20:35 5,000m time trial at the end of September. It was run in the rain, but at least it was a bit cooler. Still not satisfied with that, but it was an improvement.

Was doing mainly long and slow runs in July and August, but added tempo runs in September, 6 or 8k, including several with the HS cross-country team's varsity girls, so they were good efforts.

That was in preparation for the Nagareyama 10K on October 7th, a good race in Chiba pref. about 30 minutes east of Tokyo, that I run each year. Two years ago it was raining and cool, last year it was quite warm, but this year, unfortunately, it was extremely hot! 31C at 9:30 race start, which meant about 34C (93F) in the sun, and there was no shade. I like heat, but this was way too much.

So...after 3k I slowed down, as did most other people. Last year I won my age group (70s, although of course I still think of myself as being 45), but this year a fast guy showed up, who also slowed down, but had been planning to run under 40:00. He finished in 42:40, while I was back at 45:07. I felt like I was crawling along, especially up the hills, of which there were several, which were much harder than I remembered, due to the heat. It was a long, hot, hard day. People kept passing me and I tried to stay with them, but unsuccessfully. Very frustrating.

Anyway, 2nd out of 174 in the age group, 258th out of about 4,800 men.

Next up is a half marathon on Nov. 18th, my other favorite race. I'd like to run 1:35, but am doubtful, haven't been doing enough (well, any) long runs at a good pace. Hopefully I'll be able to start good training again on Saturday, so that would give me four weeks.

Beyond that, I think I need to get back to working harder in training, not just "long" easy runs. I used to do two hard workouts and one long run, 20k at a good pace, each week, with three easy days and one rest day. If I add another rest day, maybe I can start doing that again, being very careful not to overdo it. I'm just not capable of doing sustained efforts at speed anymore, even for 5k, and the solution to that problem is, work harder.
Of course, I've lost a lot of muscle mass over the last 20 and especially 10 years, but, hey, there are other 70 year olds (the above guy and two I've read of in the US) running under 40:00 for 10k, so why can't I?
It's important to set goals and work toward them. Even if you don't reach them, at least you gave it your best shot. As I'm sure you'll all agree.

August 3, 2018

Still At It

Hey guys, long time, no post. Sorry about that, but I'm still plodding along.

After a two-week rest following the half marathon in May, I ran conservatively in June, just trying to get back up to speed after the layoff - without getting injured!

I was successful in that — well, got back up to distance, the speed seems to be gone forever, although one can hope — managing to do a steady diet of 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100-minute runs in July. Plus the usual Wednesday night club interval workouts (typically 1000m x 6).

One slight change in the training regimen — I decided to take two days off a week, instead of one. So Thursday and Friday, after the Wednesday intervals, are rest days.
The week is something like:
Saturday: 90 minutes or a tempo run (starting at 6k easy, 6k tempo, working up to 10/10). The tempo run is designed to help get me in shape for a 10K race in October, and is a "hard" workout, which is one reason for the two days rest.
Sunday: 100 minutes, working up to 140.
Monday: 80/90 minutes
Tuesday: 60 minutes
Wednesday: intervals or 5,000m time trial (last wednesday of the month)
Other than tempo and intervals, all runs are at an easy pace.

"Easy" by the way, is very easy these days, as you've probably heard about the Japan heatwave. I like the heat, but running in the afternoon is too much even for me — 35~38C (38 = 100F), and that's in the shade! And it's humid as well. So I've taken to eating dinner at 4:30 (work? who works?) and running at 9pm.
The club intervals are of course at night — 7:30.

Speaking of the interval workouts, my legs are fairly tired each week, even with cutting back to 60 minutes on tuesday, but I've been working hard and running them pretty well. This week's 6 x 1000 was done in 4:28 (need one to get loose), 3:57, 4:02, 4:03, 4:08, 4:00 (about 4min walk interval).
And that was at 32C/60% (at night 32 actually feels a bit cooler - a bit).

It's fun, as I had four others to run with at the head of the "B" group. Fast guys, and women, are in the "A" group (4 mins and under). We have 30 or 40 in each group.

The time trial the week before, however, was done in 22:03. That's partly due to the heat and partly to the fact that I'm just slowing down. It didn't seem that slow! (If you're working hard and feel like you're running a 20:00 pace, but the time is 22:00, that's not a good sign.) Hopefully I'll be able to get some speed back by October.

So that will be the schedule for the next two months, maybe I'll post again in September to let you know how things are going.
Hope you are all running well!

By the way, speaking of the Tokyo heat, Brett Larner ran the Olympic marathon course the other day at 7:00am - two years before the event. Very interesting. If you don't read his blog, it's at

May 29, 2018

Half Marathon and Coaching

It's taken me a while to post this, but I ran the Karuizawa Half Marathon on Sunday, May 20th. Karuizawa is a famous resort area in Nagano prefecture, a 3-hour drive north of Tokyo.

 It was a nice course - mostly flat, and quite a bit of it on roads through woods, with many, many turns to keep it interesting. The weather was also good - 8°C at the start, but sunny so didn't feel too cold. 

I had a good, but not great, race. My dodgy hamstring held up ok, but I was worried about it, so didn't really "stride out" as I usually do, especially in the last 6km. 

I was hoping for mid 1:30s and ran 1:38:20, so not too bad. Won my age group by five and a half minutes. No awards ceremony, but they sent me a prize: a set of three jars of jam from the area (which is also known for craft beer - would have preferred that).

The altitude was 1,000m - I wonder if that affects your racing. They say that you can feel the effects when running at 1500 or even 1200m, but when you're racing a half marathon and have greater oxygen requirements, maybe 1000m can affect you. I didn't actually feel it, although I was on 1:35 pace for the first half and then slowed, and not looking for an excuse, just wondering. Anyone have an opinion about that?

I was 438th male out of 3,841.

On a different topic, this past track season I was an official coach at the American School in Japan, rather than just helping out. I coached the 800, 1600 and 3200m runners, boys and girls. Had about 25 runners.
The season recently concluded with the Far East Championships for international and US military schools (some of the military schools are very big, with lots of good athletes).
My runners did very well — a boy won the 800 and was 2nd in the 1600. Another boy won the 3200 - by about 150m). A girl won the 3200 and was 3rd in the 1600. 
And what I found out was that the feeling of satisfaction, the thrill, the emotional charge you get when runners that you coach win is much greater than from your own racing. Especially when my 3200m girl (a freshman,i.e. 9th grader) outkicked another girl to win by .5 second, I thought my heart might burst out of my chest.
Interesting - I never before realized that you can actually get more satisfaction from coaching than from running yourself. Although maybe this is truer when coaching high school students, because they're almost like your own sons and daughters, and you REALLY want them to do well.
So...I recommend coaching, if you ever get the opportunity.

April 9, 2018

Back with a 20K

Hi. Hope you've all been running well, with few aches and injuries.

I did a lot of long, slow distance for three months, finally getting up to 100km a week. In mid March I  dialed it down a bit, and did some tempo runs - 6-10k moderately hard.

My hamstring has been slightly sore, meaning I can feel something, but it doesn't prevent me from running. It's that annoying feeling like, if I try to run fast, this will really start to hurt.

Anyway, I decided I should give it a test, so entered a 20K on April 8th - yesterday. I planned to run it at a comfortable pace, and pick up the last 5k if I felt all right. Which is what happened - that is, the hamstring passed the test. It was a bit sore, but didn’t get worse. I was hoping to run about 4:40/km, and ran 4:44, for a 1:34:33. I ran about 24:00/5k for 15k, then 22:17 for the last 5k, so that was good.
I even passed an old rival (been racing him for 30+ years) with 2k to go, a nice way to end the race.

The race was Yokohama Road Race, not in the city of Yokohama, but a ways out in the suburbs. The flat course was along an asphalt path next to a river. It was a small, friendly race, 105 people in the 20K and 202 people in the 12K (men and women). I was 24th out of the 105, and there were a few 60s age groupers ahead of me, in fact, a 63-year-old ran 1:23:55.

It was warm when the sun was out, a bit cool when it wasn’t, and even cooler when you were running into the wind, which was moderately strong all day long.

I'll rest for 3 or 4 days, then start up again with light jogging. My next race, which is the one I'm really pointing to, is a half marathon on May 20th. Hope to run faster at that one.

January 7, 2018

Happy New Year (Happy meaning no injuries)

Haven't had much to report - more eating and drinking than running.
2017 did not end too well, running-wise, as I picked up some hamstring issues. Was looking forward to running a good 10K at the East Japan Masters Championships on Dec. 16, but was worried about the hamstring. It was ok - for 5k. At that exact point it began to tell me to slow down, so I did. Too bad, but I was at least able to finish.

So, have been resting and running easily, and seem to be pain and injury free. I'm planning to do nothing but long, slow runs for three months to build strength. Work up to two and three hours every day. I'll do the occasional interval workout, but not all-out.

I don't run races in the winter, so you may not hear from me again for a while. Hope to read some good results from you guys, however.

May we all stay injury-free in 2018!!!