Monthly Archives: April 2014

How The Run SMART Project Supercharged My New Year’s Resolution

PV TrailAfter ten years of gaining weight and running less and less, I made a 2014 New Year’s Resolution to drop the extra forty pounds and get back into marathon shape.  I ran my last marathon in 2004 and this year I finally decided enough was enough.

I started running in January and went on Nutrisystem in February.  So far so good.  I registered for the Pittsburgh Great Race 10K scheduled for September 2014 to give me a goal to shoot for.  Nothing too crazy, but doable.  Then maybe one day I would somehow get into good enough shape to run another marathon.  By the end of February I was making slow but steady progress.

Then everything changed.

In March, The Run SMART Project Supercharged my New Year’s Resolution. That’s when I started training with The Run SMART Project’s Jack Daniels’ 15-Week Marathon Plan and their VDOT O2 App.  My training and goals changed drastically overnight and everything I was doing immediately kicked into high gear.  Check out this RunKeeper graph of one of my cool Run SMART Project Workouts:

Interval ChartEmpowered by a world-class training plan with elite coaches to provide guidance, I gained more confidence in my ability to get back into shape and I set my sights higher.  I registered for the ½ Sauer ½ Kraut Marathon here in Philadelphia on 14 June to coincide with the Jack Daniels’ 15-Week Marathon Plan.  The Run Smart Project founder and coach, Brian Rosetti, sent me my training plan and then answered my questions with a very detailed email about his experience with successful masters runners.

I started doing quality workouts that I didn’t think I was capable of completing.  When I started running in January, I struggled to keep up a twelve-minute mile pace for five or six miles.  Last Wednesday I ran twelve miles at 7:54 per mile and could have gone a lot faster.  I’m still amazed at the progress I’ve made.  In a nutshell, the hard runs are harder and the easy runs are easier.

That’s the big difference.  When I was running on my own, I ran the easy runs faster than I should have and I ran the hard runs slower than I should have.  It was easy to pick the low-hanging fruit by running too fast on my easy days.  It was also easy to dial it back on harder days while I was still recovering from the “easy” days.  Wrong and wrong.

What I learned from the Run SMART Project is this: just because I couldn’t run a full mile at 7:06 pace didn’t mean I couldn’t run two or three minutes at 7:06 pace for six or ten reps.  And I was doing 400 repeats and other fast work.  All of a sudden I felt like a runner again.

I could not have scripted these workouts by myself.  I appreciate the knowledge and wisdom behind the workouts because I have long been familiar with the empirical nature of Jack Daniels’ training paces and the Run SMART project coaches are elite runners who have walked the walk.

Let me give you a few examples of my recent progress.

I did a 14-mile long run on 23 March.  Here’s the RunKeeper screenshot for that run:

14 MilerThis run felt good, but I was in new territory.  It was the longest run I had done in many years.  I was very tired when I finished and I really had to work hard to finish strong.

The next long run was 15 miles and was scheduled for 20 April.  Before I show the chart for that run, take a look at what I did between the two long runs.

Here’s the April VDOT O2 schedule and a summary of the workouts I did between 23 March and 20 April:

April Training VDOT O2

3/26 – Marathon; 9 miles at Marathon Pace 8:13

3/29 – Threshold, 5 miles at 7:36 BoMF 5-miler

4/2 – Easy, Marathon, Threshold; 1 x 1mi @ 9:06/mi, 1 x 6mi @ 8:19/mi, 1 x 1mi @ 7:36/mi, 1 x 3mi @ 8:21/mi, 1 x 1mi @ 10:43/mi

4/9 – Interval; 2mi warmup, 10 x 2min @ 7:06/mi with 1 min recovery, 2mi cooldown

4/13 – Threshold; 1.5mi warmup, 1 x 3mi @ 7:50/mi, 4 x 20 second strides, 3.5mi cooldown

4/16 – Interval; 2mi warmup, 7 x 3min @ 6:58/mi with 2 min recovery, 2mi cooldown

Now here’s the RunKeeper screenshot from the 15-miler:15 Miler

I felt great and had to keep myself from going too fast.  The last mile was a blast and felt easy at 7:45 pace.  There was a huge difference in how I felt in just one month.

I went a mile farther, it only took two minutes longer, and it felt much easier.

Then I nailed my 12-mile Marathon Pace Run on 23 April.  I wasn’t sure if I was capable of making the full 12 miles at the planned 8:05 pace.  It turned out that I had to keep myself from going too fast again and ran at an average of 7:54 mile pace.

12 Miles at MPHere’s my entry in the VDOT O2 App:

12 Miles at MP VDOT O2I’m looking forward to my upcoming marathon as much as I look forward to my hard workout days.  I am running easier on easy days and harder on workout days than I ever would have on my own.  And I’ve gotten into shape much faster after The Run SMART Project Supercharged my 2014 training!








The BoMF 5-Miler Race Recap and a Run SMART Project Threshold Workout

I had a great time at the BoMF 5-Miler on Saturday, March 29 in Philadelphia.  There was a lot to love about this race in the City of Brotherly Love:

  • BoMF is a great organization.  From their website, “Back on My Feet (BoMF) …uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living.”  BoMF understands the power of running and it shows. Pose
  • The race starts and finishes at the Art Museum of Rocky fame.
  • The race is very well run.  There were multiple options for packet pick-up and many volunteers working in each area (packet pick-up, bag check, results, food, etc.).  It was easy to park and a lot of fun to run.  Chip times were available immediately upon finishing the race.
  • Great people all around.  Small friendly vibe in a big city race.  There were several pre-race speakers including Scott Crossin, the Philadelphia BoMF Executive Director, and then BoMF member Kerry sang a moving rendition of the National Anthem before the race start.
  • Great support during the race.  Miles marked, water stations well-staffed, people cheering all the way.
  • An announcer added color commentary as we crossed the finish line.
  • Great swag including a nice lime-green tech shirt, a cool orange headband, and a great blue drawstring backpack.
  • Great soft pretzels that made me veer off of Nutrisystem long enough to scarf one down after the race.


I was en route on the Schuylkill Expressway at a little after six-thirty and was parking on the edge of Drexel University’s campus right at 0700.  As I walked across the Spring Garden Street Bridge, I stopped to take and tweet this pic:Spring Garden Street

Packet pick-up was quick and easy and I had time to take a run up the steps of the Art Museum to warm up.

Packet Pick Up

Then I had the pleasure of meeting a great group of runners from lululemon athletica near the Rocky Statue.  They were happy to take my picture, and then I took this picture of them:Team lululemon

They let me know that lululemon will have a cheering station at the Broad Street Run.

I continued with my warm-up run and remembered several races I’ve run that covered part of today’s course route, including three Philly Marathons and The Philadelphia Distance Run.  I stopped to take this great shot of the Art Museum before heading back to the start:A View of the Art Museum

This picture made me think of El Greco’s A View of Toledo.  Google it and see if you agree.

I moved to the back of the crowd after the opening ceremonies ended and got ready for my Run Smart Project 5-Mile Threshold Pace workout.  I was originally scheduled for a Threshold Pace Workout on Sunday; when I asked about a switch, Run SMART Project Founder and Coach Brian Rosetti adjusted my schedule and gave me the green light to use the race as the Threshold Pace Workout.  My Threshold Pace is 7:42 based on my VDOT value in the VDOT O2 Application (which is based on recent performances).  Here’s the workout in the VDOT O2 App:VDOT BoMF

I realized I forgot my headphones for RunKeeper audio cues, so I just started RunKeeper and tucked it into my SPIbelt.  I ran by feel, which is supposed to be “Comfortably Hard” for Threshold Pace.  It’s the pace you could hold for a one-hour race.  For elites that would be a Half Marathon.  For slower types like me, it’s closer to 10K pace.  I judge Threshold Pace by a feeling I get that is a signal that my legs will turn to stone if I go faster.  As long as I don’t go any faster when I get that feeling, I can keep the pace without stiffening up.

The Race:

Here’s the start from where I was:Start

I wove through the crowd and covered the first mile in 8:04.  I knew I was behind my 7:42 Threshold Pace, but didn’t know by how much.  From there I worked into what felt like Threshold Pace and ran pretty consistently for the rest of the race.

The second mile had a fairly sizeable uphill, but the difficulty was offset by cheers of encouragement from the tutu-clad lululemon team as we ran up the hill at the same time.  As I passed Memorial Hall, I looked down and saw the 10-mile marker for the Philly Marathon painted on the street.  How long it has been! Nearly ten years. I’ll be back!

The third mile was a speedy 7:15, but that was mostly because I opened up my stride and let gravity take me down the hill as I passed several groups of people, only some of whom immediately went right by me again on the flat.

I didn’t start to feel fatigue until the final mile.  To keep it going steady, I chanted this to myself: “trust your work, make it hurt, trust your work, make it hurt.”  It worked; I kept a good pace through the finish.

Here’s the RunKeeper screenshot of the race course:Runkeeper BoMF

And here’s my finish line photo purchased and downloaded from Cazillo Photography a day or so after the race:Copyright Gregory Cazillo, All Rights Reserved

This was a great race and a great workout.  There were 765 finishers.  I was number 93, fourth in my age group with a pace of 7:36 per mile.  The overall winners ran some fast times.  My only regret is that I couldn’t make it to the after party, but will make sure I do next year!  The BoMF 5-Miler is one of those great Philly Races that makes you want to come back again.