Thank You Run SMART Project for getting me back into Marathon Shape!

New Year’s Day this year found me overweight and out of shape after nearly a decade of decline following a string of running injuries.  I ran 2:53:14 at the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2004 at age forty-five, but in January 2014 I couldn’t hold a twelve minute pace for a full six miles.Race Pic w caption

At fifty-four and not getting any younger, I decided to lose the weight and get back into shape.  I changed my diet and the pounds started to melt away.  But I didn’t have a training plan for running.  I was just jogging slowly every day with no real direction.  I knew I wanted to race again, but I thought it would take at least a year of easy “base-building” before I could think about racing, much less running a full marathon.

Then in late February I found out about The Run SMART Project via Twitter.  After I requested an invitation to try out their VDOT O2 App as a beta user, Run SMART Project founder Brian Rosetti sent me the invitation and offered to provide one of the custom Jack Daniels Marathon Training Plans for me to load into the VDOT O2 App.  I found a local marathon here in the Philadelphia area, the ½ Sauer ½ Kraut Marathon, and selected the Jack Daniels 15-Week Marathon Plan, which coincided with the June race date.  I was skeptical that I could complete a marathon that soon, but I was willing to give it a try.

Fast-forward five months:

On June 14 June 2014 after training with The Run SMART Project for 15 weeks I ran a 3:43:10 marathon in summertime conditions, several miles of it on rocky, muddy trails, and took second place in my age group.  Then a few days ago on July 4th I won my age group in a local 10K with a 44:11, an average of 7:07 per mile.  Here’s my VDOT O2 schedule from June and early July; the races are shown in red:RSP Screenshot 1

I still can’t believe I got into shape this quickly – The Run SMART Project turned me into a runner again and they did it fast!  I’ve won some nice prizes too:both awards

Here’s how I got started using VDOT O2 with my Jack Daniels training plan:

After receiving the link to the VDOT O2 App back in February, I logged-in and selected my Jack Daniels 15-Week Marathon Plan.  Then I was prompted to enter a variety of information on my running history, mileage per week, recent performances, preferred days for long runs and days off, and information on my goal race.  Brian customized my plan and loaded my complete training schedule into the VDOT O2 App including my goal race.  He sent me an email letting me know the plan was ready and I started running and logging the workouts.  Here’s my training schedule for April:April-Training-VDOT-O2

The VDOT O2 App was very cool.  Every workout was pre-loaded and it was easy to click-and-drag workouts from one day to the next when I had to travel for work.  The training paces were pre-determined based on my Daniels VDOT number.  All I had to do was the running.

There were two major differences between training with The Run SMART Project and what I was doing on my own:

First, each workout had a purpose. I was no longer running every day at roughly the same pace; I was running very specific paces and each workout had a specific training purpose. Here’s an example of a threshold workout I did to sharpen up for my marathon later that week:Threshold

Second, I worked harder and rested more. The plan was built around quality workouts that were tailored for my goal race. There was a progression of long runs culminating in a twenty-miler, but there was also a significant amount of threshold pace work, interval pace work, and marathon pace work. By running this variety of paces and intensities, and then taking two days off every week, I got faster in a shorter period of time by running smarter than I would have on my own.  The work at faster paces built my confidence too.

It was a huge kick when I entered my 10K time yesterday and the dialog box asked if I wanted the VDOT O2 App to update my VDOT and training paces based on the race time.  I selected “yes” and my VDOT jumped from 43.23 to 46.24 and the circle turned from gray to yellow, indicating I had moved to a new level.  All of my training paces were automatically adjusted to my new VDOT and my predicted race times are faster, which is a huge motivator.

Now I’m training for the Philadelphia Marathon and I plan to continue training with The Run SMART Project to reach my goal of getting back under three hours.  It might not happen this fall, but I feel more confident that it is achievable, and I know I can get another BQ whether I break three again or not.

Saying a few well-deserved good words here doesn’t come close to repaying The Run SMART Project for what they have done for my running, but I would be happy to share my experiences with anyone who is interested in trying out the VDOT O2 App and I still have a few invitations to send out for the beta version.  Just send me a Twitter DM with your email address and I’ll send an invitation.

Thanks Run SMART Project!

Tim Jones

8 thoughts on “Thank You Run SMART Project for getting me back into Marathon Shape!

    1. TheRunningJones Post author

      Thanks Theresa! It’s definitely a great feeling to see the paces get faster! Hope to get back to Boston in 2016. I ran it in 2003 and it’s hard to believe it’s been that long ago. Good luck to you too!

  1. Ron

    I just stumbled upon your blog and it’s wonderful to see your progression. Quick Question – Were you training with a Run Smart Project Private Coach or via the Custom training plans?

    1. TheRunningJones Post author

      Thanks for your comment Ron. I have been using Run SMART Project custom training plans and the VDOT O2 App. Check out my latest post on the Tobacco Road Marathon – it was my third race with Run SMART Project and I qualified for Boston by over 21 minutes with a 3:18:53. I am considering using private coaching for Boston 2016 and I highly recommend Run SMART Project as they’ve helped me a lot. Good luck and keep in touch! Tim Jones

  2. Brandi

    Thanks for sharing! I just purchased my first RunSMART training plan for my first marathon. I am so excited and a little nervous about the shortness of the long runs. I know the 90 minute marathon pace long runs are supposed to take care of that, but when your goal time is 4:15 (which seems so fast based on where I am now!) it’s a little scary to think that’s the longest you will go before the big day. Really going to have to surrender the process here. :)

    Congrats on getting back into shape so quickly and the amazing BQ!!!

    1. TheRunningJones Post author

      Thanks Brandi and congrats on starting your RunSMARTProject Plan! I know it’s a little scary to run shorter long runs, but the long run benefits are based more on time than distance. Check out this video from Jack Daniels:
      There are a lot more videos from Dr. Daniels on the different paces. I had to get away from the mindset that hammering out 20-milers was the way to get faster, and you do have to trust the process. It worked great for me and it all came together on race day.

      You can get that 4:15! Keep in touch and let us know how the race goes!

  3. Jr

    Just read your article. Was also interested in using the app and the program. Is there a way i can test the app out first? I’Ve been itching to get my pace and distance increased. Thanks


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *