Marathon Training

A 4 Hour Treadmill Run and Two Movies

Well today was the day. It is the last long run for my marathon training before I start tapering off.

But I had a problem. As these runs have been getting longer and longer, I needed to hydrate during the run, but being a minimalist, I never carry water with me.

For the shorter runs (2.5 hrs) I run the boardwalk near the beach. I’ve been running this area for a long time and know exactly where to place my water bottles without worrying about them being picked up.


So I first drive to the various locations of my route and setup my stations. But for a 4 hour run, the beach was not the best choice. I also thought about running straight down to the Ocean along the reservoir (a 26 mile path that ends up at Huntington Beach), but there are no water stops a long the way and it’s not easy to get in there (by car) to drop of any water before starting the run.

I prefer running outside, but then again, my wife has been using the treadmill for her long runs, so I decided do the same just this once. Besides, there are a lot of advantages to running on a treadmill! No weather problems, water always available, a steady pace, and entertainment.

I found myself two movies that I could watch back-to-back (Sherlock Homes I and II). I also took a few bottles of water and headed to the treadmill located in the clubhouse next door.

There was no one there in the morning until noon, so I basically had the place to myself. Everything was going great and I was right on track. I way hydrating perfectly and and really enjoyed watching the first movie with my bluetooth headset and an iPad setup on the magazine rack of the treadmill.

But then talk way through the second move and 3 hours later, I was getting very very tired. It ended up being a struggle at the 3.5 hour mark and even though I was in the correct HR Zone, my RPE was getting higher and higher! To top it off, I was also starting to get some pain in my lower back and neck.

I finished the run, but it was a lot harder that I initially thought. Yet, that was only the beginning!

For the next 4 days I had lower back pain, aches in my upper shoulders, and a horrible back neck. I was in so much pain that I decided to skip one of my runs. The good news is that the pain did go away temporality on my next run – at least until it cooled down and started to stiffen up again. All sorts of stretching just didn’t help though. So let’s face it, to over taxed some muscles.

The reason?

I was looking down at the iPad while I was running, so my upper posture was all off. I should have put the iPad up higher so that I was looking forward – darn! Four hours of bad posture was just not a good way to do my long run.

Nonetheless, this taught me a valuable lesson about keeping a proper posture while running and not to get too distracted. I should really stay focused and think about how to keep my body working efficiently. Even after reading my book on Chi Running, I should have realized what I was doing. Well – experience is always the best way to enforce actions that you need to remember. I can promise you this – I will think twice about my running posture when doing a long run next time!


Rock n Roll Las Vegas 1/2 Marathon

This is 1/2 Marathon #2 for my Marathon Training.

Unfortunately I messed up the training weeks and this one fell into my speed training weekend.

Last weekend was the 3 hour run and next week is my four hour run. So I kinda jumped out of my schedule and added another long run this weekend for the Rock n Roll.


So is this marathon worth it?

Well, I really don’t know how to tag this one. With over 30,000 runners competing for space down the Las Vegas strip, it can get crowded over the first few miles. But, I must admit, the starting line was much more organized than the Disney World 1/2 Marathon a few years ago.

We arrived after Snoop Dog’s concert, just as the sun was setting. We decided to walk to the starting point, forgetting, once again, that everything is big and far in Vegas. At a brisk walk, it took about an hour  to get to the start from our hotel. So by the time we got there, I already had 5k under my belt and I was sweating (we are in the desert after all). But all was good and and we were eventually ushered out to the starting line and everything went smoothly.

The first few miles were crowded, and with all the excitement my pace was a little too fast. But I felt great and ‘convinced’ myself that I could run like I did 5 years ago.

I kept my pace up and ran down the strip and past our hotel (the Encore) just before the 10k marker.  I also stopped a few times along the strip to take videos and photos of the various bands like Kiss and Elvis playing along the way. Plus I always enjoy talking to some of the volunteers at the hydration stops.

Then we started getting into downtown Las Vegas and that’s where things started to go bad…

It was my first time downtown and it was little too dark on the side streets. Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle on a road reflector when switching lanes – and that resulted in an instant ‘time to walk’ attitude.

This was mile marker 10… two hours into the race. Still an easy 2h 45m finish even with a sprained ankle, or so I though!

Next came complaints from my bladder. Darn it. Why now!

So my new mission was to look for a port-a-potty. Unfortunately, there were none to be found. I ran and hobbled for ages and soon it became my only mission in life! So I had to take some detours off course, find a place to sneak out, find a restaurant, a McDonald’s, or a construction site.

Then to complicate matters even more, there was no water at the last 3 water stations. I give the volunteers credit of trying to fill up cups as fast as they could, but how could that happen!?! What is everyone behind me going to do?

Well, no matter as I was almost home.

However, with the search for a toilet (more than once) and lack of water at the remaining stations, it took me an additional hour to make it hobbling to the finish line.

Did I break 3 hours? With all the extra pit stops? Uhm… nope!

3.5 Stars

  • 5.0 Stars for organization at the start
  • 4.5 Stars for the course
  • 4.0 Stars for entertainment along the way
  • 2.5 Stars for the ending (no space blankets, bananas/water only)
  • 1.5 Stars for port-a-potties along the course
  • 2.0 Stars for water along the course


Niagara Falls International 1/2 Marathon

One of the advantages of training for a marathon is to add a few 1/2 marathon during the Long Run portion.

I can do this because my running pace is fairly slow.

When my training calls for a three hour long run, I can sign up of a Half-Marathon and not be worried that I didn’t do enough time on my feet.


Niagara Falls International is a beautiful course. The run starts in Buffalo, goes over the Peace Bridges at the boarder, loops onto the Niagara Parkway and finishes up at ‘The Falls’.

The 1/2 Marathon starts along the parkway and you can easily forget about running, as you enjoy the trees with sparsely lined homes on the left and the river on the right. There was even a paddler keeping pace with me for a little while.

Of course, the weather could have been a little better for the run. The rest of the week was beautiful, but during the race it rained. Not a bad rain, but enough to get instantly soaked, cold enough that you need a few layers, and windy enough that you need glasses to keep the rain out of your eyes. But, hey, we all have to experience this type of run sometime, no?! And with the scenery along the course and lack of thousands people trying to pass you (like the Disney races), every moment was enjoyable.

To top it off, the last 3k is slightly downhill to the finish line. So I decided to sprint the remaining distance. But… it was a big mistake as running full speed down hill is not a good idea for my knees. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem for most runners. But, being 55, having a torn meniscus,  and being over weight does not make me ‘most runners’. Next time I think I will just keep my pace.

I came in over 3 hours and was actually shocked at the slow time. I planned on breaking the 3 hour mark based on my pace. However after everything was done, I realized that I miscalculated my pace for a 3 hour half. I was thinking it should be ~ 9 min/km pace (a very very long run training pace), so I was pacing around 8’40”. In reality, it was supposed to be under 8’31”.

Oops! Well that’s okay.

It was a training run, after all – and I did get a nice shiny metal and had an enjoyable experience.


Long Run Season – Dreadful or Delightful

Training is going good, but the summer months were a killer. Hot and Humid. Of course, I shouldn’t complain because after all, I will be running a marathon in Honolulu.

Speaking of which, there are about two months to go, and that means long runs. I used to dread long runs. It was hard to find time for them, especially with weekend plans. Plus I always thought that the run would kill me by the time it was over.

But the key to a long run is to NOT run too fast or hard. You want to keep an RPE of around 3/5. Using a Heart Rate monitor, that is usually Zone 3 – the moderate zone at 70-80% of your max heart rate. At my age that’s 100-115 bmp (with a max of 165). But if I use the Karvonen formula that takes in account my resting rate, then my 60%-80% training HR would be 122 – 144. As a matter of fact, I find that my RPE for a level of 3 usually falls into the 128-138 range. After 60-80 minutes, my HR usually starts going up and can pass 144 bmp after 100 minutes. The main reason for this is because I don’t hydrate.

So I try to find my RPE 3 by…

  • being able to breath through my nose
  • taking 1 breath once every 3 strides
  • being able to talk easily


Then there are a couple of other key indicators that are great (before I get too dehydrated)…

  • I feel that I can maintain this pace forever
  • I feel better than walking a very brisk pace


This has been working out pretty good for me, so now I try to find a flat route were I can enjoy the scenery and try to run while watching the sunrise. This is usually down along the coast, on the beach at low tide, or on a boardwalk.

As long as I can keep my pace slow and steady, I fall into the right zone . I actually enjoy these runs more than when I need to run at a max intensity or with a heart rate above 145.

I just need to remember that the long run is all about time on my feet and not speed.


The OC Fair 5k Fun Run

As in our family tradition, every year we go out and do the Orange Country Fair Fun Run. This was to be my first race since I started training for the Marathon – but wait… it’s not really a race… just a Fun Run!

So this year we invited some non-runner friends to join us.


Knowing the routine, we got to the race 10 minutes before it started taking a back road to the fairgrounds. The great part about this is that everybody is already at the race and there are no huge line ups.

We walked to the front, took a quick photo and then found our friends. The race started and off we went.

The first 1k around the parking lot actually involves a little running as everyone is trying to ‘position’ themselves. Then once we got into the fair, it was time to have fun and win some prizes at the stalls. I was lucky enough to win a little piggy (this year’s mascot) at the basketball hop challenge and then off we went, stopping for a slide run a little later and then jamming with Pikucho (another tradition).

Total time was an hour where the actual run/walk time (not waiting in the event lines) was around 40 minutes. Unfortunately, we never saw our friends. Apparently they didn’t know it was a Fun Run and(12 year old) Bryan  took off and ran the whole thing. His mother then took off after him and the father? Well… he was a little smarter and took his time to enjoy things. Bryan’s mother completed the run in 42 minutes. Not bad for someone who has never run before! Yet, for some reason, we didn’t hear from them all week, only to find out later that they were moving slowly around from day to day with muscle aches all over their bodies. LOL – Yes, definitely been there, done that! So I don’t think they will be joining us for another race anytime soon.

But all in all, it was a fun time and we got some cool finisher medals!


My Honolulu Marathon Training Schedule

So here it is.
My schedule for the Honolulu Marathon.

I’m using a modified 16 week plan that doesn’t have endurance runs over 18 miles, plus I’ve converted it over to kilometers. 18 miles is about 28 kms, but I did put a 30 km run in there for the week of Nov 14th.

If you are a new runner and have never performed runs over 2-3 hours, you should keep your milage under 28 km. The reason you do endurance runs is for the time, not distance.

In most cases, you should not extend past 4.5 hours in a long run (assuming you are at a training intensity between 70-80%). Otherwise you could be over training and be prone to health issues or injury.

Remember, you are working up to a marathon, not doing one.

So even though I added a 30 km run, I could have make it 28 km. But for that run, I might do a little walking, too. It’s not an exact science, as there are a lot of factors and it’s hard to know in what shape I will be when mid-November rolls around. Nonetheless, I’ll keep it at 30 km for now as it is a nice round number. 🙂

So this schedule starts at the end of last week’s Preconditioning Stage I.

Then I take 10 weeks over the summer months to build up a solid training base. One hiccup in the plan is that I really wanted to do a 10k in Montréal on June 18th. The 5k that they offer is okay, but the 10k takes me through my old high school stomping grounds, some fun trials, and old running routes. Those routes will definitely remind me of those cold winter nights when I was training to carry the Olympic Flame in the 1988 Olympics.

Come mid-August, it’s time to get serious and put that 16-week plan into place. From there, the mileage gradually increases towards the ‘Endurance Run’ stage and then tapers off the last few weeks before the marathon. The last two weeks are pretty crucial, so I’ll be talking about them come November.

Now, because marathon training involves long distances, mental training and nutrition are just as important. So I’ve added a column for goals and focus. This involves the mental aspects of marathon training and will remind me to cover all the requirements to get through the training. The notes may seem a bit cryptic for now, but don’t worry. I’ll be talking about these in the coming weeks and let you know what works and doesn’t work for me.

The exciting part about training is that you can also add some races in between. After all, I believe that marathon training is more about the journey than the destination. So there are few races I’m interested in and I’ve added them to my schedule. I strongly encourage you to do the same.

Now, some of the longer miles may scare you, but just remember that you are working your body up to this milage. The most difficult part to the whole training plan will be mental aspect. Marathon training requires a mental game plan and I think I’ve got that area pretty well covered. But of course, you do need to stick with your plan and not party too hard when you should be getting up early the next day for that long run.

I’ll be talking about all these other things as the weeks go by (how run, what HRM to get, what type of running shoes to look for, what mental games to play, etc.), but for now…

Here is my training schedule.
Tailored to me, knowing that there will be some hot months and travel that I need to think about.

Hope it helps!
PS: Just click on the schedule below to get the PDF version.

Honolulu Training Schedule


My Running Schedule – Stage 1

Okay, the first step was to get out everyday and put myself in a proper state of mind. To convince myself that I’m ready for being ‘dedicated towards my training’. This is no easy task, believe me. Some days it’s so easy to say it’s too dark, too cold, too windy, it’s raining (which is rare in my neck of the woods), too sunny, etc. But I did it. Yeah!

Each day I got up early and did at least 45 minutes or 5.5k. Now I’m ready to start my training. It comes in 3 stages, Preconditioning, Base Training, and Endurance Training.

Stage I – Preconditioning

Everyone is at a different level when it comes to running. Since I’m starting from ground zero, preconditioning is crucial. With no regular daily exercise, I’ve let my muscles slacken and put on a few pounds. So I know my knees, ankles, and feet (not to mention my heart and lungs) won’t be too happy if I get onto a running schedule without any preconditioning.

So the goal of Stage I is to build up my aerobic and skeletal systems, such that I will be running 30 minutes 3-4 times a week with no serious injury or pain. The only thing I need to worry about is being mentally committed to do this. But hey, I already proved that by getting out there every single day last week! Yes!

When training begins, I will be running with an average max heart rate between 70 and 80% or a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) between 3 and 5. I call this my Training Intensity. If I pop over that rate, then I need to slow down or (more likely) start walking. I will be running with a heart rate monitor, but I will also use the RPE Scale during Stage I. This is because I don’t know my exact max heart rate, even though my (Garmin) watch does a pretty good job of determining that for me (or I can use the famous 220 – your age as a starting point). After all, it’s important that when first starting out, you don’t train at too high an intensity because this can lead to fatigue, injury, or worse (you know what I’m talking about… just… don’t over do it!).

Another reason for this is because, since I’m starting from ground zero, it’s very easy to quickly push my heart rate above 80% max. So I’m thinking to start the first part of the run interval a little lower and more relaxed – like a 2 to 3 RPE. That way I can get through the run portion of the day’s training, have a less likely chance of injuring myself, and recover more quickly for the next training day. My previous running posts (when I was training for my first marathon at the age of 50) included the RPEs for each run. It was a good way for me to see how I did on a particular day or in a particular run. I plan to keep a running log on my iCal calendar with the RPEs along with weight, blood pressure, hours slept, miles ran, etc…

So here’s my Stage I Schedule. I’ll put up the rest of the Stages over the next week or so. Also, for the record, I’ll be starting at week 5, since I’ve already done the required walking up to week 4.. But for those who are reading my blog and following along with me… if you’re just starting out, go ahead and begin at Week 1 or wherever you feel most comfortable based on your level of fitness. There’s lots of time to catch up (more on that later).

Oh! …and for my RPE Scale go take a look at this blog entry.

Regular Walk 17-20 min/mile or 10½-12 min/km
30 min
Regular Walk
30 min
Fast Walk 13-16 min/mile or 8-10 min/km
30 min
Fast Walk
45 min
5x2m/5m Run 2 min, walk 5 min, repeat 5 times
30 min
3x5m/5m Run 5 min, walk 5 min, repeat 3 times
30 min
2x10m/5m Run 10 min, walk 5 min, repeat 2 times
30 min
2x15m/5m Run 15 min, walk 5 min, repeat once
40 min
1x20m/5m Run 20 min, walk 5 min
25 min
1x30m Run 30 minutes
30 min
1x30m Run 30 minutes
30 min
You’re Ready Time for a 5k race and Stage II
The Running portion should NOT exceed a max heart rate of 80% (RPE 5). If you get to this point, try running slower or switch to a walk. If you miss any of the days or cannot maintain the run duration without walking, repeat the week.

Just to recap, I’ll be starting with Week 5, but start at any week that you are most comfortable with. There’s lots of time to get preconditioned and ready for Base Training before the Honolulu marathon. As a matter of fact, I might split up my Base Training and just do maintenance runs over the hot summer months (TBA).

So that’s the first schedule for now. It doesn’t matter how far or how fast you go. The first step is to build up your aerobic and skeletal systems. I’ll be putting the other schedules up next week along with a PDF file that you can download for everything.

See you out on the trails!


Running’s on hold, but let’s do this…

For those of you waiting for my marathon schedule, I apologize for not writing sooner. Running and blogging have taken a back stage for the last few months due to family issues and the recent passing of my mother, but I plan on getting everything ready by mid-April.

For now, all those that are coming along on this journey, try getting out at least 4 times a week for a 30-60 minute walk. Feel the breeze on your face and the movement in your body.

Walking outside instead of being on a treadmill will greatly help with getting ready for the training that will come. … will write later. Promise!