Data Analysis of Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Part III: Speed Work

speed work

We know that most (over 84%!) of the BQ respondents did speed work as part of their training, but what kind of speed work? Let’s find out:

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 Some runners did 800 repeats, quite a few did mile repeats, but tempo runs was the most common workout with marathon pace runs But broadly speaking, the theme seems to be longer efforts. This makes sense to me for the length of a marathon effort improving the upper end of your aerobic ability seems keys. I’ll definitely be working these kind of efforts into my training.

 Want some inspiration? Here’s Meb on a 12 mile tempo run. Yours may be slightly slower.

Another note on the data is appropriate here. Many people who said they did speed work, didn’t tell us what kind, and people used different nomenclature for similar workouts. I lumped together workouts like “tempo run” with “lactate threshold runs” and 800 repeats with Yasso 800s. I realize there may be some difference here, and am open to doing this in a different way. Please comment with your thoughts.



What is there to say about Meb?  Three years after Nike dropped him he has the run of his life.  Just incredible.  Sure the East African mafia would never had let a younger runner get that far out front, and sure Ryan Hall and the other Americans helped Meb by not pushing the pace.  But Meb still ran his heart out in a smart, and gutsy,  race.  The man is an inspiration to old dudes everywhere.  Lets hear it for Meb!

I’ve written about Meb a number of times. You can read some of those posts here, and here.

Friday Inspiration – Gutting it Out

For weeks now, people have been talking about Meb Keflezighi gutting it out in the final miles of the New York Marathon and crossing the line with local Staten Island runner Mike Cassidy.

Meb and Mike bringing it home

If you read this blog, you probably already know this story – Meb has battled injuries all fall and wasn’t a hundred percent coming into this race.  In the latter miles, he fell off the pace and seriously considered dropping.  But, being a fucking bad ass, he stuck with it, eventually meeting up with sub-elite runner Mike Cassidy.  The two of them brought it home, trading the work at the front, and crossing the finishing line hand in hand.

Here’s Meb describing what happened.

And here’s Mike Cassidy’s article on the “time of his life”.

Its a powerful story and something that can only happen in running.  In no other sport do the world’s best run with the work-a-day hobbyist.  In no other sport can a amateur get so close to a pro.  Its one of the many reasons why, while I am struggling with my running these days, I’ll also love this sport, I’ll always deeply admire Keflezighi and I’ll always love the New York Marathon. 

Some Thoughts on This Years New York City Marathon

So it looks like the New York Marathon is on.  I am of two minds about this.  I love the New York Marathon, more than a race it is a celebration of New York with tens of thousands of runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators.  If I’m not running it, I always go out and watch. This year, the debate about whether or not the race should go on is vigorous, its on the front page of the New York Times and its clogging up my running clubs listserv.  For what its worth (which is nothing) I think the race should go on, but I can understand why others feel differently.

In times of trouble, as in the months after September 11th, the New York City Marathon has been a statement that New York is unstoppable, that life goes on no matter what.  But in 2001, the race was almost a full two months after 9/11.  This year, the race will be happening less than a week after the most destructive natural disaster in New York history.  Thousands of New Yorkers will surely be without power, thousands more will be struggling to get to work.  If I was them, I imagine I’d be pretty pissed to see resources going to a footrace when they could be going to getting the lights turned back on.

Still Con Ed doesn’t marshal marathons, and the New York Road Runners Club can’t drain the water from the subway stations.*  The race is a testament to perseverance, both for those who run it and for New York as whole.  Holding the race shows that life is moving on, that we are rebuilding, that nothing stops New York.  That is why, though I understand the anger many are feeling about the decision to go forward, I’m glad the race is happening.  I hope Meb wins, and that he raises a FDNY flag at the finish.

The finish line in Central Park

On Sunday I’ll be thinking of the communities struggling to rebuild after the storm, but I’ll also be on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn like I am every year, cheering on the runners.  Hope to see you there.

* The NYPD generally plays a huge roll at the marathon, but this year they’re a little busy.  My understanding is their role will be slightly less than in previous years.  We’ll see.

Friday Inspiration – Meb on a tempo run

I’m a huge fan of Meb Keflefzighi. He’s old for an elite runner, but he’s still getting it done.  This year he finished fourth in the Olympic marathon beating out many a young whippersnapper and making me proud to be an old dude.  

As I am out there doing my paltry little run this weekend, and continuing my long road back to being in running shape, I’m going to think about this video.  Many counted Meb out before the 2012 Olympic Trials, he just put his head down and ran.  That’s what I need to do.

Nativist / Racist / Enough of This

For the people out there who know me in real life, you know I am a pretty political person. I have spent most of my adult life working in political organizations. But this blog isn’t suppossed to be about that, it is suppossed to be about running. And then, Meb Keflezighi has to go and win the New York Marathon, churning up a whole bunch of nasty “he isn’t really an American” crap.

No to all of this. First of all, Meb has been running in the U.S. since high school, which means he has been an American runner longer than I have. And no one would ever say someone with my skin color and name isn’t an American, no matter when they started running here. But that isn’t the point. I wouldn’t have cared if Meb had moved to the U.S. the day before the marathon. This is a country of immigrants. We are at our best when we are welcoming to people who want to come here, bringing their talent and hard work with them. We are at our worst when we start setting up criteria for who is “American”. So lets call this for what it is – nativism and racism. Nativist envy that someone who came from to this country with so little has done so well. And racism because I am willing to bet this wouldn’t be news if his name was Tom Smith and he had immigrated here from Canada at age 12.

So, when you’re reading a running forum, or chatting about this at a social event and Meb’s “american-ness” comes up. Speak up for him. He just did a great thing and we should be proud of him.

New York Marathon

Congratulations to

Lindsay from Chasing the Kenyans setting a new PR in  3:33:02

Derartu Tulu winning the women’s division in 2:28:52

Meb Keflezighi becoming the first American in 27 years to win the NYC marathon, finishing in 2:09:15

I am especially moved by Meb’s performance. The American running media has expended gallons of ink on Ryan Hall (a great runner, no doubt) while Meb has not gotten nearly as much press. To have someone with his life story be the first American to win the race in 27 years is incredible. He should be really proud. As should everyone else who was out there yesterday.

New York was my first (and so far only) marathon, and I loved the experience. Man I am looking forward to getting back there.