VDOT, etc.

(I originally composed this as an email response to my brother-in-law, Andrew, who had asked me at what VDOT I had started my running "career"; I think he got a longer answer than he had anticipated)

When I first started running road races, I was working toward a goal of breaking 30:00 for 5 miles. I thought that was about as fast as anyone could get. I knew my dad's career best was in the 29:00's, so I figured I would just try to get close to that.

I hadn't heard of VDOT back then (this was about 1999-2000). I trained by doing daily runs (probably faster than I should have) about 4-5 times a week and racing on the weekend. I went from a best of just over 30:00 to a best of around 27:00 in about 18 months. 

I did my first marathon in October of 2000 (Bay State) and raced a lot of different distances from 5k to marathon. PR's at the end of 2000 were around 16:30 for 5k, 27:02 for 5 miles; 57 minutes for 10 miles; and 2:47 for the marathon. These are all around a 62 VDOT, with the exception of the marathon, which is about a 58 VDOT.

Then I didn't run much for a couple years, until I met Heather, and at that point I was probably in low-17:00's 5k shape. We started running together and I was doing a lot of training at a slower pace during the week. So, for a time, running was just a shared pastime, something that I could enjoy through new eyes, without any urge or desire to train hard or compete or get faster.

I remember the first winter we were married doing quite a few hill repeat workouts together, which I had never done before. Then in the spring and summer of 2005 I started to have big breakthroughs with my racing. Other than the consistent winter training, the one significant change I can point to was my relationship with God. I know that I ran with a different kind of abandon and became more fearless, because a lot of my uncertainty disappeared about what was going to happen to me in this life and the next.

I started using Daniels' Running Formula as a training tool at some point in 2004 or 2005 (if not earlier) and really sticking to the workouts based on the VDOT indicated by my race performances. I knew I could run 400's faster than he prescribed, but I believed in his formula enough so that I would just try to hit the times and trust that that was better than running my fastest times in the workouts.

In 2005, I broke 16 in the 5k for the first time, and then ran 2:38 for the marathon. In 2006, I think I PR'ed at just about every distance with 15:25 for 5k; 32:41 for 10k; 53:19 for 10-miles (one of my best races ever); 1:12:13 for the half and 2:31:06 for the marathon. These are all in the 65-67 range for VDOT. Since 2006, I've had some individual races at VDOTs closer to 70, but it is hard for me to race as frequently at that level, partly maybe because I am in my late 30's and also I think I am getting pretty close to my potential as a runner.

Best races to date:

15:02.85 for 5000m indoor (2011) (69.3 VDOT)
8:40.80 for 3000m indoor (2012) (69.1 VDOT)
31:20.01 for 10,000m outdoor (2013) (69.2 VDOT)
25:17 for 5 miles (2011) (68.1 VDOT)
20:03 for 4 miles (2007) (67.8 VDOT)
2:28:54 for marathon (2011) (66.9 VDOT)
53:19 for 10 miles (2006) (66.9 VDOT)

The last couple years I have done some consistent 100-mile weeks, some hard track workouts and racing on the indoor and outdoor track to reach some new levels of performance. In 2011 I ran 356 out of 365 days and covered 3700 miles for the year (a little over 10 miles a day). I also have the challenge of keeping an appropriate emphasis on my training with other more important priorities that I can't afford to neglect. My relationship with God, my family, my work all must take precedence. Because of the drive to improve and the desire to increase the volume and intensity of my training, I am often pushing that balance. I feel like it is in some ways a constant learning process in terms of not just what can I handle physically, but how much can I train without having a detrimental effect on some other area of my life?

my career in a nutshell,


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