Sunday, June 21, 2009

Jim Klett 2009

Just like last year, we woke up to a rainy day. My weight was down to 162 lbs, the lowest it's ever been before any race, ever! (The 3pm "diet" is paying off!)

It was raining really hard in the morning of the race, but five minutes before the start, it stopped raining. I am glad I procrastinated warming up, so I ran relatively dry :)

The first mile was fast as expected (downhill). I was running along with Jamie and Jen, but I pulled ahead around mile 3. First 4 mile splits: 6:29, 6:39, 6:41, 6:54. The hills start at mile 5. Pace slows as expected: 7:23, 7:06. Last 0.2 split: 6:41.

I am a bit disappointed that my times are creeping up. I want one day to be able to keep up a 6:30 pace in the 10K.

My official time: 42:46. I finished 2nd/14 in my age group and 25/203 overall. This was my 2nd best time in 6 years of running the Jim Klett 10K.

I turn 50 in July so I always look at the next age group results. There some fast runners there. I would have placed 6th! Normally, I would be happy to advance to the next age group... but not this time! :) I have to get faster quickly!

Liz’s time was 27:01 in the 5K (best time this year, but her PR is 26:20 from the Buckeye 5K last year). She won 2nd place in her age group. As a matter of fact, this was the 2nd fastest time in females over 40. Lea finished 5th in her age group with 31:02. She was happy she ran the entire distance.

We stayed for the awards and enjoyed a nice breakfast. The Jim Klett race is becoming a nice family running tradition.

Weight Loss with the 3pm diet

Lately, I have been doing the “3pm diet”. This is not a revolutionary concept. As a matter of fact, it is not a diet at all. It is not a secret either, but someone managed to write a book, titled “The 3:00 PM Secret”. Here is the link to the publisher’s web page.
And here is the book in Amazon.

The principle is very simple: Stop eating at 3 pm. Or, as the author likes to say, eat a nutritious breakfast, a nutritious lunch, a snack at 2:30, and then you are done. It is really amazing that an entire book was written around this concept. So, basically, you are skipping dinner and go without eating from 2:30pm to maybe 7:30am, a total of 17 hours or so.

Two questions come in mind: 1) Why? 2) How?

Regarding the "why", the author goes into great lengths to prove that this kind of eating schedule has many advantages, both in terms of weight loss and in terms of a lifestyle: 1) By eating most of your calories in the morning, you can burn them later in the day, so you end up losing weight. 2) You don’t need to worry about cooking & cleaning dishes in the evening and you have more time and energy to devote to a hobby or other pursuits.

I definitely agree with #2. Most people come home from work, overeat, and then are too tired digesting to do anything productive, so they end up laying on the couch, watching TV (and snacking). Not having to worry about dinner in a sense frees you and gives you more time for productive work.

Point #1 is questionable. They are those who say, it does not matter when you eat. You can eat all your calories in one meal, eat only in the morning, eat only in the evening, or eat many small meals during the day. It is irrelevant. All that matters is how much goes in and how much goes out (via exercise). I am not sure I agree with this mechanistic view of the body, but one thing is certain: It is very difficult to overeat for breakfast and lunch. The majority of the calories are consumed in the evening. So by skipping dinner you can lose (or maintain) weight, depending on how much you eat in the morning.

I have been doing this for a week now and have already lost a couple of pounds, even though I tend to eat a lot. I work at home so after my breakfast at 7am, I usually eat a 2nd breakfast around 9am. So I eat three meals. Someone with an office work will most probably eat less and weight loss is almost certain.

Now, to the “how” My wife cannot believe that I just stop eating after 3pm. But it is very easy for me. My body is now used to this, and does not expect food. I feel fine. I don’t get hungry, and I go to bed for a good night’s sleep with my digestive system taking a break.

I expect that a lot of people have a problem with this concept, especially if they like to entertain or go out to eat, or just enjoy eating and have nothing productive to do in the evening. There are people (my wife is one) who look forward to eating dinner. These are the people who will not even agree to try this. The book says it is OK to have something light, like a soup, and it even gives you two “free days” a week. So, the 3pm is not etched in stone. I personally don’t need the freebies. It would be nice if my wife was also in the same schedule, but I don’t care. When she cooks dinner and asks me if I want to eat, I politely refuse and ask her to save my portion for lunch tomorrow.

There are people (in Greece for example) who routinely do not eat breakfast (I used to do this). So, they are going without eating for long periods, but at a different time of the day. There is even a book called “The Fast-5 Diet” which advocates skipping breakfast and lunch and only eat between 5pm and 10pm (thus a fast minus this 5 hour window). In one sense, this is exactly the opposite of the “3pm diet”, yet there is no question that both methods could work. It is difficult to eat a lot in a short window of time during the day (even though I am sure some people can do it). At the end, it might be a matter of lifestyle, and I definitely prefer eating early than late in the day.

I am also doing something that I have not done before: I eat breakfast before long morning runs (for example the Sunday trail runs for the Buckeye 50K race). I find that this gives me more energy later in the run. I would not do that for short runs or fast races, only for long slow runs.

I am happy that someone wrote a book about this. I have been interested in weight loss since I started running in 2001. It is a long story, but, briefly, I was 225 lbs in 2001 and dropped to 175 after one year, by just running and without any other adjustments in my diet. After the first year, I fell in love with running. I soon realized that I could enjoy running more, and be better at it, if I lost even more weight. But it is not easy now that I work at home and I am close to my “ideal” weight. I have tried different things, including not eating after a certain time (around 5pm). This personal version of the 3pm diet worked, but I did not keep it up. Now that I know that someone else has thought long enough about this and even wrote a book, I feel encouraged to try it again. It is not something I made up. It is now official.

Bottom line: This 3pm concept is helping me lose or maintain weight and I enjoy the lifestyle benefits I get from it. I have more energy in my long morning runs, and more time for productive work in the evening.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Running Time Goals

They say that a runner achieves his/her PRs within 5-10 years from when they start running. It does not matter if they start at 25 or 55, the rule still applies. That’s because it takes a couple of years to build up strength and running endurance. Then “old age” catches up with you. Your times will only go down from there on. I started running in 2001. My first race (5K, 21:27) was in 2002. Eight years later I think I still have room to improve my race times in all distances (especially if I lose weight, as I plan to do).

Here is my wish list:

Distance ------Time Now (Pace) VO2max ------ Goal Time (Pace) VO2max
5K --------------20.06 (6:32) 49.5 ------------------19:30 (6:17) 51.3
10K -------------41:20 (6:37) 49.8 ------------------40 (6:26) 51.9
10mi ------------1:08:31 (6:51) 50.0 ----------------1:06 (6:36) 52.2
½ Marathon ----1:32:50 (7:05) 49.2 ----------------1:30 (6:52) 51.0
Marathon------- 3:22:4 7 (7:44) 46.5 ----------------3:10 (7:15) 50.2

It appears that my current VO2 max is around 49-50. I need to increase it to 51 to 52 and then I will achieve my goal times.


I have been fascinated with running times predictions, i.e., predicting your time in one race, based on times in other races, ever since I read a 1977 book by Manfred Steffny "Marathoning" (see previous blog). From Manfred’s book I first read about the possibility of predicting your marathon time, based on your 10K time. He gives a very simple formula:

Marathon time = 10K time x 4.666 (1)
He later modified to: 10K in 30 minutes -> Marathon in 2:20. For every extra minute in 10K, add 5 minutes to the marathon (2)
A more conservative estimate (recommended for beginners) is even more simple: Marathon Time = 10K time x 5 (3).

Right now my 10K PR is 41:20 (2007). My best marathon time is 3:22 (2009).

(1) 41:20 x 4.666 = 3:13
(2) 2:20 + 5x(41:20 – 30) = 2:20 + 56:30 = 3:16:30
(3) 41:20 x 5 = 3:26:30

Seems like my actual time is between (2) and (3). I think formula (3) is more typical for people without enough marathon experience/training and it is very easy to remember: Formula (1) might be my upper limit and (2) something to aim for.

Here is a table published in Manfred Steffny’s book:

Max. possible Realistic
10Km marathon time marathon time
------ ------------- -------------
27:00 2:05:00 2:08:30
28:00 2:10:00 2:14:00
29:00 2:15:00 2:19:30
30:00 2:20:00 2:25:00
31:00 2:25:00 2:30:30
32:00 2:30:00 2:36:00
33:00 2:35:00 2:43:00
34:00 2:40:00 2:49:00
35:00 2:45:00 2:55:00
36:00 2:50:00 3:00:00
37:00 2:55:00 3:07:00
38:00 3:00:00 3:15:00
39:00 3:05:00 3:20:00
40:00 3:10:00 3:25:00
42:30 3:22:00 3:42:30
45:00 3:35:00 4:00:00
47:30 3:47:30 4:20:00
50:00 4:00:00 4:40:00

The Realist time is more appropriate for someone’s first marathons. The Table stops at 50min. Older runners and women can use the formulas.

I have devised two more simple formulas to predict marathon times from 10mile and ½ Marathon times:

(4) Marathon = (10 mile time) x 3
(5) Marathon = (1/2 Marathon) x 2 + 15 minutes

(4) My 10mile PR is 1:08:31 (2007) x 3 = 3:25:33
(5) My ½ Marathon PR is 1:32:50 (2008) x 2 + 15min = 3:20:40

Both are reasonable.

But the mother of all prediction calculators in the internet is here:

You enter your age, gender, and one race time and it gives you several predictors, plus an average prediction. Cool! But there is more in this web site... It will also calculate how weight loss will affect your running times and more.

Staying on the topic of Marathon time predictions, I tried this web site and here is what I get:

Distance PR ----------- Predicted Marathon
5K – 20:06 -------------------- 3:10:33 - 3:25:57
10K – 41:20 ------------------ 3:10:11 – 3:24:52
10 miles – 1:08:31 ---------- 3:10:35 – 3:23:29
½ Marathon = 1:32:50 ----- 3:13:57 – 3:25:09

The first marathon predicted time is an average of several formulas. The 2nd time is called the “Purdy Formula” and it seems more realistic to me. To read more about these formulas, go to the link above.

Manfred Steffny – Marathoning Book

There is a plethora of books on the Marathon and I have many books in my personal library. But one book that stands out is called “Marathoning” and is written by Manfred Steffny. It was published originally in German in 1977. I bought the English 1979 Edition at a local library sale for around $0.10. You can usually find a used copy in ebay for under $5.

This was one of the first books I read on Marathons and I liked it a lot. It reflects the running mentality of 1970s Europe, which is a bit different than the current US mentality, which is why I like it. I think his ideas are simple and solid, and not much has changed since the 1970s, as far as first principles are concerned.

Here are some ideas from this book (written mostly out of memory):

1. Regarding when to run your first marathon, he advocates a solid year of running, and weight loss. Yes, you can drag your overweight body over 5 hours in the marathon course, but why? I am amazed at the number of people who start running and immediately want to run a marathon. It is better to take time to adjust to running first and lose some weight to get “marathon ready”. When I started running I immediately declared that I was not interested in running a marathon. Of course, I changed my mind but it took 3 years or running before attempting my first one.

2. Predicting your marathon time: I first read about the possibility of predicting your marathon time based on a 10K time from this book. He has an interesting discussion on the topic, and his formulas work for me (more about this in a future blog).

3. Diet and marathon running: He advocates natural diet and losing weight. He says what when your friends say that you look bad (too thin, etc), then you are in the best form for a marathon. This is the first book I encountered the idea of running and fasting (more about this later).

4. Hydration during the race: I think his basic philosophy is like mine “Let thirst be your guide”. For top runners: Would you rather finish 2nd and well-hydrated, or 1st and dehydrated?

5. Running with different shoes (variety is good). He says something like this: My suitcase if filled with different running shoes. Other runner’s suitcases are filled with pain pills. On the subject of injuries, he is against pills, injections, etc. but prefers natural remedies.

6. Ultramarathon Running: He claims that it is easier to run 100K than a marathon and maybe you should train and run a 100K first. When I first read this, I thought it was crazy and I had no plans to run anything longer than a marathon. But since then I have run several 50K trail races, and now I know that 50Ks are actually easier on the body than a marathon, even though the distance is longer.

These and other ideas about training, pacing, etc., are found in this little gem. I recommend it to all runners.

I searched google and found that Manfred Steffny is still around and doing well, still running at the age of 68. His web site is: (use google to translate it in English). He has been the Editor of the Spyridon running magazine, the oldest running publication in German (since 1975).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

An Amazing Race (800m Final, 1972 Oympics)

There is no question, YouTube is the biggest waster of time for a computer user today… Once you get there, you start watching video after video, non-stop. Eventually you find yourself watching videos that you shouldn’t be watching :) and wonder where the time went….

I don’t remember how, but I found myself watching running-related videos. I ran into this amazing 800m finals in the 1972 Olympics in Munich Germany:

I remember watching the Olympics in Greece as a kid, and I remember Dave Wottle and his famous cap. I also remember the scandal when he kept the cap on during the National Anthem in the Award’s Ceremony.

It is interesting that Dave is a local guy, from Canton OH. I did a bit of digging and found that today he is the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Rhodes College Looks like he has gained a bit of weight :)

I also watched parts of the 5K and 10K races in the ’72 and ’76 Olympics, all 4 won by the “flying Finn”, Lasse Viren.

Finally, I saw the 2004 Olympics 800m race (in Athens, I was there, but I don't remember this one) and it is a carbon copy of the 1972 race! Take a look:

Actually, YouTube is a fantastic resource, if used wisely.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Volunteering at Hudson 15K race

Saturday I worked as a volunteer for the 15K Race for the Parks in Hudson. I would have preferred to run the race, but I had to put my 3 hours of volunteering work, a requirement for running the Buckeye 50K race in July. This was the first time I have worked as a volunteer at a race and it was an interesting experience.

I was assigned at the last water stop, in the entrance of a park, before mile 8 (entrance) and around mile 9 (exit). Working with me were chef Bill and a guy named Zachary. Zachary is a tall guy in his early 30s, very nice fellow. He looked familiar. Only later, when I got home, I realized that he is Zachary Lewis, the guy who writes a fitness column in Plain Dealer’s Health section. My wife is an avid reader of the paper and she often tells me about Zachary’s articles. So, I worked on the table with a celebrity, without knowing it.

Since we were only 3 people, handing two types of drinks (Gatorade or water) in two different directions (entry and exit from the park) we were not sure we could handle the job, but “traffic” was low and the weather cool, so things went well.

With this new experience, I now know what’s the best runner’s behavior from a volunteer’s point of view: 1) If you don’t want a drink, just say “no, thanks”. 2) If you want a specific drink, just say “water” or “Gatorade” and try to make eye contact with the person you will grab the cup from. This really helps reduce the anxiety of the volunteers who are eager to serve the runners.

Friday, June 5, 2009


I have confession to make: I have never done any systematic speedwork or followed any plan in my running. I just run for the fun of it and I understand (I think) the basic principle of running weekly long runs in preparation for a marathon, etc. Also, it helps to run with faster runners because then even standard training runs become tempo runs.

But now my wife is downloading training plans from the Runner's World web page and she follows them to the letter. She did this for the Cleveland Marathon 10K and now for the River Run ½ Marathon (her next goal race). These plans call for speedwork once a week. Most people in our area do speedwork on Tuesdays, but we take a fitness class on Tuesday (that’s why I have not joined any speedwork groups.) So, the obvious choice for us is Wednesday.

The plans call for two types of speedwork, which usually alternate:
- Tempo Runs
- Speedwork of 400, 800 or 1600m repeats (with jogs in-between)

So, I decided to download a training plan too. As a goal race I chose the Broadview Heights 5K, which is on July 12, put my current marathon time, and selected “very hard” plan. What came out generally calls for:

- Tempo runs (2 increasing to 4 miles) at 7 min/mile
- Speedworks of 800m repeats at 3:11 (6:22 pace) or 1600s at 6:41 pace

If I follow the plan, I should be able to do my 5K at 19:49 (6:22) pace. Anything better than 20 minutes is fine with me (my current 5K PR is 2:06 from 2005 but I have not run a 5K for a couple of years now - I am not counting the “New Year’s Eve 5K” because of the nasty hills, which make it unsuitable for a PR)

I cannot possibly follow the entire plan, because I am also training for the Buckeye 50K, but I can do the speedwork. I have already done two weeks of speedwork (on Wednesdays).

- Last week: Tempo run in towpath, 3 miles at 7.03 average page (6:51, 7:07, 7:12)
- This week: Speedwork at Hike & Bike path, 1 mile at 6:34, 2nd mile at 6:27, then 800m at 6:20 and 400m at 6:10.

We wanted to use the Brecksville HS track but had football practice, so we went to the Hike & Bike path. This is asphalt and it is flat so it is very well-suited for speedwork, with the aid of our Garmin gps watches. The towpath is not well-suited because the surface (crashed limestone) has less friction and leads to slower times.

I like these speedwork sessions… We’ll see if they pay off. I have a good feeling for both the Broadview Hts and Independence 5Ks for an under 20 minute time.