Closing the Gap

May 27, 2020

Recent EntriesHomeJoin Fast Running Blog Community!PredictorHealthy RecipesCoach Cara's RacesFind BlogsMileage BoardTop Ten Excuses for Missing a RunTop Ten Training MistakesDiscussion ForumRace Reports Send A Private MessageWeek ViewMonth View
15% off for Fast Running Blog members at St. George Running Center!



Member Since:

Dec 28, 2009



Goal Type:

Olympic Trials Qualifier

Running Accomplishments:

  • Boston '08,
  • #3 woman in '09 Columbia River Gorge 1/2 marathon (1:33),
  • #1 woman in'09 Death Valley Marathon (3:24)
See all results on athlinks

Short-Term Running Goals:

Carve 10 minutes off my PR for the next 4 marathons, qualify for the Trials.

Long-Term Running Goals:

Always be a winner in my age division; help hundreds of other runners accomplish their goals through my coaching.


Married, 4 kids.  I'm an RN who now works as a personal trainer (NASM) and running coach (RRCA).

Trainer Cara Esau

Favorite Blogs:

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 0.00 Year: 0.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

This is the first time I have entered anything in here; I hope I do it correctly.


It's nearly one month since my marathon, so I will soon begin training for the next.  As of now, though, I have nothing organized going on. I still want to enjoy some boot camps, stair climbing, spinning, random running, and plenty of weight-lifting before I get serious again.


Today was a relaxed run with a time goal of 1 hr 15min.  And that's exactly what I did, with the following splits:


10:23, 8:49, 9:03,9:03, 8:32,8:29, 8:34,8:38, and then jogging for 3 minutes. 

From todd kelly on Sun, Jan 03, 2010 at 12:31:12 from

Good Job on the splits. I would love to carve 10 minutes off my PR any suggestions I am so close to Boston qualify. I need 8 minutes carved. Great time in Death Valley that is almost my time in Ogden 2009. 3:23 was my time.

From Coach Cara on Sun, Jan 03, 2010 at 12:52:38 from

Hi Todd! I'm on my way out the door for most of the day, but when I return, I'll take a peek at your blog and see what your speedwork looks like--if you've posted it there. If you haven't posted it, let me know what you're currently doing to improve your time! I'm sure you can take those 8 min off!

From Burt on Sun, Jan 03, 2010 at 17:24:58 from

Look at you blogging like a pro! Woo hoo! Oops, maybe I spoke to soon. You should enter the number of miles in above the blog entry box. That way, you know how many miles you've run for the week, month, year, etc. You can always go back and add it in. Just hit the edit button on your calendar.

From todd kelly on Sun, Jan 03, 2010 at 18:29:04 from

Thanks Coach, As far a speed work I have been including the 800 Yasso, I think they call them. I have included some downhill work to speed up a little. I need some Yoga or some good stretching, I think that would help me out as well. I am starting to train for the Ogden Marathon at this time and I am running a half marathon in two weeks in St George, so any help for making up 8 minutes will help me out.

From Coach Cara on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 00:12:36 from

Hi Burt, yes, you have driven me to blog. Once I resume training, it'll be interesting, but for a little longer, it'll seem pretty undirected, which actually is a NICE CHANGE!!

OK, Todd, I did a quick skim of your training leading up to your last marathon and didn't see much consistent speed work. The Yasso 800's are great, but you should also mix it up with other speed work because the body adapts--that's a blessing and a curse! (Blessing because adaptation means we have improved; curse because that means we will stagnate if we don't change it.)

For instance, a speed workout on the road might look like this: 5 miles total--1 mile warm up, 1 mile with surges, 2 miles at 6:55 pace, 1 mile cooldown.

A track workout might look like this:4x1000 meters; set 1 1:36/lap, set 2 1:35 per lap, set 3 1:33 per lap, set 4 1:30 per lap.

There are NUMEROUS way to approach speed workouts, and the variety is GREAT!

Of course, you can't gain much in the next 2 weeks for your 1/2 since you are about to taper. But you can start now training aggressively for Ogden and get an exciting PR. I understand that Ogden is mostly downhill--right?

As for hills, yes, you can train the fast turnover and the eccentric contraction going downhill. How about uphill? How do you approach hills? You can do sprints and repeats up, and then typically you'd take the downhill pretty easy. Hill workouts are considered a hard training day, so you'd do it instead of a speed workout, and you'd have a recovery day (easy run) the next day. There's a GREAT article about hill workouts in this month's Running Times on page 20.

Also, I don't know if you do strength training, but that can REALLY help you with your speed, particularly if you strengthen your core and glutes.

As for stretching, pre-run, you can do some active-isolated stretches, which are much like range of motion--you keep moving and you contract the opposing muscle. Post-run you do the static stretches. We runners especially need to stretch quads and hip flexors and calves. Do you know how to stretch those? I'm hoping to set up a website to demonstrate some stretches, but I don't have it yet.

So, those are just little notes on how to train for a PR, but there's also race strategy to consider. Of course, strategy is something that CAN help your upcoming race! Do you already have a plan for race day?

Whew, sorry, I didn't mean to say so much!! :-) I hope it gives you some ideas, Todd, and if you haven't been doing consistent speed and strength work and YET you're only 8 minutes from qualifying for Boston, I'm quite sure that you WILL succeed (and probably with FLYING COLORS )once you've integrated speed and strength!!

From Coach Cara on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 00:56:41 from

OH, one last thing as I end my day, don't forget REST. The easy recovery runs and rest days are SO important. You can't gain speed if you have inadequate rest.

And so, goodnight. :-)

From ChrisM on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 06:37:18 from

Welcome to the blog!

Like Burt said you can enter the number of miles run, then you can join in the fun of the Mileage Board LOL

From baldnspicy on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 08:45:40 from

Thanks for the tip to join the blog, Coach! I'm going to give it a shot. Seems to look like a great option over the Trainer log. Plus, this will give you the insight into my training and be able to track my workouts and progress toward joining me in Boston by 2015. :-) You're an awesome coach, thanks for all the help so far!

From TBarlow on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 15:38:29 from

Great run today. I really appreciate your advice to Todd - I need to improve on my speedwork. Welcome to the blog!

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 17:56:28 from

Some thoughts on speed work.

Yasso 800s make sense when you can do them somewhere around the speed 33% slower than your all out 100. So for somebody running 15.0 in 100 meter sprint this would be around 2:40. A little variation based on the individual is possible, but I would say if you can run 100 in 15.0, but are struggling to do 6x800 in 3:00, your problem is not speed, and that workout becomes a less effective form of aerobic conditioning.

To run a good 5 K to the marathon distance you have to balance two aspects of fitness - aerobic and neuromuscular. Aerobic responds primarily to the duration of a workout once a rather moderate intensity has been reached. Neuromuscular is a whole lot more responsive to intensity, but it also responds to duration.

So here is the problem. We have a guy that is aerobically underdeveloped (most recreational runners are), and we have him work on his neuromuscular fitness by a workout like 6x800. Because he lacks aerobic support he cannot power his muscles to reach an adequate neuromuscular stimulus. So in essence, he is jogging through his intervals, except he is out of breath. He would kill you if you told him he is jogging, because it hurts pretty bad, but from the neuromuscular point of view he IS JOGGING! His muscles can do a whole lot better, and need to work a whole lot harder in order to develop.

He will progress to a point, because he does get to run 3 miles at high aerobic intensity, and that is probably equivalent in aerobic stimulus to running 5 miles at a comfortable pace, but this is a rather extravagant and thus less effective way to do it. Because he will be too tired to run as much as he should, or otherwise could have, in the next couple of days.

He will get much better results if he focuses on aerobic development until his aerobic strength is sufficient to support a neuromuscular challenge of this kind. He can still give himself a neuromuscular challenge by doing 20 second strides during his easy runs, but no more than that. A general principle is that if subsystem A is much stronger than subsystem B, anything that attempts to develop subsystem A at the expense of subsystem B is less effective. So we never want to do anything that hampers aerobic development for as long as aerobic conditioning is our limiting factor.

In practice, the aerobic fitness is going to lag behind the neuromuscular fitness for most runners that have not run 60 miles a week for a period of at least two years. Todd, among many others, fits into that group. At this point he should focus on mileage. Occasional speed is fine, but it must not affect his ability to run the miles.

The above is not just some theory. We have proved this in practice. A typical Fast Running Blog story is that a runner joins the blog with the background of a typical Runner's World and other fad style training. 3-4 days a week, maybe 30 miles a week. A speed session, and a long run. We tell them - ditch your plans, and just run six days a week at a comfortable pace. Go half the distance of your long run on a normal day. No fancy plans, no speed work until you are aerobically developed. In a year we see them run 30+ minute PR in the marathon!

If you showed this to anybody who coaches world-class distance runners, he would say "Duh! Of course! What else would you expect!" But why do we not see this in popular running publications? I have come to the conclusion that the reason is simple - it may work, but it just does not sell. There is no drama, and you are asking people to be consistent instead of looking for a magic shortcut. That just does not sell in our culture. And those publications have to sell, or else they are broke.

From Burt on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 18:23:11 from

Word count Sasha - 679.

Word count Cara - 485.

The winner by TKO - Sasha the Russian Buzzsaw Pachevvvv!

From Kelli on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 18:34:00 from

Welcome to the blog! I have been waiting for you to post so I could make a comment! You seem like an amazing runner with some great times and advice, I look forward to "tracking" your running (as opposed to stalking!)

From Coach Cara on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 18:37:04 from

Thanks Sasha, great insights. Of course, I totally agree on the necessity of the basebuilding. And, as you say, it's something that an ambitious runner HATES to hear: the need to run slowly and build up distance gradually! 30 minute PRs are pretty amazing if you're talking about a runner who's already at 3:23. Most often, I've only seen such an impressive PR with runners whose previous marathon has been so much slower. I am TOTALLY inadequate when it comes to technology, so I would not be shocked if I made a mistake when I was looking up blogs, but I thought I had read that Todd had run a number of marathons and an ultra! So, I was certainly not considering him a novice with inadequate basebuilding.

In any case, I do agree with you that the first phase needs to be complete and with very strong aerobic development. And that's not something that can be quickly assessed in one quick snippet of conversation.

Thanks for this website. You have done a wonderful job with it!

From Coach Cara on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 18:38:56 from

Thanks for the welcome, Kelli! Wow, everyone is so friendly. I just wish we could ALL go on a big group run together! :-)

From Kelli on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 19:05:31 from

Me, too!

From rattletrap on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 19:09:30 from

Burt - You crack me up!

Coach - Welcome to the blog.

From Coach Cara on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 19:16:19 from

Burt cracks me up too. But this is how not-hip and not-techy I am: I don't know what TKO means. In fact, I don't text. And I only carry a cell phone about 1/8 of the time. I do know what BTW means, though!



From Kelli on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 19:17:46 from

I think TKO is a boxing term of some sort...

From Burt on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 19:20:16 from

Nice Kelli.

Clearly you are a poser when it comes to kickboxing Coach. LOL! (laugh out loud)

TKO = technical... (I'll get you started.)

From Coach Cara on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 19:21:07 from

Oh, boxing! Burt must be multi-talented. It sounded like one of those texting things that the young whipper-snappers do these day. Why, when I was a kid....

From Coach Cara on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 19:23:52 from

Poser? Poser? Haven't I told you about all my, um, medals in all those, you know, boxing things? And Burt, you have seen my kickboxing picture, how intimidating I can be. Ferocious, even.

From Kelli on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 19:27:35 from

Do you tow know each other?????


From Coach Cara on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 19:31:56 from

Oh, I've known Burt for months, or YEARS maybe.

No, actually I just "met" him last week, but it seems like a long time. :-)

From Kelli on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 19:37:39 from

He recruits from all over, so I just had to check. ;o)

From todd kelly on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 21:57:34 from

Thanks Sashsa and Coach Cara, I really appreciate the feed back. You are right Coach I have completed 17 marathons and one Ultra and when I first started in 2004 my time was like 4:45 and from there it has come down to 3:23 so I am there just need to fine tune a few things to reach my goal. Once again thank you for your help.

From Coach Cara on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 22:06:17 from

Oh good, whew. I'm glad I wasn't hallucinating about what I thought I'd seen in your history. (Hadn't had time to go back and double check because the kids have kept me hopping today.)

Such a great improvement you've made since 2004! Way to go!

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Jan 04, 2010 at 23:41:11 from

Cara - some blogs you might be interested in looking at. You can see everything they did to achieve the breakthrough. Just use the search box on the Other Blogs page to find them, I am too lazy to copy/paste URLs.

Clyde - 2:58 to 2:25 in two years.

Cody - 3:44 to 2:38 in a year.

Logan - 2:41 to 2:21 in six months.

Kory - 3:02 (or somewhere around that) to 2:36 in two years.

It does not matter how many marathons you've run. What matters is what kind of training you've been running them off.

A 3:23 guy off 150 miles a month or less is usually at least a 3:05 guy off 300 miles a month. 5 K speed is a big clue of the marathon potential, although it is often quite dormant in the absence of proper aerobic development.

From baldnspicy on Tue, Jan 05, 2010 at 00:13:26 from

Burt, don't rule out Cara in the word count contest (or me for that matter). She can hold her own!

Cara - all this time I thought you were understanding my emails! They must have looked like ABC soup, but apparently you got enough out of them. haha Here's a site to help you:

There's a ton there, so I'll have to put together a list of the more common ones. TKO isn't on the site above, so Burt would have stumped you on that one even without the cheat sheet.

This is also a great resource (this one would have helped you with the TKO):


From Burt on Tue, Jan 05, 2010 at 00:47:34 from

John - I noticed.

Sasha - Let's not forget Burt.

5:20 to 4:35 in two years.

Of course I know I need to up my mileage drastically for a couple of years and I'll be in the low 3's. I haven't put in even a third of the miles those guys have.

From Coach Cara on Tue, Jan 05, 2010 at 12:32:42 from

Thanks, Sasha, for those blogs references! I'll definitely study them, and that saves me the work of having to search through ALL the blogs. I'm particularly interested in this topic right now because I've been reading about Lydiard's method lately, and it's such a different approach from that of my coach (who I'm actually not working with now). He had me back off the mileage, and he gave me some wonderful speed workouts. Also, he had me do long runs at a pace that many, many coaches would consider too fast. It was very different from the RRCA training, but he was not a real fan of that organization anyway.

Of course, as with so many other aspects of life, there are the golden standards that ALL experts easily agree on, such as the need to build a strong base, and then the hotly debated issues, such as what exactly constitutes a "base." And how many miles is best for the peak, and do we really need to stretch, etc, etc! I chatted with Jeff Galloway when he was in Portland in Oct, and he told me to actually "fire" my coach (who will remain unnamed for obvious reasons)! But then other experts heartily recommended that coach to me.

So, sticking to the non-negotiables is obviously wise, and beyond that, there's a ton of research to investigate! I am fascinated and excited to read what those amazing athletes have done! Thanks again for pointing me to their blogs.

OK, Burt, how many words is that?

You ought to know that I taught writing for several years, and I have worked as an editor. So watch out! ;-) I can be as wordy as your dictionary!!

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Jan 05, 2010 at 16:34:32 from

Marathon coach skill evaluation. A coach must have a proven capability of taking somebody with the initial marathon time/5 K time ratio of over 10 and lowering it to 9.6 or less, or at least close. Lydiard would have that to his credit.

If a coach does not have such results, he might be a good mile or even 5 K coach, but his methods have not proven him yet as a marathon coach. I do not care how many articles he published, or how many Olympians he coached.

If you want to calculate ratios, you can use the calculator on the Add Entry/Edit Entry page. It knows time arithmetic.

Regarding base. Anything less than 60 miles a week for a couple of years is not a good base. Proof - nobody ever broke 2:10 without it. If a good base could possibly be achieved with less, we would have seen at least sometimes a speedy guy with a 13:30 5 K PR try a marathon off lower mileage, and run 2:10. But it NEVER happens. In fact, it is almost unheard of for somebody running less than 70 miles a week consistently to break even 2:20, which is a good 5 minutes slower than the ladies' world record!

From Kelli on Tue, Jan 05, 2010 at 16:51:01 from

OH NO, someone else to correct my grammar and typos! CRUD.

Add Your Comment.
  • Keep it family-safe. No vulgar or profane language. To discourage anonymous comments of cowardly nature, your IP address will be logged and posted next to your comment.
  • Do not respond to another person's comment out of context. If he made the original comment on another page/blog entry, go to that entry and respond there.
  • If all you want to do is contact the blogger and your comment is not connected with this entry and has no relevance to others, send a private message instead.
Only registered users with public blogs are allowed to post comments. Log in with your username and password or create an account and set up a blog.
Debt Reduction Calculator

Featured Announcements
New Kids on the Blog
(need a welcome):