Win a Copy of “Idle Feet” at Level Renner

October 20, 2014

lvl-idleVisit the Level Renner blog to learn how you can enter to win a free copy of Idle Feet Do the Devil’s Work! (Hint: it involves subscribing, Facebook likes, and Twitter, all of which are #Free, and a Halloween deadline).

Or order your own copy today to ensure you get to read what Level Renner says, “is ‘just another running book’ like the Boston Marathon is ‘just another road race’.” Pre-order by the end of October, and you’ll save 20-25%!

Read “Idle Feet Do the Devil’s Work” at Fiction on the Web

October 5, 2014

cover2 (Small)Read my new short story, “Idle Feet Do the Devil’s Work” at Fiction on the Web. (It’s the title cut from my forthcoming new book.)

Is it a tongue-in-cheek retelling of the Faustian tale where a man sells his ‘sole’ to the devil?
Or an illustration that winning at all costs comes at a high price?
That some escape?
That some don’t?
That some get hurt?
That ignoring all else, the devil is in taking the short cut, the empty promise, the hollow victory?

Or is it all about the shoes?

(Some readers might recognize the specific USATF-NE Grand Prix series that I used as a base for the story. Who knows? Maybe you were there.)

“Pushing the Curve” in Sept/Oct Level Renner

September 3, 2014

In the new issue of Level Renner magazine, I present some ideas about marathon pacing, and some data that …well… doesn’t contradict my theory.

Read “Pushing the Curve” and decide for yourself if you want to give my strategy a try in your next marathon.

Average Finish Times by Age and Gender for 2014 Boston Marathon

July 17, 2014

(This is the 17th post in a series that started here)

While I was on vacation, a reader asked about the average finish times for each age group at the Boston Marathon, divided by gender. Here’s the data:

Click on any image to enlarge

Click on any image to enlarge

Here’s a chart of the data:

(Quick reminder – this data set does not include wheelchair and handbike racers and is missing a few randomly scattered results due to imperfections in the process of obtaining the data.)

Got any questions? Your answer could be next!

5K splits for Men and Women at the 2013 New York Marathon

July 11, 2014

(This is the 16th post in a series that started here)

After my post comparing 5K splits for women and men at the 2014 Boston Marathon, one reader asked to see comparable data from other years. Unfortunately, the 2013 data set is incomplete, and the BAA doesn’t post 5K splits from years prior to 2013, so 2014 is all we’ve got.

I was able to get 5K split data from the New York and Chicago Marathons for 2013. Gender information wasn’t readily available in the Chicago results, but I was able to create a chart comparing the results from New York for men and women.

As I did for Boston, I divided the results up into half-hour groups, shifting the women’s groups to adjust for the difference in average finish times between men and women (about 25 minutes):

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

The difference between men and women at New York isn’t as distinct as it was in the Boston data, but you can still see that, on average, women seem more likely to be able to pick up the pace at the end of the race than men.

As fun as all this is, you need to keep in mind that these are average results from a wide variety of runners. They have some illustrative value, but they say very little about any individual competitor.

Let’s go back to Boston 2014 for an example to illustrate that point. The average man ran about 3:51, while the average woman ran 4:12-ish. To pick an individual totally at random, I ran a 3:47, which made me slightly faster than the average male. In spite of that, well over 4500 women finished ahead of me.

There’s some optimal pacing strategy, whatever it might be. Most people fail to hit it. On average, men might tend to go out too fast, while the average woman might save a little too much for the end, but individual differences far outweigh any predictive value this might have.

One thing for sure; whether or not you run an optimal race, I know which type of pacing is more fun.

Next post: Boston Marathon finish times by age group and gender.

“Growing Slow Is Mandatory” in Marathon & Beyond:

June 30, 2014

We’re all either struggling with age now, or we will be soon enough. So everyone should read my article, “Growing Slow Is Mandatory” in the July/August Marathon & Beyond!

Marathon 5K Split Distribution by Age

June 25, 2014

(This is the 15th post in a series that started here)

Here’s another look at the 5K splits for Boston 2014, this time divided up by age:

Click any image to enlarge

Click any image to enlarge

And here are the splits for Chicago 2013:

We saw earlier that when we divide up runners by finishing time, the faster runners tend to manage their effort so they have little energy left to accelerate at the end.

When we divide runners by age, it appears that the younger the runner, the more they seem to have left in the tank to expend by speeding up over the last 2K. The older runners don’t pick up the pace as much, if at all.

Even without the data to confirm it, I’m willing to bet that there’s a positive correlation between age and marathon experience. There are always exceptions –  27-year-olds with 15 marathons under their belt, and 60-year-olds running their first marathon – but customarily, the older you are, the more marathons you’ve run.

We generally assume that people learn through experience. Should we assume that experience teaches runners what the fastest runners seem to know, that they do better when they run more aggressively, using up energy earlier instead of saving it for the sprint to the finish?

Or that experience mellows older runners, making them less competitive, less likely to push as hard as possible at the end.

I know a lot of older runners. I’m betting on the former.

We’ll take another look at gender differences in my next post in this series.


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