Covered Bridges Half Marathon-A Community based road race. Runs the first Sunday in June. The Best 13.1 miles in New England. Experience some of Vermont's Covered Bridges and support local charities.

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Welcome to Ask Jim-2018-TBA

March 4th, 2017 – Sunny, wind chill -10F

Intrepid Runners,
Now is a really good a time to start thinking about June 4th.

Think – half marathon preparation, 13 weeks to go…

Yes, the 26th running of the Covered Bridges Half Marathon is a mere three months off. Remember, back in December, when you sat staring at your computer waiting, like Gary Cooper in the showdown in the classic western “High Noon”, to pull the trigger on your mouse and register for the most coveted high marathon in New England (world)? Well, you are “in” and now it’s time to make your journey satisfying and memorable (for all the right reasons). We can do this. I want to help.

Last year’s race was my most enjoyable half marathon ever. Why? I let my body do what I had prepared it to do and “I” just went along for the ride. Easy for you to say, you say? Well, I say anybody can enjoy a half marathon from start to finish whether it’s your first or your 100th. And, here’s the secret = set a reasonable goal, start training early, be patient and don’t over train. If there is one thing I have learned from 60 years of running, and I’m somewhat embarrassed to say it took my stubborn self a long time to get the message, it’s that recovery time is just as important as training time. The road to running fitness is not a straight line: You don’t run straight up the training pyramid to get to the top. No, like a climber acclimating herself to climb Mt. Everest, you establish a base camp and you climb up a little, then climb down and rest, then climb up a little higher, until you are ready to take one last break and then go for the summit.

“Periodization” is the fancy name for this training technique. A rule of thumb is that it takes your body about three weeks to adapt to applied stress (quality workouts). This adaptation by your body is also called “training effect”. Picture the elevation profile of an ascent up a mountain (your training pyramid). In this case it’s a 12-week climb. Within each week you schedule 2 quality workouts (intervals, hilly runs, longer runs with “tempos”) surrounded by easy runs and rest days. Within each one-month block, you increase your weekly mileage gradually for three weeks, then you back off for a week. The 3 one-month blocks (12 weeks in all) follow a similar pattern with the exception of the last week of the third block, in which you taper back your efforts and prepare for the big day.

Jimmy’s Magic Formula to Run Your Most Enjoyable Half Marathon

Monday – easy run, Tuesday - easy run or cross train (bike, hike, walk), swim, Wednesday - intervals on the road or track or do a hilly run, Thursday – rest day, Friday – easy run, Saturday – easy run or cross train, Sunday longer run.

Same as week one except your total mileage for the week should increase by 10-15%. You can switch up a rest day with an easy run day, just be sure you leave at least three non-quality workout days between your two quality days.

Same idea. Up your weekly miles by 10-15% and follow the same pattern of quality days followed by easier days.

Same schedule except run comfortably during your quality workouts (no huffing and puffing) and decrease your weekly mileage from week 3 by 20%. Be patient and let your body take a break during week 4.

Follow same weekly pattern as weeks 1 - 4, increase weekly mileage by 10-15% and cut back on quality workout effort and on weekly mileage from week 7 by 20%.

WEEK 9-12
Follow same weekly pattern for the third 4-week block except week 12 is “taper week”.

Taper Week
Monday and Tuesday – easy run < 6 miles followed by 4 - 8 x 50-100 meter “strides” (accelerations to a little faster than race pace)

Wednesday – “fartlek” = after warm-up jog of not more than 1 mile, then run alternating bouts of 1-2 minutes at race pace, followed by 1-2 minutes jogging, ending with a cool-down of not more than 1 mile, for a total of between 5 – 10 miles, depending on your fitness level. Less is always better than more during “taper week” but you also want to run short bursts at race pace.

Thursday – Saturday: no more than 3 miles easy run with 4 – 8 x 50-100 meter ”strides”. Run “tall” and relax…

Jimmy’s Magic Formula may look very familiar to you or it may look like Greek. Feel free to post questions on the “Ask Jim” blog or email me directly with questions about your training.

I am happy to make personalized suggestions. Need help picking a reasonable race pace? Want suggestions for interval workouts, tempos or hilly runs? Want to know what is a good starting weekly mileage for you?

Email me and tell me about your running and I will help you get started.
Zooooooooooom to that…Time to start crankin’


The Upper Valley Running Club is organizing a series of Saturday training runs on the CBHM course leading up the race day. Watch the UVRC Meetup site for upcoming details.


You can publicly write a comment here in the comments section or you can privately email Jim at the address above.

Thank You Jim for providing this information for our runners!
See you all soon,
Mike, Bill and the Race Committee


Ask Jim said...

Ask Jim: I received an excellent question from a runner who is injured. She registered for the race in December and is coming all the way across the country and doesn't want to miss out. "Is it ok to run/walk the race?" she wondered. My short answer to her was, "You will not be alone." To go one step further, there is great story behind the last finisher in the 2015 CBHM. Cindy Glueck walked and ran the race in 4:13...only 6 months after her kidney transplant. Cindy's is an inspiration to all of us!

Jim Burnett said...

One month to go! Are you getting excited? One month from race day (actually four weeks or this coming Sunday) is a good time to do your last long training run. The distance of this run will vary for different runners, but as you head into next week's training, it should be with the idea of starting to decrease your weekly mileage. If you ran 50 miles this week, for example, then run 40 miles next week (20% drop), 32 miles the next week, 25 miles the week after that, then finally a total of only 10-12 miles prior to race day the final week of training. (You can apply the general concept of dropping your mileage by about 20% per week over the last four weeks to your current weekly mileage.) Shorten the overall distance of your quality workouts (intervals, tempos, fartlek, hills) and the duration of their periods of intensity. But, don't stop doing your weekly quality workouts until race week. Even during race week you should mix in a few (3-5) short (50-100 meters) pickups or strides that increase your speed to race pace or a little bit faster. As you can gather, tapering is tricky. Your goal is to get to the starting line on race day with "fresh legs" and then "trust your training." Go get 'em!

Jim Burnett said...

An Upper Valley Running Club friend asked me how much Gatorade to consume during a half marathon? Actually, hydration for a half marathon should start the day before the race. It is always a good idea and a necessity when it's going to be warm on race day. As for race day, plan on consuming water and Gatorade (or some other electrolyte replacement brand) throughout the race. How much? When? On a hot day drink early and often. I like to wash down my Gatorade with water every three miles or so. Use both hands to get at least a half cup of each. An energy boosting GU packet 2/3 of the way through the race provides a little lift as well. After you run hard and sweat for more than an hour, leg cramps (calves, quads, hamstrings) are more likely to develop and slow you down. It's a really good idea to practice drinking from a cup and ingesting GU during your training runs. With practice, you can slip by two or three racers at each stop. The best way to get liquids down when you're running is to slow down just a bit to make sure you grasp the cup without spilling, pinch the top and pour carefully into your mouth while still running/jogging. But, watch out for other runners who may slam on the breaks in front of you in order to walk and drink. So, plan ahead and move through water stops efficiently. You might even be able to smile at the finish!

Jim Burnett said...

Runners - I just wanted to pass along an opportunity open to local runners as they train for CBHM 2017. The Upper Valley Running Club (UVRC) is organizing long training runs on the CBHM course every other Saturday leading up to the race on June 4th. Last Saturday I joined in and tagged along while 15 or so runners broke into pace groups and ran from the 5-mile marker at Billings Farm to the 9-mile marker and back. The training runs on the race course alternate with regular UVRC Saturday runs starting at Omer & Bob's in Lebanon NH on the following schedule.
April 22nd: Omer and Bob’s, 9 miles.
April 29th: Billings Farm to CBHM mile 10 and back, 10 miles.
May 6th: Omer and Bob’s, 12 miles.
SUNDAY, May 14th: Full course, meet at Suicide Six, 13 miles, carpool back.
May 20th: Omer and Bob’s, 12 miles.
May 27th: Billings Farm, 8 miles.
June 4th: Race day!
Come join in the fun!