Races – The Charles River YMCA 4th of July Road Race

Independence Day started with the Charles River YMCA Fourth of July Road Race in Needham,  Mass. It was a humid morning and the run was tough, but I managed a 25 minute gun time and a 24:22 chip time. Here is a map of the course.


Charles River YMCA 5k Race Course

Charles River YMCA 5k Race Course

The weather was cloudy and humid that morning, which made for a hard run. My times were good, but they have me wondering whether I might be able to train better and do a better job in these races.

In mile two, there were to women running near me who were carrying on a conversation as though this were an average jog. They passed me — one was wearing a SPI belt by the way — and I did not catch up with them later. I was also passed by a guy pushing two kids in a jogging stroller. I think I did catch him at the end. It is worth noting that the winner of the race, who did it in 16:08 was in my age group of 40-49 year-old men. There were men and women in their 50s and 60s who were running in the 7-minute mile range.

Now, it is the road to madness to compare yourself with all the other runners out there. I am not the most consistent runner, and I realize that some people are faster and slower. But, all of this got me thinking about what my potential is. It is hard to say whether I would ever be able to achieve times as fast as winner, but it does make me wonder what levels of goals are reasonable, what are stretch goals, and what are impossible. What is necessary, of course, is proper training.

I ran across an interesting definition of training in a book on weightlifting. Mark Rippetoe, in Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd Edition writes the following:

Exercise and training are two different things. Exercise is physical activity for its own sake, a workout done for the effect it produces today, during the workout or right after you’re through. Training is physical activity done with a longer-term goal in mind, the constituent workouts of which are specifically designed to achieve that goal.”

The emphasis is his. But he makes an interesting point. I would have to say that for the most part, my workouts are exercise, since I am not doing workouts specifically designed to achieve a goal. So, it looks like I will need to do some research and make some changes to make a faster 5K a reality. More to come on that.

In the meantime, if you have a specific goals or workouts, let me know what they are and how you work toward them. Clearly, I need some advice.


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