Hot Cider Hustle 5k Race Recap

How to beat your 5k PR of 26min36sec by 3 minutes 

Let me start by saying I had no idea that 796 would finish this race, let along start it. It was a rainy, damp, and cold sunday morning. Kudos to all the runners and walkers that came out in the name of fitness.  

Rewind several months. I was ticking off 8 to 9 minute miles running the local portions of the Appalachian trail here in south central Pennsylvania. But I wasn't getting any faster. I decided to incorporate training via the Maffetone method, simply because this is part of what I teach as a health/fitness coach. Might as well, right? In a nutshell, this takes you away from a chronic cardio pattern and has you run at or below your maximum aerobic fitness level. A basic formula for this is to keep your heart rate under 180-your age. For me, this was 145. To my surprise, my 8-9 minute miles turned into 13-15 minute miles.  

You might be thinking, why do that?  That doesn't seem like it will work.  Run slow to run faster.  Well, Lightning McQueen didn't believe Doc Hudson when he told him if to turn right to go left. And we all have seen the dramatic ending of Cars to know Doc was right. And drifting is a thing.  

So I committed to this type of training. This often kept me running slow than all my friends on group runs. I was always at the back of the pack, stopping to climb trees, take photos, and do some trail maintenance. It actually wasn't so bad. I began to enjoy running at a comfortable pace, having easy recovery, and being refreshed and energized after my runs. But in the back of my mind I wondered if my combination of the right diet and this new exercise plan was working.  

I decided to put my training to the test by signing up for a 14.5 mile trail race in the technical mountains of Michaux State Forest. The race had over 2000' of elevation and technical it was. I finished in about 3 hours and 45 minutes.  It wasn't too far out from mid pack and I finished feeling good.  That night I played full court basketball for over an hour.  And my recovery was great.  Hardly any muscle soreness or fatigue at all.  Though, I wasn't impressed.  

I know, you're probably thinking what my problem is.  That's really impressive.  But I thought I would be faster.  

Enter the Hot Cider Hustle 5k.  I decided to go for it. Really let it rip. Throw heart rate to the wind. So I just ran. I didn't know how fast I was going. I felt good. I felt real good. I was still working, for sure. But I always had the energy to crack some jokes and try to get people in a good mood along the run. When I made the corner and saw the clock, I was ecstatic. I sprinted to the finish with excellent form in my five finger shoes with a time of 23 minutes and 47 seconds. I had beaten my previous personal best from one year ago by 3 minutes.    

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I guess that means MAF works to get faster.  It took less than a minute to bring my heart rate back down to a  normal level, though I wasn't wearing my monitor. I'm still kind of in disbelief that I actually did that. And for the most part, it wasn't hard. The hardest part was actually running slower to train. 


RunningJonathan Geiman