Runner Profiles: Phil Young

In Runner Profiles, we interview runners that have achieved recent success. You won’t find interviews from professional runners who have shoe sponsorships and can train all day, but you will find tips and insight from runners like the rest of us. In this profile we speak with Phil Young from Iowa. Scott made a 5 minute improvement from the 2011 to 2012 Chicago Marathons.

1. What are your best times for your favorite race distances?
  • 3k: 8:56
  • 5k: 15:31
  • Half Marathon: 1:10:59
  • Marathon: 2:30:37

2. You ran nearly five minutes faster in the 2012 Chicago Marathon compared with the 2011 Chicago Marathon. Did you train differently leading up to the 2012 race?
Yes and no. CHI 2012 was my 10th marathon, and 7th Chicago. With each marathon, I’ve certainly grown in my knowledge of how to attack the race. 2012 was actually a pretty ugly run if you look at my splits, which speaks to the fact that I’ve yet to figure it out! As far as training goes, one element I added and found very beneficial was putting in long, upbeat tempo runs as warm-ups to races. Every so often I’d race a 5k or 10k during the summer and would toe the line with 10-15 hard miles in my legs. I found that performing while fatigued at a fast pace was a very good simulation for the later stages of the marathon!

3. What was your average weekly mileage in the months leading up to the 2012 race? Did you do any speed workouts (i.e. tempo runs, intervals, fartleks, etc.) or long runs (i.e. runs longer than 10 miles)?

I peaked in the mid 90′s for a few weeks, but the load of weeks were around 80. Balancing life, family, work, training, etc., as everyone else can attest to, is a challenge! Speed work for me shows up in many forms: I love to race, so there were probably 7-10 races of varying distance thrown into the 20 weeks leading up to Chicago. Some might disagree with this approach (racing so frequently), but for me, it’s a joy; it’s a huge reason I run; I love to race!

Also, weekly sessions of “Yasso 800′s” actually became a good habit for me. They are a great gauge of fitness, especially when you can do 10-12 of them and keep things consistent. I also do a lot of upbeat longer runs. Throwing 5 hard miles into a 20 miler, or running negative splits for an entire long run of 16-22 really helps me. I think too many people get one 20 mile run in and call it good; it’s not wonder we all bonk later in the race. Long, strong efforts have helped simulate marathon race day for me. Finally, yes, plenty of long runs. When you average 80 in 7 runs, almost every run is over 10. If we use 20 as a gauge, I’d say I had 7 or 8 runs of 20+ during my session before Chicago 2012.

4. How do you find time to train during the week? Do you run in the mornings or evenings?

Mornings! The alarm goes off before 5 at least once if not twice a week for me. I also manage a run specialty store, which does mean sneaking off for a mid-day run is probably easier than it is for most working folks. Not only can I make the call myself if I feel like the store is covered well, but putting miles into a new pair of shoes or on a new route in town are things that I need to be doing as an expert at the store anyway!

5. Besides training, how do you explain your awesome improvement in the 2012 race?

Experience. Like I said, it was number 10 for me. Hopefully 11, 12, and 13 are even better. I’m also probably hitting my prime physically right now, and it was a pretty ideal day weather wise. There were a handful of factors! The training, though, certainly played the biggest role.

6. Are you going to race the Chicago Marathon again this year? Are you making any adjustments in your training?

For the first time in 8 years, nope. No Chicago! My wife Jackie and I are expecting our second child the day of the race! I will, however, be making my triathlon debut at IM Wisconsin in September!

7. What advice would you give to a runner who wants to run his or her first marathon?

Stay healthy! Do multiple long runs (and get over 20 once or twice). DO NOT go out too hard; stick with the plan, as you’ll pay for the “too fast” miles later in the race. Make friends to train with!

Thanks for your time Phil!

Please let us know about other successful runners that should be included in Runner Profiles.

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