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'Over distance' can help your Cap 10 training

Brom Hoban

Moe's Better Half Marathon in San Marcos next Sunday is, at 13.1 miles, just over twice as long as the Statesman Capitol 10,000's 6.2-mile jaunt. Yet running Moe's can fit in nicely with training that leads up to the Cap 10, which is scheduled for April 11.

It's called "over distance" training, and it's a concept that's been widely used by coaches to prepare for races of all distances. Moe's, which is run along the rolling ridges east of I-35 near the Tanger Outlet Center, is longer and tougher than the 10K, so you will want to tone down the pace.

In fact, keeping a relatively long run as part of your spring training can serve you well even for 5K events. Alberto Salazar, now one of the country's top distance coaches, once simultaneously held the American records for the 5,000, the 10,000 and the marathon. Salazar felt that each performance contributed to the other — the speed of the 10,000 contributed to the marathon, and the stamina of the marathon contributed to his (then) 27:25 record in the 10K.

And let's not forget Dathan Ritzenhein, who placed 11th in the London Marathon in January 2009, then went on to run the 10,000 in 27:22 in Germany in mid-August and 12:56 in the 5,000 11 days later in Switzerland.

The point is that, while there's no doubt that shorter races require speed training, "over distance" training provides a kind of toughness you're not going to find anywhere else. A weekly long run of around 12 miles should do the trick.

"I think primarily, ‘over distance' training should be done aerobically (running without going into oxygen debt)," says Steve Sisson, assistant women's track and cross country coach for the University of Texas, and a former All-America runner for UT.

But Sisson also agrees that running longer and harder, as in racing a half-marathon, can work well for 10K training."The half-marathon is so forgiving that it allows a 10K runner to run it a little slower. But in the latter miles, your body is going through similar feelings and challenges to a 10K race. So the half allows you to see what you can handle."

Sisson points out that during a half marathon, at some point in time, you're going to have to go "all-in," committing to finish strong.

"In both the 10K and half-marathon, you're going to have to see what you can sustain to the finish. But because the half is so forgiving, you can back off a bit. The half is a great race to run before (a 10K) to get a feel for that," he said. "The 10K is not so forgiving."

Sisson knows a thing or two about racing the 10K. He won the Cap 10 in 1992.

Upcoming races:

Sunday

ARA - Moe's Better Half-Marathon, 7 a.m. at the Tanger Outlet Center, San Marcos. See www.sanmarcosrunners.org.

Armadillo Dash 5K and Half-Marathon, 7 a.m. in College Station. Visit www.armadillodash.com.

Trail Setter 5K & Kids Fun Run, 8 a.m. at the Twin Lakes Family YMCA, Cedar Park. See www.runtex.com.