Thursday, November 02, 2006

It's all coming back to me now.

Another run without Motrin - before or after. Things are looking good. The times are slow with the HR hovering between 65% - 70%. That's ok, since the purpose of this week's training is recovery. I have the suspicion that I'll be running at these low HR numbers for a little while longer even as the program progresses to hard/easy (right now the only variable is the distance per day). Easy/easy will be the ticket until all my parts can handle the increased intensity.

My intensity breakdown currently:

Frequency: 14 sessions per week (high intensity)
Time: Variable. 60 minutes / 90 minutes w/30 minute evening supplemental (moderate intensity)
Distance: Variable. ~7 miles / 11 miles w/3.5 miles evenings (moderate intensity)
Speed: 65% - 70% HR or 8:00+ to 9:00+. (Low intensity)

The multiple sessions means no days off and twice daily running. This can wear you out but also provides significant benefits in terms of mileage. It is recommended by Lydiard and easy evening (or morning) running is found in many schedules. Initially, this factor alone provided me with all the symptoms of fatigue. I wasn't bone tired, just dragging like I should eat or something. I wasn't even running that many miles to begin with but the 12 hour gap (instead of 24 hours) between workouts, however easy, really increased the intensity factor. I attribute my immediate knee problem to this factor. But as the old adage goes, curing most running injuries involves more running. So over time, the knee adapted to the double sessions and the aches and pains lessened as the days went on. This was achieved by paying strict attention to the other intensity variables. By varying the time and distance each day, I simulated hard/easy and by keeping the speed as slow as appropriate I got the miles in. There will be other aches and pains coming I am sure; since once one pain goes away, another invariably replaces it.

While the frequency was my only variable at a high level of intensity, the others were moderate or low. The time and distance factors I consider to be at a moderate level as these will jump, very soon, into the triple digits (for weekly mileage) and over 2 hours for 4 of the week's 14 sessions. There is a possibility that over time my Monday and Wednesday workouts (15 miles) will take me less than 2 hours but right now it is safe to say 2 hours is a good target on these days. Afterall, these days are "easy" and everyone knows I have a healthy spread between my fast paces and my slower paces. Someday I'll recover at quicker easy paces but anything forced on these days just ruins the quality on Tues, Thurs, and Saturday.

Speed, the last variable, has been kept at a very low intensity. And it will continue to be so until the signs are present that I am recovered from the marathon and that benefits will accrue with the application of increased paces. The full blown training plan calls for MP running on 3 days per week give or take a few percents on either side depending on the specific workout. This means HR's near 80% - 90%. At this HR, it takes concentration. It's just the level of intensity that you know you can continue (at least for an hour) but quite frankly, you'd rather not. By concentrating during the training, the pace can be maintained and there is plenty of literature out there on how maximal benefits are attained by running at this intensity.

The typical Lydiard base building plan (102 miles per week in single sessions) has 3 sessions devoted to running at this intensity resulting in about 32 miles at MP. This means 70% of the week's mileage (or greater if there is a daily supplemental run) is at a low intensity. Just how low is dependent upon the runner's current conditioning level. Better put, it is dependent on the runner's ability to recover. The quickest way to defeat is over-training. But over-training comes not from running too hard really, it comes from not recovering. And many times, we feel that we're ready to tackle the next hard workout when really we're not, or worse, we refuse to run at paces deemed "too slow" to have any benefit. In the end, we're in serious trouble as the muscles force the recovery in a way very unpleasant. Many decide to take a day of rest instead of running slower paces. This helps with recovery but cheats the runner from the benefits of maximum mileage. Perhaps days off are more appropriate when we are no longer trying to build aerobic capacity but rather are working on fine tuning our racing skills.

In marathon training, most benefits accrue to the runner from significant sustained weekly mileage. However, typical speeds run at shorter daily distances (5 - 7 miles) cannot be sustained for very long at longer distances and therefore, horrible problems arise almost immediately from the increased mileage. Running faster at the expense of running longer will not improve marathon performance as much as could be possible. This is because most of us lack the necessary capacity to transport oxygen to the legs (not to mention utilizing it once it's delivered). This aerobic capacity is increased through aerobic running - long aerobic running. You may solve the shoe issue, the Gu issue, hydration and weather issues of a marathon, but it really comes down to the blood vessels. The more you have, the better it'll be.

The neat thing about blood vessels (or mitochondria or capillaries, or whatever I mean) is that they do not go away. This is what is meant when it is said that your aerobic conditioning doesn't really diminish over short periods of time (although there is "peaking"). Runners will run at a certain level, get injured, and come back and run almost exactly at the same level as before after some very short training. Why? Because they never lost the previously built aerobic system. Quickly re-trained, the runner processes oxygen at the same rate as before resulting in very similar times. Is this anybody you know? If the runner wants to improve, he has to do more extensive and intensive training to get the body to create additional pathways.

With limited time each day to devote to training, we must prioritize our training regimen to focus on what will produce the greatest results in our chosen distance. For marathons, we'll find this mostly like to be continuous high mileage training at intensities that promote multiple month training.

Training so far this week:

Purpose: Recovery and prep for full program

Sunday: 3.5 miles AM 8:34 pace
3.74 miles PM 8:07 pace

Monday: 11.24 miles AM 8:03 pace
3.52 miles PM 8:34 pace

Tuesday: 7.4 miles AM 8:11 pace
3.65 miles PM 8:24 pace

Wednesday: 10.4 miles AM 8:53 pace
3.6 miles PM 8:36 pace

Thursday: 7.4 miles AM 8:22 pace

Have a good day!


Blogger Love2Run said...

So when do you find time to sleep, eat and work? All I can see is running, more running and some 'so-called' recovery in between. Motrin free to eh? Have you been dipping your legs in the freezing ocean after all your runs too? Andrew, the running machine!

11/02/2006 7:57 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I see a train WRECK in the works with this kind of training.

Actually, your post is something I will need to read again and digest. more ltr :-)

11/02/2006 9:09 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Sounds to me like you've done your homework. Best of luck!

11/02/2006 9:23 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

okay, I took a good read through and found myself agreeing with a few principles. btw, nicely written up you have done some homework.

Which leads to the question of how much endurance do you have already? Are there not more Andrew marathons than fingers? at least almost

Seems like the capillaries are established, speed is needed and recovery between sessions. This would lend to fewer miles and runs.

Another consideration for recovery is active walking. It's better than lying on the couch and not demanding as another run.

What are your shorter race times?

Oh yeh, to really commit to a goal "significantly improve" tells your sub-conscious nothing. Establish it with numbers.

I don't know why I am so critical with you. Maybe, it was your post ROC ice bath stunts. :-) Just want to see you perform to the max. -mark

11/03/2006 2:16 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Nicely summarized. There is a lot of effort involved in just maintaining the schedule you have laid out. Keep in mind that it is generally the elite runner that follows this type of plan for long periods of time, and, importantly, it takes long periods of time and some luck to build up to this type of schedule.

Which is not to say you can't do it. You certainly can. Just think long term and exercise caution, like you are currently doing.

Good for you for not resting on your well-deserved sub-3 laurels! Take care.

11/05/2006 3:22 PM  

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