Friday, November 17, 2006

Talking About Training

I received a nice email from Zeke. He inquired into my program this winter. Running a 2:45 would be a significant improvement. In order to do this I need to be on track and on task. I do have a program and I shared some thoughts about it with him. I share the same thoughts here.

The program I am following is Lydiard's basic 100 mile per week schedule with specific workouts taken from Renato Canova. Here is how it transpired.

Leading up to Wineglass I had "finally had enough" of poor training and decided I would stop talking about Lydiard and actually follow the mileage program. No hills, no speed, no coordination - just miles - for now. I did 5 weeks of 100 miles and that in addition to my current conditioning (not totally lost over a summer of injury) I was able to run with significantly improved fuel economy - which in a marathon is what it's all about (until you're very fast). But for now, fuel economy is king.

While this training was going on, I went back and re-read an article by Renato Canova that has always intrigued me. It can be found here: This article talks about the phase of training after the 'base' or 'basic' training. He enumerates two important concepts: Aerobic Resistance and Aerobic Power.

Please read the article. You will see that it is very similar to everything else that we read, hear, and talk about. It's not groundbreaking or earth shattering. But what struck me was the authority, validity, and logical approach that Renato conveys when he is discussing marathon training.

In a nutshell: Aerobic resistance is building quality quantity - running at marathon pace for long periods of time. Aerobic power is building quality stamina - running at levels that utilize increasing amounts of fibers, generally shorter faster workouts. He sets out tables in the article that illustrate suggested workouts for each type of concept. He feels that both concepts need to be addressed in the training regimen.

This is not new. You will recognize these concepts in just about every training program. Further, Renato's examples are percentages of race pace. Above or below. This makes it easier to calculate the appropriate target pace. This is dangerous however, because a runner can get caught up in trying to meet some "arbitrary" number and ignore signals from the body. Thus a runner could become injured or discouraged.

But two things: 1) the pace target really isn't arbitrary. It is a percentage of a race pace. And 2) if the pace is too fast, just adjust the race pace (for now) and continue. Over time, the race pace can be readjusted back once the ability to *train* is improved. By adjusting race pace, all training paces change accordingly. This way we are not mix & matching, thereby creating our own program to a rotten end.

So you can see my reason for assessment weekly and even daily. Keeping myself as close to the edge within reason.

My first 'go' with Renato ended in disaster. Since he doesn't lay out a program, I thought Aerobic Resistance workouts were the 'easy' days and the Aerobic Power workouts were the 'quality' days. Boy was I wrong. I lasted 2 weeks before crashing. I don't have the ability to *train* at that level. I need recovery.

Then I read an article in Running Times that Marc pointed out to me. It was an article concerning recovery running and how it wasn't really 'recovery' per se, but rather a good dose of 'balance' inserted into the regimen. This hit home (again). I've always known this, but to re-read it made sense again. Keeping the miles up by running high mileage 'recovery' running created the balance I needed to run triple digits to gain the benefits of voluminous running - documented everywhere as extremely beneficial - and running high end aerobic running to gain the best conditioning possible.

Enter Lydiard again! Looking at Lydiard's standard schedule:

M 15 miles 1/4 effort (easy)
Tu 10 miles 1/2 effort (hard - MP)
W 15 miles 1/4 effort (easy)
Th 12 miles 1/2 effort ( hard - MP)
F 18 miles 1/4 effort (easy)
Sa 10 miles 3/4 effort (hard -tempo)
Su 22 miles 1/4 effort (long)

The easy volume days are listed and the quality days are listed. It is laid out quite simply. I know there is debate about hard / medium vs. hard / easy but I think that is a matter about one's ability to *train* at that level. I can't take the back to back heat so I stay out of that particular kitchen (for now). On the other hand, Saturday to Sunday seems like a good example of back to back given the two quality workouts in a row.

Nevertheless, I need 100 miles per week to gain the true benefits of voluminous running. Lydiard has said that if you can't do the mileage, then slow down. That means something to me. It means that the miles really, really count. More than the paces. I think it is because once you sacrifice the miles for better paces, you not only short change yourself in the long run, you make it difficult psychologically to decide to run more miles (because you have to run them slower). Better to go long and then speed up as you adapt.

Secondly, I need to run 26.2% of those miles at or near MP. That is a standard rule followed by elites. This can be done in a number of ways (the list is endless) but I decided to take my workouts from Renato's tables - and alternate between an Aerobic Resistance workout and an Aerobic Power workout. Therefore, on the 1/2 effort and 3/4 effort days, I insert a Renato workout accordingly. It is Lydiard's base building program spelled out.

And lastly, about 8 weeks out from the marathon, we switch to Rhythm Training where we drop the mileage for better recovery and run more MP specific training paces for longer distances. Again, refer to the article.

This skips hill work and speed work that Lydiard promotes. That doesn't mean they are not necessary, I am just not doing them on this cycle. No program is ideal because we are all limited in terms of time, ability, and the different key issues we are working on.

Since the Wineglass Marathon, I have had 2 weeks of no running, and then 4 weeks of preparatory mileage: 56, 52, 72, 61. I had only intended to run 2 weeks of prep work but the little injuries and fatigue that popped up dictated otherwise. So I learned a good lesson immediately of the value of re-assessing, re-evaluating. Yet, I did the assessment with the goal of getting there, not stepping back. If I step back, it is with the view of moving forward. No guilt, just determination.

I am just now starting the "real program" that spells out some specific workouts. There may come instances where I'll have to back down. Not a failure, it's proof I'm pushing the envelope - but with a little more intelligence this time.

Here's next week's schedule. It is not cut in stone and can be adjusted depending on assessment:

Week 2

11/20 – Core workout: 15 miles recovery. Target pace: none. Purpose: recovery.

11/21 – Core workout: 10 miles w/embedded 20’ Fast Progression Run. 2 mile w/u at recovery pace. 20 minutes @ paces from 6:12 to 5:51. [ 20 mins @ 102 – 108% MP]. Final 5 miles at recovery pace. Purpose: Aerobic Power.

11/22 – Core workout: 15 miles recovery. Target pace: none. Purpose: recovery.

11/23 – Core workout: 3.5 mile competition w/warmup & cooldown miles.

11/24 – Core workout: 18 miles recovery. Target pace: none. Purpose recovery.

11/25 – Core workout: 10 miles Long Speed Variations. 3x5k with target paces increasing from 6:09 to 5:55 w/3 min recovery. w/u & c/d. Purpose: Aerobic Power.

11/26 – Core workout: Long run 22 miles. Target pace: 7:55. Purpose: Aerobic Resistance.


Blogger Love2Run said...

Man. that's alot of detail but I know where you're coming from! Can I tag along and try for a sub 3? So we're running 7:55 pace next week... What's up for this weekend?

11/17/2006 6:51 PM  
Blogger Chad Austin said...

Thanks again for the email Andrew. Glad you posted it here for everyone else too.

So you're jumping from 70 to 100? I know you've been at 100 before, so it's probably not a big deal.

I'm trying to ramp up and have gone from 40 to 57 to 65 and that seems quick. Maybe I need to take the "kid gloves" off.

11/17/2006 8:14 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Fantastic post, Andrew. Thanks for sharing this. I'll refer back to it often.

11/17/2006 9:06 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Very thoughtful post Andrew, and a very detailed plan. The progression runs and focus on marathon pace, as well as the big miles several days a week should definitely bring you serious results.

I do want to mention how much good I feel running hills has done for me, though it's not for everyone and you're right about it being hard to fit everything in.

I do have to wonder about that study on the American marathon trials runners. Do you think their recovery runs are part of that percentage? If not, that would definitely move that number down. I don't know myself, but i'd like to see the survey.

Again, good plan. Thanks for sharing it.

11/19/2006 8:17 AM  

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