Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The point that is often missed in the Lydiard System

Arthur was notice worldwide after Peter Snell's, Murray Halberg's and Barry Magee's performances at the 1960 Olympics. Before that point he spent a good part of 15 years developing his system using himself as the subject. What he learned from these years as much to do with the nervous system as it did with the cardio-respiratory system and muscular systems.

Arthur's earlier (pre 1964) talks and writings referenced the nervous system as much or more than the cardio-respiratory or muscular systems. With quotes like "I have found the marathon training not only increased efficiency of the cardio-respiratory system more quickly but also had a more beneficial effect on the nervous system", "We all know we have to be racing fit to win championships but if we were to race and do fast work continually , the strain would eventually wear down our condition so that we become jaded mentally and physically" and finally "Train don't strain"

One point I watch for as a coach is how well runners follow the "train don't strain" advice. During the Marathon conditioning phase I love to see post that say "I don't feel like I'm training", "My legs just floated along" and "Just drifted along for two hours". They all indicated that the mind is not using valuable willpower that will be needed during the speed phase. Running and recovery have become a habit with no though given to pushing things (like pace and recovery).

The nervous system only has to be gradually stressed over 3-6 weeks and left to recover for 2-4 to achieve a top performance. I see runners push too long with too many long runs or hard speed workouts and they end up as Arthur said "Leaving it on the training track".

So for the coming year make sure that during the Marathon training phase you use your willpower to roll out the door then switch to turning off the willpower and make that run an enjoyable experience that you'll want to visit again the next day.

Have a Happy and successful New Year.

Mystery Coach

Friday, February 04, 2011

Evaluating the Eval Run (part 2)

To summarize from the last post the eval run should be about 25 minutes long  at a pace about 30 beats lower than your peak heart rate.

One other aspect of the eval run should be recorded, the time it take the heart rate to drop about 30 beats (twenty-five to thirty beats). Heart rate recovery has two distinct phases, the first phase has a time constant of 70-90 seconds and a secondary phase with a time constant of about an hour. The first phase reading can give you an indication of effort and fatigue.

To see how this works go out on a comfortable run and stop after 15 minutes and see how long it takes your heart rate to drop 30 beats (or 25) then continue the run for another 15 minutes and take another reading, continue with a few more 15 minutes segments and readings.  At first your heart rate will take longer and longer to drop the 25-30 beats as you get fitter you’ll see that your heart rate will continue to drop at a rapid rate for a larger number of the 15 minute segments. You may not run a faster pace but your system becomes more efficient at staying in a steady state.

For real world example of how the eval run works during the a build, below are the results from Thomas'  who writes the  Diary of a Rubbish Marathon Runner blog.

Marathon build phase October 2010 – January 2011:

Average Heart Rate

161.75

160.75

161.00

161.50

Days from Start

0

28

56

84

Date

19-Oct

16-Nov

14-Dec

11-Jan

         

Mile 1

6:40

6:44

6:51

6:44

Mile 2

6:55

6:57

6:53

6:47

Mile 3

7:14

6:59

6:56

6:49

Mile 4

7:16

7:02

6:55

6:52

Time to 130

0:42

0:39

0:36

0:39

As you can see Thomas’ first two miles changed very little (from an average of 6:48/mile to 6:46/mile) but his last two miles made a big improvement in his ability to maintain a steady state ( from 7:15/mile down to 6:51/mile, a 24 second per mile improvement). 

This is the type improvement in stamina that runner should look for during the Marathon conditioning phase. It will serve you well in your recovery from hard workouts.

The next post will cover the  methods of building speed without eroding the stamina that you have built.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Evaluating the Eval Run

One of the evaluation tools that has been part of the Lydiard system since the beginning has been the time trail. Arthur came to realize that the words “time trial” had runners thinking of an all out effort (racing with no reward) and spent a lot of lectures clarifying how they should be run and what should be accomplished by them.

In his book Running to the Top (Meyer & Meyer Verlag) he recommended that the best way to test for personal fitness levels was to run a measured distance an a regular basis, then to take after-run  pulse checks so you could chart the improvement of your recovery rate.

I break the eval runs into two different types; one test for steady state fitness the other test for the runners reaction to racing type  stresses. The focus of this post will be on the steady state fitness test.

Arthur recommended a run of 5 kilometers or a run of 15 minutes at the steady state then testing heart rate recovery times. In collecting data on runners over the years I have found that a run of about 25 minutes works very well. The first 10 minutes gives the systems time to stabilize and the next 15 minutes gives a good reading into the fitness of the runner.  The lactate processing system seems to kick in at a high level after 10 minutes then it stabilize.  So how fast should this eval run be? Arthur gave a number of examples of of how fast he thought the steady state was and it fits in with work that Farrell did, about .25 miles per hour slower than marathon pace (8 to 15 seconds slower than marathon pace). To make it easy just subtract 30 beats from your max heart rate (this is probably slower but for the test it works well).

Now we have a speed and a duration for the eval, the next post will explain how to evaluate it.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

It’s not how it’s when.

When I talk to coaches they are very good at telling me how to train athletes and they have the latest research to support it. Looking at the Lydiard system it is not about how (everyone knows how) but it is about when. Arthur’s basic points deal with with when; stamina before speed, the potential of the athlete (based on age) and how much time before the peak. How is easy, when is hard. The next post will decrypted the evaluation process.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Looking for three volunteers

Of course volunteering for something involves some risk but there can be great rewards. I am looking for three runners who will be coached by me to their next important race. While it won’t cost you anything monetarily  it will take a task, running time and some writing time.

This is the deal; I will provide a complete schedule, an individual pacing profile for your ability, and full email support to guide you, using the Lydiard system, to your next race.

First the task: Send a post card from your hometown (preferably about your hometown) to:

Mystery Coach

PO box 152

Laurel, FL  34272

include your email,  your blog (if you have one), and what race you are training for

Second: You’ll try the workouts (hey it is much easier to write them than do them)

Third: You’ll write in a blog and write honestly on your thoughts on the  training  (if you have questions or criticisms  put them in your blog , there are no penalties)

Mystery Coach

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Arthur Lydiard's Preliminary Road Training


When a discussion starts about the hill training phase of Arthur's system most of the talk is about the uphill exercises, hill springing, bounding and high knee lifts. Next the talk will go to the downhill fast striding but then very little is said about the preliminary road training that he recommended. This training which was done on the flat section after the fast downhill section consisted of a small amount of short (50-700 yard) fast runs that could be done in a half mile or so stretch every 15 minutes (The original schedule is at the end of this post in a table). This preliminary work is just as important as the hill sections and in some ways is the key to getting the most benefit from your hard speed work.

Let's look at the major benefits that come from this work. After you have finished your Marathon training phase your muscles will act like the diagram below:


The rate of oxygen use has been low and the production of excess lactate and ions also has been low. The muscle fiber has been working in a low stress environment. Let say at this point you set out to run a hard speed workout, lets see what would happen; first the oxygen would drop very low on the inside of the fiber because the fiber wall has not been used to suppling oxygen at a high rate, second the mitochondria would not be able to process the lactate that is building up internally and finally the fiber wall which has not had to deal with lactate and excess ions struggles to get the lactate out of the cell so it can be used and processed by other organs and muscle fibers. A very unpleasant workout with the damaging effect of ruining the good aerobic enzymes that you have built up during the Marathon training phase.

Now instead you complete four weeks of preliminary speed as outline in the table your muscle fiber will look like this:



Now lets try the hard speed workout, now the oxygen has an easy time getting into the fiber which reduces the amount of lactate produced, the mitochondria which have been exposed to increasing amounts of lactate can now process much more of it and the fiber wall can transfer out the excess lactate and ions so other body systems can process it. Not only will this workout feel easier but the internal environment of the fiber stays hospitable to the aerobic enzymes.

Arthur always cautioned that "Even if you are well conditioned, it is not advisable to suddenly do intense anaerobic training, as many athletes do. Just as you carefully built the aerobic steady state, you must carefully raise the capacity to exercise anaerobically without sacrificing any of that condition. You must guard that condition carefully, as it the foundation on which you build all your future strengths." (Running the Lydiard Way 1978).

When working with athletes I have found that just by having them follow the schedule below (even without the hills parts) before they started hard speed work they performed at a much higher level. Some season give it a try you'll be surprised and happy with the results.

Original Preliminary Road Training Schedule
Set 1 Set 2 Set 3Set 4
Day 1 Week 1 440 ¼ 700 yds. - (30 yd. dashes every 100 yds) 440 yds. ¼

Day 2

3 x 220 yds. ½ Stride

4 x 50 yds. ½

440 yds. ¼



Day 3

2 x 220 yds. ½ Strides

2 x 100 yds. ½

100 yds. ¾

2 x 50 yds. ½

Day 4

1 mile (50 yd. dashes every 220 yds.)




Day 5

Off







Day 6

4 x 220 yds. Strides ½

100 yds. ¾





Day 7

Long Jog







Day 1 Week 2 440 ¼ 700 yds. - (30 yd. dashes every 100 yds) 440 yds. ¼

Day 2

440 ¼

220 yds. ½

440 yds. ¼



Day 3

2 x 100 yds. ½

700 yds. - (30 yd. dashes every 100 yds)

220 yds. ½



Day 4

2 x 220 yds. Strides ¼

3 x 100 yds. ½





Day 5

Off







Day 6

100 yds. ¾

700 yds. - (30 yd. dashes every 100 yds)





Day 7

Long Jog







Day 1 Week 3 2 x 220 yds. ½ 3 x 100 yds. ¾

Day 2

3 x 220 yds. Strides ½

3 x 100 yds. ¾





Day 3

2 x 440 yds. ½

100 yds. Full Effort





Day 4

6 x 220 yds. Strides







Day 5

Off







Day 6

440 yds. ½

10 x100 yds. ½





Day 7

Long Jog







Day 1 Week 4 3 x 220 yds. Stride 100 yds. ¾

Day 2

2 x 700 yds. ¼ Stride







Day 3

440 yds. ¼

700 yds. - (30 yd. dashes every 100 yds)





Day 4

2 x 700 yds. ¼ Stride







Day 5

Off







Day 6

10 x 50 yds. ½
2 x 700 yds. ¼ Stride




Day 7

Long Jog









Monday, January 25, 2010

The Long Run vs The Long Run vs Mileage

One of the more difficult aspects of training for marathons is balancing the use of long runs and mileage. The title of this post has "the long run" showing up twice because of the two very distinct ways long runs affect marathon performance.

Let's look at the two types of long runs. A descriptive name for the first type of long run is the "on your feet" long run. Pace really does not matter with this long run just the total number of foot falls. If we look a world class marathoner number of foot falls we might see something like this: 180 footfalls per minute for 130 minutes for a total of 23,400 footfalls. A four hour marathoner would look something like 150 footfalls per minute for 240 minutes for a total of 36,000 footfalls, over 50% more wear and tear on the legs. As a matter of degree the four hour marathoner has a much bigger problem with mechanical (eccentric) induced fatigue. Efficient runners like Frank Shorter or Lasse Viren (light weight, excellent mechanics) may never need very high footfall runs to run a great marathon. Most runners who run 2:35 and slower marathons need training to counteract the effects of foot strikes but even faster runners depending on the efficiency of their neuromuscular coordination or if they will be racing on a downhill course such as The Boston Marathon will need training to counter mechanical induced fatigue.

The training effects of these "on your feet" type of runs last at least 6 weeks so when planning your schedule the last one only needs to be done between 4 and 6 weeks out from your planned race. The training session itself need not consist of just running, walking an hour, running two, then walking one more hour will get you to 30,000 or so foot strikes. You could mix it up by running for 20 minutes then walking for 5 or running 10 and walking 3, just keep in mind the objective to be on your feet for a long time. One last point running these on hilly courses if available enhance the effectiveness of the run.

The second type of long run focuses on the ability to maintain a steady state, the ability to deal with rising core temperatures, low fuel, fluid imbalance, and getting use to the sensations that come from these imbalances. In general this run is at least 90 minutes long and run at 90% or faster than marathon pace. Runs where you run the first 60 minutes at 90% race marathon race
then add 30 to 60 minutes of running at 95-103% race pace gives excellent results. The first 60 minutes gets the body up to temperature, uses a fair amount of fuel, and depletes fluids. The next 30-60 teaches your mind to accept these imbalances while running at race pace without shutting everything down. Three or four of these type of long runs (spaced 2-3 weeks apart) are all you need to reap most of the benefits. The hardest long run of this type should come 5 weeks out from the goal race, you can add an easier maintenance type run between 2-3 weeks out during the taper phase of your training but it should be well within your capacity.

Mileage is the enhancer when it comes to long runs. Whether you are running either type of long run, the miles you run the the week before, the day before, or the day after can enhance the effect you are trying to achieve in training. You don't want to be exhausted going into to these runs but not being 100% fresh will make race day when you are fresh a much better experience. The most critical time for good consistent heavy mileage is from week 9 to week 4 out from your race.


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