Wednesday, September 28, 2005

So what's next?

I'm on week 10 of 12 in Lydiard's marathon conditioning phase, which means I will soon be moving on to the infamous "hill phase". Two things happened yesterday that got me thinking about what's ahead; first, Andrew of Downeast Running asked what's next, then last evening I received an email from Nobby Hashizume, who I wrote about in my Arthur Online entry two days ago. In his email Nobby included some very illuminating insights on the Lydiard hill phase, much of which I am still digesting. Nobby also mentioned that he will hopefully be publishing hill training and other valuable work for the Lydiard Foundation in his section of the Five Circles website in the future. I will certainly let people know when this great information appears on his site, and when I'm actually doing the hill phase I will share more of what I'm doing.

Andrew asked about my mileage for the hill phase, which was something I wasn't sure about. I visited the Lydiard/Daniels thread at letsrun with that question some time ago and asked how many miles a week a runner should be doing in the hill phase provided he ran a steady 100 per week during the conditioning phase. Here is what Nobby said-

"Before I head out to the airport; this I think is what Arthur would have said: "It doesn't matter!" Hense, so many of us left confused, right!? The point is; we need to build aerobic capacity because that's what governs your performance level. It also lasts longest (meaning, you're not going to lose it quickly) so you build it first. Then you move onto hill phase because you'd want to start developing power and flexibility before you start doing faster, more race specific training. Then you develop your anaerobic capacity to exercise as well as speed then you coordinate all these elements together so you can race smoothly without any hick-ups.

Now, if all this is understood, then you'll know during the hill training phase, you'll need to introduce exercise to develop power and flexibility WHILE you maintain your aerobic capacity. In other words, you'd want to keep up fairly high mileage. "Arthur's Boys" did four laps around a 2-mile loop plus approximately 2 miles of warm-up and cool-down 6 times a week plus 22-mile on weekend. So the mileage was quite high. I would not necessarily recommend this routine unless you're super fit; you'd need to keep up good mileage during the hill phase. So depending on what type of hill training you're doing, you may want to throw a couple of long aerobic running like 1.5 hours or so between hill training days. Actual mileage per week is not important; but you need to understand what you need to accomplish during each phase; what type of training would make it possible to achieve those physiological and mechanical developments during each phase; what is your strengths and weaknesses; and how you can realistically shuffle them all up to fit them into your weekly schedule.

Maybe I'm not quite helping you. Rule of thumb, or a ball-park figure, I'd say, would be; if you're running, say, 80 miles a week for conditioning, you should be able to handle or keep up 2 or 3 days of hill training with 2 or 3 long runs and maintain your mileage somewhere around 60 to 70 (70 would be better if you can); before you dip down to, say, 40 or 50 of track schedule. Bear in mind, marathon might be a bit different. Hill training would definitely help marathon running but first and foremost, you need solid endurance and stamina. In other words, you schedule should not sacrifice that elements regardless of whatever else you want to do."

Got all that? After reading "Running to the Top", one of several traits I believe Nobby and Arthur share is the strong belief that an athlete needs to know the "why" of each workout. I know that when I go into a workout with a clear view of what I am trying to achieve and what benefit it will present, I feel more empowered and motivated.

My actual mileage will depend on how long each hill workout will be, but I'm figuring I will try to stay at 80 miles plus, with no more than two "doubles" a week. I'll try to keep the long run, as well as two other mid-week runs at 1.5 hours or more as Nobby suggests. In his email Nobby mentioned that the hill training days for Arthur's boys were 12-14 miles, I suspect mine will be a bit shorter!

Training: 12 miles, easy 8:03 pace, found some nice hills in Sabino Canyon

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