Monday, October 03, 2005

100 MPW is hard...

That's what's been going through my head. This is the beginning of my 12th and final week of conditioning, so I thought I would spend it reflecting on my journey with Arthur Lydiard's training, and offering what small pearls of wisdom I've gained through my process thus far.

First, a short recap of my training with the Lydiard Method, which began July 18. My mileage in order from week 1-11:
83, 71, 61, 100, 101, 94, 78, 100, 96, 95, 100. August 4 is the only day I haven't run since starting this journey. Full disclosure, I've done three races during the conditioning phase. I mentioned previously that I've been trying to win a points series of 10 races for my club, and unfortunately two of these races happened during my conditioning phase. The third race was "just ego", according to a training partner. He might be right, but I was planning a tempo run and thought the race would present a good opportunity for me to have a good result. I feel guilty about betraying Lydiard's insistence on avoiding any anaerobic efforts during conditioning. This is a cardinal rule of his system, and it hindsight it might have pulled my conditioning down, made me risk injury, and made me too tired to enjoy the full benefits of his conditioning phase by forcing me to slow down the week after each race to recover.

My observations:
1. Running 100 miles in a week is hard, but it gets easier. In reading Lydiard's words I know I'm supposed to feel "pleasantly tired", but on more than a few of the mornings after an 18 or 22 miler, as I lay sprawled out on our kitchen tile or polluting the kiddie pool in the backyard with sweat, too exhausted to mix a glass of gatorade, "pleasant" didn't quite cut it as a descriptor. Lydiard would probably say I was running too fast, but some of these runs were at a very leisurely pace.

2. It gets easier. Really, it does. I learned to start slower, and finish stronger. Arthur advised runners to start out running by time, on out-and-back courses. If the way back took longer than the way out, they needed to slow down until that stopped happening. He describes that running by time allowed his runners to go out a little farther each time, as they got faster the mileage would increase. I started out going by time, but my craving to keep track of mileage took over quickly.

3. You will probably lose weight. I dropped more than eight pounds over 11 weeks without trying. Running well does make me choose better foods, though my wife's excellent baking probably kept me from losing more weight. Less weight is easier to move, which is good.

My suggestions:
Read my profile before continuing. I'm 34, wife and 2 kids, mediocre running guy, and these suggestions are geared towards busy, also-rans like me.

1. I started with several two-a-day runs, then eventually whittled it down to 100 miles per week in singles. Two-a-days helped me recover at first, but eventually the strain of being gone in the evenings as well as the mornings became too much for the family. Lydiard's boys did 100 miles in singles, then ran extra easy sessions most days that didn't count towards their 100+ mile weeks. I discuss this in my concessions post.

2. Run from your house (no, really). Many runners I know drive to their runs to find the perfect terrain or to meet up with one another. Time is of the essence to me, and that time (and gas) wasted going to and from a run can be better spent.

3. Get up earlier, go to bed earlier (I know, all my suggestions are time-savers). You will need more sleep. The best way I can find to stretch out the day is to start it earlier. My kids go to bed at 7:30, so I can get to bed at 8:30 and still be (relatively) rested getting up at 4:30a.m..

4. Run your weeks backwards (seriously). As my schedule progressed, I started doing a 22, 18, and 16 miler each week. Psychologically, I always found it difficult to finish off my week with my long run. If the week hadn't gone particularly well, I would dread the upcoming long run, and subsequently I would have trouble with it. Now I start my week with the 22 miler (on either Monday or Tuesday), do the 18 miler two days later, then the 16 miler two days after that. If all goes well, I finish the week with two shorter runs. When executed properly, it feels like I get to "coast" through the end of the week, and by the time another week starts I'm motivated for the next long run.

That's all the advice I feel qualified to give. My daughter is desperately trying to feed me a plastic bagel (I'm at home today), so I'd better sign off to give her some attention.

Training: Saturday, 10 miles, 7:09 pace
Sunday, 16 miles with Scott, 7:10 pace
Weekly total: 100 in seven sessions (finally all singles)

Today, 10 miles, 6 with Haiden in the jog-stroller, easy 7:47 pace


Andrew said...


Wonderful post and suggestions. Your comments about being sprawled on the floor made me laugh as that is exactly what happens to me occasionally (and nothing annoys my wife more!).

Mike said...

I am allowed on the tile in the kitchen only, no touching of anything carpeted or upholstered. "This is something you CHOOSE to do, no one's forcing you!" is the quote I especially enjoy hearing when I'm in this state.

D said...

...and to think that I was excited over my 50 mile week recently. Interesting blog!

Zeke said...


Good post, thanks for sharing your thoughts. What was your previous weekly high before starting your 12 week conditioning phase?

Also, what are you training for? Being from Minnesota I'm about to shut my season down, take a week or two off and then ramp back up. However, I'd say you're gearing for a race this winter.

Mike said...

I'm working up to the P.F. Chang's Marathon in Phoenix in January, and I'll be doing the Tucson half-marathon in December. Before trying this I topped out at 75 miles, but usually ran between 40 and 60 a week. Sounds like Twin Cities was brutal this weekend.

Zeke said...

Wow, that's awesome. Right now I'm planning on building back up in mid-November. I'm torn between trying to reach 100 mpw vs. 70 mpw (mostly) at a strong aerobic effort.

I've been as high as 85 before, but I tend to run it all at an easy pace.

Adding mileage and decreasing the pace, at the same time, is a little scary.

Mike said...

Zeke, I definitely agree with you that adding milage while simultaneously decreasing the pace is scary and can lead to injury. I really didn't think about pace much until a week or two after topping out at 100. Lowering the pace got easier for me after that.