Saturday, October 08, 2005

Going out with a bang...

Last hard workout of the conditioning phase was today, and I'm pleased to report I was "that guy" today. You know, the jerk at the workout who never seems to get tired while everyone else is feeling miserable.

Arthur Lydiard wrote about the conditioning phase as a means bring his athletes to a "virtually tireless state", where their aerobic system was so well-developed that they could simply run away from their competitors as they incurred increased oxygen debt during a race. His athletes raised their aerobic ceilings and their cardiac efficiency to such a high level that race pace for them was less of a percentage over their threshold than their competitors.

I've been thinking about this "virtually tireless state", and while it sounds good, after almost 12 weeks of conditioning training I didn't really feel like I was getting there. I definitely notice more endurance on my longer runs, where even if I start to bonk I can shuffle it in at 7:30 or so (Lydiard would probably say I'd gone out too fast and he'd be right), but I haven't really felt like I could just go on forever once I drop the pace to 80% or more of my threshold.

Today, much to the chagrin of my company, I felt it, and it was great. I meet a pretty fast group of runners for 10 miles along a river path on Saturdays, and since I needed 16 miles today I ran 6 before I met them as a warm-up. I had announced my intentions for the run in the previous weeks, and we decided we would all do my workout-5 miles out easy, then 4 miles of tempo at 6:10, 6:00, 6:00, and 5:50, followed by a mile cool-down.

As we started the tempo work everything just seemed to come together, with the 6:10 mile flying by right on pace (I'm using the Garmin GPS for road intervals, and I think it's pretty close). As we dropped to 6 I was still trying to talk training with one of the runners who was a coach, but he started to get mad because he could hardly breathe at that pace. At two miles the runners started falling off the pace, either blowing up or drifting back. At three miles it was just me and one other runner I hadn't met before, and we ran the last mile in at 5:48. We chatted about running and racing as we plodded the last cool-down mile, but in my head the "tireless state" phrase was echoing.

This was a great day, and with just one more easy 10 miler tomorrow it will mark the end of my first Lydiard conditioning phase. It was really great to finish with a good week, and this run and Tuesday's 22 miler make me think I'm finally getting somewhere. Have a great weekend.

Training: 16 miles, with 4 miles of tempo at 6:09, 5:59, 5:58, 5:48


Andrew said...

Congratulations on finishing the conditioning phase! You have done well and I am looking forward to your experiences during the hill phase. You have read (I think) all of Lydiard's books where I have only read what is on the internet. Therefore, when you say that you'll do "long" between the hill workouts is this Lydiard's advice? I only ask because Lydiard mentions something called "leg speed" on the off-days during both the hill phase and the speed phase. I'd like to hear your thoughts on that. Perhaps your method is more geared toward marathoning? Thanks in advance.

Mike said...

Thanks Andrew, I've only read "Running to the Top", the stuff I link to, threads and Nobby's emails, so I'm certainly no expert but I'm trying to find my way. The schedule in "Top" for the hill phase reads hills 3x a week for 45-60 minutes, then two 90 minute runs and one 2 hour run, plus one day of "relaxed striding" with 6x200. My edition was published in '98, the lecture with the "leg speed" stuff was in '90 I think. The schedules in his later books have been described as easier than previous editions, so I went by more of the guidelines in the lecture for miles in conditioning, trying to do 22, 18 and 16 for the long days at my peak milage where my book reads "60, 90, 60, 90, 60, 60, 120 minutes" for a seven day schedule. In Nobby's email he desribes the hill sessions as idealy a 2 mile circuit, with 800 meters of hill strides up, 800 flat recovery, then striding 800 down the hill (for leg speed and eccentric contraction stimuulation), then 800 of "wind sprints", either 100's, 200's or 400's. Then do it all again. They would do 4 laps of the circuit, plus a warm up and cool-down.

In putting the lecture, the book, Nobby's emails/comments, and my gut instincts together, my plan is to keep a 22 miler, and two more runs of 14-18 miles, and to do the hill work pretty much like I wrote above. I think the "wind sprints" will be striders for me, and I'll do them during the hill workouts instead of the days in-between. I might only do the "wind sprints" during two of the hill workouts, and do some strides on the one "easy" day of 8-10 miles instead, I'll see how it feels (I'm a little overwhelmed right now).

Nobby's comments to me in the Lydiard/Daniels thread, which I quote in my "so what's next" post focus on keeping up fairly high milage through the hill phase to maintain my endurance, and I really trust his judgement It's a lot of balls to keep in the air, we'll see how it goes. Hope you're having a good trip.

Zeke said...

That's awesome. Glad to hear things are coming together. Great pacing too.

Mike said...

Thanks Zeke,
Did your friend Yvonne run 3:30 today? I saw one "Yvonne" from NY with that time in the results for Chicago, I hope it was her.

Zeke said...

I'm not sure as I don't know her last name. I saw the same thing you did; Yvonne from NY in 3:30ish. I hope so, an 8 minute PR would be awesome!