Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Green Eggs & Ham and the Road Not Taken

As a Lydiard fan, I have a dirty little secret...I wouldn't suggest his training to everyone. There was a running life for me before I started my 12 weeks of Lydiard conditioning. I've run 5 marathons: a 3:11 in 2000, a 2:59 in '01, a 2:56 and a 2:47 in '04, and a 2:50 in June of 2005. For my 2:56 race and my breakthrough 2:47 I followed plans by Pete Pfitzinger , a noted two-time olypian, exercise physiologist, and 2:11 marathoner who writes a great column in Running Times magazine. First I tried his 12 week schedule that topped out at 55 miles per week and finished with the 2:56, then I took on his 18 week schedule that peaked with 70 miles per week for the 2:47. I tried Pete's 70-93 miles per week schedule and ended up losing a few minutes at my most recent marathon. I just couldn't keep the mileage up this last go-around, and I ended up missing some key workouts that I believe led to a sub-par performance. I also didn't come into my last preparation with enough base miles, which is something Pete emphasizes is neccessary before starting his plans (tempo runs start in the third week).

I think Pete Pfitzinger's plans are fundamentally sound, and his "Advanced Marathoning" book is very clear and easy to follow. When I get asked a question about choosing a marathon plan to follow, I'm caught between suggesting Pfitzinger for novices and Lydiard for those with more background. I also think about asking a question back. "Do you like green eggs and ham?"

Actually, that's not the question, but the query is in the book. When Sam I Am goes into the tunnel on the train with the finicky eater, he says "In the dark, here in the dark? Could you, would you in the dark?" That's the real question. Chances are, if you go with the Lydiard Method, you will be running in the dark, sometimes several times a week. Lydiard calls for three long runs a week, with at least one shorter day between each. With the 55 mile per week plan Pfitzinger suggests, you have one long run (which you can do on your day off and thus avoid getting up before dawn), and one mid-week medium long run that tops out at 15 and is usually shorter. Both plans require commitment and resolve, I think Lydiard's system takes more mental and physical energy, some of your own interpretation, and much resolve...and some very early runs if you have a life. Like Arthur says, I'm trusting his method to get "to the top", though I heartily respect Pfitzinger and other coaches like Jack Daniels.

So...could you, would you, in the dark?

Training: 10 miles easy, 7:43 pace, six of them with Haiden in the jog-stroller


D said...

Nice run on Tuesday. You may be jealous that my race is coming up ~ I am certainly a bit envious of your speed and endurance! Amazing!

I have not yet read up on Lydiard (did I spell that right?) but intend to do so soon. I am curious how students of the Lydiard method avoid injuries such as stress fractures when you keep your weekly mileage so high. Having suffered from a stress fracture of the ankle (specifically the fibula) last summer, I am paranoid of going through that again. I'd like to get my speeds up on the longer runs and obviously need to change my training a bit as I have not made any great improvements on my last several marathons. {We'll see how Sunday goes.}

I love my Garmin, by the way. (I noticed you have one.)

Mark said...

Nice pace with the jogging stoller. How much do you think the jogging stroller slows you down (if any)?

Mike said...

Hi DGC, the garmin definitely helps me. I know it's not a perfect tool, but I love being able to analyze my pace. Lydiard is a good read, and he does advocate pretty high milage if a body can handle it. He has a pretty extensive section in "Running to the Top" about nutrition, and he focuses on calcium, iron and the like to help prevent fractures. I haven't had any...yet!

Hi Mark, on easy days I usually hover between 7:55 and 8:05 with the stroller, and without it I'm 7:30-7:40 pace with about the same effort. My GPS does stop when I have to pause to retrieve bags of cheerios or stuffed animals though. The 4 extra miles I do after dropping Haiden and the jog-stroller off are usually around 7:30 so that brings the average down a bit.