Friday, November 11, 2005

Lydiard's anaerobic/track phase

In Arthur Lydiard's "Running to the Top", the author writes the following about the next 4 weeks of my training:

"The heavy anaerobic period also lasts about four weeks and this is the time at which you develop anaerobic capacity to near maximum. It entails three days a week of heavy overload work and in this you can do any kind of anaerobic work you feel like. You can run straight-out long distance hard, say, three, five or ten kilometers; you can do hard repetitions over whatever distances you feel like; you can run hard on forest trails, if such luxuries are available to you."

"You can run your repetitions anywhere. On the road, in a park- you don't need to measure the distance you're covering or count the number of times you run it. Keep on doing them until you hit the wall; your body tells you when it's had enough so you go and warm down and call it a day. The repetitions should be longish, at least 600 meters, to get the best reactions."

If you're like me and you are used to just reading a schedule and following it, the paragraphs above are where Lydiard training throws you quite the curve ball, and at first it's frustrating. I've seen other quotes from Arthur similar to this, where someone asks him how far to run a repetition and he says "To the next tree". From emailing Nobby, reading posts from him and others on the Lydiard/Daniels thread on and digesting "Running to the Top" it seems that a runner can make these four weeks as complicated or as simple as he or she wishes. Yes, a marathon is primarily an aerobic effort, but for your best race Lydiard feels it is neccessary to train all of the body's systems to work in harmony. I've been known to go "into the red", or what I feel is anaerobic, late in a marathon, on long hills, or during a bad patch (or two) at some point in a race. This phase seems to be about training your body to withstand this higher effort, though the way you train it is somewhat up to the individual.

"Running to the Top" does have a schedule for these four weeks, it goes something like this-

Monday: Repetitions (800x6 or 1000x4 or 1500x3 depending on the week)
Tuesday: Aerobic running 90 minutes
Wednesday: Time trial (5,000 or 3,000 depending on the week)
Thursday: Aerobic running 90 minutes
Friday: Relaxed striding 200x6
Saturday: Time trial 10,000 meters at 3/4 effort, or 5,000 meters depending on the week)
Sunday: Aerobic running 120 or more

Here's what I'm planning for this week:
Monday: 22 miles
Tuesday: 8 miles w/6x200 easy strides
Wednesday: 10 miles w/5K time-trial
Thursday: 16 miles
Friday: 10 miles w/repetitions, 6x800
Saturday: 16 miles
Sunday: 10 miles w/6 mile time trial, start at 5:45 pace and work down

Nobby has said that you can change the workouts if you keep the purpose of each. Here I'm keeping the 800 reps, and doing my versions of the two 90 minute runs and the 120 minute runs. I'm doing the second time trial as more of a progression run, starting with tempo pace and hopefully going faster each mile. Why change at all? From what I've read about Lydiard, he would be the first to tell you that no two runners are exactly alike, and that his schedules are meant to be adapted to each individual, provided you stay within his framework and realize the goal of each workout.

I feel I've learned a bit about my body over the course of my short running career and the five marathons I have completed, and what I really think I need to finish my next marathon under 2:40 are these things- confidence in my ability and preparation, practice maintaining marathon pace for extended periods, improving my lactate threshold (or the maximum speed I can run before producing more lactate than my body can clear), and improving how my body deals with running while accumulating lactate and running out of glycogen.

As I go through this phase and do the workouts I hope to write about how these workouts (and the way I'm approaching them) will answer my "needs" list. We'll see how it goes.


tb1 said...

I've read your other posts and the Lydiard philosophy of training and have come to realize how woefully undertrained I am. It appears that your efforts are about to pay big dividends soon. Your 10-mile race story was entertaining. Thanks for the updates. I'm beginning to think that I might have some untapped potential. Maybe I'm slow because my body is not being stressed enough to take advantages of its natural capacity. I am contemplating using a modified approach to Lydiard's methods and see what happens. I don't envy you during this next 4 weeks. Good luck.

Mike said...

Good luck tb1, it's hard to figure out what's missing in a training program, and I'm hoping following the Lydiard method will eventually get me to run to my potential. As far as "stressing" the body to get results, keep in mind I trained for 16 weeks to hopefully prepare for these harder efforts, so I'm hoping I'm in good enough condition that I won't kill myself during the coming weeks.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog! I read it every day and it's great hearing about your training program. It's really opened my eyes to a new way to train. Plus hearing about your kids is great too. They are both so cute! How do you find the energy to do it all?

Mike said...

Hi anonymous, I'm really glad to hear you like my blog, (and a dad is always thrilled to hear his kids are cute!). As far as energy goes, I guess I'm like my dad insofar as I don't really need a ton of sleep (which is good with two little ones), and I drink a lot of coffee in the morning. Once I finally got used to running 8-12 miles on easy days instead of 6-8 it got much easier, but it took about two months to get there.