Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My journey in a nutshell

I thought I would post a general overview of what this blog is about, so if you've started reading half-way through or just want a refresher on how I'm training the Lydiard way, here goes:

The plan is to arrive at peak fitness for the P.F. Chang's Rock'n'Roll marathon on January 15 in Phoenix, Arizona. In order to do that, I've switched from the training I've done in the past for my 5 previous marathons (which was usually a 12-18 week buildup where I've averaged 40-70 miles per week with one long run) to following the training methods of deceased master coach Arthur Lydiard. For over 40 years until his death in 2004 Arthur helped create Olympic medalists and champions, and introduced running for health to the masses. The links on the right of the page explain his methods, but this is the short story for a marathoner like me.

It all starts with a conditioning phase. For 12 weeks or as long as possible, increase your mileage to the maximum you are comfortable with, then increase the pace that you do your runs as you get acclimated to the mileage. All runs are done at an aerobic pace. One of Lydiard's schedules gives an example like this-

Monday 10 miles (15km) at 1/2 effort over undulating course
Tuesday 15 miles (25km) at 1/4 effort over reasonably flat
Wednesday 12 miles (20km) at 1/2 effort over hilly course
Thursday 18 miles (30km) at 1/4 effort over reasonably flat
Friday 10 miles (15km) at 3/4 effort over flat course
Saturday 22 miles (35km) at 1/4 effort over reasonably flat
Sunday 15 miles (25km) at 1/4 effort over any type terrain

My copy of "Running to the Top" lays the schedule out by time, with 2 runs of 90 minutes, one run of 120+ minutes, and the other runs of an hour or more with one day of striders.

After this comes a four week hill phase, where you keep the 2+ hour run and the two 90 minute runs, and add three hill workouts per week where you stride, bound or spring up a hill, recover at the top, stride quickly down the hill, then do some windsprints at the base before doing it all over again. Lydiard advises spending 15-60 minutes on the hill per session.

Then comes a 4 week track or anaerobic phase, which includes two "time trials" at a fast effort per week plus some strides and one day of "repetitions" or intervals, usually 800's, 1000's,or 1600's. During this phase you again keep the two 90 minute runs plus the 120+ minute run. This is what I'm starting right now.

Following the anaerobic phase is a 4 week coordination phase, where you work on putting together all the elements of the first three phases. During this period the mileage is reduced somewhat, but quicker, shorter sprints are added to enhance the neuromuscular pathways, and there is a long, 35 kilometer effort that should simulate the marathon. This is where you "sharpen" your condition and get ready for competition. You continue the time trials and the long run here as well.

It all ends with a two week taper, and culminates with your best marathon.

Sounds simple, eh? So I'm 16 weeks in with 10 to go, here are some stats on my progress so far.

On mileage: During my 12 week conditioning phase I averaged 90 miles per week, which is uncharted territory for me.
During my 4 week hill phase I averaged 96 miles per week.

These two phases focus on aerobic capacity and efficiency. The rest of the program focuses more on the anaerobic systems and neuromuscular connectors. That being the case, I thought looking at the average pace of my long runs so far would be a good indicator of how my aerobic system has developed with Lydiard's training. These are the paces of my long runs, starting with week 4 of my conditioning phase (the first week with a 20 miler). Runs of 20 miles have an asterisk, runs of 22 do not, and the run on 10/10 was 24 miles.

8/12*-7:37, 8/19-7:27, 8/25*-7:12, 8/31*-7:10, 9/8-7:44, 9/12-7:15, 9/19-7:21, 9/27-7:16, 10/4-6:46, 10/10-6:42, 10/18-6:51, 10/24-6:54, 11/1-6:45, 11/7-6:46

I've definitely made some gains, and my best marathon to date had me average 6:25 per mile, so my run of 24 miles the day after ending a 104 mile week at a 6:42 pace makes me gives me reason to think I've really improved with this program.

I know, enough with the blah, blah, blah and the technical stuff. I do get asked about this though, so I thought this post would act as a "cliff's notes" of sorts for this project. More on how I've adapted Lydiard's schedules for my needs to come.


robtherunner said...

Thanks for the update Mike. I started reading only a couple weeks ago so it is interesting to see how you have progressed. I am looking forward to implementing the plan myself.

Eric said...

Cool. I just started reading a week or so ago. Very interesting and motivational blog. I am also a family guy soon to have a second kid, so it is helpful to see how you are managing it all. Looking forward to your next marathon, as I'm sure you are!