Friday, September 30, 2005

Common Sense

Common sense is a runner's best friend and worst enemy. Nobby Hashizume, whose coaching pedigree and relationship with Lydiard I've mentioned before, reminded me in his writings on hill training about the place for common sense in training. He was referring to the mistakes athletes make when starting on Lydiard's hill phase. According to Nobby, even "Arthur's Boys", (Snell, Magee and the like) didn't jump right into hill training full-bore without some preparation. Where they trained in New Zealand, almost every running route had some pretty serious hills, so their bodies were already predisposed to some of the physical mechanics involved in hill work, and even when they started their hill training they eased into it gradually over a few weeks. Their hill circuit was two miles long, with 800 meters of steady uphill, 800 of flat at the top, 800 of easy downhill, and 800 more of flat. They completed the circuit 6 times a week, at about 14 miles a session with warm-up and cool-down.

Sounds pretty specific, eh? If your area isn't blessed with a perfect two mile circuit like this, preferrably soft grass, you might as well forget it, right? This is where he says common sense comes in again. Do what you can with what you have. If there aren't any hills for miles, you can use stadium steps, library handicapped ramps, whatever you can find. Nobby writes about Marty Liquori doing stadium steps instead of hills, which simply couldn't be found in the part of Florida where he lived. The important thing is to take the time and put the effort in to gain the strength and flexibility from the hill phase. I'll write more about how to do the hill running and bounding when I get there in a little over a week.

There's a down-side to common sense too. In my opinion, some of the most common training principles agruably born of common sense can be limiters. Concepts as basic as the "10 percent rule" for adding mileage per week during conditioning, training strictly by heart rate zones, and adding no more than 1-2 miles to your long run each week, as well as setting a finite limit of 20 miles for a long run during a marathon build-up sometimes come up short.

These rules are treated as gospel by some, and they are oft-repeated in running magazines several times a year. For a new runner I think they are fine, but for runners with some experience under their belt I think they are lacking. The Lydiard Method stresses developing and listening to your inner-coach. He would be the first to say that his schedules in and of themselves are merely guidelines. What's important is the methodology behind the schedules. I've mentioned it before but it bears repeating- as long as I know what I am trying to accomplish with each run, I feel I can adapt a workout within reason. Every runner is an experiment of one, and as I get to know my body better, I am confident I will not drop dead when I break the rules above (I've broken all of them in my conditioning phase). I think the more a runner runs, the better sense he has of what he is capable of.

Or maybe not. This might be the dreamer in me, but the other arena where I feel common sense can fail us is in where we set our limitations. Of the four running breakthroughs I've had over the years, only one was truly predicted by examining my training log. I'm a runner who believes in the existence of those amazing days where you shatter your own limitations. Some call it running with guts, or running with heart. I think it's that and maybe something more. If you've ever had one of those days, on a training run or in a race, you know what I mean, and running was never quite the same afterwards. To say that it was just running with "common sense" that broke that day (and the world of running) wide open would be selling it short.

Training: 10 miles, 7:09 pace. Felt good but hungry!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Temptation


Running brings out different things in different people. Sometimes it's the inner-competitor, sometimes the inner-philosopher. Lately, it's brought out my inner-400 lb. shut-in. Seriously, I am hungry all the time. Ordinarily this isn't a huge problem for me, I snack throughout the day, and I try to make "good choices" about what I eat (these are my Mother's code-words for diet, making "better choices"). This struggle to control my impulses is usually unwittingly sabotaged by my wife, who is a double-threat, great at cooking and phenomenal at baking.

Cupcakes, brownies and cookies, none of which exist on my "good choice" list, have all arrived and are currently residing in our kitchen. Two of the three were for our daughter's birthday party, and the cookies were a tester batch for a recipe my wife will be using to make even more cookies for an event at my workplace. To make matters worse, my wife isn't touching the cupcakes or cookies, and we are very sparing with the amount of refined sugar we feed our daughter. This leaves me in charge of treat ingestion, and I have been a willing participant.

My self-discipline is all over the map. How is it I can rise at 4:30 a.m., drive to a trail and stumble the first 3 miles of an 18 mile run in the dark in order to get back in time to spend some time with the family before work, but I can't resist pulling open the freezer at 8:45p.m. for one last brownie (yes they are so full of good-stuff that they don't even freeze)? As I lie in bed and start to drift off to sleep, one last thought creeps into my mind...there are still at least 8 more brownies in there.

From what I've read, Lydiard was a fan of whole, organically-grown foods, and warned his athletes to stay away from processed foods as much as possible. White bread was the ultimate no-no, and he worried about kids eating things like popsicles and other foods loaded with additives and preservatives, some of which are carcinogenic. I wonder what he would say to me after watching me devour a cupcake with icing and following up with a cookie chaser.

Training: 18 miles, 7:09 pace. Good run, with about 4 miles at 6:10-6:15 pace.
After reading more of Nobby's hill phase advice, I'll be trying to work more hills in during the next week and a half to get ready for the next phase. Speaking of training, I'm starting to post a log of my training. I'll be adding previous weeks when I get the time. It's also "clickable" under "links".

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

So what's next?

I'm on week 10 of 12 in Lydiard's marathon conditioning phase, which means I will soon be moving on to the infamous "hill phase". Two things happened yesterday that got me thinking about what's ahead; first, Andrew of Downeast Running asked what's next, then last evening I received an email from Nobby Hashizume, who I wrote about in my Arthur Online entry two days ago. In his email Nobby included some very illuminating insights on the Lydiard hill phase, much of which I am still digesting. Nobby also mentioned that he will hopefully be publishing hill training and other valuable work for the Lydiard Foundation in his section of the Five Circles website in the future. I will certainly let people know when this great information appears on his site, and when I'm actually doing the hill phase I will share more of what I'm doing.

Andrew asked about my mileage for the hill phase, which was something I wasn't sure about. I visited the Lydiard/Daniels thread at letsrun with that question some time ago and asked how many miles a week a runner should be doing in the hill phase provided he ran a steady 100 per week during the conditioning phase. Here is what Nobby said-

"Before I head out to the airport; this I think is what Arthur would have said: "It doesn't matter!" Hense, so many of us left confused, right!? The point is; we need to build aerobic capacity because that's what governs your performance level. It also lasts longest (meaning, you're not going to lose it quickly) so you build it first. Then you move onto hill phase because you'd want to start developing power and flexibility before you start doing faster, more race specific training. Then you develop your anaerobic capacity to exercise as well as speed then you coordinate all these elements together so you can race smoothly without any hick-ups.

Now, if all this is understood, then you'll know during the hill training phase, you'll need to introduce exercise to develop power and flexibility WHILE you maintain your aerobic capacity. In other words, you'd want to keep up fairly high mileage. "Arthur's Boys" did four laps around a 2-mile loop plus approximately 2 miles of warm-up and cool-down 6 times a week plus 22-mile on weekend. So the mileage was quite high. I would not necessarily recommend this routine unless you're super fit; you'd need to keep up good mileage during the hill phase. So depending on what type of hill training you're doing, you may want to throw a couple of long aerobic running like 1.5 hours or so between hill training days. Actual mileage per week is not important; but you need to understand what you need to accomplish during each phase; what type of training would make it possible to achieve those physiological and mechanical developments during each phase; what is your strengths and weaknesses; and how you can realistically shuffle them all up to fit them into your weekly schedule.

Maybe I'm not quite helping you. Rule of thumb, or a ball-park figure, I'd say, would be; if you're running, say, 80 miles a week for conditioning, you should be able to handle or keep up 2 or 3 days of hill training with 2 or 3 long runs and maintain your mileage somewhere around 60 to 70 (70 would be better if you can); before you dip down to, say, 40 or 50 of track schedule. Bear in mind, marathon might be a bit different. Hill training would definitely help marathon running but first and foremost, you need solid endurance and stamina. In other words, you schedule should not sacrifice that elements regardless of whatever else you want to do."

Got all that? After reading "Running to the Top", one of several traits I believe Nobby and Arthur share is the strong belief that an athlete needs to know the "why" of each workout. I know that when I go into a workout with a clear view of what I am trying to achieve and what benefit it will present, I feel more empowered and motivated.

My actual mileage will depend on how long each hill workout will be, but I'm figuring I will try to stay at 80 miles plus, with no more than two "doubles" a week. I'll try to keep the long run, as well as two other mid-week runs at 1.5 hours or more as Nobby suggests. In his email Nobby mentioned that the hill training days for Arthur's boys were 12-14 miles, I suspect mine will be a bit shorter!

Training: 12 miles, easy 8:03 pace, found some nice hills in Sabino Canyon

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Reality Check

If you read my post last Tuesday about how fun it was to be "in the mix" at the front of a race rather than watching it from 20 seconds or more behind-well, I was back to watching on Sunday. I ended up 13th overall, here are the results if anyone is interested. I ran 27:23 for 8K, which is about 5:30 per mile pace. This was 13 seconds off my best from last year, but it was the culmination of a 95 mile week (couldn't get the last 5 miles done in the evening for an even 100, reasons below). I placed 4th in my age group, so no free shoes for me this time. I ran strong for the last two miles, which is where I ran out of gas last time, so I feel good about my endurance. This is only the second time I've run at 5:30 pace or below this season (the other time was the race last week), so I really can't be too disappointed.

It was a strange race with a very odd vibe. Eddy Hellebuyck is apparently living in Tucson and training an elite group of Kenyan athletes. His athletes destroyed the field, and I finished three minutes off the winner's time. Losing to elite athletes isn't a big deal to me, but having Eddy at the race coaching them bothered me. For those of you who don't know Eddy, he is a Belgian masters racer who used to live in New Mexico. He holds masters records for the 5K, 10K, 15K, 10 mile and marathon. That is, he did until he was busted for using EPO. Doping is the epitome of taking the easy way out, and just having someone like Eddy in town kind of rankles me. I don't mean to take anything away from his athletes, they ran superbly. However, I could never train under someone who was suspended for doping, as I think it reflects on the character of the man. The Lydiard method is about putting the effort in, year in and year out, and it is not easy. When I toe the line at a race I expect a level playing field, and I want to believe it when Arthur said "It's not the best athlete that wins, it's the best-prepared athlete". When I think of all the clean athletes that Eddy beat to get those records, it saddens me, because it makes what Lydiard said impossible. OK, enough, I'm getting down from my soap-box.

On a positive note, my daughter Haiden turned three this weekend, and we had a nice party at the house with a ton of nutty kids and parents. Afterwards, our family, my brother, his wife and three kids, and my parents had a little pizza party to celebrate my Dad turning 60. Things dragged out a bit long, especially since the race was the same day, but I think everyone had a great time. My parents live about two hours away, so we don't get to see them as often as we would like, but it's always fun when we do. My Dad doesn't really understand my running (he told me I would pee blood after my first marathon), but he always came out to my cross-country meets in high school.

I'm glad these two races are done, now I can get to finishing my conditioning work before going on to my hill phase. Thanks for reading.

Training: Sunday, 9 miles. Race plus one mile warm-up and three mile cool-down
Monday, 10 miles 7:20 pace
Tuesday, 22 miles 7:15 pace-This one hurt me a bit. Hopefully all singles for 100 this week.
Total miles last week: 95 with 9 sessions

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Arthur Online


Enough with the cute kids! Better than photos of me, I assure you.

I worked on my links section, so there are a few good additions for any Lydiard junkies. I found a great site by post-collegiate runner Ryan Hill called Hill Runner. It has great links to training articles, sound advice, and a great section on Arthur Lydiard (that puts this site to shame). Best of all, it has a civilized forum with some great information.

This blog focuses on my efforts to complete Lydiard's training, and much as I spew about his methods, my understanding of his teachings is in its infancy. When Lydiard's "Running to the Top" book and his lecture aren't enough, I can wander into cyberspace and find many people with a much clearer grasp of his teachings. One of the best forum threads I have found about Lydiard is on letsrun.com here and features comments by "Nobby" Hashizume, who worked closely with Arthur Lydiard for 25 years and has to be considered one of the foremost authorities on Lydiard training. Nobby turns up in numerous message board threads when poor souls like me need help interpreting Lydiard's methods, and he has always been gracious and helpful with his advice. After hearing about a problem I was having with morton's neuroma under a toe, he suggested I follow Lydiard's shoe-lacing technique (Arthur designed many shoes in his day). When I said I had trouble following the pictures I had seen of this method, he was kind enough to email me a powerpoint step-by-step guide to get it done. Thank you Nobby!

There are many other good sources of information on Arthur Lydiard online, and I plan to add as many as I can to this blog. Look for more on Nobby and his Five Circles organization, as well as information on other wise folks preaching the Lydiard word. If you know of any good Lydiard links I need to include, please comment or email.

I'm racing an 8K tomorrow, wish me luck on grabbing a $100 gift certificate. Our daughter Haiden has her birthday party afterwards, which will be lots of loud fun.

Training: 8 miles at 7:25 pace with the "Get Moving Tucson" crew. Legs feel fresh, lots of good sleep last night.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Listen to the master...or not


Photo of Arthur Lydiard courtesy of fivecircles.org

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

This is supposed to be my schedule, or as close as I can get. 10-12 weeks or as long as possible. Lydiard also advises a second easy run whenever possible. There's a nice article here where Jonathan Beverly, editor-in-chief of Running Times interviews Arthur Lydiard some months before he died. He asks Lydiard what he would suggest for a 40 mile-per-week club runner doing anaerobic (at or near race effort) work each week. Here's a brief excerpt-

Lydiard: "First thing: No. No. Never do anaerobic work in conditioning. Never. Ever. That’s one of the first things: You don’t do it. Don’t even try. Don’t even run fast to the finish. That’s the one thing you’ve got to learn."

Beverly:"For how long?"

Lydiard:"At least 12 weeks. . . . The whole program takes six months."

I mentioned a few days back that I'm trying my best to do the training as prescribed, but I'm definitely breaking the rules by throwing in a few races during the base period. This weekend is a great 8K race called the Jim Click Run'n'Roll, and it gives out $100 footwear gift certificates (which I could really use after $400 in car repairs and paying for a birthday party for a 3-year-old).

Am I laughing in the face of the master? No way, but this is part of the Desert Grand Prix I'm trying to win to hopefully get more shoes (shoes are like currency to me, at 100 miles a week a $90 pair of shoes lasts a little over a month). There are some great runners in my age group, and I will have to have a fantastic race to have a chance at the shoe loot.

My training this week almost mirrors last week, since that week ended with a good racing result. Here's a snapshot-
Monday 22 steady
Tuesday 12 easy
Wednesday a.m. 18 steady, p.m. 8 moderate
Thursday a.m. 6 easy, p.m. 4 easy
Friday 8 steady
Saturday 8 steady
Sunday 8K race+9 warmup/cooldown (edit, only did 9 total)
Total: 100 (edit, only managed 95)

I call it my "faux+taper", because I try to keep the mileage up, but I stack 60 during the first three days of the week to give me some time to recover before the race. Aside from the blasphemy of including a race this week, my schedule is fairly close. If I could get to 100 in singles I would, maybe I'll get down to only one "double" next week.

To end on an amusing note, after coming home yesterday and putting down a bag of what looked like coffee, my 3-year-old daughter says "Oh thank you daddy bear, that's my favorite coffee!" I have no idea where she gets this.

Training: 8 miles, 7:20 pace. Started slow, had to stop and pull some cholla cactus out of my foot on a trail section (it's getting light a bit later now). Nice sunrise though, and breakfast out with the family.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Ritual



The Santa Catalina mountains in gorgeous Tucson, Arizona.

Like many runners, I am a creature of habit (my wife would call this an understatement). To get the miles in, I follow a certain protocol. Here is how it's supposed to go-

1. Wake at 4:30am, stare up at the dark ceiling in bed for a few minutes.
2. Start the coffee, dunk the whole-wheat english muffin in the toaster, pour some o.j..
3. Eat the muffin with peanut butter and jam, drink the juice, coffee and a glass of water at my daughter's miniature ladybug table in the kitchen with the lights off so I don't wake the kids up.
4. Lace them up and head out the door (stuff a few salted pretzels down my gullet if it's 16 miles or over).

This ritual gets me out the door, and by not dinking around too long I usually get back in time to help some with the kids and allow my wife to shower in peace. Unfortunately, when my system breaks down it is often the family that takes the brunt of it. Last night I joined a group from The Running Shop, one of our local stores, for an 8 miler in the evening. It dragged out entirely too long, and to make a long story shorter, I got home way too late, starving and dehydrated, and missed getting to bed at a decent hour. Fast-forward to this morning, when I over-slept and got home from the morning run late, when I had promised my wife to be home early to help get things together for our son's doctor appointment. I blew it. We made it to the appointment but I let running get in the way of my responsibilities and I broke my word.

Nothing I can do but apologize, right? Wrong. I can learn to plan better. I'll bring food/drink along just in case if I do the evening run again, and while I can't do anything about accidents and detours keeping me from getting home, at least I won't arrive home starved, exhausted and cranky. Kiera would certainly appreciate it.

The website address for my blog is "champions everywhere", and it refers to Arthur Lydiard's famous quote, "There are champions everywhere. Every street's got them. All we need to do is train them properly." In the 1960 olypics in Rome, Murray Halberg, Peter Snell and Barry Magee all brought home medals under his coaching. They were just neighborhood kids with some talent when they started.

Many have said it and I'll say it again: What makes a champion is not how they deal with success, but how they deal with adversity and setbacks. I goofed up today, but I can try to make it good.

Training: 6 miles a.m., easy 8 minute mile pace, 4 miles p.m., probably with Haiden in the jogger.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Concessions

We all have to make them from time to time. There will always be scheduling conflicts, unexpected occurences, and sometimes a lack of motivation during any program. If I were to do the Lydiard method to perfection, I would be running 100 miles a week in a total of seven runs at a strong aerobic pace. I would also be doing extra second runs during some days at a slow pace, but these would not count towards the 100 mile goal. The "single" runs would be at least two hours one day, and at least 90 minutes on two days.

Here are my concessions to the schedule-
1. I count my second runs in my mileage total, so I usually have a total of 9 runs for the week that get me to my 100 miles.
2. I run about every second day at an easier pace, otherwise my body tends to break down. Lydiard himself wrote that if you feel sore or broken down, it's ok to back off and run slow. I use that to justify it. He wrote that running slower will still have an aerobic benefit, but it take longer to maximize it.
3. I sometimes don't make it to 100. My last 6 weeks were 100, 101, 95, 78, 100 and 96 miles. The week of the 78 I was tapering for a hard race, which leads me to number 4.
4. Lydiard stresses that you should never run above your lactate threshold during your base phase (first 10-12 weeks). Sorry Arthur, but I have three races during the base phase, and I have to break your rule here.

In reading posts on letsrun.com from people who knew Lydiard well, they acknowledge that Lydiard was willing to adapt his system to work with athletes in a variety of situations. Some just couldn't get to 100 miles a week, others had illnesses or other circumstances. In each case Lydiard made the best of the situation and brought out the best in his runners.

I know, it sounds like I'm ready to drink the kool-aid here, but I believe in order to succeed with a system you need to have confidence in it and understand the "why" of every workout. I felt like grim death for the last four miles of my 18 miler today, but the purpose of the run was to deplete my glycogen stores and teach my body to use fat more effectively as a fuel as a run progresses (a gel sure would have helped though).

When I'm mixing my gatorade after, my 3 year old comes up to me and says "Are you having your special running drink?" She helps me stir/spill it, and after listening to what she's been up to while I've been running I sometimes wonder if being gone so long on some of these runs is worth it.

Training: 18 miles at 7:12 pace. Went out strong, suffered the last four,
p.m. 8 miles at 6:45 pace with The Running Shop gang

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Even the losers get lucky sometimes

I won! It was a difficult race after a hard week of training, but I pulled off my first overall win ever with a 32:58 for 10k. Here's a link to the results if anyone is curious. Conditions were excellent, and the course was definitely short, but I managed a course record as well (only the second year for this course though). Only 150 participants, but I beat two quality runners that I struggle against regularly.

The race reminded me of my bike racing days; sitting in the main pack, trying to figure out who is strong and who is hurting, then making a move and hoping it will be enough. It was fun really "racing", instead of watching the lead pack from 20 seconds or more back. I know it was a "thin" field, but a win is a win. Moreover, I finished more than a minute faster than last year, with no speedwork. A result like this gives me confidence in the Lydiard method of training.

The argument for high mileage during base with the Lydiard system is that it is the most effective way of building capillary length and density, which makes your body more efficient. Lots of long runs teach your body to use glycogen more efficiently, while also tapping into fat as an energy source. Doing some of these runs at a fast (but still aerobic) pace helps boost your lactate threshold (the point where your body starts accumulating more lactate/waste products than it can clear), which helps stave off the "crash-and-burn" bonk runners get during a race. This is the second race I've run since I started following the Lydiard method, and I definitely feel better during the latter stages of racing. I used to go out hard and try to hang on for the last third of a race, now I'm using the last third to make up ground on other fading runners. During this last 10k race, I was certainly hurting, but I knew I had enough in the tank to still make a move with less than 3k remaining.

It was great to go home after the race and enjoy the weekend with the family. The kids are way too young to understand how much a win means to me, but my wife asked the perfect question when I got home- "Did you win?" It's great to have a wife who actually believes I can win a race, even though she's been around the sport enough to know how much faster some of the other runners are.

Training: Sunday, 10 miles total (including the 10k race)
Monday: 22 mile long run, 7:15 pace. Felt pretty strong the whole way, started slow.
Tuesday: 12 miles, 6 with Haiden in the jogging stroller, 6 by myself. Nice and slow, about 7:50 pace. Finished feeling good.
Total miles for the week: 96 (couldn't get the last 4 in Sunday evening, went to the park with Haiden instead, which is cool).

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tomorrow I Race!


That's Haiden, making cookies for carbo-loading. The day before a race I'm always a little excited and a little nervous. Tomorrow is a 10K that I placed 5th in last year, though it only had 180 runners. The course is not certified and I'm sure it's short, which means a P.R. is out of the question. I've been in Lydiard's base phase for about 6 weeks now, and while he advocates only "aerobic" running, I know I'll be in the red zone for most of the race. Since I haven't done any speed-work, and since this race will be the end of another 100 mile week, I have limited expectations. That being said, I am going to try to win it. I've never won a running race outright, and I probably don't realistically have much of a chance, but I have nothing to lose by trying.

My club, the Southern Arizona Roadrunners , hold a "grand-prix" competition, which is a series of 10 races throughout the year. Runners score points for placings in each race (the better you do, the more points you get). We're half-way through the season and I'm currently leading, so during grand-prix races I'm always a little cautious about going out too fast, blowing up, and wrecking my chances at a good placing. Since this is a "B" race and not part of the competition, I can give it full gas without worrying about the wheels coming off. Depending on who shows up, I may have a chance. Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion of the "El Tour 10k Run!"

Training: 8 miles easy along the Rillito River with the "Get Moving Tucson" crew. Ran with Randy, Kyle, Jermaine, Scott and Tia. Worked down from 8 to 7 minute pace, averaging 7:30. Legs feel like I could pop a good race tomorrow.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Running is like blogging?


Here's a pic of Arthur Lydiard in his "mature" days. I'll write more about the man soon, click the Lydiard link on the right to get a bit of biographical information if you can't wait. What's important to me now is somehow running 100 miles or so each week (maybe a little less if I'm racing one day of a given week). Lots of long, steady runs, some up to almost 3 hours at this point.

People on message boards and in real life ask what the point is of running so much, especially when there is no specific speed-work during this phase of training. My answer is simple-the more you do something, the more efficient you get at it, and the less effort you have to expend doing it. As I struggle in a Windows world trying to blog with no experience on my Apple iMac, the same thing happens. I spent a huge amount of time and effort yesterday getting started on this project, but this post is taking much less of each (thankfully). I've found whether it's changing diapers or uploading files via ftp, experience pays.

On a sporting note, great run today. I floated all ten miles, forcing myself to slow down for the last 2 to save myself for a 10k on Sunday.

Training: 10 miles, 8 of them at 6:55 pace.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

So this is blogging?

I started my journey about a month after our second child was born, which in hindsight wasn't such a good idea. Here's the short story- For the past few years I have been what I would call a decent club runner. Anywhere from 40-70 miles a week, some tempo runs and some shorter/faster track work. I generally finish in the top ten percent at local races from 5k on to the marathon. I've read a few training books by Jack Daniels, Pete Pfitzinger and some others, and I read Running Times/Runners World. I've pretty much trained the way people around me have, and I've enjoyed some limited success.

As I've meandered into my mid-30's, I've started to wonder just how good I could be at this sport, and maybe more importantly, how long do I have to improve before age starts taking its toll. Time inevitably marches on, and I will start slowing down. I don't know how I will deal with it, but I'm thinking facing that reality will be easier if I know in my heart I did all I could to exploit the talent I do have and became the best runner I could be while at the peak of my abilities.

So how do I do it? What's the secret? It's a question every competitive runner asks, and each finds their own answer. I sifted through countless articles, read and re-read my training books, read/posted/argued at letsrun.com, and I kept finding myself drawn towards one man.

His name is Arthur Lydiard. If you discuss training with anyone you've probably tossed his name around. He's dead now, which makes my task immeasurably more difficult than it might have been. I'll be writing about him quite a bit on this blog, along with details of my training, and certainly some musings on my family and life in general. But like a run, the hardest step is the first one out the door. This is mine.

Training: 6 miles a.m. with Haiden in the baby jogger, 4 miles p.m. (again with the jogger), all slow and easy