Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tapping in to it

Deep down there must be some well of fitness, waiting to be tapped. I've run literally thousands of miles since starting to train the Lydiard way almost a year ago. In short, I don't feel I need to go back to the beginning at this point and start rebuilding my fitness from scratch. Duncan has mentioned as much in the past, as have other coaches, bloggers and runners I trust. I do find myself at a bit of an impasse though, with a half marathon two months off and a marathon either in October or at the beginning of next year (I still haven't decided at this point).

The question is, what do I need in order to be primed for the half marathon and to still be able to improve en route to a fall or winter marathon? Taking a look at how I've been recovering (or not) over the past month, I'm beginning to realize that while I'm still pretty sharp from the harder and faster workouts I've done, I'm feeling pretty wiped out after the longer efforts. This used to not be the case.

My plan is to maintain some short, quick efforts (think fast but relaxed 200's as well as 100 strides), but to focus on lengthening my runs and working on more marathon pace, tempo pace, and progression runs. Here's a rough guide of what I'm thinking about-

.....Week 1....Week 2.....Week 3
MO: 12..........12.............16
TU: 12MP......16PR.........12
WE: 18..........10.............12MP
TH: 12FL......18FL..........18
FR: 10..........12............12FL
SA: 16MP.....10T...........10
SU: 22.........24.............22PR

MP=Marathon Pace (some of the run)
FL=Fartlek, like 1 mile MP one off or faster
T=Tempo, 5:35-5:40 (maybe 5:45 early)
PR=Progression down to MP or tempo
(+3 evening runs a week of 4-6 miles)

Don't hold me to the miles exactly, as this is just an outline, and I'm planning on working my way up to the efforts. Today, for instance, I didn't do the marathon pace work but I did bring the pace down to 7 minutes flat for the run after doing the first half at about 7:30 pace. Hopefully next week will be a bit faster.

The schedule is a bit of a holding pattern, and I plan to use it to figure out exactly where I am lacking. Evaluation is going to come from paying attention to how I feel during the run and after. I recently got an email from a coach who has worked with the Lydiard method, and two axioms he mentioned that Arthur stated in interviews but not specifically in his books were-

1 Workouts show what condition you are in, they don't make you into that condition.

2. How easily you recover from a workout is a better indication of your condition than the workout itself.

Many of the efforts I will be doing in the coming weeks are similar to the "time trials" done towards the end of a Lydiard cycle in the "coordination phase". This coach agreed with Nobby that I was not recovering enough from these efforts before my last marathon, gauging by the number of times I mentioned being tired and sore during this phase. He writes, "This is where the time trials can help (not in how fast you run them but in how easy they feel, and how quickly you recover). They can tell you if you need more rest, more leg speed work, or some hard over-distance work."

The legs and body were telling me, but I was too caught up in chasing times and working hard for "works" sake that I didn't listen. This cycle is about paying attention to these signs, hopefully things will go well.

Today was a step in the right direction, as while I was dragging at the beginning of the run, once we hit the 10 mile mark I started feeling very good. Lucas and I were able to drop the pace a bit, and if I wasn't expected to be home at 6:30 and if Lucas had been cleared by his coaches to go longer I probably would have opted to go a little longer to make it a 16 mile day. A big dinner and a good amount of sleep no doubt contributed to me feeling good, and I'll take it.

Training: 13 miles, 7 minute pace, 90 minutes or so


John said...

Mike, I just came across your blog and I'm really enjoying it. You're bringing up some thought-provoking issues in the endless drive to run better and faster.

On your easy/recovery runs, how fast are you running them? One of my problems is I think I'm running them too hard. Of course it doesn't feel that way during the run, but I should probably go slower.

Whenever you read about the Kenyans or Japanese, it always sticks out that they run some very slow mileage at 8, 9 or even 10 minutes a mile. I know not all their mileage is done at this snail-like pace, but it's hard to argue with results.

keep up the great work and hope you get to sub-2:30...

dezmo said...

Mike, I really enjoy your blog and you seem to be a heckuva nice guy ... which makes this that much harder. We (the advocates of a smidgen of rest) have tried to be polite and nudge gently. Well, that approach does not appear to be working.


I know that your schedule is an outline ... just preliminary. Unfortunately you are a very goal oriented and determined person so I shall treat it as gospel. Let's look at week #2, shall we? 102 miles without counting the doubles. And no less than four hard workouts on top of that (a 24 miler is hard no matter what the pace). Perhaps you could point me to a national class runner doing this kind of schedule but I doubt it. Should I even mention little things like kids, wife, and job?

Let's look at the bigger picture. You have now run seven marathons with a pretty consistent rate of improvement. Why are you so bent on "revolutionizing" your training. Try some "evolution" and let it come to you. You obviously have a pretty good handle on how to train ... stop thinking about it so much. Throw away that book!!!

So what is the key? I'll start with the politically correct, "It's different for everyone." For starter's focus on the key workouts and let your body rebuild (either short or slow, maybe both) on the fill in days. Sorry for the rant ... you can have your blog back now.

Duncan Larkin said...

I'll be a doctor in this comment box. Symptom: bonking in final miles of multiple marathons, unable to run goal pace for 26.2. Reasons: went anerobic too fast and lacking muscular strength to sustain goal pace. Possible cure: quarters, overdistance runs, threshold runs, and finding the right fast marathon that simulates the climate and conditions of Tucson, Arizona. Some of this in in your plan and some isn't. Food for thought.

Thomas said...

Just out of curiosity, what happened to the idea of doing your longest runs early in the week?

Eric said...

You're right dezmo, there are probably not many national class runners doing this type of schedule. Most of them are doing more. Mike will get there, though. Keep in mind this is the beginning of year two of a minimum three year commitment.

Having followed Mike's training for some time now, I think this is an evolutionary step, as opposed to the constant revolution you mentioned. The mileage is 10-15% greater than last year, and the regimen has evolved to focus more on strength and stamina rather than speed.

It's all good stuff. I wouldn't recommend this schedule to someone who hasn't put in the groundwork beforehand, but it makes sense for someone who has. Sure it's a huge volume of work, and it's very challenging to put in four tough workouts a week. What's your point?

Mike said...

Hey John, I'm I Garmin freak like you so I do keep track of my recovery run speed in my log, which I need to update. 7:20+ for easy days is what seems to work for me. I make the mistake of doing these too fast in the summer just to get out of the heat (I know, I should go by time).

Dezmo, I do appreciate your concern and since your comment made me laugh out loud (in a good way) I'll address it in a post (though I won't dedicate it to you like Duncan.

Speaking of Duncan, as a doctor your practice must be propped up by the "quarters" industry the way most are on the take from the pharmecutial industry. Maybe I'll throw some in just for you, but they will be shockingly slow (remember that Hudson's article). I think 200's will work better for me, they're short enough to keep the lactate from building up.

Thomas, Kiera joined the gym and Lucas is now doing longer runs, so the combination has made me change things a bit. I'm thinking of going back to starting my weeks on Sunday so I still could do the long run "early".

Eric, you should be posting on your own heroic 2 mile run at 3:45am. Wait, what am I doing here at 4:15 myself? Thanks for the comments, I think Brian Sell would be exhibit A since his log is pretty visible.

Runner Chic said...

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!! If it is telling you it is tired then know when you can push and know when to back off and stop all together.

Also, am I following your example plan right?... You are running everyday?? I would disagree with this type of training. You are at a much higher risk of injury. Where is your cross training?

To me it sounds more like full marathon trainingn rather than a half.

Just concerned. Robin

Duncan Larkin said...

Mike, I am beholden to the 'big quarters' industry. Greg Meyer, Bill Rodgers, Bob Hodge and Emil Zatopek are on the board of directors. Seriously, I only threw them out as an idea b/c I found that my energy levels at mile 24 of Napa were at an all time high and the only difference between the trainup for Napa and other marathons were a couple quarters sessions.

dezmo said...

Mike, I'm glad you took my post in the right way. All of your minnions can post 'til we're blue in the face but you're the one who makes (and lives with) the ultimate decisions.

Eric, let's agree to disagree on the level of training. Throw in five days of doubles and this schedule is probably well over 130 miles per week. What's my point? That is a good question, I obviously did not make it well. This schedule (heck all of you sub 2:30 guys schedules) is very impressive. I have no doubt that it can be done. The point is don't get so obsessed with a training schedule that you leave your best race on the training table. The goal is to run the race as fast as possible.

I'll sign off now as I'm about to be struck by lightning from the hypocrite cloud floating above my head.

Evan said...

At the end (or beginning, since it's summer) of the day none of us are there standing in your shoes and knowing what the legs feel. There are also times when the right thing to do is to push through the fatigue and keep the mileage up, so while a little bit of caution is always necessary, it's not always a problem when someone says "I'm tired, but I'm pushing on".

There's also nothing too wrong with the 3 week schedule you posted. I'd be tempted (a la Joe Rubio) to make at least one of the 10 mile days 2 x 5 to make it more of a recovery day , but perhaps that's not feasible without a treadmill in Tucson in summer.

Moreover, you're obviously in great shape as evidenced by the 5km PR. So you don't want to lose that fitness.

My concern is the bigger picture, the "macrocycle" if you were to use a high-falutin' word from Pfitzinger's books. You mentioned that in the last build-up you felt more tired, that you forced things a bit to reach the goal pace, and didn't recover as quickly. That's a warning sign.

You don't need to abandon your 102 mile week on singles. You might just need a 30-40 mile recovery week where you potter round for 5 miles a day, before you start it. It will be mentally hard, you will feel out-of-practice for two days when you step back up to high mileage, but it might just keep you on the right side of the fine line we're all searching for.

Greg said...

I do agree with something Evan pointed out in his comment. It doesn't seem like you believe very much in a stepback week every now and then. If you look at your last training cycle, you pretty much went full bore for the entire 12 weeks. I think a stepback week of 50-60 miles every 5 weeks or 2 months would allow your body to adapt and you would come back at it with a higher level of fitness. I have no idea what Lydiard's philosophy is on an occasional stepback week, but that's the one thing that really jumps out at me.

Omniscient said...

I think the program looks pretty solid. However, what seemed to jump out at me was the 18 mile day between your two workouts mid week. I am not sure if you intend to do two runs on this alleged recovery day but that is what I would recommend. An 18 mile day may be a bit too ambituous when sandwiched between workouts.

I really like having 2 days of recovery between focused efforts. Besides, it is pointless to do a workout that you are unable to hammer due to the fact that your body is not recovered from the last hard effort.

Anyways, I discussed this recovery run with Dan and he recommended using a heart rate monitor to make sure that you stay within a range optimal for recovery.

I'm sure that I probably reiterated what half of the CE's pundits just stated but I have trouble reading comments in the 5 paragraph form.

Only kidding.

Group run tonight?