Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Past is Prologue

First of all, for those who would enjoy a great summary of how to approach and implement Arthur Lydiard's training, hop over to this page on the Lydiard Foundation's website and download the ridiculously large (5 meg) PDF file posted by Nobby Hashizume and his associates. The article is a fantastic resource and a must-read for those who are even the least bit curious about training the Lydiard way.

As I start building again for a December or January marathon I've started to look more and more at my training log. The coach I've been emailing started me down this path of reflection after diving in to my running past. "All the answers are in your training log" was what I remember him writing. Lydiard training revolves around the premise that training should be separated into different phases, and each progressive phase builds upon the work that precedes it. While Lydiard's writing guides runners with an approximate timeline for each of the phases of training, the right time to finish each of the unique phases should fall at the point where you've gotten the most you can out of that phase's training, rather than some arbitrary "4-6 weeks" or the like.

Easy to say, hard to do. We are inevitably tied to the calendar, as the dates for our races are set in stone after sending in the registration fee. This is where learning from the past comes into play. In my case, this coach pointed out that after about 8 weeks of conditioning training I was able to run 20-22 milers fairly comfortably at 6:40-6:45 pace. The times didn't really drop any further after this point, whether I was entering the hill phase (like my second build) or continuing conditioning training (like my first build). It would stand to reason that 8 weeks is probably a good amount of time to allow for conditioning this time around. Somewhere in Pennsylvania I hear "But your base doesn't magically disappear after one race". He's right of course, but I like starting from scratch, especially when I look at how slow I was running in the month after the last marathon. I feel the body needed the break I finally gave it, though your mileage may vary.

For the hill phase, 4 weeks seems to be the magic number for me. I've done this same amount twice before, and both times I came out of the phase feeling very strong and ready for fast running. Why mess with a good thing?

For the anaerobic and coordination phases, I'm still investigating. I think shorter works better for me than longer, though I think I need to pay more mind to shifting from longer, less intense efforts to shorter, more intense efforts as this phase progresses. I believe I might have flogged myself a little too hard through this phase during each of its two previous occurrences. More 50-sprint, 50-floats and less 5K all-outs in the last few weeks, which will hopefully better preserve the conditioning I will have worked hard to attain.

Finally, neither of my tapers have worked to my satisfaction. My tapers in the past have been described as either "too short" or "that's-even-shorter-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you!!!" I guess going longer will be the ticket this time.

This is part of why I harp on other runners to keep blogs for other runners to pick apart. There is some accountability there, and also it counteracts the brain's tendency to only remember the highs and the lows, when it's the day by day battles and miles that really count.

Training: 10 miles, 1:08:23, 6:50 pace


Lawrence said...

Interesting post. I'll have to have a read of the lydiard link. thanks.

I really agree with "the brain's tendency to only remember the highs and the lows". This is why it's so important to have an accurate log and review it.

Hunter said...

I looked at the original "Run To the Top" schedule and its later version, in the anaerobic phase, which all have 3 mi/6 mi time trial and 200m repeat. Now I understand better why 200m instead of 400 or 800 after today's workout, which I did 5X200 sprints after 6 mi tempo run, it really loads lactic acid to the legs.

Evan said...

There's a lot to discuss here ... One thing I wonder is if you shouldn't think about doing 1000-2000m repeats at 5k-10km pace for your VO2 work. Somewhere between the 5km time trial and the 50-50s. The 50-50s are great ... for bringing you to a peak to race 1500m-10000m, and maybe a good half. That has been my experience. Not sure they did me so much good when I put them in a marathon focused season.

Anyway, the thing I wanted to compliment you on in this discussion was your ending note that by posting training other, more objective, minds can help identify the highs and lows etc. I think that's very right.

tb1 said...

Thanks for the link. Accountabiltiy, huh? That's why I don't have a blog and probably why I haven't broken 4 hours.

Duncan Larkin said...

What, no quarters? Just kidding. My two cents are to do whatever you did in your last train-up, just don't race CIM the way you raced San Diego (ie. going anerobic in like the first 8 miles). I think you were in PR shape and just blew it during the race. I think you never lost fitness and that in a couple weeks you could have run a PR marathon at SF if your personal situation could have allowed it. If you do want advice other than 'keep doing what you did' then here goes...I am not advocating that you try to re-establish some Gibraltar base throwing weeks after weeks at slow aerobic running for no reason. Your base is right there under you as these faster daily runs indicate. It's time to attack with speed soon. It's time to run mile repeats and lay in the VO2 max stage sooner than before. Think of parallel work not serial. Mix that up more. Ok, I just stepped off my soapbox now. Good luck with the new plan.