Friday, December 15, 2006

Anaerobic Conundrum

While there are still a few cobwebs around the legs, I feel like my stride is starting to come back. The hip flexors felt better today than yesterday, and while I don't really feel like diving down to marathon pace or below it feels like I probably could...if forced. I got out for a short six miles this morning along some of the Slow Down loop, starting slowly at first then gradually dropping the pace down towards where "easy" ends.

I've spent the last few days thinking about one of three articles Mystery Coach linked to in his comments on Eric's training blog. It seems that since the dawn of time runners have been divided into different camps about how much anaerobic training is optimal to aid performance for their given events (and at what intensity), and in this article Ingrid Kristian shares her views about the potential damage too much anaerobic work at too high an intensity with too little recovery can cause. This is my favorite quote from the article-

"We repeat again: Higher concentrations of lactic acid in the muscles can damage the cell walls in your muscles, while the number of anaerobic enzymes can be increased at the cost of aerobic enzymes. Therefore, hard and painful lactic acid training can easily give you a negative result. Congratulations! You have trained hard and brutally, with the result that you run much slower."

Arthur Lydiard often wrote about the dangers of too much anaerobic conditioning, and he maintained (depending on which text) that an athlete could reach the maximum benefits of anaerobic training in 4-8 weeks. He shared Ingrid's views on the potential damage an overabundance of anaerobic training could have on the aerobic system.

As I wander from the shallow end of the pool where I've been recovering for the past two weeks out into the deep-end of anaerobic training for some shorter events this spring I have to figure out just how hard I should work to avoid the trap that Arthur and Ingrid mention. If you've read this blog for awhile you know this isn't me attempting to take the easy way out and avoid hard training. Believe it or not I enjoy running fast, but it does take a toll and I'm trying to find the optimal balance that gives me the best results for the effort I put in.

Training: 6 miles, 41 minutes, 6:50 pace


Andrew said...

Lydiard would say 3x per week, no distance, no time. Work until tired. Rest. Purpose is to lower pH level in blood. How you do that doesn't matter.

Possibly start with minimum # of weeks to be conservative first time out?

After say 4 wks, switch to specific distance training w/sharpeners.

Myself, I would suggest keeping the distance between 400 and 1200 so to avoid pacing and changing the workout to VO2max improvement instead of anaerobic buffering.

But I haven't done it and I certainly don't look forward to the day when I have to either.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking of going whole hog aerobic (there's a coaching philosphy) and getting my speed strictly from aerobic capacity and some strides for mechanical efficiency. If a 10k is still 90+ percent aerobic, why develop the anaerobic component at all?

I'm kind of playing devil's advocate. Kind of. I'm kind of afraid of the pain, too.

Anonymous said...

Anaerobic training really is simple. You don't need a watch. No HRM. You don't need markers on the road. Lydiard said you need to incur an oxygen debt and withstand it.

The oxygen debt is easy, all I have to do is let my dog loose after you, you will incur a debt whether you like it or not. Haiden and Griffen might cheer on, whether for the dad or the dog, I don't know.

Withstanding the oxygen debt, is another matter. You start small, and like your aerobic training, you need to progress and continue to hold that uncomfortable feeling for longer duration. Also you should be fatigued after a bout of anaerobic. How fatigued? Try this, when swear words enter your mind, that's the signal. Horwill's article says you should need help off the track after your workout.

However I did not see it(the progression) in your anaerobic training logs(I could be going senile here). I'll need to re-read some of your blogs to make sure I'm not making a fool of myself here but it was something I noted when I was trying to catch up all your blogs.

fartleker said...


I'm going to be back in town this weekend. If you would be interested in going for an easy run on Saturday or Sunday, please give me a call.