Thursday, February 15, 2007


Today marked my second shorter "sharpening" workout for the week in anticipation of my two upcoming 5K races. Anyone who who has read Arthur Lydiard's texts is probably familiar with these workouts, either as 50-sprints, 50-floats or 100-sprints, 100-jogs. The coach had me down for 5 laps of the latter, and I headed out to my old nemesis, the rock hard junior high track to get it done. Every time I step off this track I swear I will never visit it again, but for short workouts like these it seems like a waste of time and gas to drive out to a more suitable track. I like the whole "sprint the straights, jog the turns" thing too, much more than staring blankly up the road and trying these workouts without any markers.

Generally when I'm feeling good I can hold about two miles of these types of workouts at about my 10K pace, so I was curious about where I would find myself pace-wise over a short five laps. When I got to the track after a slow four miles of warm up the infield was filled with kids playing soccer. Some temporary goals had been dragged onto lanes 1-4, and kids who weren't kicking the ball around were slowly jogging in groups on the inner lanes, swerving at the last minute around the goals then carving back to the rail in an obvious effort to cover as little ground as possible. I did the whole workout in lane 5 to stay clear of the melee, knowing that at any time I would probably be asked to leave. All in all the workout went well, and while the jogs got a little slower after about three laps I was at 5:13 pace for roughly a mile and held it to the end. Another five miles or so through Sabino Canyon and some neighborhoods found me back at the house after 10 miles.

I'll admit I really didn't like these workouts during my marathon program, but I'm guessing after doing enough of these types of workouts I'm starting to enjoy them. I try to visualize the muscles slowly filling up with waste during the efforts, then emptying out again during the jogs. All in all it was a good day.

Training: 10 miles, 1:06:33, 6:39 pace, w/1.4 miles at 5:07 pace (5 laps of 100 sprint/100 jog)


Abadabajev said...

As I have stated to Eric from North Dakota, there seem to be some flaws in the Lydiard program. Let's take one in particular; anaerobic training. Lydiard stated that it only takes 4-5 weeks to train the anaerobic energy. Yet if you look at coordination phase and race phase, the anaerobic system gets stretched out for another 6 weeks.

My question is to the MC(mystery coach if he/she has time to answer) is this a flaw? I believe it is or am I flawed? I know I'm probably flawed but this has been nauseating me for sometime. My theories are coming along fine but this area gets me to drive through red lights.

Mystery Coach said...

abadabajev, First read this post Arthurs Speed work. Actually when you look at the whole program, Arthur had 4 weeks of preliminary speed work (during the hill phase) before the 4 weeks of anaerobic capacity work, and 4 weeks of sharpening work with coordination work. In the above post I explain how each of these phases work on different parts of anaerobic running. In some ways all running is anaerobic (it is the primary loop in the cycle) only if oxygen is added to the cycle does it complete the burning of the fuel. If there is not enough oxygen then lactate is left. Now lactate can used for energy inside the cell ( if it has been conditioned to use lactate ( during the volume anaerobic phase ( 20x400, 5x1000, 8x800, etc)). If the cell itself can not use the lactate it is dispersed into the blood steam and picked up by other muscles (especially the heart muscle). You have to produce a lot of lactate to condition the muscles to use it but to do that that work for longer than 4-5 weeks causes problems with a number of enzyme processes. It is that point you use racing or short sharp work. Racing is anaerobic ( and can handle the load of lactic acid through the anaerobic capacity work) but it can continue for a long period of time as long as you give enough relief between efforts.

Abadabajev said...

Darn darn darn. I forgot about the preliminary speed work at the bottom of the hill. I forget a lot of things lately. So lactate can be burned for fuel if you do adequate anaerobic volume. Got it.

One more question if I may(I got so many). In an anaerobic state, only the quick energy is burned;no fats. If an athlete is burning lactate for fuel as energy, is he/she burning carbohydrate as well? That would imply a great abundance of energy (lactate+carbo simultaneously) or is that a dumb question?

Thank you in advance.

Mystery Coach said...

abadabajev, You have a very good question about the quick energy. Studies by George Brooks at Berkley show that lactate is actually the quickest energy source for fast running (see Brooks lactate ). Proper training develops the pathways into the mitochondria so that they can produce energy. When you run fast glycogen is the quickest energy source, this produces lactate which the mitochondria picks up and with oxygen produces a lot of energy. Volume anaerobic work maximizes this pathway development. Where as long steady running develops the supply of oxygen, volume anaerobic work maximizes its' utilization.