Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mike's Schedule Explained (The conditioning phase)

As expected Mike's schedule is based on the Lydiard system. The word system is very important when talking about Arthur's training philosophy as most athletes, coaches and physiologist focus on the individual tools of his system (marathon training, hills, sprint work and recovery) and not Arthur's explanation of how it fits together. Before the 1960 Olympics in Rome where Snell's Gold at 800 meters, Halberg's Gold at 5000 and Magee's Bronze in the Marathon brought his system to world attention Arthur wrote an article for the New Zealand Amateur Athletic Coaches Associations Monthly Bulletin. It is interesting reading Arthur's thoughts before he had to defend himself against the physiologists ("medical people" as he called them), not one word about oxygen debt, not a word about aerobic or anaerobic thresholds. A few things stand out in the article but the one I'm going to touch on here is the bases for Mike's schedule.

Arthur's important point number 5

"The important thing is to reach peak fitness on the day desired - that is the test of trainers and training schedules." - Arthur Lydiard

This may have been Arthur's biggest contribution to the sport and the most overlooked. So what prevents most athletes from peaking at the correct time? It is none other than this point made by Arthur; "The essential point to remember is to hold yourself in, train, not strain" I have seen too many athletes turn their conditioning phase of their training into a 10-12 week survival stretch where every single week is an attempt to survive until the next week. Arthur warned against this; "We all know that we have to be racing fit to win championships, but if we were to race and do fast work continually, the strain would eventually wear gown our condition so that we would become jaded mentally and physically."

This is where in Mike's schedule the initial 10 weeks will be holding him in, allowing his mind and body crave the fast and very hard work that will show up for his 5 week peak period (with the specific back to back training days and volume speed workouts). In this initial phase almost all the work is done below what Arthur called the steady state. In looking over many athletes schedules over the years the upper limit of the steady state appears to be about 10-15 seconds per mile slower than marathon race pace (another formula I use is take a 5K time divide by 5 and multiply by 6 (in Mike's case 16.1 divided by 5 equals 3.22 times 6 equals 19.32 (divided by 3.11 to get pace per mile) equals 6.21 or about 6:12 per mile). He'll be running only at the upper level for 10-20% of his miles with most of his running at about 95% (or less) of that pace (6:36 per mile for Mike). (If you use a heart rate monitor coach Dr. Philip Maffetone's formula's (180-age) is a good upper level to work at during the conditioning phase (He like Arthur understands the importance of not straining during the conditioning phase))

The important thing to remember about the conditioning phase is to build your physical and mental reserves so that you'll be ready for the hard race like conditioning that comes in the two months before the goal race. In my next post I'll go over peaking training and some of the mistakes that can be avoided during that phase.


Abadabajev said...

I understand Lydiard's system. I clearly stated to Nobby on that hills should be maitained up until 3 weeks before race day. Nobby does not agree with me on this which is fine. Power development is a life contract. You can never have enough of it. This is where I see Lydiard's hills fall short. But what the heck do I know any. I am glad you will push more hills on Mike. Good move here.

This is where in Mike's schedule the initial 10 weeks will be holding him in

I'm sorry but I have to be direct here and hope not to get heckled or banned.

to MC:
I cannot for the life of me see how you can 'sit' on Mike for 10 weeks. What modifications will you bring to the table which will allow Mike to restrain from going ballz to the wall?

Recovery runs according to some quick math should be in around 7:20 to 7:30 mile pace. I believe there are only 2 instances of that in the last 5 months. Also I cannot locate any recovery weeks at all in his last regimen. That is a major failure. I know you penned recovery weeks but Mike just ignored them.

to Mike:
I posted this many moons ago but worth repeating;I know this is not what you want to hear Mike, but I truly believe that you still lack confidence in the Lydiard way. There are times to train hard, and you definitely do, and there are times to recover, and you do not. You're still not getting the recover and adapt concept.

Good luck with your next build.

Mystery Coach said...

Abadabajev, I agree with you about the hills. Arthur himself spoke about sharp hills and 50/50s as being the best ways to bring an athlete to peak form. Not long after that article Kari Sinkonen (Coach of Olympic 1500 meter Gold Medalist Pekka Vasala)wrote about how they used the hill springing until just a couple of weeks before 1500 win by Vasala at Munich Olympic Games.

I'm not as exacting on the recovery pace as long as the athlete feels like it is relaxing to them and they are not pressing for a pace.

Omniscient said...

Having just completed a recovery run with Mike just this morning, I can honestly say that 6:35-6:45 is a relaxed pace for Mike and one that is conducive for recovery.

I truly believe that as an athlete gains a greater "aerobic reservoir" or puts miles upon miles of aerobic running under their belt, they become more efficient and, thus, are able to run at a greater speed with greater efficiency. Additionally, I think it is beneficial to eschew mile paces and listen to your body which I think Mike does extremely well. If he didn't have a GPS System, he would merely indicate on his blog the time he was out running and the effort he put out (easy, moderate, or hard). Today, for example, we ran about 10.25 miles at 6:45 pace and it felt like we were crawling. However, without the GPS, I would have assumed, as would Mike, that we were running at a very easy, manageable pace.

Anyways, this is just my opinion as I have always believed that numbers are just numbers and the only true benchmark is yourself.

Mike said...

"I have seen too many athletes turn their conditioning phase of their training into a 10-12 week survival stretch where every single week is an attempt to survive until the next week." I think this is a thinly veiled reference to me as much as any runner out there who has used base building as an excuse to pummel himself instead of build himself up. I think my first two Lyiard-based builds are examples of this. Abadabajev might be right about my lack of confidence, but I attribute it to my own inability in the past to recognize my limits rather than any inherent distrust in Lydiard's methods.

I'm glad the coach wrote this post, as it explains the 6:12 pace much better than I did!

Omni, it's always a pleasure to run with you, and I'm glad you and Lucas made the long trip up this morning. Haiden and Finn thank you too.

Dusty said...

Great info, questions and topics - thanks for sharing with all.