My next question deals with weight training. Whats your thoughts on weight training for distance runners? Lydiard says it numerous times that his guys didn't use weights, just ran hills. Weight training just seems to be such a common practice amongst runners today. I tried time and time again to apply the "hill running as strength training" principle and time and time again wound up injured. Without fail I develop a muscle imbalance in my quads that results in a tracking problem within my knee. Last time I developed ITBS.
So whats your thoughts on weight training? Will the strength gains carry over into running? If so can you offer some suggestions on how to weight train so that it complements a running schedule(i.e rep ranges .exercises etc.)?
Jesse, Arthur had an interesting view on weight training, if you had time for it that you would be better served doing more running instead of weight training, yet he also recommended weight training for some of the national teams that he advised when they did not have hills available. I have found that weights can be used to replace the hill phase. Squats and reverse lunges are very effective for developing the upper leg in a balanced way. (2-3 sets of 10 resting about a minute between, 2-3 times per week (We used less than 1/3 body weight working more on form and full range of motion).
Before you give up on the hills though I have observed that many runners start too quickly, too steep and with too great of volume when first starting on the hills. You can get excellent results with something as short as 100 yards and not very steep. Since you have an imbalance in your quads concentrate on the pull through (almost like a pawing motion) and the extension behind your hips (you'll feel this in your butt and hamstrings). Jog 4-5 minutes easy at the top then stride down the hill, working on bringing the knees up and a light quick push off. Work on this 1 to 3 times in a session 2-3 times per week. Think about what you want to achieve on the hills, feel where you are putting the stress (ankles, calves, hamstrings, or quads) and adjust your session as needed.
It always takes me a long time to warm up properly on my runs. It takes between 2 and 3 miles each day to get up to my target pace, and I usually feel slow and stiff for those first 15-20 minutes.
For any race up to the half marathon distance, I can easily warm up by jogging for 20 minutes. That's not a problem. But for a marathon, I would hesitate to spend so much time and energy before the start of the race. On the other hand, I don't want to start with 3 slow miles. I know the marathon is a long race, but if I lose 30 seconds per mile for each of the first 3 miles, I'm well behind my target time, and playing catchup-up for 23 miles isn't the most appealing of thoughts - it also might put me into the wrong frame of mind, if I try to make up for lost time and run too fast.
What's your recommendation?
Thomas, What I usually recommend sounds like will put you in the wrong frame of mind but let me see if I can prevent that. The marathon is very fuel dependent and there are two critical times during the beginning of the race. The first 10 minutes where the lactate processing engine can get up to it's maximum rate so that lactate can be used efficiently for fuel, the second is at about 30 minutes where the fat metabolism has risen to a high enough level to contribute a good amount of your energy thus saving glycogen. By giving up 40-60 seconds in the first 30 minutes can save far more than that in the last 5 kilometers of the marathon. As you can see a slower start is not all that bad, but how can we get you up to those speeds (10-15 seconds slower per mile) with out giving up the 30 seconds per mile (for the first three) and not wasting fuel running with a long warm up? Try and running 5 to 10 times 100 meters with a slow walk back as a warm up. The first 100 should be just a jog then each one after that should be a bit faster until you get to marathon pace on the last one. This might take a bit of experimenting on your part to find the right number and whether it will work for you. You should try this before some of your training runs and see if it get you to the desired level of being loose. Two other things you can try. The first is run your regular warm up the day before the race. Many runners take the full day off and end up feeling stiff the day of the race. The second may not be practical but a 5 minute hot soak about an hour before the race then changing into a warm up suit to keep the warmth in the legs can help speed up a warm up. Experiment with these suggestions a number of times before your race so you gain confidence that the warm up will work the way you need it to.