Monday, October 15, 2007

Ask the Mystery Coach

Mystery Coach,

What happened to Mike at Twin Cities?


This might be better left for MC’s 'Question & Answer' period on Monday, but given you raced last weekend, I’m curious about the length of your recent runs, 49:51 and 1:02:05. I realize everyone has their own strategy, and we all recover at different rates (me quite slowly), but your jaunts appear on the aggressive side … thoughts? Do you have any immediate goals?"


Mike & Michael, These two questions are linked and part of the answer starts here:

By the 8 a.m. starting time the temperature was 74 degrees and the relative humidity was 87 percent, according to the race's medical director, Bill Roberts. The race uses an index called the wet bulb globe temperature, which takes into account the temperature, humidity and the effect of sunlight. Put those together and you get the hottest Twin Cities Marathon ever.

Because of his size (6'2" 170lbs) Mike has a bigger disadvantage than most runners when running in high humidity heat. Before the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta Danish researcher Bodil Nielson had calculated that runners weighing 143lbs would not be able to sweat fast enough to remove the heat generated by running at 2:10 marathon pace. The first and second runners in that race (77 degrees with relative humidity 70 percent) weighed 95lbs and 100lbs respectively. When compared to a runner like the winner (Josiah Thugwane South Africa) Mike has 79% more heat generating mass but only has 47% more skin surface ( 1.37 square meters vs 2.01 square meters) to cool himself. Since Mike's Body Mass Index is in the same range as most marathoners losing weight will not give a big enough offset to give him an advantage in the heat.

Mike has indicated that the race because of the limited nature of the heat has taken less out of him than some of the long training runs used during this build hence his return to those training runs. One advantage I have this time around is that Kiera and his Dr are in charge of his not running for recovery.

Since Mike is in good shape he is deciding on a cooler marathon in the next few months and the plan is to maintain his condition with some racing and maintenance long runs.

In the base phase how long should the tempo runs be, in Mr Lydiard's original training (with Snell etc) his guys were doing 10 miles. In later training plans I have seen 5k -10k recommended, some times once a week other times he recommends twice per week, what do I follow? I have a good background in running since 1993 and am now into week 5 of base training


Rick, Arthur found out early in his training that mixing up the distances and paces gave better results than running the same distance everyday. Running all distances from 2 miles and up can give different types of benefits (shorter days give glycogen levels a chance to recover and can help your biomechanics, longer days develop stamina qualities in those harder to recruit fast twitch fibers) The goal is to mix up the paces and recoveries. I've used all distances from 2- 10 miles for the faster runs but remember these are not races or race simulations (those are used during the peaking stage) use them to aid recovery and to stimulate the muscle fibers to work a faster rate.

Hello coach,

I am always looking at your training in the context of a marathon schedule. You even gave a great outline a few weeks back that was super awesome. How exactly would you design a plan for another distance? Lets say a 5k runner. Would the back to backs still be of importance? Would the speed work be more intense and would there be more of it? Lydiard's schedule's didn't very much in the base phase or the hill phase, even the track phase was pretty similar regardless of distance. I'm wondering what kind of changes you would have made in Mike's schedule if his goal had been a 5k?


Jesse, The conditioning and hill phases would be the same but during the peaking phase there would be more emphasis on the speed work, not more of it, but with the goal of keeping the legs fresh so that you can do the faster work needed to compete over the 5K. This means you might have to run the long run slower than during the conditioning phase or cut it back to about 75% of it's length. The important thing is to condition yourself well during the conditioning phase so you can hold up to the faster work and recover faster from the speed work. The back to backs during the conditioning period aid in the ability to recover faster and will show their benefit once you start your speed work.


Mike said...

Jesse, have you run your marathon yet? We need a report.

Coach, thanks for this post and for answering my question (and for putting up with me referring to myself in the third person). When Nobby mentioned the increased role heat plays as far as my somewhat minimal surface area he tried to be delicate about it with the analogy of splitting me in half down the middle. I guess two 85 pound runners might have a better go at it (with their increased surface area to dissipate heat), and I felt a bit split down the middle myself by mile 23.

Michael said...

So... what is next, or does that depend on your recovery? I did Ottawa 4-5 weeks after London, but that was less than ideal as I was also getting married in the summer. There has been talk about a cooler marathon, Phoenix, Houston?

Anonymous said...

Mike you are a beast. I say lace um up and run Tuscon in December. I seem to race so much better after having slept in my own bed.

Keep up the great work!