Monday, January 07, 2008

Ask the Mystery Coach

Hello Mystery Coach,

I recently began base training for Boston. Below is the first two weeks from
my training log, which is typical of what I plan on doing for the next two
months. I'd like to know what you think of my training thus far, and if you
have any suggestions on how to train more effectively.

mon: 7 easy
tue: 10 w/ 8 hard 600m hill repeats
wed: 7.5 treadmill w/5@MP(9.5mph)
thu: 9.5 easy (7:50s)
fri: 14 steady, hills, windy, tough (7:20s)
sat: 6 easy
sun: 16 easy, blizzard, no traction (7:55s)

total: 70

mon: 6 easy, snowy, no traction
tue: 10 w/ 8 hard 600m hill repeats
wed: am - 8 treadmill w/5.75@MP(9.5mph), pm - 4 easy
thu: 10 easy (7:50s)
fri: 14 steady, dead legs, felt crappy (7:10s)
sat: 8 very easy (8:20s)
sun: 20 easy, very windy, good run (7:50s)

total: 80



Kurt, I'm going to have to answer your question with a group of questions that will help you decide how to train more effectively.

How are you checking the progress of your base level training?

You should have some method of checking on how efficient your base training is going. I prefer a 3-4 mile steady run once every two or three weeks ( pace about 80 second slower per mile than 5K pace or 20 seconds per mile slower than marathon pace) You should measure your heart rate during the run and keep it consistent during your build. If you are progressing efficiently the pace will get faster at that HR and the speed of recovery will get quicker (the time for your HR to fall to 130, 120, 110 BPM). If both of these measures fail to progress evaluate if you are doing too much hard training (the treadmill running at marathon pace or the hill repeats would be the first workouts to modify).

How much "mental" effort are you putting into your base training?

Most of your efforts during the base building phase should low efforts. Read the next passage by Percy Cerutty which explains why "willing" too hard at this stage is counter productive:

THE USE OF THE WILL. I have long said, THE USE OF THE WILL. I have long said, that the real use of the will is a “starter”. That is, to get us out of bed to train, rather than to conduct our training as if it was necessary to kill ourselves by continuous ill—advised effort.

Whilst I, and none better, recognize the need of serious and hard effort both in training and racing, I also realize that an over use of the will to ever-lastingly drive us along, day after day, year after year, can in time, end in nothing but staleness.

True, we must be conditioned to do certain efforts, almost routine, but the over—use of the will in exhausting and punishing “do or die” efforts is to be depreciated,

Very often, those blessed with a powerful will, a will that has been the means of lifting their efforts from the mediocre to class performance, these are the very people who find difficulty in using their will in the reverse direction, These athletes find the greatest difficulty in forcing themselves to take a rest, a holiday. to “give it away” for a week, a month, or a year.

The worse their performances become, the more they aggravate the trouble by “willing”, and by redoubled efforts strive to succeed despite Nature’s warnings and symptoms.

Your hard training (specific and speed type) should only start eight to ten weeks out from your race (with the heaviest mileage and speed workouts from eight until four weeks out. Save your mental effort for that time period.

What specific workout will indicate you are reaching peak racing shape?

This workout whether it is a race type effort ( 3- 6 miles ) or a repetition workout like the 1000 meter repeat workout that you have seen Mike use should be close to what you have achieved before when you have had your best races. By gradually getting to that level sometime in the last 30 to 10 days before the race you will know that you have put all the parts together properly for a good race.

Answer the above three questions and you'll be ready for a good race on April 21st.

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