Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Ask the Mystery Coach
If I am trying for a sub-2 hour half marathon, what should my pace be for long runs?
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device
This general question lends itself to two answers and with the two answers an important (perhaps the most) underlying principle of Arthur's system.
Arthur observed that a runner could not race and do fast work continually or else the runner would become jaded mentally and physically. Arthur had two very distinct phases in his program where his athletes did "no" sharpening work or racing. The one most runner recognize is the 10 weeks of marathon running the second was after the track racing period where the runners would "train off" with easy running (an hour a day 6 days a week and one day 2-2 1/4 hours) for 4-8 weeks. Both of these periods allowed the runner to recover from the "wound up state" of racing and speed work while still allowing for development.
This "wound up state" allows a runner to ignore fatigue which is good news when you are in racing season but bad news any other time. Most runners can identify with this "wound up state" but have a hard time controlling what they should be doing during it (the body fools the brain into thinking it is not fatigued). Arthur saw that only six weeks of sharpening combined with time trails and controlled racing is all that is needed to get to a "wound up state". After this the emphasis was on hard racing and "comfortable" training efforts.
When you identify that you have entered this wound up state is the time to stop doing hard workouts (even if you feel that you need them). It is when runner ignore this point that they become "jaded" as Arthur observed and it is time to go back to that "train off" phase and allow for the deep recovery that every runner needs at least a third of every year.
So what are the two paces for the long run that "afunrun" ask about? Initially until six weeks before the race it should be at a pace that allows for completing the long run easily (as a guess without knowing more about this runner's background 10-12 minutes a mile for up to two hours). Then with six weeks to go run parts of the long run so that put some effort into it working on a fast relaxed pace, jog a mile then repeat until you have had enough. By following this that "wound up state" will show up and get you ready for a good racing performance.