Thursday, July 09, 2009

Overdue Response

Here's a long overdue response to an email and comment from Lawrence:

Hope everything is going well for you. I'm the 38 year old runner from Uganda who has now done about 1.5 years of Lydiard training.

Do you have any pearls of wisdom for those of us who are doing another Lydiard build-up? I'm particularly interested about what you have learned about the "base phase".
1. With several iterations of experience, are you approaching your long run differently than during your first Lydiard build-up?

I still believe that "miles make champions", and I think the more time you can spend running during your base phase, the more injury resistant and better conditioned you will be for the more intense training that follows. For my long runs during my base phase, I'm trying to deal more effectively with the weather during the summer in Tucson, Arizona. I'm finding that in most cases I'm really worked over at about two hours when it's 80+ degrees Fahrenheit and over 50% humidity. My core temperature seems to rise enough that my central nervous system starts working to shut the runs down, which manifests in a strong desire to just stop running once I reach a patch of shade. I also find that if I can keep the long runs at or around 2 hours I can feel fairly well recovered on Tuesday's run (after a long run on Sunday). If I press on much longer than two hours, the body generally feels really sluggish through Tuesday and sometimes on into Wednesday. I think this is my way of finding and dialing in to the stress level that I can adapt and improve from rather than the maximum that I can tolerate. I think perhaps I did too many slow 22 milers during my first build during the summer, which made me good at running long and slow but not much else.

2. Have you found an optimal length for your 3/4 effort each week?

I go by Mystery Coach's advise when it comes to the 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 efforts: 1/4 is easy enough that you could repeat the run as soon as you finish it, 1/2 is an effort you could comfortably repeat the day after, and 3/4 is an effort you could repeat not the next day but the day after that (two days later). As far as length, I'm sticking to anything from a four miles on the faster end to seven miles at the slower end once a week.

3. What % of your MHR-Resting HR do you run your 1/4 efforts at?

I just run easy. I start slower than I used to (7:30-7:40 pace), and generally work down to around 7 min pace, although if I'm tired I'll sometimes only get down to 7:20 pace or so. I don't use a heart rate monitor except for evaluations or specific marathon pace runs where I'm looking for data to see where I'm at fitness-wise.

Any advice would be appreciated.

As I get older, I see myself simplifying my training a bit. During base, I like the idea of doing one run of 90 minutes and one of 2 hours for endurance, one session of faster paces (anything between marathon pace and 5K pace, longer if it's on the slower side and shorter if it's on the faster side), and one day of either a hill workout (bound, skip, do short sprints or longer threshold efforts, walk on your hands or just find some hills and grunt it out) or a short, turnover workout on the road or track (200 fast, 200 slow or 100 accelerate/sprint, 300 jog). I like fitting in three evening runs if I can to up the mileage, though since the temperatures are often around 100 degrees I keep these to 4-6 miles at no faster than 7:30 pace. These are parameters I shoot for, though I don't necessarily fit them all in each week.

Also, I've never really been a fan of recovery weeks, but after taking an easy week of running while on vacation in Carlsbad I find my legs to be feeling much better than they did after four consecutive weeks of 9 to 10 runs for 100 miles. I'm also noticing that the paces are faster this week than they were two weeks ago for the same effort, so if I notice the paces slipping again or if I feel run-down I don't think I'd hesitate to take another easy week. Hope this helps.



Mike said...

Hey Mike, good to hear from you. Thanks for this post, I found in quite insightful.

BTW - during the middle stages of my last build I used down weeks about once a month (went from 2 very tough wos to 1 wo and 1 cruise interval type session and cut the mileage 20%) and it was like a breath of fresh air for a good 2-3 weeks.

I don't use it during base, but at that middle stage right before the high intensity stuff, the down week has done wonders for me. (but then again, maybe it's just because I'm getting old!)

Ewen said...

Good read Mike.

Regarding recovery weeks and recovery in general... do you know any runners who use the Suunto t6c to measure heart-rate variability?

There are some studies that claim lack of beat-to-beat time variability is a sign of over-training. So this HRM can be used to guide hard/easy days and perhaps tell if a recovery week is needed.

Mike said...

Glad you've found what works for you Mike. Like you, I'm generally not a fan of recovery weeks during base, and the art of training lies in knowing when to back off when the intensity increases...hopefully before it's too late.

Ewen, I'm just not into putting that much emphasis into one indicator. I do take my heart rate after waking and compare it from day to day, but even that can vary based on sleep and other factors.