Friday, September 04, 2009

14 Weeks Out

Mo: 10 miles at 7:08 pace
Tu: 12 miles w/10 at 6:19 pace
We: 13 miles at 7:00 pace, 8x downhill 100m strides
We: 6 miles around 7min pace
Th: 14 miles w/4x.7 mile hill repeats, very tough
Th: 5 miles easy
Fr: 10 miles at 7:09 pace
Sa: 20 miles at 6:52 pace
Su: 10 miles at 7:07 pace
Total: 100 miles in 9 runs
Tuesday's marathon-ish pace effort seemed to go well, and while the downhill strides are needed they made the legs a little sore for Thursday's tough hill effort. It felt good to get in a 20 miler Saturday, but the last few miles were tough. I think the hill effort actually put me behind on recovery for about four days, so I need to be sparing with that kind of hard work.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Marathon Training Phase

Hi Mystery Coach,

During the last several months I have been experimenting with different levels of effort I use for my long runs.I have been trying to better understand why Lydiard said to run it slow. I am beginning to agree with him dueto the factors I have listed below.

Any thoughts or suggestions?


Hi Lawrence,

Your question on the effort of the long runs is a good one and not an easy one to answer that will fit at all stages of your development.

To help with the explanation refer to this model:

The model represents a dozen fibers that you would use on a run. The number of reps signifies how fatigue resistant the fiber is. In this runner Fibers 1-6 are used quite often (regular short runs, every day walking around, etc.) and they have developed high fatigue resistance. Fibers 7-8 get activated every so often (Long runs, tempo runs, races), Fibers 9-12 only get activated in very high effort events (sprinting uphills, short fast races (less than 6 minutes long) and maybe during very long hard runs)

Recovery is also different, 1-6 recover quickly (maybe day to day), 7-8 a couple of days, and9-12 may need a week.

To complicate the matter each fiber has a different capacity for improvement and is different from runner to runner. Some runners will have fibers 1-6 improve to 12,000 reps others will have 1-6 stay at 10,000 reps but have 7-8 jump up to 8,000 reps.

The reason the Lydiard system is effective is that it uses many different types of training to increase the fatigue resistance ("stamina first" as Arthur said) of all the fibers. Long runs are just one of the methods.

Lydiard's Marathon Training Phase does a couple of important things;

1) It gives you a break from race training ( I consider long runs that approach marathon pace as race training, they have their place for peaking but are best left out of this phase)

2) It helps improve recovery times (this is important for when you start race training) "Trying" to run faster does not speed up recovery in fact it slows it down. This is why I recommend the efforts such as:

1/4 effort - you could go out and do that run again that day
1/2 effort - you could do the run the next day and the day after and the day after.
3/4 effort - a 1/4 effort the next day and you could do this again the day after

Most runners get ahead of themselves during the Marathon Phase pushing to fast or too long too
quickly. During my running and coaching career I found better results from runners when they did a bit faster 15-18 miler than struggling to get a slower 20-22 miler in each weekend. Better recovery less injuries and more enthusiasm.

You must remember the harder you run any day the more you take away from your recovery energy that you have. Runners who have built for many years have much more energy to recover.

You'll have to try different variations to find what activates and conditions your fibers the best (and don't forget that it may change from year to year depending on how much different fibers can adapt)

I have some runners who did very well on one day doing 3-4 miles (about marathon pace) and the next a 10-15 mile at about 2 minutes per mile slower. Others would get good results with something like 10 at 30 seconds slower that marathon pace , then a 20 miler about a minute slower than marathon pace and a 15 miler the day after at a minute slower than marathon pace. So don't forget to experiment so that you can keep building and enjoy the Marathon Training Phase.