I’ve gone through two training cycles I developed using pieces of Daniel’s running formula and a book called “Advanced Marathoning.” The most recent 16 week cycle produced a half-marathon PR, a 5k PR, and the highest average weekly mileage. Although it was a successful season, I felt like I was capable of more. I know my limits, but feel I can push myself to run at those limits for longer distances. My biological and physiological limitations will never allow me to run a 2:30:00 marathon or a sub 16:00 5k, but I can at least train to run to my limitations without straining.
Having reviewed my most recent training data I saw that I over-ran my actual pace/distance capabilities leading me to burn out and cut distance and training days in order to recover. I lacked a solid aerobic base and blindly followed pace suggestions for my target half-marathon time goal of 1:20:00. Big mistake! I would have done better had I been more honest with myself regarding my fitness level and ability. The result being tired legs and fatigued fitness come race day.
What I’ve decided to do is commit the next three months to building a solid aerobic base devoid of any strenuous speed and strength work. I’d like to run a marathon PR in mid April and again in October and will follow the Lydiard training cycle. He proposes a solid base built over the course of at least three months, then one month of anaerobic specific work, one month of “coordination”, and six weeks of race specific training. I’m using a running journal to log data and comments to better assess my progress and carefully monitor over-training.
I know even the thought of “anaerobic” work will shock some regular blog followers, but I’ve played around with some pace/distance adjustments to continue the focus on longer intervals. (No, I will not run 200m repeats!)
The thought behind a long “aerobic” cycle is to build muscles and aerobic efficiency needed for longer races. Makes sense, right? I’ve always believed in training specifically for goal races. Marathoners need long miles and longer “time on the feet” workouts.
What I’ve been missing is a solid base built upon a long building cycle. In the past I’d run 4-6 weeks of base work. According to Lydiard, this is not enough. Runners need to look at the long-term development of the aerobic and muscular systems, which he says can only be attained with a solid “jogging” background. He suggests 3 months of aerobic work at the very minimum for beginner runners. Having a solid foundation also lessens injury risk and the ability to withstand increased work loads.
I’m encouraged by the potential of his theories by all of the great “older” runners I know that continue to run fast. I know their success is the result of many years of running injury free. If I’m ever disappointed in my results and development, I know I can look to those guys and the example they’ve set so I’ll gain a better appreciation for patience, perseverance, and success.