Run. Stuff.

Training. Gear. Nutrition. Racing & Inspired Running.

Leave a comment

Developing A New Training Plan

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.

Lydiard_PyramidWhat 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.Long_Distance_Running


Leave a comment

Training Specificity: Developing And Utilizing The Correct Energy System

Success in any race depends on how your body reacts to the stresses of that distance. Using the principles of specificity of training this means short/intense workouts for shorter distances and long/sustained workouts for distances beyond the half-marathon. We must train the energy system we’ll utilize the most during a race.

Talking specifically about the half-marathon and marathon distances, the body need not be stressed too much at the higher end of one’s aerobic capacity (75% – 80% of max heart rate or when you’re having a hard time talking during a long sustained run). Most recreational runners can finish by running 60% of max heart rate (being able to speak multiple sentences without gasping for air during long sustained runs).

Knowing the difference between aerobic running versus anaerobic running is key in the preparation and execution phases of racing. Go out too hard during a race, and your body will delve into the anaerobic energy system – your body operating while lacking oxygen – which produces more waste (lactate acid) and operates less efficiently than the body during aerobic capacity. Too much time training the anaerobic system, usually exercises with short and quick movements high intensity movements (sprints, weight lifting, bounding and jumping), and it will take longer for the body to recover and continue effective aerobic running and the greater chances of injury.


For new or recreational runners look at the “Classic Model” and for veteran to sub-elite runners, look at “Current Model.”

Running Times Magazine mentions the proportion of time a long distance runner needs to commit to either training efforts. For the marathon distance, while running 65 miles a week, a runner need only run 2.5% of the distance at the anaerobic threshold effort or 2.5 miles a week! Why? The long distance runner doesn’t need the kind of leg speed or strength as a sprinter. Running just above our aerobic threshold (when we run and can talk in short sentences comfortably) does more to elevate our running than monotonous 400m repeat. Our bodies grow accustomed to the long distance and give us the kind of feedback regarding hydration, nutrition, and fatigue that running sprint intervals will not. To be honest, how many of us will ever possess the kind of speed that world-class distance runners have to warrant speed intervals shorter than 1200m? When we don’t stray too far from our aerobic efforts we run more controlled and efficiently. Constantly building on our aerobic base is the safest way to build endurance and speed.

The body is great at adapting. As any veteran runner will tell you, constantly running our aerobic pace becomes easier with each run. Incorporating just the right amount of speed during long training seasons will build on your base and create a new level of speed. Being mindful of your speed during training and races will help in your development as a successful runner in the long-term.

Example weekly workout:
I use talking as a gauge of effort. If you use a watch or GPS and have run a race in the previous two months use the link to McMillan’s running calculator on the right to view your pace for a number of distances.

Aerobic component:
– Weekday long run of 1 hour at talking pace. (recite part of a song and if you can go through it without gasping for air every sentence, then this is your aerobic pace)
– 1.5-2 hour weekend long run at talking pace
– 10 minute pick-ups during a long run (run a little faster than talking pace for ten minutes during your long runs)

Anaerobic component:
– 4 x 1000m repeats with 5 minute rest or rest to full recovery.
– 2 minute pick-ups during long runs.
– speed ladders (1600m, 1200m, 800, 400) or any variation of ascending or descending distances no more than 1 mile and not less than 400m. recovery is to jog half of the distance ran.