Monday, August 27, 2012

Stop just Running and Start Training

Training to be your best involves knowing how to train.

I have spent countless hours reading every book running I can get my hands on (I consider Daniels Running Formula and Advanced Marathoning by Pfitzinger and Douglas to be the best) and learning from from the best runners in this area who have taken me under their wing (thanks Marty Clarke).

So when Marty and I lead the inaugural Fleet Feet half marathon training program, we put the content below together to help educate the runners on how to train their bodies properly, so that on race day, if they followed the basic training principals, that they would have put themselves in the best position to succeed.

Tonight during our hill work, this topic came up and I thought I would share this with you.  Training involves the right mix of workout types, at proper paces.  It is time to stop just running and start training!

The Goals

This training plan is based on solid science, and its physiological facts from proven sources and years of experience.  It should produce maximum results and reduce the risk of injury and help you understand how to train at the right pace for the right distance on the right days.

Five types of workouts in a training plan

  1. Basic speed
    1. This is short fast speed work to improve leg turnover and running form
      1. It is how fast you can run all out, but not how far.
    2. Basic speed is the least important to distance runners
      1. But still needed for that finishing kick
    3. Speed is stride frequency times stride length.
    4. Strides
      1. Accelerate smoothly up to full speed then hold that for 50 meters then decelerate
      2. Maintain good form stay relaxed
  2. VO2Max
    1. Longer reputations of 2 - 6 minutes at 3 to 5k pace improve VO2Max
      1. It is difficult to hold VO2Max pace for much longer than 6 minutes
    2. VO2Max is your aerobic capacity
      1. A combination of your genetics and your training determine how high of a VO2Max you have
    3. Possible to improve your capacity by 20 to 30%
    4. Can estimate your VO2Max based on your recent race times as a rough estimate
      1. Typically it is between your 3k and 5k pace
    5. Best way to improve it rapidly is by running 2.5 to 5 minutes of intervals per workout
    6. One high volume workout at 95 to 100 percent VO2Max per week
    7. Improve most rapidly by running repetitions of 2 to 6 minutes of duration, which is about 600 to 1600 meters for most runners
    8. Speed of these workouts is important
      1. It is narrow band where you don't want to go too fast or too slow or you aren't getting the true benefit of the workout
    9. Recovery should be long enough to bring heart rate down to 65 percent
      1. As a guideline the rest between intervals should be from 50 to 90 percent of the interval time
      2. Active recovery is recommended with slow jog
  3. Lactate Threshold (LT)
    1. It is an intensity level of exercise above which the metabolic waste product lactic acid accumulates in the blood faster than the circulatory system can remove it
      1. Lactate is a byproduct of carbohydrate metabolism
      2. VO2Max plateaus but your lactate threshold continues to increase
    2. Your LT determines how fast you can race
      1. When racing you select a pace that prevents the accumulation of lactate
        1. Lactate threshold is more important when running beyond 10k
        2. For 10km VO2Max and lactate threshold are equally important.
        3. For 5km it is more VO2Max
          1. For shorter races you can exceed your lactate threshold
      2. Lactate threshold occurs at about 15k to half marathon pace
        1. Lactate threshold is at about 85 to 92 percent of maximal heart rate
    3. Best way to improve lactate threshold is to train at or slightly above your lactate threshold.
      1. LT training is a determinate of your endurance, the ability to maintain a certain pace for a prolonged distance
      2. Higher the lactate threshold (percentage of VO2Max) the better the distance runner you are
    4. Three Types of LT Workouts
      1. Tempo runs
        1. A continuous run of 20 to 40 minutes at lactate threshold
          1. Tempo runs of 20 to 40 minutes at ten mile race pace to delay lactic acid build up
          2. Two mile warm up, 4 miles at 15 k to half marathon race pace and a short cool down
      2. LT Intervals
        1. Can gain a similar benefit by breaking your tempo run into two to four segments.
          1. We call these cruise intervals.
          2. A short break in between sometimes can help mentally and phyiscally
        2. Three repetitions of 8 minutes at lactate threshold with 3 minutes of recovery.
        3. Its how much time you accumulate at LT that counts
        4. These can be 3x2 mile, 2x3 mile, etc
      3. LT Hills
        1. Hill repeats or mix in hills at lactate threshold during a long run
        2. Hills also make you stronger
  4. Long runs
    1. Used to build endurance
    2. You need to be able to cover the distance on race day
    3. With pure endurance runs you are testing the limits of how far you can run without having to slow to a jog
    4. By increasing the distance of your long run and secondarily your weekly mileage you gradually increase the capacity of your muscles to store glycogen.
      1. Glycogen is the stored form of carbohydrate in your muscles.
    5. Some experts say that long runs are at 70 to 85 percent of max heart rate or at 1 to 2 minutes slower than your half marathon pace
      1. Start off long runs at 90 seconds slow and work toward 40 seconds slow
      2. Long runs will rarely be at the same pace for the entire run
      3. Most experts I consider experts say that ideally you work in up to 50% of the long run at marathon goal pace
        1. After all, when you are able to run 22 miles in training, if 15 of that can't be at marathon goal pace, then how can you expect to run 26.2 miles at that pace on race day?
  5. Rest
    1. Easy recovery runs to allow top effort on the other days
    2. Rest is very important and should not be ignored but placed strategically within your week
Shown below are some sample paces based on 5km times.  These calculations come directly from Jack Daniels.  I would argue that most people do their VO2Max work too fast and their LT work too slow.  If you would like an excel spreadsheet that calculates training paces and the associated race projections,  please email me.

16:30 5km is 5:15 VO2Max pace (1:18/400m) and 5:44 threshold pace
18:00 5km is 5:42 VO2Max pace (1:25/400m) and 6:13 threshold pace
19:30 5km is 6:09 VO2Max pace (1:32/400m) and 6:42 threshold pace
21:00 5km is 6:36 VO2Max pace (1:38/400m) and 7:12 threshold pace
22:30 5km is 7:02 VO2Max pace (1:45/400m) and 7:41 threshold pace
24:00 5km is 7:29 VO2Max pace (1:52/400m) and 8:10 threshold pace

In a perfect week, your schedule might look something like:

Monday: VO2Max
Tuesday: Easy
Wednesday: Endurance
Thursday: LT
Friday: Easy/Rest
Saturday: Long Run / Race
Sunday: Easy

Good luck with your training!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Catching up

It's been awhile since I left the shores of Lake Superior on my Isle Royale adventure run and thought it was about time to catch up with the travels afoot.

In late July, less than two weeks after the 40 mile GRT effort, Rachel and I spent the weekend back in God's country, starting at pictured rocks in Munising, MI.  Together we raced the Grand Island Trail half marathon in perfect weather conditions.  The fatigue of my legs didn't catch up with me until pacing through the first 4 miles in just over 24:30 and from there I had some bad middle miles.  Mile 5 was along the bay running on the beach and that took its toll on me.  I managed to finish strong in the last few miles, coming in at 1:28:33 for the 13.33 mile course and in 4th place overall.  I was pleased with the effort as I didn't give up when I started to struggle, but it was clear that I needed a few more weeks to get back.

Just a week later back in Iron Mountain (Michigan), I raced the Lake Antoine Classic 5 miler.  I had won this race the last time I ran it back in 2008.  My plan was to take the field out hard and see if anyone would go with me and then settle into a sustainable pace.  My first two miles were in 5:35 and 5:40 and not seeing anyone even close, I eased up and cruised to the overall win in 29:25.  Turns out that I would have probably won the 15km trail race too, but I was happy to have ran the shorter road course as I knew after having spent a few days on work travel, that I could hold on for at least that far.

 In the last few weeks I also ran back to back 5km races in Decatur, clocking a 17:32 at Brooke Hill on a hilly course (and windy day) and then a 17:34 at Brothers for Life 5km on a brutal day where the humidity was soaring above 90%.  I finished 2nd overall in both races and used them mostly as faster workouts trying to benchmark where I was at with my fitness.

In the last week of the Cross Country Races in Huntsville, I ran the mile hard chasing Andrew Hodges and posted a 5:36 and then later raced the 2-miler, coming in just under 12 minutes with an 11:59.  I was pretty happy with the few times I ran out there this summer, having logged the fastest 2-mile race time of the season (11:24) although not many people race that distance and pal Rob Youngren probably crushed that time in one of his 3-mile race times he posted in the mid 17's.

Moving forward I just finished writing my fall training plan and race schedule.  The goals look to be a sub 5 mile, a sub 16:45 5km, a half marathon in the 1:16's and a sub 2:50 marathon at Rocket City.  Beyond that I have toyed with the notion of running all three marathon majors next year (Boston, Chicago and New York) in times under 3 hours.  At a minimum I will run Chicago, as I have already posted sub 3-hour times at Boston (2:56 in 2009) and New York (2:54 in 2011).  Running all three next year might be a bit ambitious, but goals are good, right?

For now I am getting back into a routine of training, including regular and structured VO2max workouts, tempo runs and long runs with miles at marathon goal pace.  Other than that, just enjoying life and the feel blessed to be exercising the gifts that I have been bestowed with, and thankful everyday for them.