Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Training Week Commencing 18th February

Monday: 11 at 7:30 pace (11)

Tuesday: wu, 8 x 800 (80), wd - averaged about 2:50 for the first 7 then for the last one ran a 2:21 split 73 / 68. (8)

Wednesday: wu, 12.25 at 6:20mm, wd - bitterly cold (16)

Thursday: wu, 4 x mile (90), wd (6:20, 5:35, 5:45, 5:28) (7)

Friday: 4.5 easy (4.5)

Saturday: wu, 2 laps BP (11:58, 10:39), wd (6)

Sunday: 13 miles at 6:52mm at GNW half pacing for RW (13)

Total: 65.5 miles

Annoyingly my foot felt very sore in the last couple of miles of the GNW which in general is a very fast course on the right day. It seems to be plantar fascitis which is something I've never had before although it seems odd that it's come on so quickly. Hopefully it'll ease off relatively quickly.

On the plus side the shin and the groin are feeling better!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Training Week Commencing 11th February 2013

Monday: 4 easy miles AM; PM 6 easy/steady miles ~7:15mm with Chasers  (10)

Tuesday: wu, 2 x 3600m (60) (12:56 [5:44] / 12:23 [5:30]), wd (9)

Wednesday: Rest - shin sore so moved rest day up one.

Thursday: long wu, mile hard (0.75 recovery), wd (6)

Friday: Rest - shin sore so took additional rest day.

Saturday: warm-up, steady lap BP, tempo-lite lap BP (6:09mm), warm-down (6)

Sunday: wu, 18.6 steady (7:09mm), wd (20.5)

Total: 51.5 Miles

Another not great week but definitely an improvement on the previous one. The one issue with getting in quite long Sunday runs is that they can flatter your training week's mileage to a certain extent. 40 miles a week is probably enough for some people but if 23 miles of that is single long run then your training won't be great and I think this can be a trap a lot of amateur marathoners can fall into. I think the Hansons or one of their athletes has written a training guide based on this.

With a low-level virus/cold all week (tickling the back of my throat and just not going away or developing into something more tangible), my hip flexor/groin issue on the left leg still causing a few niggles and my shin marginally sore at the start of the week I'd got the excuses in early.

I was pretty much okay until after the session on Tuesday. As Chasers were doing 4x mile off a 90 second recovery I was planning to run steady in the group for each rep and just carry on through for the rest lap at 85-90 second pace before joining on again. This would give me a really good work-out and let me run with the group. Unfortunately as I came through after the first mile as I entered the backstraight I saw the group setting off as they'd taken a slightly shorter recovery from the lead runner.  I pushed a little bit more in the next mile to catch the group and then took the middle recovery and it ended up as 2 longish reps rather than a 5 mile straight tempo. Unfortunately jogging home my shin was tight as anything.

Took Wednesday as recovery. Thursday I ran over to set the group off and it really wasn't in a good state so I called it after 1 lap of the park. The pain was feeling worryingly deep. Friday was again to recover - Hayley did me a very deep massage on my muscles and as the pain disappeared it was fairly clear that it was muscular rather than anything in the bone (big relief - although past experiences have led me to believe this is regularly the case). Saturday was a bit better as I took Hayley for her first semi-serious effort after surgery although still a bit sore but another massage and Sunday went really well as I knocked out 20 miles. First 9 or so miles were pretty relaxed but the last 9 were all very low or sub 7mm bringing the pace down.

Hopefully with some more massage and foam rolling I can get myself into decent nick and get another block of good training in now.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Making the Transition Part 6 - Mile Pace Training

So you've run your 5k and 10k pace intervals, are storming through your tempo runs and are still managing to keep the volume up high. Firstly - congratulations! You're likely in better shape than you're ever been and after a week of easier running could probably run a personal best at any distance from 3k to 10 miles. If you just keep up what you're doing you'll be streets ahead of the rivals you used to race head to head with.

You've just got one problem. You've got new rivals and these guys can run hard for 10k and still lay a monster kick down. You're running hard and by the time the final 400m comes they still look easy.

How do they look that good whilst you're still running hard? Simple - they're running at a much lower percentage of their VO2 max than you are because they have a substantial speed reserve. If you take two endurance athletes - one of whom can run a mile in 5 minutes and the other in 6 minutes then provided they're both endurance athletes then no matter how hard our 6 minute miler trains aerobically he'll always find it difficult to make up that gap.

What we need to do is to start the work to close that gap.

Mile Pace Intervals

Mile pace intervals are hard efforts done at pretty close to your maximum. You're not sprinting in these efforts but you'll often feel pretty close to it. If you'd been thrown into these in the first week of training then you'd have likely sprained your hamstring trying to run flat-out (and even now you'll need to take it carefully and do a thorough warm-up before starting).

The Theory

The theory is that by training at significantly faster speeds than you'll ever need in races when it comes to running at "race pace" you'll feel ridiculously easy. If all you've ever run is 7 minute miles and that's your 5k pace then that'll feel pretty hard come race day. If on the other hand you've done a couple of weeks where you've run at 6 minute mile pace (if only for a while) then 7 minute mile pace will feel much easier and you'll be able to relax into it. In the long-term as 7 minute miles start to feel relatively easy then you'll be able to maintain that pace for a 10k.

This will happen because by improving your speed reserve you'll also have improved your running economy.

The Practice

The basic structure of the work-out is that you should be running between 3000m and 5000m of repetitions. Much less than that and there's limited benefit. Much more and you're starting to tax your body too much and will be dropping towards running slower than 3k pace. It's fine to run at a pace somewhere between your mile and 3k pace for these sessions depending on how you're feeling on the day.

You'll want to split this distance into repetitions of between 200 and 600m. In contrast to the 5k/10k pace work if you're doing the longer reps then you'll want to run a lower total distance as you will experience significant lactic accumulation over even a 600m repetition.

Between each repetition you'll want to take a jog recovery. The recovery is very much up to you. I usually like to have a recovery roughly similar to the time of the previous repetition. If you're looking to run a fast mile or 3k then you'll want short recoveries but for our purposes a longer recovery is fine, although I wouldn't take much longer than the time it takes you to mostly recover your breath.

My favourite work-out of this kind is on a track and comprises 3 sets of 5 repetitions of 300m. Between each 300m I jog 100m and then start the next one. Between each set I'll jog 500m.

These sessions can be very tough and often middle distance training is thought to be the most difficult form of training for any athlete. That said for a distance runner you don't need to be running these sessions incredibly hard as you aren't looking for substantial improvements in lactic acid tolerance (although that will help when you launch your killer kick!). Instead you're looking to develop the ability to run fast and relaxed at pace. If in doubt take more recovery.

The Schedule

If you're looking to run 5k to 10 miles then you don't need to be doing these work-outs every week. That said if you run them at a relatively relaxed effort then you should be able to incorporate them on a Saturday morning or afternoon (provided you're not also doing a long run on the Sunday). If you do your Vo2 max work on 
Tuesday, your tempo on Thursday and mile pace work on Saturday then you'll have an easy day or a rest day between each workout.

So for 3 weeks your schedule will look like:-

2 x 40-60 minute easy runs
1 x 20 easy, strides, 20 easy
warm-up, 20 minute threshold session, warm-down
warm-up, 5k-10k pace intervals, warm-down
warm-up, mile pace intervals, warm-down

With the three mile pace sessions being:-

Week 14: 3 sets of 5 x 300 (100 jog between reps, 500 between sets - as per above) at just slower than mile pace
Week 15: 6 x 500m off a lap jog at mile pace
Week 16: 10 x 400m (equal recovery to repetition time)

This leaves us with an overall schedule as per the below:-

Weeks 1-4 - Get used to running 5/6 times a week
Weeks 5-8 - Incorporate threshold running and strides into your schedule.
Week 9 - Easy Week
Week 10-12 Hard Training (5k/10k Pace Work)
Week 13 - Easy Week
Week 14-16 Hard Training (Mile Pace Work)
Week 17- Recovery Week

Which comprises the 16 week programme to making the transition. The programme isn't intended to make you a superstar in the 16 weeks but to give you the tools to run a serious training schedule. Once you've completed this program you can then look at altering your training by adding in morning runs, a long run on the Sunday, long continuous efforts etc. But that starts to make the whole thing a bit more complicated. The above is a relatively simple way to get you making the most of 90% of your talent.

If you schedule yourself in for a race at the end of your recovery week then you'll have a great chance at running a PB.

I hope the above has been useful - if you've followed it then please comment below and let me know how you did!  If you have found it useful then you may find my other training articles useful as well.


Monday, February 04, 2013

Making The Transition Part 5 - 5k / 10k Pace Intervals

So you've run hard for 8 weeks and then taken a week sitting on your backside. Or to phrase it another way letting the training seep into your body. I'll normally find that at this stage my body has recovered well over the last couple of weeks and with the strides done my legs are feeling pretty good with a bit of "zip" in them.

What's missing though is that although by this stage you've run quite a bit more than you have ever done before, and also quicker than you've ever done before you haven't ever really pushed yourself or your lungs to that breaking point that you frequently hit in races. You've done some sustained longer running but that's all been sub-maximal and you've finished feeling like you could go another round (or at least I hope you have...).

The next step is to start connecting the quick strides with some fast sustained running.

5k/10k Pace Intervals

What are they?

5k and 10k pace intervals are repetitions run at either your 5k or 10k pace or somewhere inbetween from between 400m to 2000m (faster than 5k for 400m reps and 10k pace for 2000m reps) for a total of 4000-12,000m. If you're not sure exactly what those paces are then you can interpolate between other race performances. 

You take recoveries of roughly half the time of the rep distance. These recoveries can vary from stationary recoveries to a relatively fast "float".

The Theory

5k and 10k pace intervals are the corner-stone of any succesful distance runners arsenal. Whether that's Seb Coe stating "the 5k pace sessions are golden" or Runners World advocating Yassoo 800s all plans include some work at 5k to 10k pace.

The physiological aspect of the training is that when you're running at your 5k pace you're running at very close to your VO2 max. There are complicated definitions for this but in payments terms your VO2 max is basically when you're breathing as hard as you possibly can. This occurs at roughly the speed you can maintain for 6-10 minutes but 5k pace is still relatively close and you can get a much greater volume of work in at 5k pace than you can at 3k pace. When you're running much faster than this then you can still only take in the same amount of oxygen but you need to generate more energy (which results in you generating higher lactate levels and causes the "burn" you'll experience in a middle distance race).

Running at your VO2 max (in the short term) will improve your bodies ability to take up oxygen. This means that for the same breath ox oxygen you're taking your body will use a greater proportion of the oxygen effectively.

The Practice

In theory you should run intervals at 3k pace for it to be your VO2 max. I don't like to run these at 3k pace for three reasons...

1. In the middle of a heavy training week I'd expect your notional 3k pace to feel more like your 1500 pace and similarly your 5k pace will feel more like your 3k pace. You therefore want to be training at closer to your 5k pace. The best way to describe this is to imagine you were running up a steep hill - would you still expect to run at 3k pace? No - you'd be running considerably slower for the same effort. The training you're doing is effectively making your body feel like it's going up that hill.

2. You can include a lot more volume in the sessions this way which is better for your running economy. Running economy is a slightly technical term but if you think of it in terms of piano practice it helps. It may be useful to do scales but at the end of the day the best thing to do is to practice the piece you're playing. By getting used to the pace you're planning to run you improve your ability to run at that pace through a whole number of minute tweaks.

3. VO2 max training has been shown to significantly decrease it's effectiveness after the initial 6 week "boost". Whilst some advocate it year around I prefer to back off and only hit the really intense stuff at 3k pace immediately before a big race.

Generally I find that using a progression from fast and brisk 400s at 3k pace up to intense 2ks at 10k pace is a great natural progression. There's also nothing to stop you mixing the session about and doing 400s to start with and finishing with 2ks and vice versa!

The pace you use will also be a function of your ability. If your 5k is pretty close to 10 minutes then your name is probably Bekele and Farah and this article will be of limited use to you. If on the other hand your 5k is over 20 minutes then you'll be wanting to train at closer to 3k pace. Similarly if your 5k is significantly under 20 minutes then 5k pace is your friend.

The recoveries should be half the length of the running time of the rep roughly. 

Opinions vary hugely regarding how you should spend your recovery. My personal favourite is to keep it relatively brisk and jog at my usual easy run pace. A favourite session when in sub 16 shape is 8 x 1000m off a 200m jog recovery in 75 seconds.

Generally I find it best to do these sessions on a track but equally find a measured stretch of road or even do the sessions by time.

The Schedule

So for 3 weeks we have the following schedule...

3 x 40-60 minute easy runs
20 easy, strides, 20 easy
15 warm-up, 5k/10k pace session, 15 warm-down
15 warm-up, 20 @ threshold, 15 warm-down

With the sessions being...

10 x 800 at 5k pace off 200 fast jog
8 x 1000 at 5 mile pace off 200 fast jog
8 x 1200 at 10k pace off 200 fast jog

After this block of 3 weeks you'll want to take an easy week again. This leaves our schedule looking like...

Weeks 1-4 - Get used to running 5/6 times a week
Weeks 5-8 - Incorporate threshold running and strides into your schedule.
Week 9 - Easy Week
Week 10-12 Hard Training (5k/10k Pace Work)
Week 13 - Easy Week

By this point you should be able to see some substantial improvements in your fitness at the end of the second easy week.

After this we move into 3 more weeks of intense training in Part 6 where we discuss Mile pace training (or running even harder intervals!).

If you've missed the previous entries you can catch up on them all at the below links or use the bottom link to go to a list of all my training articles.

Catch you on the trails,

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Training Week Commencing 4th February 2013

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest + 60 cycling.
Wednesday: 6 miles v. slow (6)
Thursday: wu, 3 progressive laps BP from easy to steady, wd (8)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: wu, 2.5 miles XC (4)
Sunday: wu, 16.7 miles at 6:54mm (18)

Total: 36 miles

A pretty poor week by all standards but one I'm not totally unhappy with.

Before last Sunday's long run I'd felt a bit of tightness in my left groin. I'd ignored it as it'd gone away as soon as I started running but on Monday morning it definitely felt worse and I decided that running on it would be a bad idea. I hit the massage pretty hard but unfortunately

Annoyingly it then felt even worse on the Tuesday morning and I decided that rather than risk trying to do a track session it'd be better to do an easy exercise bike.

Wednesday I was feeling just about ready for a very slow run. It really was slow as I barely crawled around Wandsworth Common but at that slow pace the groin felt just about okay.

Thursday was a bigger test and for the first 300m of the run I was pretty terrified as my groin was feeling very tight. I pretty much decided I was just going to jog up to the track and set people off before I took the bus back. Thankfully after that 300m my groin eased off and I was able to get a couple of laps in. I took Friday off just to be careful before the XC.

Unfortunately I ended up pulling out of the XC mid-race. I felt dizzy on the morning of the race but decided I'd give it a go anyway. It hit again mid-race and I managed to keep going until our 10th scorer passed me at which point I was happy to drop out. Never like doing it but I'm glad I started rather than DNSed. Later in the evening my throat went pretty sore and I was a bit relieved that I had a virus rather than just some random dizzy thing.

Sunday's run was solid with the first half averaging about 7:14 and a much faster second half bringing the pace down to 6:54 as I kept switching the lead with Nick Burkitt and Tom Mitchell.

So - pretty poor week on the whole from the training front but at least I seem to have recovered from a potentially troublesome niggle and can start moving forward. Realistically this should probably have been an easier week anyway and so I'm probably only down 20-30  miles.

Onward and upward as they say.


Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.