Sunday, February 05, 2006

It's difficult teaching rats to run

I'm still a slow runner. I don't think I can do anything about it until after the 11th of March - the day of the Six Foot Track Marathon.

I don't want to suffer in this race so I'm still doing long slow runs in training - 29km yesterday in a bit over 3 hours. I'm finding it hard to change my form in other training sessions from the ultra runner's shuffle.

I've been thinking about the benefits of slow, or more accurately 'low heart-rate' training, since reading the article mentioned by Robert Song. One of the findings mentioned in this article was that the maximum improvement in slow twitch muscle fibres of laboratory rats occurred when they did long runs at 50-70% of VO2max (low heart-rate running).

One thing you can't do with laboratory rats is change the way they run. You can't teach them to run with the expansive stride of a Sebastian Coe. Rats only have one way of running - a shuffle. When running 'fast', it's a fast shuffle. A shuffling stride is only good if you want to be an ultra-distance runner. Yiannis Kouros would have a very high development of mitochondria but his best marathon time of 2:25 was quite modest.

Frank Horwill summed up the laboratory rat research of Gary Dudley this way: "To bring about the greatest adaptive response in mitochondria, the length of daily exercise becomes less as the intensity of the exercise is increased."

There's a great benefit to be had from learning the running form used by good middle distance athletes. By learning the shape and quickness of their stride pattern. If you can do this you'll be able to run faster over 800 and 1500 metres. Your longer races will feel easier because the speed of these is so much slower than your newly aquired middle distance speed.

8 Comments:

Blogger plu said...

I have the same Hadd article. I keep it next to the handbrake in the car and I read and re-read it while I am waiting for the kids when I have to pick them up.

Your speed will come back.

Plu

9:38 pm  
Blogger Susan said...

I think I'm a slow, pudgy, waddly rat wth a freakishly high heart rate!

10:04 pm  
Blogger Luckylegs said...

I don't think I'm a rat! Well, I hope not anyway! Of course, you can't train successfully for both long & short runs at the same time & hope to break records in both fields...my coach has told me that many a time & that's why I'm forwarding his good advice on to you, Ewen!

And after 6ft track when you're working on speed, stay away from doing any runs with CB who almost brings the world to a stop!

11:24 pm  
Blogger strewth said...

And LSD is good for conversation! And I love it when you patiently join me for those LSD's after speedygeoff's sessions!

10:28 pm  
Blogger Stu said...

Ewen, I know that you already know this, but wait until after 6Ft to worry about the speed stuff, that is after you have a break from it all....

I suggest that you re-read LL's reply on your post, her coach sounds like a very smart person, who knows you cannot train for two totally different events, 40+km is very different to 800m..... ;-)

10:52 pm  
Blogger R2B said...

Those race predictor thingies say thay as i have run a 1500m in 5:15 and 1mile in 5:36 (same pace) in consecutive fortnights that i should be able to run 19:30 for 5km (my goal distance) but the fact remains that my best is 21:30 and so i am constantly beffuddled and don't know the right way to train...
Any suggestions??

11:28 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

I appreciate receiving your coach's good advice luckylegs. I must have been as thick as two short planks to try training for 45k and 800m at the same time.

r2b, I have a couple of ideas which may help. Basically more practise at 3 and 5km race pace. I'll post more details on your blog.

6:44 pm  
Anonymous Kathy S said...

One thing I remember from Horvil's article (I think it was his article) is about mitochondria being very specific to pace. Therefore if you train at marathon pace you build lots of new mitochondria that help you run longer & more effeciently at marathon pace. If you train a lot at 800m pace then you build new mitochondria that help you race better at 800m pace. I will never forget what Susan Hobson told me many years ago - we get good at what we practice. So yes, it's hard to be at your best at 800m when doing marathon training. Having said that - I ran my best 5K in several years after doing 800m training last track season (and within a week of doing my best 800m in many years). So I also think it's different strokes for different folks. Some people respond better to more speed work (or high intensity) and less LSD and some are opposite. We are all an experiment of one as we all respond differently to training.My weakest link is speed so that's what I have to train the most.
I'm very thankful to have both a good coach and good training partners. I look forward to seeing you back at Calwell after 6 Foot.
At the end of the day the most important thing is that we are enjoying what we are doing and are healthy.
If you like middle distance then train & race middle distance, regardless of what times you race.
Your speed will come back when you get back to doing more speed work.

11:32 am  

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