Sunday, February 24, 2008

Did Hadd do it for me?

Does Hadd-training work? Did six months of running slowly make me faster? The short answer is that it did, and it didn't. As John Hadd predicted, my lactate threshold improved, and my running speed while 'sitting on' various heart-rates became faster. This translated into some marginally quicker races compared to 2005, my last good year: 1 minute faster for the half marathon, and 6 seconds for the 3000 metres. Hardly earth-shattering, however there was one race which did show dramatic improvement. The wondrous 5k at Stromlo – 20:54, finishing ahead of people who usually leave me far behind in races, like road-kill left to decay on the Stuart Highway. This one race has me convinced about the importance of aerobic conditioning.

How slow did I run when doing Hadd-training? The upper aerobic (harder) runs eventually got down to 5:06 per km (8:12 miles), while the lower aerobic (easier) runs were around 6:00 per km (9:39 miles). How much did I run? 91 kilometres per week, or for about eight and a half hours per week.

So, towards the end of Hadd-training, I became faster, but there was one unforeseen consequence. My maximum speed became slug-like. When asked to run significantly faster* than the speeds used in Hadd, my body protested. I suspect this is because one becomes so expert at the shorter stride used when running slowly, that suddenly switching to a more powerful, longer stride causes bitter complaint from the body. The marathon-shuffle I used for slow running was too far removed from the expansive stride needed for a fast 3000 metres. My running economy (use of oxygen) with an unfamiliar stride was poor.

Discovering that I've become both faster and slower is my epiphany. I like Hadd, but the downside is that it takes too long after finishing Hadd to regain maximum speed. I can see now why Nick Bideau (Craig Mottram's coach) recommends one session of sprinting in the weekly schedules of his distance runners – 4-5 x 80 to 120 metres at 95% of maximum speed, with full recoveries. The 'fine speed' that Arthur Lydiard talks about is therefore retained throughout the year.

I hope everyone has a good week. For my up-over readers struggling through icy blizzards, you'll be pleased to hear our final weeks of down-under summer have been mild and idyllic with temperatures around the 70°F mark.

* My 11:07 goal for 3000 metres requires a speed of 3:42 per km (5:58 per mile).


Blogger strewth said...

You ran a great time in the Vets Run today - just checked your diary. You didn't miss out on cake - I only had coffee today - most restrained - nobody to tempt me!! Yay, mine will be the first comment!!

9:49 pm  
Blogger Stephen Lacey said...

I've been saying for a while that the frustrating thing about the Hadd document is that it is a prescription for aerobic base building, and for that purpose is very good, but it provides almost nothing on the sharpening. In that sense it is really only half, or 3/4 of a complete program. And it is mainly talking about preparing someone for a marathon, so the sharpening and peaking for shorter distances will be even more important and event-specific. Anyway, it has been a great exercise Ewen and any time you like you switch to just maintaining the aerobic base while bringing in more speed work.

11:18 pm  
Blogger Grellan said...

Glad to see the conversion to imperial units for your northern hemisphere readers. Look forward to reading about your speed development over the coming months.

2:31 am  
Blogger iliketoast said...

Pat's training is 2 speed and 3 aerobic conditioning per week. I am leaning to one speed, one tempo and 3 or 4 aerobic slower runs.

7:24 am  
Blogger Lulu said...

It's very interesting to read your thoughts on your training experiments. I'm liking trying to run faster myself... just need to do more of it!

8:55 pm  
Blogger Rob said...

Thanks for that analysis Ewen. It is very informative. So even though I think I am getting slower, I am really getting faster. Hmmmm, Canberra will be interesting.

8:56 pm  
Blogger Hamburglar said...

Good to see the analysis of the experiment continue.

It will be interesting to see how your body adapts to some fast training and whether the Hadd period will springboard you to he magic 11:07 number.

Time will tell.

BTW - good luck for thursday.

9:09 pm  
Blogger jen said...

Nice recap Ewan! I can see what you are saying about your legs getting used to a slower stride. I've used the Pfitzinger plan a few times now and he has us add 5-10 "strides" at the end of some easy runs for the exact purpose you point out. I suppose I shouldn't skip those. ;)

11:35 am  
Anonymous Steve said...

As others have said very good recap.

Until to you mentioned the pace required for the 11:07 I really didn't appreciate the goal. That's flying (for me at least). I'm sure you'll achieve it.

1:20 pm  
Blogger Mark I. said...


Interesting. I spent a year running with Lydiard and Hadd and got faster across the spectrum (set big PRs in my one mile and marathon times).

I will have to read more of your experience to see if I can see a difference in our training.

3:12 pm  
Blogger Robert Song said...

I agree with Stephen that the Hadd document does really only relate to conditioning phase. But switching to the Lydiard later phases is easy enough. Sadly I think speed is harder hit by the aging process than endurance capability. So as we age, we might have to take longer on the anaerobic and speed phases. I think the addition of some short sprints in the conditioning phase is a good idea if yor aiming at the shorter distances.

Still I am always amazed at how quickly your speed does improve when you get to that phase and looking at your training you are still doing 86 k a week, so you to some degree still do not have fresh legs.

Keep the faith and you could still get there.

9:04 pm  
Blogger Tesso said...

I just love your 'never give up' approach. And I'd be willing to put money on you getting that 11:07 just as long as you keep at it.

I wish you hadn't run that 20:54 though, makes my most recent 5k time look soft.

Re the age old 'old age' debate, have you read this ....

9:29 pm  
Blogger IHateToast said...

4th attempt at a comment...

have left comments with others. they're fine. it's just YOU!

8:12 am  
Blogger IHateToast said...

oh, sure, if i leave a comment as a google/blogger it works.

now i can't remember all the great things i was trying to publish out there in ewen cyberspace.

oh yeah, thanks for being the one to sacrifice for the experiment.

and don't go spreading lies about how comfy it is. last weekend it was so hot the furniture was hot to the touch. we're not all in arctic canberra.

8:15 am  
Blogger Phil said...

Running slow is great for base building and way too many of us (myself included) tend to train to fast to build up a really good base; however, at some point you need to let loose and get those legs used to flying down the road.

Take a look at this video of Ryan Hall at the US Olympic Marathon Trials (skip ahead to 4:30 where Hall decided to pick up the pace). He didn't learn howt o run with such a strong stride keeping everything nice and slow.

Sorry you had trouble with the Amy Lee videos I posted. I had to laugh though. My first thought was that the music was so intense that it was banned in Australia. More likely, the albumn hasn't been released in your neck of woods yet.

4:32 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Sorry if readers are receiving SPAM comments via email from this post.

Not sure what the attraction is for spammers here, but they should know that all such comments are deleted before publication.

4:00 pm  

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