Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Weakness In Me

My recovery from Six Foot has been faster than last year, perhaps because I walked so much of the 19k journey from Pluvi to Caves House. The slow death march did reveal a weakness in my running — poor endurance. I suspect the recent track season and associated lactic-acid-intense running has eroded my aerobic ability. Average heart-rates on the various courses I run are higher than they were when I was following Hadd.

Perversely, the speedwork and racing I did over summer actually made me slower. I'm one of those runners who don't respond well to fewer weekly miles. Especially when an ever increasing percentage of those miles are run anaerobically. My fastest 1500m race last year (5:38) came after 4 weeks of around 95 kilometres (59 miles) per week of mostly aerobic running. The day before that race I ran an easy 17.6k at 5:52 per km for an average heart-rate of 123. If I were to run the same course now at the same pace, my average heart-rate would be a solid grey 129.

Can I run faster for 3000 and 5000 metres? I hope so! My aerobic condition is less than it could be, which means my speed at 5k racing heart-rate (92-93% of max) is too slow. That's one obvious weakness. Another weakness is my lack of speed. I'm naturally slow and always have been — my 20-something PB for 200 metres is a modest 28.7 seconds. If I were to race 200 metres now I'd be around 5 seconds slower. But how much basic speed do I need? Which of my weaknesses should I work on? My 11:39 goal for 3000 metres only requires a pace of 46.6 seconds per 200 metres. Will improving my 200 speed by 3 seconds, say from 34 to 31, make me faster at three and five kilometres, or am I better off going back to a more Hadd-based aerobic programme? I think the latter. So, I'm modifying the programme I outlined in 'The 11:39 Plan'. I'll replace the 1000m intervals with another aerobic run, finishing with some short sprints. Sprints of less than 10 seconds use the alactic system so don't produce lactic acid, which makes them ideal for building strength and speed without damaging aerobic condition. I'll also try and run 100 kilometres per week — perhaps more if possible. If I get bored I'll listen to the Tower Of Robert Song album or tunes like this on my miniature portable music player.


Blogger Shane said...

I agree with your decision, trying to improve your 200m time will not allow you to achieve your 3000m goal. Like you said even your 200m time when you were in your 20s was very modest but your middle distance Pb's during such time and a little later were very good which inc a sub 10 3000. Look fwd to hearing how it all goes.

8:05 pm  
Blogger Thomas said...

If you ever find the perfect combination of aerobic and anaerobic training, be sure to let us know. I coming from the other end of the scale, I've been adding speed workouts to my aerobic training recently, but I sure want to avoid making me slower in the process.

9:44 pm  
Blogger Love2Run said...

Mmmm, staying healthy/uninjured will do wonders as well and you seem to have a good stretch lately. Tweaking your program with some goal pace mile or k repeats should give better benefit than the super fast stuff (I think).

9:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your overall strategy. You need to rebuild your aerobic base, but the price you paid for Hadd training in 2007 was loss of speed. To my mind, the main problem with Hadd is the restriction on faster running during early base-building. I totally agree with your plan for short sprints even in early base building. This should retain good neuromuscular coordination and help to sustain strength. I am also inclined towards doing some of the aerobic work in the mid-aerobic zone rather than lower aerobic zone. In my younger days, I simply aimed to be breathing fairly deeply and fast, but rarely breathless, for much of my training. I was never fast in races, but that gave me an aerobic base adequate for marathons in the 2:2x range.

10:38 pm  
Blogger TA and the Gnome said...

I know that we're all experiments of one, but I only go faster at the short stuff (3, 5 & 10k) when I'm training for the long stuff. Last year, despite plateauing for years, I dropped 90 seconds off my 10k the week before 6ft. Again this year, I dropped anther 40 sec in the equivalent week (I'm soooo looking forward to next year! :-) ).

Lots of distance (though my idea of long is a fair bit shorter than yours) and lots of hills. Leg & core strength is the key.


10:51 pm  
Blogger plu said...

I was thinking of you this arvo as you pop into my blog every now and then and that I don't comment too much. I read you blog entries when they come through. Spend my time connecting on Twitter etc but have to be aware that mates like you are not in the same loop.

No late visits in Canberra this year - have a wedding to attend that day - pity about that.


11:40 pm  
Blogger Mike said...

On Jan-24 you announced your 11:39 plan where you were adjusting your training. A couple weeks later you ran a 3k in 13-minutes. A couple weeks after that you knocked 34-seconds off and ran a 12:26. That's good progress. A month has passed since then - did you run another 3k?

My point is that if you were adjusting your training specifically to run your best 3k, although there isn't a lot of data here, it would seem the times were coming down as planned. Perhaps you could have run a 12-flat in early March?

If your season is over, it certainly makes sense to go back into a base mode, but I'd ask, "why is it that you think the plan was not working if your 3k time dropped so much in only a month?"

2:58 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

Hi Ewen, I,m running so much better since I cut down to one interval session per week and replaced the other interval session with a tempo run.
I just knocked 10 mins off my hilly 23 mile, 2,329 ft of climbing, training route!
What you should do in your summer race season is follow ARTHUR LYDIARDS
V1. Continuation of Racing

Monday: Easy fartlek 3/4 to 1 hour.

Tuesday: Relaxed striding 200 meters by 6.

Wednesday: Race or time trial.

Thursday: Easy fartlek 1 hour or Jog 3/4 hour.

Friday: Jog 1/2 hour.

Saturday: Race or time trial.

Sunday: Jog 11/2 hours.

6:26 am  
Blogger Dusty said...

I noticed that last summer & fall when I was continuing with my coach's plan for my 5Ks and also adding in extra miles to prepare for pacing Bob (which my Coach was not happy about, so he didn't give me "allowance" for these miles, kept drilling in speed) that combination payed off huge. I would run a 5K and be fine to run a 3 mile cool down with springy legs (dang, wish I had that going on today). The whole thing paid off so well that my Coach is encouraging me to pace him again, talking about training for 5Ks but enouraging me to toss in a marathon (what?!). I did the normal workouts, but on easy days, I ran further than the schedule. on long runs I kept adding more very slow miles and after races I increased the mileage of the cool downs. Hope this info helps you! It is reminding me to start doing it again. haha!

6:42 am  
Blogger Grellan said...

Great Joan Armatrading number. That brings me back a few years.

6:54 am  
Blogger Stephen Lacey said...

Not sure I'd ever call you weak. Old and broken, maybe, but never weak ;-)

Did you read Bob's post about Hosaka-san? It seems all you have to do is retire and run 30 km a day in two shifts, including a 5 x 1000 m somewhere in the middle of one of the runs. Piece of cake this running lark.

10:20 am  
Blogger speedygeoff said...

A comment on "the perfect training mix" - there's a dimension some forget, the dimension of time. If someone has done lots of slowish general endurance training the message is "now switch to interval training". If one does lots of slow track work the message is "switch to very hilly fartlek training". And so on. There's no one perfect plan; training must evolve and challenge the body to adapt. Hence Ewen's approach, to evaluate, re-evaluate, modify is an excellent one. And the Lydiard phased development is excellent too.

And Lydiard would have approved Dusty's approach too. Adding in more easy running than is scheduled.

As for me, I am finding tempo runs an excellent alternative to pushing hard in training and racing all the time. I recommend tempo runs. I will do them this winter instead of racing.

1:49 pm  
Blogger Lulu said...

Crikey, it's all very technical! That's why I just do what I'm told:)Good luck with whatever weakness you decide to vanquish.

4:49 pm  
Blogger jojo said...

cute belt man... dont forget to pop over and give me your final i can see who owes who a beer..dont forget my 3km dramatically slows me down..i reckon it should be a yearly multi race ;)

miss jo

6:25 pm  
Blogger Rob said...

Ewen, I followed your link to the doco on Peter Snell. The Big weekly mileage sure suited him. If you have the time and the motivation it sure sounds like the plan to go with.

6:45 pm  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

Actually, that damn Hosaka does 5 x 1000 in both of his daily runs. And he works in the middle...he's not retired. He also runs a 32 something 10k.
Well, I think if you are going to run a fast 3000 you have to do some intervals. That is, you have to be able to run a fast 1000. No, not a fast 200 but at least a fast 1000. So that requires some quick, hard intervals.

11:51 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

going back to HADD might work for you, and I agree that improving your 200m time wont translate into a better 3k or 5k time, but my reasoning for doing 200's,300's,400's,500's is that because you are doing 3-5 or more of em, that does help improve your 1km or 1500 time...and if you then sdtep up the distance and do 800m, or 1k reps, that should result in a faster 3k or 5k time...but in order to run the 1k reps faster, you first need to put your body under higher intensity stress by improving the 200's,300's or 400's times to get the fitness gains...also as your ability to run shorter distances at a faster max speed increases (maybe even do 10x30m), you become more efficient hopefully, so if that occurs the body can run the 46 second 200's you need for a 3k PB or whatever easier, so more likely to get your 3k PB...hope that helps...

1:48 am  
Blogger strewth said...

Good grief, perhaps it's YOU who needs a faster training partner to achieve all that!! Then again if you need longer distances you could always run the full 34km instead of stopping at 15! Whatever it takes,good luck. This past week you certainly logged a few kms!

12:00 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks all for you comments - I'm always interested in what people think about different training methods.

Canute, I agree, and am aiming to do more running in the mid to upper aerobic zones.

Mike, there's one more 3000 this Thursday - the last one for the season. The 13:00 was run on a hot day (33C) and the 12:26 a cool one (11C). The trend was good, and maybe something in the low 12s is possible. The 45k run is not well scheduled for the end of the track season! The track season is long (Oct - March), maybe too long.

Steve, interesting you mentioning Hosaka - I did follow that link from Bob's blog, and am doing a "baby version" to see how I cope (no 5 x 1000s) with the mileage. At the moment, 6k morning, 12k evening - so far so good.

1:01 pm  
Blogger Chad in the AZ Desert said...

I agree that your aerobic base has ebbed away with all of the short distance work you have been doing. Building that base back will probably give you what you need to make improvements.

3:14 pm  
Blogger rinus said...

I think you can faster! and perhaps you can run and training for the (half) marathon.
Whit the marathon training i run faster at the short distance.
Slow makes fast..

7:15 pm  
Blogger iliketoast said...

I think you'll get results by going back to Hadd. Swapping things around tends to create improvements is a theory of mine.

9:36 pm  
Blogger Robert Song said...

What would we do in Blogland without Scott flirting with sub 3, Toasty flirting with injury before a marathon and without you searching for the perfect training plan to reach another elusive goal.

I suggest swapping to the Aliens CD, that may do the trick. Or swap the gym boxing session where you develop those new sneaky ab punches for an extra hill session.

The other thing I would suggest given that you are getting such patchy results is sacking your coach ;-)

Seriously though it is very hard to give advice. I know what I am doing works for me but who knows what will work for you. Finding out what works is half the fun I reckon. And as we get older what works now may not be what works in the future anyhow.

11:18 pm  
Blogger Sling Runner said...

I think the short hill sprint is worth doing. It won't wipe you ouy and you can squeeze them easily after an easy run. Another thing that you can experiment is running long intervals (1000-1600) at 10k pace. Since it is in between 5k and HM pace, it might elevate both your VO2max and Lactate Threshold in one single workout.

4:49 pm  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

EWEN, the article you read about Lydiards 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 efforts might have been this one

6:26 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

Looks like we are starting to get a reputation , according to Robert Song, me flirting with sub 3 and you searching for something perfect and toasty pulling up lame pre marathon.

You can look on the bright side, It is obviously in your character to look for perfection otherwise I suppose you'd already be married and eating black fish 4 days a week.

As for me even if I get 2:45 for the marathon I'll still be playing with sub 3, sub 3 inches that is ;)

I just hope Toasty knows that pulling to many muscles might make him blind.

10:29 pm  
Blogger Runner Susan said...

Ewen, all the training advice you've given me has been good, so I'm sure whatever you are doing will be just right.

8:00 pm  
Blogger martine said...

i did a lot of slow stuff last year, not much speed at all.
after 4 weeks in the rocky mountains i came baCK in flat holland and broke my pr on the half with more then 2 minutes.

btw, your dutch is improving!!

10:15 pm  
Blogger martine said...

btw, that is the best nr armatrading made...the version of melissa etheridge is also very cool1

10:19 pm  
Blogger Stu said...

I wouldn't be throwing away those 1k reps, they do need to be a part of the overall plan, maybe every 2nd week???

10:54 pm  
Blogger Robert Song said...

I have just been looking at my old running diary. In Oct 1970 , I ran a 100m in 12.9 seconds. The note says massive tail wind. Two weeks later I could only manage 13.5. It was bad enough being beaten by a fair margin in a 100m without being streeted in a 200m si I didn't run many of them. I don't know how those times compare with a 200m but I never considered myself speedy.

10:14 pm  

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