Sunday, June 07, 2009

A training day, repeated

I'd like you, my readers, to consider something which may at first seem absurd: What is the type of training day you could repeat ad infinitum, à la Yoshihisa Hosaka?

Why I ask, is that after doing quite a few Hosaka-style days, I'm learning something new about myself as a runner. You see, taking 24 hours and repeating it requires a certain tightrope-like balance. Get it wrong and you teeter to one side, and find yourself suddenly shifting weight to the skyward end of your flailing balance pole. Of course, under ideal circumstances, these adjustments would be subtle, and undetectable to gasping onlookers. You won't suddenly need a rest day from running to regain your balance.

Now some of you will be clever, and say something like "I could run 5k per day ad infinitum", or if you're a speedster like Jo, you might say "My repeatable training day would be a 5-lap warm-up and 5 x 200m sprints". That's the easy way out! I want you to think about a day that might be close to your limit. A day right on the edge of your comfort zone. Let me know, hypothetically, what this day might be.

For myself, I've zeroed in on about 17 kilometres per day. From Tuesday through to Friday I run this in two sessions: 7k after work, which I run on trails at mid to upper aerobic effort, then an hour or so later an easy 12k out and back towards Rose Cottage Inn. I've learned rather quickly to rein myself in during the 7k run, lest the 12k become an excruciatingly slow plod, and I find myself sleeping for 9 hours instead of 8 — not a good look when I stagger into work all bleary-eyed, half an hour late! I run the 7k at between 5:10 and 5:25 per km, although if my aerobic condition improves, these paces may become faster. On the weekends, although I could do the same, I usually run once per day for around 17 kilometres. On Monday afternoons I run an easy 14 or so with the Speedygeese.

Now is this a logical, sensible or effective training plan? To tell you the truth, I'm not sure. Perhaps you can offer an opinion? I'm doing it in essence, as an experiment. I'm trying to understand Hosaka, and what made him the fastest 60-year-old marathoner in the world. I don't have an overwhelming desire to break 21 minutes for 5k or 1:38 for the half marathon, although as a side-effect of this unusual training plan, that would be nice. I'm quite enjoying the simplicity of running the same amount and effort during 24 hours, for day after day.

My last training week went — 14, 7-12, 7-12, 7-12, 7-8, 18, 9-8. The last 7 weeks in kilometres have been — 126, 124, 123, 69, 113, 126 and 121 — so not quite the beautiful set of numbers that Hosaka records, but I'm working on it.

The 3 Amigos - David Appleby photoThe good, the bad, and the ugly. This photo proves bearded runners are faster. In this recent "race" at North Lyneham, both bearded runners finished well ahead of the clean-shaven one!


Blogger speedygeoff said...

There is always someone who has to run at the back of the field. Ugly has never looked so good.

11:43 am  
Blogger Superflake said...

The one that left me wasted was those 3x3.7k laps of Centennial Park at around 3:30-3:35 pace. I reckon I would have trouble doing multiple days though, I was on my limit doing one day.

1:08 pm  
Blogger Luckylegs said...

I don't know anything about all that running stuff, but I very much approve of the orange shirt & cap! A new Winter range?

7:07 pm  
Blogger Bruce said...

At the moment I'd be stoked with a daily 30 minute jog. Hope you manage to keep your balance on that tightrope.

7:19 pm  
Blogger Andrew said...

Lydiard promoted running a pace & distance you could run the next day for the bulk of the aerobic training days in his training programs. Varying your pace and distance will help you recover and provide a stimulus to the body. There's more than one way to achieve a certain training effect. As long as your workout has a purpose and that purpose is correctly positioned in the current training cycle you should be fine. Easier said than done of course.

7:29 pm  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

That's a very interesting question. I don't want to do it, but if I did...
The first thing to take into consideration is: no rest days. For me that would be tough, and would consequently require a mileage level that is not too high. 15k a day would be too much. I suppose I could handle 12, which would be 84k a week. Another thing to consider is that the real key to Hosaka's training is that he is doing hard intervals every day, in addition to the mileage. I would achieve that by doing the 12k as: 2k warmup, 2k at "average" pace, 4k at faster pace, 2k average, 2k warmdown. The faster 4k would probably vary from day to day— some days quite fast, other days not so fast. In fact, some days, the whole 12k might be rather easy.
Gee, you know this almost sounds good enough to try. But no...I am going to stick to my plan of starting an 18-week Pfitzinger marathon program on Aug. 2 (88k—113k per week) leading to the Santa Barbara marathon on Dec. 6.

8:53 pm  
Blogger jojo said...

i cant think of anything worse than doing the same thing day in day out.... now the same week every week i could handle..but i like to mix it up..
oh and BTW 5km with 5x200 sprints is not my thing you know(and i am BY NO MEANS A speedster)assuming it was me you were talking about!

a repeatable day for me would probably be...hmmmm a bit of bitching and moaning to start with and then a couple of kms warm up with 2x3min efforts thrown in(i gotta have some faster work)and then a couple of kms to finish with(but thats if its winter..if its summer, i want faster faster faster-but you cant do that day in day ONLY a mara runner could do the repetitiveness...
its DOING my head in even thinking about it...LOL

9:13 pm  
Blogger Grellan said...

Hosaka's trainign plan, while obviously suiting him, may not be everyone's cup of tea, certainly if I though I could have the relative success from such a plan I'd dive right in. Although repeating the same run(s) every day would lead to some serious running monotony which increases the risk of both injury and boredom.

If your bearded theory is correct i'd better grow mine back,

11:00 pm  
Blogger Love2Run said...

So I have to grow a beard like Andrew to get faster now? With a blank slate in front of me it's tempting to try the Hosaka Method but wonder how long it would take for me to break down. The old 'experiment of one' theory holds once again.

11:15 pm  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

I think the guy has amazing powers of recovery and natural ability!
BUT the question has to be just how fast could he run if he tried a more structured type of training program, you have to remember that after a hard training session the body has to first recover before it over compensates, without easier days I can't see how his body can adapt unless the training he is doing is not really all that hard for him!

1:11 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

p.s. His training most be in the aerobic zone otherwise he'd BURN!

1:13 am  
Blogger Thomas said...

Lydiard clearly said that alternating between higher and lower mileage days is better than running the same every day. That's enough for me not to ever try it.

2:45 am  
Blogger rinus said...

I don,t no Ewen!, maiby is Hosaka's training good?.
You can try to do it.
Have some fun and "Lopen is geen sport, maar een manier van reizen, waarbij geest en lichaam zich voortdurend verplaatsen`."
Running is no sport but a way to travel, where be your mind and body continu displace(move's)!.

6:37 am  
OpenID canute1 said...

I note that for at least 9 years after returning to running in his mid-thirties, Hosaka experimented with different training regimens, and during this time his marathon pace improved. At age 45 he recorded his fastest marathon: 2:25:28. Although the Running Times article provides no details of his training from age 45 to 60, it implies that he has maintained a consistent training program throughout a substantial portion of the past 15 years. During that period, his marathon time has deteriorated at the rate of 11 min in 15 years. This is a little less than the commonly quoted rate of deterioration of 1 min per year, but taking account of the consistency of his training, it does not appear to be dramatically less than the average rate of decline.
Thus, I would conclude that Hosaka’s example indicates that running the same schedule every day, a schedule that is within your capacity and includes a reasonable range of speeds and running formats within the day, might be a good way to produce a modest slowing of the natural rate of decline with age. However, I do not think that Hosaka’ story provides evidence that it is a good way to improve your performance. Maybe of course, the best that we old timers can hope for is to slow the rate of natural decay. However for those of us who have already decayed faster than nature intended, it is an interesting challenge to try to claw back come of our lost youth before bowing to the inevitable decline.

8:45 am  
Blogger Chad in the AZ Desert said...

Since we are all an experiment of one, you are really only going to find out if this training plan is working when you put it to the test in a race. As long as you aren't struggling or getting hurt, it holds some promise.

5:31 am  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

Canute1 makes a good point that we don't know what Hosaka did in the about 9 years of trying different methods but it does follow that one tends to impoving along the way under any decent program for that amount of time after taking up running in earnest.

But as a way to keep fitness and stave off the natural decline on our racing times I think that running the same pattern week in week out has a lot to offer older runners. Of course just one guy doing it has little meaning.
It will have to be studied longer term.


I know that there are a lot of, good/excellent, Japanese runners that follow the same pattern of running. They "The Japanese", in general, have a far higher tolerace to monotony that the average "Westerner". And it apeals to a kind of "Zen " metality that says it is the effort of small actions done over and over again that leads to enlightenment or perfection.

I agree with what Thomas says about lydiard not recommending such training and not being interested in it, but I think he would be interested in why and how a 60 year old can run these kind of times and may just adjust his advice for those over 50.

We are in new teritory here and Hosaka and his kind have something to show us.

As for me I don't mind running the same day after day week after week as it matches other aspects of my life. Work life, sex life, and social life. Not too much different today then it was 10 years ago. Some might say "Hand the man a gun" and some might say "Gee he is very good at what he does." ;)

10:09 am  
Blogger jen said...

Interesting. I don't know if I could find that kind of balance, it's impressive. The consistancy sounds kind of nice given that my current training is all about variety. Great picture btw! :)

1:40 pm  
Blogger strewth said...

Or then again you could just take a holiday and go somewhere warmer to get a little variety into that "day in day out" routine! Nothing like a change of scenery!!

3:46 pm  
Blogger Runner Susan said...

Hmmm, not sure what I could do day after day, but I like the sprinting idea that you said was the easy way out. I'm guessing 5 miles might do it for me. I might try running 5 miles a day for a week to see what happens - and then increase it to 8 and then maybe, if I grow a beard, I'll be able to increase it to 10 miles a day!

Of course, I'd have to have the longest beard, because I'm competitive like that!

9:28 pm  
Blogger Stu said...

Like so many above I could not consider running the same each day, I like change (well sometimes)! I really think theat variety and structure is the way forward for the majority.

But I am sure that if you stay on the tightrope and do not fall off, then improvements will be made, but recovery will be required for any BIG race.

11:57 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

too busy running to shave thats why they are faster. "variety is the spice of life" "life is like a box of chocolates you never know what you gonna get"
my best effort at a repeating weekly schedule would be (daily would never work for me for at least a few decades I expect) long run/ride on weekend, medium run in the week, speed work/shorter runs/rides whenever I feel ready physically and mentally, financially, and am able to get away from the house or work...

variety is important to stimulate achievement, and push limits. for now Hosaka IS variety/novelty for you, but after a few weeks,months, something else will be needed to avoid boredom, and increase physiological improvement...

6:00 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

In the bible Samson lost his strength when the hair was cut from his head, so maybe that has something to do with the success of us often unshaven ones.

6:03 pm  

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