Saturday, September 05, 2009

Learning to run like Pre

I've been thinking about Canute's comments in my last post where he mentions the central governor theory. Is it possible for me to cajole the pesky governor into allowing a slacker rope, such that I can run with the abandonment of Steve Prefontaine? Speedygeoff also mentions running a Pre-style 70 minute half marathon when he latched onto 2:15 marathoner John Andrews.

Jonathon, in a recent blog post, pointed out Pre's 5000m race in the 1972 Munich Olympics. It shows the final three laps of what is a fascinating race. Pre is leading and has set such a pace that all but four runners have been dropped. When he's finally overtaken, he bursts back into the lead only to be overtaken again. He manages to regain the lead once more, yet loses the bronze medal to a fast finishing Ian Stewart. My take on his thought process is that it goes something like: "bugger you mate, you're not going to lead my race!" I think Pre's accommodating central governor may have cost him a silver medal behind Lasse Virén.

Anyway, I'm never in the running for medals, so I'm open to suggestions for training sessions that might teach my pompous central governor a lesson — just as Gough Whitlam promised in 1975 when he said: "Well may we say God save the Queen, because nothing will save the governor-general!" Thanks Scott for mentioning that apt quote.

For 'Pre practise', I've done one 10k run where I warmed up for 2k, then alternated 'hard' and 'harder' 2k sections. 'Hard' was at about marathon race effort, while 'harder' was at about 10k race effort. This seemed to be a somewhat effective central governor humiliation strategy, as he tried mightily (but failed) to prevent the final 2k 'harder' section.

Me doing a Pre at the start of the HalfEarly in the ACT Veterans' Half Marathon

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wannabe said:

I got in with the first comment for once. Come to think of it I have only beaten Ewen once in a race too and that was probably a handicap event.

11:51 pm  
Blogger Thomas said...

What's your sudden fascination with Pre all about?

12:56 am  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

Alternating hard and harder for 1k or 2k is a great workout. You might be going too hard, however. Or too long. Doing 10k with half at 10k race pace on a training day is pretty brutal. Why don't you try alternating marathon pace and 10k race pace for 1k at a time, for a total of 6k. With 3k warmup and 1k warmdown. That's your 10k workout.
For an alternative (longer) workout, try alternating marathon pace and half marathon pace. Even that is plenty tough.

1:06 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

your a beggar for punishment, maybe a trip to see madam whiplash will help!
or you could try a session of starting at 75% max heart rate and increase by 5 beats every 2 min,and keep going until you can not increase effort anymore, great progression run that teaches you to push harder and harder!

1:49 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thomas, my races are very predictable - I always start at even pace and try and hold that, or speed up. I'd like to be less predictable for a change.

Bob and Rick, thanks for those ideas - I'll try both.

Wannabe, you failed to mention that ALL your M50 PBs are faster than mine!

7:50 am  
Anonymous JoeGarland said...

In a documentary about Pre, Ian Stewart was interviewed, as I recall. He said that Pre figured he could just blow everyone away with his sub-4 mile speed. Stewart said kind of jokingly that Pre didn't realize that there were four or five other guys in the field who also had that kind of speed.

I also recall that afterwards -- I remember watching the race -- Pre said he didn't realize how rough these races can be and that when he got back he'd be better prepared for it.

12:47 pm  
Blogger jojo said...

hmmm trying to run at my 10k pace for 5km, well thats practically my 5km race pace...uh uh my friend.. lol

5:57 pm  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

1. How do you manage to get so many great racing shots?
2. You've got my interested piqued enough to open my Noakes and reread the Central Governor chapter again.

Cool...lifting that book doubles as a weight workout.

8:14 pm  
Blogger Sling Runner said...

I quite like the so-called 'Ovett Tempo' (not sure whether he actually did it). The tempo consists of 3 miles HMP (gets lactate up), 1 mile MP (as recovery), 1 mile 10k (as fast finish) = 5 miles total

1:11 am  
Blogger R2B said...

I like this post Ewen!

Just don't forget to have fun though.

7:51 am  
Blogger bill carter said...

Hi Ewen

Wow, what a video! I don't know that I have ever seen Pre's 5000 before. I have read about it and heard how it affected him so deeply, but watching that race was really something.

But I do agree that there is some sort of governor (our brain's survival instinct?) that keeps us from running with true abandon. It tries to avoid pain and it also acts to prevent us from hurting ourselves physically.

I just need the code to turn the darn thing off in 3 weeks. I'm only asking for about 2 hours and 57 minutes.....

Take care Ewen!

10:50 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

I recently got the Noakes book "The Lore of Running, for my b'day and find his "Central Governor" theory very pausible and interesting.

Who hasn't wanted to stop or walk the last few Ks of a race and/or thought they wanted to stop this ridiculus running thing altogether only to find on crossing the line those thoughts vanishing to be replaced by a renewed obsession.

I only wish there was a "central governor" to put a cork back into the bottles of liqueur I open and can't stop until I'm finish.

While my wife steps in on occasion she is not always there to "protect" me from myself ;)

1:46 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

Nice pic in the Half there...
Thanks for the mention re the Pre race I found on you-tube...it certainly is a very interesting race that one...In a lot of ways maybe it was the forerunner of the surges we see from the Kenyans in 5000m and 10,000m races today...

I like the Pre attitude..."you aren't going to lead MY race" I just think he timed his surging slightly wrongly at the end, whereas Stewart and to a lesser extent Viren seagulled it with perfect timing for the finish line...

Bekele the Ethiopian has made the finishing kick into a total art form...

So my thoughts are that it is worth incorporating (a) a good finishing kick into your training...which is why I often try to really go for broke on the last rep, it helps with fast finish pattern for races...sometimes adding an extra 200m sprint at the end of session helps too...something I have done since 1987...a great weapon as Bekele the Master has demonstrated...for many years at the highest level...
and (b) using well placed surges at the beginning and at other times during the race to destroy opponents...
the thing is when you spend your pennies on a surge, you then have to recover...

Pre almost bluffed Viren into losing with his early surge in the last lap, but Viren to his credit stuck to his guns and he and Stewart and the guy who got second caught Pre napping/recovering in the last 50m when he should have been finishing kicking past the line...so he gambled and lost or more likely the go-for- broke attitude cost him due to timing his surges wrongly going for it 20metres too early...

10:49 am  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

Pre and Viren were the best two runners in that race...Pre's attempts to break Viren and take the Gold cost him a medal so he went for Gold or nothing and come up with nothing nwhen he could have easily sat back and seagulled a Silver medal...this Noakes theory about the central governor is partly true, and something we can use to our advantage...but there are limits...
we can all benefit from learning how to run like Pre, especially in championship races where the main goal is to win, or medal and the time is secondary...and if we are careful how we use the PRE attitude,and put in the right sustained training we can use it bring our PB's down too...go for it!

10:58 am  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

I booked my flights for Melbourne Marathon (my wife is coming to walk the 5km again too) yesterday...I will be trying to time my PRE-ish moves perfectly in that one, hope to blow away my PB and a few rivals in that one...

11:00 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks all for your Pre-session suggestions. I'll try them over the coming weeks.

Flo, we're lucky to have a couple of keen local photographers who shoot many of the races and make the photos freely available (not so good if one is running ugly).

3:34 pm  

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