Thursday, June 17, 2010

How much should I run, and how fast?

I've been thinking about the weekly volume of running I need in order to race "a good" 5k. In the last 4 weeks I've averaged 65k per week (40 miles). My aerobic fitness doesn't feel as great as it could be. When I ran 20:54 for the Stromlo 5k at the end of 2007 I'd run 92k (57 miles) per week for the previous 4 weeks.

Flo wrote recently asking "Is more mileage better?" — to which Joe Garland replied "I think the more the merrier provided that you’re not constantly worn down." That pretty much answers the first part of the question posed by this post. Now I know there are runners out there who do amazingly well off "low mileage." Like my friend Kathy S, who runs very fast age-group times off 50 to 60k per week. That's kilometres, not miles! I'm not the type of runner who can produce PBs off low mileage, no matter how intense those miles are run. I'll run as much as I can — more than 80k, but a good few less than the 170 to 200 weekly kilometres Scott Brown's putting away.

So, my simple plan will be modified. A confession here — it wasn't working that well anyway! One day of long easy running wasn't enough to recover for a hard session. I'll try "Simple Plan 2.0." — a workout day followed by two easy/long days. The second part of my question is "How fast do I need to run?" For the easy days, I don't believe it matters. The easier the better, so my legs are good-to-go on the workout day. The famous black/white training of Nic Bideau. Or in my case, black/white/white. How fast do I run on the workout days? Maybe a variety of speeds — from near maximal sprinting all the way down to half-marathon paced tempo running. I see sprinting as important because my old mate Gerard Ryan (3k steeple in 8:30-ish) said that 5k speed depends on how fast one is over 100 metres. At the present moment my 100 metre speed is more Athabasca Glacier than Niagara Falls.

me on tuggie hillA Sony phone photo from the track around the hill near my place

brindabella sunsetSunset over the Brindabellas from the same location

28 Comments:

Blogger speedygeoff said...

I was thinking, should there be a new focus, on form? I was also thinking, if I can get motivated and do some 1k/2k intervals instead of just shuffling along as I have been, maybe 5k is my distance as well? A concerted and unified attack on the 5k might be productive. Maybe 5k is my preferred distance given that no other distance stands out.

7:59 pm  
Blogger strewth said...

So does this mean you'll be running 92km a week again from now on? That's a lot of kms!! How long will your weekend runs be then? Nice picces! :)

9:41 pm  
Blogger Thomas said...

If I ever find out the optimal mileage and training pace, I'll be sure to let you know.

The only problem is, our ageing bodies make that very much a moving target!

10:43 pm  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

I agree, in general, the more the better. In your case, I think that is definitely true, as your past performances have shown.
As for speed, yes, a variety is good, but when aiming for a 5k, I would advise more 1k and 2k intervals rather than half marathon tempo runs.

12:17 am  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

Oh, how I love to listen in on a thoughtful runner. Somewhere last year I started separating hard bouts with 2 days, too. As much for mental recovery than the physical, something nice about knowing you have 2 days to simply enjoy without a test of any kind.

12:29 am  
Blogger Ali said...

I feel the strongest and run the best on 5 days per week, around 60k per week. That's if I have a goal, if I don't have a race goal I can't put in that type of mileage, but then my pace goes up:)

like the canadian reference Athabasca Glacier than Niagara Falls

4:55 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

i can see you've got your 'drinking cap' on!
maybe you need a 'thinking cap' to sort your training out :]
as many miles as the legs can handle without wearing yourself out, sounds good to go!

6:14 am  
Anonymous Joe Garland said...

I agree with this, and also with adding a recovery day if you find you're not where you want to be when it's time for speed, e.g. to Wednesday from Tuesday. I've had to adjust as I find recovery taking a bit longer than it used to.

As to pace, that depends on the workout. Repeats at repeat pace, tempos at tempo pace, etc. As to easy runs, I don't think it much matters except insofar as going too fast raises recovery issues, which, alas, it recently has for me as well.

10:27 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Speedygeoff, I've been thinking about form too - more so after reading your Touch and Go posts. I think 5k could be your distance too - 18-something for you, with me a lap behind :)

Strewth, weeks that don't have an '8th day' rest day will be around that. The other weeks might be 80k. The weekend run will remain 90 to 100 minutes, so anything from 13 to 18k. I'll probably run some 'doubles'.

Thomas, thanks for that. I want to know! I've been chasing that moving target for the last 10 years ;)

Bob, thanks. I used to run 3 or 5 x 1k intervals with Speedygeoff in the old days and they worked well. I also want to improve my terminal (sprinting) speed as I know that's declined (more through lack of using those muscles than age) in recent years.

Flo, glad to hear the 2 white days are working for you - and yes, a good mental break not worrying about pace.

Ali, 5 days/week is a good schedule. We were on that glacier in summer, wearing shorts and sandals.

Rick, I run best in my drinking cap. The thought of a post-race cleansing ale keeps me motivated ;)

Joe, thanks for your thoughts. I'll put back a speed session if I'm not feeling recovered. I've tended to run too fast on easy days - it's not easy to hold back when you happen to be feeling good that day.

4:23 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

So "girl in Motion" if you "love to listen in on a thoughtful runner," come on over to my blog!

Well I guess I can't offer you "thoughtful" but you can be sure that on my blog you will be valued and not just another notch on Ewen's belt or number on his hit counter!!!

Sorry Ewen but with a name like "Girl in Motion" there is a chance that she has "negotiable affections" and I might be able to steal her away from you! It's for her own good, you know.

4:53 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

And by the way that's a good photo mind if I use it as exhibit "A" in my essay on "Why we don't need camera's on our phones!"

It's my new beard it's making me sort of anti technology, thesesday

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VAp62IfXkI&feature=related

5:04 pm  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

But Ewen I really think you should swap the drinking hat for a Chris boardman style aero helmet and work on a Graeme Obree Superman running posture, should be worth 10 sec a mile :]
http://www.pezcyclingnews.com/photos/interviews/al-obree.jpg

5:38 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Scott, those 200k weeks on a diet of burnt fish prepared by your long-suffering very plain Amish wife are making you delirious. 'Girl in Motion' is not that kind of girl! I think you've been milking and ploughing too long. Time to get out and party like it's 1699!

Rick, I'm willing to try anything for 10 secs a mile. Anything... except for wearing girlie arm warmers, churning butter and turning the other cheek.

8:03 am  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

Oh what fun, being talked about by thoughtful Amish loving runners. Reminds me of when I was at Zion Park a couple years ago and everybody on the bus (that's how you get around the park) gathered to a window and started pointing and oohing and ahhing. I figured they were all excited by some kind of exotic grazing animal. Turned out to be an Amish couple eating lunch.

12:33 pm  
Blogger jojo said...

ummm yeah im a low mileage person. previous years 35-40 were good for me. we are trying to move up to
50+ weeks-doesnt feel very natural..lol
itll be interesting to see if the increased kms relate to better times.ill know when i do the half in september

6:38 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

Given your running background and your current goals, I reckon a weekly total of ~65km with 2 faster sessions (1 tempo, 1 shorter and sharper) with 2 easy days in between each and 1 day off completely each week should do the trick. Obviously one of your easy days needs to be your long(er), slow run day (~15-18km). I'd give it 6-8 weeks and then evaluate. What do you reckon (in principle)?

9:48 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Flo, I'm not sure whether Scott is girl-loving, beard-loving or just desirous of the simple life. I'll put Zion Park on the 'must do' list for next year's US trip :)

Jojo, it doesn't feel natural because you're too damn fast! I wish I was a low-mileage girl like you.

Jog, in principle (roughly), that looks good. I like the 8th day (Paula-style) rest day though, and maybe slightly more volume. I was thinking something like:

15, 11, workout (8), 15, 11, workout (8), 15, rest day, workout (8), 15, 11, workout (8), 15, 11, workout (8), rest day, etc.

Do you think that would work? Sometimes the 15s might be 18.

8:18 am  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

Looks okay to me. I'd make the 18km day the day before your rest day and keep the other two easy medium-longer days between 12-15km. When do you think you'll start this new running schedule? Let me know how it goes.

8:37 pm  
Blogger Effin' J said...

You've received a lot of good suggestions so far. The only novel thing I can add at this point is that you might think about adding in a variety of short sprints and strides to your black days and maybeone of your white days each week. I typically have 8-10 x 100-150m strides w/ 1 min. rest in my Thursday schedule and do these either straight up, at increasing effort (from 5k down to 800m effort), and/or do them up a hill. I typically do 3 x 150m cutdowns (from mile to 800m effort) at the end of every hard workout/ long run. For my speed-focused training of late, my coach is giving me 4-5 x 10-15 sec sprints with full recovery, in addition to the strides on my hard days.

I have found these short repeats to be very useful for increasing my turnover. The best part is that they are so short that they don't feel like you're running "hard".

I have no real comment about the mileage question except to say that I struggle with the same thing.

4:50 am  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

nice sunset. the black sessions are what counts the rest can be done with crosstraining or easy runs, or hiking or any physical exercise...team sports even IMO. The Kenyans for some of the year do 3 sessions a day but only 1 of those is a hard one the other two sessions are easy ones...When Monaghetti came and trained with us it was clear a lot of his 200k was easy runs...Bideau seemed to be saying 120m sprints, hill sprints (like hard 1k-2k intervals), tempo anearobic threshold runs, 5k/10k races, a solid long run and a lot of easy runs are the main aspects of his athletes programs...(and they dominate running in Australia...) when he did a talk over here in Perth last year...
maybe you and speedygeoff can fire each other up to new levels...when I was racewalking at a good level we had a training group of 2-5 highly motivated people and we pushed each other hard all the time...
I find if I set myself 2-4 key sessions a week, and make the rest optional its achievable. balancing energy intake/usage important.
A good race at least once a month is good too. But make the training dominate, the races can be used as training but better as icing on the cake. Have some major goal races, which you work specifically towards for 4-10 weeks or more...every "key" session should be focused towards that main goal race in 4-10 weeks...
thats what works for me...
youve been at this game for a long time so you know all this stuff just need to be reinvigorated...need a really good goal race, and a good holiday is always good...

5:54 am  
OpenID canute1 said...

There are three essential ingredients in a training program: enough volume; enough intensity and enough recovery. By all means do as much volume as you can without compromising recovery, but I think it is as valuable to focus on volume of recovery as it is on volume of running. Unfortunately, there are few guidelines regarding optimum recovery. Enough sleep is almost certainly one element, but as far as I am aware, there has been too little investigation of the best way to do recovery runs. For a poorly trained athlete, the term ‘recovery run’ is probably a contradiction; for a reasonably well trained athlete, there is little doubt that a light workout the day after a hard work-out is helpful, probably by increasing blood flow to muscles. However, it is potentially counter-productive to treat a recovery run as a way of boosting volume. In fact I am more impressed the value of a short, easy paced recovery run that includes a few stride-outs.

8:27 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Jog, good idea about 18k prior to the rest day. I'm starting today with 15k. Wednesday hopefully short hills from the Pete Magill video.

Thanks Jaymee. I'll try and incorporate those ideas a little closer to the track season. My sprinting and turnover is quite poor at the best of times.

Thanks Jonathon. I recall Mona's long run being at quite an easy pace (for him). I aim to try and make the black sessions count.

Canute, thanks for your input. That's a good point about the better conditioned one is, the better 'recovery' runs are handled and helpful. I'm wondering whether 2 short recovery runs on the 11k day might be more useful in terms of recovery? For example, a 4k jog in the morning and a 7k jog including stride-outs in the afternoon.

3:53 pm  
Blogger rinusrunning said...

I run slow and not so fast!.
You can try climaxrun training!.
In dutch:
Climaxloop 30’& 10kmT 5x1000P1’SP2’

You start at a point and come back on the same point!.
You start at a pont a 30 minutes run and verry slow start.Try to run faster and faster and end after 30 minutes, the last 5 minutes you run your fast speed.
Rest for 2 minutes and start back the same road.
But now you run 5 x 1000 meter(1 km) on 10k game speed(your speed when you run a 10km run).After each 1000 meter stand stil for 1 minutes and start the next 1000 meter run.
After the 5 x 1000 meter run you come back on the same place where you was start this training!.
Try this training and you whil see that it is a fun fast training!.

You can also do a sorter training like":
Inlopen 25’Heen climaxloop 22 ½’’ Terug DL3>10kmT ca 5x4’P1’SP 2 ½’

Than you run 25 minutes and 5 x 4 minutes back on 10k/half marathon speed!.
Rinus.
www.rinusrunning.nl

8:27 pm  
Blogger Robert James Reese said...

I've found that I'm one of the folks who needs more mileage to get better results. But, it's tough to push the weekly max higher.

There's a cool article in this month's Running Times about "Reasons not to run a marathon" and it lists guidelines of training miles for shorter events. It might be an interesting read for you if you haven't already seen it.

2:34 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Rinus, I know you run a zillion marathons and ultras, but you are still fast to me! I like the look of Dutch Climaxloop + 5 x 1000m - I hope I would be fast enough to make it home ;) I'll try it.

Robert, that's true. It's not easy to find the point of diminishing returns. The sweet spot of training is most likely a little short of that point. Flo emailed me that article. It's great reading.

7:38 pm  
Blogger Love2Run said...

All this talk of drinking caps and beards made be double check your pic to make sure you hadn't shaved! Do you think removing all body hair would give a few seconds? Seriously, good luck with your 5k plans as I'll be right there with you. My next attempt is on July 1 to test my training so far.

9:44 am  
Blogger Runner Susan said...

i ran my best when i was running the most. which is not right now. but if someone told me i could run to napa and not ever come back to texas, i'd start running and not look back.

6:58 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Mike, I'm not as desperate as Scott Brown to shave a few seconds off my PBs ;) Good luck on July 1!

Susan, that's true. Maybe you start running to Napa and Michael can drive. Only drink bottled water on the way.

3:33 pm  

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