Saturday, January 27, 2018

More thoughts about Verheul Training

Not a lot of serious racing has been going on since 2018 commenced. It's been too darn hot! Even at 8.00 AM for the Parkrun 5k the temperature has been rarely below 19C. The humidity has been high too — this morning my shirt, shorts and socks were soaked in sweat by the time I'd finished running. My fastest 5k so far this year was on the 13th of January, 24:35 on a warm morning that also happened to be windy! My goal for this year is to run under 23:00 — even 22:59 will do! I don't think this will be an easy task, as it means finding another 34 seconds over my best time from last year.

Besides the lack of hard racing, my training has been going well. I'm averaging a little over 80 km per week, or around 8 and a half hours for those who measure by time. Looking back at my training diaries from the 1990s, I would have covered about 105 km in 8.5 hours (sufficient weekly time in my opinion for good race results). I'm back doing regular Verheul interval sessions, but in a different manner to how I ran them last year. I think my execution of the Verheul Methode wasn't how it should have been.

The most important thing is how the feet and legs interact with the ground. What we're looking for is a feeling of 'reactivity' with each stride. Now this doesn't mean striving for exaggerated 'springing' and vertical movement. It means running lightly with reactivity and forward movement. Last year I was too concerned with split times of the faster efforts and not enough with how each stride felt. I thought there was good value in doing a large amount of running at near race pace, when the real value comes from repeating the feeling of good reactive strides. For Verheul sessions now, I'm typically thinking about how the stride feels, without concern for how fast I'm running. My walking recoveries are now shorter than previously. I might walk for 100m and run for 400m, or walk for 200m and run for 300m rather than the 1:1 walk/run by distance that I did before. I'll let you know how things progress over the coming weeks.

Long run with the Speedygeese at Majura Pines


Blogger TokyoRacer said...

That's exactly where I am now - distance and time. Hope it will pay benefits for both of us!

10:53 pm  
Blogger Janene said...

Hopefully as the weather cools down you'll easily hit that 5 km goal of sub 23. You mentioned the 8 hours of training being ideal for you back in the 90s. Do you think a well conditioned masters runner still needs that amount of training? What about the extra training on the bike? Could it be your body is a bit tired and would run better off a bit less? Just food for thought.

1:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ewen, I have every confidence that you will smash 23:00 for the 5k. Your form at the end of 2017 was great. Patience, the soggy bottoms will pass. Your observation about "reactivity with each stride" is interesting. Up until I was 14 yrs I ran barefoot on grass. Then went into leather spikes with no heel at all. I am not a barefoot runner and I now run in a neutral cushioned shoe (12mm drop), but I know when I transition to the ball of my feet that I feel "fast" (relatively speaking!). And I love the feeing. However, the days of running strong and long on the forefeet have past; and, the achilles has suffered. I think if the long term goal is longevity in running you have to find a training routine that is a compromise on fast speed intervals. Select your race day and you will break 23:00. Nifty Nev.

2:08 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Bob, must confess I still measure by distance out of habit but since the advent of Strava, realise how many hours I'm putting in per week and take more notice of that.

Janene, I think it's an individual thing. I probably am on the tired side lately, with the hot weather also affecting sleep. There's quite a variation in the volume that successful Masters runners do - some are up around the 120/130 k per week, others do well off 30 or 40 k per week. Historically I've run better off 'more' - faster 5ks off 80 k per week than 50 k per week. My bike riding is easy recovery riding so I don't think that contributes much to aerobic capacity.

Nev, that's interesting. I did a lot of barefoot running myself through the '80s and '90s. Having no weight at all on the feet is a great feeling and I'm sure my feet were stronger then. I don't know that I could do it now. Maybe start with a very few strides on grass?

4:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ewen, As you know there has been a lot of discussion on barefoot running. Canute's post 29 Mar 2012 is interesting.'s Keith Bateman runs barefoot; David Sweeny does not. I think you can transition onto the ball of your feet in shoes and still get the "reactivity feel". I certainly do "strides" as does Bruce Graham; and, I think running drills and strides promote efficient running form. Barefoot is not for me - I tried on the beach when I can down the coast. Perhaps something to think about again? Nifty Nev.

6:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like a very hot summer. It was noteworthy that Simona Halep required hospital treatment after the women’s final at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Saturday. I suspect that influenced the match referee’s decision to close the stadium roof on Sunday – a decision that probably helped Roger Federer, but whatever part the closed roof played in the outcome, it is wonderful to see Federer is such great form again.

I think that it is sensible to focus on the lightness of step during the Verheul intervals; I suspect that you will find that focus on a light step will result in you achieving a pace near to 5K pace, and it will be good to teach your body to feel light and springy at race pace.

5:49 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Nev, I used to race barefoot on the track but could never do it on the road. For a good interaction with the ground I think light shoes are important, but not particularly 'zero drop' or 'low drop' shoes. Finding suitable shoes is not that easy!

Canute, I enjoyed both finals and the results. It looked like Cilic was sweating more, even with the closed roof. Federer is great to watch.

3:44 pm  
Blogger Mark Watson said...

Knock that sub 23 out of the park mate. I know you can do it. Run to feel rather than running to those numbers garmin spits out? Damn that watch! Will I ever be rid of it? I often wonder if I might run better times without it. Who am I kidding ... just the thought of us being apart scares the hell out of me. A great photo of you and the gang.

Your point is well made though. Perhaps in training ...

5:17 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Mark. Must admit I love looking over the data after a race (especially HR data), but try and ignore the garmin while I'm running and tune in to how I'm feeling. When I first started running I timed runs using the kitchen clock and took off a minute for the 30 secs it took to get from the house to the street.

8:35 pm  

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