Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Good and the Bad of Hadd

It's nine weeks since I embarked on the John Hadd training experiment. There are good and bad features of any training system. For instance, the 'jog 3k every second day system' is good because it's very easy. It's bad because in 10k races, you struggle to keep up with grandmothers pushing prams.

Here are some of the good features of Hadd, as I see them:

  • Every training session is doable. I've found that every single run is successful. The runs at lower aerobic heart-rates (70-75% of maximum HR) are very easy. The runs at upper aerobic heart-rates (80-83%) are nothing more than 'solid paced' runs, and considerably easier than tempo runs or interval sessions.

  • You recover well. My recovery from each day's running is better than with other methods of training. Why is this so? I'm not quite sure, but I think it's because there's no lactic acid produced in Hadd training. I'm enjoying getting out of bed in the morning and walking around like a normal person, and not like an old man in need of a Zimmer frame.

  • Improvement is measurable. I can see that I'm getting better by running at the same heart-rate over a particular course and comparing the pace of the run to that of a few weeks earlier. There's no need to race in order to test improvement. Actually, I'm not sure this is a good aspect of Hadd, as I like racing.

  • The schedule is easily adaptable. If I'm having a bad hair day, I simply go out for a 'lower aerobic' run, when I might have planned an 'upper aerobic' run. Both types of runs are productive.

  • Hadd training leads to eventual faster racing. John Hadd contends that the main limiting factor to performance in distance running is a low lactate threshold. Training using his methods should result in a high lactate threshold and faster racing. I'll get back to you on that one.

Now for the bad features of Hadd:

  • Infrequent racing. You don't get to race during the base-building period. I love racing, so this is a major sacrifice. However, if I end up racing faster and staying ahead of grandmothers pushing prams, it could be worth it.

  • It's addictive. I find myself looking forward running each day. Part of this anticipation is due to the improvement feedback of the heart-rate monitor, and part is because, although I like running 'fast', the pre-Hadd days when I used to run hard interval sessions were not anticipated with glee.

  • You run a lot, and you run slow. My shoes are wearing out faster. Luckily, I have some slow training partners or I'd be really experiencing the loneliness of the long distance runner. I have to go back to the ancient PB days to find a time when I ran more. I've run 607km in the last six weeks. Although this is quite modest compared to some Hadd and Lydiard disciples, it's a lot for a slow wombat such as myself. I take a long time to run my kilometres. Hey, this is not so bad. I like running!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My 24th City to Surf

Photo by the cheersquad with just over 1km to run
Lulu has just asked "where's the C2S report?" – the greatest 'fun run' in Australia was held last Sunday. It was my 24th City to Surf. I was just a boy of 23 when I ran my first in 1980. Now, I'm just a boy of 50.

Travelling back on the bus to Canberra with the cross country club group, Trev asked if I was happy with my run. I said I was very happy. I'd run 14k from central Sydney to Bondi Beach, with 64,000 friends, over a few hills, feeling pretty good the whole way. I'd run 69:16 (although my place card said 69:37), 4 minutes quicker than last year, and fast enough to stay in the A1 group for 2008. At the beginning of the year I'd set a goal of 62 minutes, but that was never going to happen. I'm starting to see some signs that Hadd training is working, but it's a long process. Maybe next year I'll approach that 62-minute goal.

This year, race day started at 2.45am. I met a mate for the drive into Canberra to catch the bus at 4.30am. We arrived in Hyde Park, Sydney, a bit over 3 hours later. I jogged over to The Domain, our usual meeting place and warm-up spot. I bumped into legend Keith Mayhew, who has finished every City to Surf since 1971. After warming up, I joined my fellow sub-75 minute runners in the A1 coral, 30 minutes before the start, and passed the time chatting to Adam from Speedygeoff's group.

Our start was surprisingly good – losing only 5 to 10 seconds crossing the line, and being able to run quick enough to pass 3km (actually 2.86k according to Forerunner Man), in 13:38. I really enjoyed that flat section through Rose Bay, 5k in 23:56, before changing down a gear or two for the plod up Heartbreak. I caught up to Aki near the top, after following her ponytail for quite a while. She wasn't having a good day. The clock at 7k said 35:53, so something under 70 minutes was on, as the second half, with all the downhill, is about 2 minutes quicker.

I felt really good running the flat/undulating bit (10k in 50:44), and continued to do so on the downhill, and the seemingly endless run to the finish. A highlight was seeing the CR cheersquad, doing a great job, near the bottom of the hill. I spotted Jen_runs, Tiger Angel, Don Juan (having a cow of a time) and a number of other CRs. The final 300 metres down Queen Elizabeth Drive is always a buzz. I refrained from sprinting, wary of creaky calves and such.

All in all, it was a brilliant day! I love this race. Sorry I wasn't able to catch up with many people afterwards. I might see you in Sydney for the Harbour Bridge run or at the MCG for the Melbourne Half.

1981DNSKnee injury
1982DNSMotorcycle trip
1993DNSMotorcycle accident
1998DNSTrip to US/Canada

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hadd for Queenslanders

I've set myself something of a task here... to explain Hadd-training in simple terms, within the confines of a blog post. John Hadd's original document is 25 pages. It's worth printing and reading through a few times if you're interested in trying this type of training (or if you're a coach who wishes to use it).

Is it too technical? Is it at odds with the pleasure of running 'naturally'? As I said in Hadd, Lydiard and Individualisation, there are many different training methods for running. You need to find out what suits your own personality and physiology. I wouldn't recommend Hadd-training for younger teenagers, or runners who are happier on low weekly mileage. The only technical aspects are the need for a heart-rate monitor and a stopwatch. My own enjoyment of running hasn't suffered at all. In fact, I can't wait for work to finish, so I can get out and run.

Who is John Hadd? Nobody knows. He's a coach of distance runners – from older teenagers to adults. His online fame comes from the document "Hadd's Approach to Distance Training". According to Hadd, the main thing preventing a person from running fast over long distances, is a low lactate threshold. A person might be able to run fast (or at a certain speed) for a short distance, but they can't keep their speed going. Low lactate threshold (LT) forces them to slow down in longer races.

Why does this runner have a low LT? Hadd suggests they run too few miles in training, and whatever mileage they do is run too fast. The runner needs to improve their lactate threshold so the speed at which they can run comfortably (without lactic acid accumulation) becomes faster. How is this done? Initially, by training at two paces. These paces are not fixed at minutes per kilometre, but at percentages of maximum heart-rate. So, the runner needs to know their maximum heart-rate. Hadd explains that you can do this by running an all-out 800 metres, resting two minutes, then running an all-out 400 metres. Your heart-rate at the end of the 400 is your maximum.

The two paces used are 'lower aerobic' (70 to 75% of HR maximum) and 'upper aerobic' (80 to 83% of HR maximum). The 'upper aerobic' level will be comfortably under your current lactate threshold. Using these two paces, mileage is increased to a level you can maintain. How much weekly mileage is needed? Eblues reported success off 65 to 80 kilometres per week during his 2006/07 season. Hadd's famous pupil Joe, averaged 148 kilometres per week over a 16-week period. During week 14, he ran a 15:58 5k with an average HR of 186 (96%). Joe had done no anaerobic training, with his only speedwork being 3 sessions of 200/200 fartlek to get him used to "moving faster biomechanically without incurring high lactate". During week 19 he ran a half marathon in 71:43 with an average HR of 181. For my experiment, I'm planning to run 90 to 100 kilometres per week.

At certain points during the Hadd plan, the 'upper aerobic' heart-rate is edged up by 5 beats per minute. This is done when you can run 16km sitting on your current upper aerobic heart-rate, and your pace stays steady during the whole run. The 2400m tests I mentioned in my previous post aren't a necessary part of the plan. They are just a way of monitoring improvement and giving you a guide as to what pace might be maintained during a race. Over time, your running speed at all heart-rates will get faster. This indicates an improved lactate threshold - the key to success in distance running.

If you still don't understand Hadd, Stephen Lacey might be able to help. Just say "please explain". I need an early night. I'm catching a 4.30am bus to Sydney in the morning to run my 24th City to Surf!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Hadd 2,400 metre test

I'm still calm. Unlike Susan, I haven't managed to get lost. Another week of Hadd training has passed beneath the Asics/Frees and all is well. 106 kilometres, including a 'long' run of 19.7k, and the famous Hadd 2,400 metre test session. I ran this on Tuesday 31 July down at the homely, freshly re-marked 400m grass track at Calwell...

John Hadd recommends running this test "rested, as if for a race". Now I know why. I was tired in the final two runs, and in the last, really struggled to get the heart-rate up to my target of 152. The test calls for running five 2,400 metre repeats at steady heart-rates, which increase with each run. The rest between each run is 90 seconds.

I decided on heart-rates 8 beats apart, starting with a paint-dryingly slow 120 and finishing with a hot-blooded 152. It wasn't an easy session, and I can't say I'm looking forward to repeating it every six weeks. If Hadd training is working, subsequent tests should show faster paces for each heart-rate. Even the higher HRs, which haven't been used in training. Does this work for average runners? I've already mentioned Robert Song. Then of course, there's Stephen Lacey. On the other side of the Pacific, Eblues has documented a season of Hadd training, which saw him run a 50+ PB for 10k and qualify for the Boston Marathon (3:41:48). I've also received a comment from Grellen, who is doing well on Hadd training.

I ran the 2,400m repeats using lane 6 for five and a half laps, so the actual distance was 2,407 metres! I timed the total run to get the average pace, but did as Hadd recommended, edging the heart-rate up gradually to the target HR. The column of interest to marathoners (not me), is the 87% one. This is the average pace you should be able to run a marathon, if fully trained – which I presume means completing the necessary long runs.

HR (%)120 (72%)128 (77%)136 (82%)144 (87%)152 (91%)
31 July 07