Sunday, November 28, 2010

A fork in the road

In my post The Unforgiving Twenty Minutes, I said I'd be basing my training on the Pete Magill article in Running Times: Solving the 5k Puzzle. I've decided to take a detour for a couple of months before embarking on Pete's training program. My aerobic condition is somewhat less than brilliant, so I'd like to polish that particular weakness first. My idea is to do some running which is fairly similar to the Hadd Training I was undertaking in 2007 — training that preceded a 20:54 5k at Stromlo.

I plan to run a "good" volume of mileage at an intensity which is at or below the 'Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate' as described by Phil Maffetone in this article. For me, this is running at a heart-rate of 130 (or lower) — around 78% of my maximum heart-rate. Over time (hopefully) I'll see an improvement in aerobic condition. My running speed at that heart-rate (and higher heart-rates) will become faster.

At the same time (if it's not too stressful), I'll do a small amount of training to work on my glaring "top-end" speed problem. Things like short/steep hill repeats, 100 metre fast strides, and running drills. I'll also run a few of the ACT Vets' Thursday evening track races — most likely some 3000s and 1500s.

An ugly sweaterSweating up a storm at the end of a 10,000 in February


Andrew(ajh) said...

I'm just envious of your ability to even plan your training, I think about it some, but can never get motivated enough to do it. I guess I'll never realise my potential that way, but oh well, I'll just get out and do whatever I feel like on the night (or morning, in the case that I get my arse out of bed in the morning for a run, which seems very unlikely recently).

speedygeoff said...

I tend to stick to the same program instead of chopping and changing. I think you know what I mean by "the same program": "jog every day and one day I may be fit enough to run again"

Hey you've attracted some spam I see!

Unknown said...

An interresting post, Ewen. But, about Maffetone training, putting myself in category D would mean training at 95 to 105bpm i.e. 66%! Bit low, don't you think?

My 3-day program would have my HR way above that!

Please don't tell me my age or maths are responsible!

Unknown said...

one 'r' in interesting!

Jog Blog said...

Hmmm ... doing more than one kind of training simultaneously or presuming that one kind of training can be neatly built upon by another has shown most of us in the past how imprecise sports science (a la running) is. So .... if your racing goal is still 5km in <20mins then I reckon your training, training races, and races should predominantly stay orientated towards tempo and speed. What do you reckon?

Ewen said...

Andrew, it's only roughly planned. But any plan is better than none ;) Having a plan is good for motivation.

Thanks Andreas. Good luck with your running!

Speedygeoff, jogging every day is good value. That's basically my plan - 78% HR is jogging. Yes, unfortunately spam tends to attract spam, so I might have to kiss Dexter goodbye.

Luckylegs, your age and maths is fine. The Maffetone 180-age formula is dodgy around the edges. 75-78% of max HR would be a better guide, but stick to your 3-day plan as that is what has made you a superstar.

Jog, the goal is still 5k <20 mins. I agree that tempo and speed is important, but I think I can introduce that in the last 6-8 weeks before a goal 5k (middle of next year maybe), so similar to the phases of a Lydiard program. I think I can do the 100s, short hills, drills, as they don't stress the anaerobic system.

Samurai Running said...

You know better than anyone what will work for you. I agree that running most of your sessions at an easy pace/heart rate is the go!

I'm going to write something about how a lot of the fast runners here do short slow runs during the week and then on Saturday they will run long 20~30ks and either do 30Ks plus on Sunday or a race.

Guys that are doing this kind of training can run close to 2:30 for the marathon in their 40s. Running 6min Ks of 10K or less during the week shows that there is sense in following your approach.

All the best with it.

strewth said...

Good plan. Just keep running slow so I can beat you in the monthly handicaps:)

Anonymous said...

Developing a good aerobic base before undertaking specific preparation for the 5K makes sense. Maffetone’s article also makes fairly good sense though I think that his arguments against exceeding his estimate of maximum aerobic HR during base building are only partially supported by evidence.

For older runners, I think it is important to maintain speed. Therefore I think it is sensible to include a small amount of work at a higher HR even during base building, though it is probably desirable to avoid the additional stress that comes from going into the anaerobic zone too often.

I suspect that hill repeats are the most valuable type of session to add to the slow aerobic sessions.

As I understand it, Hadd recommends some work at a pace higher than Maffetone’s recommendation.

Love2Run said...

I love the conversation and have been down these roads with you and will be in the future. The only part I seem to forget is the MAFF test because we don't have a track for miles, esp in the winter. Remember the training pyramid and you'll see the improvement you want.


Well, scotty thinks you are a Nut [check his blog] but I think building your base first sounds like a good idea.
I'm pretty sure pete's 5k plan will work for you, I got some good results following his ideas this time last!

Girl In Motion said...

Sounds like a great idea. As Scott says, you know yourself and past history is a brilliant way to plan the future. If you had success at that time doing Hadd training, then it does sound wise to try something along those lines again. Btw, I'm having great results running around 78% Max, so big thumbs up. (agreed about the 180 formula, that would have me crawling)

That's one of the great things about running, we can decide on a course of action to see if that's the magic we seek. If it's not, there's always another clump of weeks to try a different tactic. Many options at our disposal.

Good luck with the new plan!

Thomas said...

That's good, Ewen. My recent training is absolute proof that steady running can build you up extremely well. After all the easy running I have done over the past few weeks I'm already in better shape than at the peak of my "normal" training cycles that included tempos and intervals.

It's amazing, but that stuff really works. If I can help, I'm happy to do so

Black Knight said...

Interesting post with many useful information. If only I could follow a training program ....

Anonymous said...

Great collection of links and running literature in this post -- I'm going to have a field day reading through these; the Hadd document in particular. I have no idea what works for others, but a staple of my training in the past year has been, essentially, "rhythm runs" as detailed in a recent issue of RT ( I've been doing runs like those informally for quite a while, never suspecting that they are actually a legitimate piece to certain types of training programs.

At the end of the day, seems like commitment, consistency and patience are the keys. I love hearing your musings about training plans!

Rick said...

I'd agree with Canute's comments, the Maffestone training seems very dated, apart from the boredom factor, I think training at only one effort level will not bring about the best results.
The Hadd link on the other hand is far more interesting and think would bring you far better results.

Ewen said...

Scott, thanks. I'll look forward to reading about that on your blog. I'm a big fan of your writing after your article in R4YL magazine.

Strewth, you won't beat me when Steve and Bronwyn adjust your handicap back another 5 groups ;)

Canute, yes, I was wondering about the "science" behind not exceeding max aerobic HR. I agree with you about the importance of maintaining speed for older runners. Hadd did have "upper aerobic" running (higher than Maffetone's HR limit), so I'm unsure what the "correct" top limit is during base-building.

Mike, thanks. I'm not sure if the MAFF test is necessary (aside from measuring improvement). You could always shovel the snow off lane 1 in winter ;)

Rick, I question Scott's ability to judge sanity. He's been watching too many of those crazy Japanese game shows!

Flo, thanks. You're one of the runners who inspire me with their results. Interestingly, if I didn't have data from when I was following Hadd, I wouldn't know how much my aerobic condition has declined.

Thomas, thanks. I've been following your improvement under MC closely. I may ask some questions via your blog.

Black Knight, if you want to keep up with Strewth, you should follow a training program!

SK, yes, the Hadd document is interesting - particularly the success of "Joe", his star pupil. Thanks for the Running Times article - I hadn't seen that one.

Rick, Maffetone is best known for his success with Ironman triathlete Mark Allen, who used his method. Allen now coaches triathletes, so I presume he uses the Maffetone method. I don't think there's a huge difference in the two, besides Hadd having "upper" and "lower" aerobic efforts, but both still under aerobic threshold.

Robert James Reese said...

I'm impressed by how precise and analytical you are with your approach to running. I need to borrow some of that skill for my Boston preparations.


Finding the right system by Steve Magness


quote; Emil Zatopek
"Today, I realise that quality is much more important than quantity, because it offers the possibility to obtain a superior level, and much faster. The athlete should be able to run quickly and for a long period of time and, thus, may achieve great results. In contrast, the training that focuses on quality is not easily accomplished by everyone. Moreover, there is another aspect to be remembered: in order to endure a training directed towards quality (intensity), it is necessary to have a perfect physical condition, which means to have an excellent endurance base. This is only possible if you have run many kilometres at a slow pace. In fact, the truth is to be found in the middle, and this middle varies from person to person."

trailblazer777 said...

Enjoyed reading "solving the 5k puzzle". very much agree with his comments about mileage...Some interesting and useful thoughts there in that link.
The maffetone heart rate stuff reminds me of the old Karvonen 220 minus your age thing, that works for some beginners, but not for many others. Luckylegs is a clear example. However it makes sense to do easy runs or some long runs in the 120-140 b.p./min range, Ive thought that for ages.

All the best with sharpening the speed again that sounds like a good idea to me...Hopefully you'll be back to 20 min and under 5k races and 43-45min or quicker 10k races by sometime in 2011.
A few of us WA bloggers doing the evening track racing thing this summer, its already paid off for us this yeat. way to go!!!

Hope you can build well from base camp and take the correct forks in the road to sustained major improvement!

Ewen said...

Thanks Robert, although it's relatively easy to be analytical about one's own training once there's a large amount of data from many years of running. You'll do well at Boston. Maybe have a hilly long run like Deek did, and run it strongly both up and down hill.

Rick, thanks for the Magness link. Some good points there about how training varies across the years. Maybe Deek would have had more success in the second half of his career had he done this (rather than more or less repeating the same week of training for year after year). Good quote from Zatopek too.

Thanks Jonathon. Agreed about Maffetone's formula. An educated guess might be a better way of finding that training HR. It appears to be a good bit easier than marathon pace. Mark Allen's runs at "Maff HR" initially were 8:00 mile pace, but after 4 months he was down to 5:20 miles.

Dubs said...

OK, so I read your post the other day and it side tracked me as I've been obsessing over what my plan will be for my training.. thank you for all of the great ideas!

I'm interested in watching how your training goes. I've never tried HR training, but have been very tempted many times. I'm very curious about it!