Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wednesday 15 miles...+ Comments

pm) Met up with George at 4pm and ran 15 miles (I checked again George and we were closer to 15).. George showed up dressed like it was September.. I wore 2 of everything and complained about the cold.. George was uncomplaining. We finished in the dark.. good run!

JP Flores
"Regarding mileage. In reading about the training of some of the top US athletes (Ritz, Meb, Sell, Hall, Brown, etc.) seems that they are running anywhere from a low of 110-120 mpw (Meb) to a high of 170-180 mpw (Sell). While 90-100 miles a week seems astronomically high for a triathlete (like me), as a runner..what are your thoughts on getting your mileage up into that range? Especially given your biomechanical gifts and imperviousness to injury. :-)"

First off- Brian Sell is the shit. I look at Sell's performance as what is possible off of old fashioned hard work. There's a lot of debate over mileage and what is "right". After the 2004 Olympic marathon trials a survey was conducted (Jason Karp and Joel Stager) and they found that the trials qualifiers ran an average of 90 mpw with the average peak at 120. My thoughts on this are quite simple- the athlete must run a mileage/ intensity that stimulates adaptation without going beyond the ability to recover. I don't believe that too many runners choose the mileage they run-rather over time and trial and error they figure out where their optimal training stimulus will fall. If I spend the next year at 100mpw then I will adapt to that mileage and will then need to run more (or more at a harder effort) in order to gain a benefit. At the top most level the runners are adding intensity rather than more miles (in most cases). I had the opportunity to train with Alan Culpepper this past year and he was a 90-100mpw guy but he often ran 4 hard session per week. Brian Sell on the other hand is using high volume as his main stimulus. The top Kenyans are doing both. I personally think that we should all simply try to optimize our potential by training as much as we can. As much as our bodies can withstand. Keep the process more fluid and flexible. The law of diminishing returns and the law of specificity are both something we shouldn't lose sight of. If an athlete steadily increases his/her mileage then there will come a point where the benefit is not as great as the risk of injury or burnout. This means that we all have an optimal load that is specific to our bodies. Specificity means that we get good at what we do.
Volume for the marathon is a key component to success but it isn't a guarantee. It comes down to the combination of volume plus specificity and the delicate balance that that requires. Periodisation and a solid understanding of the principles plus the discipline to follow a well planned schedule are also keys.
My thoughts on what you should do? TRY. Don't be afraid to go out and see what happens when you spend 2 months in December and January focusing on running and work your mileage up as high as you can. You should be suffering if you are truly pushing your limits. Limits are painful- but the most satisfying place to be.

JP: "Second, you mentioned in a post that you don't stretch. Can you elaborate on why not and thoughts on other recovery/injury prevention tactics, like massage, etc?"

Honestly- I'm not the best guy to talk to about this subject. I believe that stretching is why most people are injured- or that they stretch incorrectly. It doesn't make any sense to me. Maybe for a sedentary person who isn't stressing their body... but for an athlete who is damaging their tendons and ligaments daily to add a stress that will limit recovery? No thanks. Consider stretching only to increase the range of motion that your sport requires.. in other words, don't work to get so limber that you can put your leg behind your head if you never need to do so.
Recovery techniques that I use are things like my "recovery chair".. it's like a bed in my living room. I'm in it now. I can put my lap top on my lap (oh.. I just got that:) ) and watch movies and work. I also have a HUGE glass, it's like a half gallon, that I fill with water, Hydration is maybe the #1 thing that I see athletes neglecting. I have never had a massage.. I think it would be great! Money is my concern with this though- I would rather make an extra house payment or put it in to my savings. I never buy new clothes. Massage is good and I do as much self massage as I can.
Injury prevention.. that's simple. Listen to your body! I always tell my athletes that if you have a twinge.. stop the workout. If you push through that workout in order to not miss a session.. then you may miss 20 or 30 workouts! That's simple math for this pig farmer.
Core work and weight training. Both of these are HUGE for injury prevention. The added endurance performance benefit of lifting weights is disputable.. but the strengthening of the tendons and the correction of injury causing imbalances is not. Lift and get in to the gym at least during the off season.

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