Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday 13 miles quick and easy

In the shadow of the North Cascade National Park. 45 degrees with a steady rain at 175 ft elevation. An 8000 foot drop for me and on a flat trail. Cruised relaxed and joggingly through the first half averaging 6:37 pace. Then let my effort move to a more natural one over the last half with a progression towards the end down to ~5:50 pace. Still felt joggy and relaxed. I could have held this for a long time.

First 7 miles

Last 6

I'm definitely happy with this run. I would put my HR in the first 2-3 miles at ~130-135 as the effort was just ridiculously simple. Maybe 155-160 HR for the last few miles under 6:00 pace. One thing for sure is that running that long and steady on a flat course is NOT what my muscles are used to. There is a definite need for specific focus on running a flat race after doing so much vertical. On a rolling or hilly course you switch muscle activation very frequently, but on even just this 13 mile run I never switched my muscle activation, it was just the exact same muscles used in exactly the same manner over and over and I felt a lot of muscular break down. If I try to run a flat marathon this fall then I'll need to do a lot more long flat TT's. I think (and feel) that ~13-18 mile tempo runs are one of the most ideal marathon workouts and the marathon is not just about putting in the miles or even specific intensity focus, but the muscles need to be worked in a manner very specific to the race. If not then your hamstrings will weaken, or your calf muscles will weaken. Mile repeats just won't ever solve this issue and you will hardly ever see great marathoners doing shorter reps. Within the last 8 weeks they are useless and completely non-specific. Unless you plan on stopping every mile, this is common sense. I wouldn't have broken down at all if I had run that last half as 7 X 1 mile resting after each. But done as a progression I felt my muscles start to be reminded of what the marathon is about at it's very basic core... holding a strong effort for a long time. It's simple, until it gets hard.


Michelle Simmons said...

One of these years you should come do the HURT 100... Finishing right now on Tantalus...

Dave said...

Do you think that same muscle specificity is useful for Ironman running? Or does it have more to do with running tired to begin with? I'm sure it's different depending on the course (St. George vs. Florida), but just wondering how much can be borrowed from specific run training into ironman.
Cool stuff though! Wish we had some rain here-still have a foot or so of snow covering my trails and it doesn't look like it's goin' anywhere soon!

GZ said...

Okay - I will bite.

So ... if there any reason to do repeat work, or interval work in the last 8 weeks before a marathon?

While I agree with what you are saying - and hence agree that should be the primary focus in the weeks before a marathon ... but, don't the repeats at a faster than goal pace help increase V02, and hence your vV02 and potentially move what you can hold in a marathon?


GZ said...

I certainly don't think I know nearly as much about LT or AeT or V02 as you. Which is why I asked the question.

I think you are stating that there is no value in doing any interval work at paces significantly (whatever that is) faster than marathon pace in the weeks leading up to a marathon.

I agree with what you are saying in principle here, and I think that is evidenced in most training plans. Long runs that build, or even something like 4 x 5 mile intervals at marathon goal pace.

But nearly all of these plans seems to also stress a component of doing some work at paces faster than marathon pace. And the "logic" I have read is that this increases the potential V02, which in turn increases your vV02, which in turn means you are able to run more comfortably at goal marathon pace (or maybe even faster).

So, I *think* that you LT pace of 5:40 would typically mean that is a pace you could hold for an hour. So, a near equivalent would be 56 minutes for a 10 miler. So I *think* intervals for a mile would not be 5 seconds faster, but probably closer to 5:05-5:15 pace.

But the pace is sort of a different question. Is there value in doing interval work at paces significantly faster than marathon pace in the 8 weeks leading up to a marathon?

If no, that is a bit different than a lot of what I have read (which is fine). If yes, then how much faster and for what distance?

Lucho said...

"don't the repeats at a faster than goal pace help increase V02". So you think that running 5" per mile faster than goal marathon pace stimulates Vo2? 5" per mile faster than marathon pace is still BELOW lactate threshold.

If my lactate threshold pace is 5:40 at HR 174. At what pace/ HR and what duration of interval will stimulate my Vo2 max.

Lucho said...

I don't know as much about Vo2 because I've never really thought it mattered as much, it shows you your genetic limitations which I feel can be surpassed by perfecting other aspects of your training (like diet). I would say the most common mistake with the marathon is either runners increasing their mileage in the last 8 weeks or increasing intensity. In the last 8 weeks you should be trying to focus on race specific workouts and many months away is when you work on the aspects that are not race specific (IE: short hard intervals). But there certainly is more than one way to get to the same point.
Canova would have you run no faster than 4% faster than goal pace in the last 8 weeks. But he would have you do something like 3 X 6 miles at goal pace. Then rest very hard for 2-3 days... then repeat it. This is teaching your body to deal with a very specific stress and adapt to it. You wouldn't want to adapt to running 5:05 pace for one minute and you certainly don't want to flip the switch on your anaerobic metabolism. It's been shown that the acid from anaerobic metabolism degrades your aerobic fitness if done too often. So running at too high of an intensity will actually make you less aerobically fit.
Think of it in terms of world class middle distance guys. Maybe Bob Kennedy who used to log 120 mile weeks. He was a <13' 5000 guy so he had wheels of fire... so why couldn't he just go out and pop a 2:07 marathon? Why couldn't Steve Jones pop a <13' 5000? Jonesy ran less than Kennedy. It has to do with specificity of training. Bob ran too often at too hard a pace to run a marathon well.
That's a pretty weak generalization but makes my point (roughly).

Dave- Definitely! But it ties in closely with the bike. You need to be very fit on the bike so that you can ride fast then start the run not wasted. I would always do the same key session before Ironman... A 6 hour bike done as: 5 X 1 hour at goal Ironman effort, then brick in to a 8 mile run at HR 145-155 (6:10-6:20 pace). I always knew that when I could do this run and hit ~6:15 pace at HR 150 then I was ready. I think my biggest mistake at Ironman was always training on the bike at specific intensity and NOT specific speed. I should have been riding that 5 X 1 hour at 23mph instead of by HR. And this is what my point is. In order to train your muscles to handle 26 miles of the same pace then you need to build you training towards very long runs (and rides) near goal pace.

GZ said...

Good stuff.

After I wrote this comment last night, I went back and checked several of the marathon training plans that are listed in Noakes' "Lore of Running." These include plans from Pfitzinger, Galloway, Daniels ... all of them have folks doing some sort of repeat work in the last 8 weeks before the marathon, and at a pace faster than marathon goal pace. Pretty much everyone agrees on the point you make: significant increases intensity or volume at that point are detrimental.

That is what makes Canova different. He turns the classic periodization on its head ... rather than building the base first, he takes it from the get fast and then extend that school.

So - few questions for you: do you think then any interval work at intensities greater than marathon effort in the last two months are worthwhile at all?

I will admit thinking a bit selfish here. I like to do 4-5 minute hill intervals over the summer (say 5 or 6 of them) as part of the build up for Pikes. No advantage to that in your opinion - or are the hill games different?

For what it is worth (sigh), I have yet to find anything that says development of the aerobic system is exclusive of development of the anaerobic system - or vice versa, or that development of one is outrightly detrimental to the other. I get the general point, but I am not sure that both cannot be progressed for some periods of time.

When do you get back?

Lucho said...

Canova has coached a whole slew of sub 2:10 runners. Galloway advocates walk breaks and Daniels is a very high intensity based coach with the idea that you will also be running shorter races through out the program. As I said, there are many paths to the same destination. Part of the problem that I see with athletes is that they rarely execute a program correctly, they fixate on the hard workouts and then mileage (or both). OK, go ahead and blow it out on Wednesday at the track, but then Thursday had better be a true short recovery run! Not many people actually do this. They run too hard or too long the next day and that starts the disconnect. A hard track interval session is only a small part of the whole so you can't think of it exclusively. If an athlete truly did the recovery then the intervals would have a bigger effect on fitness. As it is though, most people continue to push and the hard runs actually start to hurt them and they end up fried. One outstanding aspect of Canova's training is that rest is the focus in the last 8 weeks.
And yes- it is very beneficial to run slightly faster than marathon pace in the last 8 weeks, but how much faster? There is a whole range of intensities that are 'faster than marathon pace'. The gist of Canova's philosophy is to first build volume to your goal max mileage. This is a traditional base but for an athlete that has been training for years this may only be 2 weeks or it could be 10. The way your body responds is what determines this and you can't just come up with a number like 10 weeks. Like Jack Daniels programs have 6 weeks and then you LAUNCH in to 3k intensity reps (which is often a very violent and risky transition without much gradual evolution in intensity). Then Canova has you raise LT to your fastest speed but you don't have to run much faster than LT to do this, only slightly above but maybe for long intervals. So if your LT pace is 5:00 then mayeb you start off with 400's or 500's at 4:50 pace then slowly increase the duration of the intervals up to ~3 miles or 4 miles. Then you raise AeT up towards LT. The classic workout for this is to run maybe 1 mile at LT (5:00) then 1 mile at marathon pace (5:20)... repeat with out resting for as long as you can hold these paces at the appropriate effort (it's not about going out and racing the workout). You don't want to go over LT though. So it's teaching your body to buffer lactate at goal marathon speed. You have to very slowly build to this workout. So in the last 8 weeks it would be appropriate to run up to LT which not coincidentally is ~4% faster than AeT pace in a runner that has trained appropriately. You are essentially teaching your muscles and metabolism to hold a higher percentage of LT pace for 26 miles. It's quite intuitive. And to me, increasing mileage AND intensity simultaneously in the last 8 weeks (which is a common theme for many programs) is counter intuitive.
Why would a runner that is hitting consistent 40-50 mile weeks and doing hard anaerobic intervals every week be aerobically weak? Why would they not be able to run 6:00 pace at 30 beats below LT? It's not because they aren't fast when they are at LT. Where are they the weakest? In regards to the marathon specifically there are a lot of guys who can crank a 16:00 5k but can't run a 2:30 marathon. So is it SPEED that is their problem? Is it anaerobic development? Nope. You can go out and run hill intervals that are 3:00 per mile faster than your goal pace for Pikes... so why can't you hold that same pace for 13 miles on Pikes? It's not because you lack speed it's because you lack endurance at race speed.
I get back next weekend.

Anonymous said...

I think most of us agree with most of what you've been preaching.

But don't forget that all of this is anecdotal based on an n=1...that 'n' being you.

Here is what we know: marathon or ultra plans are like diet plans. Really none have been proven to be superior but most work. It's not the plan itself, but the fact that being on a plan brings discipline and focus.

Thanks for posting some ruminations to chew on!

Running and living said...

I really like Brad Hudson's philosophy. He has you peak mileage wise about 10 weeks out, and then the last 8 weeks are pretty much all pace work, with maybe a little running at half marathon pace. For me, I always find that running most of my long runs at the end of a training cycle at MP with the last couple miles below MP is working great.

Running and living said...

And I agree about the VO2 max. Isn't economy a better predictor of marathon finish time than VO2max?

GZ said...

Cool - few things.

1.) Magee and Byrn also advocate walk breaks (I don't except when my central governor does and that is usually above tree line).
2.) Completely agree with you on responding to your body and that our heads get in the way. It typically starts with signing up for a race ... as that puts the whole thing in a timebox ... that then drives the program rather than the program being driven by how the body is responding.
3.) I get the lacking endurance at race speed thing. I am of the belief (perhaps incorrectly) that use of intervals in the last 8 weeks before a marathon can be an effective way to increase endurance at race speed. Understandably, there is a question as to how much faster than marathon pace (probably not much), and it certainly needs to be tempered to not keep increasing that intensity as the marathon approaches.

So on this last point, it comes down to this - everything I have read for 20 plus years (which is really not a lot in hindsight) on marathon training and observed does have an athlete training with intervals faster than marathon pace in the last 8 weeks. This is not just the average guy programs, but the top guys ... (and fwiw, including guys like Carpenter and Elliott for Pikes). Yes, those programs did have long runs that were progression runs, or marathon emulation runs at marathon pace - but they did not eschew interval training altogether.

Your post had me wondering about its value AT ALL in those last 8 weeks ... particularly Canova's view as I am not as read with him.

Thanks again. Let's run when you get back ...

P. said...

from what i read of your longer post, the runs i've been doing once a week are a good idea (?)

essentially they are roughly 2-3 miles "up" like, above what is sustainable for an hour (172bpm+ for me), and then 2-3 miles "down" but at a pace that is still hard, say mid to low 160's. these runs are never more than 10 miles. my thinking is that during a race it is inevitable that you will come to a section where you will need to push yourself above your ideal race HR, but the question is whether or not you can then "recover" your goal HR comfortably and regain the corresponding sustainability of that HR.

i make this shit up because i barely understand most of what i read...which i just learned to do a few months ago.

Brandon Fuller said...


Lucho said...

Anon- "all of this is anecdotal based on an n=1...that 'n' being you"
None of this is based on me. I use Maffetone and Canova. I haven't invented anything. And a diet of just McDonalds isn't the same as a diet of fresh vegetables and unprocessed crap. There are with out doubt diets that are better than others, and the same with training. A guy running 30 miles a week is never going to be a 2:10 marathoner. And a training program that hurts an athlete is not a good one.
And do I really "preach"? Maybe.

GZ- There is a definite American type of thinking in running which has led to the slowing of American runners. Canova's training philosophy is very much an 'African' thing... nuff said.

P. that is a very classic structure for improving marathon specific fitness. For an ultra it could help to develop strength. I love the structure.

Small Buckle- That's what I was doing while you were still at mile 70 at Leadville.... catching some zzzz's.

Brandon Fuller said...

Big Buckle - I am working hard to be able to sport such a girthy pants holder up'er like you have by next fall. In the meantime, I will continue to try and follow this thread without dozing off. Can't you two just give us the universal truth already! You know its out there.

tomdog said...

Great stuff! Sorry I didn't see this sooner, but I was offline for awhile due to some Malware. Great thread. Keep it going.

Lucho said...

Tomdog- Thanks. It was a good thread to a point.