Thursday, August 30, 2012

The start of a new journey

I'm a bit surprised at how quickly I missed regular exercise, just over a week removed from Leadman and my brain is constantly thinking about exercise. I am sure that it has more to do with the type of exercise I want to take on this time. Were I planning on falling back in to a plain, volume based running schedule I suspect that I could and would easily wait another month at least. But my next self-project is something that may end up being a bigger challenge than even Leadman!

 The next goal is to run a sub 53" 400 meter on the track at 41 years old. The disparity between the two is so severe that I will need to change 100% of what I am good at, how my body works, and my mentality. Sort of like taking a semi-tractor and rebuilding it in to a top fuel drag car.

 Reading as much as I can find about training for the 400 has my mind spinning. I need to "build up to" 5 mile long runs. I need to run "tempo sessions" of up to 6 X 300 METERS... my last tempo run was 25 miles.  I need to do repeats of 30 meters and I need to completely rebuild my metabolism from being able to run 30 miles on just fat to being able to run less than a minute using lactate and almost zero oxygen. I need to gain at least 10 pounds of muscle, mostly in my skinny ass and quads. So today I slipped in a small 'introduction' to this focus. The goal was/ is not to shock my body which would be very easy to do right now. Although I consider myself stronger than most ultrarunners (I have averaged less than 50 miles of running per week this year yet finished behind only 9 other men at Leadville just 5 days after racing a bike for nearly 9 hours and running a 10k at 6:03 pace... this is due to strength) I am still quite delicate, it would be very simple to go too low on squats or too low on deadlifts and tweak a muscle or tendon.
 Another aspect of fast running that is very much underrated is muscle coordination. In order for your legs to move efficiently and also fast enough with a long stride length, every muscle must coordinate together. If your quads are firing hard and your hamstrings are not in sync then there is a great risk in either straining a hamstring muscle or simply losing speed due to the unmatched activation. Plyometrics and run drills are a very important aspect.

So today was just a weak handshake between my muscles and the free weights. Then I followed it up with TRX core and a dynamic stretching routine. The whole session took 30:00. I'll continue to do this for another 1-2 weeks with easy runs every other day of just 2-5 miles before starting in to actual sessions.

 Here is an example of a pre-season session:
1. Warm‑up: 1 mile
2. Flexibility exercises
3. 2 x 600 Tempo
4. 3 x 300 Interval with short recovery
5. 3 x 300 Interval with long recovery
6. Cool down: 1 mile
7. Weights
 The speed of the intervals will be by feel until I get a sense of set times and I also want to very slowly ease my body back in to sprinting (another lifetime ago I ran 49" for the 400) The key will be to stay relaxed and controlled. My goal, because I have a lot of time, will be to not chase the speed (force it) but rather let it come to me with patient and gradual development which will help to avoid injury.

 I have a ton to learn so this journey will be an education. This is going to be fun!


Jeff said...

It's go time. :)

I suggest a good a amount of weights- something I haven't done.

3 speed sessions a week absolutely tore me up- more than I ever thought it would.

another note- strengthening ankles and feet- running fast and short pounds the shit out of those lower pieces... along with hips and back.

it's fun getting old. let's train together soon. oh- by the way- I'm 3 months younger than you. suck it.

Patrick Thurber said...

haha, "build up" to 5 miles! this is going to be a fun program to follow. is there any significance of the 53" barrier?

Lucho said...

JK- Awesome advice! I'm also practicing getting kicked in the groin and stomach which should help. Can't WAIT to train with you again!

P.- Sub 53" would put me maybe top 5 in the US for 40-44 Masters. It's very much an arbitrary time and if I apply myself like I did Ironman or Leadman then I know I can go much faster. But 53" is a good starting point.
And ya, the long run of 5 miles is still something I have questions about. Since I usually warm-up for 5 miles... is it ok or even better for me to run longer than that? Like I said, I have a lot to learn but I have very good intuition so I'll probably just do what feels right.

Rob Timko said...

I wanna see 53" in HOKAs

Pete Rodrigues said...


Have you seem this stuff from Clyde Hart (Michael Johnson's coach) I've used it with high school athletes with much success.

Good luck

Lucho said...

Rob- Ha! I was seriously wondering what the Hoka 400 record was.

Pete- The first person I Googled for the 400 was Hart! The best info out there! Thanks man!

Wassdoc said...

Too bad I've already signed up for Lake Tahoe:). I've never been fast, but it would be interesting to try to take this journey and see what would happen!

GZ said...

Enjoying seeing this shift in the journey. I wonder how much you will actually be able to shift. Not so much wondering about the physical ... more about the mental. I think you get something out of a 3 hour session (bike or run) that you might have a tough time giving up.

Lucho said...

G- Ya, I hear you and I feel that too. As I said I have a bit to learn and I'm not sure about a few aspects. Can I throw in a long run every couple weeks? Or a 3 hour bike? I think so. If I were already a pure 400 runner then maybe not, but those long hit-outs for me will most likely not have much if any negative effect. Plus, I don't want to totally lose touch with some of my current fitness/ what I like to do, so I am willing to flub it. And if I can run a 53 while retaining a certain amount of endurance then I'll certainly run a fast 5k next fall :) It's all a big experiment, we'll see!

Trev said...

Good luck with your new goal.
Why 400 and not 800 or the mile?

I have an extremely cheeky question to ask!

I'm 8 weeks and 3 days out from a Marathon and have yet to start doing long runs... Do you think it's possible to 'do something good' in such short time?

Lucho said...

Trev- The 400 and 800 are pretty much worlds apart. One's a sprint and the other is mid-distance. Hopefully I can run both and I'll certainly race a few miles too.
8 Weeks is enough time if you're not too far off from where you need to be. If you haven't run over 10 miles in the last 10 months then you're kind of screwed. But starting this last 8 weeks with solid fitness is OK. You'll want to get at least 4 20 milers in the next 6 weeks.

Anonymous said...


Been following you for a while. Like what your doing. Although no where near the runner you are, I am embarking on something similar to you. I never competed in HS or College, just a recreational runner but after years of 5K, 10K and Ascent. I want to see what I can do for 400. I think you should look into Tabata Sprints. 8X20s sprint as hard as you can with 10s rest between each 20s. You want to die at the end but I think this is great training for the last 100m of the 400. I have been doing them for the last 4 weeks and have seen some very nice improvement in sprint speed endurance.

the runner said...

That's great. I just went into a speed focused program after focusing on ultras for years. It was refreshing and exciting.

Is there a reason you decided on 53 as your goal?

Matt Cullen said...

To get an idea of where you're starting from, what's your current 400m time?

Lucho said...

Matt- No current time, I just ran the Leadville 100. But in the next ~month I'll get some 200/ 300m times from workouts.