Thursday, 1 September 2011

to pre-empt the next post.........

Over the next week and a half I am sitting my exams. Preparation for this years’ has been exceedingly last minute dot com and maybe if I fail them I’ll have a fantastic reason to stop moaning about them.

My heads still got all this running stuff in it though, so whilst there’s some residue I’m going try and get rid of it here. Essentially I can tell that my next blog is going to be rather lengthy so in a bid to shorten it I am going to put some filler in here.

What follows are details of my base level training. In the subsequent blog post will be my results, findings and recommendations – this will be done after my exams and when I complete base training.

But let’s not forget my goal; I aim to run a 44 miler on xmas eve at a decent tempo. It is this run that will benchmark all future training, events and goals. It is a slight step backwards from where my aspirations were some time ago but as I’ve said before, I strongly believe this is the right approach to take.

In other words, strip training right back to the basics and methodically train so that faults and signs of overtraining are highlighted in good time before they seriously set me back – as has always happened in the past.

Life, as we know, does have its obstacles though. One being the injury I’m carrying; others which are similar to everyone else’s and another I have discovered which I will discuss in the next post.

So onto my own training program; this one is designed to include priorities and non-critical sessions. The reason for doing this is so that I mentally prepare myself to commit to the priorities and also so that I don’t beat myself up so much if I have to give a non-critical session a miss. I have my mate Rob to thank for this ethos.

He witnessed the state of me at the Highlander Mountain Marathon this year after flogging myself half to death for the 25 weeks beforehand. We actually finished day one in 7th place - but to the expense of my injuries. Day 2 was hell on earth. Two weeks later I did the fling! After all that Rob pointed out that someone as dedicated as me didn’t deserve that sort of luck so it was time to work out where I was going wrong once and for all. Hence this blog....

So onto my priorities; they all carry equal weight but are done in isolation. I have given specifics to these items in previous posts, my intention here is to summarise and conclude why they are included.

Priority No1: Leg weights followed by a sub-max run with a weighted pack on.
WHY? This is done to build fatigue resistance and increase my race pace.

Submaximal training is the cornerstone of any training program and is between 85-95% of max heart rate. When one considers that up-tempo running is classified as up to 85% then one understands that training beyond this is quite difficult. However when you understand that it is this element which increases your race pace more than anything else then the effort should be justified.  

You should find it quite difficult to train beyond 85% effort and when you do you need to be really careful with your recovery thereafter. At first you may just be flirting with 85%, 86%, 87% effort but as you progress through the weeks you will manage to train further into this zone. It is up to you how you do it, whether it be intervals or an all out session like I do.

The thing is – there are many people who say that in base you shouldn’t be doing any of this type of stuff. They can say what they want as far as I’m concerned. I don’t consider myself a novice but by the same token I don’t consider myself an Olympian. There’s a lot you can do with this. So in 2011 I run 4 miles with 17llb on my back (after I’ve done a serious leg weights session) – in the first half of 2012 that could go up to 5 miles and then in the second half, 6 miles, I could add more weight to the pack, I could remove some weight and run faster. But for now as I’m only at about 88-89% effort I’ve still got some way to go on my 4 miler (starting to give some details away there). And besides, I’ve got the intermediate stage to come where I’ll want to keep making progress.

Priority No2: Long Slow Distance (LSD).
WHY? This is done to experience the pain, confusion and lethargy associated with running when fatigued – as is often the case with ultras.

Remember, in a training program there is always an element of training with fatigue – you don’t get fitter otherwise. But the importance of the LSD for me is that it helps me with embracing the pain. When it starts I tell myself that it’s good, it’s supposed to feel that way. This is when the journey starts ;-)

Priority No3: Recovery and conditioning.
WHY? Without these sessions my priority sessions would not be as effective.

Conditioning for me is tabbing (fast walking with a 50llb pack on), cross training & core training. Recovery is jogging slowly (at a similar pace to my LSD), stretching, foam roller massage, TENS pain relief and massage, ice applied to major muscle groups, eating sensibly, drinking plenty of fluids and taking supplements.

So a typical week looks like this;
·         Mon: am - conditioning, lunch – recovery
·         Tues: am – conditioning, lunch – recovery, now an up-tempo session due to being in the last few weeks of base.
·         Wed: am – conditioning, pm – leg strength followed by 4 miler with 17llb pack on at sub-max pace followed by 1 mile cool down jog followed by recovery. I will typically spend a full 2-3 hours in total for this session.
·         Thur: am – conditioning, lunch – recovery
·         Fri: am – conditioning, lunch – recovery, now an up-tempo run.
·         Sat: LSD followed by recovery
·         Sun: conditioning for min 60mins

In the grand scheme of things I actually run very little. There’s a lot more I could do – and that is in the pipeline. Put it this way if I’m going to do the UTMB in under 30hrs (I’ve got 2018 in my head) I strongly believe I will need to be capable of living with much more training. But that’s a long way away – I still have many hoops to jump through before then. But I know that the more training one exposes themselves to, the bigger challenges they are capable of completing – especially for events such as the UTMB which have a cut-off-time for completion.

In about three weeks I aim to make the progression from base to intermediate. In that phase I will attempt to increase the overall mileage and pace. I will manage this by reducing the leg weights to half of what I do now and by introducing a Plyometrics session per week – oh and obviously by continuing to increase the length of the LSD.

I am also toying with the idea of running a half marathon on the 25th Sept. Obviously I haven’t trained for this and I won’t be tapering for it. I would intend on replacing my LSD for that weekend with the race. It would also be my intention to run it at around an 85% effort until I get to mile 10 and then let loose. This is in contrast to how I have ran these in the past where I have ran myself ragged and then crawled in for the last 3 miles. My pb is 1:28 but that was when I was a stone and a half to 2 stones lighter so I’m really not sure what to expect from myself. The last half I did was done in 1:38 and that was with next to zero training!

Anyway, hopefully my next insert will be quite lighter due to this interlude........

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