Saturday, December 15, 2007

About Base training

The following is right from my coaches Blog( it is regarding the need to stick with Base training during the base phase.

"A lot of the athletes I coach have jumped into 5k and 10ks recently, not taking my not so subtle hints of telling them not too. Amazingly, they all seem to be hitting near or on their personal records despite the fact that they all have been training less than a few months since their breaks.

When athletes and I first talk, and we plan their run training, I get to spend some time talking them out of all the fancy run training. One thing that I think the majority of training programs have wrong is the need for speed work. I get why people want to do it. Its fun, the workout are dynamic. You think it's gonna make you fast, after all its called “speed” work, the proof is right there in the name! But the reality is that a huge majority, in fact almost everyone I have coached never properly build their run base. So the biggest gains come from more volume. One of my athletes for example did his first 40 mile week. [god bless you dude, as you had to do most of it on the treadmill even if the gym was full of eye candy]. He is running faster than ever, even though it's only his 2-3rd month of training, all base work.

Speed work kills volume. Here is how. First, your speed work is shorter. maybe 4 x 1 mile or 12 x 1/4 or 8 x 1/2 or something. that's only -4 miles or so. While a nice 1 hour base run is normally 7-8, about double that. Beyond that most athletes can’t bounce back from it, so they lose the next day. Now, instead of running 16 miles, 2 x 8 miles, you are running 4 [maybe a little more for a warm up and cool down].
Also, running isn’t easy. There are no junk miles. Junk miles running is called walking. Downhill. When I hike with a heart rate monitor I go above my recovery zone when I go uphill. That how easy you have to go to not be aerobic. So really all you need to go to get much faster at any race all the way down to a stand alone 5k is run more often. If you run more often, you will build volume, fitness and speed. All without speed work. This becomes even more true for longer races, and in a race like an ironman you don’t really need any speed work.

This is what people mean when they say they want to build “economy.” As you run more, you run faster at the same effort. At some point if you want to be wicked fast at a 5k you will need to add speed work, after you fail to get faster with a deep run base. But what ironman training has shown, is that athletes who train fort a long event and build Ironman base, see fast times at short distances.

The truth is people want short cuts, and running has no short cuts."

I have of course been following this advice as close as I can ( that's the benefit of getting a coach, you tend to stick to the plan a bit better) But I do have to say that it feels counter to what we have always been told for just about everything else which is TRAIN HARD. So it is difficult to jog along when I have this pent up energy just bursting to get out. I like the feeling of going out and kicking my own ass, when done you just feel like you did something.

Now I know that this stage is key to the rest of the season. My friend who also is the head running coach for Race with Purpose, Coach Adam, also agrees that base training is important. Although he does believe that after a good base training period its essential to also build on other aspects of your game such as speed and strength. So with such backing for a solid base period you just know its got to have merit. So despite my instinct to sabotage the training by going all out I intend on sticking to the plan.

Maybe I'll just have to think Angry thoughts while jogging to get myself emotionally tired, something like how I feel duped that the season for Heroes seems to be over due to this writers strike.

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