I am taking my time getting back into training after Amsterdam. Four weeks out and while everyone else appears to have a plan of action for their next marathon I am still running as and when I feel like it. Nothing wrong with that I suppose but I'd want to be careful - it's very easy getting used to sleeping that little bit extra in the morning and then not having time during the day to get a run in.
While the legs haven't been turning over as much as I would like, I have been exercising my mind as to what is the best way to proceed with my training.
All the good advice (thanks guys) following my last post points towards the tried and tested Lydiard training model. At the core of this model is aerobic conditioning and plenty of it. Lydiard in this seminar in Osaka in 1990 stated that “The day you start doing anaerobic training and stop your (aerobic) conditioning, your performance level has been set for that season”. While anaerobic training will improve my performance the benefit is finite compared to aerobic conditioning, which continues to improve performance over the years. Tim Noakes best illustrates (for me at least) the relationship/difference between the benefits of aerobic and anaerobic training in “Lore of Running” using the following figure. With performance on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal axis the green line represents aerobic conditioning, which steadily improves performance over time – represented by the line A to G. Once you start anaerobic (speedwork) training however you can get a significant improvement in performance over a relatively short period – represented by the red line B-C-D (8 weeks illustrated here - but will vary depending on the runner) before reaching a plateau (points D to E). This is when you want to run your target race(s). No amount of training after this will improve performance. Staying at peak performance is the tricky bit and invariably performance will begin to suffer if you continue to race, leading to illness, injury and overtraining which necessitates a period of rest and recovery (point F). I tended to reach my peak between 4 and 8 weeks before my last 2 marathons, which was a bit early and resulted in injury/overtraining and a less than satisfactory performance. Therefore this time round I’m going to spend at least 2 to 3 months on nothing but aerobic conditioning to see if I can push my sorry ass a little further along the green line and up the performance ladder before starting on speedwork. This should give a greater improvement in aerobic performance than starting speedwork earlier as illustrated below.What I don’t know is whether or not you can continue to improve aerobic conditioning as much after introducing speedwork into your training. Dr Mafftone thinks not. He recommends a minimum 3-month programme of aerobic only running to build up a good base, without any anaerobic running or racing. All this aerobic running is to be done at or below the MAF heart rate, which is a conservatively low 143 in my case. Periodic “MAF tests” consisting of running 5 miles (preferably on the track) at MAF HR should show a gradual performance improvement over the 3 months and a reducing gap between the paces of the first and latter miles (effect of HR drift). This test is similar to the evaluation runs that Mike did during the conditioning phase of his build up to his NY marathon PB a few weeks ago – so I’m in good company. So that's the plan for the moment. My recovery from Amsterdam is slow. Most of my runs have been between 08:30 and 08:50 pace as my resting and exercising HR's gradually come down. MY RHR this morning was 46, which is 7 or 8 beats above what it was at peak performance. Today's long run over 2 hrs was at an average pace of 08:30 and 138 HR (14.11 miles). Having previously run 08:00 pace @ 130HR the only way is up. I will set the base by completing my first MAF test next week.