Sunday, 30 January 2011

Back to the future

Time to burn off some fat................Having made my way through most of "racing weight" and read all good stuff about when and how often to eat relative to exercise (early and often), good and bad calories, partitioning (carlories that replenish fat, muscle & glycogen) the basic equation of balancing calories in against calories out remains the same. One interesting fact is that if I stayed in bed 24/7 i'd need about 1,858 calories per day just to keep the engine ticking over, without gaining or losing any weight. I wonder how many times a donut and cup of coffee goes into 1,858.
My primary strategy is to wait until my training load increases to match or overtake my calorie intake. Luckily this strategy is likely to work when training for an ultra. Keeping in this vein i've decided to keep things relatively slow over the next few months and spend some time base building to boost my aerobic conditioning. As my next key race is a 39 miler on April 11th I don't think speedwork needs to be top of my agenda for a while. In any event 4 to 6 weeks of speedwork is all I need for full anaerobic development.
I went back to this post from November 1998 for the technical bit. Essentially, while my main focus is on running long, I might as well stay on the steady, if somewhat gentle, aerobic progression curve (in green), leaving it until later in the year to develop anaerobic conditioning red curve). The great Lydiard himself is quoted as saying "The day you start doing anaerobic training and stop your (aerobic) conditioning, your performance level has been set for that season”.

The first sign that my calf was on the mend came on Saturday of last week where I managed 13.5 miles on the grass of UCC Farm, with Pat Twomey for company, at just over 8 minute miles.

To give me some focus over the next few months I plan on broadly following Dr Maffetone's approach (as I did 2 years ago) with most of my running under 140 HR. This could get a bit monotonous so i'll have to vary my training to ensure boredom doesn't set (I may even break the rule once in a while but nothing strenuous). Thomas has been doing something similar over the last few months, exercising great restraint and has come out the other end a lean mean running machine. Ewen has just commenced a similar programme to mine so I am in good company. To monitor progress I will do a steady 5 mile run at a target 140 HR every few weeks. My first evaluation was at the track on Thursday which went off reasonably well:-

Mile 1 - 7:18 (141HR)

Mile 2 - 7:22 (141HR)

Mile 3 - 7:30 (140HR)

Mile 4 - 7:30 (140HR)

Mile 5 - 7:36 (141HR)

Total - 37:17

Average - 7:27

Drift from first to last - 18 seconds (+3.97%)

When I did this 2 years ago my average pace for the evaluation (@ 143HR) maxed out at 7:14 before falling back to 7:23, after which I returned to "normal" training. Looking back it was probably a bit premature as 1 poor result does not necessarily make a trend.

I finished my week at the Dungarvan 10 mile road race, travelling down in glorious, if somewhat cold, sunshine with John and Denis from the club. My garmin wasn't charged so I decided to run without any watch. My plan was to aim for between 75 and 80 minutes, which should be well within my aerobic range and shouldn't stress my calf too much. I quickly settled for a 7:30 opening pace (which would get me 75 minutes) as there was a gang going out at that pace. However that appeared to be an overall average pace as opposed to an opening pace as I was on my own for the first 5 miles despite hitting the halfway point in 36:40 (7:20 pace).

By mile 5.5 I was on the shoulder of Denis who was running very comfortably. If my calf held up I intended to push the pace a little over the last mile - shouldn't interfere too much with my aerobic conditioning. Denis and I ran a steady pace for the next 3 miles until we hit the main Cork Road with about a mile and a half to go. With a sniff of the finish line I couldn't resist the urge to open up the throttle a little and chase down a few hares in front of me, so I bid Denis farewell and gradually upped the pace. Given that I had saved my fastest miles till last and most of those around me had given their all in the preceding miles it wasn't difficult to pass them - felt a bit like a cheat really, although it felt good too ;). My natural instinct when I pass someone is to push the pace for fear of a counter attack. In normal races where I push from the start this natural instinct is counteracted by rising fatigue but in this case this muscle sapping fatigue was a long way off so my pace just kept on getting faster so that by the time the finishing chute came I was close to an all out sprint - finishing in 1:12:03 - a bit faster than planned but still waaaay off race pace and nearly 10 minutes off my PB from this time last year.

As usual the race was very well organised by West Waterford AC any everything went off without a hitch. Great event!

Wed 19th Jan - 4 miles @ 8:24 pace + 3.34 miles @ 9:48 pace & 113HR

Thu 20th Jan - 6.97 miles @ 8:34 & 126HR

Sat 22nd Jan - 13.51 miles @ 8:04 pace & 132HR

Mon 24th Jan - 5.27 miles @ 7:44 pace & 135HR

Wed 26th Jan - 7 miles @ 7:53 pace

Thu 27th Jan - 8.17 miles @ 7:49 pace & 131HR w/5miles @ 140HR in 7:18/22/30/30/36

Fri 28th Jan - 5.31 miles @8:06 pace & 132HR

Sun 30th Jan - 10 miles @7:12 pace (no HRM but certainly over 140)

Base Week #1 (Run 35.8 miles, Bike 21.3 miles, Swim 3k)


  1. My base training was actually very similar to the one you're describing. Mostly easy running, but there was an evaluation every fortnight and one slightly faster run most weeks, which I was always looking forward to.

    I did 3 5Ks early on and ran them very similar to your race - easy early on, overtaking people for fun at the end. I think the coach did not like it but let me do it anyway.

    Good luck in Connemara. Have you got a time goal?

  2. Good stuff Grellan. I hadn't seen that graph, but it's so logical it even makes sense to me ;) Love the Lydiard quote too.

    Interesting about one bad result in your previous go at Maffetone. Must say that our recent high temps (38C today) are playing havoc with my HR and it could be that any sort of stress might have contributed to the poor result.

    What do you think of Maffetone's table for MAF HR to 5k time? 7:30 miles would put you at 18:38 for 5k. I'd be doing 9:15 miles for the MAF test, so 22 minutes for 5k, which might be possible.

  3. Thomas, all thing going very well my A plan would be 5:15 - targeting 8 minute mile even pacing (well maybe allowing for for some slowdown over the last 13.1). Still way behind on training, which could work either way.

    Ewen, yeah i'm sure temperature variation would have a big impact on evaluation runs. I'm not sure about the correlation between MAF test pace and 5k times. While 18:38 is a second inside my PB I wouldn't be capable of such a time now. Maybe I should have selected a lower MAF HR than the one I picked - 180 minus age plus 5 = 140( I simply wanted to maximise the HR I could train up to). If I was being truthfull maybe I should have stayed at 135 or even subtracted another 5 and train up to 130HR which would significantly reduce my 5 mile evaluation pace and therefore my 5k time. Too late now.

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