Monday, July 28, 2008

Running Shorts and Runners' Alibis

I finished my article for the High Desert Runners Web Newsletter for August. Here it is for those of you that don't get the newsletter, followed by a list of Runners' Alibis by Coach Joe Newton from Coaching Cross Country Successfully.

“I feel the need, the need for speed”

I was having trouble coming up with a topic for this month’s newsletter and started to regret I volunteered when I began to ask myself, “What am I doing differently in my own training lately?” I have been largely running only marathons and half marathons over the last 5 years since graduating from physical therapy school.

This summer I decided it would be fun to train for a fast 5K and chose the Newhall Independence Day 5K. I had recently added more interval workouts into my training and ran 18:20, my best time since college. I also ran the cross country series’ 3 mile races twice and even broke 20 minutes on my last attempt. That was a tough course!

Why did I decide to go back to some shorter distance races? First, I wanted something different to train for. Second, I figured it would help my marathon training in the future. The classic training pyramid used to be: start with base mileage (aerobic base), followed by strength (hills, stamina), then speed, and peaking at the top. More recently however, the pyramid has been reformed to: base, speed, then strength, and peaking. The theory is that you should build an aerobic base then maximize your VO2max through interval training, so that slower speeds (marathon or half marathon pace) become a lower percentage of your VO2max. Therefore, speed is not your limiting factor when you start incorporating more threshold runs and marathon pace runs.

Example: By dropping 1 minute off your 5K time your estimated marathon pace (which is approximately 85% of your VO2max), drops by about 20 seconds. Over 26.2 miles, that means an improvement of almost nine minutes. This also assumes that, after speed training, you start some hardcore marathon training.

Many of the U.S. marathon qualifiers have competed in 10K’s in preparation for their strength phase of training. Of the six Olympic marathon qualifiers (three men and three women), half of them ran the 10K at the US Olympic Trials, and half of them also ran in the US cross country championships in February.

The take home message of all this is that you can actually improve your marathon pace by not merely running a 5K or 10K, but training to run it fast. This type of training should be done months before a marathon build up program, but only after developing a strong aerobic base. It should involve interval training at least once a week. My colleague, Clay Patten, PT, leads an interval workout every Tuesday night at 6:00pm at Joe Walker Middle School. Come out and join him and develop some speed.

By running 18:20 at the 5K in July, my estimated marathon pace sets me up to PR by 3 minutes. We’ll see what happens. The variation in my training and racing has also motivated me and made designing new workouts fun and exciting. It is also nice to be able to race and then walk fairly normal the next morning.

See you on the road (or trail),

Karl Stutelberg, PT

Runners can be crazy whiners!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Article Karl and the list of alibis covers it all. I have only used half of them so far.