A WEEK OF LEARNING
It’s been a weird enough week in the Land of Running. First I got injured (again!) during the Brockagh race, and had to miss out on yesterday’s Sorrell Hill race. It’s a real pity, as it’s perhaps my favourite route and plays to all my strengths. Unfortunately, it’ll have to wait till next year.
There’s been enough to do, though, as I was home in Denmark for a brief spell, before doing a 3.5km test run of my ankle on Sunday. This went well so I followed up with a 12k hill run which showed me that running downhill on lose rocks won’t be possible for a few weeks.
So focus is now on getting ready for Snowdon on the 26th. Good news is, I can still run up and on the flat, which means I can keep fit. So Wednesday I found consolation from missing the race in doing my latest assigned hill reps at Kilmashogue.
After having finally repaired my base and fixed my max intensity zone, the time has come to work my race zones (at long last!). This should have started months ago, but the endless misfortune has delayed our progress. The theory is simple: Now I need to run at race pace and preferably uphill as that’s what I’ll be doing in the races when it really hurts.
To do it effectively, the intervals need to be longer (short intervals will force you into the top zone, which is great when you’re trying to expand you ability to work a maximum intensity and test your lactate tolerance, but it’s not so useful for racing).
So instead of doing the 10x30sec intervals, this session means starting at the foot of a hill and running up at a strong pace for 2 min. When you reach a set point, you keep this in mind, then jog down for some minutes (I took a 3min rest in between), and once you’re fully fresh, you go off again. You repeat this until you can’t comfortably reach the same point on the hill, then you retire for the day with a nice jog.
The session worked quite well, my heart rate went well up, and I reached the same point in all attempts before terminating after the 5th rep. I covered about 400m of rough uphill for each 2 minute burst, which I guess is decent enough.
THE JOY OF BOOKS
I got a perfect gift for my birthday, the “Lore of Running”, 1000 pages of everything there is to know about running and training.
I’ll probably have to base several articles just on the information in this book, but I’ve learned several interesting things just from browsing:
1. You have on average 15 years of hard training in you. People who start when they are 30 will thus peak out around 45. People who started at 20, at 35 and so on. There are few or no true exceptions to this rule as the body’s capacity for suffering is limited. So this pretty much gives you the window within which you have to perform at your best and hit your targets. After that, your focus can no longer be on speed at least…
2. VO2 Max is a very poor gauge of athletic potential. It does showcase how far your body will allow you to push yourself (which in turn tells a lot about athletic potential), but a much better gauge is your VO2 max at a given speed. If you can race 15kph per hour using 5l of air and someone else needs 5.5l of air, then you are the more efficient runner, despite the others greater VO2 max.
3. 75% of people using a shin splint are cured of plantar fasciitis within a 12-week period
4. Using the tables in the book, and comparing to my results, I learned that if everything goes right, my genetic potential should allow for a sub-16 5k, a sub-34min 10k, and a marathon somewhere between 2:23-2:33 (there’s a lot of insecurity on that one). Of course, that’s not accounting for any debilitating factors that could come in play, and my ability to put in the necessary effort.
5. Apart from anabolic steroids, caffeine and EPO, no other supplements have shown convincing evidence of being performance enhancing.
6. Generally most have only 2-3 perfect marathons in them. In effect, this means Haile is left with just one more chance at the 2hour barrier, while for Paula, the time has come and gone.
7. The main cause of fatigue is not loss of fuel, but a “Central Governor” in the brain shutting down activity before the level of stress jeopardises blood supply to the heart (the heart turning anaerobic would be lethal). Likewise, body temperature also regulates performance, if it gets too hot, the body will attempt to shut down exercise. If it fails, it will trigger a heatstroke as the fail-safe mechanism.
8. If you stretch 3 times a day for a 3-5 week period you will gain permanent flexibility gains that can be maintained by as little as one stretching session per week. Stretching before and after exercise is still recommended, however. Warm-up is not needed. The only muscle that needs to be warmed up before stretching is the calf muscle.
There are so many more interesting anecdotes, but I thoroughly recommend “The Lore of Running”. Actually, the book has almost made all my other books superfluous, at best they are only supplements to this amazing tome of knowledge. It’s truly a Bible of Running!