I’m currently in the middle of a very testing phase of my new training programme, getting my body used to the combination of Medium-Long and Long Runs especially this week's testing trial of two in a row, something I haven't done for a while.
“Medium-Long” run is a new term I adopted from Advanced Marathoning and covers any run from 15-24km (or equivalent time) run at the same pace as your weekly long run (the 24k+ runs or equivalent time). This pace is what I call “Base” pace in the TPL system (4:58-4:28min/km currently for me). In general these a run in the faster end of the spectrum, the only caveat being that you slow down your Medium-Long runs when there is a potential impact on faster runs in the following days.
While the term is new this type of run is not: Indeed it’s the same two midweek runs that Lydiard build into his system (two of Lydiard’s midweek runs were a good bit longer but not quite as long as the Sunday long run).
Glimpsing the Life of a Pro
My first long run was the 22.1k run in Clara Vale. This run should have been at least 24k but was shorter due to the hilly terrain I chose. The difficulty came in after Monday (which was a well-earned rest were I only did 1.5 hours of core and strength work), as the first Medium-Long run this week is 95 minutes. I cruised that in 4:39min/km pace yesterday despite very sore legs and only felt less than flying from the 14-18km. And my muscles are in slightly better condition after yesterday’s 21k than before them. Same pattern repeated itself today, I went out slightly slower and completed 19.2k in 92 minutes, legs were fine throughout and my energy levels were better. Muscles have once again improved but I did need some deep tissue massage with tiger balm followed by some hefty icing.
I suppose this I how the life of a professional athlete feels: Always running just at the edge of destruction. But it’s worth it, to quote Scott Douglas one of the co-authors of “Advanced Marathoning”: “I enjoy running, and I would rather try to be modestly good at it than to simply accept being mediocre, as I would definitely be without hard training.” (Scott trained as much as 201km per week). Rarely is once own sentiments captured so precisely.
It’s obviously worrying that my Achilles are tightening so early in the week, but on the good side all my muscle soreness is now located in the quadriceps and the lower abdominals showing that I am generating speed through knee lift (rather than the calf-driven “shuffle”) and utilising my core while running (my core got very sore and tense after about 16k). But 2 days (and 1 rest day) and 41k done, 4 days and 55k to go…
More good news is that I made a calculation error in my spreadsheet so this week’s planned mileage is not 100k but only 95k. Not everything I do contributes, though. Yesterday I did 1.1k warm-up and while I enter this in my log it does not count against the weekly total (e.g. the 6 minutes done warming up were not taking away from the 95 minutes of scheduled concentrated running). Today my run was 2.5 min longer than planned. More good news as it allows me to catch up on some of the lost 23 from last week.
In other words, as Lydiard suggested you can run extra as you want and need (at a slow pace) but it’s just that, an “extra”, if you want to get the results your program aims at, you need to do all scheduled work in the proper fashion and not squeeze the junk miles into your sessions. The simple logic behind this is that my plan was to gain 95 minutes of solid aerobic stimulus to heart and muscles. The 6 minutes warming up did not provide any such stimulus: There purpose was simply to warm up the legs to be ready for the actual effort. Counting it in this way becomes “cheating” or at least lessening the efficacy of the program.
Next up: A closer look at the new innovations from Nike and my first impressions on the change to the Wicklow Way Trail from 22k to 25k…