TRAINING: Week 2 begins “hard”

My second week of “Pre-Base” training since emerging from Tony Riddle’s tutelage as a “natural mover” begun today with another long run. Once again, it was important to do it on a very hard and unforgiving road in my VivoBarefoot Aqua Lites. Any more than those 3mm of rubber sole between me and the ground and I would not be able to hold a technically adequate stride and condition my body properly for the many challenges ahead.

Finding another “Glenmacnass road”

My choice today was not the Glenmacnass Road but rather the road from Glendalough, via Laragh, out past Clara Vale and below the slopes of the Trooperstown Massiff. I had imagined it would be easier but the 22km run proved to have not only more ascent and descent (375m) but proved technically far more challenging with rougher tarmac, less flat stretches and constant undulations.

Route overview

A spectacular looped road run could be created by continuing to the cross-roads past the Croneybyrne Demesne, head ton Moneystown and then cutting back over Trooperstown and down through Ballard to Glendalough. I estimate this would be at least 28km, with more than 800m of climbing – a real “Waiatarua” candidate – or “trademark Lydiard long run”.

In other words – my route today was the perfect training tool.

Stiff and cold, yet in rhythm

The first mile gave me the impression things would be difficult in the wet and cold. My gait felt stiff despite the movement drill warm-up, but once it loosened out, I ran along in great comfort. Only after the turning point at around 13km, did I have to conjure up some mental effort to keep it together, especially for the fast descents, all of which required I kept very alert to my posture and overall shape.

Energy-wise my endurance is returning rapidly now but this was also the best my legs have felt. Sinew and muscles were very happy with proceedings. Putting extra effort into working on my foot mechanics with Tony’s “Toe drills” and doing more drills related to fixing my thoracic spine issues, is really paying off now, as I do not have to pay as much attention to maintaining strong form while I run now. I instead put all my conscious energy into rhythm and “getting myself off the ground”. Even relaxation now comes more naturally on the hard surfaces. It’s like my subconscious, as part of its re-education, is now sending the right messages to “relax”. 

Lydiard training – this time – the right way…

We like to think that our conscious mind calls the shots but neuroscience shows that the opposite is true. So the easier relaxation means that my body is now happy with the movement and trained to accept the ground reaction forces involved in running over 22km of hard tarmac.

Master and apprentice

It struck me that Tony Riddle, who is not trained specifically as a long distance runner (far from it), would do a training run of about this length in about 94 minutes and it took me 120 minutes. So this at current is one way of measuring the difference between a “master of natural running” and an “apprentice of natural running”. But every apprentice has it as their goal to become a master and one reason I’m passionate about the “run injury free” project is that I can see everyone having the potential to become masters – they just need a good start with proper instruction, correct guidance through the first critical steps and the desire to succeed.

If my “master plan” comes to fruition, I’ll be running a 90 minute half-marathon in training on the 23rd of February. I’ll put a cross around that date.

A happy body

Hot shower, big meal and some hot cups of tea and I feel invigorated. I always make sure to straight away do a set of exercises that are part of the core “Tony drills” – hip pumps, ankle squats, posture squat and adductor pumps. When I get my body-weight straight onto the legs I can see immediately how strenuous the run has been and whether I put any bad movement in there. Today I felt almost no stiffness or muscle soreness of any note. Which is really promising. I’ve strengthened my legs with Lydiard-weeks before but this is the first time I know that I am strengthening my body correctly – instead of in the wrong places.

A good start to the new week and my goal of being ready to run both long and fast by the 13th of January remains on track…