Sunday, 30 March 2014

Week of training Sunday March 23rd - Saturday March 29th + Thoughts on race pace specific training.

Hey everyone,

Back again with a weekly update. Things are rolling right now. This past week was the best one I've had during this build up, possibly ever in my running career. Have you guys/girls ever had one of those runs where you just seem to float along so effortlessly? I did my double yesterday afternoon after a hard track session in the morning, I don't know what it was but I just started rolling on a 10 miler. My first mile was 7:20 just getting the legs moving but by the end of the run I had dropped my pace down to the low 5:20's. My last 5km was 16:52. I figured I'd be really stiff and sore, but I just felt incredibly strong aerobically and just got into the run. Before I knew it I was clicking off 5:45's. The last mile ended up being 5:21. I hope it's a sign that I'm at a new level of fitness, and that the hard winter months are starting to pay off. The week went well, I got plenty of miles in with 3 hard sessions and a long run. So this week coming will be my last high intensity and high volume week. I'll race a 1500m on the track on Sunday the 6th of April just to sharpen up for the 10k on the 13th. I'm really getting excited to race and compare performances with this time last year.

The importance of race pace specific training when building for a goal race and the importance of structured training phases.

I had a msg from someone who follows my blog a while back asking me about race pace work. Personally I feel that if a runner is building for a goal race or for a collegiate athlete building for a championships season in his or her event then race pace specific training is of the utmost importance. 

I remember watching an interview a couple years back with Matt Tegenkamp after he made the 10000m team for the Daegu World Championships at USA's. Matt talked about how he kept asking his coach Jerry (Schumacher) for some speed during what seemed like the whole year. But after he made the team he understood the approach his coach was taking letting him race off purely base work early in the season then peaking him/sharpening his legs for the race that mattered. The Schumacher group is known for building a huge aerobic base and getting really strong in the off season (sounds like the Lydiard approach doesn't it?) and then transitioning to race specific work 8-10 weeks out for target races. Now don't think they are just out there jogging, the group that originally made the move with Jerry to Portland when he was offered a position with Nike (most of the Wisconsin Badgers cross country team, Tegenkamp, Bairu, Solinsky, Jager). Ask any of those athletes what a "Badger Mile" is like and they will tell you, there are no "easy" days. It's common for theses guys to be running 5:30/mile pace or faster day in day out and running 110+ miles a week at this pace in the off season, so when they do begin to touch on race specific paces which for the 5km guys is around 4:10-4:15 and 4:20-4:25ish for the 10km guys it's not like they are jumping into paces with no fitness under them. 

I use this as an example because I feel like runners need to structure their seasons better, some people have it down but from what I see locally I can count on one hand the number of people who have their running set up in seasonal increments with priorities placed on the different energy systems that all need to be developed to bring it all together on race day. We can't be peaked all year long, we can however always be fit and able to produce a good race. When I started running a few years ago some of the people I was running with would tell me after about October it's time to shut things down and just run easy until the spring. Thankfully it only took me one year to realize this was completely ridiculous. We don't need to be ripping out 400m intervals at 1500m pace year long but if we are serious about running to our potentials and improving from season to season then there shouldn't really be an "off" season. there should be just switches in training and different priorities given to different energy systems. 

If someone decides after a fall packed with races it's time to ease off the training and enjoy running for a while without the pressures that come with a looming race that's no problem, get out there and build some aerobic strength, run more volume (intelligently of course) work on strong long runs, do lots of hill work and tempo runs.

With regards to race pace specific training for a goal race I would say start working in that zone about 8 weeks out once you have a good base built and have done some neuromuscular and creatine phosphate work in the forms or rep paced running and hill training. Transition slowly into race pace running. If your targeting a 10km start with something as simple as 10X1 minute at goal race pace, after a couple of weeks the workout can then be 10X2 minutes. I know that for me right now prepping for a 10km I'll do sessions of 3X2miles at race pace or even 2X5km. When you have progressed to the point where you are running the volume of the race in intervals with fairly short rest you know that you are ready to roll. Obviously for the longer events like the marathon this can't really happen but people targeting a 26.2 should be able to at least run 13-15 miles at race pace without any problems. I'm not a marathoner so I won't try to speak on marathon specific training but I do know that when I jump up to that distance I'll want to make sure I can do workouts like a 22 mile long run with the last 11 miles at goal marathon pace, or things like 3X5miles with 2 minutes recovery at race pace. The trick is to make yourself comfortable running your goal race pace at whatever distance that may be. It seems simple but you would be surprised how many people neglect training in this specific zone and then expect to roll that effort on race day.

What I'm really trying to get across here is if you can't hit paces or efforts in training then don't expect to miraculously be able to run faster on race day because you are in a race environment and are rested. Put in the work, suffer through those long grinding sessions and reap the rewards on race day!

This week in training


Long run - 2 hours of steady state running. I didn't get a good long run in last week where I was feeling sick but I got a great one in here. Started off running gently and then really rolled well. I got in 20.6 miles, the average pace was 5:50

20.6 miles - AM


5 miles easy - AM
11.2 miles - PM


Workout - 3X2miles with 2 minutes recovery @ goal 10km race pace. This was a hard session. One direction I had the wind in my back (reps 1 and 3) and the other direction obviously was in my face. I wanted to stick it at 5:00/mile pace and be controlled but I knew with the wind it would be a challenge on the second rep so I ran the first and 3rd a little faster. The reps ended up 9:51, 10:06, 9:53. The average was right around 4:58/mile pace. I chatted with Jeremiah afterwards about it. I think the next time I'll do it on a hillier section just to work the strength. On a side note man is that guy coming back into form fast, after being back running only a few weeks he rolled a 4 mile tempo on a hilly route in 20:10, I don't know if I'm happy for him or really jealous haha that he has that type of fitness off hardly any running. Way to go dude, can't wait to see what you'll be like after a nice training block, scary to think about.

5 miles - AM
12.1 miles with workout - PM


12.3 miles steady state with 8 strides - AM


Workout - 5 mile tempo on the treadmill with Joe. This was a good session. I put the treadmill on 12mph (5:00/mile) but with no incline so the effort was that of a 5:12/mile pace. It felt really smooth and controlled. I like to get some tempos on the treadmill just for the simple fact that I'm recovering faster and my legs aren't getting beat up as much while still getting the effort in.

5.1 miles - AM
12.6 miles with workouts - PM


4 miles - AM
11 miles with drills and 8 strides - PM


Workout - 8X200m + 3X1mile + 8X200m. The recovery for the 200's was a 200m jog and the recovery for the miles was a 2 minute Jog. The first set of 200's averaged 32 seconds, the miles were all 4:48 (3:00/km pace) and the last set of 200's were averaged at 31 seconds. Great workout. Joe did this one with me. He's getting in great shape and I look forward to seeing him race in 2 weeks. This is the first time he's been healthy this time of the year in ages so he's going to make the trip up to Toronto with myself and Kate for the 10km. It's great to get 3 Newfoundlanders up there this year.

10 miles with workout - AM
10 miles steady state (not planned) - PM

Well that was my week 119.9 miles (yeah I should have just done a loop of my street to make it 120 ha). And 3 very good workouts. So like I said, 1 more week of high intensity and volume then I'll cut things back and keep it low through my next 2 races on the 13th and 27th. After that I'll get on the track and chase a fast 5000m. Obviously I'll still run all the local road races if I'm not away doing a race but they will mostly be done as workouts this year while I try to build for the fall.

Thanks for reading friends. As I type this I'm wishing good running vibes to my Saucony Canada team mates Krista Duchene and Mindy Fleming. They are both running the ATB road races, with Krista doing the 30km and Mindy in the 5km. I'm sure they will both kill it, and I'll be toeing the line with them on the 13th so I look forward to some recaps on your spring seasons thus far.

Until next time folks,
Run strong,

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