When preparing for three hour marathon the conventional wisdom agrees with your philosophy that we should train in similar circumstances to the race. That is why conventional wisdom leans towards doing sessions that are specifically replicating your goal marathon pace in training.
Developing aerobic capacity; running efficiency; the ability to clear metabolic wastes (usually called LT training); durability; endurance; stamina; and the ability to utilise both fat and glycogen for energy are all needed in the correct mix to run a marathon to your potential. That’s the conventional wisdom. Nearly a century of runners and coaches breaking away from convention have fed into the acceptance of a lot of today’s conventional wisdom.
Just off topic for a little while. There is plenty of conventional wisdom that is all good. And, of course, there is plenty of conventional wisdom that will be found to be agenda-driven scam, not the best way, or just plain nonsense. And, there is plenty of unconventional wisdom that is all good. And, of course, there is plenty of unconventional wisdom that will be found to be agenda-driven scam, not the best way, or just plain nonsense. Some wisdom deemed unworthy by the majority of opinion may well work magic for “pioneers” like mythym.
I mention this because Davo and you give the impression that to follow convention is to follow blindly without any thought.
Two of the runners I admire, Yoshihisa Hosaka and Juma Ikangaa both are straining the bounds of convention with their training.
His training principles are remarkably simple: Hosaka runs identical workouts every day without fail. At 5:30 a.m. he jogs 1.5 miles through the mountain to a cherry tree-lined riverbank path where he does 5 x 1K, starting at 6:25/mile pace and working down to 5:20/mile, followed by another 1.5-mile jog back through the mountains to his home. He works from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., then drives to a park with a 600m concrete brick loop. After some simple strength exercises, Hosaka warms up with 20 laps, starting at 9:30/mile pace and gradually building to 8 minutes/mile. Next he goes onto the road outside the park and again runs 5 x 1K, this time on a long downhill at 6 minute/mile pace down to 5:20/mile, the jog back up serving as recovery. To cap off the workout he runs 5 x 100m accelerations on a soft dirt field in the center of the park to practice his finishing kick.
And that's it. No long runs, no sustained pace runs, but he totals about 20 miles a day, every day, with more than 10K at or faster than marathon pace. Hosaka is clear on is reasons for this interval-based training. "Most people," he says, "can't keep race pace up for a long time as they get older. Doing it in intervals lets you keep your speed without getting hurt." His method also has marathon-specific psychological benefits. "Early on it's easy, but after a few days it's harder and you think, 'Ah, this is like the 30K point in the marathon,' then it gets even harder like at 40K. Every day's training becomes like part of the marathon. Most people run a hard day and then jog an easy day, but the marathon is constant and you have to train yourself to handle that constant."
Now that is unconventional and apparently very productive for him; but i think it would destroy more runners’ aspirations than enhance them.
Having said that, the thing I like about it Hosaka’s training is his emphasis on running at and above marathon pace (According to Sport Scientists, like, say, Peter Reaburn in The Masters Athlete
old fellas have to keep up the quality in training for best results) .
I like Hosaka’s logic here, which is much the same as yours, mythym, in that he seeks to train in circumstances similar to the event. The main “circumstance” could well be mythym running at a constant 4:15 per k pace. The question that the “goal oriented” mythym needs to ask is whether or not his training has sufficient quality running to buffer the metabolic wastes (usually referred to as lactic acid) that build up during a marathon. Runs significantly slower than marathon pace teach you to use fat and are good for endurance but they won’t help you handle the waste products from placing demands on muscles that are not conditioned to the stronger contraction force and turnover of running at your goal pace.
Juma Ikangaaa is another runner who has pushed the bounds of convention. I like his attitude. The following quote captures that attitude:
“I don’t rain to beat another runner. We are out there together, competing with the marathon, and I train to run the marathon as fast as I can.”
He sure didn’t wait around for Rob deCastella in 1982. Sure Ikangaa paid the price but he forced deCastella to run fast.
Anyway, that desire to run fast comes through in his training. He ran 50k runs every weekend. He also ran 25x400s, 50x200 plus runs that convention deems necessary such as tempo runs, mile reps and so on. Once again, he was just over 5 feet tall and a wisp of a man, so he could handle that training. Not many three- hour runners would absorb that training. A lot of successful runners would deem the 50k runs as unnecessary but most don’t seem to have any problem following the mix.
He also said that if he felt fatigued he would miss a session. He said: “ I usually run how I feel.” This seems to be your main emphasis -running how you feel and covering 42.2 km in training. That, will get you kudos in some circles, but a sub-three, or reaching your potential (which I think you may well have underestimated [I wouldn’t get psyched out by your lack of basic speed or pace -predictor charts]) and then using your achievement to validate your theories seems a little more sensible to me .
You see mythym there are aspects in training that some runners emphasise more than others. I am like you, in that I have little natural speed. My muscles is all slooow twitch: slower than the times up to 500m you have posted. If I key my sprint times into McMillian I can in no way on earth get near the projected times. However, after years of solid training and racing I am about right. I lag a bit on 5000m but 10000m time projects close to my marathon and my half suggests a slightly quicker marathon time. Most of the pace guides are pretty handy but most seem to assume appropriate training. And conventional wisdom being what it is that training would be pretty well conventional.
I was like you when I started setting goals. I thought natural speed ws necessary. I read in all the books around at the time that most club athletes a run 60sec quarter easily. I went to a 400m track and couldn’t break 74 seconds. I was doing a lot of long running similar to your program. I too had a goal time I wanted to beat. I did this by utilising my strengths (endurance) to develop the stamina needed to maintain pace. So instead of ten 400s in 60 (which I couldn’t do. My 400pb is 65. i set it later in interclub) built up to 20 in 72-75. It took a while.
Looking at your times and fall off from 500m to 1k and beyond tells me that you need to work on upping your anaerobic threshold (if you choose to improve your AT) . If you are a genuine, fit slow twitcher, you will find you haven’t the power to get anaerobic over a short distance. Don’t worry. According to current orthodoxy, including some solid aerobic running that nears your anaerobic threshold could ensure a better threshold. But it takes years and years. Barring injury, I can’t see the training you are doing now will hurt your long-term goals. It will help. Pride aside, you will be able reassess and still have a go latter using a better mix if it doesn’t work out.
Like you mythym I am just tooling around: giving anyone who reads this another perspective. All the rest of us on CR are “ experiments of one” too. Some of us see the sense in conventional wisdom; others may not and may make choices that seem logical to them at the time.
You apparently value innovation and thinking outside the square, like Ikangaa, Yoshihisa Hosaka, et.al. so you are seeking a value-driven goal. That’s a good thing. You may not achieve your marathon goal but you will discover your truth about the matter. You might even re-inforce or disrupt the conventional way. You can’t go wrong.
Edited by iRonnie, 27 June 2012 - 07:12 PM.