Monday, November 17, 2008

Base Training Review

As promised, here's a review of my base training to this point.  The timeline starts in May as this is when I first started running following the ITB injury in February.  (Training actually started in 9/07 and progressed into 2/08 prior to the injury.  The injury lasted for about 3-months, and much of the gained fitness was lost.  In May of 2008 I started back up again very slowly)

The first table shows the monthly mileage along w/ the number of days and total sessions running.  What is not shown is the extensive weight training that has been done throughout or the x-training (bike and elliptical) that was done in May and June to supplement the meager running totals.

MonthDays RunningTotal SessionsMiles

* November - projected total by roughly doubling what's been done during the first half of the month.

The second table is a bit more descriptive as it shows a breakdown of the types of workouts being done along w/ a progress benchmark in the form of the pace progression of the T-workouts.  I'm using the Daniels definition of Intervals and Reps (i.e reps are faster than intervals w/ longer rest periods) H-wrkts signifies hill repeat sessions.

MonthT-wrktsI-wrktsR-wrktsH-wrktsLong RunsT-pace
November*21 or 21 or 2335:52

You can see that the ramp back up in May and June was VERY slow.  I was only running about 3-days/week at that time and typically no longer than 4-5 miles per run - most of it easy.

In July I was on vacation almost half the month so although the totals are small this was accomplished in only about 20-days so the rate was close to what I did in August.  I consider the base training "officially" started in mid-July.

The monthly breakdown looked like this:

May/June - Begin running again and use x-training to supplement.  Extensive lifting in all areas (legs, core, upper body) with special attention paid to core, lower back, adductors, abductors, and hip-flexors.

July - slowly ramp mileage - continue w/ the lifting.

August - continue to ramp mileage.  Run Rep sessions once/week to get running form locked in before progressing to the next phase in the base training (threshold running)  Lessen lifting on adductors, abductors, hip flexors.  Continue lifting on other areas.  Introduce some longer singles once every other week.

September - start adding running doubles to increase mileage.  Primary focus shifting to Threshold runs.  Add some distance to the longer runs.  Continue lifting.

October - Same as September, but add Hill Repeats as a 2nd quality day.  Back off on mileage slightly when introducing the hills so as not to shock the system too much.  Shift lifting sessions from focusing on strength to focusing on power.

November - Start bringing mileage back up to September levels (and beyond).  Continue Hills until 8-sessions are completed.  Finish up Threshold work and progress to preliminary speed work.  Continue w/ the long single and lifting.

One thing that certainly jumps out in my training is, "hey, where are the miles??"  Only 750 miles so far, and even if I count the miles I did pre-injury it's only another 500 or so giving a total of about 1200 miles.  A far cry from the guys that are hammering out 3000+ miles/year.  A couple of responses to that.  First, I'm just starting out for the most part, and I'm going to be conservative on ramping mileage too quickly so as to avoid injury.  My goal is to eventually get to a monthly run rate of 240-280 miles, but that will take time - perhaps another 12-months.  (once I get to March or so, I'll be heavily into speed work for the middle distance races so mileage increases will cease at that point until the following base season begins in 9/09)

Second, I'm much more a believer in "quality" over "quantity" - and I'm not talking about workouts or threshold running, I'm talking about the easy days.  Most of my easy runs average about 78%-81% max HR, but the peak during those runs oftentimes hits about 84%-86%.  I'd rather run 11-miles at 82% than run 15-16 miles at 76%.  As an example, if I run 12-miles @ 7:30 pace, I'm done in 90-minutes.  If instead I run 16-miles at 8:00 pace, I'm out there for 128 minutes.  More pounding, more wear and tear, more time needed to recover, greater chance of injury, and it may take more away from the tough workouts I've got coming up. I don't like the trade off, just personal preference.  Obviously if you're training for a marathon it's a bit different, but if you're training even for a 10k-15k type of distance, mileage for the sake of mileage  - well let's just say I'm not a big fan.

Real life example - Kevin Forde (masters miler) never runs more than 30-miles/week.  At 44yo he won the 5th ave Mile in NYC in a time of 4:17!!  Any day of the week the guy can go out and run a 1/2-marathon in 1:15 or less and he NEVER runs more than 30-miles/week.  IMO, unless you're training specifically for a marathon, mileage at the expense of working hard at training your other systems is HIGHLY overrated.  If/when I can get up to about 60-65 mpw, that will be plenty!

Progress - T-workout Pace:
I don't have all that many areas to benchmark my progress at this point, and the best metric I can use is my T-pace.  I could use HR data for specific runs but really, this T-pace data already takes HR into account.  The definition of T-pace I'm using is the pace at which I get to about 90-91% of max HR during the higher volume workouts.  What this amounts to more specifically is about 7-seconds slower/mile than what I'd run a 3 x 1-mile workout w/ 1-minute rests.  So for example, in mid-August I'd run a 3 x 1-mile in 6:07 average pace (w/ 1-minute rests) reaching about 90% max HR.  In a longer T-workout, say 2-mile repeats I'd hit a pace of about 6:11/mile for the same HR, but even that probably isn't true T-pace.  So what I did was add 7-seconds/mile to the 3 x 1-mile workout pace and called that T-workout pace.  The absolute definition doesn't matter much anyway, it's really the relative values that are important as I'm tracking month-to-month progress.  As long as the definition remains constant, it's good enough here.

Over the past 3-months, my T-pace has picked up about 22-seconds/mile which would translate to over 1-minute in a 5k.  Even over just the past 2-months, the improvement is about 12-seconds/mile.  I'm certainly satisfied w/ that progress.  I attribute a lot of it to the threshold workouts obviously w/ the other major factor simply being mileage and the consistency of doing the long single.  

Longer term (14-18 months) I'm shooting to get this pace down another 22-seconds/mile, however the 16 threshold sessions have likely brought me to a plateau for now.  It's definitely time to switch gears and work on some other systems while continuing to increase mileage and keep the long single.  

I'm very satisfied w/ the base training to date.  I've got a couple more months in the base phase before transitioning to more specific work for middle distance racing.  I've still got 4 hill sessions left, prelim-speed work, and more lifting to do.  Plyometrics will start up here once the hills are done to add some explosiveness.  I'll try to increase the mileage some as I go, but I doubt I'll be getting in more than 50-55 mpw during this go-round.  Next year I'll be building off a much stronger base so I imagine I'll be able to get the mileage up into the 60s/week next fall.  

I'm really looking forward to the next step in this base phase where the prelim- speed work starts - after a while the constant hammering of the T-sessions begins to wear on you mentally more than anything else.  Even though the speed work will be considerably faster, the fact that it's new and fresh will likely help me mentally, and as my coach said - "We've spent enough time working on your weaknesses, now let's spend some time working on your strengths."  Amen to that!


bricey said...

good overview of the last few months and nice progress. I agree with your point about limiting the amount of mileage (marathoners will probably disagree!!). 60mpw would seem plenty. I was looking through my old diaries and I never ran more than 25mpw but could still run sub 5min miles without too much trouble (ohh to have young legs again!!)

Grellan said...

Great improvement over the last few months Mike. Certainly it's my experience that I don't need high mileage for races up to 15 miles. However mileage is king for marathon buildup.

Mike said...

Thanks guys. Yeah I'm sure for the marathon you've got to get the mileage way up there.

Brendan - I hear you about wanting to have the young legs back!! Nothing worse than banging out a few reps that feel REALLY fast only to look down at the watch and say to yourself, "how can THAT be right??"

Ewen said...

You're progressing well.

The quality over quantity can definitely work if you're targeting middle distance (up to 5k) races. Kathy trains like this and can stretch to 10k off about 50k per week.

4:17 is a great mile time for a 44-year-old. His half is weaker by comparison, but still good.

Mike said...

I'm certainly going to get my mileage up - I think I'd have a difficult time running tough interval sessions 2x/week year round like Forde does. I prefer to break the year up into phases where I spend some time working on endurance through long singles, threshold running, and overall mileage and then working the other systems w/ hills, intervals, reps etc.

Based on what I think I'll be able to handle and the time I can dedicate to training, I think 60-65 mpw would be a nice level to shoot for next fall when the base phase starts again. That's pretty decent mileage for a masters middle distance guy - guys like Connor O'Driscoll and Jim Sorensen run about 50-55/week.

BTW - if you haven't heard of Sorensen, he lives out here in CA. He's the top guy in the world I believe although he didn't run competitively in '08. In '07 at 40yo he ran the 800m in 1:50.3 and the 1500m in 3:44.06 Those times are just insane!

Ewen said...

I had heard of Sorensen, but wasn't sure of his times. Kathy is also a 2 x week, year-round speedwork person, just longer stuff and bigger volume of it in winter. It took her a long time doing this to get her speed up, and once there, wants to keep it going.

The ideal volume/quality ratio for any runner varies greatly. Our club record-holder in the M40s Tony Murray, ran 4:12 for the mile, which was the world best at one time. He also ran 68:50 for the half, so a big range. He was a high quality and high mileage guy, but no longer runs competitively.