Sunday, May 23, 2010

week three

5/23 - 9 miles E
5/22 - 6 miles E
5/21 - 6 miles with 8 x 45 sec accelerations
5/20 - 6 miles E
5/19 - 6 miles with 8 x 200m hill repeats
5/18 - 6 miles E + drills

Sunday, May 16, 2010

week two

5/16 - 6 miles E + drills
5/15 - 8 miles E
5/14 - 6 miles with 6 x 30 sec accelerations
5/13 - 6 miles E
5/12 - 35 min fartlek
5/11 - 6 miles E + drills

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

barefoot running: belief without evidence?

Prior to autumn of 1993, my feeling towards running shoes was this: Train in the heaviest most cushioned trainers you can tolerate and race in the lightest flats you can tolerate. My reasoning was that heavy trainers conditioned your legs to a certain level of work and then, on race day, the featherweight shoes would feel like nothing at all. It would be like a horse that is used to carrying around a 170 lb rider switching to a 120 lb jockey.

In hindsight, this makes little sense, and my thinking started to change after a grueling cross country hill workout. Consider this: Two identical runners doing the same workout in terms of total distance. Runner A wears five ounce flats and Runner B wears ten ounce trainers. If they both cover the same distance at the exact same intensity, Runner A must necessarily run faster to compensate for the difference in weight. In other words, if we are talking about equal amounts of effort, Runner B won’t run as fast as Runner A because every stride has to move additional weight.

Is either of these approaches better? That is, assuming that total quantified effort is the same, is it better to run at a 7:30 pace in heavy trainers or at a 7:20 pace in lightweight flats? I’m just making those numbers up, but you see the point. If the purpose of training is to prep us for the difficulties of racing, I think the answer has to be: Faster pace, lighter shoes. Had I been wearing lighter shoes, I could have done that grueling hill workout a little faster without actually working any harder. And we should want to acclimate ourselves to running faster, right?

Is barefoot running the logical conclusion to this approach? Maybe, if we are planning on racing barefoot. But as Matt Fitzgerald argues in a recent article, “Elite runners don’t run barefoot. There’s a reason for that”. Yes, evolution designed the human body to run barefoot… but not on asphalt. Yes, evolution designed the human body to run barefoot… but only when supporting an ultra-lean physique (imagine how much work prehistoric man had to do to get a decent meal). Well, I am training – and, more importantly, racing – on asphalt. And yes, I am carrying around some extra weight. So why run barefoot?

My point is that while I’m all for the minimalist approach in terms of wearing the lightest shoes I can tolerate, up to and including the shoes that I race in, I don’t plan on spending significant time barefoot until: 1) I see evidence that it improves racing performance, 2) my races go off-pavement, and 3) I get my weight below 140. The best argument for running barefoot, I think, is that it feels good. But is it faster?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

week one

5/9 - 7 miles E
5/8 - 6 miles E
5/7 - 6 miles fartlek
5/6 - 6 miles E
5/5 - 35 min fartlek
5/4 - 45 min E + technique drills

Sunday, May 2, 2010

the broken egg

One of JD's most consistent messages is: Don't be the broken egg. This is a reference to the "throw a bunch of eggs against the wall and hope that a few don't break" philosophy. Such an approach might work if you're coaching the Kenyan marathon squad and are blessed with fifteen 2:10 runners and can only take three to the Olympics...

If, like me, you are coaching a team of one, the broken egg approach makes little sense -- which isn't to say that I've always avoided it. Daniels is right; the smartest path to reaching your potential is through very small, controlled, incremental increases in training stress.

Every time runners head out to practice their craft, and I do mean every single time, they should ask: What is the smallest possible amount of effort I can expend what will improve my fitness?

And then not run one step more. Don't be the broken egg.

Marathon training starts tomorrow.