I'm working through another idea in training. To understand it, I have to give a little background to my thoughts.
What keeps you from being a great sprinter is different from what keeps you from being a great marathoner (the proof is that no one's world class at both). There are a collection of things that limit running performance and we don't even know what they are. People talk about maximal oxygen uptake, but that's just something that can be measured and is dependent upon dozens of variables, some untrainable and that means little far from about 10-15 minutes of racing.
When you hit your first limiter, the others don't matter. Change that factor and your race times change. However, we don't know but what these limiters are connected, that raising a bar that isn't the lowest might raise the lowest bar too.
At any rate, if you plot out the logarithm of your race times versus the logarithm of your race distances, many will fall on a straight line, generally the range of races you frequently do. For me, that range is unusually broad - almost from 1 mile to 50K. You'll probably get a steep line over the sprints and then a turn and a flatter line over longer distances and then a steeper line again when you hit ultramarathons - or what looks like a scatter plot, if you haven't raced a lot at a lot of distances.
The log/log plot slope divides people into categories. People who excel at the marathon, the slope is about 1.06-1.065 and this is about the slope of the chart you'll find in Jack Daniels' book comparing performances. Those who do about as well at all distances are at 1.08-1.085 and these correspond well to the old Gardner/Purdy charts, or if you're using age-grading, with those comparisons. I come in at 1.10, which partly explains why all the things I read about distance running don't seem to apply. If you look at top milers, they come in at about 1.12, but they rarely race beyond 5K.
Now, marathoners might do better at the long distances because of the slope of this line and their own personal limiters, or it might be that a great performance at the marathon just makes the slope change favorably to that distance. I haven't figured that out yet. I'm working on it.
The questions that come to me are: Would changing training change the slope of this line for me? Would training specifically for a good marathon make me better at shorter distances as well, or would it come at the expense of running well at shorter distances? Should one train differently depending upon which category one fits in and what changes should be considered?
I wrenched my back shoveling snow. I have time to think about these things now.
A Magical Skishoe in Hartley Park
4 days ago