"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Old-School Training


Last week, I mistakenly called the 5 Fab Fifties the "Fab 5 Fifties." Perhaps I was thinking of the Beatles. If the Beatles were the Fab 4, who was known as the "fifth Beatle?"
A) Brian Epstein
B) Stu Sutcliffe
C) Pete Best
D) Ravi Shankar
E) Billy Preston
(Answer at bottom of page)

Mileage and race planning

"More mileage is the thing; and anyone who has been far enough... will be able to lecture to packed houses for several days running." - Claude Levi-Strauss, "Tristes Tropiques"

When I started distance running (1977), training info was hard to find, spotty and contradictory. Now everyone has too much information and everyone trains pretty much the same, though they might benefit from a different approach. If I hear "cruise intervals" or "mesocycles" coming out of someone's mouth, I not only know what they've read, but where they've gone wrong.

The guidelines for marathoners used to be: You should rarely run more than twice your average and never three times it. The number of miles you run in the 8 weeks before a marathon, divided by 20, is where you'll "hit the wall." You need a day of recovery for each mile raced. These rules still apply, if one runs a marathon under 3:15, but one never hears the old adages any more, because the average marathoner now runs 4 1/2 hours (and it's getting slower, 5 hours is the median in many races).

I was asked how I can expect to race ultras on consecutive weekends. One can race 4-5% of one's mileage over a season, 8-10% from one race to the next. At 70 miles per week, this is the same as Jack Foster's rule of one day per mile raced. To race a week after a 50K, I'd have to be running more than 300 miles per week (some people do! check out the Self-Transcendance 3100 mile race). So, obviously, I will race one and use the other as a training run.

How many miles should one run in training? This is the most basic question and one no expert answers. I've found over the years, that while faster runners run more miles, time on one's feet is remarkably constant over all abilities for each distance raced. One should think in terms of minutes, not miles:

Race Ave. Min./Day Long Run (min.)

sprints 30 30
800m 35 45
1 Mile 40 60
2M 45 75
5K 50 90
4M 55 105
10K 60 120

15K 65 135
25K 70 150
Marathon 75 165

40M 80 180
50M 85 195
100K 90 210
75M 95 225
100M 100 240

200K 105 255
500K 120 300
3100M 180 480

One can race well over a two-fold range of distances (say, 5K-10K) and expect to finish over a four-fold range. If one races over an entire year, with no off-season, at 70 miles per week, one can race about 180 miles, which is 7 marathons or 50K+50M+100M or three 50K's and two 50M's (hint, hint).

For those racing considerably more than 12 hours (usually 100 miles), the length of the long runs varies from the above - one should run at least one third of the race distance up to 1/3 of the expected race finish time once every 3 weeks and one should use races of 50 miles to 100K as training runs.

My training since last post

10/15 4 miles in 35. Coughing badly from viral infection.
10/16 4 in 34 1/2. Still sick, slept badly.
10/17 12 in 104. (HR av=139, peak 161) Was supposed to be a long run with a friend, but she stood me up and I sulked for 6 hours before getting out the door.
10/18 23 in 203 1/2. (HR av=130, peak 152) Feeling a little better. Felt a bit tough at 17.
10/19 10 in 88 1/2.
10/20 10 in 89

Can't believe how badly out of shape I am.

(Answer: All of 'em!)


keith said...

What are the rules concerning adding mileage to your average?

I really liked this post. A very simple set of rules instead of all that miscellaneous mumbo jumbo.

Runner Brewer said...

The 5th beetle was Eddie Murphy.

Most recently the "Fab 5" has been referred to the cast of "Queer Eye for the straight guy" on the "Bravo" channel. I doubt they will be partaking in these events.

About 15 years back the "fab 5" were the 5 freshman starters on the Michigan basketball team. Chris Webber, Jalon Rose, Jewon Howard, I can't remember the rest.

I like the post. I agree with the recovery stuff. I have a different approach. I listen to my body. It talks to me

Colin said...

Good stuff, Steve! I hadn't heard some of those rules of thumb before, but they sure seem reasonable.

I'm glad I stumbled across your blog. Good luck with training, that's an ambitious schedule you have planned for next year!