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

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Short word on long runs

110 Mile week

Whenever someone brags about how many miles they ran in a week, you can be sure they bookended long runs like I did. And for those who quibble it was only 109.5, my winter runs are all a bit long.

(2/2. 26.5 in 4:11. Posted previously)
2/3. 11 in 106. Serious bonk. Depleted yeaterday and didn't eat much between runs.
2/4. 10 in 97. Felt a lot faster than it was. Still run down from high mileage.
2/5. 10 in 78.5 HRav=140, pk=165. Included 3 in 20:20, 3 in 20:56. The cool-down was almost a shuffle. Right knee feels a little "off."
2/6. 11 in 94.5
2/7. 8 in 69.5
2/8. 33 in 5:44. Fifteen times up the Mounds Hill. HRav=120, pk=133. Started walking bits on the 9th trip up the hill. Other runners were looking at me like, "Can't make it up the hill without walking? You look like you're in better shape than that!" I'd like to see them after three hours on the hill. Even the downhills were hard the last three times. My hands and feet were freezing at the beginning, but I was overdressed by the end. Drank a gallon of fluid, but was still a little dehydrated. Ran into Don Dornfeld, who ran the hill twice; he's only 7 miles from the 1000 mile club at FANS - be sure to congratulate him after his 4th lap this year!

I like to think the last lyrics I hear on the radio before a run have some special message (yes, I'm superstitious). Heard Cass McCombs sing, "Got a job cleaning toilets in a nightclub in Baltimore. I guess that's that." Not exactly inspiring.

2/9. 4 in 36
2/10. 0, probably.

Long Runs

For track races under 10K, long runs are easy runs used to keep mileage up between hard workouts. For road races over 10K, one already has sufficient mileage, so they're hard runs done at an easy pace.

Most people have a favorite training pace that's a minute per mile slower than their marathon pace or 1 1/2 minutes per mile slower than 10K pace. With practice and persistence, marathoners who finish in 2-3 hours can run this pace for about 3 1/2 hours, when the stores of glycogen in their legs is spent. I define ultrarunning as anything over 3 1/2 hours, so the majority of marathoners are actually running a very different race than the speedsters; a 3 1/2 hour training run is nothing remarkable for them.

I wish I knew who said, "Running 3 1/2 hours is easy. Getting from 5 to 6 is hard." (I'm pretty sure it's somewhere in Tim Noakes' book.) To run 5-6 hours, runners either have to run much slower or take walking breaks - this is why Jeff Galloway's such a hero to marathoners who take 5-6 hours to finish! Running very slowly is hard. One tends to take very short strides, with very little range of motion, causing one to tire muscles from overexerting the few muscle fibers used. This also leads most ultrarunners to not be very adept at shorter distances. I"m doing my long runs on hills as a way to guarantee I use different muscle groups (plus the races I plan are all hilly). If one goes through carbohydrate loading and does a lot of long runs, one usually stores enough glycogen to last 5-6 hours.

Once past 6 hours, there's a new world of hurt. One has to learn to run slower yet. I'm still a newbie at this, so I'll not say much until I know more. There's a barrier that those who run 100 miles in 24 hours talk about, coming about 70-85 miles or 16-19 hours. I've hit that barrier. It appears to be based on circadian rhythms. Given the start times for most 100s, this is about the time most people are usually preparing to sleep. The only way to prepare for this seems to be to do it (night runs may help), and this means one needs race experience. I've tried to work out the details from others' experiences, but it can't be done.


keith said...

Seems like I spent a week cleaning toilets, too. Actually, it was just an easy week.

I wish I could run effortlessly fast like you speedsters do. I feel like I'm the slow runner taking short strides for 5+ hours (hello, Moose Mountain?). When I try to run "fast" I feel like the wheels are going to come off and my heart's going to blow.

I have a difficult time believing that I'm out of shape...

Hopefully a spring of hill training and some track workouts will start to remedy my Speed problem. You considering coaching anyone yet?? :-)

northwoods bryan said...

110 mile week! That's terrific!

I will be able to keep the 50k's under 5 or 6 hours, but not the 50-milers -- based on your post, sounds like that will be a dramatically more difficult experience.

I need to get some seriously longer long runs in -- typically my weekly long run is 14-17 miles and then I feel drained. This takes around three to three and a half hours, right around the threshold you discussed. I guess I just need to push that threshold out further with longer runs for one thing, and raise my pace per distance for a second thing -- my pace per distance seems to drop off pretty fast. In the past few months I've done 7 miles at 7 minutes per mile, 10 miles at 9 minutes per mile, 13 miles at 10:22 per mile, and nothing above 13 miles at anything faster than 12:26/mile. I guess this pace drop-off is where the heart-rate training is supposed to help -- or is it just a matter of doing more long runs?