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

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Steve vs the Experts #4: Lawrence

Al Lawrence won the bronze medal at the 1956 Olympic 10000 meters in his native Australia. He moved to the United States before Cerutty and Lydiard became inescapable "down under"and his training methods might look to some as a throwback to an earlier time. It's important to see this method, as sometimes a track runner like Grete Waitz or Steve Jones moves up to the marathon and breaks the world record, invariably causing someone to say they rewrote the way to train for the distance.

In his first book, "The Self-Coached Runner," (1984, Allan Lawrence and Mark Scheid) he describes his philosophy by breaking training into: speed, anaerobic threshold, aerobic threshold/endurance and stamina and he spends a few pages explaining the terms; I simplify it as "how fast can you run, how fast can you run a given distance, how far can you run at a given pace, how far can you run." He believes that all runners must work on each of these, though different races require different emphases.

On pp. 161-163, he details David Odom's training for his lifetime best 2:17:13 at the 1983 Houston-Tenneco Marathon. This is one of the few cases where one can see every workout of a runner, rather than one week. To break 2:20, he requires a runner to first do a mile in 4:20 and a 10K in 30:30. There is a preliminary 10 week regimen of 75-95 miles per week as follows:
one 16-20 miler @ 6:30-7:00, three days of 12-15 @ 6:30-7:00, one day of 6-10 @ 5:20 and two days of intervals chosen from 20x100m. in 16-300m. recovery, 16x400 in 72-400, 8x800 in 2:30-400, 6x1200 in 3:50-600, 4x1600 in 5:10-800. Though this has three days of hard running per week, it looks reasonable because the interval workouts are done at a somewhat slower speed than what he has later.

The following will be a blur of numbers, I'm afraid. Where a time isn't given, pace is 6:00-6:45 and each interval workout has a warm-up and cool-down. Here's the 10 weeks before the race:

1) 15; 12x400 in 75-100; 10; 12 w/ 10 in 54; 12; 6; 18 in 1:48.
2) 15; 30x100 in 17-100; 8; 10x400 in 67-400; 12; 10; 20 in 2:00.
3) 15; 6x1 in 5:10-400; 10; 16x200 in 34-200; 6; 6; 25K race in 1:19:30
4) 12; 6; 16x100 in 16-100; 12x400 in 70-400; 10; 8; 22.
5) 15; 4x1 in 5:00-400; 12; 2x2 in 9:40-800; 10; 6; 15 in 1:20.
6) 20; 12 w/ 3 in 14:30; 0; 12; 4x600 in 1:36-600; 0; 30K race in 1:33:50.
7) 12; 6; 9; 3x2 in 10:30-800; 10; 10 in 57:30; 15.
8) 10; 20; 12 w/ 2x2 in 10; 20x400 in 72-200; 10; 6; 24 in 2:33:00.
9) 15; 12 w/ 3 in 15:00; 20x100 in 19-100; 12; 12 w/ 10 in 54.
10) 12; 0; 9; 3x1 in 5:10-600; 0; 8; 0.

The 30K race in week 6 was probably a better race than the marathon. He dropped his mileage from 85 mpw to 80, then 70 before this 30K, then increased his mileage again (perhaps trying to make up for the pre-race tapers and the post-race recovery) to a 7 day peak of about 95 miles only two weeks before the marathon. I think that had he either run the 30K as a marathon-pace training run or allowed himself full recovery after the 30K, he might have run the marathon as fast as 2:14.

If one adds up all the training, he averaged 72 or 73 mpw in the final 10 weeks, where I would expect a little more (perhaps 85 until the last 2 or 3 weeks). He averaged 75 minutes per week at marathon pace or better and I suggest 75-105, so he was just barely within range. The fast runs, including the warm-ups, rest intervals and cool-downs are 120 minutes per week (+/- 60), which is about 25% of the total, which is equal to what I'd suggest (though, as I suggest more miles, I'd suggest more fast miles as a result).

Unlike Lydiard, this method has no hills or fartlek, but a lot of long interval runs. The next expert will combine the two.


joyRuN said...

They're on sale. Macy's trying to dump their inventory of such sexiness?

I'd totally piss myself in one of those.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Sorry. A meta-comment about having nothing to comment is the best I can do.

I saw the math in the middle of this post and figured I could skim through it but then ran into the sneakily-embedded-inside-a-paragraph math in the paragraph just before the real math and my eyes glazed over and I gave up.