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

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Steve vs. the Experts #8: Glover

Bob Glover is more of a writer than a coach, though he was at least the nominal coach of a group on national-class women marathoners. After writing a book for beginners at running (still in print), he was tapped to write one for competitive runners. The Competitive Runner's Handbook (with Pete Schuder, 1983) was an excellent book, with much useful information; a revised edition came out - without Schuder - in 1999 and should still be in print. The book has training plans for runners of differing abilities and for different distances; it's weak at the shorter races, especially the mile, but the marathon plans have to be considered the standard and there's a short section on ultras that's surprisingly good (it has a typical one week plan used for a sub-6 hour 50 mile, written by Stu Mittelman that is as good as any I've seen. Mittelman has also written his own books and they're terrible).

Glover's book does a very good job of dividing runs into categories and fully describing each. First, there are the endurance runs: Long runs being considered a hard run, Medium for fleshing out the week's mileage and Short for recovery. Then Strength Runs: Fartlek (which includes Modified Fartlek, which has no hills and Rolling Hills Runs, which have no real speed work and Advanced fartlek, which has both), Fast Continuous Runs (4-8 miles at half-marathon pace or 8-10 at marathon pace) and Tempo Runs (4-6 miles @ 90% effort, or near 10K pace). Then come Rhythm Runs, which is just another name for intervals or hill repeats and lastly Power Runs, which are not used in the marathon schedules, but are repetitions of up to a mile at 90% effort.

The marathon schedule for a "champion competitor" is essentially as follows: There is an 18 week build-up, with races of 10K-1/2 marathon every third week and long runs the other weekends. The races are to be considered low-key, except for an all-out race 6 weeks prior to the marathon (preferably 1/2-marathon) and an all-out 10K three weeks out.

The first 6 weeks are the "Endurance Phase," where one builds mileage and extends one's long run (to about the amount of time one expects to take to run the marathon); this phase includes one strength run per week, not intended to be a hard workout.

The second 6 weeks are the "Strengthening Phase," where one maintains peak mileage and long runs, while incorporating a weekly rhythm run (8-10x800 meters or 5-6x 1 mile at 10K pace, with about 2 minutes rest between repeats) and a weekly strength run. One of these harder workouts is removed the week of the all-out 1/2-marathon race.

The last 6 weeks has 4 weeks of "Sharpening Phase" and 2 of "Tapering Phase." Here, one decreases one's mileage, especially the last two weeks, slightly decreases the number of harder runs and turns two long runs into medium endurance runs. Instead of trying to increase the number of repetitions done, as in the strengthening phase, one tries to increase one's speed. There is one very hard interval workout 10 days before the marathon, where one does 6-8 repeat miles about 30 seconds per mile faster than expected marathon pace.

There's nothing really wrong with this plan and anyone first attempting to run their best marathon should seriously consider following this plan; if it doesn't work, there are plenty of alternatives to try next! The biggest issue I have with it is the total mileage; a champion class woman over 60 might be running 4:00, rather than the 2:30 of a champion class man under 30; she should not be running the same way - this problem was largely removed in the later editions of the book. Being able to handle the grind of running 90 minutes per day for months undoubtedly will help one handle running the marathon - IF it doesn't lead to constant fatigue or injury. One rarely runs at marathon pace in training (maybe three times, as fast continuous runs during the strengthening phase or early sharpening phase), so pace judgment might be a problem using this method. The marathoner, to be successful, has to do a lot of work, but the experts to follow in the next few posts try to be more efficient in assigning mileage and hard runs. Whether there are any short-cuts is debatable; this is the method for the "more is better" type of runner.

1 comment:

olga said...

Bob Glover was my first "official" coach as I was in NYC training for my first marathon with NYRRC under his personal workouts. Read his book, too:) He is quite mean as a guy out there, but I guess it works. We winced, hated his words and ran hard. He never chose words. Come to think about it, neither do I. I think I was just following the spoiled Amrican bunch...