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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More Fun with Brad and Jack

I just told the one runner I was coaching that I can't coach him any more. He just wants someone to tell him what to do to get to his goals (which is what most people think of when - and if - they think about what coaches do). If that's what he wants, I told him, just pick up a book with a training manual and follow it or find a coach who's willing to take his money to tell him anything he wants to hear.

There are different kinds of coaches. There's a lot of "rah-rah" coaches who get paid to motivate and encourage, but don't really know anything. There are dictator coaches who force entire teams through grueling workouts and the ones who survive do well, leaving the others injured and hating the sport. I'm a teaching coach when I coach (and that's getting pretty rare); ideally, when I'm done with an athlete, they won't need a coach any more, because they'll know how to coach themselves.

While working on something else, I realized that what would probably be of most use on this blog would be to explain the workings of the two currently popular marathon training programs, those of Brad Hudson and Jack Daniels. It seems everyone I know is following one or the other blindly.

Brad, in brief

Breaking training into its most basic factors, you have 1) How far can you run at any speed? 2) How far can you run at a given speed? 3) How fast can you run a given distance and 4) What's the fastest you can run?
The first is taken care of by long runs, the fourth by his short hill sprints, the other two by tempo runs and intervals. His typical week has a long run on Sunday, hill sprints on Monday, a hard interval workout on Tuesday and a hard continuous run on Friday; that's addressing each of the four factors each week. As long as you improve in each category, it doesn't matter how you improve.

That saves you 200 pages of reading.

Jack's marathon plan A, in brief

There are two hard workouts per week. You approach your goal from two different directions.

For one of the workouts, you run as far as you can until you run as long a time as you'll take for your race and then you try to do as much of that run as possible at race pace. [He arbitrarily sets a limit of 2.5 hours for this run and adds some running faster than marathon pace late in the plan.] For the second run, you start by running fast intervals, then gradually increase the length of the fast sections, while decreasing the speed, until one's running about a half-marathon with much of the distance done at half-marathon ("tempo") speed. He also adds, in a footnote, runs with 6-8 repetitions of 20-30 seconds done at 1 mile pace.

So, which method is better? They both can work. Hudson's plan probably works better for those who are already established runners, doing a variety of training runs already and who do races at more than one distance. Daniels' probably works better for marathon specialists who are able to run long distances at or  near race pace before they begin his program and are capable of running 2:30 or better.

Either way, you should know why you're doing a workout before you do it.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Brad, in brief

[...] As long as you improve in each category, it doesn't matter how you improve.

YOU DICK!1! You're supposed to say SPOILER ALERT!1! before you reveal something like that!

Btw, "Rosebud" is the childhood sled.

There. I just "saved you" from having to sit through two hours of an American classic.

Yes. I mean Cannonball Run II.

Hurts, don't it?

I'm puzzled. I would think EVERYONE would want to follow the Jack Daniels plan as long as they have a Sam Adams plan chaser.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

I've always thought that most runners never know what their limits are, because they've never pushed themselves to those limits. I'd see someone win an award by cruising most of the way and throwing in a burst at the end for show and they're soon off chatting and running another 10 miles; in contrast, the last athlete I coached (I'm newly available for coaching, by the way), when he refused to work until he puked in front of me found the puke came out through his nose (a proud moment for me as a coach and one reason I'm available as a coach. [Reasonable rates. Unreasonable demands.])

Sure am glad you're not one of those "dictator coaches" who run the risk of leaving their charges "injured and hating the sport."


SteveQ said...

Cannonball Run II isn't two hours long. Man you're slow. Do you sit there in the dark after the film runs out, saying "wow, this night scene's pretty anticlimactic!"

SteveQ said...

Wow, G. how long have you been holding onto THAT particular chestnut of mine? He wasn't injured, just lazy and didn't end up hating the sport (though he wasn't fond of me that particular day).

Colin said...

Whoo boy, I love that quote Glaven dug up! I think I'll pass on being your next protégé, thanks ...

I'm a big fan of both Daniels and Hudson, although I've never had luck using Daniels for marathon preparation (perhaps it would work better if I were a sub-2:30 marathoner; it's safe to say we'll never know). These days I tend to use Daniels-like training when peaking for races up to 10K or so, and Hudson-like training for Half and full Marathons.

In my opinion Pfitzinger's "Advanced Marathoning" is a better packaging of Daniels' methodologies for the marathon.

GeorgiaSnail said...

hmmm, found the puke came out through his nose

To bad there are so many miles between us...I'd consider signing on. I guess I could take photo's of said vomit and send them to you as proof? What's the going rate for electronic coaching?

BTW-80 mile's a day, every day!?!?! that is insane. That's 9-10 hours of running at 7-8 min pace...