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

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Good Question

Since I just started training again, I wondered, "How long until I start seeing results?" The fact that I couldn't come up with an answer right away surprised me. Perhaps the question was too vague, or there were too many variables, but it did seem like an obvious question. So, I went through my running library to see what others had to say... and there's no answer anywhere! In fact, it appears that the question is considered meaningless and never addressed.

Still, it seemed like a good question to me.

The question I was really asking myself was, "Is there a lag phase, and if so, how long can I expect it to be?" Thinking of training as a mathematical function, there's a couple of curves to consider:

If you improve immediately, you get a hyperbolic curve and that's sort of what training manuals suggest - the second week is always harder than the first in some way, so one must be improving in the very first week. But that's not what I experience. I'm doing the same workouts, not improving in time or distance, but those workouts are getting to feel easier.

Hmm. Think of it this way. If you were starting to do pull-ups, and the first day you could do three, you'd probably be too sore the next day to do three again (much less do more than three). You'd probably only be able to do a maximum of three for a very long time before being able to do four, but those three would feel easier over time - and this is the time I was wondering about. Once one could do four, it would take less time to be able to do five, still less after that to get to six and so on until one started to fatigue from something other than lack of strength. It should be a sigmoidal curve, possibly with an involution at the start, but at least some lag phase before rapid improvement.

The answer, I think, depends upon how one measures improvement. I'm guessing somewhere between 3 and 6 weeks I should be able to see an obvious improvement, certainly no ore than 8. I'm gauging that on other things people do where they look continuously for signs of improvement, like dieting, which also tells me that how radical a change I'm making is a major factor, both of initial improvement and long-term success.

So... two weeks down, maybe another week or another 4-6 weeks, before I really know how things are going. I think I can stay healthy that long.

1 comment:

Dopple Bock said...

I usually start with a 3 month base building phase where I am building endurance without much if any speed work. My only proof I am seeing results is that I can go longer or futher. I know my "Speed is improving" but I feel no need to test it.

I know you were answering a question - But I have never felt the need to see immediate improvement to know I am doing the right thing. I think after building base for a period of time it is the right time to do a race to gauge your fitness before moving into a speed building phase.

Results as quick as possible are not very compatible (At times) with the best long range results.

But come to think about it, I think I have been mostly just building base for 9 years.