Sunday, 20 July 2014

Multi-cycle training: outline of a possibly-new training method

It's about time I pin down the thoughts circling in my head over the past few weeks. I've made analogies about how to perceive running training. A fugue was one, arches another. But these are merely analogies to something that I haven't yet fully described. Here and now I will outline a meta training scheme that may -or may not- be useful. My only claim is that I have not seen it before, hence it could be worth considering.

If you'd like to skip ahead, in a few paragraphs I will describe how overlapping different cycles for different training elements could lead to possible added stimuli in a training plan without a strict need to "up the mileage". Just look for the *****text and asterisks in bold*****.

If you are interested in reading the early stuff, let's outline what these training elements are.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Too many notes

Most runners don't see the sheer possibilities inside a training schedule.

Consider a weekly training block, one which the runner is going about 80 miles per week. This leaves plenty of room to play. Here's a theoretical week for such a runner broken into mornings and evenings:

You can see the running is semi-distributed, with chunks of big miles followed by rest days. But let's change things a little, moving miles here and there, and modifying workouts a little to spread the miles even more:

And again let's return to lumpier mileage, but still different from the first:

Or for that matter let's try having only single-run days

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Cortisone injections in athletes

It is a well-known fact that many injured athletes get cortisone shots when joint inflammation becomes too painful to play (translation: I'm too lazy to provide a bunch of references).

What's less well-known is that repeated injections lead to no good. Clearly inflammation occurs in joints and other parts of our body for good reason. Except for critical cases like swelling of the brain, one should hesitate alleviating such inflammation, which usually is a sign of bodily repair underway. It's important to know exactly what you're doing and why.

The following two papers are concerning back pain but this is as good a place to start as any since back pain can be crippling, hence the solutions sought provide immediate relief. Let's combine the quest of athletes and back pain in one fell swoop. Browsing Google Scholar I came across an old-ish (1980) paper that stated
Thirty-two young athletes (ages ranging from 17 to 30 years) with a clinical diagnosis of a symptomatic lumbar disc and sciatica [read: back pain] were treated with lumbar epidural cortisone injections. All had had disabling symptoms persisting for a minimum of 2 weeks, with an average duration of 3.6 months. Dramatic abatement of symptoms and a significantly hastened return to competition (a positive response) was seen in 14 (44%) of the 32 athletes following injection.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Weekly training

Though I'd start a weekly training log. I haven't done one in a while. Problem is I don't really write down the miles I run. So here goes

Monday: Might have take this day off.  Can't remember. I dunno.

Tuesday: Think I ran twice this time. Once in morning, once in evening. The second time I did some intervals. Was it 5x800m in 2:20-something? Probably.

Wednesday:  Guess I ran for an hour. Sound about right.

Thursday: More running. Nine or ten by 200m. Didn't bring a watch so no idea how fast they were. Felt nice though.

Friday: Some pool and regular running.

Saturday: Ran a 5k in 15:30. Didn't feel very fast. Would someday like to do one in 14:30.

Sunday: Two hours, more or less. Didn't time it exactly. How many miles? Don't care.

That's all! I imagine other weeks will be the same, so I won't do this again. TTFN.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Hey, I won a race (and other observations)

So I won the Halifax bluenose half marathon and got a new PB of 1:09:44. This is not the fastest time in world, I know, but the race felt great, I knew lots of people on and off course, and surprised a few co-workers that didn't know I was racing (or that I did any road races period). I guess what got people talking was that I beat one of three visiting Kenyans. The other two set course records (2:36 and 2:27, respectively) but these were slow times compared to their personal bests because the course was hilly. Knowing that, plus runner-up Ewoi's half PB of 1:07 some years ago gave me added satisfaction that my sub 70 was not a fluke.

Me at the finish line
Why were Kenyans at the Bluenose race? It's an interesting story since BN does not give out prize money. Usually money is the only reason an elite runner comes to any non-hometown race. In this case Ethan Michaels brought the trio to Canada on his own dime, having travelled to Kenya on numerous occasions for, what I understand have been, running-themed vacations.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Tidbits and updates and thoughts of stuff

Where does the time go? I was surprised to realize my last post was in March, not April. This when I'm supposed to say I've been busy with other things blah blah, but truth be told there were plenty of chances to sit down and write. I have the curious habit of not writing about the thing I do while doing it. For instance during April and early May I ran three races and did a lot more actual training intervals, tempo, strength. Next week I'll run in the Bluenose half marathon. It may go well, or not. I cannot say.

The past, however, is safely behind me so I can talk about that. The training went well, hence so did the races. In the last two weeks I had the good fortune to set two bests. April 27th was a trip to Montreal for a half marathon, running in 70:15, beating my 2008 time of 70:27. Last week I ran 15:15, which beat my old 2009 time of 15:27. Neither are huge improvements, but significantly (to me, at least) they were done on few, if any, intervals. They were build on a foundation of tempo, strength, and easy stuff. I have learned a ton about training since my mid 20s. And perhaps equally as important I've learned to unlearn things, namely that a massive warmup routine is mostly BS, strides are overrated, intervals are best used in very small quantities (imagine them as a powerful spice), and finally run easy. If I could go back in time to days I ran 'easy' while still keeping my 7min/mi pace I'd tackle me to the ground while yelling 'slow the f*** down'.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Arches: a new conceptual model for running

I don't like pyramid models. Although a well-built pyramid certainly looks nice, they rarely provide a good model for a healthy system. Think Ponzi schemes: a strict hierarchy where only the topmost members benefit. Pyramids are a great analogy for dictatorships, kingdoms, or the catholic church. None of these things are something you'd aspire to mimic for a system that benefits most through cooperation.

Before I get to running, consider one other bad pyramid model: food. For some reason pyramids are used in nutrition. The food pyramid clearly makes no sense. How is it that vegetables are supporting fish and oils, and not the other way around? Why are eggs and sweets near the top? What if you are vegetarian? Do you want to place the most important food items on top, or the least? Why are calorie-rich foods scattered so randomly? For any practical purposes the food pyramid is confusing. More to the point it's just a bad model for something so intricate.