Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Train Slower to Race Faster

That goes against everything you’ve ever held to be sacred and true in this life, now doesn’t it?

It’s ok, I’m still trying to come to terms with it as well.

I don’t know about you, but “go hard, or go home” has always been my personal philosophy. If I’m going to go out there for a run, I’m going to make it count. I’m going to push myself to the limits.

The exercise physiologist (with 25+ years experience) leading the RRCA class I attended spent hours lecturing on this LSD (long, slow distance) principle. There must be something to it.

Out of the 30 people in the class, I was just about the only one who wasn’t already a personal trainer or high school/college coach. Although they were nodding in agreement with the LSD principles, they all had the same thing to say…….. “Good luck getting your athletes to do that.”

source
If you’re an exercise physiologist feel free to skip the rest of this post. Better yet, feel free to chime in with a better explanation.

As I mentioned in my last post, between marathons 1 and 2, I changed my training routine. However, that just meant cranking up the intensity. There wasn’t much change in the mileage. In fact, out of the 6 marathons I’ve run, I’ve never done a single long run over 13 miles in preparation for any of them.

My total weekly training mileage was high, but the individual runs were always middle-distance (7-10 miles) at a high intensity (equal to, or faster than my actual marathon race pace). Only one day a week was allotted as a true recovery day.

By doing this, I was missing several key adaptations. I won’t go into the whole ATP/energy production process, fat for fuel, and changes in lactate production and consumption. The Lore of Running by Tim Knoakes is an excellent read for that. By always running near the lactate threshold point, I wasn’t preparing myself for a race where you want your body to stay away from that threshold as long as possible.

I was unnecessarily wearing myself down day after day. It’s amazing I wasn’t nursing overuse injuries all the time, but had my share of other over-training issues. It’s obvious looking back now, but you need to respect rest days. Don’t push runs faster than prescribed in your plan either (if it calls for mile repeats at 10k pace, don’t do them at 5k pace). Respect the phase of training you're in.

Many of us consider 30-45 seconds/mile slower than our standard race pace to be an “easy run” pace. I’ve seen this throughout blogland, so I know it’s not just me. We iz doin it rong………

Come back tomorrow for part II

11 comments:

  1. I've posted about this many times. I truly believe in this principle and since I practice it, I haven't had a hard time getting my clients to jump on board. Personally, I have had a 22 minute improvement in my half PR in the last year and a 51 minute PR in the marathon using this method.

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  2. Whoa, that's huge! I know it must work, it's just hard to wrap my head around. I love stories like this.

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  3. wow, I want to know more! specifically what pace is considered slow comparitively to goal time. Very interesting.

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  4. I'm scared to read part II because you will tell me to run 1 1/2 to 2 minutes slower than race pace which I HATE.

    I will say this, I have experimented with MANY things. In the past, I have tried all my long runs at or near marathon race pace. By doing this, I feel like I did "leave my race on the course during practice" Since then, I have changed to running a few longs near race pace, but most of them 30-45 seconds slower. I have improved by doing this.

    I'm just not sure (mostly mentally) if I can go from 1-2 min slower per mile in practice to magically running 2 min. faster on race day. Hmmm!

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  5. Luckily for me, slow comes easy ;) My last marathon was the first I trained for at LSD. It helped me increase my mileage with out burn out, and I am sure contributed to me never hitting the wall during the race. What I learned from that experience was as much as I think I know my own body, the experts still know more. I try to follow the hard/easy principle described in Pfitzinger's "Advanced Marathoning" (and I'm sure other running books as well) Look forward to your next post!

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  6. Looking forward to your next post!

    I can totally understand what those coaches/trainers were talking about when they said that they couldn't get the runners to stick with the slower pace targets. Even though I know better than to push the pace, especially on long runs, I often find myself doing it anyway.

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  7. this is fantastic advice! I'm hoping to start working out once I get the all-clear from my doc. I am horribly out of shape and I know I'll want to push myself really hard, but it's probably the recipe for an injury (and for making me wanting to give up early).

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  8. Definitely looking forward to part 2. I appreciate all your great advice, and hopefully I'll be able to convince my brain and legs to listen to it too!

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  9. Huh, that's interesting. I always feel like I train "so slow"..not intentionally. I'm just slow (my version of slow.. I realize i just ran a 5k in 7:39 pace).. But that's what I mean. My training times range from 8:20-9:15 (thats bananas).. and then I bust out w/ a 23:37 5k time.

    Sometimes running w/ the running group gets me down bc I feel like I train so much slower than them. They are banging out 8 mile training runs in the 8's and i'm in the 9s..but on race day we are running the same time. It makes no sense in my head.

    Maybe I'm doing something right? I could probably train slower though, those 8:20-8:30 training runs are really pushing it for me sometimes.

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  10. Definitely looking forward to part 2. I appreciate all your great advice, and hopefully I'll be able to convince my brain and legs to listen to it too!

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  11. I've posted about this many times. I truly believe in this principle and since I practice it, I haven't had a hard time getting my clients to jump on board. Personally, I have had a 22 minute improvement in my half PR in the last year and a 51 minute PR in the marathon using this method.

    ReplyDelete