Posts in Marathon
Pushing the Envelope

There comes a time in training where you just have to back off. But its not always easy to see it if you’re the one in the middle of the training. There’s always the feeling I need to push through it or gut it out. Always pushing isn’t good. The human body just can’t take it. I’ve done several TTT blogs on the importance of recovery runs so I won’t be repetitive here about the training benefits.

Sometimes a real-world example can be helpful. Here are two weeks from my old training log. For some reason I got the bright idea that pushing the envelope and inserting a 30-mile-long aerobic run into my training regime was a good idea (there is no evidence that supports this). In the first picture you can see a 30 miler on July 26 in 3 hours 38 minutes/7:15 a mile. The effects of this effort didn’t come out till the following week. Entered a 10k on August 2 and dropped out at 2 miles! Then on August 5 the effect came out: had to cut a workout short and started experiencing left knee pain. I missed some training time so in the end I paid the price as my body had to recover.

So, I violated Lydiard’s first rule of long aerobic runs: don’t go over 3 hours. I should have known, I read his book and it was clear. I thought I knew better! Boy did I pay the price. The other lesson that came out of this was that more is not better, in fact it usually is worse. So, in the end, respect your training, listen to your body and be smart about your training. There is a fine line between pushing the envelope and incurring injury, I crossed the line and paid the price with missed training time.

Here at Running Niche we are trained Lydiard level I & II coaches. Please stop in the store to learn more about the Lydiard Method. We can help you sign up. While your personalized plan costs $100, and goes to a non-profit, we provide the day to day coaching at no additional charge.

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
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Myth of the “20 Miler”

As we head into Fall, goal marathon races are right around the corner. In St. Louis the first one up is Oct. 6. Of course, Chicago is Oct. 13, New York Nov. 3 and Indy Nov. 9.

It’s around this time that a lot of runners believe they have to get in their “20 miler” leading into their goal marathon. For some, and I mean a small group, this is fine. They have prepared well, it fits into their training plan and are able to complete it within the time necessary to avoid muscle tissue damage, which takes weeks to recover from. For others it’s the workout that leads to injury, sickness, under performance and sometimes inhibits the runner from even hitting the starting line of their goal race.

So, who should be doing 20 milers and when? The litmus test is can you complete it in less than 2 hour 30 minutes or 9:00 per mile. If yes you are good to go. For when to do it, well under the Lydiard Training method, our runners complete their runs of longest duration, back in weeks 12-14 of aerobic base building during a 24-week plan. For some this includes a few 20 milers, for many it does not. Subsequent weeks are spent developing other important physiological systems such as strengthening using hills, anaerobic using intervals and sharpening using integration and tapering.

However, the simple answer is doing a 20 miler for those who can complete it in less than 2:30 at least 4 weeks out from goal race is workable. Anything closer jeopardizes fitness, may cause breakdown, sickness or even injury. The slower the runner the more time it will take, more pounding on the legs creating more physical stress which is impossible to recover from only 4 weeks out from goal race.

Dr. Jack Daniels, world reknown exercise physiologist and one of the best marathon coaches around, recommends long runs be capped at 2:30 to 3:00 hours max. He says running longer than that offers high risk of injury and burnout. See his famous explanation of this on the video link here. It's a classic and simplifies they "why" behind the science.

So how should slower runners handle this? Their training should be comprehensive meaning the day before their 2.5 hour run, they should be doing a slow aerobic run of an hour or so or under Lydiard they would be doing something of up-tempo pace called an Out/Back or Progress Calibration Run. Then within a 24-hour period they have covered 3:30, more than 15 miles most likely, haven’t damaged their legs and can properly recover. If you have a coach telling you to go out there and run the “20” and you can’t get it done in less than 2:30 ask them why, what is the benefit and how are you going to recover from this without injury. Ask about the science behind their pushing you to do this. I can tell you its not there.

Here at Running Niche we are trained Lydiard level I & II coaches. Please stop in the store to learn more about the Lydiard Method. We can help you sign up. While your personalized plan costs $100, and goes to a non-profit, we provide the day to day coaching at no additional charge.

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram

Role of Racing During Training

Included in Lydiard training are specific, strategic times that one can “race”. When and how you do it is critical to your end result on your goal race day.

Beginning 8 weeks out from goal race day there are 3-4 workouts that can be accomplished in a race. By race I mean an organized event whereby you can practice you evening meal the night before, day of morning meal and hydration/nutrition, pace during the race. It also allows you to test out your race shoes of choice and your outfit. You don’t want to learn about unwanted chafing during your goal race, better to experience that in a “practice” race.

The purpose is twofold, first to get mentally and physically accustomed to race situations and second have a clear pace goal you need to achieve, dictated by your training, for the race itself. In most cases this isn’t your ultimate pace on goal race day but is designed to get you accustomed to longer duration as faster paces. Additionally, it allows you to learn during the race about moving past other runners, running the tangents of the course, managing hills etc.

Arthur Lydiard

Coach Lydiard had a famous quote: “Train, Don’t Strain”.

The key is to have a clear plan and goal for each race you enter leading up to goal race. Based upon that result then adjust accordingly in your training and then as you enter your second race prior to goal race, and so forth. These are not all out race efforts but instead carefully planned outings in a race environment. This is training.

One important note; don’t be tempted to pull up the plant by the roots. Trust in your training, if you try to do to much in a race, ie to fast, you can experience a negative effect from it that will set you back in your training.

Remember there is a time and a place for everything in Lydiard training. The time to race is in your last 8 weeks and not before.

Here at Running Niche we are trained Lydiard level I & II coaches. Please stop in the store to learn more about the Lydiard Method. We can help you sign up. While your personalized plan costs $100, and goes to a non-profit, we provide the day to day coaching at no additional charge.

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram

Role of Interval Training

Interval training and speedwork are two entirely different things. Keeping in mind that long distance running is mostly aerobic, therefore the ability to sustain pace above anaerobic threshold is important. Speed is much less important and requires short bursts and power building not needed in endurance running.

Lydiard said that intervals are “tiring, exacting work”. These workouts are designed to be uncomfortable at paces well above anaerobic threshold with enough recovery between to get through the workout holding good form. In doing this the body gets exposed to acidosis which you will encounter at the later stages of your race. The end goal is to increase the body’s ability to buffer acids so high rates can be maintained for a long period of time.

Generally speaking, an interval workout can be structured by repeats of 400m, 800m, 1200m and 1600m. Usually 5000m to 7000m in total with each interval being the time it takes for heartrate to come down to 130 bpm. On Lydiard the athlete is given a pace chart which indicates effort pace for ¼, ½ and ¾ effort. The first couple sessions are done at ¼ effort with subsequent ones being taken up to ½ or ¾ effort. The distances can be varied depending on feel and mixing it up to keep it interesting.

I remember one of my more difficult interval sessions leading into marathon. While I wouldn’t recommend this for most, for me it was a workout that really helped me get accustomed to acidosis overtime and mentality forced sustaining pace. As the log picture shows the workout was 35x440yard intervals with 110yd jog recovery. About 8 miles of sustained pace averaging 75 seconds, no faster. Always did a good warmup and cooldown and then the next day was long slow running for recovery. Also remember before doing these types of workouts I had built a strong aerobic base and had prepared my muscles with 4 weeks of hill strengthening so I was ready to do this type of work. And again, 75 seconds for 440 yards is not “speed” but sustained fast pace. Sometimes intervals were 1-mile repeats on the road at 5:00 mile pace.

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Intervals are an important part of endurance training but must be done in sequence and the body must be ready. Each workout is structured for the individual based on where they are in their training and how they are feeling. And don’t mistake them for “speedwork” they are and have an entirely different purpose.

Here at Running Niche we are trained Lydiard level I & II coaches. Please stop in the store to learn more about the Lydiard Method. We can help you sign up. While your personalized plan costs $100, and goes to a non-profit, we provide the day to day coaching at no additional charge.

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram

A Good Coach

Having a training plan is but half of the training equation, having someone to help guide you through it is the other half. So, what are the characteristics of a good coach?

A good coach:
• Has a deep understanding of training principles and the physiology behind them. A good coach should be able to explain why you are doing the workout and the benefit it brings.
• Should welcome questions regarding training and methods. Dialog leads to better understanding.
• Expects sincerity. Training and coaching take a lot of time, if the runner isn’t committed the results won’t be there at the end. The coach needs to remind the runner what it required to achieve their goals.
• Asks questions. In this way they can understand what may be going on in the runner’s life which may lead to adjustments in training.
• Has the intuition to adjusts the runner’s workout(s) as needed or urge them to take a day off. Training often leads to emotional fatigue or small aches and pains which if not addressed can lead to larger issues requiring more time to be missed.
• Is motivating yet honest. It does no one good to blow hot air. A good coach is straight forward and clear on expectations and evaluating state of fitness.
• Has done it before. Meaning they have experienced training, racing, had successes and failures and learned from it all.
• Has some accreditation. Simply running isn’t enough. There are a variety of training methods out there, its important the coach has a clear point of view, knowledge base and has completed a thorough accreditation process. This isn’t just about the particular method but also basics of how to coach a runner.
Shown in the photo from left are coaches Bill Bowerman, Nobby Hashizume and Arthur Lydiard. Nobby is one of the worlds foremost authority on the Lydiard Method and helps us at Running Niche as we need with advice and interpretation of Lydiard training.

From left to right: Bill Bowerman, Nobby Hashizume and Arthur Lydiard.

From left to right: Bill Bowerman, Nobby Hashizume and Arthur Lydiard.

Here at Running Niche we are trained Lydiard level I & II coaches. Please stop in the store to learn more about the Lydiard Method. We can help you sign up. While your personalized plan costs $100, and goes to a non-profit, we provide the day to day coaching at no additional charge.

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram

Easy Days and Overtraining

"There is a very basic rule of training: Stress + Rest = Adaptation." -Keith Livingstone (from Healthy Intelligent Training)

This is the guiding principle of the Lydiard Training Method. Stress without rest usually leads to illness, injury and poor performance. As you are setting up your training schedule the first thing you need to plan are your easy days. This can be a jog, an aerobic run or simply a day off. This day allows your body to adapt to the previous hard work out or stress.

Its easy to get caught up in hard training. You feel like you are accomplishing something. But beware you aren’t unless you are allowing your body to rest and recover. Have you ever had that experience where you look at your watch after a period of running and think “Holy smokes, you know how fast we have been running?”.

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This happened to me. I was running with a friend in Ann Arbor, we decided to do 10 miles along the Huron River. It’s an awesome run and pretty flat. We ended up running 52:47, 5:16 pace. At the end of a 91-mile week with 3 other high stress workouts. Needless to say, the following week I struggled and was tired which cost me a couple of other hard runs I was supposed to do. I was lucky I didn’t get hurt. I learned from that and adjusted to ensure I built in proper recovery in order to adapt to the training stress and gain fitness.

When planning your easy day be sure its much shorter in duration and intensity. A long run even at a slower pace is not an easy day. A short slow run of 20-40 minutes will work or simply a day off.

Please stop in the store to learn more about the Lydiard Method. We are trained Lydiard coaches and can help you sign up. While your personalized plan costs $100, and goes to a non-profit, we provide the day to day coaching at no additional charge.

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram

It's just a matter of understanding what's necessary and discipline yourself to do it.

“It's just a matter of understanding what's necessary and discipline yourself to do it.” 
― Arthur Lydiard

In thinking about the training I’ve done over the years the two things that kept getting me out the door in the morning was knowing I was training to achieve a goal and pushing myself to be disciplined along the way to put myself in a position to achieve it.

Training is hard and sometimes boring. Particularly if you’re in the base building phase. And there are a lot of opportunities which come up to encourage one to put off or skip the workout. In the end you are accountable for your training to no one but yourself.

A good training plan is simply that, a plan, unless a person is dedicated to adhering to it. Sometimes the hardest runs are not the fast ones, but the ones that require overcoming being tired, having too much going on, not getting enough sleep, burning the candle at both ends. But achievement of your goal is depending upon your ability to be disciplined in your training.

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Brendan Foster was one of the UK’s most successful distance runners. He won the Olympic 10,000m bronze medal in the 1976 and has PR’s of 3:37 for 1500m, 13:14 for 5,000m and 27:30 for 10,000m. Quite an accomplished distance runner. In his auto biography, “Brendan Foster” he says “I can’t be satisfied resting on old laurels, because whatever has gone in the past can’t help when you step up to the line for the next race. I may have medals at home, but it all starts again fresh on Saturday. You have to go out and do it again”.
What pushed him was the desire to reach out for new horizons. In order to do that he had to be disciplined in his training.

Be it a 4,5,6 or 7 day a week training plan you will encounter days you just don’t feel like hitting the road. As you encounter these times, think about what it is you wish to achieve at the end of your plan, i.e. your goal race, and ask yourself will missing today’s run hurt me or help me achieve my goal? Some days the answer will be it will “help”, but more often it will “hurt” my ability to reach my goal if I choose to miss.

Please stop in the store to learn more about the Lydiard Method. We are trained Lydiard coaches and can help you sign up. While your personalized plan costs $100, and goes to a non-profit, we provide the day to day coaching at no additional charge.

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram

You Have to Learn How to Run Slow, to Run Fast & Recover

I thought I would hit one more time on the importance of running slower to run faster and its role in recovery.

Frank Shorter won the marathon gold in the 1972 Olympics. While one of the early pioneers of marathoning Frank recognized the importance long runs play in recovery. In his auto-biography “Olympic Gold-A Runner’s Life and Times” I found a clear snapshot into his training regimen.

Keep in mind this is a world class runner and trained 7 days a week. But Frank clearly was a believer in recovering well from hard workouts before attempting the next one. “Monday is a recovery day. For me that’s 7 miles in the am at 7:00 pace and 10 miles in the pm at 6:30 pace. This is a form of rest, and it must follow any intense workout. To get the full value of intensified training you have to balance it with recovery. For some runners that is a hour’s jog or a day off, for me it’s a comfortable 17 miles”.

Frank generally used Monday, Wednesday and Friday as his recovery day.

Parting thought; Frank was a 2:10 marathon runner. That’s running 26.2 miles in 4:58 a mile. Notice his recovery runs noted above, a lot of miles at 6:30-7:00 pace. Substantially slower than his racing paces. And he was a Olympic gold medalist.

Also, one final note, Frank followed the Lydiard Training method with a few modifications for his level of competition and years of base building.

Please stop in the store to learn more about the Lydiard Method. We are trained Lydiard coaches and can help you sign up. While your personalized plan costs $100, and goes to a non-profit, we provide the day to day coaching at no additional charge.

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram

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You Have to Learn How to Run Slow, to Run Fast

One of the bad habits many runners get into is running most of their workouts too fast. I encounter a lot of folks who talk about their running and on one hand convey how tired they are all the time and can’t seem to run faster in races than they do in training.

I ask how they are structuring their training and usually find they run most of their runs at the same pace, which turns out to be faster than their actual pace they run races in. Basically, they are in a perpetual state of tearing their body down and never allow for proper recovery.

In some ways training is very simple, if you apply a stress to your body, you also have to allow your body to recover. This is where the fitness gain comes or adaptation, during a recovery activity. If you don’t recover you head into an ever downward spiral which ends up in sickness and/or injury.

A key component of the Lydiard Training Method is the use of long aerobic runs as much slower paces than your race pace to allow for proper recovery. It is during these runs you actually gain fitness benefit, build mitochondria, improve your ability to process oxygen and gain endurance.

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As an example, that running slower to run faster does work, check out this long aerobic run I did during the aerobic base building phase in June leading into one of my marathons in October. It was 18 miles one at 7:00 pace. And depending upon how I felt, sometimes I would slow down to 7:30 pace. My race pace for the marathon later that fall was 5:22 pace.

If you have a well-balanced training plan there will be other specific workouts to stress your system at faster paces. In this same week, 2 days prior I did a hard tempo run, similar to an out and back hitting around 5:25 pace. Keep your long aerobic runs nice and slow and you will reap the benefit!

Please stop in the store to learn more about the Lydiard Method. We are trained Lydiard coaches and can help you sign up. While your personalized plan costs $100, and goes to a non-profit, we provide the day to day coaching at no additional charge.

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram

Hydration in the STL Heat

As I watch heartrates rise a bit to maintain certain ranges for workouts, I can tell summer is definitely here in St. Louis. So, thought I would provide a bit of info on hydration.

Obviously in the heat you sweat more which can lead to dehydration if not managed well. When that occurs then your heartrate rises and you have to work harder to maintain what you perceive as an easier pace under cooler conditions. This is one of the indicators. Others are darker urine, lightheadedness or dry mouth.

Here’s some guidelines to think about as you create your hydration strategy on those aerobic run days. Everyone’s needs are different however and very unique to the individual.

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1. Drink water during the day and do the pee check. If it’s pale yellow you are in good shape. If darker, drink more water. Check the picture here for the comparison in a language runners understand. Beer.

2. Drink water during your workout. Seems like common sense, but 24-32 oz of water during your workout can work wonders.

3. If you are going over an hour in duration, which many Lydiard training runners are doing a few times a now in base building, then consider 24-32 oz of water with electrolyte replacements in it.

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4. After you run, make sure you are also hydrating. It can be water of course but also feel free to add in electrolytes too. It can’t hurt. Post workout I used to drink as much as I wanted until I wasn’t thirsty anymore. Again, kind of common sense.

Take a look at the picture here to check out the content of GU Tabs, Nuun Tabs and UCAN mix. Notice that they each have at least 300mg of Sodium and are all very low in calories. Sweat is very high in sodium content so you have to replace it and during long runs you should not be taking in replacement carbs or sugars, as you need to train your body to burn its fat. That’s its best source of energy during running.

Please stop in the store to learn more about the Lydiard Method. We are trained Lydiard coaches and can help you sign up. While your personalized plan costs $100, and goes to a non-profit, we provide the day-to-day coaching at no additional charge.

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram