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Warm Up and Cool Down

Two very important aspects of any good training plan are time and attention placed on proper warmup and cooldown. Coach Lydiard always ensured any runners he was working with started and ended their sessions with warmup and cooldown.

A solid warmup should be considered the first part of your run. It warms up your muscles and gets your ready for your main run. Usually this takes about 10-15 minutes and you should jog then gradually increase your pace naturally as your body gets ready. There also is a more formal warmup done prior to an interval session for example that involves 10-15 minutes of jogging, 3-6 100m stride outs then a few minutes jog.

The warmup should never be eliminated, rushed or cut short as it gently allows all your systems to kick in prior to moving into the workout and reduces the chance of injury.

A good cooldown should always be done after a faster workout. And if that workout is anaerobic in nature it should be at least 15 minutes and as long as 30 minutes jogging. It aids in recovery and stimulates blood flow to metabolize acidity and tissue damage incurred during the workout. Never skip the cooldown as this will increase the chances of illness and injury. One way to think of this is the cooldown begins the process of getting your body ready for your next workout.

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As you can see here in this picture from Pre’s log, even he always included a good warmup and cooldown in his workouts.

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)
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Lydiard Phase 5: Taper

An optimum period of time to train for a full or half marathon is 18 – 24 weeks. Sunday June 9 would be the last start day for Chicago Marathon training (October 13) for an 18-week program.

The Lydiard Method is comprised of 5 phases, in sequence, each of which builds specific systems you will need to perform at your peak during your goal race.

The fifth phase is called Taper and typically is 1-3 weeks in length. The prior 4 phases have allowed you to develop aerobic and anaerobic capacities, your recovery systems, muscular and cardiac strength and provided either increased endurance or speed as needed. The work has been done so the Taper phase allows you to fully recover, replenish your vital physical and mental stores and be 100% ready on race day.

Your workload is decreased and is just enough to allow you to maintain your fitness level. Aerobic runs are now Long Jog’s and Jog’s which are slower and shorter. There is one short, quick, up tempo run 3 days prior to your goal race. If you are on a 6-7-day plan there will be one session of 50/50’s.

You will completely stock up your glycogen stores and you will put on a couple pounds during the week preceding the race. You will lighten up as you get a few miles into your race so don’t worry.

Do not be tempted to try out your fitness in an unscheduled race. This is called “picking the flower by the roots”. You will be feeling great, energized and ready but save it for the goal race! Remember all the training you have done to prepare you for your day and the target race. That’s all that matters now.

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)
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Lydiard Method Phase 1: Aerobic Base Building

Given its time already to decide on your Fall goal race and training approach, the next few TTT’s will be focused on summarizing the key elements of each phase within the Lydiard Method. An optimum period of time to train for a full or half marathon is 18 – 24 weeks. May will be the time to begin your work.   

The Lydiard Method is comprised of 5 phases, in sequence, each of which builds specific systems you will need to perform at your peak during your goal race.

The first phase is called Aerobic Base Building and typically is 8-10 weeks in length. This phase will build your aerobic engine. Why is this important? Because your aerobic capacity drives endurance and services and enhances the recovery process. Distance running, particularly at the half and full marathon lengths are over 98% aerobic in nature. Basically, if you don’t develop a strong aerobic engine you will not be able to run these distances.

Several key physiological changes occur during this phase such as developing your cardiovascular system and your capillary beds which is where ATP is made which powers muscle movement. It increases the numbers and size of Mitochondria which is where ATP actually is created. And it develops your ability to efficiently burn fat, the best source of energy for endurance running.

The creation of ATP happens in the Mitochondria and happens in the presence of Oxygen (cardiovascular system), Fat (your ability to efficiently burn is critical) and Sugar. This is the little engine at the cellular/muscle fiber level which drives your ability to run efficiently.

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How is this all accomplished? During this base building phase, you will run several long aerobic runs per week at a comfortable pace during which you must be able to pass the “talk” test.  Depending on your starting fitness level you gradually build this capability over long runs that last 1 hour up to 2 hours and 30 minutes.  While there are several other workouts included during the week, the key focus are these longer aerobic runs. This phase can last 8-10 depending on your overall plan and time until your goal race.

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

When is the Right Time to Use Gels as Fuel?

The body uses two sources for energy: carbohydrates and fats. While ingesting “gels” packed with carbs during aerobic training runs is popular, physiologically it doesn’t train your body to efficiently use its fat storage as the main energy source. Long distance running is aerobically based and aerobic exercise works best by utilizing the body’s fat reserves.

As you can see by slide number one, Fat is very effective as the core fuel for aerobic exercise. Keep in mind the half and full marathons are 98% aerobic.

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The second slide shows how as one runs longer, the utilization of fat as the fuel becomes more and more important. The longer you go the more important fat utilization becomes as burning carbs is just a short-term energy pop.

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So, the question becomes what is the best way to train your body to maximize utilization of its fat storage during long aerobic runs? Its simple; don’t use gels or other form of carbs during your long training runs. If your body is burning these quick hit replacement carbs you are not training your body to efficiently metabolize your own fat storage.

The final slide shows the glycogen levels in muscles while using and not using replacement drinks. When not used during aerobic training runs the glycogen levels at the cellular level are actually much higher than when replacements are used during training. You are training your body to become very efficient at burning fat as fuel for long aerobic runs. This is a science fact folks. If you are burning carbs you aren’t burning fat, its as simple as that. And fat is your primary fuel for the half and full marathon distances.

Which brings me to the question of when should you fuel? With the GO! St. Louis races only 5 weeks away, and many Lydiard Method runners moving into Phase 4; Integration, now is the time to experiment with carb gels. If you have trained properly all your long aerobic runs up to now would have been accomplished without these replacements and you have built a well-oiled fat burning machine. As you jump into a couple of races leading up to GO! try several different kinds of gels to find the one that works best for you in terms of absorption and which does not upset your stomach. Given the quick acting nature of carbs, you will feel a “boost” which will come in quite handy particularly in the last 8 miles of a full marathon. In this way you are racing on a fat burning engine you have trained well over these past few months then primed at the right times later in the race with carb packed gels.

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
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The Role of Intervals in Marathon Training Continued

Thought I would provide a real time example of a solid interval workout from February 11. This runner, based upon his fitness level when he started his 2nd Lydiard cycle in early December, is capable of a sub 3-hour marathon come April 7. He has executed the Aerobic Base Building and Hill Strength phases quite well and is now ready for the Anaerobic phase of his program. Yesterday was his first interval session as a part of this phase.

For most marathoners/half marathoners doing intervals at above anaerobic threshold with enough recovery to repeat allowing the body to get used to high levels of acidosis is recommended. They should be prolonged harder work, not shorter durations. This means at least 1000 meters and should be more like 1200m, 1600m and longer.

In this example from yesterday the workout started with a 1.5-mile warmup then 1000m, 1200m, 1600m, 1600m and 1600m segments, followed by a 1.5-mile cooldown. At 1/4 effort his target pace was 6:30 per mile with a recovery in between that allowed his heartrate to lower to 120-130. Then he started his next interval. As you can see by the below two graphics below his pace range was 6:32 to 6:19, very consistent. The report back was that the fast-paced segments were handled well and he could have gone faster. These intervals are getting him used to running harder, faster paces in a sustained effort and training himself both physically and mentally to get used to this level of being uncomfortable.

As we plan for his second interval workout the pace will quicken as well as the duration of each segment. Each of these workouts will build on the one prior.  The Anaerobic phase of the Lydiard Method usually lasts 4 weeks.

If you want to achieve your long race goals in the half or full marathon you need to work on your endurance, after all these long distances are 98%+ aerobic!

Remember, all workouts on the Lydiard Method have a specific purpose and are sequenced accordingly to maximize the “training effect”. If you would like to learn more about the science and performance-based Lydiard Method, stop by the store. We are always happy to talk about your running!

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
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The Role of Intervals in Marathon Training and Yasso 800’s

Every sound training plan has building blocks whereby each activity in succession should build on the one before with specific purpose. Anaerobic development, achieved through higher intensity, shorter duration interval sessions is an important part of your preparation for a half or full marathon, at the right time.

Phase 3 of the Lydiard pyramid, the Anaerobic Development phase, comes after a strong aerobic base has been built and preparation completed via the strength building hill training phase. Keep in mind that the half and full marathon distances are 98% aerobically based. Meaning if one hasn’t built a strong aerobic engine the benefits of which are ability to deliver oxygen to muscles, increased heart stroke volume, lowered resting pulse and higher working heart rate maintenance, through several weeks of slower, longer running, then you need to spend more time achieving this rather than moving into anaerobic development.

In the context of endurance training intervals are not “speed” training but are used for anaerobic development. They are bouts of work with a recovery generally equal to or shorter than the work bout. Lydiard said “there is a time for repetitions to develop anaerobically and depending on target race distance, sprint drills to develop fine speed. You have to organize repetitions and sprint drills at the right time so you can peak on your target day”.

For most marathoners/half marathoners doing intervals at above anaerobic threshold with enough recovery to repeat allowing the body to get used to high levels of acidosis is recommended. They should be prolonged harder work, not shorter durations. Distances of ¾ mile, mile, 1.5 miles and 2 miles are desirable. Under Lydiard these durations are done at ¼, ½ or ¾ effort, depending upon if the runner is early in the anaerobic phase or later in the phase. As an example, we have an athlete with capability of running a 3-hour marathon, about 7-minute pace per mile. During the interval phase these distances would be 7000 meters combined made up of several ¾ mile to mile intervals working from 6:15 pace down to 5:30 pace for each, with just enough rest to lower heart rate and get prepared for the next bout of work. Lydiard described these sessions as “tiring, exacting work”, but it gets the body used to being uncomfortable at faster sustained paces.

The picture below is a good example from my old training log as I was in the anaerobic phase preparing for a full marathon:

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In this example after a good warmup, I did 4x 1-mile intervals at about ½ to ¾ effort as I was later on in this phase, also rested a bit between with slower pace. Needless to say the next day was a recovery aerobic run.

Its key to remember that for longer distances, interval sessions should be done at distances longer than ¾ mile and stretch to up to 2 miles at ¼, ½ or ¾ effort depending on where one is during the training program. A final thought about the commonly implemented “Yasso 800”. First the idea that doing 10 repeat 800 meter runs at specific paces is reflective of your marathon target ie 3:00 minute 800 = 3:00 hour marathon, with equal rest, is not predictive of future race times, it is not scientifically validated.

Secondly it is found in the exercise physiology literature that for runners training for longer distances like the marathon that interval work is important but has to be done in proper sequence and distances building on a strong aerobic base and hill strength training. Doing them any earlier in the cycle can cause injuries and illness. If you feel you must do track or other high intensity workouts save them for a phase of training where you are ready for it, not early on. If you want to achieve your long race goals in the half or full marathon you need to work on your endurance, after all these long distances are 98%+ aerobic!

If you would like to learn more about the science and performance-based Lydiard Method, stop by the store. We are always happy to talk about your running!

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

Thoughts on the 20-mile Run

The following insight was provided by Coach Nobby Hashizume in response to a runner's question regarding the infamous "20 mile runs". It's relevant as many of you are beginning your training cycle for a fall marathon. I trained under the Lydiard Method back in 1980-81 and recorded a series of PR's at distances from 5k to the marathon. My marathon preparation was based on a 24 week Lydiard cycle. I pulled out my old log and here's what I found. 4 weeks out from race day: 2 hour 10 min aerobic run. 6 weeks out: 2 hour 20 min aerobic run. 8 weeks out: 2 hour 20 min run. That was it. In between was of course a variety of workouts, each building on the other with specific purposes. The result was I ran a PR 2:21:07 marathon in the 1980 Detroit Free Press Marathon. (uninjured and healthy). It's extraordinarily risky and counter productive to be doing "20 mile" runs 2 and 3 weeks prior to a substantial effort such as running a marathon. The reason is found here below. It's a interesting read. If you would like to know more about the Lydiard Method, stop by the store, we'd be happy to share. bob

"The best aerobic benefits (stamina, endurance) come from continuous running of 1:30-3:00. Your body does not realize the difference between running 10-miles in 2 hours or 15-miles in 2 hours. 2 hours is 2 hours. Your body starts to pick up fat-burning metabolism somewhere around 20-30 minutes (surpassing carbohydrate metabolism) and mitochondrial development picks up somewhere around 1:30-2:00. And, beyond 3:00, your legs start to really tire and muscle fibers will be damaged double and triple-fold. Today, far too many runners are focused on "20-mile runs" established by sub-3-hour runners who can complete a 20-miler in 2 hours. Consequently, most are headed to the marathon start line with already tired legs from too many over-distance runs. We’ve all heard about “hitting the wall”. This is actually the result of too many and ill-timed over-distance runs, not improper nutrition in take during the race.

It’s important to know that the body requires a range of 3-5 weeks to fully recover from a training run of 20 miles.

The key is to do your 2-3 hour runs in the proper training phase of the Lydiard Method, which usually is in the aerobic base building phase. As you progress through the Lydiard phases, you will find while your “long runs” shorten in duration, they are preceded by “progress calibration runs” the day prior which are done at close to race pace, with the next day a longer recovery run. But think about it, within a 24-hour period the runner will be putting in significant mileage, but in the proper sequence to maximize the benefit and recovery.

Renowned exercise physiologist Jack Daniels put it this way: ultra-runners preparing for a 100km race don’t do 80km run’s during training. But, for some reason for a marathon, people unfortunately believe they have to cover at least 3/4 of the race distance without understanding the damage they are doing to themselves.

I’ll finish with one recent example, a guy in his mid-40’s with a marathon PR of 5:30. His longest run was 14 miles. After going through one Lydiard Method cycle he indicated this was the first time he had reached that far without sore legs! He had previously tried the typical 3 X 20-mile training program, improperly timed during preparation and his legs were always beaten up. He said that this was the most fun he had ever had with all the different types of training: hills, intervals, 50/50. Remember all these different workouts strengthen your legs without un-necessary pounding. His result, a 4:50 marathon, a 40-minute improvement without struggling.

With Lydiard you will actually do more long runs during your preparation than a few super-long runs, because you need to recover from them. It is the overall training program that will bring you to the starting line healthy and prepared and through the finish tape."