The Middle Ground

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19/09/2012 at 09:16

robT ... it's very easy to get to the front in the Abbey Dash... just warm up on Park Lane and enter from the front. And you can easily drive there in under 90 minutes on a Sunday morning. No excuses now.

Hilly ... bad luck with Chester. Have you been professionally advised to keep on running despite being injured? Or is it just a bit of OCD that won't let yourself rest and heal?

YD ... I reckon you'll nail that HM next time.

Simon ... a carb depletion month might be in order.

Org ... at least it wasn't Orc.


20th  -  Ron Hill's Birthday 5K - PRF, BR
22nd - 5th Avenue Mile Race - Curly
22nd Northern Relays - RobT, BR, PRF
23rd - Spen Greenway 10K - PRF?
23rd - "Kirkstall 7" (trail) - Dr.Dan
29th - Self Transcendence 10k - YoungPup
29th - Page Cup (5m XC) - Curly
29th - Lancaster 5k ? - RobT
30th - Bristol HM – Ratzer
30th -  Redcar HM - YD

6th Halewood 5k ? - RobT
7th - Chester Marathon - Dr.Dan, BR, PRF
14th - Great Eastern Run HM - PhilPub
14th - Cardiff HM - Ratzer
14th - Flintshire 10k ? - RobT
21st - Cabbage Patch 10 - YoungPup, BR, Hilly?, PRF, Simon, Curly, Ratzer?, PhilPub
27th - Mob Match Orion Harriers Vs Ranelagh (7.5m XC) - Curly
27th Oct – Whitby NYSD XC - YD
28th Oct – Yorkshire Coast 10k Scarborough - MrV

4th  -  Lancaster HM - YD
11th - Town Moor 10k - MrV
18th - Leeds Abbey Dash - Dr.Dan, Hilly, BR, MrV, YD, PRF
18th - Winter Ballbuster Duathlon - PhilPub
18th - Gosport Half - Curly, YoungPup
18th - Preston 10 miler ? - RobT
24th - South of the Thames 5m XC Champs - Curly, PhilPub
24th - Norman Woodcock Memorial 5M - MrV

1st - Surrey Womens XC League 1 (6k) - Curly
8th - Dysart Cup (4k) - Curly possible
8th - Kent Count Vets XC - PhilPub
16th - Telford 10k - RobT (Main Target)
22nd - Mob Match Ranelagh Vs SLH (7.5m XC) - Curly
29th - Henty Relay (1.5m legs) - Curly

January 2013
5th - Kent County Champs XC - PhilPub
20th Jan - 4 Villages HM - Dr.Dan

February 2013
16th - Race Your Pace Half - YoungPup
24th - Snake Lane 10 - PRF, Dr.Dan

March 2013
3rd - Surrey Spitfire 20 - YoungPup
9th - Dambuster Duathlon (GB Champs) - PhilPub
24th March - Bradford 10K - Dr.Dan

April 2013
14th - Brighton Marathon - Curly
21st - VLM - Ratzer, PhilPub

May 2013
6th - Milton Keynes Marathon - YoungPup
12th - Leeds Half Marathon - Dr.Dan

April 2014
Boston Marathon - prf/Hilly/BR

19/09/2012 at 09:23

Hilly – Sorry your comeback is a slow process. Is your lack of energy related to the injury/ fitness do you think or something else?

BR – What’s your training looking like at the moment? I saw on FB you were looking at a down month?

Rob – The start at Leeds isn’t too bad and they are quite strict with your starting positions. I think people need a sub 36 time to get a front number so you shouldn’t be bothered too much by people overestimating their ability.

YD – Good to see you getting back at the HM for another go straight away. I reckon Redcar is a faster course and I would predict a similar performance would get you about a minute faster. If a more conservative start helps a bit as well sub 80 starts to look possible.

YP – Solid training there.

19/09/2012 at 09:49


What is basic, pure speed?  Having only a few months' sprinting I'm still the equivalent of the guy who's out racing three miles every other day hoping to do a sub-3 marathon in two weeks' time and wondering whether speedwork will help.  Hell, though, I won't let that stop me evangelising about barefoot running, FIRST and the importance of swimming as cross training!  So, IMNSHO:

You don't want drive, by which I mean the pure power phase.  It reduces quickly in relevance with distance, and is probably unimportant above 400m to the likes of me.  I've found that anything 125m or below involves the drive phase to a large degree, so is not giving you enough time at near top speed.  You do want strength, stride and turnover to improve, so you need a near flat out sprint (95-97% fast relaxed), and you don't want it to continue to exhaustion or you won't benefit.  You also want to be able to maintain all that form you know from MD - high knees, upright, feeling like you're floating but pushing fast away from the ground.  My favourites for the feeling of pure speed are 2x(3x150, 3'), 5'; 2x80, 2' and 6x200 off unlimited recovery (usually around 3-4', but make certain you're ready to go).  The latter, as per last night, can be a real vomit inducer if you want it to be.  The two 80s on the former are purely for relaxed form, like strides at the end of a hard session.

Exactly as I'm feeling now though, it is difficult to mix base phase and pure speed.  One is long slow miles and the other is short fast metres.  They're opposite ends of the training spectrum and never the twain should meet.  If you're not resting the day after a speed session you're not benefitting as much as you should be.  If you're not fully recovered before, the session isn't as good as it could be.  Even if you think you're benefitting your form by working on tired legs, you're not, you're compensating, in the same way as trying to nurse an injury round the track; and you don't want to be training the wrong things into your form.  (End of a session is different, because you're already in the right form.)

Bit of waffle, bit of blurb, but I think your most difficult decision is do you do an aerobic base, or do you improve your speed?

19/09/2012 at 10:21

Further thoughts on the topic.  Is sprinting speed really base speed, or is there a vast difference between what is required 400m and shorter versus 800m and longer?  Is base speed for distance running a different beast?

I don't think so.  Why?  Because I improved my 5k pb off the back of sprint training.  I know there's no way that would apply to longer distances due to increasing aerobic needs, and I even think that 5k is too long off sprint training, but it did happen.  (No, I wouldn't advise a base speed plan if you're 5k training, though if RWTowers see this post there'll probably be one in the next issue.)  More importantly, it's because top runners, probably some on this forum, race with a sprinter's form.  It's adapted slightly to the slower paces, but you can see it on telly in the Olympics, or at the front of every major race.

There's a logical progression too.  Ignoring the marathon and ultras, because other variables impact, though the logic does apply somewhat, who wouldn't think that in order to run a good distance race it would be wise to be a bit faster over a shorter distance?  (The corollary of being able to last for longer distances, at slower paces, is also vital to distance, so assume it's present.)  Wouldn't being faster over a mile improve your 5k?  Hang on a sec, once you've got a good and solid base, don't you introduce sessions that are shorter, over which you attempt to be quick?  5x800, 10x400, etc.  We look at these at current race pace when setting them down, but if your 800 got quicker, wouldn't a series of 5 of them get quicker?  If I wanted a quicker 800, I'd try to get my 400 quicker.  At which point do I stop?  Do I say that shorter than 400 is not relevant to distance so I won't do 200s to improve my 400?  That sounds crazy to me.  I'm saying 200s will improve your 400, even though 200s are sprints that don't seem relevant at first glance to distance running.

Get a faster 200 and from then on up it's a matter of conversion.  One second quicker over the 400 is 1'45" over the marathon, if you convert well.  Just one second.

There is an issue.  Time.  How long does it take to improve your 400 by 1s, and then how long will it take you from there to train to convert that upwards by the distances?  Well, in my forties, probably a lot longer than I've got.  Next year's marathon might not benefit as much from speed training as it might have done from mileage, but what about the year after?  Yet, if I was talking to a fifteen year old who's interested in 5ks and 10ks, I think I'd tell him to start low.  Lower than MD, really low.  Get the pace while you can.

19/09/2012 at 11:17

Stevie – no loss if it turns out to be an ‘after the lord mayors show’ kind of effort

RE: your comments on my HM approach Ratzer, understood. I should be ok for Redcar a week on Sunday if I take it easy between now and then, my approach to the race is that of testing a conservative pacing strategy. No great loss if it doesn’t yield a fast time as there will be plenty of lessons and fitness benefits to be had.
As for Marathon training, I think that is on the back burner for a while yet!
Your last two posts are thought provoking, Interested to see how you transition into traditional distance training from all this base speed work. I will take note!

Agreed on the great running conditions Simon, if it wasn’t for the dark nights drawing in I would say autumn is almost the perfect distance running season.

Cheers Dr Dan – how are your legs feeling after you big effort at the weekend? I hadn’t realised until I saw your post the other day, but you have a few decent long efforts in your legs.

Rob – fair enough, pens aren’t an issue at the Abbey Dash IMO, you get a clear run and its easy to get to the front row or two, should you wish.

19/09/2012 at 11:51

YD - I've done the required long runs but on the back of pretty poor over all mileage. I probably should read this! .

Legs feel okay today ... good enough to plan to go off for a run later anyway, at which point I'll know the answer more fully!

19/09/2012 at 12:48

So I have bloods back with nothing major showing. One test was slightly high which is nothing to worry about in itself but it could be linked with something else that runs in the family and I’ve suspected for a bit. Fits with the tiredness and other symptoms I've had so back to the docs I guess and see what he says.

Running seems a little better though. 8 and a bit miles last night at 7.30s. Felt ok though my legs still felt mashed and my calfs are pretty sore now.

19/09/2012 at 13:57

Sounds like progress MrV!

Dr.Dan wrote (see)

Legs feel okay today ... good enough to plan to go off for a run later anyway, at which point I'll know the answer more fully!

7.1 miles at about mara race pace (7:55/m) ... about 76% maxHR. Legs felt a bit achy in places but generally ok. I'll take it easy for the next two days and run slower ... Saturday off ... and then I'll go full tilt at the "Kirkstall 7" on Sunday.

Edited: 19/09/2012 at 14:33
19/09/2012 at 15:00

Good news Mr V, also positive that you were running at 7:30/mi, even though you are feeling it now, it must mean there is some life in the old dog

Good run then Dr Dan and yes it’s actually good to read back over that old thread! What bit do you fall down on, long run % of overall mileage, or volume of quality work of total mileage? Or all of it?
Some sage advice from Moraghan, shame he no longer posts on here.

Now I have a race calendar sorted out I can start to plan some sessions in. After Redcar I am going to start with some threshold work, a couple of hill sessions and faster finishing long runs, fairly simple stuff really, but its different from what I have been doing recently so it might be a shock to my system and have quite a quick impact on me.
5.2miles at lunch, legs a little stiff still, but ok at slow pace.

19/09/2012 at 15:20

Moraghan has ascended, and his disciples remain to spread his word.

Good news, MrV, at least to a degree.  Diarrhoea runs in the family, but I guess that's not what you're concerned about.  Decent pace for the miles after all that!  DrD, you keep getting those steady miles in.  Can't go wrong.  Unless you do too many at once.

So they should be, YD, you ran a damned fast race recently!

40mins for me at lunch, very slow.  Didn't feel capable of anything until the last mile.  But for a recovery run I suppose that's actually a good sign!

19/09/2012 at 15:28
Y D wrote (see)
Good run then Dr Dan and yes it’s actually good to read back over that old thread! What bit do you fall down on, long run % of overall mileage, or volume of quality work of total mileage? Or all of it?
Some sage advice from Moraghan, shame he no longer posts on here.

Usually I fit that advice pretty well ... but during this mara training I have not matched even the minimum HM weekly mileage ... and my long runs have been too dominant and have twice been 100% of my weekly mileage! Oh how I have sinned.


Ratzer wrote (see)
Moraghan has ascended, and his disciples remain to spread his word.



19/09/2012 at 15:44


Ratzer wrote (see)


Moraghan has ascended, and his disciples remain to spread his word.


Haha that's brilliant

19/09/2012 at 16:53

A long absent sprinter writes....

Simon - I'd agree with Ratzer's suggestion of suitable 'pure' speed sessions for an  MD or distance runner. The 150s and 200s sets he mentions are good - although I don't call 3-4 min recovery 'unlimited',  that's relatively short for the likes of me.

Incidentally although now pretty ancient my base speed is possibly still improving  - certainly not diminishing yet  - but I am finding the aforementioned speed more and more difficult to convert to anything over 200 metres. And my 200 is still 'worse' than my 100 or 60 after 5 years or so dedicated sprint training.

I've had a slightly rubbish season but a new age group beckons next year. Also took part in a very interesting research project about aging sprinters - the 'carrot' was specific feedback from the researchers as to how you might improve performance.

I was a computer model! Force plates and all that ! Fun!


19/09/2012 at 18:48

I just love those 'thinking aloud' posts, Ratzer!

YD - All you need to do with the HMs is forget about the overall times and just concentrate on nailing the last 5K. Once you can be confident of delivering a sub 19 5K at the end of a HM you can then work backwards from there.

BR - IF, and it is quite a big if, there was to be an all out bash at sub 17 at a Yorkshire sea port anytime soon then the suitable window would be the 29th, ie a week before Chester. If it feels likely 3-4 days before then I'll probably have a crack.

18.0 Miles @ 8:18/mile this evening with the legs feeling pretty lively, so it looks like Sunday's effort has been dealt with okay.

It might be a different matter when it comes to trying to race a hilly 5K tomorrow evening though......

19/09/2012 at 19:39
Hola! Bad/good news, breakfast and dinner at the hotel are buffet style. That's just plain dangerous. Unambiguously good news, Ibiza is a beautiful island with good roads and this hire bike ain't half bad. Day 1, 72 miles done. Even the cooking lager is tasting great.

MrV - more good news. Progress anyway.
19/09/2012 at 20:12

Ratzer, so would you recommend doing these these off rolling starts to avoid drive phase element?

Ratzer wrote (see)
Bit of waffle, bit of blurb, but I think your most difficult decision is do you do an aerobic base, or do you improve your speed?

I want to do both!

I appreciate it's difficult to mix aerobic base and speed base, but they are both bases and as an MD runner I really feel I need to develop them both early on in the year. I accept that both will suffer to a degree as a result. I suppose an alternative is to spend a couple of months with aerobic base as a focus and then a couple of month with a speed focus, but I strongly believe in Coe's "if speed is the name of the game, then never venture far from it" philosophy, so I'm not too keen on that approach.

So, for example, instead of doing 70mpw like I would if I was training for 5k+, I'll probably end up doing around 50mpw. Those 20 fewer miles will give me the opportunity to prepare for and recover from my speed sessions and also to spend a bit of time in the gym.

Regarding speed at shorter distances being important for longer distances, that is part of why I am so concerned about it. I'll admit that one of my longer-term - ridiculously ambitious - goals is to run 4 minutes for 1500. Now, that's 63 seconds/lap and my 400 is about 59 seconds. Even with top notch endurance and speed endurance I reckon I'll need to get that down to 56 seconds. Well, I can run 28 for 200, so there's hope.

40 minutes is a long time for a recovery run. I don't think I'd count anything more than 15 minutes as recovery.

Mr V, my legs have really been feeling it after the break as well. 8 @ 7:30 is promising, is it not? I feel like that would kill me at the moment.

Sharkie, nice to hear that base speed can continue to improve. As for the computer modelling, can we expect to see you in some video game in the near future?

Phil, enjoy the buffets. bet you can't put on as much weight as me. Thought that was 72 miles running at first!

20/09/2012 at 06:29

Dr Dan - the physio I went to see did not tell me not to run.  I could have taken weeks off instead of odd days when it felt really bad and it might have healed quicker, but call it OCD or whatever, I didn't get where I am today without a little discomfort...

Mr V - the injury will only allow me run about 9 m/m as there is very little power in my left leg at present.  Although the pain is more ache now and I'm not landing awkwardly on it, so that's big progress.  The energy problem was most definitely viral and I was just very unlucky to get it in between a freak accident of hitting my knee and this injury, so a bit of bad luck since April really.  The virus I had was so bad that it was affecting my daily life.  Like you blood tests were inconclusive and there was no real reason why I should have been feeling as I was.  The doctor even arranged for a brain scan, which has been cancelled twice by the hospital and now put back to Novemeber - good job I'm not worried about it or think there really is something wrong!  As I can't run properly at present I'm not sure how much of the virus if any is still lingering.  I'll just keep on keeping on until I feel back to my old self - pretty stubborn me  Hope you feel back to normal soon!



Edited: 20/09/2012 at 06:30
20/09/2012 at 06:38

DrD - yes some interesting theorising on that thread.

MrV - my weeks have no structure at present.  It's mostly 30 min jogs here and there and the odd 60 min run (which leaves me feeling like I've done a hard session).  Despite outstanding sandbagging by PRF, he should beat me soundly tonight.  I'm only taking part because it's an event in honour of the great Ron Hill.  Similarly I'm doing the Northern Road Relays on Saturday because I believe that club events like these are the pinnacle of what we should be looking to compete in.



20/09/2012 at 08:11
Morning all,

As always I feel as though I'm failing to keep up with the thread...

Ratzer - some great posts from you with your musings on base and speed. I enjoy reading them, even if I probably only half understand them

Mr V - it sounds like the blood test results have given you a partial way forward, so that's hopefully good news, and it's nice to hear your running seems to be getting better

YD - great bouncebackability from you... You obviously know you're in decent shape, and I really hope one of the HMs you've got planned proves it

Hilly / BR - sorry you're both struggling slightly, and hopefully you will both be back to full strength and leading from the front again soon.

Phil - you've gone on holiday to the party capital of the Western world and you're cycling 72 miles a day. I mean this is a nice way, but that's nuts

prf (or org) - I repeat again, your training and recovery is phenomenal.

As for me, I'm trying this week to see how my legs feel with only 1 rest day, so I've run every day since Saturday. So far my legs don't feel too bad, but today may be a toughie as I'm planning either 6 * 1200 @ 10kp, or 4 * 2k @ 10kp.... Wish me luck!
20/09/2012 at 08:52

Good morning everyone could I say I echo what YP say's

YP - I'd go for either session both great 10k workouts what recovery are you thinking?

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