The Middle Ground

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20/09/2012 at 09:48
robT - probably going to try 90 seconds, but not be too disappointed if I have to extend to 2 mins.....
20/09/2012 at 10:10

YP - I would go for 1200's off 90 sec recov. and control pace to maintatin recov. not take a longer recov. I think there is a big mental boost to doing session as planned and getting pacing right

20/09/2012 at 10:11

Simon, no, I wouldn't recommend a rolling start.  I would recommend a natural acceleration from standing.  Though you don't need to spend forty yards with your head down, and you don't need to knacker yourself in driving to top speed as quickly as possible, even a gentle acceleration will force strength adaptations for speed from the muscles where rolling would dilute this effect.  This is all my opinion, and ready to be challenged, but my drive phase improved simply off the natural accelerations to start 200s and 250s, without any concentration on the drive.  I believe that power was built in the legs (whether through muscular or neural improvement I don't know).  When I concentrated on the drive, my pace increased, but this is much more tiring in the session, and the next day feels like you've put your legs through the wringer in the gym!

A rolling start would also have you thinking "Why don't I just jog the recoveries?"  Easy.  Because then you're not working the sprints hard enough.

Now, as to the two types of base, it may be that there's a continuum, a straight line of impact where if you do half speed and half aerobic you gain half the benefits of each.  I think it's probably an upside-down bell curve, where half and half provides the least results.  To take one situation, aerobic benefits come better off being hungry (or energy depleted), whereas base speed results are better off being full (energy replete).  I know that footballers try to manage this through aerobic training before breakfast and anaerobic training in the evenings after refilling, but their aerobic training doesn't exhaust their resources as much as running base distances would tend to.  I takes time to refill your glycogen stores, so you'd have to run shorter so as to be able to refill them before the quality sessions.  Shorter - less benefit.  Although, you're going MD.  What do you need long runs for?

I'd look at it all Lydiard like for MD.  Just keep in touch with speed through base, then work on it as the season approaches and you tune into the paces you need.  Or you could look at it all Ratzer like (and Bakken and Canova??), work on speed, and then start phasing in distance once you've got to where you want but keep in touch with that speed in an attempt to not lose too much of it before you get to the marathon.  Lydiard and Snell knew a lot more about MD.

20/09/2012 at 10:25

Ratzer - What's your background? your comments are always so detailed with regard to technique etc

20/09/2012 at 10:56

rob, no professional background whatsoever in sport.  I have a very scientific background originally, and tend to apply that to most things I'm interested in.  My background in minor sport was Ultimate Frisbee until I ruptured my Anterior Cruciate Ligament probably over 15 years ago now, when I was a GB player, but I wouldn't put that on a par with being a competitive regional runner.  Since then lots of gym work because no ACL puts a damper on most sports.  Took up running about 5 or 6 years ago, sporadically, then decided to give it a proper go after my ACL was replaced a few years ago.  Got my UKA Running Leader award last year, which was interesting, but done nothing with it until this year on the track as a substitute group leader.

That's my total history.  I'm always looking for why things happen when people say they do, and how things happen when they do.  Inquisitive.  Scientific.  On here as a foil to prf.  

EDIT: Actually prf is Statto, one of the most  statisticians around, always looking for patterns and trends and using those to best effect.  He's got training logs going back years!  He spots things, I try to find out why...

Edited: 20/09/2012 at 11:07
20/09/2012 at 11:07

Ultimate Frisbee - what is that?

Here's a question for your deliberation can anybody become a runner of a decent standard or are they born to do it!! What would be your criteria of a decent sprinter, MD or long distance runner in this context? - Anyone can join in!!

A guy I train with get's really pissed off when someone who quite obviously doesn't run say's have you run a marathon and when he say's no but I've run a 1.51 800m they glaze over and walk away!! I must admit I've had the same experience!

20/09/2012 at 11:49

Rob - word has got around at work that I came 214th in the GNR, a few people have come up to me really impressed, and have said well done, which is nice. If I do well in either the Redcar Half or Lancaster Half and get say a top 15 with a sub 80 clocking I bet it doesn’t garner the same response at work, even though it would represent a much bigger achievement.

Same question Razer, Ultimate Frisbee, what is it? Does it have a Gladiatorial flavour and involve spiked frisbees and lions and so on….

YP – both good sessions, 4 x 2k will be tougher, go for that if you are feeling confident of nailing the session, go for the 6 x 1200 if not. Either way, enjoy

Nice miles last night prf, nowt wrong with your recovery powers! Your HM last-5k suggestion is near enough what I was planning on attempting at Redcar. Good luck at the Ron Hill race tonight, same to you BR.

Sounds ace Phil.

Feeling pretty good now, legs feel ok, no stiffness this morning and I don’t have to pick junior up from nursery tonight, so I am planning a longish run after work in the hills just outside Harrogate. Looking forward to it, going to make the most of it before the dark nights draw in.

20/09/2012 at 12:05
robT wrote (see)

A guy I train with get's really pissed off when someone who quite obviously doesn't run say's have you run a marathon and when he say's no but I've run a 1.51 800m they glaze over and walk away!! I must admit I've had the same experience!

That's a textbook response, and follows this country's obsession with further = better.

I see it often when someone is shocked I've run a 10miler at lunch, much more so than racing a 5miler. Whereas the former is clearly cigar out, and the latter is eyeballs out!

20/09/2012 at 12:08

Rob – In my opinion genetics is the key factor in the standard you can reach. Someone with little genetic potential will never be competitive however much they train. Whether most people can become decent runners really depends upon your definition of decent. I certainly think most people would be surprised by what they can ultimately achieve with the right training and the right timescales. Of course what’s decent depends upon age, gender and other factors but even with these taken into account it’s hard to say running certain times makes you a decent runner or not. After all its all subjective. Some would consider a sub 40 for a senior males to be a decent time. Others would consider a 33 minute 10k to be slow. Usually the faster the runner the faster their definition of decent! I remember Ryan McLeod talking about how he ‘jogged’ last year’s GNR in 72 minutes.

20/09/2012 at 12:15

Stevie – You are right and we’ve all had the have you run a marathon question a million times. Completing a 5 hour marathon would probably impress a non runner more than a 75 minute half.

To be fair though I would probably think similar about a sport I knew nothing about. If someone told me they had completed a short swim or bike ride in a really fast time it wouldn’t mean anything to me as I couldn't put it into context. But if they said they had cycled a couple of hundred miles I would probably be more impressed because it would be easier for me to picture and relate to.

20/09/2012 at 12:21

Ultimate Frisbee.

Anybody can become a runner of a decent standard as long as they have the basic criteria, i.e. they're not differently able, by which I mean disabled , in some way that prevents them from running.  All types of runner need legs, arms, head, lungs, heart, and as long as your physiology is complete you can become a runner of a decent standard in any discipline or distance.

Everyone starts life at approximately the same standard.  To take a famous example, fast-twitch fibres.  Everyone starts about 50-50 fast twitch to slow twitch.  There's estimated to be a +-5% difference so you could be 45-55 or vice versa at .  the extremes.  So says every guideline you read on every running website, and many go on to say that you can determine if someone should be a sprinter or a distance runner based on their ratio.  But are the figures that people use based on the neonatal rat soleus muscle, at 54%slow to 46% fast twitch?  (Note that some newborn animals, chicks, have near 100% fast twitch based on biopsies; horses increase their slow twitch ratios over the first 8 months, as do rats and pigs over a shorter time period.)  Because there is a study on neonatal human ventilatory muscles (pretty damned important that they be able to keep going and going) that shows 10% slow twitch in premature births (hence ventilators), 25% slow twitch at full-term birth, and 55% slow twitch at 2 years old, in the diaphragm.  The theory goes that muscles start out fast twitch and are differentiated according to need.  Rats need to get up and going a long time before humans do, so the 50-50 ratio in human leg muscles is probably complete bollox that just keeps getting repeated.  If it turns out to be true that muscles start out fast twitch and are differentiated according to need, then training has a far greater impact on your adult ability than genetics.  Also, the direction of your adult ability is determined by training, and not by birth.  Anyone can sprint, or anyone can run middle to long distance - unfortunately training adaptations do suggest that you can't do both to a high level at the same time.

As to knowledge about running, well, that's media and interest imposed.  Ask someone what the World mile record is, then ask them what Ronaldo's transfer price from Man U to Real Madrid was.  To me, a 1:51 800 is phenomenal, actually 2:00 is near phenomenal (and Duck and Simon are only 8s off that and working towards it), but five or six years ago I would have thought it pretty poor to be 11 seconds off the record over only two laps!!    What, didn't you train or anything?

20/09/2012 at 12:26

Mr V - I agree decent is relative and also very emotive. My Neice some years ago asked me to sponser her as she was running the 5k race for life enthused by this I gave her £20 when I next saw her I asked how it went great she said I ran it in 1 hour 20 mins  now that is my defination of "not decent" I started to say you could have walked it quicker but I was moved on by my wife

Good example with swim and bike but at least i would and I'm sure others like us would enquire as to what they meant and tried to understand relative performances!!

YD  - you are spot on with Redcar example!!

PRF  - have a good run tonight, don't get into a conversation with Ron as I have to say he is the most boring talker I have ever had the priveledge of listening to

Stevie G - we've discussed this before as non marathon runners

X-post Ratzer - lost me on second paragraph after everybody but bloody good though.

Your comment about fast and distance as a kid(18/19) I could run a 23.1 200m(in a training session- never raced one) , 49.9 400m (Relay leg), 1.50.8 800m, 4.06 mile,8.19 3k and  as well as a 73 HM I wasn't unusual in our  training group it's what we did!!

Edited: 20/09/2012 at 12:33
20/09/2012 at 12:49

Rob – Indeed we probably would try and ask more and find out what the relative standard was. But even so if you’ve never done the sport its hard. If the theoretical unfit guy at work asks me how I got on at my 5k at the weekend I might say  17:xx. Then he might respond what do the best guys do it in? To which I would answer 12:xx and you suddenly look very slow indeed! But if said theoretical guy then went and ran a parkrun and did 30 minutes or so he might change his opinion pretty quickly. I’d still think I’d find it hard to visualise how good someone’s cycling time was even if they explained it.

Ratzer – If it’s mainly training and not genetics why then are some people so quick with so little training and vice versa. I’ve seen guys who have never trained before running sub 35 10ks after  3 or 4 months of 15-20 mpw. Other people train much harder for many, many years and never hit that kind of time ever. Surely this can’t be explained by training alone?

20/09/2012 at 13:55

I chipped into a thread on fetch where a guy was asking whether he could do a marathon in 6 months time, having just struggled to do a HM in 2:04.  I looked at his training log and, based on the best 6 months of 2012, it turns out he does between 7 and 8 miles of running per week. I contributed a link to Moraghan's "Training for the right distance" thread.

I was getting a bit of soreness around my old injury this mornng, so have decided not to run today ... not much opportunity to escape anyway.

20/09/2012 at 14:08

A whole 7-8miles a week Dr Dan?  Did he split that intoa  few runs as well? Sounds like he did amazingly to even get round the half!

I often see newbies post on this site, classically they'll only run a couple of times a week, tiny mileage, yet someone will always tell them to start doing tempos and speedwork, when simply getting easy mileage in would see them shatter theit target.

20/09/2012 at 14:13

MrV, you've never seen a guy who's never trained before unless they were paralysed at birth.  What you've seen is a guy who's never trained for a 10k.  But your previous point on context is very apt here as well.  A guy who doesn't know what's important for his training might tell you how many miles he's run, how often, playing down everything.  Doesn't happen to mention football or rugby because it wasn't running.  My club's most successful recent runner was a boxer, now down to a 72 for the half, I think.  Because he was a boxer he was superbly conditioned for running, but never did any specific training for it.  He could say he never trained before...

One observation that I've made from many anecdotes is that guys who have lost a lot of weight when they came into running are very strong in the legs.  Shorter distance times drop quickly before plateauing.  Longer distances don't convert for a long time.  Fat guy = no training, right?  Not to me.  Fat guy = carrying round heavier loads on the legs!  And strangely, in line with your "so quick" statement, they could be quicker because of more fast-twitch fibres simply because they haven't trained long, and not because they're genetically quicker.

Of course genetics does have an impact.  If longer legs are an advantage then longer leg potential is genetic.  But if less weight is an advantage, then the shorter guys have advantage, and that is either genetic, or early years nutrition.  If greater natural VO2max is an advantage (and VO2max isn't absolutely, but certainly does help) then it could be genetic, or down to living at altitude.  The problem with genetics is we don't know which combination of factors would be perfect, and therefore which baby to take at birth to which academy.  The other factor about genetics is less well known, which is that many genes react to environmental factors - you might not be a genetically perfect runner unless you train correctly to become one!

Sorry.  Gone off on a technical one again.    How about "Athletic success is 1% genetic-ration, 99% perspiration."  Look at the result of the Olympic 10000, and tell me how different Gold and Silver are genetically, yet they were within 0.5s at the finish.

20/09/2012 at 14:16

Stevie - yep, 7-8 miles per week average with 5 or 10K runs  ... nevertheless, a 23 min 5K PB, so could probably be reasonably fast with some training. But a marathon would be daft.

Edited: 20/09/2012 at 14:17
20/09/2012 at 14:41

Ratzer, i read a woman on this site recently telling a very slow newbie how to get faster over 5k. She claimed she first broke 19mins on 10miles a week.

On a quick prompting, she said she didn't count warm ups or cool downs!

I expect on further probing she wouldn't have counted easy pace running, so that 10miles probably was actually 50miles

20/09/2012 at 15:01

Ratzer, I don't see why being glycogen-depleted will benefit my specific needs.

If I run 10 miles a day depleted versus 10 miles a day repleted what difference will it make? I suspect that the depleted version of me would get better at using fat as a fuel and with this extra energy store to call upon would be a better 10 mile runner.

However, has my ability to use glycogen as a fuel suffered as a result of teaching my body to use fat? For a ten mile runner, the loss is probably offset, but I'm not interested in running 10 miles, I'm interested in running for less than 10 minutes.

Surely being generally well-nourished will mean I am able to run more and recover more quickly.

Or is something else at play when you train glycogen-depleted?

Agree with you on talent versus training. When I say somebody is talented I suppose I am referring to their combination of genetics and preparation prior to starting running training.

robT, I get sick to death of people asking me if I'm training for a marathon. I remember before I started running a guy at work ran a half marathon and I asked "What's next then, a full marathon?". He got irritated and moaned that everybody had been asking him that. I understand now.

20/09/2012 at 15:16
robT wrote (see)

Your comment about fast and distance as a kid(18/19) I could run a 23.1 200m(in a training session- never raced one) , 49.9 400m (Relay leg), 1.50.8 800m, 4.06 mile,8.19 3k and  as well as a 73 HM I wasn't unusual in our  training group it's what we did!!

Comes back to what decent is, and those are very decent, and what high level is!  My cousin is 17 and a second quicker over the 200, but there are 142 people in his age group this year who are quicker.  Training for that extra second has meant that he can't run an 800 for toffee though.  A mate of mine has a history like yours, with a few 14:2x and 14:3x 5000s, and claims a 66 HM in a race done as a long training run - but the club never put him in for the sprints.  So though I'm thoroughly envious of your times then (and now), it comes back to decent and high level being relative, and the specialists are the highest level guys, not the generalists.

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