Mr V, very decent 5 miler there. What is the current 5k PB?
velloo, I don't have a foam roller, but I have one of these http://www.amazon.co.uk/Scholl-DRMA7301UK-Therapy-Percussion-Massager/dp/B002C73W9K/ which has been hitting the spot. Glad you enjoyed the XC. It'll put plenty of strength in the legs.
DT, nice session, but intervals followed by threshold run the next day is interesting. I don't think I'd ever want to do anything but an easy run the day after a tough track session.
Duck, that half will still be in your legs. Sensible idea to take an easy week.
iower, I always find my endurance will be stuck at the same place for months on end and then suddenly will jump up a notch or two and I'll feel super-fit for a little bit. It's actually often a change in training that brings it about, so you might actually end up with some unexpected results if you pay attention to some faster stuff.
Nice pacing, YD.
Andrew, it won't harm you to focus on easy running for Jan and Feb (but make sure you include some strides). You might notice a slight initial drop in performance when you cut out the quality sessions, but you will gain it back and when you re-introduce the quality you'll pick up even more. Dropping the mileage might be a good idea at first, but if I were you I'd take the opportunity to build it back up, and then beyond, gradually over those two months. You should find you can get a lot more in simply because you're not so fatigued from harder sessions.
Dr D, good stuff. Are you fully mara-recovered now?
The sartorious was actually a self-diagnosis. I'm still fairly certain it's involved, but think it's more of a general hip-flexor strain with several muscles involved. It actually came about from kicking a football too hard at work a few weeks back - and this is a classic cause of the injury.
Running has just aggravated it, rather than caused it. As such, I don't think I need to do any specific strengthening once I'm recovered. I just need to stop playing that game where we try to kick a foam football over the whiteboard. It's strictly hat-stand basketball with a fake cricket ball for me from now on.
As a guideline, stretches after a run should only be performed to get the muscles back to a pre-run state, and for this you need to hold the stretch for about ten seconds. It's particularly important not to stretch for too long after a hard session, since by doing so you will cause further damage to your muscles and prolong recovery time.
Separate flexibility sessions are fine, just try and keep them separate from your running sessions. I don't know whether or not 20 minutes per day is enough to improve long-term flexibility. I would have thought a little more is necessary, but a lot will depend on your sex, age and genetics. I've heard that it's necessary to hold a stretch for x seconds to improve long-term flexibility, where x ranges from 30 seconds to 90 seconds.
I'd also be wary of over-stretching an area that you're experiencing problems with. I've found in the past that stretches can be really useful for alleviating pain and aiding recovery from an injury/niggle, but you can overdo it and aggravate the problem.
If you're really interested in stretching then I would thoroughly recommend the book "The Anatomy of Stretching". It's a very detailed book with diagrams and suggestions for stretches for various injuries and sports.
vello and I have agreed to start a coaching thread. We're going to start in a few weeks when she's recovered fully from the marathon. I'm looking forward to it.
iower, remember that you build a strength, speed and aerobic base at the same time. The key is to avoid too much use of the lactate system when doing the fast stuff, hence the necessity for shorter reps and long recoveries.
YD, another nice progressive run. I suffer from blisters on the outside of the foot (that's where I land) and I found Engo Blister patches really useful - you apply them to the shoe/insole rather than your foot and they're pretty hard-wearing.
I'm injured I've had a groin/upper thigh/hip niggle for a good few weeks now. Very similar, if not the same, as I had in the summer. I've tried running through it, but this last week it's just been getting worse.
This morning I ran Nonsuch parkrun pretty hard and was in a lot of pain after and have been limping since. Given how the pain moves around so much, I'm pretty sure it's the sartorius muscle which runs from the outer hip, across to the groin area and down to the knee. I don't think it's anything too serious at the moment, but I'm going to stop running until it's better.
In the meantime, lots of weight training (which doesn't seem to affect it), core stuff, and maybe a bit of swimming to try and keep the aerobic fitness in order.
Mr V, the massage course sounds interesting. First question, what's the best way to massage one's sartorius?
YD, the coaching thread could be a good idea. I'll have a think about that one. Those targets all look well within your reach by spring. What would you write down for current ability (on a good day) for those distances?
Tights? And you've the nerve to call us lot soft!
DT, I think a bit of cross training is a good idea regardless of your event. Aside from rehabilitation or just a change from running occasionally, I think it is most useful for working on weaknesses
Note that you won't necessarily fix an imbalance just by running more, since your body may compensate for the weakness in other ways and this could lead to overuse injuries.
This happened to me recently: I hurt my lower back doing deadlifts and for about 10 days found that while I could still run, I could not get my hips very high and ended up slightly hunched over. For whatever reason, I found that my hamstrings were having to work a lot harder than usual and ended up very fatigues. This is a case of an injury - rather than a weakness - leading (almost) to a secondary injury, but the mechanism is the same.
As for those specific exercises:
I don't know much about pilates. I've heard it's useful for core strength, which can't be a bad thing for when you need to maintain good form for several hours.
I know some top marathoners use plyometrics. However, I suspect they only really become important for the marathon when you have exhausted all the benefits to be gained from running training and are looking for that little bit extra. That's rarely the case for most of us, who would simply benefit more from getting in more miles.
And a fast finish isn't the best way to develop FT. there's nothing wrong with practising putting on a spurt when tired - and it's obviously very race specific, but that falls more into the area of lactic tolerance. Certainly not something you want to do on every run, particularly on easy days. Also, bear in mind that you will not improve a marathon time much by a sprint finish. Running the last 200m in 40 rather than 45 seconds isn't going to make that much of an impact on your overall performance. Ideally you'd spread that extra energy out over the entire race.
iower, how short? I think a mistake that a lot of distance runners make is to ignore speed. The fastest running most do is what is referred to as "speed work", which usually means something around VO2 max pace, which isn't really that fast. As an example, my top speed is about 5-6 seconds/100m faster than VO2 max, and that's a hell of a lot over 100m.
It always makes me smile when distance runners - who spend 99.9% of their time developing endurance - claim that endurance is easier to build than speed. I'm sure sprinters feel differently.
Anyway, as for getting in a nice 5k between now and May, I think it could work, depending on the training approach you take. When I was doing half marathon training in 2011, I started with a 6 week block of VO2 max work and then moved onto 12 weeks of threshold work (with just a couple of moer anaerobic sessions and 5ks chucked in for maintenance purposes) leading up to the race.
One reason behind first raising your VO2 max is that your lactate threshold (which is limited by your VO2 max) can theoretically get higher that it would have otherwise. Think of VO2 max and lactate threshold as sliders on the same track to make it easier to visualise.
Another good reason for doing VO2 max stuff first is that lactate threshold is much more important for the HM distance, and it's this you want to be focussing on leading up to the race.
Andrew, it'd be a poor coach who demanded a certain amount of mileage or hours of training from an athlete. It's one thing to advise "if you want to run x time, then I think you