Square One

I've harped on a bit lately about reduced training, injury and rehab. Good or bad, my training has been what it has been. The result is I've had to take a better look at everything. No point going over every detail, and how to has changed from the goals and plans I set recently. The summary is I am pretty much back at square one again.

As a result of choices and mistakes my base has been eroded. My basic endurance now pretty crappy. Second to that my faster running, both at around threshold and faster has suffered. All this combines to a reduced ability to handle a decent volume of hard training. Not to mention the risks associated with problems coming from injury.

Where is square one?

Well it's right at the start of base building. Given I am looking at racing some ultra marathons and having a crack at the marathon again, the most important overriding element is endurance and aerobic structure and function to support everything else. So that will be my focus.

I have pencilled in the Maroondah Dam Trail 50km on the 19th of February next year. There's no expectation I'll be racing this seriously. Instead it will be about testing the waters of the ultra trail world and completing it at a reasonable effort level. More as a test to see how my base building has gone and a learning experience.

Since I work with 8 day cycles as my week, this gives me only 10 weeks to rebuild a decent base into the race. Those 10 weeks will also include a taper as well. Since I want to rebuild a large aerobic base, avoid a recurrence of injury and be in a position to train and race hard for the not too distant future, then I am have to go right back to the basics. The gist of the plan is repeatable, low-moderate intensity, gradually increased mileage and strength. Basically it will resemble a lot of what has become the typical base training. It is worth looking up the philosophies of Lydriard, McMillan, Maffetone, Mark Allen and Peter Coe. While my plan probably doesn't exactly follow any of these, there are a lot of cross over in concepts.

Base Training:

To develop a well balanced athlete capable of optimally
responding to the stress of competition specific training.

The Training:

Three (3) key workouts each week:

  1. Long Run
  2. Workout 1
  3. Workout 2
That shouldn't be mind boggling.

The long run will be at mainly in my aerobic conditioning range of 70-81%HRmax, but I will always err on the side of lower intensity when in doubt. I aim to build from a 2 hour up to a 4 hour run over variable terrain. The pace these are covered in are purely as a direct result of getting the intensity, effort, technique and fueling correct. I will make a point not to watch the actual during the session.

Workout 1 for this stage, will again be in my aerobic conditioning, but shorter than the long run. Building from 1 hour up to 2 hours. Here I will usually look at working closer to the top end of the intensity range.

Workout 2 is really the only hint of anything near race pace creeps in. It is a hill workout of about 1 hour. Not designed to be hill repeats, just over a very hilly course. Variety in length, gradient and surface is important. Initially the intensity will be <70%HRmax on the descent and even any flat section, with the climbs again in the aerobic conditioning range. As the weeks tick along the duration will remain the same, but the easy sections will move into the aerobic range and the uphill will hit threshold 82-89%HRmax. Nothing prolonged. Musculoskeletal conditioning and ensuring good technique with full range of motion is most important here.

All other running will be about 1 hour at base endurance intensity (60-70%HRmax). At the moment this feels stupidly slow. I expect and hope over time I can develop a more natural and faster running speed in this intensity range. The low intensity should still generate some stimulus for many of the aerobic adaptations required, but allow some recovery.

On top of the running, I will get in two strength sessions per week plus a swim and cycle if time permits. I am aiming to run 7 out of every 8 days. Consistency over this period is most important, rather than getting in the occasional super hard session. Overall the program is straight forward. Low intensity running almost every day. Progress the long run and a moderate to long run, plus build a small amount of intensity on some hills. Almost looks boring, but it usually works.


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