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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Are you Running SLOWLY enough?

I get such great questions on my website that provide an opportunity for me to spout my opinion on my blog. This one should be of use to many runners & triathletes.
"Bobby, I have attended several trainings by you. Which I have taken a lot out of each one. I am an endurance coach. I was wondering if you could answer a training question. It seems my faster athletes do not have a problem doing their easy runs, easy....say 45sec or more per mile, slower then their Marathon pace. But the athletes at the other end, the 9:00 MP runners always seem to struggle with at their V-Dot predicted easy pace. They complain about running so slow. I am concerned they are spending to much time in the grey zone. What are your thoughts? Thank you."

This is a complex question & I am very glad you asked it – it is most challenging for the slower runners, they ARE going too fast & in that grey zone - diminishing their chances of transcending their current plateau & here’s why:

Their easy pace is too close to their race pace – a common challenge for marathon coaches of the masses. A vast majority of marathoners run their easy & long runs at their marathon pace. In order for them to super-adapt they must find a way to change this & initially the answer is for them to go slower in training & trust it. In this way, pretty soon, they’ll start to adapt & their projected marathon pace WILL go up (faster) & then their training pace will also. This is a mental skill also – teach the ego to shut up & then teach the body to train for adaptation. It can take years for this adaptation to take place fully. See if the following points help out – they do for my runners & triathletes:

· I have had success with teaching the slower runners at altitude to NOT run until they can run at less than 70% of their actual heart rate reserve (i.e. using their resting HR as an evening factor). They walk brisker & brisker at that sub 70% until they can run, or they run on the downs & then flats & walk the climbs (which brings them into grey if they try to run), until they adapt. It can take 18 months – but most can do this in about 6 or so weeks
· I use the walk/run method a LOT (even with elites) – this helps them run a bit faster (as they’d like), but keeps the HR down – they slow to a walk when it begins to exceed 70-75% of HRR. This helps with fat metabolism training also. Check out my webinar on USAT website, from a couple of weeks back on walk/run:
· Have them do ever increasing hikes & get more & more hilly with these. I start with 45min & work up to even 4+ hours.
· Finally, check out the latest triathlete magazine (p106), for something that I have used & believed for years - 12 – 15% grade (on treadmill also) walking. Is exactly the same as running without the impact & HR is easily controlled

Good luck & please let me know if this helps,

Best wishes,

Bobby McGee

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