Many ways to skin a cat.

Everything about the training process, including programs, experiences, etc.

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wind-hater
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Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby wind-hater » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:40 am

Who came up with that expression anyway? That's gross.

Anyway, I wanted to share with the gang my approach to training that allowed me to improve on my marathon time. Prior to this fall I had run 7 marathons. Even though I was capable of running a 3:30 time since 2006, I was never able to capitalize....I always fell apart after 32K.

I was able to log 2 PB's in 7 weeks this fall by the following:

1- Consistency - For the last 15 months, I've been more consistent than ever before - logging good mileage every week with few breaks - none for longer than a week.

2- Total Mileage - I logged many weeks of 70K/80K/ close to 90K weeks - that's not a tonne but it had a much better effect than the 60K/65K weeks of previous years.

3- Longer Runs - both mid week (12k to 16K) and on Sunday's up to 38K and 40K.

4- Hills - lots of hill work - that improved my strength base and really helped with the Lactic Acid Threshold.

As reported on another post, I really didn't eat well but sticking with the above mentioned improvements, helped a lot. Staying injury free may have been a fluke but it helped too.

According to the subject title, there are many ways to get faster and increase endurance but this is what worked for me....hopefully it helps you too.

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Jwolf
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Re: Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby Jwolf » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:47 am

Good tips! Thanks. That's great that it's worked out for you so well this year.

FWIW, I don't really consider 12-16K "long runs" for midweek. To me they are just a given for marathon mileage.

I have fallen apart after 32K in all my marathons too, some worse than others. My goal pace has always been a moderate 30 sec slower than my half-marathon pace, so I haven't been able to figure out what works. My training for the last three has looked pretty much like you describe, except that I tend to do more long tempos and tempo intervals and less injury-inducing hills. I'm not sure if I'll do another marathon next year or what I will change other than trying to get more in more mileage at or near marathon pace.
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MichaelMc
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Re: Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby MichaelMc » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:30 pm

I find people make training much more complex than it really needs to be, and the whole "we are all an experiment of one" theory plays into it. Each of us is unique, but we are all far more alike than different. You can get faster in distance racing in two basic ways: develop more pure speed, or become better at maintaining your (short distance) speed for longer distances. Some training will contribute to both, some will target primarily one or the other.

Running more will improve your running in a host of ways: bodies adapt to what they are exposed to a lot, so running more focuses the improvement. It makes you more efficient, stonger, and promotes endurance so it makes you both faster and better able to maintain the speed: one additional benefit is as you adapt to running more you are also able to TRAIN more. If 5% of your weekly mileage is speed work of some sort, as your mileage increases, so does your speedwork.

Training isn't that complex: gradually increase the amount you are doing, at a rate your body can adapt to. This is the critical difference between individuals: recovery time varies based on a multitude of factors including health, genetics, age, sleep, nutrition, other physical stresses. Learning how much you can handle while staying healthy will allow you to train consistently. The ins and outs of what percentage of your running should be higher intensity, and exactly what workouts isn't nearly as critical as learning to stay healthy while slowly and steadily increasing your workload.

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La
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Re: Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby La » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:32 pm

We also all have preferences and real lives to work our training schedule around, so the program that works best for you is the one you're most likely to stick to.
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MichaelMc
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Re: Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby MichaelMc » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:05 pm

La wrote:We also all have preferences and real lives to work our training schedule around, so the program that works best for you is the one you're most likely to stick to.


Excellent point, and often overlooked. If it doesn't fit into your life, it really isn't a good plan for you!

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Re: Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby alexk » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:07 pm

La wrote:We also all have preferences and real lives to work our training schedule around, so the program that works best for you is the one you're most likely to stick to.


So true, and to add to this, what may work in one training block may not work in another, for many reasons. The longer I play this racing/running game, the more I realise how important it is to be flexible - to not get too hung up on schedules and read too much into every run.

A close friend recently ran a marathon PB (3:21). She had an incredible race, running a 3 minute negative split! She wasn't expecting a PB at all. Her training hadn't gone as well as she hoped and she felt "off" all summer. But she was consistent and ran as best she could, without getting too stressed about not hitting the training paces/distances that came easier last winter/spring (when she ran 3:24).

The conditions were perfect on race day. Her previous experience and zen-like attitude helped her run the race of her dreams. Had she stressed too much about her training, she may not have taken advantage of the day and how strong she felt.
Last edited by alexk on Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
We train more joyfully and productively when we focus on the now, rather than on our future race day performance. It's a long road from here to there with many miles to go. We need to run each one. Accept where you are today and simply be thankful for the work you've accomplished. KA

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Re: Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby turd ferguson » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:08 pm

4 flavours of hard work, it looks like to me.

The only race plans that (IMO) don't work are the ones that promise to let you bypass the hard work to get to the results. Actually I guess that's true of a lot of things in life.
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Dstew
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Re: Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby Dstew » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:37 am

I am going to say consistency, adjusting for what works best for you and that it is not that complicated, just a matter of trial and error and being flexible in one's approach.

There was an interesting study some time back and it found that no matter what program one follows, about 60% of the people are going to respond, 15% will be low responders, 15% will excel and the rest will have a negative response. So follow just about any program on a consistent basis will likely get one some improvement.

There are a number of studies, Glasgow, Northern Iowa, Swiss 16 k race with 4,000 runners, etc, etc that suggest mileage is a fairly low predictor of performance in your average runner. For elites and the more talented runners, more is better without a question but as best as anyone can determine, about 50% of people will get injured running if they run 40 mpw or more. So one does really have to be careful about more is better.


But I think the point of this discussion is how does one reach their "potential", to be in the 15% that responds very well to a training program. One way is try a number of different approaches and then stick with the one that works best for you. In my personal experience, I found a higher percentage of speed work per week, consistent cross training and a limited number of races per year is the best approach. To use the cliche', I listened to my body but I also looked at my watch. If I was not improving or feeling I was improving, I tried something different. The problem with this approach is that it can takes many months or even years to find the right combination. Is one willing to try something for 6 - 8 weeks and then go back the drawing board?

A study of twins in a V02 test showed an increase in the twin pairs between 0 - 40% wit the average 12%. Which means that for some, the running times estimates around 10% of runners, no matter what you do you will not get better. One has to accept the genetics that they have and so adjust their training around that.

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MichaelMc
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Re: Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby MichaelMc » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:56 pm

There is no evidence one can alter their status as a "super responder", nor can "low responders" plan around it. Genetics has a major role, but it still does not change what works very much, just how WELL (quickly) it works.

Mileage is a terrific indicator in the LONG run, just not in the short term. The studies referred to studied a single training cycle, which isn't long enough for mileage to have its primary benefits.

The injury study was also very weak. As usual, with selective care one can use statistics to support almost any position. Do a study on the injury rate of runners per mile and I think you'll find the LESS you run the more you get injured.

Consistancy is a key, for sure: bodies adapt to what they do a lot of.

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Re: Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby Dstew » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:05 am

MichaelMc wrote:There is no evidence one can alter their status as a "super responder", nor can "low responders" plan around it. Genetics has a major role, but it still does not change what works very much, just how WELL (quickly) it works.

Mileage is a terrific indicator in the LONG run, just not in the short term. The studies referred to studied a single training cycle, which isn't long enough for mileage to have its primary benefits.

The injury study was also very weak. As usual, with selective care one can use statistics to support almost any position. Do a study on the injury rate of runners per mile and I think you'll find the LESS you run the more you get injured.

Consistancy is a key, for sure: bodies adapt to what they do a lot of.


The injury studies are what they are so you can "think" whatever you like. And your thoughts are at odds with the fact that most injuries are a result of over use and therefore the more one runs, the more likely they are to get hurt. Tim Noakes speaks of a gradual approach over 5 - 15 years but he also emphasizes that one should do the minimum that they can and only gradually add in mileage and intensity. So let us define your term "long".


From the Sports Injury Bulletin because for some, more miles has to mean more consecutive days:

Consecutive days are counted as follows: if you train on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, you are training on three consecutive days each week (Friday doesn't count because it has a rest day before and after it). Studies show that reducing the number of consecutive days lowers the risk of injury. This means that if you train for one hour every day from Monday through Friday (five consecutive days), you could reduce your risk by completing 75- minute workouts on four days per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, for example). Your total training time (and gain in fitness) would be the same in each case, but the second strategy would reduce your consecutive days from five to two, giving you much more average recovery time between sessions and a lower risk of injury.

Exercise scientists believe that the key problem with too many consecutive days is that they don't give your muscles and connective tissues a regular, substantial block of time during which they can knit themselves back together after being punished by strenuous training. Giving your sinews predictable 48-hour stretches of relief (which is basically what they get when you schedule a rest day) allows more healing to occur, so that small angry knots of connective tissue don't flare up into major injury problems.



My point is not that more miles is never true but that more miles may NOT be true for every runner:

"I firmly believe that every runner has an injury threshold," says physical therapist and biomechanist Irene Davis, Ph.D., from the University of Delaware's Running Injury Clinic. "Your threshold could be at 10 miles a week, or 100, but once you exceed it, you get injured." Various studies have identified injury-thresholds at 11, 25, and 40 miles per week. Your threshold is waiting for you to discover it.



And as Tim Noakes has pointed out, there are exceptions to the more is not necessarily better:

But it is clear that genetic ability has more to do with why the great athletes beat us than their harder training, and there is no earthly way in which training can reverse the physiological realities and thus reduce the chasm that divides us from them. Unfortunately, too many runners believe that they must train hard to run well and end up doing too much to try to compensate for their genetic deficits. But, by starting with a modest training program and then gradually increasing and modifying the balance between increasing training distance and training speed (see Bruce Fordyce, chapter 6), the crossover point where increased training leads to compromised, not better, performance and increased injury risk can be clearly identified. In sum, this was how both Mark Plaatjes became world champion.
For example, who ever records that exceptional runners like Walter George and AU Shrubb achieved quite remarkable performances on very low mileage? George ran a mile in 4:10.6 and a 16-km run in 49:29 on little more than 3 km of training per day. Even Paavo Nurmi, the most medaled Olympic runner of all times, trained pathetically little but performed exceptionally, even by today's standards. The outstanding performances of the black African runners, from Kip Keino to Matthews Temane, have also been achieved on relatively little training in which high quality but relatively low volume has been emphasized.



I cannot argue that if you have the genetic gifts that most studies are going to show that a very slow and gradual build up of miles over years not only will maximize your speed but also will result in relatively fewer injuries. We agree that genetics cannot be altered but my argument is that if everyone has slightly different gentics, it is logical that not everyone is going to respond the same and therefore there will be exceptions to your theory. Even the weekend warrior who wants to set a personal best or make it to Boston, a slow and steady progression of miles over years is going to work well for 60 - 75% at least. But if you are arguing that more and slow miles works for everyone, then you are wrong at not only the recreational level but at the elite level. Go to any site and you can find a variety of approaches that do work for at least some. There was a running times article that suggested long runs at or very near marathon pace and then slow "recovery" runs in the week that follows. The FIRST program has worked for many. My own experience is that fewer miles with cross training works better for me. Your approach is merely the "classic" approach but as it was meant and not as it has evolved to cater to runners without the time or the patience to let it work. It may work for most but it is not going to work for everyone as there are so many factors involved that to say you alone have the one answer is megalomaniac. I do want to make it clear that if someone wanted to try to improve, I would tell them to follow your recommendations but I would be humble enough to suggest that it might not work and they may have to adjust that approach. That they may be one of the unlucky ones that gets hurt at 40 mpw or less. That their muscles may need strength training, that their bodies may get so good at adapting that they cease to improve without going to as high as 15-30% of their runs as per Tim Noakes. Or that if they are patient and willing to stick with it for years, they may get the results that they want. But I would never say there is one and only one way to skin a cat.

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ian
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Re: Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby ian » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:57 am

Looks like there's some miscommunication here that might put the two of you on the same page:

Injuries: David is talking about total injury rate (which undoubtedly increases with more training) while Michael refers to the injury rate per mile. It is plausible that, with a sufficiently gradual buildup, running, say, 100K per week does not lead to twice as many injuries, on average, as running 50K per week.

Performance: Now the script is flipped, as Michael is asserting that the total performance of a runner correlates well with long term mileage whereas David seems to be suggesting that certain styles of lower-mileage training are more efficient per mile for some people in the sense of getting some (or even most) of the gains of a higher-mileage program with less training time and, perhaps, a lower injury risk.

From my vantage point, both viewpoints can coexist. Perhaps David's is more applicable to the recreational runner who has modest performance goals and significant life constraints on training, whereas Michael's explanation becomes increasingly relevant for runners who are committed to a long term optimization of their performance.

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Re: Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby MichaelMc » Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:25 pm

Dstew wrote:The injury studies are what they are so you can "think" whatever you like. And your thoughts are at odds with the fact that most injuries are a result of over use and therefore the more one runs, the more likely they are to get hurt.

We can take it study by study if you like, because I don't believe they really indicate what you say they do.

Dstew wrote:From the Sports Injury Bulletin because...


Did you actually read the whole article, because it makes several of my points: " In the case of running, for example, the rate is about one per 100 hours of participation. Of course, that means that total time spent training per week can be a pretty good predictor of injury" it sepcifically debunks your 40 hour point and makes an argument against you next point.

Dstew wrote:And as Tim Noakes has pointed out, there are exceptions to the more is not necessarily better:

But it is clear that genetic ability has more to do with why the great athletes beat us than their harder training, and there is no earthly way in which training can reverse the physiological realities...the outstanding performances of the black African runners, from Kip Keino to Matthews Temane, have also been achieved on relatively little training in which high quality but relatively low volume has been emphasized.


I respect Noakes, but African distance runnersa are actually known for HIGH volumes, not low.


Dstew wrote:I cannot argue that if you have the genetic gifts that most studies are going to show that a very slow and gradual build up of miles over years not only will maximize your speed but also will result in relatively fewer injuries... my argument is that if everyone has slightly different gentics, it is logical that not everyone is going to respond the same and therefore there will be exceptions to your theory... But if you are arguing that more and slow miles works for everyone, then you are wrong...to say that u alone have the one answer is megalomaniac....


Actually I think that lots of approaches will work, all to varying degrees and I NEVER argue that all slow miles is the optimum way to go. I simply think we don't need to reinvent the wheel for every runner and that the best first approach is to try a proven method PROPERLY before launching on experiments of one. Time and again I read about people who can't figure out what their problem is when they really HAVEN'T tried the proven method. I'm advocating "common sense". It may only be the answer for 95% of people, but it might still be worth a real try. And as a meglomaniac, my goals are very modest!

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Re: Many ways to skin a cat.

Postby Dstew » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:57 pm

MichaelMc wrote: I simply think we don't need to reinvent the wheel for every runner and that the best first approach is to try a proven method PROPERLY before launching on experiments of one. Time and again I read about people who can't figure out what their problem is when they really HAVEN'T tried the proven method. I'm advocating "common sense". It may only be the answer for 95% of people, but it might still be worth a real try. !


I obviously misread your initial post as I agree with this conclusion. The "classic" method is considered such for a good reason, because it works. My only comment is that if one tries this method for years and it is not producing the proper results, then time to try something new. And as you did acknowledge previously, if someone can only run three times a week, a different approach that may be less than ideal may be required.


As an aside, my theory is that some runners and coaches make things much more complicated and technical so as to raise their perceived level of importance in order to sell more programs or for vanity sake. That is one can say that not only is putting in the necessary miles hard enough to complete a marathon, see how hard it is to get in the right miles.

But when you consider the average marathoner is around 36 - 40 and completion time is around 4:38, then does it really matter for most what those few extra miles are, most are going to show improvement. Of course someone who wants to run a 3:30 marathon and puts in the speed work to do that is inviting an injury.

2010 Overall Demographics
Percent Avg.
Age Avg.
Time*
Men 58.8% 40.3 4:27:11
Women 41.2% 36.6 4:54:25
All Runners 100.0% 38.8 4:38:25


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