Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Differences between faster running and easy running

So, I have been doing a slightly different sort of training pretty much all this year, since end of March. I have been doing an easy 5-6km, following that with a 10x30sec fast. Doing it twice a week, and one longer easy run on Sunday. The long run I built to 20kms ONCE, and usually about 13-19kms. Fairly regular ParkRun 5km on Saturdays.  Slowly building endurance by the time on feet week in week out. Mileage per week varied from 45 to 25kms depending on if I had a race as well.

I did something ever so slightly different last year, higher mileage from regular 10km weekly runs, still a short 'long'  run on Sundays no more than 17kms. I ran more frequently, sometimes 7 days a week. I also did quite regular 400m reps. Weekly mileage was usually about 35-45km but I peaked beyond 70kms once..

This year I am behind as far as fitness goes compared to last year. I started a month later so thats part of it. I managed a PB 42min in the Bridge to Brisbane last year - this year I blew out going too fast in the first 3km and tanked the rest of the race. I am also only at 20:44 for my best 5km this year. Last year in September I managed a PB 5km of 20 flat. I am pretty much at a peak now for this year and expect to do a decent 5km race this weekend. Not sure it will be a PB, but we shall see.

The point is that regardless of whether I do regular fast running or long easy running, it tends to take me at least 3 months of consistent running to get to a point where I am fit enough to go near 20min for 5kms. Since I started a month later this year, my peak is arriving a month later.

This week I did a 17km long run Sunday, rested Monday, and then did a 10km 'easy'  again Tuesday. And it felt HARD especially in the last 2kms . I had been doing similar long runs these last few weeks, and been hammering myself a bit with weights and plyometric exercises too on Mondays, with the Tuesday run being a 6km easy plus speed session. Speed is SUPPOSED to be 'hard' on you but I feel the exact opposite.  It invigorates and loosens me up. I would do 6km easy and the speed session would add up to near enough 2km's. 8km's total.  My expectation was that after 6km easy plus the 2km of speed work would be almost equivalent to the effort overall for a 10km run.

I don't think that has quite worked out. In the 10km run yesterday, that last 2km was tough. Sure I was fatigued overall. But its as if the overall distance - regardless of how I do it - that counts. That last 2kms in the 10km run, done on tired legs may well be whats missing as far as my overall condition this year. Its interesting to me at least.  And it helps to clarify to me what is most effective as far as training is concerned.

A lot of training schedules and method advocate long easy mileage in a weekly block for _recovery_  after a hard week. But I feel I recover better doing a week of daily '6km easy plus a 2km speed session after' .

Anyway I think it might be good to mix things up a bit. No matter what sort of running I do, its the weekly and monthly  mileage consistency  - at least three months of it -  that is what leads to a peak in fitness. Speed work has an effect, I can run strongly at easy paces as a result, but it does not lead to a fast 5km. Its that aerobic base that is built on consistent mileage that matters.

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