The Village Velodrome Appreciation Society

A blog about jitensha and jogging

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Oda Field

Tonight I dragged myself along to Oda Field. I nearly turned back twice on the way there, but I decided to ignore my cold and run.

I think I psyched myself up too much listening to Public Enemy on my iPod on the way to the track. My first kilometer effort was 3.17. I paid for it in the next two with a 3.30 and a 3.43. I sat out the next one (it was kind of the plan) and then ran one more, posting a 3.24. I was meant to run two more, but the 3.24 had taken a bit out of me and I'm simply not doing enough mileage to do 6x1km.

The pain in the back of my left knee is improving, as is my right foot. Chest is cool. ITB in my left knee is OK.

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At 11:36 am, Blogger Stephen Lacey said...

Hi Gordon,

I've said it before and as long as you put your training up on the Web I guess I'll take the liberty to say it again. You know from your comments yesterday and today that you need to lay a proper mileage base, but you are not doing it but are still attempting to run fast.

The thing is, that by going out and running these anaerobic sessions without a proper base, you are not just having a poor session, you are risking injury again and setting back real forward progress. (At least you backed off from the full load, which was sensible.) Sure, you might get a response from these sessions, but only by improving one aspect of the necessary physiological adaptations: the rate at which cells can take up oxygen. And maybe some other things related to processing lactate or whatever.

But are you recruiting new muscle fibers or building the mitochondria that will boost your ability to do something with that oxygen? No. Are you strengthening tendons, bones and ligaments? No. Just running these sessions you can quickly knock yourself into enough shape to run some decent times at those upcoming 5k races you mentioned, but still nowhere near your potential.

Until you really knuckle down and spend a sustained period running consistent (daily), long (an hour+), slowish (5:00/km-4:30/km, eventually 4:10-4:00 ... not really that slow) miles, with no anaerobic running, you are going to be a bit fragile and won't have a strong base on which to add your sharpening up sessions.

I can almost guarantee that you could break 16 minutes AND be in pretty good shape to knock out a commensurate marathon if you put yourself through a proper six-month aerobic program. Building mileage very gradually. Why? Because you will put more muscle fibers in your legs and more mitochondria in those fibers, build capillaries to the fibers and develop the enzyme systems for processing oxygen and lipids. When you have done all that, you have fully developed aerobic endurance, then you add in the anaerobic speed sessions to increase the rate of oxygen diffusion into the cells and raw speed.

I have to say, it really makes me worry when I read about all the injury problems you have, then about how you haven't been doing much training, and then to see you state some ambitious short term 5k goals. It just speaks of a vicious cycle of frenetic training, small gains in fitness and times, injury, set back fitness, repeat.

What do you think?

Sorry if I am becoming a nag and if this just re-hashes what I have said before, but I just can't help thinking that you have the potential to push on to a whole other level if you can take a longer term outlook and steadily execute a carefully formulated plan.

At 9:56 pm, Blogger oldsprinter said...

Hi Stephen,

thanks for the comments. I know you're right. I guess I need some guidance. Should I run the Wednesday night sessions at all? Would I be better off going for an hour run by myself?

How fast can I ramp up my running program again? It's something like 10 percent more per week isn't it? (I miss my long runs).

I do keep getting injured. My knee still isn't really 100%, which makes me think I'll never run a marathon.

Anyway, I'll focus on more mileage and less strain for the next few weeks.


At 12:04 pm, Blogger Stephen Lacey said...


My advice would be to set longer term goal(s) and work towards them (it) steadily. I don't necessarily think you need to run a marathon, but that type of long-term build up will leave you much stronger and more fully trained. For example, if we were to say that a person needs to train 130 to 160 km per week for a marathon, we are talking about peak mileage, and you have to ease your way towards it from as low a base as you like over however long it takes. But five to six months is not unreasonable. And of course you don't necessarily need to get to 130 km, but that's an example.

I think the best approach is to find a distance and intensity that if you run it every day, you can always be recovered for the next day. So if that means 5k/day at 4:40/km, then that's what you do for a couple of weeks. Then you gradually start increasing the distances on some of the days. But you have to hold your training pace back so that you are always feeling reasonably fresh.

Like I said, you need to sit down and work out a plan or strategy over a longer period.

The first goal would be to run really regularly at modest distances. For several weeks. If every day is out of the question, then start with every second day, or four days a week. Start with a fixed time or distance and keep it and the pace below what you think you can manage. What this allows you to do is get out there more often, and that will have benefit for your knees and everything else besides. While you might feel that each run is not enough to be doing any good (intensity) you compensate by getting out more often (frequency). You will actually find after a little while that all these easy runs start to generate some fatigue ... hey, they are doing some good after all! But it is not all loaded on at once and your legs especially will not be as stressed out by it. Maybe start by aiming to run 30 to 40 minutes per run for four to five days per week. Do that for two to three weeks and then re-evaluate.
To be honest, it really is best if you give up track and races for a while. This is definitely a difficult time of year for me to say that, and you should make your own decision about it. But I would at the very least suggest an initial six week period where you concentrate on frequent easy running before taking yourself to the red line with races and intervals.


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