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An interview with Brad Hudson (author, with the ubiquitous Matt Fitzgerald, of “Run Faster“) was promoted on LetsRun, from a site, RML (roads, mills, laps), that I’d never heard of but bears investigating.
It’s a good read, and emphasizes the importance/need for high mileage at the elite level, something perhaps lacking in in the 90s.
I think a lot of people are focused on speed and plyometrics. But the quickest way for U.S. athletes to get good is that they have to run a lot. They have to run aerobically at high intensity and have quite a lot of accumulated mileage. That is the only way we are going to catch up to the Africans, because they are so far ahead of us. So it’s got to be large volume, but not just that; it has to be long, hard stuff that raises threshold. Look, it’s no secret that in the fall Teg runs 140-mile weeks. So you can say that I am a huge proponent of developing that aerobic system. We are behind everyone in the world. Most American runners, a lot of the naturally fast guys don’t realize how aerobically fit they have to be. Look at Kenenisa Bekele, he runs 11.6 seconds for his last 100m in the final, but you have to understand he runs 150 miles a week as well. You have to have everything. For 18 months, Dathan did no speed work — zero — other than some drills and strides. He couldn’t do it because of a calf problem. I thought he was in 27:25 shape before the marathon — maybe even better. And that’s with zero speed. I think speed is so overrated. Yeah you need it at the end, yeah you got to sharpen up. I watch all these people periodize and they are so far behind on their aerobics that it never works., because they don’t have a base to bring it in. You don’t periodize as much, because we are behind aerobically. A younger athlete is so much better off working on higher threshold in order to get that good base underneath them.
Few of us are in the realm in which 120, 130, 140 mile weeks are possible, and one wonders about the marginal benefit of trying to get there. For us, then, the issue is what the over/under figure is, where can we get the maximum benefit for the least risk. And is there a point below which one dare not go if one plans to race a marathon? As I’ve noted, I think there is.
I have one caveat, however. I’ve been reading “From First to Last” by Charlie Spedding. One of his insights is runners’ over-reliance on the word “hard.” He prefers the word “perfect” to describe training. I will get into this when I discuss the book, but it bears noting that we should try to get away from describing work-outs as hard or easy but as part of an overall plan and psychologically at least this may help in getting through the hard ones.
Actually, so far it’s just the treadmill. Went to see the Doc yesterday, and he gave me the all clear on running. I’m a project; he wants me to be “competitive” by the Spring. (His wife is a top local Masters runner.) Staples out of my arm. The blistering and bruising almost gone. Range of motion greatly enhanced. And I can almost make a fist.
So yesterday got in 2.5 miles on the treadmill, after 11 days off. Now I have to think of training for the Spring. I’m thinking of the May 16 Healthy Kidney 10K as a target race. One + lap of Central Park, finishing at Tavern on the Green. I managed a 35:35 last year, and it was my best race of the year. Plus it’s a team race (although I doubt I’ll be one of our three scorers). Greg Diamond beat me (he beat me numerous times last year), so I got second in 50-54, although I was still only 94th overall.
More immediately, I’ll see how I feel after a week and then start thinking about a specific training plan. I’m planning on integrating some of the concepts in Brad Hudson’s “Run Faster,” particularly related to including hills and speedwork early in the process. (Here’s a Running Times audio interview with Hudson.) As a rule I have no problem with the concept, since I love doing speedwork and hillwork, which help break up the monotony of straight runs. Plus if the track’s clear, I can go there, even at night. (As an aside, Kevin Beck speaks of an article he wrote in Running Times about John Cook and makes reference to Cook stalking Shannon Rowbury (I believe) in Oregon while she was wearing a headlamp to run on the dark track. I have been known to run on tracks with my headlamp.)