Craughwell 10 Blog: Developing a training plan Part 1

Craughwell 10 Blog: Developing a training plan Part 1

what time did I do?

Ten miles – a nice round number – as the famous Ballycotton motto has it "a classic distance".  It think it's a fascinating distance and I'm delighted that it was chosen for our club race.

Call me old fashioned but when someone talks distance to me I still think in terms of miles.  I like metric as well as the next man, but I usually convert my minutes per kilometer into minutes per mile to see how I'm really doing.  For that reason 10 Miles is much easier on my brain, from a mathematical standpoint.  It is so easy to figure out the pace you need to run at in order to reach your goal.  9 minute miles will get you home in 90 minutes.  6 minute miles in 60 and so on.

It's an intimidating distance too – definitely not to be taken lightly.  If your pal asked you to run a 10k in the morning you would probably think "ah sure why not – I'm not fit but I'll muddle round". Not so with 10 miles – you need to have some work done and treat it with respect.

For most of us ten miles will take us close to or possibly much longer than an hour.  I remember reading before that your body can hold enough water for an hours efficient running and that after that strange things can happen.  This fits with my experience – if I'm running longer than an hour I need to take in a bit of water.  It's like different parts of the body are getting used.

There is also a concept in physiology called lactate threshold.  This is the maximum pace you can run at while still letting your body get rid of the damaging lactic acid.  For most people this is between their 10k and 10mile pace.  This means that for even very fast runners, 10 miles is right at the edge of what you can run at pace, and judging of this pace is tricky.  I have heard many stories of runners who were going well only to start suffering strange effects in the last few minutes of a 10-miler.  Mike Tobin was on for a great time a few years ago in Ballycotton when he got a cramp in the last mile which he blamed on a biscuit eaten before the race.  He still made the top 100 but narrowly missed out on his dream finish of a sub-60.  That's the mystique of the 10 mile distance – it carries with it a hint of danger and an extra challenge of resource management. He would never have suffered this cramp over 10k.

The world record is an incredible 44:24 set by Haile Gebrselassie. When you are 44 minutes into the Craughwell 10 spare a thought for the great man. My own personal best for the distance is 55:50 – set in Cork last March when I was a lot fitter than I am now.

I have had a bummer of a year with injury and am basically back to square one fitness-wise, so my goal is to complete a 10 miler in March in under 60 minutes.  As I'll be helping out in our race I hope to do this in Ballycotton the following week.  In part to keep myself motivated I am just going to blog the training program I am working out here, and will also include versions of it which are geared towards the more casual runner.  There are dozens of generic training programs on the web, but I like to make up my own ones to gear them towards my own personal situation.  Feel free to take a gander at my plan, try to understand the logic I use and leverage for yourself!  The disclaimer being that I'm no expert.  Comments and feedback are very welcome!

I'm a firm believer that smart training benefits the casual runner just as much as the serious runner, so don't go thinking that you are too much of a "fun" runner to follow a program or read up on this stuff – everyone wants to be the best they can bem and what is good for the goose is good for the gander!!

Basic Running Science:
There is a famous US coach called Jack Daniels that came up with what I feel is a very simple way of designing training plans, and it's mostly his methods I use.  Another famous coach that mirrors Daniels very closely is a guy called Greg McMillan and he has what I think is a good guide to coming up with your own training program up here: http://www.mcmillanrunning.com/training5b.htm.  It's worth reading a lot of the material on the McMillan site – it's all good stuff.  McMillan is the coach of Ireland's own Martin Fagan, who will be running in Santry next week.  The basic tenets are as follows:

1. There are four specific things that can make you run better – these are: maximum leg speed, efficient use of oxygen, how well you deal with lactate acid and endurance.  Each of these specific things benefit from training them specifically.  So how do you get faster?

– To improve endurance run lots of miles – particulart long runs at a steady pace. I use the shorthand "L" (as in Long Run) for these.

– To improve leg speed, run short distances quickly with long recoveries.  I use the shorthand "R" (as in Rep) for these.

– To improve lactic acid processing, run at your half marathon pace.  I use the shorthand "T" (as in threshold) for these.

– To improve oxygen usage, run at between your 5k and 10k pace. I use the shorthand "I" (as in interval) for these.

2. Most coaches advocate training in phases where you focus on one system at a time for a few weeks.  I.e. you focus on one particular aspect of your running for a few weeks and then move on.

3. Each week consists of 1 long run, one "Primary" (hard) speed session and one "secondary" (easier) session.  All other miles are steady, relatively easy.

4. Don't increase mileage by any more than 10% per week

5. The long run is about 25% of the total weeks mileage.

6. One full rest day and at least 2 easy days running per week. Easy days are to recover from the hard ones so you can do a good hard session the following day.

The Training Program:
As of the time of writing there are 14 weeks to the Craughwell 10, and 15 to the Ballycotton 10, so my program is for 15 weeks.  It assumes that you have some base of running before you start – this would mean that you have been running regularly a few days a week for a period of time.  Having done a bit of running I think I can hop straight into about 30 miles a week so that's about where it starts.  The mileage also ramps pretty steeply because I have done this kind of mileage before and I think that I should be able for it – I may have to adjust if I am finding it tough going though…

The phases are:

Phase 1 (Week 2-4) Base work:  In these weeks I'll be just doing steady miles, trying to build up my base a bit and not stressing the body overly.
Phase 2 (Week 5-7) Leg Speed:  In these weeks the primary session will be for leg speed.  These will consist of short runs with long recoveries.
Phase 3 (Week 8-10) Vo2MAX:  In these weeks the primary session is for the lungs.  These will be runs at about 5-8k speed with equal recoveries.
Phase 4  (Week 11-13) Lactate Threshold: In these weeks the primary session will be for lactic acid usage.  These will be 5-30 minute runs at half marathon pace with short recoveries.

I'm just going to cover the first phase here and cover the others as I get into them.

The plan I hope to follow is peaking at about 70 miles per week. I'm calling this the "advanced" plan.
The intermediate plan peaks at about 50 miles in one week or 25% less mileage than mine.
The beginner plan peaks at about 35 miles in one week or 50% the mileage of mine.

All the plans are the same – the only difference is the volume of miles!

Weeks 2-3: Base work
These are the easiest weeks to explain – basically you just get out and run whenever you get the chance and do it all at a comfortable pace.  The mileage shown below is guidline.  The goal is that you end up these 4 week feeling solid – uninjured and fresh.  These weeks end with the fields of Athenry which will be a very important cornerstone of the next phase of my training.. more on that later!

Mark's Plan:

Week No.

Date

Session 1

Session2

Long Run

Weekly Target

Phase

1

06-Dec-09

4xstrides

4xstrides

8

32

Base

2

13-Dec-09

5xstrides

5xstrides

9

35

Base

3

20-Dec-09

6xstrides

6xstrides

10

39

Base

4

27-Dec-09

ATHENRY 10k

 

10

42

Base

 

Intermediate Plan: 

Week No.

Date

Session 1

Session2

Long Run

Weekly Target

Phase

1

06-Dec-09

4xstrides

4xstrides

6

24

Base

2

13-Dec-09

5xstrides

5xstrides

7

26

Base

3

20-Dec-09

6xstrides

6xstrides

7

29

Base

4

27-Dec-09

ATHENRY 10k

 

8

32

Base

Beginner (get you round) Plan: 

Week No.DateSession 1Session2Long RunWeekly TargetPhase
106-Dec-094xstrides4xstrides416Base
213-Dec-095xstrides5xstrides418Base
320-Dec-096xstrides6xstrides520Base
427-Dec-09ATHENRY 10k 521Base

So I start off this week with a goal of running 32 miles, with 8 miles of it coming in my long run tomorrow.  As I am doing base work I am not doing any sessions – i.e. no speedwork, just steady mileage.  To keep things even moderately interesting I am throwing in some strides. What are strides..?  I'll give you Greg McMillans definition:

 "Strides work to improve your sprinting technique by teaching the legs to turn over quickly. It's really the neuromuscular system that we're trying to develop here which is why they are shorter than anaerobic capacity intervals. They last only 50-200m because unlike the anaerobic capacity intervals, we don't want lactic acid to build up during each stride. This inhibits the nervous system and interferes with the neuromuscular adaptations that we want. Accordingly, after each stride, you must jog easily for a minimum of 30 seconds and up to a minute and a half to make sure the muscles are ready for the next one. Not allowing for sufficient recovery after each stride is a common mistake. Take advantage of the longer recovery. It will allow you to put more effort into each stride which really helps develop your speed.

As you might imagine, the pace for strides is very fast – 800m to mile race pace. Note that this is not all-out sprinting. Run fast but always stay under control. These are quick efforts where you practice good form. You'll be amazed at how much your finishing kick improves with these workouts.

You can incorporate some strides or "pick-ups" during the middle of your run or at the end. To perform, run fast for 15 to 25 seconds then jog easily for 30 seconds to a minute and a half before beginning the next one. Begin with four strides and build up to ten to 20."

So get on out there – lace up the shoes, listen to some tunes and enjoy yourself!  I'll be back after Athenry to blog on how my training is going and lay out the next few weeks.

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