Long Run For Mid-Distances

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Moz

Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by Moz » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:52 am

Hi All

I've been reading the letsrun thread titled 'Lydiard vs Daniels' which essentially is an in-depth review of Lydiard's training. It reminded me of the 22 mile long run that most local runners on his program did - irrespective of their race distance.

I understand the principles of "marathon" preparation during a middle distance runner's base period, but have a few questions:

1) One of the stated benefits is the recruitment of new muscle fibres over exhausted ones that only occurs above 1hr 45 mins of a run. I heard the saying "two for the price of one" for long runs exceeding this duration. Is there any science to this and, if so, am I right in presuming it would be of great benefit to md runners? I was going to aim for a max run of 15 miles but this would come in under the 1hr45m mark.

2) How important is the proportion of the long to the rest of your training? My average mileage is about 70 split between a.m. and p.m. miles (60 in main mileage, 10 in early a.m. shakeout runs). Joe Rubio recommends a maximum of 20-25% for your long run. Should I worry about the % or should I aim to be going as far as I can manage as long as it doesn't affect the quality of my other workouts?

3) At the moment my week has quality workouts on tue and fri, with some low stress basic speed work on saturday. Long run on sunday. Due to my ripe age (36) I was planning on making all my long runs at easy paces. Many people add some lighter quality (such as some MP running) to their long runs. In an ideal world would that be beneficial for a middle distance runner or am I better off just getting the mileage in the least stressful way possible?

If it is relevant I am very much a fast twitch runner but seem to recover fairly well from long runs and am happy to do them for as long as necessary to make me faster.

Thanks.

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Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by ap4305 » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:25 pm

Most of the Lydiard clan, including the mid-distance guys, ran close to 100mpw (perhaps more if you include the often undocumented second runs of the day). Percentage of weekly mileage is certainly important as a guide for setting your long run distance but it should not be determinative. Nevertheless, it is often a wise strategy to adhere to that percentage. While you may have success in the short term "going as far as you can manage without affecting the quality of your other workouts," the wear and tear of pushing your long runs too long could have a percolating effect so that you don't realize it has affected the rest of your training until several months later.

I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from adding easy aerobic distance to any of their runs, but for a mid-distance specialist I would rather see the mileage increase through greater frequency (which you have going for you with doubles) and maybe bumping the distance of the secondonary runs of the day rather than pushing the length of your default weekly long run. Plenty of middle distance runners succeed with "long" runs in the 75-90 minute range. However, one benefit of keeping the long run relatively long is that you can more easily transition to your longer distance training and racing if you race XC or roads during your off-season from middle distance racing.

Injecting quality into the long run is certainly valuable for mid distance guys, but just recognize that you might not be able to go fast AND long with too much frequency. In addition to some continuous marathon paced running, you might also do some fartlek with short pickups at intensities ranging from 5k effort through half marathon effort. As a general matter, regardless of what distance you are running, mixing up the intensities in the long run is often a wise move as an injury prevention tool. Running long distances in a long run week after week with little to no change in intensity (and stride mechanics) can sometimes lead to increased injury susceptibility.
Last edited by ap4305 on Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by TexNav » Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:15 pm

For what it's worth, from personal experience, even when I began running/training I was only committing to 3-4 days of running per week on T/Th/S/Su. I would have to go back and check my logs but I don't think I was running more than 24-27 miles per week total but was still able to put in about a 12 mile long run without any injury issues. I just used a steady build-up an went from 60,70,80 to 90 minute runs in progressive weeks with just a nice and easy pace. So, from at least a personal standpoint the percentage of weekly mileage was something that I was glad to have ignored to an extent. If anything, I think that the long run was just something that helped me build the rest of my runs on as I now run on a daily basis. I'm now taking the next step and trying to work in some double days.

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Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by ap4305 » Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:28 pm

I think a different set of "rules" apply if you are running below your maximum training load (low in relative terms) and running a load that is low in absolute terms (<40mpw). That is, if your body can actually handle significantly more mileage that you are actually running, you will have more leeway to break "rules".

I would liken it to the old conventional wisdom of "no more than 10% increase mileage per week." That's certainly sound advice for some runners, but it could have some absurd results if taken literally. Let's say you run 100mpw in training for a marathon. You finish the race and then take off a week, and resume running with a fifteen mile week. Are you then limited the next week to 16.5 miles? Of course not; that would be silly. However, if you are running 80 miles per week and want to get to 100, it would be wise to build to 100 by adding ~8-10 miles per week in separate chunks rather than by adding 20 in one fell swoop, even if you can make the jump successfully with no short term ill effects (another related point worth noting is that just because something doesn't have negative effects doesn't mean it "worked".....maybe there was improvement by a factor of x, but if things had been done more efficiently there may have been improvement by a factor of x + 10 instead.).

If you are relatively close to your max level of training load, you simply need to tread more carfeully. In addition, I would say the "20-25% rule" applies in a non-linear fashion across training mileage levels. That is, at 10 miles per week, a four mile "long" run (40pct of weekly mileage) should not present any problems. However, running 140+ miles per week doesn't mean you should keep pushing your normal long run length even further and further for the pure sake of keeping your long run at a set percentage of weekly mileage. There's really nothing magic about percentage caps on long runs, just as there is nothing magic about running mile repeats at a specified pace with specified rest. The key point is to find a way to help athletes avoid doing too much with one single workout, while doing enough to stimulate the right physiological adaptations. We're all individual experiments with a sample size of N=1, but most of the time it is useful to follow the counsel of coaches like Tinman or Joe Rubio (or any of the other top coaches out there) who have observed sample sizes of N = millions in the lab and in the field and who have synthesized their observations to create guidelines for the rest of us to follow.
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Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by TexNav » Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:00 pm

Good points and at least in my case I think that you probably said it right in that I was running below my maximum training load. At the time when I began putting more focus on running, I just wasn't willing to commit to running everyday yet even though I could have.

Moz

Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by Moz » Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:17 pm

ap4305

Thanks very much for taking the time to respond. This season I'm not going to be increasing mileage past the mid-70's as I want to be a little conservative.

Based on your post I think I'll make my limit a 16 miler and will add in some quality when I'm feeling good, but only during long runs that are a little shorter.

I have to keep reminding myself to be patient - next season will be a bit more mileage and a longer long run.

Physeder

Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by Physeder » Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:47 am

:) I am one of the guys who contributed to that Daniels v Lydiard Thread. I did so under my name (Kim Stevenson). I am known to Tinman (Hi Tinman !!) but have been off the "Posting" scene for a while. Between my wife and I we have had 5 operations on our eyes ... Looking good now though !!
I have also been involved with the organisation of our National Duathlon Team at the World Champs in North Carolina ( I was Team Manager).
Firstly, I am a huge fan of the Long Sunday run and always have been. I believe it is one of the major factors in Arthur's Training.
All of my own athletes (Over 17 yrs) always run a minimum of 2 hours every Sunday over VERY hilly courses.
To answer the first question you posed Moz.. Peter Snell has done research showing that muscle fibre is recruited after a period of time. I have some of the info somewhere and will post it.
I would not have clue what percentage of my athletes daily training is used to a figure for how much they should do on a Sunday . I just get them to gradually build up time on their feet each week until they can run 2hours comfortably. Then we work on covering more ground within that 2 plus hours.
To give you an idea. I had one of my ladies run a 3:13 marathon last weekend at age 37 , She has 2 young kids and can only run 5 days a week because she holds a high position in our local health care system, and is just plain busy.
All we have done over the last 2 years is get that Sunday run going where she can run for anything up to 2hrs 30. This sets her up for the rest of the week nicely.
One month ago she ran 2nd in her age group in our National Half marathon Champs, a month before that she ran 3rd in our Provincial Road champs (6km)and a week or so before that a really good relay leg (9km) in the national Road relay.
I doubt if we have got much over 50 miles a week .. but who is counting !!. My point is she has been REALLY consistent over the last year or so at cranking out 2 hr plus runs on Sunday's.
Another example.. one of my young 800m runners ran our local half marathon in 1:30 on a VERY HILLY course on a Sunday .. 5 days later he blew away the best in our Province over 800m, then cruised a 400m heat and finished the day with a 50.7 400m all within 6 hours.
The basis of all his training was a long run on a Sunday ... he was 16 at the time and I had him running at least 1:30 to 1:40 every Sunday.
Lastly, the key to the whole deal is : Consistency of training over days, weeks, months and years.

Cheers everyone.

Moz

Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by Moz » Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:04 am

Thanks very much Kim. Hope you and your wife's eyes are back to full strength.

It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to gradually increase to 2 hours. I usually have to consciously make an effort not to get caught up in the numbers of running and this looks like another example!

Look forward to seeing the Snell research if you get the time.

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Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by ap4305 » Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:14 am

[QUOTE=Physeder;8779]:) I am one of the guys who contributed to that Daniels v Lydiard Thread. I did so under my name (Kim Stevenson). [/QUOTE]

Wow! It is a privilege to have you contributing here, Kim. I always valued reading your information on letsrun (after sorting through all the drivel that takes place in between the useful posts). Hopefully we will hear more of you on this site.
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Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by Tinman » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:30 pm

This is brief because I am at work. I just want to say hi to my friend, Kim Stevenson. He and I have shared coversations about Lydiard and the focus of endurance training for a few years. We are in agreement that nothing is more important, I believe.

To support the idea that a long run is critical to success, numerous runners I've coached have run no more than 55 miles per week, yet they run between 2:42 and 2:58 in the marathon. Why? Big Workouts, which are long runs with bits of fast aerobic running included. From marathon pace to CV pace, all of it is faster aerobic work that builds endurance and strength to handle a wide range of speeds well; even faster than CV is well tolerated when long runs are included, particularly once a runner can do faster long runs.

Glad your health is better, Kim! Glad to have you here with us at The Run Zone!

Regards,

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Physeder

Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by Physeder » Sat Dec 19, 2009 3:34 pm

:)Moz, I'm gonna be real lazy here. Google ; Recruitment of Muscle fibres Peter Snell.
A number of articles will pop up including the one I'm looking for (not sure where my copy is !!) written by my good friend Rich Englehart (HRE), but also one by Tim Noakes ... He has done some work in this area. there are of course heaps of others as well.
I'm off out the door to drive cross country to see "Fleetwood Mac" !!

Jman

Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by Jman » Sun Dec 20, 2009 4:17 am

I think 15 miles is way to long for a 400-800 Sub Master runner. I was told by two 1:45/ 800 meter runners, who are close friends to keep it at 10 miles.
Last edited by Jman on Sun Dec 20, 2009 4:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

Moz

Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by Moz » Sun Dec 20, 2009 6:04 am

Physeder

No problem - here is the Englehart interview. It seems principally based on intuition backed up by experience as I can't find the exact study:

http://fitnessintuition.com/2009/05/26/ ... ter-snell/

Another explanation from a blogger following Lydiard:

http://championseverywhere.blogspot.com ... ethod.html

The recruitment of muscle fibres by jk at letsrun:

http://www.letsrun.com/2004/jkvolume.php

Enjoy the Fleetwood Mac concert - I hope they can make it through the concert without arguing or trying to sleep with each other!

jman - I am curious as to how many miles per week your friends ran and what their PRs were at 1500m. Many low mileage 800m runners seem to have relatively weak stamina at 1500m. Interesting to know if this is due to the low mileage. Intuitively one would think improving this stamina would result in a quicker 800m time - unless of course not doing the longer runs allows them to do something else instead which is more relevant to the 800m distance.

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Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by Tinman » Sun Dec 20, 2009 3:40 pm

I think Peter Snell was referring to studies performed by John Holloszy, et al, from the late 1960's to the early 1970's, which compared the effects of duration of exercise on mitochondria in lab rats. Given a long enough run on the treadmill, lab rats convering 120 minutes (as I recall) showed significant improvements in citrate synthase and succinate synthase (mitochondria enzymes that process oxygen) in both slow and fast twitch fibers. Further, his studies showed that depletion of glycogen (stored carbohydrate) in fast twitch fibers happened for rats who ran far (120 minutes).

Observation: There was a difference between rats that ran 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes per day. The further they ran the more glycogen was depleted in fast fibers.

Conclusion: Beyond a certain point, slow twitch fibers become depleted of glycogen and fast twitch fibers have to contribute to power output. Thus, length of runs at modest speeds influences the degree of fast twitch fiber use. A long run has the potential to enhance aerobic development of all muscle fibers types.

Regards,

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bullseye

Long Run For Mid-Distances

Post by bullseye » Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:12 pm

I agree with Jman in regards to 400/800 runners. There was an interesting post on lets run recently about training 400/800 runners to race over 800m. Many of them had converted from 400s to 800s and adopted the basic distance running approach of increasing their weekly mileage and focusing on more endurance based reps and seen a significant drop off in their performance. Yes, they were significntly fitter but they had lost the ability to run fast 400m races and therefore their speed reserve was significantly less meaning they were unable to cruise the first laps of 800m anymore and working a lot harder resulting in them fatiguing earlier and slower race times.
I know it to be the case for myself that if I train like a distance runner and get really good over 3000m and up that I do not run well over 800m. It is my belief that the longer distance training for these type of runners results in drops of in muscle elasticity and anaerobic capacity that cannot be simply made up in the final 8 weeks of the season where traditionally training intensity and race pace intervals begin.
I think these type of athlete require signifcantly different training and cannot afford to be doing too much training that is too far away from their racing speed. I also believe that too much slower paced training results in these type of athletes developing different movement patterns that then become habit and result in them not being able to achieve ideal body position in races.

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