Law of Diminishing Returns

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dkggpeters
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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by dkggpeters » Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:01 am

If you want to know what kind of runner you are (higher mileage or lower mileage with more intensity), then go by your gut instincts.  What kind of workouts energize you?  These are sessions that you enjoy doing and always walk away feeling good about them.

If you enjoy long runs, long tempos, etc... then higher mileage is probably more for you.

If you enjoy track workouts and short hard efforts then lower mileage is probably up your alley.

If you want to see if you are predominately FT or ST then try doing a simple 400m all out and compare the time on Tinman's calculator vs another race time that you have run recently.  My projected time is 58.42 and I couldn't touch that time with a ten foot poll.  When I ran hard 200's with a rolling start I was only hitting 34 so I don't think I could get much under 1:10 for a 400m.  I am predominately ST and would expect that result.  If you can run a faster 400m time then you would primarily FT.  This test is assuming that you have fitness and isn't 100% but for most it should give you a good indication.

As for mileage.  I do believe that you can run a really good marathon off of 60 to 70 MPW and a 5K/10K would be in the 50 to 60 MPW range.  Your mix of quality sessions would be appropriate for the distance and your MLR's and LR's would be higher when training for a marathon.  I feel that 70 MPW appears to be the line at which you will start to see diminishing returns.  This is based off all the observations that I have witnessed while participating on the sub 3 and sub 2:40 marathon forums on runners world and seeing how everyone is training and from personal experience.

One of the most important things in training over mileage, etc... is consistency.  Get the miles in week in and week out and don't miss sessions.  Over the long term this is the factor that pays high dividends.  In other words, if you are going to train 5 days a week then run 5 days, if it is 6 days then make sure you get out for all 6 days.  The only times you should be missing sessions is due to injury (being sore and having something hurt doesn't mean you are injured so suck it up), over training (just being tired for a few days is not over training), a major respiratory infection such as bronchitis, or you have a fever.  Work and family commitments can be dealt with with good planning.  Get up at 3 am if you have to or run late at night.  Everyone else is sleeping so you have no excuse to run.  Lace up those shoes and get out there.

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by dilluh » Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:15 pm

Dave, that was a very insightful post. I wonder, from a running philosophy standpoint if you agree that runners should really emphasize their strengths to the maximum and allow that to “make up” for their weaknesses. Or do you believe there can be careful ways in which to work on the things you aren’t naturally inclined toward. My gut tells me that if you are a more endurance-type runner, your best bet to run your best mile time is to become the best endurance-type runner you can. I think of examples like Paula Radcliffe who is clearly a marathoner-type. She ended up running a great 10k (I think a PR even) not too long after a successful marathon cycle. Similarly, in the previous example of Chris Solinsky, he seems to have a great engine for VO2max type efforts and Tinman believes he should play to that strength in order to succeed at longer distances. I look at someone like Cam Levins who in college was running ungodly mileage and running great times all over the place. After college he joined the Nike Oregon Project, starts doing more traditional speed work on less miles and I don’t see the translation into greatly improved times, in fact, he's gone in the opposite direction for 5k and 10k. It would seem that he is an extreme endurance-based runner and in order to succeed on the track he needs very high volume.

I think your analogy with the 400 is a good one and while not completely precise, it does give a person a rough idea as to where their strengths lie. For me, my recent 10k PR (on a very challenging course) would suggest my 5k PR should be about 10 seconds faster than it is. Damned if I didn’t give the 5k three really strong efforts during the same period of fitness on pancake flat courses and I just can’t drop the time significantly, though I did PR. The calculation for my equivalent mile time based on the 10k is laughable - I’m relatively certain I couldn’t touch that. Conversely, my equivalent HM time based on the 10k is spot on what I’ve actually run for the HM. The marathon equivalent is way off because I believe there are other factors that play into marathon PRs (lack of experience and making mistakes in training and during the race of my first marathon being the biggest).

Anyway, useful stuff based on your experiences and observations! Thanks!

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by monica » Fri Jul 04, 2014 6:36 pm

[quote="dilluh"]That's a great question. I think Dave's response hits the nail on the head regarding training for the marathon. If you're not already elite, a moderate increase in mileage will do more for bringing your time down than just about anything.

For shorter races, what I've observed amongst people around here training for 5k to HM that consider themselves more than hobby joggers is that the importance of "high mileage" gets a bit overrated. I don't know what it is, like some sort of work ethic thing with this group that the only path to PRs is making that weekly mileage total look impressive.
[/quote]

By the moderate increase in mileage do you mean running more of those very easy runs? Like, running more days - fewer rest days - and then later introducing doubles? (If you remember, we discussed it in the other thread that I can only do very easy runs on top of the real workouts if I want decent mileage that I can maintain for longer than a couple of weeks)

Or do you mean increasing volume of the fast paced stuff? I would think that would have to be done very carefully though...and it wouldn't be much additional mileage.

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by monica » Fri Jul 04, 2014 6:59 pm

Jim wrote:I also believe that your age makes a difference. When you're 22 yrs old and getting fit almost any kind of training can get you moving along to decent performances, as long as you do more of it every six months or so. When you're 48, like moi, it gets harder to find that formula that works. I don't seem to respond to higher mileage at all, harder long runs are useless for me, longer tempos so-so but I absolutely love running track workouts. Based on the evidence I'm one of those fast-twitchy guys.  So after a short hiatus I'm getting back into some training with Tom and it'll be a little more speed oriented than what we were doing before.
Nice input, can I ask where that six month figure comes from?

It's funny, I still don't know my twitch type. I'm not a good sprinter and I have actually responded to long slow mileage - unlike you - but in a paradoxical way. I respond normally - no paradoxical weird side effects - to track workouts however. So I've run PR's on both kinds of training but the first type of training (high mileage without track workouts) is just too messy. Either I really should forget about that slow twitch type of training and try to reap all the benefits from "fast twitch type" training alone - hoping that it will work for longer distance races - or I just was not doing it right. Who knows. Right now I'm ready to just forget and see how I get on with a year-round schedule of "fast twitch type" training (less hard workouts outside the race season ofcourse).

dkggpeters wrote:I also can't stand trck workouts.
May I ask why you hate track workouts? Do you not improve off them or is it too much discomfort?
dkggpeters wrote: If you want to know what kind of runner you are (higher mileage or lower mileage with more intensity), then go by your gut instincts.  What kind of workouts energize you?  These are sessions that you enjoy doing and always walk away feeling good about them.
This is a very interesting post too.

The weird thing in my case though is this, I've enjoyed almost *any* kind of training. I like track workouts, I like running long easy, I like short tempos, long tempos, you name it. Well maybe the long tempos are not always as nice as I'd like them to be but they have still worked for me, I responded well to it (with the caveat of limiting overall weekly mileage, though!). Most energizing are track workouts and hard tempo runs (of 20-30 minutes, perhaps 40-50 minutes). I've definitely enjoyed both high mileage with less intensity and less mileage with more intensity. Mentally I am okay with almost any way of training but my legs are a bit more finicky. But anyway, I explained this already in other threads and summed it up in the above post to dilluh.

If I was to go by gut instincts I would say I'm naturally good at two things: 1) race distances that last 5-15minutes and 2) low intensity long lasting endurance stuff. I'm no good at sprinting and not as naturally good at distances from 5K-marathon compared to the above mentioned shorter distances. Of course with training I got better at them.

That could sound like I'm an FT type but as mentioned, I suck at sprinting... :( I like sprinting but I take a while to really speed up and it's still not that fast. Though it's true that I've never trained for 100/200/400m sprint distances.
If you want to see if you are predominately FT or ST then try doing a simple 400m all out and compare the time on Tinman's calculator vs another race time that you have run recently.  My projected time is 58.42 and I couldn't touch that time with a ten foot poll.  When I ran hard 200's with a rolling start I was only hitting 34 so I don't think I could get much under 1:10 for a 400m.  I am predominately ST and would expect that result.  If you can run a faster 400m time then you would primarily FT.  This test is assuming that you have fitness and isn't 100% but for most it should give you a good indication.
Wow! That's really cool, I didn't imagine that one can run 2:44 marathon while not being able to do much better than 70sec 400m. I mean that in a good way. :) Can I ask how the 200m with rolling start is done, do I understand right that it's not started from standing still? What do you think your all-out 200m time would be right now, 32? (Going by your 70sec estimate for 400m)

I also am not a good sprinter at all, as I said above. So this test would show me as ST but I'm not sure if I'm really a ST type runner. But it's nice to know that I don't really need to worry about my slow sprint times if I just want to be good at distances longer than 800m :)
Last edited by monica on Fri Jul 04, 2014 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dkggpeters
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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by dkggpeters » Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:06 pm

Dilluh,  I do feel that I could run a 5K or 10K near the end of marathon training as fast as if I train specifically for the distance.  They would be close I feel.

I don't advocate not working on the areas that you are weak at.  For me, doing 5K specific work is ok if I do it in lower doses.  I get the majority of the benefits as compared to if I did it at higher volumes and the risk of burnout or excessive stress is a lot lower.  The trick is finding the right balance to get the most bang for your buck.  This is where the art comes into training over the science.

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by Texjd » Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:04 pm

I feel Dkggpeters makes a strong point or two. Years ago, an older runner I trained with a small bit followed a regimen during marathon training of incorporating 10-15% of his weekly mileage at or below projected marathon pace. In his 16 week marathon cycle, he would target 1000 miles and believed anything over 150-175 miles of faster mileage put too much stress on his system. He was a 3:00 guy at 56.

I, on the other hand, did not listen to his wisdom as I trained with a much faster group (2:30-2:45 pr's) of guys and gals and, since I was seeing a ton of improvement in shorter distances, I thought training at below marathon pace 70% of the time would produce a successful marathon. Long story short, I was able to run decent times (sub 17 5k and low 35 10k) over two years, but the over-training and stress led me away from the sport which I believe I could have been successful.

In general, as dkggpeters mentions in a post above, mileage is critical for the marathon, but knowing what to do daily, how far and how fast is equally important after my past experiences.

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by dilluh » Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:14 pm

That dovetails well with what I've heard about marathon training for slow twitch vs fast twitch runners (not sure why a true fast twitch would desire to run a marathon). The idea is that a slow-twitch runner should be not too far off of 5k/10k race fitness near the end of a marathon cycle in order to expect a good marathon time. Conversely, if a fast-twitch runner was in shape to run a good 5k/10k near the end of a marathon cycle, they may as well bag it and sleep in - it won't go well. Training a fast-twitch runner for a marathon should consist of nothing faster than marathon pace running over the whole cycle. Considering the energy systems required for a marathon and what a fast-twitch runner lacks, I think this makes perfect sense. I think this was advice from John Walsh (HADD on LRC).

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by Schebo » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:03 am

[quote="dilluh"]
That dovetails well with what I've heard about marathon training for slow twitch vs fast twitch runners (not sure why a true fast twitch would desire to run a marathon).
[/quote]
Perhaps, like me, they want to try something different when they get old. :)

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by dilluh » Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:53 am

Fair enough.  :) Perhaps that's just my slow-twitch jealousy of speedsters.

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by Run4ms » Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:00 am

I need to figure out if I am slow twitch or fast twitch...a part of me thinks I'm in the middle a bit? But knowing your FT or ST is key from what I have been reading.

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by dkggpeters » Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:24 am

Run4ms,  you can be in the middle.  There is a wide range as you can go from very ST to anything in between very FT.  If you feel you had decent speed (I really am a slug) and do well at endurance then you are probable in the middle.  I could be wrong but it makes sense.

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by Run4ms » Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:35 am

and the reason I think this is due to the following information:

1.) I ran the mile, 800, and was in the 4 x 100 m relay (in jr high)
2.) played hs basketball (point guard) I was decently quick - (but my FT muscles were trained)
3.) ST - ran a 2:39 marathon and 50k (3:29 - seemed very easy) - I enjoyed it.

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by dkggpeters » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:06 pm

Run4ms,  what did you run the 800 in?  If you ran in the 4 x 100 I would say you have some speed.  With the 2:39 you have endurance.  What do you think you could run a me in right now?  I am guessing I would only get 5:05 to 5:10 if I was rested and ran all out in a race.  Solo would probably be 5:10 to 5:15.

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by Run4ms » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:20 pm

It was around 2:10ish or around that - that was a long time ago - i was in 7th/8th grade. hahah
I didn't run in HS or college..I began to run in 2008 - as I just signed up to run a marathon - kinda crazy stupid, but I got hooked.

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Re: Law of Diminishing Returns

Post by Run4ms » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:24 pm

I think if I did some speed work for a bit and was rested up - I am confident to run the mile between 4:40 - 4:50

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