Switch your training!

Featuring TheRunZone?s resident coach Tinman. All participants are welcome to post and reply to topics in this section whether you?re looking for advice, or sharing your own coaching experience.

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Tinman
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Switch your training!

Post by Tinman » Mon Aug 03, 2015 12:46 pm

Often runners repeat their past training schedules, hoping that a prior successful schedule will yield future success too. In my experience, that's not always, nor often, a good idea. Why? Runners are not the same one season or year as the next! Many changes occur, some good, some not so good.

[*]I ask our community members to share examples of how much their life changed from one season or year to the next.

[*][*]And, further, share what was learned about the change and how training needed to be adjusted. Thanks!

Tinman
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Josh1
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Re: Switch your training!

Post by Josh1 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:51 am

Tinman,

I personally need to work on this area of my running. I might be speaking for myself when I say this but I think the vast majority of runners do not change training; instead, I believe most try desperately to find what works, and if they are lucky enough to do so, they try to repeat that method over and over. However, like you stated, it is often unsuccessful.

What I'm trying to say is that I would guess that less than 5% of runners rotate training like you suggest - and I would think that the ones that do so do it because something is not working, they get injured or burnt-out, or there is a huge life shift that occurs such as a new baby or a new job/longer commute. Although I hope others chime in, I would be surprised to see a lot of comments posted on the subject.

That said, my interest in the topic is quite high, so I look forward to the comments of others. Great topic!!

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Re: Switch your training!

Post by BearWhite » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:02 am

I'm certainly guilty of this. I don't really know what to change my training to so I stick to what seems to work reasonably well for most of my races, which are all 5km to HM. This means my training week is generally like the following for most of the year:

M: Easy 45 mins
T: Tempo (30-50mins + WU & CD)
W: Easy 45mins
T: Easy 60 mins + strides
F: OFF
S: CV Reps + quick 200m efforts
S: 90 mins Easy

I guess some of this is me playing it safe after past training disasters.

I'd be interested to know how to vary this to make my running better. I cycle my CV work outs between 800m, 1000m & 1200m and vary the tempo length and intensity.

Would I (& others) be better focusing on different distances and doing training specific to those distances? (E.g a cycle of mile training, followed by a cycle of HM based training)?

Tinman
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Re: Switch your training!

Post by Tinman » Fri Aug 07, 2015 2:36 pm

As a coach, I review a runner's history and ask a lot of questions. I need to know if they have been injured in the far past or recently. I need to know if they have upcoming schedule challenges, like business travel, vacations, medical treatments, etc. I need to know the runner's age - both what chronological and sport specific (years of steady training matter).

I'm say that to really make your training schedule work for you NOW, you have to consider all the variables. And, if you are an expert at considering all the variables, you'll do a lot better job at identifying what training you need to do now. What worked last year may not work this year. What worked this spring may now work this summer or fall. Life is not static!

Let me give an example from years ago. When I was in the Air Force, I worked a lot of hours on my feet - I worked 10 hour days, typically. I probably sat 15-20 minutes per day doing paperwork or resting if there was a lull (rarely was there a lull), total. No kidding! I was moving, moving, moving! I was on-call at least once a week, sometimes twice per week when other x-ray techs were on vacation. That means I was called in to the hospital 2-5 times per night, following my normal workday (7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) Often I was called in after I was in bed sleeping. It was common to be called at 1 or 2 or 3 in the morning. That meant I lost about 1.5-2 hours of sleep when I was called in, adding the time driving to the hospital, x-raying the patient, taking the films to the doctor, waiting for him or her to say she was satisfied, doing the paperwork, and driving back to my dorm room. So, the picture is painted - some variables in there that affected my recovery ability.

I was in my late 20s, so age wasn't a deterrent to recovery, but had I been 40 or 50 years old, age would have been a big consideration - over about age 35 people recover slower due to lower hormones, such as testosterone levels. If I had a family, that would have affected my recovery ability - for family takes up time and energy - they need care, attention, and problems solved, let alone attending their functions/activities. I shared a dorm room with another medical person. It was just like a college (university) dorm room - not very big.

My roommate snored, and he came in an out of the room at late hours because he hung out with the partying crowd. His job was much easier than mine, and it didn't matter if he was tired compared to me. I dealt with radiation, high patient flow, and very demanding doctors and nurses; there was no such thing as relaxing and being casual for my job, but he worked in a lab - did not have to deal with doctors, nurses ,and he certainly wasn't dealing with radiation, which is given improperly or too much can cause cancer.

I already had surgery on my lower legs - compartment syndrome that limited my ability to run mileage big-time since age 20. My legs swelled ached, and I could not sleep if I was not careful about either mileage, intensity, or the sequencing of workouts. Further, being on my feet at work on concrete floors made my lower legs swell significantly.

Now, plan my training, in retrospect. My schedule varied. My sleep varied. My legs could swell more some days than others. My roommate was inconsistent in his habits, thus affecting my lifestyle. The list goes on. Running was my passion, and I enjoyed being fit and fast, whenever possible. However, I had limited chances to be both in top physical condition and open to opportunities to compete. Weather was a factor, too, by the way. I was often my fittest in the winter, but there were very few opportunities for me to compete at that time of the year. I did not race well in the summer, normally, because I sweat a lot and tend to overheat easily, especially when humidity was 40% or above.

Think about it. Will a training schedule that worked one season, or week, work the next? Was my situation fluid or static? What adjustments would I need to make? What principles would I need to apply? What assessments would I need to employ? How would I evaluate progress? What deficiencies would need to be overcome to ensure that I was able to train effectively? What caveats would need to be revisited during periodic analyses?

Regards,
Tinman / Tom Schwartz
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Re: Switch your training!

Post by tcl » Fri Aug 07, 2015 8:23 pm

I won't pretend to guess, since I know from earlier posts what you actually did. But I will add that the summer before my freshman year in college I made the mistake of failing to adjust for my 60 hr/wk job that was entirely on my feet (plus some other commitments of about 15 hrs/wk). I felt super-macho for keep up the volume and intensity of my training despite working long hours, but I crashed a week into the school year. I mention this in case stories of UNsuccessful adaptation (or failure even to try to adapt) might also be instructive. In retrospect, what I should have done was a consistent 50 to 60 mpw (instead of stretching for 65-75), with most runs quite easy, relaxed strides sometimes on hills, and one to two moderate-effort runs per week. Plenty of time for actual hard work during the season.

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Re: Switch your training!

Post by Tinman » Sun Aug 09, 2015 2:03 pm

One approach I used involved targeting the principle of effective endurance-stamina and strength training for running instead of focusing on hitting target paces. My problem was varying fatigue - I had such a radically varying level of fatigue and strength that a tempo run one week could be 20 seconds per mile faster (or slower) than the next week at the same effort and heart rate. It was an unusual situation because I did not have a routine life - a pattern that was stable. I've said this for many years: The problem is not so much that a runner is fatigued, for he or she can adjust a training schedule (or his or her coach can) to make use of the consistent pattern; the real problem is when a runner deals with large variances in lifestyle patterns. I see this play out for some of the runners whom I coach.

Many of my client-runners are top-level professionals who have business or academic requirements (some of my clients are white collars executives, medical doctors, or professors) that require them to travel, attend conferences, attend meetings to give or listen to presentations - often in different countries or parts of their own country). Due to travel and work commitments, many of my clients have varying levels of fatigue, must deal with jet lag, sleeping in a hotel bed, which is not as relaxing as sleeping in one's own bed, and so on. Food is different, too, while traveling.

Likewise, I see the same issues for those who take vacations, especially with family members - vacations require commitment to other people, normally, and hence most of the day is not really "free" for the runners to train. I usually advise the runners on vacation or traveling for work to train first-thing in the morning, before the family is awake and wanting their time, or before the business meeting or professional conference. It's just too hard to fit in one's training AFTER a long, demanding day of being with family or at meetings!

Tinman
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Re: Switch your training!

Post by dilluh » Mon Aug 10, 2015 1:02 pm

Tinman wrote:Many of my client-runners are top-level professionals who have business or academic requirements (some of my clients are white collars executives, medical doctors, or professors) that require them to travel, attend conferences, attend meetings to give or listen to presentations - often in different countries or parts of their own country). Due to travel and work commitments, many of my clients have varying levels of fatigue, must deal with jet lag, sleeping in a hotel bed, which is not as relaxing as sleeping in one's own bed, and so on. Food is different, too, while traveling.
This is important. It's one thing to be in a predictable state of minor fatigue due to your everyday job (not that that isn't hard) but to have extremes of fatigue due to travel, unpredictable schedules at work, sick kids (or a teething one in my case currently) - that can be a lot harder to get the balance of training correct. Last summer I was in Telluride, CO (nearly 9000 ft elevation) for a work conference. I was shocked at how little Tom had put in my training sessions for that week while I was right in the middle of marathon training. Add training at elevation to work travel (a lot of time in cars/planes, poor sleep, time change, eating out almost every meal) and that can be a huge toll on the body. I did what was stated on the schedule, in fact even a bit less on a few days, and everything turned out fine on the return home to normal training.

The biggest one I see here in central Texas continues to be dealing with the long, drawn out hot summer months of training. I have two running friends who are both planning on late winter/early spring marathons and both have already run to the razor's edge in terms of "handling" large volumes of running over the long summer. It was no surprise to see that one had dropped some of his double days in favor of riding a stationary bike in the comfort of air conditioning at home. I'd rather not be recouping from injury, but a small part of me is actually grateful that I'm not currently out there hammering myself with that heat every day. Timing is important and I know THE race that I'd really like to be at full capacity isn't until early April 2016. I'm not trying to slack off by any means but seven months gives me a chance to strategize how I approach training for that 10k knowing the factors I'm dealing with – both negatives (coming off a minor injury, a six month old daughter at home) and positives (no real travel obligations in the near future, a non-physically demanding job, weather eventually cooling down).

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Re: Switch your training!

Post by jbarts » Tue Aug 11, 2015 3:54 pm

Tinman wrote:One approach I used involved targeting the principle of effective endurance-stamina and strength training for running instead of focusing on hitting target paces. My problem was varying fatigue - I had such a radically varying level of fatigue and strength that a tempo run one week could be 20 seconds per mile faster (or slower) than the next week at the same effort and heart rate. It was an unusual situation because I did not have a routine life - a pattern that was stable. I've said this for many years: The problem is not so much that a runner is fatigued, for he or she can adjust a training schedule (or his or her coach can) to make use of the consistent pattern; the real problem is when a runner deals with large variances in lifestyle patterns. I see this play out for some of the runners whom I coach.
I think this quote is gold. From my perspective coaching high school student athletes, I've found for many the only consistent thing in their life is an inconsistent schedule, similar to what Tom dealt with in the Air Force. I started giving pace ranges during workouts for that very reason, after reading about it here. It's also one reason why we focus on the stamina side of things and don't run as many workouts (but still get results!) as other programs.

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Re: Switch your training!

Post by dilluh » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:08 pm

I just heard from a running friend that he has had to stop running all together for at least 3 weeks due to pelvic dysfunctions and peroneal tendonitis. He had a whole bunch of things working against him to find himself in this situation. (1) Trained hard and ran well in the 2015 Boston Marathon. (2) In prep for a winter 2015 marathon, he tried to run 100 mpw this summer in the Texas heat with minimal experience in how to do so effectively. (3) He has a history of breakdown at higher mileages from a previous marathon buildup.

“Know thyself” and “100 is just a number” come to mind in this situation. As Tinman has said, if you (self-coached) or your coach isn’t taking a full inventory of the laundry list of previous, present and future factors that go into putting together a training schedule that gets you on the path of consistency, you’re not doing everything you can to achieve the result you want. In vacuum, 100 miles per week sounds great. But there are two problems with it: (1) There’s no context for it. Running 100 mpw all at a slow pace because you are so tired is just running for a number’s sake. And (2) you don’t live in a vacuum. The heat, the previous injury history and lack of recovery the from marathon will all be working against someone trying to hit the magical 100 mpw.

If you don’t have the ability to honestly self-evaluate the past, present and future factors that influence your training and racing, a good coach can do that for you.

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