Monday, 15 September 2008

Feck Achilles

September has been distinctly challenging. Work, family and trying to run everyday have left me worn out. The goal of running every day through September was worthy but not achieved. I managed 27 out of 30 days. The desire to start putting in the long runs led to the day after a long run when I found myself trying to run around Victoria Park on legs that felt like wooden stumps. The consequence of this was due to my stubborness I did not stop and walk but ran on and paid the following day when my achilles flared up.

Trying to stick to the rule of no more than a 10% increase a week I may have taken a slight liberty but thought my background training would help. The bruised heels and flaming achilles I sit here with right now speak otherwise. Do I stop and sit it out or do I stretch, do my heel raises and carry on? I have never found that rest got rid of my AT so I run on and use some brufen.. the running is considerably less enjoyable though.

So it seems that I cannot run every day or at least not yet and perhaps it has been quite a while since I did any serious training (I guess August was mostly rest!!)

I am still trying to rationalise the voice that says I should stay in bed, drink more beer and hey just kick back for a bit. It all sounds tempting but I have a goal to achieve and I am going after it. October will see some interesting running and a gradual build back up to cycling every Sunday at least 4hrs. The programme begins in earnest after I have recovered from Luton marathon (2weeks without running but a kick start to the swimming)so that is December.

Need to get the buzz back first though.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Its called the Maff, The Monster Maff

Everybodys talking bout the new sensation, come on baby do the Maffetone. Better than slice bread and twice as good for you. The answer to all your training woes and soon we will all be able to race like Mark Allen.

At least thats what it says on the tin. Essentially the maff strikes me as doing a controlled period of base training whilst undertaking an objective test of whether your training is working every 4 weeks or so. The key point is that at no time do you go into the threshold zone and above, or level 3 and above, or Borg >13 or >5 if you like new Borg!, or whatever other measure of exercise level you wanna use. The point, I think, is that this allows maximal training effect with minimal downside of injury and so on. The question is who is it most likely to work best for.

If you are an elite top-end AGer the reality is you probably train too hard too much of the time (at least thats what the Maffia will have you believe). By allowing a period of base where the body recovers and probably develops that all important aerobic base, you are then in a position to build on this with your natural talent and top end speedwork (like Mark Allen). If you are a middling time limited AGer is this gonna work to get the speed up come the new season?

More and more I feel that a genetic component is huge part of this and to some degree no matter how hard you train if you aint got it you aint ever gonna have it, and a naturally high VO2 Max is always gonna be an advantage. In addition I also think that response to training is also hugely variable (and firmly based in our gene pool) and there is lots of evidence out there to support this but most importantly I think IM also has a huge component of self determination.
Nietzsche's "will to power", the idea behind superman and the belief that the only thing that holds us back from superhuman efforts is our psyche, is another way of describing this. In other words personal belief will get you a long way in IM racing. Would also make a dead cool race nutrition brand.
If I did not think this, then the idea that my genetic limitations may never allow me to achieve my goals would lead to rapid disillusion.

But back to me and the Maff. I am gonna try it, sort of. Being a bit of an iconoclast I could never do it in the fully prescribed way. For a start the method of choosing you HR limit is pretty random, take 180 subtract your age add 5 for good behaviour and so on. Not terribly scientific whether empirical or metric. But I am gonna do all my runs at a HR of less than 145, except for the 10KM on the first sunday of every month and after 10 weeks I think I might start to sneak in a bit of speedwork if things are going well.

My target is to get up to 8 hrs running a week by early October which will be 2 hrs more than I have ever averaged before. This should be around 60 miles a week. To facilitate this I am backing of on the bike riding to max 6 hrs a week and swimming 2 x weekly. This should put the volume in place to see me through my first marathon which will be hilly (Snowdon Marathon) on Oct 25th. I aim to run this at training pace so somewhere around 8 min miles with the idea that I can recover quickly to get back in training. I will not race but use this as a key session in my build to the second marathon in Luton. If the plan works then I should then have 1 week recovery and a 4 week build including some speed sessions followed by a 2 week taper.

All being well I should be able to run a solid 3.10 marathon and possibly faster. The leap of faith required is 1. to avoid injury. I am ramping up the hours quite quickly but think I should have the base to tolerate this so long as I stick to the Maff. I will need to exert caution around the 10km races since these have caused me trouble in the past. 2. If I can get the hours in will they enough give me the endurance to maintain a faster pace come race day. 3. Will introducing a 4 week set of speedwork be enough since I intend to go quite easy even at that stage to avoid injury.