Monday, May 4, 2009

GEAR GUIDE: Daniels' Running Formula

Haven't finished it yet, but at least the first half is AMAZING. It has lots of practical advice on how to design a training program, which is what I need to keep myself from driving myself to injury. It may also help me get faster, since it's now May, and I've been declining in speed since March! Don't know why. Maybe temps?

A major concept in the book is the VDOT, which is a training level that can be predicted based on times. You're supposed to train at the highest VDOT any of your best performance in any of the distances suggests. In my case, my 6-minute mile and my 21-ish 5K suggest that I'm at a VDOT of 49. According to Daniels, this means that if I train particularly for the following distances, I can get the following times: 10K - 42:50 (sounds about right, perhaps a tad bit optimistic for my level now), a 1:33 half marathon (I think the best I could do now is 1:48), and a 3:14 marathon (uhhh... no). Now, marathon fitness does take years to build up to, but 3:14... really? The BQ for women age 18-35 is 3:40, and for men, it's 3:10. Seriously? To simply BQ (haha - simply), I'd have to keep up my current estimated best half pace of 8:18-ish for another 13 miles!!! My heart grows faint at the thought of it.


Based on my VDOT, Daniels suggests paces for different levels of workout difficulties. Easy = 8:40/mi, Marathon = 7:24/mi (that's faster than how I ran my 7.t today), Tempo = 6:55/mi or 4:20/Km or 1:43/400, Interval = 3:59/Km or 1:35/400, and Repetition = 1:29/400 (right where I did many quarters during the 20x400 workout) or 0:44/200.

The purpose of Easy runs is to give you a pace for the additional run on 2-workout days, recovery runs (30-60 min), warmups/cooldowns (10-30 min), long runs (up to 25% of the week's total mileage...I totally break that rule with my 16's in 20-mile weeks... probably much to my detriment), and base training and maintenance. 75% MHR

The purpose of a Marathon pace run is to have an intermediate level that's faster than easy but slower than tempo. It can be used for some longer runs, and you can practice marathon fueling or whatever else during it. If you're feeling good on a day designated for Easy, you can jack it up to M pace. Run at this pace up to the lesser of 90 min and 16 miles). 85% MHR

The purpose of Tempo training is to work your lactate threshold. Daniels says that the ideal duration of a tempo run is 20 minutes, but that you should be able to maintain that pace for an hour in a race, so the range is 20-60 minutes. The 6:55/mi tempo is right about my race pace for a 5K. I don't know how I could hold that for another hour, so that's kind of weird. Tempo's can be split into two kinds: regular, and Cruise Intervals, where you go at tempo pace, but you get to take breaks up at minimum of every 15 minutes, with breaks lasting for 1/5 of the time you ran. This lets you go longer than the usual duration/mileage during the workout, since you're allowing some time for lactate levels to go down. (This is what I actually did on the day I did 7.5 with my 5-ish breaks necessitated by the heat.) Have the total of this type be the lesser of 10% of the week's mileage and 60 minutes. I call my wf and wm runs tempo runs, but they are definitely not tempo pace. They're btwn marathon and tempo pace. Make it comfortably hard but about 30s slower than 5K race pace. 90% MHR

The purpose of Interval training is to boost VO2max, and the pace should be sustained for 3-5 minutes, because it takes 2 minutes for V02max to be reached. If you do do less than 3, you have to cut your rest time down to be less than or equal to the running time spent (I was probably at about equal rest time during the 20x400, making it about borderline I and R training, mixing the running economy benefits of R and the VO2 benefits of I. It did require a good bit of rest afterwards, though, and my legs had been numb for the last few 400's). Make the total I training per week equal to the lesser of 10K and 8% of the week's total mileage. Go hard but not all-out. 99% MHR

The purpose of Repetition training is to boost running economy and strength, which is all about form, and tuning up your anaerobic system. Each rep is up to 2 minutes long. Rest times are allowed to be as much as you need so that you can run the next rep as fast as you did the previous one. Sounds good to me! The total R should be the lesser of 5 miles and 5% of the week's total mileage. Go hard and all-out but in control.


Ideally, this is a 24-week program, with four phases lasting 6 weeks each:

I: Foundation and Injury Prevention - getting cellular benefits, don't increase stress too rapidly, get into habit, easy runs and strides - EL (easy, long runs)
II: Early Quality - preparing for TQ and FQ, intro faster workouts, especially reps to improve economy and strength, also start some thresholds - RITE (reps, ints, tempo, easy)
III: Transition Quality - the most stressful, event-specific, optimize all your systems, good rest and injury prevention critical, lots of interval and threshold running - TIE (tempo, ints, easy)
IV: Final Quality - prepare for actual race conditions like heat acclimitization, threshhold - TIME (tempo, ints, mix?, easy)

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