I’ve been back in self-coaching mode since Carlsbad (as you can tell by my crazy goings-on), but I posed a question to Coach Adam/A Muse the other day and his answer, unbeknownst to him, struck a wildly resounding chord in me. I had asked him how Elites manage to keep improving as the years progress.
The question arose because, even though I’m finally seeing improvements, I’m still trying to understand that long plateau I went through. Why was I stuck so early in my running life when these people, who’ve been running for so long and are trained to the Nth power, are able to keep on an upward trajectory for so long?
In no way am I discounting their incredible genetic gifts which clearly bring them to a certain level, but to keep improving when they’re already so insanely kick-ass, well…that’s gotta be something to do with training. I was liking this idea because, while the methods may never be available to me (no one’s inviting me to Mammoth anytime soon) it’s a fresh bit of hopefulness in the time vs. improvement continuum.
The magic thing Adam said (aside from personality traits that drive them beyond normal folk) is that these people have developed a massive aerobic foundation. Massive aerobic foundation. Wow. In one phrase, he clarified something so important and simple and that is also what I assuredly do not have. BUT…
It is something that us newcomers can improve upon to a dramatic degree. Granted, a “massive” engine will never be in my future, I started about 35 years too late for that, but room for growth? Shit yeah! I’ve got tons of space available in that department.
In a timely find, I just read this quote from the great Arthur Lydiard, confirming the point, “Your aerobic development is a gradual thing. It takes years and years of marathon-type training to develop your aerobic capacity to the fullest.”
So for all you late-starters, former couch potatoes and fellow plateau sufferers, take heart that aerobic fitness is an ongoing process and it’s within our abilities to improve for a good clump of time. Now, I misspoke in the last post saying it’s a given, of course it isn’t, but I’m beginning to think that with the right physiological recipe, there’s no reason why the oft-repeated “7-10 years of improvement no matter the age you start” wouldn’t be true.
But here’s the catch: you have to figure out what you need and then you have to work for it. Hitting a new mileage peak for race prep is helpful but to run increased mileage over a long period of time, well dat is da true bomb. Or if you never did speedwork and tempos, then perhaps those are your magic weapons.
I know that for me, it’s a hell of a lot more fun and easy to add a bunch more miles than to bust my ass with hard workouts. Which is not to say I won’t get back to the tough stuff, I will! Before the Fall arrives, I’ll be back at it with vim, vigor and a fresh attitude because by that time, I’m bound to be a stronger runner and that makes the hard stuff way more fun to handle.
But had I not switched gears with this base work, I’d probably still be stuck in the plateau moaning about how I never got my 7-10 years and that it must be my age working against me. Ridiculous, now that I think about it.
Then again, maybe I shouldn’t speak so soon, I’m not out of the woods yet, but here’s a fun fact: my weekly volume has increased by about 52%. Aerobic development, here I come.
Speaking of Lydiard…
I’m not following the Lydiard program by any means, but there are methods of his teaching that I find myself drawn to. Currently, of course, is the mileage build (he was the original “run more miles” guy with his runners routinely doing 100mpw).
But one thing that is commonly and incorrectly attributed to Lydiard is the term “Long Slow Distance”. Many people, when thinking of Lydiard, are under the impression that his runners ran tons of slow mileage, that his long runs were joggerly Sunday outings. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Lydiard’s base training focused on high-end aerobic running: steady-state, moderate paces, etc. Those were not slow long runs! They’re not time trials either, but they were/are faster than the usual “go slow!!” admonishment-laden long runs.
Just a little factoid for you, apropos of nothing, because he was on my mind today.
Also unrelated to anything above, this Running Times article is quite entertaining. They interview some of the Age Group winners from this years Boston Marathon so you can read about their race prep, mileage, etc. Good stuff!
The Week In Running
It cracks me up seeing all these 7:5x’s – it’s certainly new and different. As is the average pace for the week. Considering how new I am at this volume level and that it was 75 degrees for most of the runs, I couldn’t be happier.
Tuesday: 4@8:25 (toe hurt so bad, had to cut it short)
Total: 81.25 mi (avg pace 8:03)