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# On Increasing Distance (Read 1248 times)

Middle Distance Runner

Much of the advice I've seen on increasing distance focuses on slowing down to run farther. I do not follow this practice and question its long term effectiveness in training to race. It seems to work for those whose goal is simply to finish a long race (HM and up), but is it effective for those who are more interested in running faster. While I'm not enslaved to training paces spewed out by various calculators and books, I believe there is a scientific rationale for those paces and running much slower, which common advice would suggest, is not only less than optimum, but may be ineffective. For example McMillan's calculator suggests I do my long runs at 9:57-11:11 pace. At my curent fitness level (27:05 5K and 30 mpw) I can run a maximum of about 10-11 miles staying within that range. I'm sure I could run 13-15 miles if I slowed down to 12:30-13:00, but would that add anything to training to race at 10K and under? I ask this more out of curiosity than concern that I'm doing this wrong.

2013 Goals: Mile - 7:45 (SB 7:53.74); Run first ultra marathon (Sep 21)

It's fairly common for beginners to try to run all of their training runs too fast and so the knee-jerk answer when someone says they can't increase training volume becomes: slow down. It probably gets overused and applied where it doesn't make sense--for one thing this advice only  makes sense if a person's limiting factor to running more is their ability to recover from the running they are already doing. For a lot of people that is not the case.

As for your comments about the McMillan calculator and how it applies to your long run--I think for starters McMillian's "optumum training paces"  don't assume your long run is 33-36% of you weekly volume. If you're running 30 miles a week with a 10 or 11 mile long run, and you are looking to add training volume, then the long run is the last place I'd add it.

Runners run.

Not in Chicago

Upping the 30 mpw to 40 would likely do more for most people than increasing the length of the long run at that pace.

You suck. You should just quit. Jackass. Welcome back.

Mikey Mc Mike is McWise.

mileage hound

In part you are right, slowing down is not always necessary.  As Mikey said, if you can do the necessary distance at a given pace AND get the necessary recovery, you do not necessarily need to slow down.

However, your fundamental logic is flawed in that you assume that in order to race faster you must strive to do the bulk of your running faster.  This is simply not true.

One does not train to run a 4min mile by running a 60sec quarter and then adding some distance to that each time.  One instead combines a number of different workouts at different paces to stimulate the body into an adaptive response that, in totality, produces physiological changes which allows the running to reach that goal.  This may include the bulk of their running at a substantially lower and non-challenging pace.

There was recently an article on here about the weekly 22 mile runs that Lydiard's group did in New Zealand, including Olympian Peter Snell.  IIRC while the pace of those runs varied greatly, many of them were in the upper 6 minute pace range.  You can't tell me that someone of Snell's caliber couldn't have compfortably run them much faster.

Every run should have a purpose, and every purpose should link back to a training objective.  The purpose of an easy/recovery run IS NOT to challenge your aerobic capacity or cardiac output.  Save that for fartleks and tempo runs.  The purpose of an easy run is to continue to stimulate capillarization while recovering so you can run fast again at your next workout.

There is a very wide range at which you can do an easy run and get similar benefit.  I am normally 6:40-7:15 but if I am running 8min pace with a buddy I enjoy the company and have no fears that I am compromising my training benefit -- as long as I planned an easy/recovery run that day and not a workout.  But go just a little too fast and you not only screw up the recovery purpose of that run but the ability to benefit from your next workout.

If you look at my log you will see that in the past week my runs have varied from 7+ pace (recovery day) to sub-6 pace for a 13-miler last night.  I'll probably jog a 7min pace run at lunch and perhaps a 6:50 pace tonight, depending on my level of fatigue.

I can remember a specific day back in my prime, it was the day after a workout but I felt great so I allowed myself to run a double day (11 and 8, IIRC) both runs around 6:20 pace; typically recovery that day should have been 6:40+.  I thought all was well and good until I started into my tempo run the next day and bombed it because I was not recovered from the intervals two days earlier due to running too fast on my easy day.

Trying to run at a fast pace every run is a sure-fire way to mess up your training, and a trap that too many people fall into.

2013 goals:  Kick some arse.  Moreso than 2012.

"If you want to be a bad a\$s, then do what a bad a\$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

"Determined is what I am. Maybe a little sick in the head? Ok who am I kidding ALOT sick in the head" -- rockenmamaof5

Things are further complicated by the fact that different people respond in different ways to different training, have different capacities to recover from various kinds of workout, have different propensities to suffer injury and so on. You'll find examples of different very successful runners adopting quite different training regimes.

Ultimately it's a question of reading what other people do to get ideas, and then experimenting on yourself.

More volume will help ...It doesn't have to be in the form of a long run, but in greater frequency. A common guide is no more than 25% of weekly volume from the long run.

And if you have a consistent base of 30mpw and are running 27 minutes for 5k, I would suggest a focus on striders, drills and a little strength work to improve your efficiency, rather than greater volume. And again, if your focus is 5k, lengthening the long run above 10 miles is not at the top of your list of priorities for improvement.

The process is the goal.

Men heap together the mistakes of their lives, and create a monster they call Destiny.

At my curent fitness level (27:05 5K and 30 mpw) I can run a maximum of about 10-11 miles staying within that range. I'm sure I could run 13-15 miles if I slowed down to 12:30-13:00, but would that add anything to training to race at 10K and under?

A short and quick answer would be YES.

I was, for a split second, tempted to just stop there but then it would give some people here a pleasure of giving me crap that I ended my answer with whopping one line!!  So I'll go on with my usual lecture.

In terms of a long run, I'll explain the way I understand and advocate.  Anybody, whether you are a 5k runner or a marathon runner, even a miler, would benefit from long run upward of 2-hours.  I personally wouldn't like to give a set number but, in this case, there seems to be a scientific proof on this "2-hour" thing.  There was a study done in Cologne, Germany, back in early 1980s where they concluded that continuous exercise of 2-hours or more would increase development of capillary beds dramatically.  Don't mean to say 1:55 is not enough or anything like that.  I'd say you'll feel a marked improvement in "strength" (not strength to lift weights or anything but being strong or being fit).  Personally 1:30 feels pretty good (regardless of the pace), if I can get 1:45 that's even better.  2-hours, to me, is another territory.  When I get up to 2-hours, I feel I'm in a different level.

What, I think, many makes a mistake of is that all these long runs are not necessarily to make you run faster.  I see many threads at various message boards where some high school kids try out running 70, 80 or 90 miles a week of training during the summer break only to find out they are slower in 1600m race and get disappointed and conclude; "All those long runs, or volume of training, is over-rated!"  Well, they're completely missing the boat.  LONG RUNS DON'T NECESSARILY MAKE YOU RUN FASTER; IT ONLY MAKES YOU STRONG ENOUGH TO DO MORE RACE-SPECIFIC TRAINING SO YOU CAN RACE FASTER IN THE END ONCE ALL THE TRAINING IS PUT TOGETHER IN A BALANCED WAY.

From our prior conversation in other threads, you said you were running 2-2.5 miles fartlek and then did 8X400m intervals to run a sub-5 mile.  Imagine if you did, say, 5-10 miles and got stronger to manage 12X400m...and do it total of 12 times instead of 5 or 6?  Or race every week, or even twice a week, without getting completely burnt out?  You do all those long runs and volume of running in the early stage so you can manage to do that sort of training later and continue to improve instead of barely surviving it.

Now, some people believe that you actually get faster by going further.  Peter Snell, somebody mentioned his name and an article of him, is one.  I have a graph he actually gave me that shows that, after about 1:30 of running, your slow twitch fibers get depleted and now fast twitch fibers are recruited to take over.  It's the study done by Dr. Bengt Saltine.  In other words, in theory, if fast twitch fibers are recruited, then they are being stimulated.  It's all about stimulating those muscle fibers that makes them bigger and stronger.

So going back to the original question here; is slowing down and doing longer run beneficial to, say, keeping it shorter but slightly faster?  When you look closely at it, I feel it's both yes and no.  I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  It's quite intriguing to me; Arthur Lydiard said that the longer you run, the better you'll be equipped aerobically.  And the more you run, the more you get stronger and start to run faster aerobically.  Well, this day and age when a lot of people slogging along 12-20 miles week in week out, upward of 4 or 5 hours, if not every weekend, every other weekend; how come they are not getting faster?  In theory, they should be flying!!  But they are not.  In fact, some of them stay very slow.  So what Dr. Snell is talking about is not quite happening.  I guess this is where practical training comes in.  If all you do is plodding, no matter how long it may be, first of all, your range of motion will become very limited--you'll get stiff.  If the pace is way too slow, then, despite great capillarization had occur, you're not quite developing better breathing capacity--this is different from lung capacity.  When we talk about VO2Max, and VO2Max alone, it's the assimilation, transportation and utilization of oxygen.  So how much oxygen our body can take in, move it around throughout our body, and THEN use it in the working muscles.  You are only as good as the weakest link.  No matter how much you develop one of these 3, it's not going to be good enough.  So you need to understand the "development" as a whole.  This goes to all aspects of training as well.  Long runs, as well as total volume of training, is only a part of a overall program.  Often people ask; "Should we concentrate on speed or stamina?"  Well, you need both.

So is slowing down and going further beneficial?  I'd say actually yes...but not all the time.  We had a coach who trained a 2:26 girl and a couple of sub-2:10 guys back in the 1980s (not too shabby then).  He employed the extreme Long Slow Distance.  He would have his runners do something like 10-12 minute mile pace and go as long as 5 or 6 hours.  Eriko Asai, one of his girls, once said something like "I got passed by an old lady!!" in training.  It certainly worked well with them.  But, once again, that's not all they did either.

Also, personally, I don't think it's the right approach to determine how far the long run should be based solely on the weekly mileage.  It works fine (and I think it's supposed to be 20% of the total weekly mileage) IF you're training relatively everyday.  People who can manage 100 miles a week would often run 20miles on weekend.  If those guys, because they got busy or something, cut back to 5-days a week, I think they should still be able to run 20-miles relatively easy.  If they get really busy and cut it back to 4-days a week even, I think they can still manage 20-miler as his/her long run.  Or rather, if someone like that maintains "20% rule", then he/she would miss out the benefit of long runs.  I believe the pace and the length of the long run should be determined with the current fitness level (based on your recent race performance) and background of training (how long can you run comfortably) and not % of the weekly mileage ESPECIALLY if you don't run everyday.

There was recently an article on here about the weekly 22 mile runs that Lydiard's group did in New Zealand, including Olympian Peter Snell.  IIRC while the pace of those runs varied greatly, many of them were in the upper 6 minute pace range.  You can't tell me that someone of Snell's caliber couldn't have compfortably run them much faster.

But you should see the route!  (I broke a sweat driving on it...)

"Because in the end, you won't remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn.  Climb that goddamn mountain."

Jack Kerouac

Middle Distance Runner

Rather than quote and respond to each individual post, I'll try to summarize some of my thoughts.

Right now 10-11 is the maximum I've gone for a long run. Usually it's closer to 7-8 miles but still in that 10:45-11:15 pace range which feels easy and fits within long run training ranges suggested my McMillan. While my log lists all my runs as easy, that's because I set all my runs to that when uploading from an Excel spreadsheet. To get the details and see my interval and fartlek workouts, you need to scan the comments. My recovery runs approach 12:00 pace at times.

Currently my long runs are 1:20-1:45 in duration but not all my workouts are easy or long runs. While I'm not consistent in getting in weekly interval workouts all the time I do run them fairly regularly. Examples taken from my log comments include

4x1000m (6:02, 6:06, 6:06, 5:59) 3X500m (2:51, 2:52, 2:50) 2x1000m (5:58, 5:48) with 200m jog recoveries when I'm trying to develop more stamina

and

5x600m (3:12, 3:17, 3:25, 3:26, 3:18) 300m jog, 2x400m (2:09, 2:06) 200m jog when prepping for a 5K.

While there's not a great deal of variation on my easy and long runs, they do range in average pace from 10:15 to 11:30. It's not all slogging along at the same pace.

Spaniel, I'm not sure what I wrote that prompted you to write, "However, your fundamental logic is flawed in that you assume that in order to race faster you must strive to do the bulk of your running faster.".  My question was more in line with why should I artificially slow down my long run paces just to run longer. Perhaps another way to ask the question is, "Is there a point at which the pace is so slow and the effort so minimal that I"m not getting the desired training effect?". My thinking is that if the only way I can run longer is to slow down by a lot (1-2 minutes per mile), then I don't have the base needed to be running that long. I should be able to hold the same easy pace I run now or I'm trying to run too far.

MTA: I was asking this as a more general question rather than specifically about my own training.

2013 Goals: Mile - 7:45 (SB 7:53.74); Run first ultra marathon (Sep 21)

Run longer?  I think one doesn't need to get so hung up on trying to run individual runs long(er), though that would be a good thing and even a goal in the long (haha) term.  Instead I think in the case of  a person running as little mileage as 30mpw it would be more fitness-additive to run more as in more times per week and even per day rather than one or two days longer, even if that meant at a slower pace.  Of course, keeping the very few targeted, key workouts in the routine.   I feel certain that more general running even at the slower pace would, in fact, lead to increased fitness which will mean faster racing times at any distance that is not a sprint.  Not giving advice just responding with my opinion to wc's original post about whether added slower running would help racing at 10K and under.

mileage hound

Spaniel, I'm not sure what I wrote that prompted you to write, "However, your fundamental logic is flawed in that you assume that in order to race faster you must strive to do the bulk of your running faster.".  My question was more in line with why should I artificially slow down my long run paces just to run longer. Perhaps another way to ask the question is, "Is there a point at which the pace is so slow and the effort so minimal that I"m not getting the desired training effect?". My thinking is that if the only way I can run longer is to slow down by a lot (1-2 minutes per mile), then I don't have the base needed to be running that long. I should be able to hold the same easy pace I run now or I'm trying to run too far.

MTA: I was asking this as a more general question rather than specifically about my own training.

That seemed to be where you were going with it.  I'm not sure it isn't entirely, as you are still concerned about getting the effort "too easy" to cover the distance.  I am not sure how you can need to slow down to get further, but think that the effort will be too easy?  Yes, the first part will be easy but the last few miles certainly won't be.

Lengthening your long run takes a transition.  There is nothing wrong with slowing down until you get used to the distance/time-on-feet, then speeding back up as you get used to it.

However, there is also some merit to your thought that perhaps if you have to slow down too much perhaps you don't have the base to tackle the distance yet.  In some ways, I wish more people had this thought -- especially when it comes to marathons.

So I would not be worried about slowing down as a transitory way to cope with adding distance to your run.  But you shouldn't have to do it forever.

How's that for a confusing answer for you??

2013 goals:  Kick some arse.  Moreso than 2012.

"If you want to be a bad a\$s, then do what a bad a\$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

"Determined is what I am. Maybe a little sick in the head? Ok who am I kidding ALOT sick in the head" -- rockenmamaof5

mileage hound

But you should see the route!  (I broke a sweat driving on it...)

I thought of that, but that's still a pretty slow clip for 4min milers.  But yes, I have not been on the route.

2013 goals:  Kick some arse.  Moreso than 2012.

"If you want to be a bad a\$s, then do what a bad a\$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

"Determined is what I am. Maybe a little sick in the head? Ok who am I kidding ALOT sick in the head" -- rockenmamaof5

Old School

... While my log lists all my runs as easy, that's because I set all my runs to that when uploading from an Excel spreadsheet..

George, do you have your logs here on RA? I don't see the link to them, if so. ?

Middle Distance Runner

George, do you have your logs here on RA? I don't see the link to them, if so. ?

I had the options set to only those in the groups I belong to able to see them. I've changed that so anyone can view them now.

2013 Goals: Mile - 7:45 (SB 7:53.74); Run first ultra marathon (Sep 21)

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