Flexibility of Running Wizard (Read 40 times)

    This started as a brief summary of my two goal races this year in the RW Goal Races thread. I used a heavily modified RW for the marathon (3500ft of uphill in a loop, 7:21:52, which was about 2 min slower than goal, which hadn't taken snow into account, but 16 min faster than last year and good for AG 3rd, F65-69) and a 10-hr Climbathon (got 12,000ft vertical) the week before. I did these same two races last year, so had a good handle on what I needed to do and recovery times. I set the 23-wk schedule for the Sep 14 race date, which was actually the Climbathon. Josh and I were discussing some various aspects and thought it best we start a separate thread, rather than hijacking that one.


    I know that sounds weird, but this marathon is a well-established marathon (51st running) with lots of data, including split charts where the splits vary by 50% across the various miles, depending on uphill trail, downhill road, and whatever else was out there. They even have their own calculator for the first time this year, but you still need a flat race for input. My experience agreed with their calculator, sorta, and I used the split charts for figuring where my weaknesses were.


    Lydiard training is based on time and intensity, so it shouldn't be a big deal if there's a big hill in there. I think there was one guy either on CoolRunning or the Lydiard Foundation Forums (yea, back a few years) who used an early version of RW for his mountain racing team.


    But when you've got an older female (66F) doing a hilly marathon, where AG times are sometimes in the 5-6hr range, but mostly in the 7-hr range, and you've got a long run capped at 2.5 hrs, you might wonder about how flexible it is. Note: I recognize there's a lot of data and thought that went into RW, and some of us may be outside the box that the model was designed for, so this is meant as observations, not criticism. (Trust me, I used to try to develop models as a vegetation researcher. I know their limitations.)


    One clue I had about how much I might have to deviate is in the original questions where I think they asked if I really wanted to do a marathon (either that or this question came up in something else). Well, yea, I've done a 50-miler, 50k, couple 38-42mi runs, and two marathons, including this one the year before. My past experience had been that I did best, esp. on long races, with volume and long runs (either 8 hrs or b2b, usually 4hrs a piece). Because I use a 2-wk microcycle, the long runs are 2 wks apart and 3 quality days in between - 2 of which involved hills. And the long run had hills.


    The areas where I deviated from the program were extending the long run out to 6-8 hr hikes or run/hikes (weather was too hot at the time I did these to get the right effort, but that's life) - about 4000ft uphill in each, sometimes b2b (road trip to some favorite trails), but only did that a couple times. I didn't do as many as normal because of the late spring (snow in May).


    The long long runs are generally useful for endocrine adaptations (or so I've been told and tend to believe them), running on tired legs, figuring out gear, hydration, electrolytes, and fuel. And they're fun to go running in the mountains for hours. The 1.5hr out/back followed by 2.5hr long run doesn't provide anywhere near this stress for me, esp. if the long run is done easily, as suggested. Something I wondered about is the hill workout the day before the long run, which usually has 2000-4000ft of uphill in the past. I wasn't sure if this was a "if it doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" type of thing or something where they didn't think of someone doing this with their long runs. I compromised in some cases and did the workout like I thought it was meant to be done then the next week did it with more specificity for my races. This resulted in something simulating my 2-wk microcycles. With the one-week ones, I was feeling like "what? this workout again - I just did it 7 days ago". That's a function of my mentality and need for diversity in my workouts.


    Some days I thought that maybe I should do a double since I wasn't tired, then just decided to run longer while I was there instead of starting again later in the day. One of the reasons I like longer runs is to get away from the trailhead and into some of the different trail features, which are useful for training. A lot of short runs constrains you to the trails by the trailhead all the time, so you never get agility or big uphills and big downhills. There's something about an 1800ft downhill that an 1800ft downhill may be a good way to train for it - OR have lots of smaller ones.


    I think the highest week in my plan was about 8 hrs with a 2.5hr / 8.5mi (10mi upper end) long run. I normally avg in the 8-12 hr range over 7 days in the summer, with the 12 hr week being the one with the long run. (I was running 2 on / 1 off then, or 4-5 days/wk. I could generally run higher volume with that than the first couple times I tried 5 days/wk.)


    In both of my races, I remember thinking I'm glad I didn't limit my long run to 2.5 hrs and in the marathon, I wished I'd had more downhill on tired legs. I was really hurting by the end (mostly ITB, rather than feet, this time). I think more running during training reduces the chances of injury during the race - up to a point.


    I guess one question that comes up; where is that point? It will vary with different runners and their background.


    You might ask why I signed up for a program for my races, which seem out of the norm to many people here (hey, lots of my friends did the marathon and several did the Climbathon and the marathon). Waaay back when, probably on CoolRunning, Nobby had talked about this program they were developing and it sounded really interesting. I used an early version a couple years ago for an early-season 10k, but that didn't work out because of the snow still on the ground, and the snow coming down, and hill bounding just didn't seem appropriate. This year seemed right to try the marathon program since the start of the non-base stuff would be in June. While my usual program looks something like LR; flat/fast, big hill, rolling hills with everything except the LR having at least some sub-LT content in it - and 4 - 6 easy days or some trail work days in there - I was looking for some variation on what to do for flat/fast or the rolling hills. More like some spice to my existing workouts. Out/back fit my rolling hills nicely, but was a little shorter but more intense.


    What I recognized is most of the workouts could be done on hills, so it worked out fairly well inspite of the long runs. Just because they're intervals, doesn't mean they have to be flat, although flat might be most appropriate.


    There's a couple workouts that I never really understood their purpose, like the Long Jog in the Coordination (purpose of patience and seeing how slow you can go). Climbing a 3000ft hill in 2.2 miles is what I would normally do for patience, and it is slow, but I don't aim to do it slow. I tried Cut-Downs a couple times, but I really felt like some hill repeats simulating the out/back part of the marathon course, might be more useful at that part of the plan.



    What did puzzle me is with a 2.5hr long run for a 7.5 hr race, starting with a 2-hr long run (actually I'd done a 3-hr race a few weeks before starting the plan), why they wouldn't spend more time building base or at least take weekly volume out to 10 hrs and spend less time on the other blocks. I get that they wanted to cap the long run at 2.5 hr but was puzzled by the weekly volume not being greater.


    Aerobic         9 wks

    Hills               4 wks

    Anaerobic     4 wks

    Coordination 4 wks

    Taper             2 wks


    I'm not sure if there's anything different I could have provided for input to get more volume from the plan. I did more anyway, esp. since the long runs with the vertical up and down were essential for my training. There's a lot of hiking mixed in with the running on those.


    For me, I think the plan as written might work for a HM and can be heavily modified for a hilly marathon.


    (geez, this got really long, but it's something I've been thinking about for awhile.

    "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

      So, in summary, you feel that RW lacks overall volume?

        So, in summary, you feel that RW lacks overall volume?

        For me, as the plan was written, I didn't think it had enough volume to support the short long runs for a race close to 3x the duration of the long run and over 3 times the distance. If I had followed it as written, I would have had to downsize my normal training.


        But my main point was that the program is very flexible in being able to accommodate hills using duration and effort in the training.


        I guess one question I have is what was the peak week duration of plans of others? I know the original Lydiard plans generally had about 9.5-10 hr / wk.

        "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

          My peak week during marathon training was almost exactly 10 hours last March.


          I guess one question I have is what was the peak week duration of plans of others? I know the original Lydiard plans generally had about 9.5-10 hr / wk.

          Drink beer. Mostly ales. Sometimes stouts.


            My current hm plan peaks with one week at 5:48 duration.

              Here are my weekly times:


              My graph


              Aerobic: 5 wks

              Hills: 2 wks

              Anaerobic: 3 wks

              Coordination: 3 wks

              ... and I'm on week one of the taper.


              I was a little more flexible with the aerobic phase, mixing runs around and varying distances, but I was very close to the letter for the rest.


              Something I remember reading about Lydiard (I might be making this up - I've learned not to trust memory) was that if you feel you need more miles, it's kosher to add as much time on feet you want provided the effort is easy. I kind of assumed that the plan provided was just the structure, and that the warmups and cooldowns could be as long as needed/wanted.


              I wonder how much, if at all, the plan would change if the data requested from the runner was focused on time and effort instead of distance. Meaning, instead of the plan I'm following being a marathon plan, it were instead be a "less than three hour run at an effort a little easier than my fastest half-marathon" plan. Because that's basically what I'm planning on doing, which is running pretty hard for almost three hours. On tough course it would be a "run four hours at an aerobic effort" plan or something. An ultra would be "run eight hours and not hate my life" plan.


              One thing is for sure, I should stay away from the plan-naming business.

                Thanks. I went back and checked my 10k pgm from 2 yrs ago, and it also seemed to top out around 7.5-8hrs. But I was using that for an early season 10k (early May) which was the "speed" training for a 50-mi race in late July. Both plans were for 5 days/wk, which might affect the weekly volume.


                I think I followed the aerobic part generally (mixing days as appropriate), then deviated considerably on the later stages when I was really feeling a need for some specificity and wasn't seeing how some of the runs were helping. Our spring was fairly late with snow flurries in late May, and an early May race cancelled for bad breakup conditions.Some of those longer runs could not have been done earlier because of trail conditions. I took a few days "off" in late July (one of the anaerobic weeks) to run / hike some trails elsewhere to get some long run /hikes in, including b2b. That's the spike (almost 8 hr one day, then almost 6 hr the next day, and a couple hours the next morning).


                Yes, I took a lot of liberties with the warmup/cooldown, long run duration, and sometimes running on "rest" days. Some irregularities were a result of ROL like trail work or other volunteer activities. Now that I look at it this way, I guess I didn't limit myself too much, which is why I consider the RW plans flexible. Wink  But how far can you flex a RW program until it's no longer RW? Or can you?


                My graph


                Josh, I think you make a good point about making the plans based on duration rather than distance. Would a 4-hr marathon be trained for differently than a 4-hr HM? (my HM had 3500ft of uphill in it also)  I can see where a 7-hr marathon might be different from a 7-hr 50miler because of the speeds needed, but physiologically, they're probably close.


                But I have a feeling when they developed the model for RW, they were thinking the more common road races and time frames for people in the 25-55 age range - just pulling some ages out of the air to eliminate the youngest and oldest where they may not have good data.

                "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

                  MTA: Something they'd probably run into with using duration is new people may not know how long it will take them for a race. BUT if they used the usual distances and maybe adjusted the program for those with expected finish times beyond, say, 4 hr. But they may not want to make the program that complex. They may just ask if you're sure you want to do it, like they are doing. I suspect most of their data models are built on distance.


                  I know Nobby has mentioned in the past about many people had problems with Lydiard's original programs because they were based on effort, and people couldn't understand that. So I think part of the intent of these pgms is to make it distance and pace, which more people can relate to with garmins and other gadgets - but still leave the intensity in there via RPE / HR for those who run hilly trails and whatever.

                  "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog