The Logic of Long Distance
Me and my gang in Breck
That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Neitzsche "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." "Dedication and commitment are what transfer dreams into reality."
I just was looking through an old thread from letsrun (remember when it was great, before the days of incessant trolling?) and it's such a gem, that I thought I would post it here in the hope that it might spark some discussion about general approaches to training.
When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
I found the stuff about speed before endurance interesting. I'll come back to this after finishing reading the thread.
The first stage is an introductory period (6-8 weeks) of building volume through easy runs and progressive tempos where the runner finishes strong when feeling good. This period can be sustained longer or extended when coming off of a long break or injury. Though this is called an introductory phase, this sort of running is where, over years, minutes will come off of your time.
The second stage is a fundamental period (8-10 weeks) where the runner aims to build race-specific aerobic power. This stage involves a heavy work load because mileage is maintained while race specific intensity is added. You can see the threasd for more specific advice on how to add this intensity, but really it's just a matter of throwing in a couple of hard sessions a week. The increase in workload cannot be sustained indefinitely and gains here are best thought of as "sharpening"; after a racing season, it's back to the introductory period.
He also seems to turn the traditional wisdom on its head in terms of building speed first and then focusing on endurance (after an initial base building phase).
As he's talking specifically about marathon training, it's hard to take the training as purely speed first-endurance second. He builds endurance and works on shorter progression runs, but not hard progressions, in the first phase. In the second it focuses on race specific work, which is naturally more endurance oriented due to race specificity. He does talk pace both below and above anaerobic threshold in the second phase, which makes sense and isn't all that different than would be done for other race distances.
The order is not important since we always, in training, begin in the middle. Over the course of a lifetime of running, 6 week shifts of emphasis are blurred, a marathon runner is born: speed-endurance.
Think Whirled Peas
Just because running is simple does not mean it is easy.
Also, since the periodization is repeated, year after year, temporally neither is first. First one, then the other. The order is not important since we always, in training, begin in the middle. Over the course of a lifetime of running, 6 week shifts of emphasis are blurred, a marathon runner is born: speed-endurance.
How To Run a Marathon: Step 1 - start running. There is no Step 2.
Stated another way, its great that you can see the forest from the trees ... but sometimes the job is to see the tree.
Intelligence demands breaking the holistic act of running down into its constituent parts: speed, endurance, tempo stuff, power, form, etc. That's what it means to intelligently analyze your running: to look at it from one angle or from another to try to identify strengths and weaknesses. These distinctions are useful.