This blog comes in a ‘down’ week in my training schedule; the miles have been building and building for the last 4 weeks….with mixed results….and so this is a lower mileage week to allow the body to recover a little. As I say, a mixed bag; one week you feel like you will never be able to run 26.2 miles, the next, you feel like you’re getting somewhere. Then, repeat! I think its fairly common, anecdotally at least, for that to be standard when training for endurance events. Its one of the best and most frustrating parts of running – the consistent inconsistancies! For me, the ‘bad’ runs are just as important, if not more important, than the ‘good’ ones’ though; every Long Slow Run is a lesson learned, whether that be on pacing, hydration, nutrition, route planning…. And of course, with every “Furthest Distance Ran” Trophy your Garmin watch awards you, the body adapts and strengthens. Talking of which….
One important thing for myself in this block is that I have gone through the 2 hours of running mark. This is something that had always been an aim as, A) its something I hadn’t ever done previously, and B) clearly, I am not going to run sub-2 hours in the marathon! Another reason that the 2 hour mark was such an interest for me is that research suggests that’s once we run though this benchmark, the aerobic adaptations are actually relatively insignificant, meaning that even after running for 3 hours, the aerobic benefits (capillary building, mitochondrial development) aren’t much better than when you run for “only” 2 hours. So, in theory at least, a long run of over 3 hours builds about as much aerobic fitness as one lasting 2 hours (reference 1). This is one of the reasons that the Long Run on the Hanson Training Plan, for example, maxes out at 16 miles, focussing more on accumulative fatigue. So the importance comes in the form of strengthening the body to withstand the demands of running for more than 2 hours – the adaptation of the muscles, tendons, joints. On my Strength & Conditioning for Runners Workshops we talk about the various forces going through particular joints, with some really phenomenal amounts; huge numbers! So we cant go wrong getting strong.
It is also suggested that the body carries enough glycogen – on average – to last around 2 hours (reference 2), and this merely highlights the need to get your nutrition on-point for anything longer. This is one of the areas I have struggled with – and will touch on in more detail in the next blog.
Strength work has been going well, which has definitely helped with recovery, which has so far been really good. I enjoy a cold water bath now, and I’m a big fan of active recovery. I’ve mixed up terrain and routes, as I feel this can be beneficial. I’ve taken in the lakes of Ashton Keynes, the hills of Wanborough and Liddington, the 5000 year old Ridgeway path, and of course the hard streets of Swindon! Got to keep it interesting, as the miles are going up and up again, before another down week.
10 weeks to go.
Reference 1. Influence of exercise intensity and duration on biochemical adaptations in skeletal muscle. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6295989
N.B. There are no ‘one size fits all’ style quick fixes in most injury scenarios, so these article shouldn’t be seen as such. They are merely guides to a better understanding of how our bodies work.