Saturday, November 11, 2006

More Thoughts

I did expect a few comments on my training plans, and it’s pretty much what I expected, with one exception. The one item that worries me the most is the hill running, yet nobody even mentioned that. Funny.

I want to try out 7 days of running because I always felt better after an easy recovery day than after a day of complete rest. Besides, if I wanted to increase my mileage, the easiest way to do so was to run a few miles that used to be a big fat zero. I’ve also got an eye on future training cycles. I want to try Lydiard’s schedules one day, and despite Mike’s assurances that anyone can do it, I want to gradually ease into that kind of intensity. Upping my days from 6 to 7 seemed a logical step.

The no-breakfast rule attracted the most comments, which was predictable. The benefits are outlined in articles here and (to some extend) here. Mike wrote a thoughtful entry about this before he started on that course; though if you read it please ignore his awful mushroom analogy. Basically the idea is to train the body to run in a glycogen-depleted state. This will benefit anyone in the later stages of a marathon, and it’s of even greater benefits in an ultra. There is no way your glycogen will last, and you simply have to get used to running on empty. The biggest disadvantage is a higher risk of injury, and if I feel it doesn’t work for me, I’ll reconsider. But it did work ok during the last training cycle; I could finish 8 or 9 miles without feeling any worse than usual.

The other Mike mentioned the fact that many ultra schedules often contain 2 long runs on consecutive days. I’m aware of that, and I will consider doing that towards the end of the training cycle, closer to the race. I want to see how the other changes in my training work out before turning the screw even tighter.

Those were my plans, until yesterday that is, when I happened to read an entry by Mike’s Mystery Coach, which confused the hell out of me regarding the principles of Lydiard training. There was some discussion on the comments page afterwards, with my main contribution being “I don’t get it”. I’ll have to think about that more. I also remembered the “reduced schedule” from “Running with Lydiard”, a 7-day cycle of 60-90-60-120-60-120/180-90 minutes, which contains quite a few things I was planning anyway, like at least 2 long runs of 2 hours or more, with 3 shorter days. The one thing that stops me from latching onto that schedule is that you run the shorter runs faster than the longer runs, meaning you never get what I consider a recovery day (which to me means 5-7 miles at 9:00-ish pace or slower). That’s the opposite of what I’m used to, and it seems like a fundamental change. I think Marc is following a comparable schedule at the moment. I'll have to try and prod him for his opinion.

I’ve still got plenty of time to think about all that. I’ll start running on Monday and will gradually increase my mileage over the next few weeks. I should be reaching 75 or 80 miles around Christmas, and by then I hope to have made up my mind.


  1. "Awful"??? You know you love that analogy. While very gross it's also very true. Thanks for your contributions in the comments to mystery coach's post.

  2. Thomas, thanks for the explanation. I get it now. In the old days, long ago, I never ate before a run. Never. It was fine, though I'd be ferociously hungry when I came in. Now I have something very small - only 60-150 calories if I'm running within a half hour. Even on race days I'll only eat about 250 calories pre-race. It just works for me. I did all my low energy simulation by accident during the last three years by continuing to run through illness. I'm using that now, because even at the end of the marathon I haven't been as tired as I was back then.

    It'll be interesting to follow you along on this training cycle. Keep us up to date!

  3. Thanks for letting us follow you and your training.

  4. This all sounds very interesting! Good luck, and I'll be watching how you get on with interest.

  5. Best of luck Thomas. I enjoyed reading about your marathon training and know this next phase will be every bit as exciting.

  6. You have certainly had an active mind while your body has had a rest! An ultra! That's a great challenge to set yourself Thomas. You worked so hard to get your PR for Dublin that I did wonder what would be next & you have the determination so why not.
    I did wonder how your wife lets you get away with such a busy schedule of training AND such a busy schedule of Fatherhood, but she sounds like a very supportive wife. You're a luckier man than most I would say.
    Well done Thomas.

  7. I assumed that you run everyday up and down the hills - you mean there is flat land in Ireland? I find your training ideas quite exciting, you obviously have a very understanding wife. In any case good luck with your training, I think you're going to be a fantastic UM runner.

  8. I see you as an ultra runner trapped in a marathoner's body. Come April, you'll become Ultra Thomas.

  9. I had no problems with no breakfast - I know that theory, and besdies, personally I can't eat at 4:30 am and not waking up earlier to sit around for food intake/digest. No rest day is more interesting, though I saw those folks too. Whatever works, do it.