Monday, 28 November 2011

#39: Do You Want To Know A Secret?

Monday 28 November. And so it begins again...

Today is the ‘official’ start to yet but another running/training cycle and this time we are doing things a little differently...

Coach Campbell is both excited and convinced that in order to find success in the premier road running event (the marathon: 42.2km!) we’ll need to go back to the basics and adopt an ‘old school’ method. The method he has chosen is one based on the work of Bill Squires (see below; that's him) and Bruce Lehane during the “last great period of American distance running” (between 1975 and 1983) and we are assured it produced (and will produce again) some rather impressive results.
Our program is not as intense as it was for the guys in Boston, but still holds true to the basic principles. The ‘program’ begins with a 4 week ‘alpha’ phase with weekly mileage starting at 101km and topping off at 118km (4 week total= 434k). There are only 2 days off during the phase which essentially means we run 7 days a week. These runs are mostly easy/aerobic fitness runs but also include: long runs; hill interval training; surges within long runs; short speed strides and mid-intensity tempos.

The next 4 week phase is called 'SWEP' which stands for "speed with endurance process." This is supposedly a very tough 4 week schedule with track work, hill runs, long runs, surge running and periodic racing. The total mileage is somewhat low (407km), but the intensity is surely there! Again, we are given only two days of complete rest over the entire phase.

Then begins the Marathon Build...
Note that there are numerous ‘levels’ at which one can enter these phases which alters the total mileage and intensity. Depending on ones training history, past performances and expected goals, the level will vary. We are attempting Level 13 (out of like 20!)

The built lasts 15 weeks (105 days) and there are only 7 days off with no running (ie 98 days of running!). The weekly mileage ranges from 109km (week 1) to 149km (week 12) and totals just over 1850km, making the average mileage ~123km per week. There are 21 sessions of ‘doubles’ (two runs in one day; often 8k in the am and 16k in the pm). We will only ever run ~32k during our longest runs. This may worry some (as it did myself) who feel that they need to handle longer runs of 34-38k, but apparently this is not necessary as all the fundamentals are present.

I am putting my complete confidence in the program, my coaches and my training partners and am assured it will all work out on May 6th (Toronto Goodlife Marathon).
What I cannot control so well will be the unpredictable weather and environmental conditions that only a Canadian winter can produce. There is also the small and somewhat significant desire to maintain my social and academic life (running is just a hobby after all). My evolving Master's thesis exploring the idea of exercise addiction will surely be tested more thoroughly during this time.
Needless to say, this program is not for everyone and certainly not the faint of heart. One must be totally dedicated and committed to the time and energy required for training. No one should be surprised if the outcome is poor unless you stick to the plan. Avoiding injury will be essential; eating right and getting enough sleep also. It certainly won’t be easy and it won’t always be enjoyable; but it will (or at least should) produce results. Only time will tell...

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