Sunday, January 1, 2017

Don't Let the Winter Base Miles Slip Away!

During this cold and dark time of the year most endurance athletes plan to use weekends for their long easy runs and rides.   But this is also a very busy time of year and life easily gets in the way, before you know it 2-3 weeks have slipped by and you haven't been able to complete most of your planned workouts.

Suddenly its the end of January with only a few short weeks until your first planned race of 2017 and you're feeling ill-prepared.  

You start cramming with a quick transition to long runs at as fast a pace as you can muster, and inevitably suffer a barrage of aches and pains attacking your joints and muscles.  Oh-oh, youre paying the price for  missing out on that all-important base-training time.

Although there is no really easy way to get those base workouts in this time of year there are some simple things you can to do to make it more likely that youll use January as a launch pad for your success in 2017 by logging the good slow base miles that will improve your speed in the spring with a much lower risk of injury.

·      Get a run partner to keep you accountable.

·      Give yourself some sort of reward for getting up very early a couple days during the week.

·      Get up early on Saturday and get that long run done first thing so you can then enjoy the Holiday festivities without a guilty conscience.

·      Purchase a good headlamp and a reflective vest/jacket to be safe during the dark hours of the morning or evening.

During this base time be sure that at least 80% of your running time is at 81-89% (zone 2) of your lactate threshold heart rate or 60+ seconds slower than marathon pace.  This is also considered "conversational" pace where you are able to say full sentences without needing to take an extra breath. If you are only able to say 3-4 words at a time, you are running too fast.

Many important adaptations occur at this slow pace. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our muscle cells.  Only at this slow pace do
mitochondria multiply and improve oxidative power, which leads
to being able to maintain faster paces longer in the spring.  You also benefit from an increase in capillaries that distribute blood to your muscles - again only at these slower paces.

With 80% of your running time in zone 2, the rest of your base building time should be spent in zones 4 and 5 working on either short fast intervals or hill repeat training to improve running strength.  Zone 4 is 102-105% of your threshold heart rate while zone 5 is >106% of your threshold.

If you prefer using perceived effort to determine your paces, use a 1-10 scale where 1 is walking and 10 is sprinting as hard as you can. Zone 2 would be a perceived effort of 3-4/10, zone 4 is 7-8/10 and zone 5 is 9-10/10, based on Matt Fitzgerald's "80/20 Running" book.

This is a quick recap of some detailed physiology.  For more detailed explanations check out "80/20 running" by Matt Fitzgerald or "Primal Endurance" by Mark Sisson.  If you're really intrigued and want to read a thick, in-depth book on the physiology of running try "Lore of Running" by Tim Noakes.  

If all that sounds like a lot of work and science to get your head around, just hire a coach from Precision Sports Coaching to help you improve your running.