Monday, 22 February 2016

Picture this.

You've made it through Older Yet Faster
Your drills are pretty good
You're practicing your foot exercises
You've improved your style
You're landing under your hips
You're wearing "less shoe"
You're feeling balanced
Life is good


For me, this point took about 5 months to achieve, but (a) I had 35 years of ingrained awfulness to get over, and (b) I overdid it a bit with the minimal shoes and had to take a month out, as you know.

And of course, we know that we'll continue to improve over the coming months and years, as the style gets deeper and deeper embedded into the subconscious.

Now what?  Do we start upping the miles, working hard to maintain good form as we get tired at 5 miles, 10 miles? 

Or do we keep it short, working hard to get the style working at higher and higher speeds - at least at our target race pace if not higher?

It's tempting to think that the right answer must be a bit of both, in equal measures, evenly distributed across the training plan.  But I'm not so sure.

There are probably two groups who have more of a simple decision to make.  The Ultra runners for whom 8 to 12 minute miles for hours on end is the norm, there's not so much call for the speed.  And for the 100m and 200m sprinters, as far as I can work out, their "long runs" seem to max-out at, erm, 200m!

For me, as an 800m runner, I naturally enjoy running fast, so the temptation was to start upping the pace, whilst keeping the weekly mileage to around 20 miles/30km so as not to get too tired and therefore to maintain good form.  By "upping the speed" I am talking about slipping into my regular training group as they knock out 20x200m reps (in 32-35s, off 30s recovery). 

But what I was forgetting was that my base fitness was lacking - I haven't done any decent miles since the winter 2014/15 base phase.  So as I layered on the speed in my new style, the niggles started appearing.

This leads me to conclude that it is probably better to start adding some miles at a pace that you know you can hold Good Form, before starting to crank up the speed.

To that end, I've just finished a 50+ mile week - all run at about 5:30/km 8min/mile.  This was on a variety of terrains from pavement to deep mud.  But I worked extremely hard to maintain Good Form as I got tired.  In particular, I was making sure that my unloaded hip wasn't dropping, and that my ground contact time wasn't getting longer.

And I have to say, that I feel the new style is becoming more and more automatic with every step.  I feel great (a little tired!) and my plans are now to layer on a little speed (perhaps a 3k tempo this week).  Then in 3 weeks, I'll squeeze in a 70 mile week, which is something I normally do twice in the winter base phase.

Happy running!