Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Run Training Phase 4 - Bringing It All Together

So here we are into the heart of Phase 4 of the training season for running.  Exciting times. I would have posted about this phase earlier, but as usual, life got in the way.

For the past 2 weeks I have been busy both at work and at home. Well I guess I should say away from home as I traveled to Colorado last week for 8 days. But before we discuss that, what exactly is Phase 4?

So first we built a base in Phase 1. Then we introduced endurance in Phase 2. In Phase 3 we brought about speed. Now? Race preparation is the name of the game. In the final 6 weeks we aim to train specifically to the conditions of the "A" race we are looking at.

For the Bluenose Half Marathon both I and my trainee are aiming for, that means, more endurance and hill work.

For now, we will start to taper back to 4-5 runs a week at most with some cross training like cycling and swimming thrown in. Why? Well as we push ourselves on slightly longer endurance runs and hill intervals, we want to make sure we are fully recovered from each session prior to heading back out. And most of all we want to be as fresh as possible come race day.

Another key session this phase will be race pace sessions. It is one thing to run fast intervals or long slow distance to push our limits, but it is also essential to train the body and mind, exactly what the pace is we hope to be able to sustain. The less you have to glare down at your Garmin or Polar to see how fast you are running, the easier the run will be. For us, this means warmup, race pace session of 8-10 km and cool down.

Likewise, hill sessions will take over from intervals, where we push ourselves to conquer hills in 3 minute segments. Here we want to actually run faster than race pace as this will make the hills we encounter in the race (ie Point Pleasant Park) seem so much easier at the slightly slower pace we will race at.

Finally the main event is the long run. As usual this is done at a slow pace that will allow for easier recovery. Here we are just continuing to build endurance and time on our feet. Depending on the length of time the race will likely take you, long runs for a half marathon can be up to 2 hours long. Other people may opt to try and run the while distance in practice, but in my opinion,  a 2 hour run will get you most of the benefit you need while minimizing the chance of injury. Assuming you are keeping up with the rest of your runs in the week, 2 hours (tapering slightly the week before the race), will be more than enough.

Any other runs that occur will also be done at an easy pace and used as recovery runs after a hard session. Remember that much of the good hard work has been achieved in the first three phases a now is not the time to push the training too hard.

So all this being said, I traveled last week and the results was that I had trouble getting all of my runs in. So what did I do? I looked at what the idea being the runs was and tailored my training to what I could do, and not worry too much about what I could not do. And as I was in Colorado, that meant hill training. Due to altitude, I couldn't push myself as hard as normal, but I had a decent long hill and used it as often as I could to get a proper session in. The altitude also meant that I had to allow myself more time for recovery. Again remember that the goal here is to make it to race day as fresh as possible and not hurt. So adjusting your training accordingly is important.

Following Phase 3 I got my checkup from my physiotherapist and we found a slight weakness in one of my legs. So I am also incorporating a little more strength training into the week's work. Being as strong and balanced as possible will lead to a strong finish you can walk away from with a smile.

And I also went back to Kinesic Sport Lab  to get another Blood Lactate test done. Initial results looked really good with only slight alteration to my heart rate running zones. That is great to see that I haven't fallen back into  my old routine of running in the "junk" zone.

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