If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Friday, April 20, 2007

Going scientific

Sometimes I am going crazy dissecting running. It is an obsession to read about what can be possibly done if training correctly - and by no means am I claiming I am the one who is training correctly! But just as in my post about van Aaken method versus Lydiard, this one explains a few perks of following your "zones" - from what I've learned from Noakes' book "Lore of Running", Scott Jurek and Lisa Smith-Batchen, bunch of website and about a couple of dozen of other books and magazines.

Zone training by Heart Rate (my max 185, at least it was a year ago, need to re-measure)

Z1 = 125-137 easy
Z2 = 138-148 easy
Z3a = 149-160 M
Z3b = 161-171 T
Z4a = 172-179 I
Z4b = 180-185 R
Z5 = 185 ? what the heck is this one?

Training Zone explanation: (weekly % adapted to the fact I don't train for under-marathon and on 50 mpw) I took 90 miles per week as a staple for numbers here. Pace prediction was done based on my current numbers from track workouts as I don't have 5k-marathon done in the last 3 years. It took me awhile to play with numbers on that very fancy website to hit something that would look like right for me.

E Easy Pace 9:17/mile - if roads, I have no idea what it turns to on hilly trails.
HR: 65-79% - see Z1 and Z2
Qty: 45% weekly mileage (40M)

M Marathon Pace 7:57/mile - tempo runs (has to be roads or flatter parts of trails, in 2 runs - there is no way I can handle 11M tempo in one push).
HR: 80-90% see Z3A
Qty: 90 min or 12% weekly mileage (11M)

T Threshold Pace - track repeats
HR: 88-92% see Z3B
Qty: lesser of 10% weekly mileage or 60 min (9M)
800m: 3:42
1000m: 4:38
1M: 7:25
hill repeats from 30 min to 50 min at given HR

I Interval Pace - also on the track, these seem to be too fast though right now
HR: 93-97% see Z4A
Qty: 8% weekly mileage (7M)
400m: 1:42
1000m: 4:16
1200m: 5:10
hill repeats from 3 min to 7 min

R Repetition Pace (something I can manage, but not so many miles of it)
Qty: 5% weekly mileage (4M) see Z4B
200m: 0:47
400m: 1:36

I think T and I workouts can be combined/substituted for long distance runners, and R workouts can be cut alltogether. What happened to the rest of miles, like almost 20 of them? Lets distribute those to super-easy running (as in recovery jogs between track intervals and warm-up/cool-down time) and cross-training effort (I use Running Equivalent Miles in such case, keeping tab on HR and time, equating the effort to pace, dividing and getting miles, for example 40 min EFX or StairMaster with HR 145 would be put down as 4M, but for stationary bike I would need to make it 45 min; I try to have 2 hrs a week of cross-training unless the weather is too gorgeous to pass on the run).

Now lets see what elite runners make with it for their schedule.

Andy Jones-Wilkin's typical training week one month before Western States:

Monday — 10 mile hilly loop on trail
Tuesday — 6 mile easy (AM) 6 miles hill repeats—4 x 1 mile at 15% grade (PM)
Wednesday — 10 Mile hilly loop on trail
Thursday — 6 mile easy (AM) 6 miles speed work—4 x 1 mile (PM)
Friday — 10 mile hilly loop on trail
Saturday — 38 mile trail run on WS Course (Foresthill to Last Chance and back)
Sunday — 22 mile trail run on WS Course (River to Finish) Total miles—114

Sounds awesome, doesn't it? It pays to run fast, and doing 10 miles a pop is much better than splitting 12-14 miles into two runs - but I do what I can. I just don't have a 2 hr block at any time of the day, but can find 1hr easier.

This post has no intention to teach anybody anything, but rather for myself to put down on paper some thoguhts in one place, may be hear ideas from you, may be share what you already know but to remind about it (because personally I sway away from the proposed numbers rather easily unless kept bugged by a coach or a serious-thinking friend, what also means I have to wear HRM more often, as in more than twice a week!), may be I am getting nervous as the races that I'd like to run well are approaching and I am not quite sure I am ready yet I want to calm myself down taht I'll survive, may be because racing season in ultrarunning in general began picking up through List emails and media, as well as blogging world, may be it is sunny outside today...don't you think I wrote too many posts in the last week? I shut up now:)

Nope, not yet. Bikram was awesome last night both in challenging and in heat training, so I got a pass for a month to make sure I visit it at least once a week. I got an appointment for chiropracter for next Wed (he is booked) - my SI joint is giving me trouble, should have not let it get that far. Did I mention I signed up Oleg and myself for dance classes? Can somebody hint me where to get extra couple of hours a day? Oh, and we are about to buy a new car (well, new for us, used in general, but much younger than one we have now) - our hard-working baby with 170k miles on it, falling front and back bumper from accidents, steaming/smelling wire burn in the engine and some other minor things like poor breaks is just getting to be more adventerous to drive than the final destination we are using it for. That's exciting! Soemtime next week I may even share my thoguhts on reading "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" - and don't even try to laugh, because it is funny how it is true! I am having a good time comparing situations they describe - are we even meant to be together, as in guy-girl relationship?

Thank God it's Friday!!


Rooster said...

I use my HR monitor all time, I need to wean myself off it, I even wear it for recovery runs, Yes I am a freak. But, I think your zones look great and it's essential to train at AT to be stronger in the lower zones. Very uncomfortable but satisfying as you mentioned in your previous post. I have seen a lot on improvement from following almost exactly what you have laid out.

Anonymous said...

I am confused. Tempo run of 11miles? I think you meant marathon pace run of 11 miles? Tempo runs are typically in the range of 20 minutes give or take some minutes.

Since your time is limited (you wrote it is hard to find more than 1 hr slots) you should consider doing progression runs. Start out easy for first 15-20 minutes, build to tempo pace for 20 minutes, and the accelerate the last 20 minutes such that your last mile is your fastest.

I wouldn't get wrapped up in the numbers of a HRM. Easy is can hold multiple sentence conversations or yak nonstop. Medium is able to talk a sentence. Hard is able to say a few words. Race pace is barely able to say one word.

Also, by foot strike you may be able to drop the HRM by equating rate of breathing to footstrike.

i.e. these are just examples.

easy (70% intensity?) is 1 breath 5-6 footstrikes of one foot (right only)

medium (80% intensity?) is 1 breath per 4 foot strikes

hard is 1 breath per 2 foot strikes

Anonymous said...

In addition to my previous post. I thought it didn't look like but I double-checked and your easy, marathon, tempo, interval, etc. are not quite from Daniel's Running Formula?

Sort of the same but by DRF you'd have a VDOT of about 43

Mr. Anon

don't get too wrapped up in the HRM. Are you still getting on that track for I work? Tsk, tsk. Take care of that hip. Those curvy turns will exacerbate your problem. I can't see the point of doing repetition pace workouts. Wow, in reality R workouts are for middle distance runners. 10K down to 800M.

Stick on some long striders or modified fartleks if you want to do something R-like. Call them "surges". Surge at 90% for 200-400m and then jog easy, repeat 4-5x.

olga said...

I can't believe Mr. Anon. is till interested in my running!:) Thank you for advice, really. To elaborate: I do go track because this is the only place that I seem to be able to push myself hard - because I can count those laps, turns, straights, and know there is an end of it that I can see. Easier on mind.
I don't remember what formula I finally used for those time predictions, I browsed too many and forgot to link, so I won't claim the author. I have no idea what my VDOT is (43 0 is it too low or too much? I do know I have limited lung capacity, how is that?).
As for hips - yesterday's Bikram proved once again that the injuries on my left side did (do) exist: I can't kick straight leg on that side, can't balance well on it (not that it's not strong, it's just hurts), and can't bend over hip crease while bearing the weight on this leg (due to that labrum tear). And to think I used to teach Bikram...
Thanks again, ideas and analysis are welcome. I am still in experiemnting stage:)

Anonymous said...

I think you are on the right track in trying to correlate machine work (EFX, stairmaster, etc). I generally give them 90% of what I would do on the road for the same intensity. The reason why is that the upper body doesn't see as much usage and that impacts HR.

As to bicycle here is an example. I can generally ride an all-out hour and get 22 miles. If I run an all out hour. I can get 9 miles. I generally divide my cycling miles by 2.4 to give me equivalent running miles. Then again, I ride a real bike either on a trainer or outside. The gym bikes are just not quite the same.

Maybe another way to approach where you are heading is to assign value to each type of running.

As you work the scale


the far right-side of the scale has negligible value to an ultramarathoner. the greatest value is in E-M-T.

if you are "in shape" and you could only do one kind of running. would you do E? M? T?

My years of observation indicate a wise spreading across E-M-T. "I" only in the aspect of hill repeats.

After all, do you need to be better at ripping out a 1500m on the track or having great capacity at running hills? They are indeed vastly different.

I have never seen you run. I have no clue what your turnover rate is (how many times your foot strikes the ground per minute). Some runners run E with slow turnover of 60-70. Increasing turnover as they go to M-T-I-R.

They are not efficient. Efficient runners (world class marathoners as example) generally have 85-95 footstrikes per minutes for each foot. To progress from E-M-T-I-R they increase their stride length and not their stride rate.

Anonymous said...

If you really feel like you have to go to the track, try to understand that running in the conventional direction around the track may be injurious to your hip. Maybe going the opposite direction would help or reduce the injury potential?

Too bad there are no long straightaways on dirt, gravel, etc. you can avail yourself. I am lucky to have an earthen dam about 1.2 miles long straight as an arrow to use.

Journey to a Centum said...

I think I'll just step out the front door and go for a run. I'll run till I'm thirsty. When I get back I'll have an ice cold Black Butte Porter beer and rest a spell.

Ahhh, wouldn't that be nice?

Oh well, out of fantasy land and on to training!

Bob Gentile said...

OLGA Said:Sometime next week I may even share my thoughts on reading "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" - and don't even try to laugh, because it is funny how it is true!
all that technical running stuff is over my head --good luck with that...I did just get a bigger tire today to pull for this weekend-lol

and yes this book is scary about the opposite sex... look forward to ur thoughts :-)

Have a good weekend

caroline said...

I read the Mars/Venus book too and can only say that it hits the nail on the head when it comes to ways of communicating. :-) Not that it applies to all men and women, but it sure hit home with me!

Backofpack said...

I don't want to analyze my running, I just want to run, and sometimes go farther and faster.

Eric and I both read Mars/Venus a few years ago. It certainly was interesting!

Phil said...

As anonymous said, don't get too hung up on the actual HR. HR for the same pace will dramatically swing as a function of temperature and humidity for the any given workout. Instead, run to perceived effort (as he described) and wear to HR Monitor to keep track of overall performance over time.

olga said...

I think Ronda is right when says by following HR workouts quite strictly she improved (and that she did!). I think wearing HRM is a good thing to at least learn where my zones are. I did it last year for a month, and then stopped, but by then I could more or less guess my effort. Now I don't have even a vague idea. I only worn it on the treadmill hill repeats so far and one race.
I agree that R pace is irrelevant for ultrarunners, and may be even I, it was an example of proposed schedule for "normal" runners. I may only add a couple repeats that short and fast if our Red Lizard coach decides to pile it at the end of other intervals. Lucky for me, he moved to long repeats a few weeks back (800m was only once, and usually it is 1000-1200). I run 1M intervals on my own on another day.
I called M pace runs of 11M tempo for easier understanding myself. To me everything that goes quicker than easy yet not as fast as intervals is Tempo:) Just a name. No science here.
If you read my thoughts on van Aaken, I mentioned there that "progression runs" are exactly the term I use for my morning runs. I start easy, pick up and run fast back. Mostly it happens this way by itself, as I wake up. Night runs go backwards (or may be with somewhat stronger middle and shuffle back, but I am not a night runner at all).
To all who is overwhelmed by "science" part of it: it doesn't mean I don't enjoy to simply get out and put one foot in front of another. However, somewhere deep inside, and may be not even so deep, I like to run well. I said a million times by now, I am not blessed with genetics and technique, so I have to work if I want to finish anywhere before DFL. And besides hard work brings me satisfaction. Something about measured results. These two can happily live together.

maniac hippo said...

I'm either blessed or cursed by being "anti-analytical" about running. I think it works because I have few competitive urges and so if my training isn't perfect... *shrugs*

Even so, I measure HR sometimes. Good stuff there and important, I just can't get too serious about it.

Now PleasePleaseplease be as serious about getting your SI joint (and other stuff) fixed too. We need you strong, healthy, fast, and smiling-gorgeous-stunning like at PRR.

Jamie said...

This is what I love about training. There are many training avenues one can take to reach their goals. Some roads are better than others, and what works for one might be a dead end for another. I personally really appreciate the analytical approach to such matters. Best of luck and stay healthy!

Donald said...

But there ARE some days when you just go out and run, right? And don't worry about times or zones, right? Right? Please say right.

Mike said...

Olga- very interesting post and a ton of good comments too. Great that you are getting ready for the upcoming race season...now we just need the weather to cooperate for us here. I want sunny weather on the weekends..not just the weekdays!!;-)

Kelly S. Nichols said...

Trail/Ultra runners use the word "elite" quite often. An elite runner is someone who ran in college, and then turns pro. Ryan Hall is an elite runner. He ran for Stanford University.

Anonymous said...

"Elite" means performing at the top of your field at an event either regionally or nationally. Anyone who can go to an ultra in any part of the US or world and perform well is undeniably elite.

I know a number of runners who never ran a step in HS or college and regularly beat "elite" folks who did. Does this make them non-elite?

Anonymous said...

Ultrarunning is as much mental as physical. We have seen people finish ultras who by rights shouldn't have based on their training.

Trying to reach the peak of your physical abilities, chasing that fleeting last x% of performance may deduct from the mental/spiritual component of who a runner is. Thus, making you a lesser runner overall.

Your greatest days will be when your mind is completely into it. You're going to do fine, just take of your hurts.

Mr. Anon

Meghan said...


Interesting post and comments, thanks!

Some thoughts:

1) There is a lot of credibilty with reference to heart rate zone training. Many/most high level triathletes live by training with heart rate zones.

2) I believe that ultrarunners can benefit from very short, very fast intervals (Z4b and Z5 on your chart). Topped out running, in these short bursts, on regular occasion, forces the body to improve and maintain running economy. Improved running economy transfers its way all the way down the scale, even as far as the 100 mile ultra-shuffle.

3) We seem to be surrounded by a quest for more miles. There is only so much that can be gained by running high mileage weeks at easy paces (I think high mileage has it's place in all endurance event training. But it shouldn't be one's only means of training, and it certainly shouldn't replace other training elements.). To go beyond this, we must add these other elements to our training (Of which you speak in this entry, and you do a lot of already.).

4) It's really nice to be able to run without thinking about it, or to run spontaneously. However, for someone who's training to run fast at a certain event(s), this kind of nonchalant running is reserved for the recovery runs and the off-season running. If one wants to run hard and fast and successfully, the running (And all elements of the training, for that matter.) should be purposeful.

Happy Running!

Sarah said...

Interesting post and great comments! I love reading the scientific stuff but rarely apply it seriously to my own running.

meredith said...

I will leave everyone else to comment on the running....

I LOVE Bikram! I have been going since January, and have found so much joy in flexibility, the ability to block out everything and focus, and to really create positive energy. All of these things have really helped my passion on the trail! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do :)

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