Success with New Training Strategies

With the extended base phase done I am now looking at the addition of hilly tempo efforts done on trails and in terrain to my schedule. These high intensity sessions will complement the slower running that has dominated my training for the past 10 weeks and will still be a big part of my training right up to WOC.

The Australia-New Zealand Elite Test Match over the long Queen’s Birthday weekend has given me a chance to gauge my fitness at this clear midpoint in this training block. I attribute my strong performances primarily to 1 factor, consistency, which I have achieved through 3 different methods.

Firstly, I have reduced my weekly rate of progression and modified my progression pattern. Previously my training has progressed with 4-week cycle of 3 progressively harder weeks and 1 recovery week. This is a common progression pattern, but I have now abandoned that in favour of a smoother long term progression which smooths out these fluctuations between overload and recovery. My weekly progression has averaged 5% for most of this block, reduced to 4% last week, and will continue to reduce. This is compared to around 10% (but with 1 in 4 weeks being an easier “recovery” week) in previous training programs. I suspect that 3 weeks with a 10% increase per week as seen in my previous training is enough to cause me to train harder that I should giving my level of injury resistance, and so a smoother progression could be desirable to prevent these peaks.

This is what a long term progression based on my numbers looks like. This is a shift in thinking for me and one way to look at it could be captured in the phrase “training to train”, emphasising that we are improving injury resistance first and foremost. This contrasts to the overload and recovery strategy that I have been exposed too most of my life.

This is what a long term progression based on my numbers looks like. This is a shift in thinking for me and one way to look at it could be captured in the phrase “training to train”, emphasising that we are improving injury resistance first and foremost. This contrasts to the overload and recovery strategy that I have been exposed too most of my life.

Secondly, I have better quantified the additional stress on my skeletomuscular system of higher intensity training, and have assigned different values for the different intensities I train at. Michael Adams did this for me in some of our last work together in 2015 but I have taken this 1 step further by making it the primary measure of my training. So instead of progressing in term of training duration (measured in hours) I am now progressing in terms of training impulse points (TRIMP). So the 5% progression I see each week has taken into account additional stress from higher intensity sessions, such as a race on Sunday. From now on the presence of tempo runs will cause a step down in weekly duration because those sessions are worth more points per minute of running. It also provides motivation for me to run slower because I know exactly how much extra stress the higher intensity is putting on my body compared to a lower intensity, most of which is unnecessary during a base training phase. I’ve kept my heart rate zones the same as the previous year.
My training plan full of easy running. Boring? No way! Most of these sessions are very adventurous and often social too.

My training plan full of easy running. Boring? No way! Most of these sessions are very adventurous and often social too.

Thirdly I have been working a lot on my running mechanics with Sports Lab starting with pelvis stabilisation and then moving into foot placement. We have done a number of analysis sessions using their 2-camera set up to view my running and assess the improvements. Comments from my training partners who are used to seeing my bum bouncing along have also provided encouraging feedback – and without me even posing the question, which brings more reliability to their comments. A major advantage of working with Sports Lab was finally seeing a physio who finally explained core activation and how to recruit my deeper abs properly. I can’t believe I saw so many physios who told me to do more core strength work without explaining how tricky it is to activate the deeper of these many muscles. All I got from years of core was a 6 pack! Now I have been doing a new core routine with lower load, more precision, and a lot of thinking to get exactly the right muscles to turn on at the right time. I have been doing this with Sports Lab for 6 months now and for the first time in 5 years I have seen any improvement in my pelvis stability, despite the hours I have put into it.

Some of the tools available to use at sports lab to make assessment easier and more reliable.

Some of the tools available to use at sports lab to make assessment easier and more reliable.

So overall, a successful year so far in terms of my development as a runner, especially the past 10 weeks, and this gives much needed confidence that perhaps I can break this barrier I have found myself stumbling on every year.

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