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Friday, December 31, 2010

You’ve got mail–Big Block Running Volume

I got an email from Ginny at Happy Feet 26.2 inquiring about some big volume blocks that I did last year.  I have run with Ginny may times over the past couple of years.  She is a good friend.  Ginny also does a heck of a lot of volume herself and she went to Boston last year.
Hello James,

I am working on my training for Snickers in March.  It will obviously be a shortened program because of Huntsville
[Ginny just did the Rocket City Marathon].  I am not worried about the shortened program at all, because I think I have maintained my fitness and will come back fast.  Just trying not to, come back too fast.

Anyway, I wanted to ask you about the workout you did, something like 15, 15, 15 in 3 days, or something similar.  First, do you think that helped you in your training?  When did you do this in relation to your race date?  I'm always looking for new things to try, and love some variety.  With the high mileage that I ran before Huntsville, I think I would be up for something similar this time.  In the past, I would not have attempted it for fear of injury, but now I feel my mileage has been, and will be, high enough to give it a try.

Please share what you can with me about it, or any other  things you feel "really worked well" for you in training.

I will continue with tempos, intervals, and long runs, but just looking to mix things up a little.
My reply:
Hey Ginny -

I got idea from hearing something about increasing your mileage for running an ultra.  Most ultra runners do not do many long runs longer than what we do for marathon training they just do more back to back mileage.  Since I have time off over the holidays I decided to get some major volume blocks.  I thank I got 3 blocks of right at 50 miles [15 – 15 – 20].  This was all LSD type running – I mean completely conversational comfortable running pace.

I can’t really say if it helped me in my marathons but it certainly did allow for me to adapt to running on tired / fatigued legs.  In fact, I just finished up a couple of more large running blocks.  I had two 6 day blocks that just kissed 70 miles.  Just this week I have decided to shut down the high volume with 6 weeks left before my A race marathon.  Now I will be concentrating on much more intensity.  It will be 3 challenging runs each week – intervals, tempo and long run at marathon or near marathon pace. 

If you do a block of high volume I think you have to shut down the intensity.  If you do speed and volume I think you are asking for trouble.

James – See you at the Steam Whistle 12K
I think the large blocks have helped in my running.  They have allowed for me to adapt to running on fatigued legs. 
My belief is that running with the tired legs should allow for you to push the wall further back in a race.  When I ran the Mardi Gras marathon last year I did not hit the wall – sure the race got harder (much harder) around mile 22 / 23 but I was able to maintain pace – or enough of my pace to reach my goal.  The race was pretty evenly split (1:34:00 / 1:34:44).  This year’s race is going to be very difficult and I hope that my extra volume blocks will push that wall back even further – I’m trying to push it back somewhere in the vicinity of mile 27.

You can see the traces of the wall just after mile 20
(you also turned into a head wind at about mile 23 – nice).

Projected 2011 Mardi Gras Marathon – NO WALL.




A quick disclaimer:  I get the holidays off from work.  This lets me recover fully from this high volume blocks of running.  In truth, I really needed down time last year when I ran big blocks.  I would take an ice bath while sipping a recovery shake.  Then maybe even a nap.  This year I have run the high volume faster and the recovery has bee much easier.  Your mileage may vary. 

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