Tuesday, November 14, 2006


The other day I mentioned making some changes to my base training this year. I didn’t lay out any specifics, mainly because I didn’t have anything in mind at the time. One thing that will definitely change from last year is the amount of hills I run. Last year I ran all my weekday runs on a pancake flat trail. In April my company moved locations and I’ve been running most of my weekday runs on much hillier routes.

In addition, I’ve been trying to run faster on some of my runs. Last year I was content to just focus on increasing my mileage – even if it meant running very slow every day. While I was able to run a lot more miles than “normal,” I may have sacrificed some speed along the way.

Mike had a recent post written by a “Mystery Coach” that was very insightful. The comments afterwards help clear things up even more. Here are the key things I took from the discussion;

Lydiard’s runners were training to be racers not trainers. Sometimes I feel like I’m training to train, rather than training to race.

Steady state conditioning is where you develop the capacity to run and run and not get tired (i.e. stamina) – and you can do it again the next day.

Hard/easy has its place during the speed work phase, not the base training phase. Hard/easy during base training undermines stamina development.

LSD training (like I was doing last year) builds endurance, but not stamina. Instead, we should focus on medium-hard/medium-hard/medium-hard, during the base phase to build both endurance AND stamina.

Why? Because muscle fibers are recruited progressively as you run faster and faster. Hard/easy allows some of your muscle fibers to recover in-between hard days. Therefore, you continue to work the same fibers over-and-over. Consistent medium-hard efforts force you to recruit new fibers.

They will protest at first.

Sample workout; a hard 10 mile run at MP + 20 seconds the day before a 20 miler at MP + 40 seconds.

It takes hard work.

What makes some of this stuff so confusing to me is the definition of things like steady state, medium-hard, moderate, ¾ effort, etc.

I believe I know who this “Mystery Coach” is and just last night I read an article by him in our local running magazine regarding the Lydiard Method. In the article he mentioned that the Marathon Conditioning phase (aka steady state conditioning) is “slow and easy” running. He mentions leisurely pace and not worrying about minute-per-mile pace.

Now I don’t know about anyone else, but MP + 20 seconds IS NOT “slow and easy” for me. Based on Chicago that’d be 7:10 pace for me. Even MP + 40 (7:30) takes some effort for me.

He does mention that “runners are shocked at how weak their steady states are.” Maybe that’s what I’m experiencing when I see “7:10” and “slow and easy” side-by-side.

Today’s run was definitely my quickest in a long time – much quicker than anything I ran last year during my base phase. I ran 9 miles, including a 7 mile stretch at 7:17 pace. I’m sure it helped that I felt awesome. My legs were springy and my lungs felt like they’d never run out of oxygen. Now let’s see what happens tomorrow with another medium-hard effort.

Today’s quote of the day would answer my “Chicken and the Egg” post from Friday;

“Workouts show what condition you are in, they don’t make you into that condition.” – Mystery Coach


Eric said...

Is it possible you misidentified the Mystery Coach? One Mystery Coach calls MP+20 seconds a 'hard' run, and the one in your magazine calls MP+20 seconds 'slow and easy'. Two completely different perspectives from the same person?

Is the article online at all? Post a link if possible. I'd be curious to read it.

Chad said...

Yeah, it's possible, but I know the guy that wrote the article is one of Mike's key mentors when it comes to Lydiard.

No, the article isn't online, unfortunately.

MB said...

A very useful post, thanks. I culled your notes and added them to my list of the diatribe. I have read and digested it all and like you say it is hard work!

Isn't Mike's mystery coach from CT. Why would he have an article in your local running magazine?

I read change in your running and attitude, 2007 is going to be a good year!

Chad said...

Mark, maybe I am wrong with the mystery coach. However, the person I'm thinking of has basically dedicated himself to Lydiard. So if they're different I'm really confused by their different interpretations.

2007 might not be good, but it will be different.

MB said...

Do you ever think positive? you know, upbeat!

Chad said...

Mark, I'm "always" positive, but I'm realistic too. Just because I shake things up doesn't guarantee that it'll be a success.

And if it's a success that doesn't guarantee that it's because of something I did this year - maybe it's something I did last year.

Anonymous said...


I'm still out here. I rarely miss a post. I enjoy your comments and like reading your stuff. Good job at Chicago, I was proud of you for bouncing back.

I don't have much to add to the training talk I see. I grew up on the Lydiard type methods and quickly found you could get in great condition to do hard workouts. Most people won't set aside a year to get in shape and peak for a race and for us who love to race why would we?

I think what I always enjoyed most was going out for a solid 14-15 mile workout. One you could bite your teeth in and just feel the miles click off like you were doing a half hour run. I always seemed to have an easier go of it when I could train 70-80 a week rather than trying to scuttle together those 30-50 mile weeks and hope for the best.

I ran almost 10 in the woods Sunday with a friend and two of his dogs. After all these years I still enjoyed this more than most things I accomplished during the week.

Keep up the good work.


Ryan said...

Agree. MP+20 does not qualify as "easy" for me. I ran 13 on Sunday at my Chicago MP+20 and felt really good. But I wasn't keen on going MP. Insightful post.

Susan said...

I'm confused about the workout quote? does that mean i'm really a supermodel but i'm just not working out enough or does it mean that i'm not a supermodel and i've worked out too much? Or maybe it just means I'm delusional?!

Chad said...

Double, always nice to hear from you. I'm not going to set aside a year either. However, around here you can get a nice chunk of time from Oct to June to focus on training.

Ryan, thanks for the input. I can maybe see MP + 40 being called "easy" if I trained at the pace more frequently.

Susan, the quote means that your workouts show you that you're a supermodel. They don't make you a supermodel. Everything else you do during the week makes you a supermodel. How's that sound?