Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tear down, build up, adapt

"Exercise sweat has no odor. Only nervous sweat has odor...there must be a lot of nervous runners" - George Sheehan

During the early spring, due to rotten ankle anatomy, I found it increasingly difficult to keep up with my TNT groups - "I am their leader...which way did they go?". So, after 15 years, I decided to turn over all of the Run portion of TNT to Coach Prince Whatley. Up until then, I had been writing a weekly email to my trainees for over 11 years that pretty much centered around coaching them along their travels. Now that I don't have a "group", I went the Blog route to sort of diversify my writings and allow my thoughts to wander where they will concerning my running journeys past, present and future. However, as I write RWA, I still find myself periodically slipping into the coaching persona, and will base these pearls of wisdom on marathons and ultras that I know folks here in the Birmingham area are running. So, I'm probably writing this prelude more for me than for you because I just don't know exactly what will come out of my typing fingers each week. As like a trail run with poor markings, there's a lot of different ways I can go.

So, here in Birmingham, our signature event is the Mercedes Marathon and Half Marathon in February. When we begin our new Mercedes Marathon groups (Sept 19th, in case you forgot), I will be going over some of the fundamentals of beginning a training program. Review is ALWAYS a good thing, so although you might say "I've seen this before", hang in there, it's worth hearing over and over again. Heck, Runner's World has been getting away with this for 40 years. But, running long distances is not Rocket Surgery! It's really pretty simple as long as some well meaning blogger doesn't muck it up, so I'll do my best.

Believe it or not, I think our summer groups (San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and a few other fall marathons) are emerging from the depths of summer training. I know it's still hot out there, but September is next week, so it's got to be cooling off soon, then things will get easier. We finally broke our streak of consectutive days over 90 degrees at 50 days in a row!! Even the little humidity break we've had this week has made moving forward a whole lot more tolerable. All of you that have been putting in consistent training are going to reap big dividends soon. And consistent training doesn't mean getting out EVERY day and running hard, or far. It means being consistent with regular running, or cross training, enough to produce some stress to your aerobic system, so that it adapts to producing energy upon demand. Stress + rest = adaptation. Tear down, build up, adapt. Call it what you want, but it is this combination of workout stress and rest that results in improvement. But, most athletes positively fear resting. Rest days, rest weeks, resting before fear it all!! And I'm with you on this one. And I've been doing this for three DECADES!! Believe me, you won't suddenly lose all your hard earned training in a day or two. Studies have shown that there is NO LOSS in performance or conditioning for up to two months if training is cut 50%! Studies also show that a 60-70% reduction in training over a two week period will result in a 3.5-3.7% improvement in performance. Can you say TAPER? That can be an 8 minute improvement in a four hour marathon! OK, so where does this fit in to your training? Well, it's 7 weeks until San Francisco and 6 weeks till Chicago. Next week, Coach Prince's schedule has 17 miles, then it's down to 13 the following week. Ease back a little after the 17 miler during the 2 weeks prior to your 20 miler (Sept 18th). The weather will be getting cooler, your midweek mileage is lower, your body has adapted to the hell you put it through this summer, and you'll cruise into the 20 miler fit, strong, and ready. THEN, it's on to the taper with a positive "Hey, I CAN do this!" attitude. Like they used to say on the "A-Team" - I love when a plan comes together!!

OK guys, time to get Saturday moving two hours, write RWA, watch a little English soccer while drinking my coffee. It's 10:30 already. Where does the day go? Think I'll have another cup of coffee and think about it. Have a good week and I'll see you on the gradually cooler roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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