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To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Long Run - a one hour a week marathon training program.

One of the criticisms that i find reasonable of a super low volume approach to endurance racing - particularly for someone getting into the sport - is the concern that it doesn't provide adequate opportunity for physiological adaptations of connective tissues such as ligaments and tendons.  These tissues are brutalized during long events involving repetitive stresses. If they are stronger, injury is less likely.  Research during my morning cup of coffee found little in the way of easily accessible information regarding how the adaptation of these tissues occurs - but i did find one powerpoint from the University of Massachusetts (with some textbook sources cited) that seemed to suggest that it is changes in collagen fibrils that are responsible for these adaptations.  It further suggested that exercise of low to moderate intensity did little to drive this process.

That being said, there is a pretty heavy dose of conventional wisdom out in cyberspace beating the drums to a tune of "volume = necessary adaptations" and so i thought that in absence of more substantial evidence* i should work towards figuring out a way to include some longer workouts in the mix, just in case.  The added benefit of this is that for someone trying to take the low volume approach as an entrance into endurance efforts, longer efforts will help provide some of the required mental confidence.

Here's how it might work for a marathon.

  • week 1 (40 min) - 2 x 10 minute high intensity runs**, 1 x 20 minute tempo run
  • week 2 (50 min) - 2 x 10 minute high intensity runs, 1 x 30 min. tempo run
  • week 3 (1 hour) - 2 x 10 minute high intensity runs, 1 x 40 min. tempo run
  • week 4 (1 hr. 10 min) - 2 x 10 min high intensity runs, 1 x 50 min. tempo run
  • week 5 (1 hr 20 min) - 2 x 10 min high intensity runs, 1 x 1 hour tempo run
  • week 6 (20 min) - 2 x 10 min high intensity runs (later in week)
  • week 7 (50 min) - 2 x 10 min high intensity runs, 1 x 30 minute tempo run
  • week 8 (1 hr 50 min) - 2 x 10 minutes high intensity runs, 1 x 90 min. tempo run.
  • week 9 (20 min) - 2 x 10 minute high intensity run (later in week)
  • week 10 (2 hr. 20 min) - 2 x 10 minute high intensity runs, 1 x 2 hour tempo run
  • week 11 (20 min) - 2 x 10 min high intensity run (later in week)
  • week 12 (1 hr) - 40 min tempo run (early in week), 2 x 10 min easy runs.  RACE
12 weeks and 12 total training hours.  While it  might seem like the proposed marathon would be tough mentally (being up to twice the duration of the longest training run), i think it wouldn't be too bad for someone who'd been able to actually get through the program with genuinely high intensity efforts.  The marathon pace would be substantially easier than nearly ALL the training and it seems unlikely that the additional running time at these lower intensities would prove to be a significant mental challenge for someone who'd been able to consistently pour themselves into the 10 minute efforts week after week.  

Alright - who's gonna take the bait and be the guinea pig?

*I'm going to keep looking.  Honestly i'm not sure i'll find anything substantiating a strong connection between training volume exclusively being necessary for any sort of adaptation... it seems more likely, in my opinion, rather that consistent application of stresses above a certain threshold are the requirements for physiological changes.  There is already a good body of evidence along these lines in terms of aerobic adaptation, and i'm guessing that the same will hold true here.  This post provides some good context as to why these drums might still be sounding though.

** I'll provide details on what constitutes a 'high intensity effort' and give some example running workouts that fit the bill in a later post - or if you're interested in finding out more before i get to it, just leave a comment.

1 comment:

  1. I'd be very interested in trying this plan out. Lately I've been doing a lot less volume because life is more important.