Marathon training for the Philadelphia marathon has officially begun, which means I find myself in the first stage–building a base. The idea behind base training is to build a runner’s aerobic ability by running a large volume of miles. The concept was made popular at the Olympic games in the 1960’s by famed coach Arthur Lydiard. Lydiard believed that for a runner to properly prepare for distance events he needs to train with a high volume of miles during, what he termed the “base stage.” Lydiard’s ideas became so popular that it seems like almost every training plan I’ve ever used has followed the core of his idea.
I like to think of Lydiard’s idea as very similar to Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of 10,000 hours. In Gladwell’s book Outliers, he lays out the premise that there are no experts born into a certain field, but rather to become a master at a particular skill, someone has to spend around 10,000 hours of preparation to become truly great. Now greatness and success are relative terms that some define through society’s lenses and others based on their individual goals.
When I started running, I began by using the couch to 5K running plan. This plan is designed to take a couch potato, which my then 40 year old 275lb-ish self definitely was, and transform them into someone that can complete a 5K race. The plan is simple–you walk, then run, then walk, then run again. As the plan progresses the amount of walking decreases until you are eventually running 20-25 min. My wife and I started this plan 7 years ago this week. I was reminded of this in my Timehop app this week with this notification seen below. I remember when we first started those first 60 seconds of running felt like an eternity. In fact that eternity moment I’ve experienced in every training plan I’ve followed from Couch to 5k, to Bridge to 10K, and any plan I’ve used by Hal Higdon in training from both the half and full marathons, because in all of them I was building my base, increasing the time on my feet, preparing myself, putting in the hours.
I was reminded of the look a person gets when they are approaching his or her eternity mile when my daughter , Leah, ran her first 4 mile run on Tuesday night. Tuesday night is my run group night and we typically run a 4 mile loop, so I invited Leah to join us in hopes to take some of the pressure off by running with a group. On the drive over Leah told me she was nervous because she’s never run that far before but she was also excited to hang out with the group I lovingly refer to as the #RunFam. Once group began, Leah and I started off at a comfortable pace and the first mile we chatted about the difference between running in the evening vs running in the morning. Mile 2 is a rolling incline that challenged her and when we got to the top and rounded the corner she told me she was tired. Mile 3 is a slightly rolling path that she was enjoying the downhills but I could tell she was starting to feel eternity because she was no longer talking. As we moved into mile 4 I told her that we were going to run just a bit faster for a few minutes then ease back for a few. There was no point trying to explain a fartlek to her at that point. I could see in her eyes there was no light at the end of her tunnel. On the second fartlek she told me her legs were too tired and yet she kept pace and as we reached our goal she looked at me, with hollow, tired eyes, and told me she thought that was never going to end.
It’s funny seeing running through her eyes because it’s so reminiscent of what I experienced–what I assume we all experience. I even felt that eternity mile today during my 4 mile run. It was already 82 degrees when I started this morning with dew points in the high 70’s. It was like running through a wet rag.
I expected my legs to be a bit more tired than they were when I first started because of a track workout last night, but by mile 3 I found myself looking at my watch more frequently and once my strikers started I felt more like I was swimming through the air than running.
The entire run I felt like I was running much slower than I actually was. When I finished I saw that my pace was actually at my comfortable zone (8:45) but I actually thought that there were times I was running 60-90s slower than that.
Check out my run today using this very cool service called Relive
HA! Haven’t we all been there. Whether it’s in our first 5K, the last 3 miles in a half marathon or the last 6 in a marathon, everyone experiences the eternity mile differently based on the amount of preparation. So as I narrow my focus on Philadelphia, I will endeavor to spend more time on my feet, keep up my volume and prepare my legs better.
In my young running career I’ve only spent about 1000 hours running and according to Gladwell I have a few more to go, but go I shall because….
I realized today that it would be good to share my workout plan for the week, so here is week 2 of my modified Hal Higdon Marathon 3 plan.
|4 miles Easy||Back and Biceps
8 x 300
1 mile WU/CD
|4 miles + Striders 8-10 20s/1 min||Leg Day||2 miles Easy||8 Miles MP|