Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Healthy Intelligent Training

Who can argue against healthy intelligent training? Well, my new training program is based on a fairly recent book by Keith Livingstone called "Healthy Intelligent Training: The Proven Principles of Arthur Lydiard." I've always enjoyed reading about Lydiard and I have two of his books ("Running to the Top" and "Running with Lydiard"). His philosophy has always made sense to me. While this new book isn't written by Lydiard, to me it summarizes and explains the Lydiard approach better than the other two books written by the man himself.

I'm mostly an ultramarathon runner. Mostly a trail runner. I race long distances over trails at a pretty slow pace. I need endurance, not speed. I need to maximize my aerobic potential. Fortunately, if I do build a huge aerobic base, speed at shorter distances (5K, 10K, half-marathon, and marathon) should be there since those distances are run predominately in the aerobic range. Here are some interesting statistics showing what proportion of each race is run aerobically (vs anaerobically):

1500m = 83%
5K = 93%
10K = 97%
Marathon = 99%

A LOT of racing is done within your aerobic system! I'll bet 100-mile trail runs are 99.99% aerobic.

Lydiard-based training is not all easy, long runs. It's a complex training system with workouts designed to stimulate all of the aerobic and anaerobic body systems. For the next few months I'm concentrating on the aerobic runs. The Healthy Intelligent Training book bases workout intensities on heart rate target zones using the Karvonen formula (heart rate reserve). You need to know your maximum HR and your resting HR (the difference between the two is your HR reserve). Here are my current stats and target zones for a few sample intensities:

Max HR = 188
Resting HR = 54
HR Reserve = 188-54 = 134

Target Heart Rates
(Percent = %HR Reserve + Resting HR)
60-75% = Bread & Butter Aerobic (easy, long, and recovery runs)
75-80% = Sub-Threshold Aerobic (marathon pace run)
80-85% = Threshold (tempo run at just below lactate threshold)

My Percentages & Corresponding Heart Rates:
60-75% = 134-154
75-80% = 154-161
80-85% = 161-168

Here is my first stab at a weekly training plan for the next few months (probably with some slight alterations every few weeks):

MON: Cross training or OFF
TUES: Very easy 4-6 miles (HR<134)
WED: 15-30 minute tempo run or intervals (HR=161-168)
THURS: Very easy 4-6 miles (HR<134)
FRI: 3 mile test run @ 8:00 pace (HR should be below 155)
SAT: 15-20 mile long run (HR=134-154)
SUN: 5-10 mile easy run (HR=134-154)

And I'll keep an eye on my weight. For every pound gained, you tend to run 2 seconds per mile slower. Dang, my extra 6 pounds is costing me 12 seconds/mile! That's over 5 minutes in a marathon. Time to switch over to Sam Adams light beer.

If you are interested in learning more about Lydiard training, both the philosophy and physiology behind it, I encourage you to read the book "Healthy Intelligent Training" by Keith Livingstone. It's a fantastic book. There is also a Lydiard Foundation web site dedicated to spreading the word about this "coach of the century."


Beverly said...

Thank you for this... I was wondering whether this book would be suitable for me for marathon training - It's back cover says suitable for mid-distance runners. But I suppose if it has helped you as an ultra runner, it should help me too. Thanks!

Chris Ⓥ said...

Beverly, yes it would work for marathon training. From my perspective, probably anything from half-marathon up. Lydiard's early athletes used the system for 800m and longer races (and won Olympic medals). I think those shorter distances require a slightly different approach.