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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Extreeme Makeover, Geezer Edition!

A few days ago, I emailed renowned coach Roy Benson with my issues around working hard at running, but with very poor current results. Now Coach Benson is 69, has run for 55 years, and has PR's that are about 20 seconds per mile better than mine at all distances. He is an exercise physiologist who has coached at all levels from high school through world class elites, written a number of running books (Coach Benson's Secret Workouts being my favorite), does summer running camps, and writes for peak performance online and running times. He emailed me back and asked me to call him today. We talked for about 40 minutes while he did a nice fast walk on a Florida beach. It was a wonderful focused discussion of my current training, and he offered a variety of suggestions for revamping it to meet my goals of running primarily 5K's, with an occasional 8K or 10K as I approach 60 next year. It was really kind of him to spend the time on me, and for free. Many folks pay a lot of money to access his coaching advice.
Here is what I currently attempt to do weekly. It doesn't always happen, and it has been a difficult struggle. A long run of 90 minutes, with some pickup in pace for the last half hour. A recovery run of 45 to 60 minutes. A threshold run of 70 minutes, where I try and do three miles slightly slower than 10K race pace, and a 60 minute run where I do 6 bye 1/3 mile at close to 5K pace with short recoveries. Added to that are three days where I lift weights after doing about 20 minutes of spinning on the exercycle.
Here is how he wants me to revamp my training over the next few months. I need to monitor how I feel, and see if I get some spring back in my stride. His first concern is that I am chronically fatigued, and not allowing enough recovery to match my geezer age. So, his first suggestion is to cut the long run down to an hour or an hour and 15 minutes based on how I feel. If I am dragging, keep it to an hour. For the recovery run, cap that at 40 to 45 minutes. For the days where I go to the gym, skip the exercycle and just walk for a half hour on the treadmill. He believes that the exercycle negatively effects the hip flexors in old runners. Just his belief, but I will give it a shot. Now for the other two running days of the week, he wants me to alternate a few workouts. One workout is to rebuild stride length and turnover. this involves 100 yard pickups, or the equivalent of 20 to 30 second sprints. I should alternate those with a minute or so of recovery. I should build from 12 of these to a maximum of about 24. The second hard workout would be to reduce my 1/3 mile repeats back to 1/4 mile repeats, and work to build to 12 total at 5K pace. Until I can do that AT 5K PACE OR FASTER, longer intervals are far less effective. The third workout is a shorter threshold run of 20 minutes, with warm up and warm down, where I push a bit harder at the beginning to get to 10K pace, and try to hold my heart rate at my approximate 85% max. Now I have to balance pace and heart rate to insure that I have estimated my current heart rate maximum accurately. he is concerned that I may be estimating my max heart rate too high. It is better to err on the side of running a bit below than above. Now these three hard workouts should be alternated weekly where I do only 2 of them each week. For example, this week I will do the quarters and the threshold, and next week the short sprints and the threshold, and week three the intervals and sprints. I should have at LEAST 2 days in between hard workouts to allow for a more full recovery. So if I was running on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, the hard efforts should be on Tuesday and Saturday, or Thursday and Sunday. He finished with the advise that when I do race, try and do a very long warm up where I walk and jog for at least 2 miles or a half hour before the race begins. Old runners just can't start pushing hard from zero like them damn whipper snappers can. So there it is. I will give it a try for the next month. I have a 5K on December 18th in Las Cruces, so I will get a chance to see if there is any improvement gained in that time frame. Not expecting too much, but a few seconds a mile would be just dandy!!

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