Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Modified Multspeed Training for a 50+ Runner

A couple masters runners did take notice of some of my races this summer and have asked, what the heck are you doing? Honestly, not a whole lot different from previous four or five years, but maybe some more emphasis on the track and speed endurance this year. Since the end of April I’ve trained like a 5000 meter runner—with modifications to account for age (lots) and recovery (or lack thereof).

Here’s a summary
Mileage – consistent 50 to 60 miles a week, with 6 to 7 days a week of running

Effort – easy days easy with at least two or three recovery days a week; hard days hard but usually only 50 to 70% of the volume that a training guide might recommend.

Easy days/warm ups cool downs (4 to 8 miles) – often very slow, 8 to 9:30/mile

Threshold (tempo training) – I’m almost religious about these and they are key. In the past I’ve often relied on the 20 to 25 min continuous effort at 5K + 20 to 30 sec/mile. This year I have done more "cruise intervals" (a la Jack Daniels) of 4 to 8min with a short (1 to 1.5 min) recovery. Getting old I guess, but I don’t think you lose much by breaking it down. I also did a few (four over 3 months) long tempos of 40 to 55 min at roughly ½ marathon pace—good aerobic training and great specific training for the half.

Race pace (V02 max) – usually most training guides would tell you to do 15 to 20 min of V02 max effort training (e.g., 4 X 5 min at 5K pace). After hitting 40 I found that these workouts became a grind, if not counter-productive, because recovery might take 10 days or more. I might do 4 X 3 min and call it a day, or do 10 to 12 1 min surges at pace with a 1 min recovery. In May I did one workout of 6 X 3 min, and was pretty maxed out.

Speed work – This is one area where young runners (say under 25) might do too much and older runners (mid-30s and older) not enough. I do speed workouts consistently (once a week), but they are minimalist. My standards are 4 X 400 meters at mile pace with a 400 jog, or 5 X 300 meter cutdowns starting at 5K or 3K pace and dropping down to 800 m pace on the last one. Sometimes I'll do an 800 and a couple 400s. The most I did in one session this year was 1.8 or 2K at mile pace.

Racing and time trials – Although I go light on the training load, I did a lot of races this year, almost totally under the radar.

> Four 5Ks (three road and one track)
> Three 3000 meters (one time trial, 2 track efforts), all solo and gutbusters all
> Two 1 mile/1500 efforts and one 800 m time trial
>One 10K race
(the Two Way Torture Test ½ Marathon in May was more of a fartlek, and I was a few minutes off race effort)

So a typical week might go
Two or three ridiculously easy recovery days
A shortened V02 max day or a tempo run
A short speed day
Long run 1:30 to 2:00
(race about every other week, but I did 3 races in one week for the Senior Games)

One late edit: DRILLS Baby DRILLS!
I don't do these every year, but find that striding seems more efficient when I do.

This year, I started in April while working with middle school track runners, and continued about once a week through the summer. It makes a difference.

2X or 3X 50 to 80 m of
high knees (walking or running or both)
butt kicks

Those are all of my secrets.


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