Wednesday, August 22, 2018

I'm Coaching Again!

  I have joined Ruben Sanca's team at  I have been doing a little online coaching and this will enable me to handle more athletes and to a full spectrum of plans from ready made to the full service online coaching I currently do as well as everything in between.  Additionally Ruben has built up a whole system that from my end makes the work a lot easier and quicker, hence why I'll be able to handle more people, but also adds a lot of features and functionality for athletes.  There is a news letter, a private facebook group, youtube page etc..   This is the sort of thing I have wanted to put together myself but never had the time or expertise to do. 

  For me I'm really excited for this because I have really enjoyed this kind of coaching in the past and I have enjoyed the little bit I have been able to do on my own the last couple years but I haven't wanted to go back to doing it with some of the other groups I worked for mostly because I couldn't handle the volume that they need from a coach.  There are some great set ups for the full time athlete but for a fulltime teacher not so much.  If you are interested in personal coaching, by me or any of the other coaches, you can go to the link below.  I haven't created any of the pre-made schedules yet but I plan to steadily build up a library of those over the next year.  I would like to create a series of summer schedules of all levels of high school and college athletes.  Additionally I want to do schedules that are tied to all of the training systems that I discuss on here, Canova, Vigil, Aussie styles for many different race distances and levels.  So if that sort of thing interests you keep checking in.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Training Blog August 13 to 19, 2018

 Another week another small step in the right direction.  I tried a tiny bit of tempo work this week and that went very well and didn't leave me nearly as sore as my micro track workout last week so that was a nice surprise.  My cross training continues to improve and I'm actually back to doing my normal lifts, squats, front squats, deadlifts and the some other basics mixed in with some wieght.  I did 6x6 of dead lifts going from 135 up to 185lbs.  I did 6x6 with the back squats going from 85 up to 135lbs.   So light but not just the bar or no wieght anymore.   Still walking a lot!

Monday PT- adding a lot of jumping stuff, broad jumps and even some side to side jumping.

Tuesday 1 mile jog warm up, just under 7mins, then 12x100m on the track with 100m walk recoveries.  Locked in on the 17's for these.  felt pretty good.  Also saw Anna befor this and did some lifting and core work. 

Wednesday 20 minute run on the rail trail with no walk breaks.  Covered 3.1 miles.  This was also my first time doing some running on back to back days.  I could feel my hip was quite fatiqued after 15mins and it was a bit of a struggle to hold form and what not but it was good given that it was kinda a double whammy of increases.

Thursday heavy cross training day in terms of exercises from PT and Anna.  Couple long walks.

Friday at the track. 1 mile warm up, just under 7mins, 1 mile tempo run 5:20- very even 80, 2:40, 4:00.  1 mile cool down just under 7:00.  I cut the walk after this one short because a thunder and lighting storm started.  So only about a half mile instead of a mile and a half like normal.  The pace for this is just what I would like my threshold workouts to start out at when I start doing a bit of training at the start of October.  I felt pretty confident it would be ok just because generally I am very efficent down to that pace.  Even at times when a 5:00 feels very hard to run I am generally able to run a lot of 5:20's in a row.   This felt controlled but a bit uncomfortable as I haven't done anything up tempo longer than 200m.  My hr only got up to 145 but it didn't feel that easy.   Not a time trial or anything but not walking either.

Saturday Another heavy cross training day.  I'm recovering better and am able to mix in a lot more of my exercises without getting super sore or being too fatiqued the next day.

Sunday 24 minutes with no breaks on the rail trail.  3.8 miles. This actually felt great.  Hip wasn't as fatigued as on the 20minute run on Wednesday and I think the tempo mile helped my body realize its fitness a bit and the effort felt greatly reduced.  Just a nice little run.  Yes I think I can actually call this a run!

Summary a nice step in the right direction.  I have a long way to go and the hip is very weak but I actually feel like I'm doing some exercise now in both my running and cross training.  I also finished up my first four week cycle of general strength and will start a new routine next week which will be an increase over the pedistal routine I have been doing which is on the light end.  The two big tests for the coming week are that I'm moving to a two day on, one day off routine and that I'm going to retry the 6x200m.  I'm hopeful that both will be ok.    I hope you are running more than me!!  Have a great week!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Training August 6 to 12, 2018

 Another small step forward this week.  The leg really feels the same to me which is to say, lightly sore and pretty weak.  The thing is objectively I can see that I am doing a lot more.  More PT, more core work, more running.  So I know I'm getting stronger but I think I was expecting it to make a big jump in strength and that hasn't happened.   Instead I seem to be inching along almost inperceptably.  I had a complete nothing day on Tuesday per advise of the PT as I had been getting pretty sore/tired.  It worked really nicely.  I also didn't do a 2nd walk on Sunday.  Other than that I kept to 8 to 10 miles of walking per day and doing about 3 miles of walking around each "run."

Monday 800m jog warm up, 12x100m strides with 100m walk recoveries.  Pretty much in the 17's and 16's.  I dropped one 15.5 and it felt a bit tough on the hip.  I also had PT today.

Tuesday had a ton of fun hanging out at the New England Prep Cross Country Camp at Northfield Mount Hermon.  I go out pretty much every year and I really enjoy it.   I mean who doesn't love cross country camp!

Wednesday 2x12mins on the track with 1min walk recovery.  Went a little over 4 miles which tells you I was moving pretty good.  In fact I felt amazing after my day of doing nothing.

Thursday cross training day.

Friday 800m jog warm up, 6x200m on track with 1min standing rest.  Felt strong and easy running but felt super winded in the first 20 seconds after each rep.  Hip was more tired than I would have liked after this but I'm not scheduled to try this again for almost 2 weeks so that isn't too concerning.  went 36, 35, 35, 34,34,34.  More aiming for 36 so not much pace sense.

Saturday cross training day and dancing at a wedding.

Sunday on Chelmsford rail trail.  15:11 jogging 1min walk then 7mins jogging.  I was very happy with the first 15mins as I was still a bit sore from the 200s.  I was fatigued during the last 3mins of the 7 min stretch but that was too be expected.

  Hope you had a great week and that the running gods are treating you well!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Training Blog July 30 to August 5, 2018

 A few steps more in the right direction.  Making a lot of progress with PT exercises but am pretty sore and certainly don't feel like I can increase any more quickly without having some trouble.  Walking 8 to 10 miles a day. Before and after every run I do 1.5 miles walking, which mean those days I cover about 7 miles in addition to the 5 mile morning walk I do.

Monday Physical Therapy

Tuesday 600m jog 200m walk then 10x100m with 100m walks in 19, 18, 17, 17, 17, then all 16's.

Wednesday no run but did a ton of PT exercises.

Thursday 2x8mins then 1x9mins with 1min walk breaks.  I was actually going for 8mins on all of them I just sort of spaced out on the last one so it must have been going ok.  Did this on the rail trail which was nice to get off the track.

Friday no running

Saturday 2x10mins on the rail trail with 1min walk break. got a bit too quick on the 2nd rep but settled it down when I noticed on the watch that I was about to run a 5:40 mile.

Sunday  no running.

  Step by step inch by inch.  It is slow but I'm making progress.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Training Blog July 23 to 29, 2018

  Still moving in the right direction.  Mostly I'm very happy with how my cross training and rehab exercises are going.  I'm getting stronger and addressing some of my weak spots.  Ankles are doing much better and that makes running in a way that is easy on the hip much more natural and easy.  I'm not sure where my weight is but I'm going to try to weigh in on Monday as I have an appointment with the surgeon and if they don't weigh me there I think my PT has a scale at her office and I'm seeing her Monday as well. 

  Also this week I upped the walking to 4 to 6 miles in the mornings and 3 to 4 miles in the evenings.  On days that I run I don't do a second walk but I do walk about 1.5 miles before and after the running, so on a day like today where I ran/walked 4 and a quarter miles I actually covered over 7 miles in the evening after a 5 mile walk in the morning.
Monday 4x4mins on the track with 1min walk recoveries, covered 4600m, that is 200m shy of 3miles. Felt like this was very much the maximum of what my hip could do.

Tuesday PT- added some light hopping and got cleared to do some deadlifts.

Wednesday on the track, 400m light jog, 200m walking then 8x100m strides with walk back recoveries, first 2 in 18, next 5 in 17, last one in 16 high.

Thursday no running

Friday 4x5mins with 1min jogs on the track covered about 5650m which is around 3.5 miles.  The last minute of the last 3 reps I could feel the hip was being worked.  This was super hard on my calves as my ankles have made a break through and I was actually toeing off properly. 

Saturday no running. calves ok, ankles didn't lock up which is awesome.

Sunday 4x6mins on track.  Actually bit better than the 5mins a couple days ago.  Hip felt challanged in the last minute of the last two reps but was pretty good other than that.

  So onward and upward.  This was week three of an 8 week build up.  After 8 weeks I'm going to hold steady at a very moderate training level for 4 weeks.   Then I'll do a fairly moderate but complete training build up with the target of trying to slip under 15mins for a 5k in December.
  Hope you are running more than me!  Have a great week!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Training Blog July 16 to 22

  Another moderate step forward this week.  Seeing big gains in what I am able and allowed to do in the PT exercises.  Still very mild bits of running but it feels smoother and more natural.  I can still tell I'm not ready for real "runs" and that sort of thing but it is really nice to be getting in a bit of it and seeing some progress.  I'm still walking 5 to 7 miles a day and trying to be as generally active as I can be.  Which translates into my garmin telling me I'm getting 16k to 22K steps and burning 4000 to 5500 calories most days. I didn't get on a scale this week so I don't know how the wieght is coming but I'm going to try and get on one towards the end of next week and I'd like to be south of 175 but at this point I'm not putting much into the wieght loss other than trying to be active.  If I can be under 170 when I start real running in October that is more than fine anything lower than that is frosting.

Monday No running

Tuesday 4x2mins with 1min walk breaks on the track, did a 1.5 mile walk before and after this.  Covered 1.5 miles during the run walk portion as well.

Wednesday No running- did have PT and was able to add some speed latter exercises.

Thursday again did 1.5 mile walk warm up, then some light exercises, then did a 200m light jog, and a 200m walk.  then 6x100m strides with 100m walk recoveries.  100m strides were in 19, 18, 18, 18, 17, 17.  Walk recoveries were pretty much all 59 seconds. and as usual 1.5 mile walk after.

Friday No running

Saturday per the usual a 1.5 mile walk warm up but I was tight on time so after I only walked about a quarter mile back to the car.  On the track I did 4x3mins with 1min walk recoveries and I covered just over 2 miles.  The rest of the day was set up for and then participation in a Baby shower/cookout which was a ton of fun.

Sunday No running today.  I've done one walk so far and will sneak out for a 2nd this along with the other no running days is also the day I do a lot of PT exercises.  Say about 30mins which leaves the glute med quite tired.

  Hope you had a great week and your running more than me!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Canova Marathon Training VS. Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning

 I thought I would take some time to get very specific about how Canova's marathon training varies from the traditional American system.  The best example of that system for the marathon to my mind is Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas.  This book to my mind represents the american marathon training system done about as well as it can be done.  To be clear I think that the best individual group/system from the USA for the marathon was that of Bill Squires in the late 70's and early 80's but sadly his system is not what has inspired the training of most Americans in the last 30 years.

  My understanding of Pfitzinger's system comes entirely from my copy of his Advanced Marathon book, the first edition.  I  have not yet bought the Second Edition so if they made any updates to the system in that edition they are not reflected here. 

  For the Canova side of things I am mostly using Marathon Training: A Scientific Approach by Renato Canova and Enrico Arcelli which they originally wrote for the Itilian Athletic Federation and which the IAAF published  in a bunch of languages.  I am also using the PDF Marathon Training Methods by Renato Canova which can be found here: Marathon Training Methods by Renato Canova  Additionally I reference a schedule Canova published in a german running magazine which I have used google translate for and you can view here: Canova 2:09 Training for the European Athlete

 It is not my intention to do a detailed analysis of both systems.  Instead I want to highlight how they are the same and how they are different.  My basic thesis is that Canova's system is a natural progression from Pfitzinger and by extension the training most serious american marathoners are doing.  Both men are scientists and approach the training from a scientific perspective.  I would say that Pfitzinger seems to me more influenced by the traditonal Lydiard model, which would make sense given his connections with New Zealand and Canova tended to take from a much wider array of sources. 


  The first and most striking similarity comes in the physilogy of marathon performance.  They both essentially dedicate a chapter to this, which makes sense given their shared science background.  What is striking is how similar they are.  Honestly you could swap these chapters from the two books and not have any change in either book.  Really the only difference is the quality of the writing which is much better in Advanced Marathoning.  They both say that in order to excel in the marathon you need to build on five basic areas.

1. Aerobic fitness- broken down into improved mitochondrial activity and quantity in the cells, improved blood profile, improved heart performance, improved capillarization in the running muscles. 

2. Improved use of lactate as fuel in the muscles. 

3. Improved lactate threshold speed.  

4. Improved glycogen storage and lipid consumption

5. Improved VO2 max

  The key thing I take from this agreement is that Canova has not found a new area of fitness to develop. Nor does he view the physiological needs of the event differently.  So the difference must be in either the types of workouts that he uses to improve these physiological areas or in how he combines the workouts for them in his training system and in fact we see that he has made, sometimes subtle but always important, adjustments in both areas. 

  The next similarity that I was drawn to is how they both approach mileage.  Which is that athletes should be running high mileage but to not be particularly committed to a number that represents high mileage.  Instead putting the focus on specifics elsewhere.  Essentially they are both saying you should be doing high mileage for you but that mileage is different for different people and that it should not be the major focus of your training. 

  Another similarity is the pace of long runs.   Both Pfitzinger and Canova believe that in order to get the physical adaptations you are looking for in your long runs your ideal pace range is genenrally from 80% to 90% of your marathon pace.  However they differ greatly in exactly how this is accomplished.  Pfitzinger likes to view all long runs as a very light progression where the early running is done around 80% marathon pace and the latter stages are done around 90% marathon pace.   Canova is much more structured.  In the base phase he generally starts with shorter, 10 to 12 miles, long runs at 80% of marathon pace building them up in distance over the early part ot the training cycle to being very long, 22 to 25 miles, then reducing the volume and increasing the pace to the 90% range.  To be clear both these systems are using these long runs as a means of improving fitness but Canova does not see them as or use them as specific prep for marathon racing and here we find a large difference.  Canova moves his long runs in the specific phase to being much more specific workouts involving a huge amount of running between 95% and 105% of marathon pace and additionally incorperates a lot of running in the 90 to 95% of marathon pace as recovery portions in long run workouts.   Pfitzinger does incorporate some marathon paced running in his specific phase long runs but not nearly with the same frequency as Canova and there is essentially no running in his prescribed training where the athlete runs between 91% and 99% of marathon pace.  That is a KEY difference that we'll get to in a bit. 

  The final similarity I would like to highlight is the use of periodization.  Though both use different names and have some differences in how exactly they break down the training phases they both use distinct and in the end very similar periods of training with specific physiological goals in mind as stepping stones to their final phase of training which is focused on maximizing marathon race performance. 

Key Differences 

  Often times when discussing differences in training I think people have a tendency to focus on minutia or differences that are unimportant and miss the really big differences.  I.E. Looking at two workouts of quarter mile repeats I often see a lot of focus on the quantity of the reps.  "Well group b did 10x400 at 5k pace and group B did 12x400 at 5k pace."  When in reality the number of reps is generally a flexible and somewhat inconsequential peice of information.  More importantly changing the number of reps does not change the physiological goal or effect of the workout.  However changes in the pace of the reps, or the type, pace or length of the recovery, and the difficulty training in the days leading into and following the workout can make huge differences in the physiological effect of the workout.   It is with this perspective that I am approaching these two programs.  I am not looking for differences in style, vocabulary (a tempo run by any other name is still a tempo run) or technique.  I am looking for differences in the physiological adaptation that is being targeted, the amount of focus that is put on each physiological adaptation and how each system attempts to induce those physiological adaptations. 

  Key difference number one we already talked about.  Workouts that involve running at paces ranging from 91% to 99% of marathon pace.  There is exactly none of this prescribed in Pfitzingers training which is not to say that an athlete following this program would not ever run this pace but it certainly would be limited.  In Canova's system running in this pace range shows up in a number of different ways.  It is used in long specific runs of goal race time to goal race distance, it is used as recovery between blocks of running at marathon pace during specific marathon workouts and sometimes as recovery during either VO2 max or lactate threshold paced running.  This pace range is seen by Canova as one of the key marathon training paces with two goals of physiological adaptation first and foremost this pace range increases aerobic lipidic power, the amount of fat that can be burned for energy in a minute.  If you are buring more fat then you are burning less glycogen and since in terms of marathon performance glycogen stores are a key limiting factor and fat stores are essentially inexhaustible, a 100lb runner with 4% body fat would have enough calories stored in fat to run at least 10 marathons, that is an awesome trade to make.  The second goal is increase aerobic fitness.  This pace offers no special benifits in this departement that running at 90% of marathon pace or 100% of marathon pace can't offer so this is not an advantage I see over Pfitzinger's model except that it increases the total volume of running that works on this very important adaptation. 

  The second key differences is quantity of running at marathon goal pace.  Pfitzinger's more than 70 mile a week 12 week training schedule only calls for a total of 14 miles of running at marathon pace in the whole program.  A 12 mile run at marathon pace fit in a 20 mile long run, a great specific marathon workout by anyones standards, and a 2 mile dress rehersal run at marathon pace as part of the taper.  In comparision, though Canova doesn't get into specific detail in his book about how much of this to do in the specific phase, though it is literally the ONLY workout pace he specificly references in his section ton training during the specific phase, in a schedule for athletes attempting to run a 2:09 marathon that he wrote for a German running magazine he included a 9 week training cycle that called for 174 kilometers, which is about 109 miles, of marathon paced running.  This is almost an order of magnitude greater than what Pfitzinger is calling for. 

  In fact during the Canova specific phase essentially every workout that an athlete is doing includes either marathon paced running or some running at 90% of marathon pace or faster.  This comes in many forms.  An athlete could be doing repeats that are faster than marathon pace but with recoveries that cause him or her to average marathon pace.  They may be doing a fartlek that involves many different paces including marathon pace.  They may be doing repeats at marathon pace or they may be doing a long run at 90 to 95% of marathon pace.  Other paces, lactate threshold and VO2 max most often, do show up during the specific phase but always as part of a workout that includes marathon paced running or running at 90 to 95% of marthon pace. 

  It is my personal belief that in these two differences we can boil down why athletes training this way have been able to take world class marathoning from the 2:07 to 2:10 range that it was essentially stuck in from the late 1960's until the early 2000's and suddenly blast into a realm where the new world class is the 2:04 to 2:06 range. 

  However it does leave us with an important question.  If Pfitzinger is not doing all that marathon specific work in his specific phase what is he doing?  Certianly if Canova was just having his athletes add a hundred plus miles of marathon paced running on top of what Pfitzinger was suggesting all he would be getting them would be injured.  So what is the trade off?

  First athletes attempting Canova do get hurt much more than those on a Pfitzinger plan.  Canova calls for a lot of very hard workouts and this increases the risk of injury.  To reduce this risk Canova puts much greater modulation of effort into his schedules.  So yes the hard days are much harder but the easy days and easy runs are much easier and much shorter. 

   Second Pfitzinger calls for a lot of workouts in the specific phase that are VO2 max or lactate threshold workouts, five and six respectively, in the 12 week schedule.  Many of these are in the last 8 weeks which would be the specific phase in a Canova schedule.  To my mind this almost makes the training schedule more of a 5k schedule than a marathon schedule.  I mean if you have done one real marathon workout and five 5k workouts which event do you think you'll be more adapted for?

  This is not to say that no running is done at VO2max or lactic threshold pace in during the specific phase in the Canova system but it is instead mixed into marathon focused workouts.  An example of this would be a session of 10km easy, 5km of 1min hard 1min easy (that is your VO2max pace), 5km easy, 5km marathon pace, 5km max effort.  A slightly more attainable workout from a different program would be 12 miles easy, 5km marathon pace, 6x400m at 5k pace with 100m jog recovery.


 So if I have convinced you that Canova is the way to go or you were already convinced of that before you read this but you just don't know how to go about it or you have already injuried yourself in attempting Canova in the past.  Or perhaps you have had good success with Pfitzinger and you're wondering if a switch to Canova could lead to even more. What the heck are you supposed to do?  Canova schedules are not easy to find and they are almost always designed for athletes at the absolutly highest level who are training full time.  Frankly the average or even well above average athlete has no prayer of completing them even if they correctly adjust them to their own pace.   The great advantage of Pfitzinger is his schedules.  They are so well written, so balanced, so accessible.

  My suggestion would be to use the Pfitzinger schedule that fits your mileage needs and input Canova style workouts on the workout and long run days, in the specific phase, from 8 weeks until 2 weeks to go, of the schedule to change the balance of your training from 5k focused to marathon focused.  Now these marathon workouts are much longer than the lactate threshold and vo2 max workouts in the Pfitzinger schedule so you can take miles off the days after your workouts and long runs to balance this out.  I'll do an example week below to show you exactly what I mean.

Pfitzinger week 
Monday AM 6 miles PM 4 miles
Tuesday AM 6 miles PM 4 miles
Wendsday VO2 max 11 miles with 6x1k at 5k pace with 2minute jog recoveries.
Thursday Medium long run 15 miles
Friday AM 9 miles PM 4 miles
Saturday 8 miles and 6x100m strides
Sunday 20 mile long run 
87 miles for the week, zero miles at marathon pace, one VO2 max workout, runs at easy, moderate, vo2max, alactic paces

Pfitzinger adapted to Canova week
Monday AM 3 miles easy PM 3 miles easy
Tuesday AM 6 miles PM 4 miles
Wednesday 2 mile warm up, 12 miles of 800m at 105% marathon pace, 800m "recovery" at 95% marathon pace
Thursday AM 3 miles easy PM 3 miles easy
Friday medium long run 12 miles progression from 80% maratho pace to 90% marathon pace
Saturday 8 miles and 6x100m strides
Sunday 3 mile warm up, 5x3 miles at marathon pace with 1 mile recovery at 90% marathon pace (22miles)
 80 miles for the week. 27 miles at marathon pace, kept the easy, moderate, and alactic running, added some running at lactate threshold, lost the VO2 max running.  Lower volume.  Probabaly a harder week. I would be careful to make the midweek workout a bit easier the following week. 


Finally I was obviously very lax in my sourcing of this with no footnotes or use of AMA formatting as such I figure the least I can do is provide links to where you can buy these great books for your own use.  Advanced Marathoning

I have no idea if you can buy the Canova book anywhere.  I got mine by sending a check to the IAAF in Switzerland and it came in the mail which kinda shocked me apparently as late as December of last year you could email the IAAF your credit card info and get one see the 9th post in this letsrun thread.