‘Ok then, let’s try something else. Can you fit in a hundred miles this week?’
‘Good. Get two hours in tomorrow, I’ll think of a track session for Wednesday. Apart from that, just divide the rest of the miles up evenly throughout the week.’
I did have to move house, attend both my sister’s and my girlfriend’s graduations, visit my dad in Berwick for three days and do something about a 15,000 word dissertation which is due in four weeks, but I thought it best not to mention this. I remember once mentioning that I was tired during A-levels. ‘When I was running well’, he said, ‘I was putting in a hundred miles a week, I had a full time job, and I had two daughters under the age of four. You haven’t the faintest idea what tired even means.’ This was not a bad way of letting me know it was best to just get on with it.
I needed to ‘try something new’ because I haven’t been running particularly well. This is also, incidentally, why I haven’t been writing very much, but hopefully I’ll be able to change both of those things over the next few weeks. Until two weeks ago, my training has looked like severely diluted version of what my coach was doing in 1982, mainly because I was trying to run on the track and to keep my legs relatively fresh. I think with the training I missed from being ill and injured though, I was lacking a bit of base fitness. For the past two weeks, though, there has been nothing watery about my training. I ran exactly 100 miles both weeks, with 18 miles each Sunday (‘only 82 to go for the week. Easy.’) Rather than doing as my coach has said and not as he did, I’ll hopefully be doing a much better job of replicating what he was doing. There is a theory amongst those who did a lot of high mileage training that perhaps they were doing too much, and that actually they would have been better if they’d trained more sensibly (this is certainly something Charlie Spedding said in an e-mail) but given that they rarely tried this approach and seemed to get on pretty well running high mileage, it seems to be worth a try!
There is, clearly, a fine line between getting the most out of yourself and overtraining. I’ve been reading a study about boxing recently – Body and Soul by Loic Wacquant – which has this to say about getting the balance right:
“‘This is one of the main paradoxes of boxing: one must make use of one’s body without using it up, but the management adapted to that objective does not obey a methodological and considered plan […] The pugilist thus navigates “by eye” between two equally dangerous reefs – all the more dangerous because they are invisible, mobile over time, and to a great extent subjective: on the one hand, an excess of preparation that squanders resources in vain and needlessly shortens a career; on the other, a lack of discipline and training that increases the risk of serious injury and compromises the chances of success in the ring by leaving part of one’s fighting capacities unexploited”
One of the obvious advantages of running over boxing is that a ‘lack of discipline and training’ is likely to mean you get dropped in a race but unlikely to lead to you getting your head kicked in. Otherwise, though, I think the statement holds true.
In the equivalent week in 1982 , my coach ran 104 miles, so with my first ever 100 mile week I’m starting to catch up. I didn’t, though, do my 18 mile run with Charlie Spedding as he did. Otherwise, our training is fairly comparable, as shown below. Luckily I spent two of the days in Berwick, so I was able to do some of the running on coastal paths like the one in the photo, which certainly helped. It’s been pretty hot the past two weeks, and may well be hot when I race on Saturday. My coach’s advice for this was to wear a wet running cap. He did this in a ten mile race in 1976 when the temperature was over 30 degrees and the tar was melting on the roads. He ran 50.11. I’ve only got to run 10,000m on Saturday, but I’ll probably take the advice.
Coastal paths in Berwick.
My first 100 mile week:
Sunday: 18 miles.
Monday: AM 7 miles steady PM 7 miles steady.
Tuesday: AM 8 miles steady PM 5 miles steady.
Wednesday: AM 5 miles steady PM 11 miles including 8 x 1km (200m jog).
Thursday: AM 6 miles PM 6 miles.
Friday: AM 7 miles PM 7 miles.
Saturday: AM 7 miles PM 6 miles.
An equivalent from 31 years ago:
Sunday: 18 miles.
Monday: AM 8.5 miles tired PM 6.5 miles tired.
Tuesday: AM 6 miles steady PM 10 miles including 10 x 800m (90 secs).
Wednesday: AM 6 miles PM 10 miles very tired.
Thursday: AM 6 miles – tired PM 5 miles.
Friday: AM 9 miles PM 6 miles.
Saturday: AM 7.5 miles hard. 5.30AM! PM 5.5 miles.