Sunday, February 23, 2014

Base building

It's been back to the basics over the last few weeks in an attempt to redevelop a running base. The goal has been to stay in the aerobic zone, the challenge has been getting that zone right. There is the famous 180 formula that has worked well for many successful athletes. However, there will always be those people that fall outside the bell curve. I started with the 180 formula, which was a good place to start. The challenge was to see if I could boost the duration of my runs. I succeeded and managed a gentle 1 hr 50 min trail run (plenty of weaving up the small hills and walking the steeper ones). However, running pace has been really going backwards. The other option involves determining heart rate at lactate threshold and then using that to set heart rate training zones. The simplest approach is do a 30 minute time trail and use the average heart rate over the last 20 mins. I did that on Friday and the time trial confirmed I've been running at too slow a heart rate in recent times. My pace has indeed really slowed for a given heart rate and my lactate threshold hasn't changed much from my healthier days. To build an aerobic base, I need to run at a slightly higher heart rate. I put this to the test today and did another long trail run. I went further than last week, it still felt pretty easy, it didn't take as long, minimal weaving was required up the smaller hills and only a couple of really steep ones were walked. A much more satisfying experience!

Experiment and build and yes it is beautiful!
The next test will be to see how the body holds up to the slight increase in intensity (and volume). There haven't been any real indications of fatigue over the last few weeks and the runs have been pleasant (although frustratingly slow). I've also just moved from 3 days/week of running to 7 days/fortnight (i.e. every other day).  So that's making some slow and steady progress on the duration front! Here's hoping it all keeps heading in the right direction. Once there's a good solid base and no symptoms of training intolerance, then some focus can go towards getting quicker. It's all been said/done before, but at this stage it's all holding together. March will be another month of 100% base building.