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					                               Running Intensity for Marathon Training
                                    Dave Thomas Exercise Specialist, CSCS

  When speaking of training and conditioning for any sport, the athlete’s first concern is to learn how the body
works and reacts to different intensities of exercise whether it is by pace , hills, or the length of the training run for
the day. Training for any sport or individual running event must be specific in nature to the work required in the
sport. The sport of track, in which the marathon event is included, has competitions from 60 meters (indoor) to
the marathon (26.2 miles on the roads). Every distance of track requires a certain percentage of distance or
weekly running spent at various intensities in order to have a successful race. The specific conditioning for each
race distance develops a specific energy system in our body which is used primarily for that race. The energy
system used for 100 meter race to the 800 meter race is mainly the development of the anaerobic (with out
oxygen) system with energy coming strictly through the quick breakdown of stored glygogen/creatin phosphates.
This system brings a lot of energy in a short time but, last for a very short time before because there is not much of
it stored in our body. The pace for these distances are extremely fast and explosive and last no longer than 10 sec
to 1:50 seconds at the elite level. A lot of time is spent on sprinting , developing explosive strength, starts, and
technique.
    Races from the mile to 5000 meter (5k or 3.1 miles) require a mixture of aerobic (with oxygen)/and anaerobic
system development with energy coming from a mixture of stored creatin phosphates, glycogen (stored
carb./ATP), and some from stored fats. The pace for these distances are fast and run at or above your VO2 Max
(or aerobic capacity/100% of Maximal Heart Rate.) The time for elite runners are from 3 min. 45 sec. For the mile
and 13:00 min for the 5000 metrers. A lot of time in practice in spent on developing the anaerobic/aerobic capacity
of the body with a lot of hard track work intervals run at fairly high speeds, hill repeats, technique after developing
the aerobic system with some time spent on long runs of 10-15 miles and moderate weekly total miles run.
   Races from the 10,000 meter (6.2 miles) to the marathon (26.2 miles) relies mainly on developing the aerobic
(with oxygen) system . About 95% of the race relies on constantly having a steady flow of oxygen available to the
muscles so the stored fat, which is abundant in the body, and some from stored glygogen (sugar) in the muscles
and liver. Even though fat is abundant, the drawback is, it needs a lot of oxygen present to break it down and used
for energy by the working muscles. This energy system is developed by increasing your overall endurance/fitness
from long runs and from and from an increase in overall weekly total miles. The majority of intensity of the
training runs is run at a moderate to comfortably easy pace (60-70% of max. heart rate/vo2 max). The actual
intensity and punishment on the body in marathon training is not so much in the pace (speed) of the run, but the
length (total time on feet) of the run! Beginner marathoners will have their heart rate at 60-75 % during the race,
while a more elite marathon runner can hold a pace of 80-85% of max. HR and still remain in an aerobic zone for
the majority of the race. Hard anaerobic running of intervals and high speed training plays a minimal part in
marathon running development.
    Training must gradual in buildup of volume and intensity at a gradual rate so the body’s systems (immune,
muscle, ligaments, bone, circulation, energy pathways) can respond to the amount of work, get stronger and
improve with a minimal chance of injury or fatigue. If there is too little intensity (speed or distance) and the
performance will not improve. If there is too much intensity or too much, too soon early in training, you may
experience short team improvement but, eventually staleness (fatigue /dead leg feeling all day) and possibly illness
and injury will follow. Training levels (pace you run on conditioning runs) must meet your present fitness level,
not where you were 5 years ago or where you hope to be. Let the body slowly adapt so after a rest phase, you are
able to handle more intensity (longer training runs or faster speeds) as you develop. In the 20 weeks of training,
most beginner runners will be able to finish the marathon distance by developing their endurance with long/easy
pace runs with occasional walking breaks to keep the body in the aerobic training zone.

Measuring Heart Rate
   Training for running uses a lot of exercise physiology (study of body’s develop from exercise) principles. A
good barometer of how hard your body is working during running is by measuring heart rate. Different running
workouts are designed to be run at different intensities (heart rate zones) depending on what event you are training
for and what energy system you are trying to develop during that workout. For example, lower intensity heart rate
over a long duration will focus on developing the stamina/endurance needed for the marathon where shorter
duration runs at a high intensity will develop your lactate tolerance and speed. Therefore, it is important to learn
how t0 take your heart rate and learn how to monitor your intensity level so you are training in the desired training
zone for the desired training response.
  The most common way to measure heart rate is to place your first two fingers on your wrist or on your corataid
artery on the side of your neck. Count the beats for 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to give you your beats per
minute. (or else buy a heart monitor for about $80 at a running store). Measuring your heart rate at rest and while
running at different paces will give you an idea of your intensity during a workout. Measuring it at rest will
monitor how your body is recovering from various workouts. You may ask what your heart rate levels should be
at rest and during various workouts? This is determined mostly by your age and your fitness level. Other
variables which will effect your heart rate are the weather, stimulants (such as coffee), drugs (such as cold
medications), dehydration, stress, and illness.
 A simple formula which is generally used to determine your maximal heart rate and desired training zones is:

      220 – your age – your resting heart rate. Multiply the total of the sum by the desired percentage intensity of
      your maximum , then add in your resting heart rate. This will give you the training rate for the desired
     workout for that day. This formula is an average formula and used to give you a “general” idea for the
     desired training rate. A more exact way to figure out your maximal heart rate is determined by a controlled
     stress test on a treadmill or under a controlled max. test on a track/steep hill.

 This may sound complicated and foreign to most people because few people take the time to determine their
maximal heart rate and training zones. As a result, their training becomes a “crapshoot” and usually the runner
ends up overtraining which eventually leads to staleness, poor performance, illness and possibly injury. To make
the heart rate (training zone) easier to determine and understand, follow the example below and apply it to
yourself.

EXAMPLE 1:
  Jim is a 40 year old beginner runner training for the marathon . He will only be training at mostly easy to
moderate short runs during the week and a long easy run on the weekend. Main focus is to build up his
endurance/stamina to finish the marathon distance of 26.2 miles.
 220 – 40 = 180
 180 – 50 (resting heart rate)= 130
 130 x .60 = 78 +50(RHR)=128 beats/min.          130 x .75 =98+ 50 (RHR)= 148 beats/min (training zone of 60-
   75% for the long run).
     Jim’s training zone while running his long weekend would be between 128 –148 beats/min. If Jim is a
  Coming into the 20 week training program with minimal running base, he should aim to keep his heart rate
  at the lower end of the zone of 60-70% for the run so that he is keeping a steady flow of oxygen to the system
  thereby allowing more fat used as fuel and less waste products building up in the working muscles. Jim would
  be recommended to have various intervals of walking mixed with his running to ensure keeping his heart rate in
  the recommended zone. Jim’s training zone on his runs during the week on his shorter training runs could be
  at 75-85% (148- 160 beats/min) which would work on Jim’s capacity to work at a higher speed without tiring.
 By mixing these two various training zones during the week, Jim would develop his overall endurance to cover
 the 26.2 miles and develop his speed/endurance.

EXAMPLE 2:
 Paula is a 25 year old runner who competed in college in the 10,000 meter and has been running for 10 years
with a steady weekly total of 50 miles/week fro the last 3 years. She has run a previous marathon in 3 hour and 32
min. and wishes to increase her performance in her next marathon. She would improve by increasing her total
distance per week to 60-70 miles/week and adding in a “speed type” of workout 1x/week. An example of the
speed workout for this advanced runner would be Mile repeats. She would start with 3 and build up to 8 of them in
the 20 week program. The intensity during the mile would be done at 88%-90% of her maximum heart rate with
a 3 min jog in between her mile repeats.
220- 25= 195.
195-40 (resting HR) = 155
155 x .90% (training zone) = 140 + 40 (RHR) = 180 b/m.
180 Beats/min would be Paula’s HR when doing the mile repeats. This workout is a high intensity workout and
should be done only by a runner at the intermediate/advance level of marathon training. Once a good amount of
base training is established , this type of workout would develop the bodies ability to tolerate a higher pace
without accumulating waste products and further develop the VO2 max (ability of the body to bring oxygen to the
working muscles). Paula’s long runs would be run at 70-75 % which is slightly higher than the beginner
marathoner but at the “easy” pace zone for an experienced runner.

Training Zones
Level 1 (60-70 % of maximum heart rate)
Over distance workouts (the Long Run on weekends) will be accomplished at this level. Although the effort may
seem very easy in the first few miles (especially during the first 6 weeks of training), it is essential to maintain
close control and complete the training session in this zone. As you build up more miles on this training day every
other week, you will see why the intensity (heart rate) level for this workout is kept so low. Beginner runners
should even follow the run/walk schedule of training in order to keep the heart rate in this zone and so you can
complete the recommended miles for that workout day. Most likely, the majority of the marathon race will be run
at this intensity level so, it is a good practice to keep your long runs at this pace to accustom yourself to this pace.
In the end of the run, because this run is longer than any other type of training runs, the effort will be quite
fatiguing due to sugar loss from the muscles, water loss, stress on the muscles, stress on the nervous system, stress
on the mental capacities. For all of those reasons, even though the heart rate is low, the intensity level is high as
a result of the duration of the workout. Majority of the fuel during this run is from a combination of fat
utilization/glygogen storage of muscles and liver. Remember, on the hilly courses, the uphill and downhill portion
of the run should be adjusted to keep your heart rate in this zone. This would be strictly the training zone for
beginner marathoners on long run days.

Level 2 (70-80% of maximum heart rate)
Endurance and “easy speed temp” workouts will be run at this level. The feel is slightly harder than the over
distance but, should not exceed these limits. Level 2 intensity is probably the level at which the vast majority of
runners train at on the Long Run days and is a major reason why they “hit the “wall” and are forced to walk and
feel totally exhausted after a long run. Training at this level for the long runs would delay recovery for the next
long run and eventually lead to overtraining effects and injury. This intensity level would be used by beginner
runners on the shorter mid week runs to boost your speed/endurance levels. More advanced runners can run at this
level for some parts of their long run.

Level 3 (80-90% of maximal heart rate)
 Typically, very little marathon training should take place in this intensity zone. This zone is used during “tempo”
type workouts where the runner is working on developing their aerobic threshold fitness. A typical workout of
running a 2-5 mile run at this pace once a week. This heart rate zone is what a runner would hold at a maximal
race effort for a 10k-10 mile race. Many runners make the mistake of having too many training sessions in this
zone and every training session becomes a race. Long term , overtraining would result and the oxygen/fat
utilization system would not be trained in this zone. Beginner marathoner workouts would not include any
workouts in this training zone.

Level 4 (90-95 % of maximal heart rate)
 Interval training of mile repeats, ½ mile repeats and long hill training would be run at this taining intensity and
only the intermediate/advanced marathoner would ever use this zone in their training program. This zone would
be more on the “anaerobic” side of conditioning and uses mainly the stored muscle glycogen as it’s energy source
and uses a lot more of the “fast twitch” (sprinter) part of the muscle contraction. Workouts in this zone train the
body to tolerate the accumulation of lactic acid and other waste products that build up quickly in shorter explosive
workouts. A very small percentage of the weekly miles run (5-6%) would be run at this zone for marathoners.

Level 5 (95-100% of maximal heart rate)
 Only during the “peaking” period and racing stages will work at level 5 zone be performed. This type of training
would be 100-300 meter repeats at high level of speed followed by rest periods. This type of workout stimulates
anaerobic pathways (not needed in marathon), muscle efficiency and neuromuscular coordination used at shorter
explosive races like the 800 meter up to the mile. Energy used is from creatine phosphate and stored muscle
sugar.
As discussed earlier, the majority of beginner marathon runners in the 20 week program will only focus their
training at Level 1 and 2 which is at an easy to moderate pace and the objective will be to develop stamina,
running efficiency, and the body’s ability to utilize fat (unlimited ) and hold onto their stored glygogen (limited)
energy levels. As your fitness improves, your heart and circulatory system will improve thereby, changing your
resting heart rate and improving your ability to run at a faster pace at a lower heart rate. A beginner runner in a 20
week program may lower their resting heart rate 10 beats/min due to the adaptation of a more fit runner. This will
slowly enable you to then run longer at a steady pace without tiring and running your shorter runs at a slightly
higher pace (possibly 15 –20 sec/mile ) at the same effort than before the training program. I suggest everyone
figure out their max heart rate, resting Heart rate, and their various training zones and use this when running.
  220- _________ (age) =_________(max HR) - ________(Resting Heart Rate)= __________
  After figuring out that number, take that number and :
      _________ x .60 = _____________ + _____RHR =_________60% zone
      ________ x .70 = ______________ + _____RHR= _________ 70% zone (level 1 is 60 to 70%)

   _________      x .80 = ______________ + ______RHR=_________80% zone (level 2 is 70 to 80%)

   Intermediate and Advanced runners would also figure out 90% and 100% for level 3,4,5 zones.
   *All level of runner should keep track of changes in Rest Heart Rate and re adjust training zones every 2
      months as their fitness improves.
   * Remember this is a general formula used. If it is not matching your perceived exertion, you may need to get a
       controlled stress test on a treadmill, track, steep hill to determine your exact maximal heart rate.
Training intensities and the effects on fuel consumption

  Marathon training of long easy runs not only serve the purpose of remaining slow to moderate in order to be less
stressful on the body but, the main reason to keep it easy at the 60-70% HR zone is to utilize stored fat as the main
source of energy to the working muscles. When working at a higher heart rate (70 % or above max HR for
beginners), the working muscles of the legs desires a easy fast burning fuel to be used immediately for energy. At
the higher heart rates, this fuel tends to come from the stored glygogen (sugar) found in our muscles and our liver.
It is a great energy because it travels to the muscles quickly and doesn’t need much oxygen to break it down for
usable fuel. The problem is, we only have about 1800 calories of this energy in our body and even with taking in
Gatorade/gels while running it cannot get into our system quickly enough when tring to replace it by
eating/drinking while we run. Our body’s other source of energy comes from stored fat, which even skinny
runners have an enormous amount of energy available from this source. The only way to utilize fat though is to
have the pace slow enough where the heart rate is below 70% of the max (for beginners) so that a steady flow of
oxygen is present. The long easy runs teach the body to use more fat by the muscles and retain the precious
glycogen stores. If the runner goes out too fast in the long runs, as a result , too much of the glygogen is used
early and the infamous “wall” is hit forcing the runner to a slow crawl or having to stop the run due to a complete
depletion of glygogen. One good reason to Stay within the easy zone on long runs! We will cover more on
nutrition in training in more detail in a later article.
   As your body adapts to training and running longer distances, you will be surprised how much more energy you
will have and how much more distance you can cover at one time. Training for endurance requires having
patience, staying in the proper training zone, constant monitoring of your body at work and at rest and not falling
in the temptation of racing your workouts. Measuring your heart rate levels regularly will leaned to a finely tuned
sense of your body and it’s response to various exercise demands. It will not take you long before you will gain a
fairly accurate feel for various levels of exertion. The more you know about your body and the effects from
training, the more you will know how to lay out a proper training program for any race distance you are aiming
for.

           When training at different for a long race such as the marathon or half marathon, you will improve you ability to
increase you ability to carry more oxygen to your working muscles and become a more efficient runner and overall increase your
race performance by training in your time zones (based on a recent 5k-5 mile time trial). See Chart below for your training zones
based on your present fitness level. By following the chart below, you will assure yourself that your easy days will be “easy”
and in your aerobic zone, and your moderate and speed days will be “hard enough”. Following this plan for 16-20 weeks and
you will see improvement in your race performance from the 5k to the marathon. It is meant to be a training guide to follow and
prediction of time is based on other factors such as genetic, years run, mental make-up, enough long runs over 16-18 miles. If
you are on a run/walk routine, factor in some the total time it takes you to perform the run/walk in 5k and stick with same
run/walk ration in your longer training runs and in your marathon or half marathon race.

Current            Predicted          Predicted         Predicted              Current            Current            Current
5k time            10k Race             Half            Marathon               Easy or           Tempo or              400
 trial or            Time             Marathon          Race Time            Recovery,           Moderate             meter
   race                                 Race                                  long run           Pace( 83-           repeat
time) in                                Time                                 Pace (70-           89% HR)               pace
  last 2                                                                     80%HR)              Per Mile             (Over
months                                                                        Per mile             Pace.              speed
                                                                                pace.            Training              REP
                                                                             Training                               sessions)
                                                                                                                     98-100
                                                                                                                      %HR
                                                                                                                    Training
 14:55               31:00              1:08                2:23             6:15/mile           5:15/mile          1:10 sec
 15:18               31:46              1:10                2:26             6:20/mile           5:20/mile          1:13 sec
 15:42               32:35              1:12                2:30             6:30/mile           5:28/mile          1:15 sec
 16:07               33:28              1:14                2:34             6:40/mile           5:36/mile          1:17 sec
 16:34               34:23              1:16                2:38             6:50/mile           5:45/mile          1:19 sec
 17:03               35:22              1:18:               2:43             7:00/mile           5:54/mile          1:21 sec
 17:33               36:24              1:20                2:48             7:15/mile           6:04/mile          1:23 sec
 18:05               37:31              1:23                2:53             7:30/mile           6:15/mile          1:26 sec
 18:40               38:42              1:25                2:58             7:45/mile           6:26/mile          1:28 sec
 19:17               39:59              1:28                3:04             7:55/mile           6:38/mile          1:31 sec
 19:57               41:21              1:32                3:10             8:10/mile           6:51/mile          1:33 sec
 20:39               42:50              1:35                3:17             8:25/mile           7:02/mile          1:36 sec
 21:25               44:25              1:38:               3:24             8:45/mile           7:17/mile          1:40 sec
 22:15               46:09              1:42                3:35             9:10/mile           7:33/mile          1:44 sec
 23:09               48:01              1:46                3:45             9:30/mile           7:52/mile          1:48 sec
  24:08                   50:03                    1:51                    3:55                 9:50/mile                 8:12/mile                1:52 sec
  25:12                   52:17                    1:56                    4:12                 10:40/mile                8:33/mile                1:56 sec
  26:22                   54:42                    2:01                    4:16                 10:45/mile                8:55/mile                2:02 sec
  27:39                   57:26                    2:07                    4:30                 11:10/mile                9:20/mile                2:08 sec
  29:05                   60:26                    2:14                    4:46                 11:45/mile                9:47/mile                2:14 sec
  30:40                   63:46                    2:21                    4:56                 12:05/mile                10:18/mile               2:22 sec
  32:34                   65:15                    2:30                    5:17                 12:30/mile                10:48/mile               2:32 sec
  34:00                   66:45                    2:36                    5:25                 12:50/mile                11:15/mile               2:40 sec
  35:30                   68:15                    2:43                    5:45                 13:10/mile                11:45/mile               2:49 sec
  37:00                   70:15                    2:56                    5:53                 13:30/mile                12:05/mile               3:00 sec
  38:30                   72:15                    3:04                    6:23                 14:00 mile                12:20/mile               3:10 sec




            Dave Thomas, 49, is an exercise specialist with a B.S. in exercise science and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine
and the National Strength and Conditioning Assoc (CSCS). He has 25 years experience in preventative medicine, corporate fitness, physical rehab, and sports
conditioning. Some notable athletes Dave has worked with were Ron Hextall, Tim Kerr, Dave Poulin. Eric Lindros, Jeremy Roenick (Phila Flyers), Jeff Ruland, Tim
Perry (76ers), Pete Vermes (Soccer), Kate Shindle (Miss America), Meldrick Taylor (Boxing) as well as many amateur athletes. Dave has been head coach of Team
in Training (East Pa) for 10 years and has a PR of 2:28 in the marathon and has competed internationally in 15 ultramarathon races finishing the London to Brighton
56 Miler (7 hr 11 min/13 th place) and the Comrades 56 miler in South Africa in 8 hr 10 min. He still competes at the USATF track cross country races at the Master
level. He is currently head coach of Cross Country of Men/Women at Philadelphia University.

				
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