ALAN CULPEPPER offers suggestions for runners wanting to make the most of the months, in the Northern Hemisphere anyway, when the days are long and the weather encourages outdoor training. His article for Competitor.com, “Coach Culpepper: Take Advantage of the Summer Months” includes links to other information that can help you follow his advice*.
Some of you may dislike heat and humidity and disagree that summer is a great season for boosting your training goals. However, the cooler early mornings and late evenings provide good alternative times to run than the hot mid-day, saving the remainder for other fun pursuits. Indoor facilities can take some of the sweat out of the season on the most uncomfortable days. Training on a high school or college track can allow you to keep cooling fluids within easy reach without needing to carry them while running, and bringing along a change of clothes and quick clean up supplies can make a trip to the track after work an event that doesn’t interfere with evening plans. There are less layers of protective clothing required than in the winter to slow you down in the summer! So, if you agree with his premise, that summertime brings a more relaxed attitude to training and weather-wise is perfect for improving for the fall racing season, read his advice about how to: get fast; get strong; and race often.
One of the links embedded in the article (follows "Get Strong" paragraph), is a discussion on base-building by Jeff Gaudette, "The Basics of Base Training For Runners", also for Compeitior.com. Having been the mother (also team mother) of middle and high school athletes on track and cross country teams, i recall that our coaches thought summers were MADE for "base-building"! Making night-before-the meet spaghetti dinners for the team years ago does not qualify me as a coach, so i was happy to find this wonderful explanation on the subject. Likely our coaches had the misconceptions about base-building covered in the article.
The Gaudette piece explains how base training has MISTAKENLY been believed to consist ONLY of running lots and LOTS of EASY, SLOW miles without specific structure to sessions. However, he tells us that science has begun to sort out the physiological benefits of different kinds of runs, and that Arthur Lydiard, credited with being the originator of base-building, actually employed those different runs in his training regimens for Olympic success. They were NOT ALL long, easy, slow runs. The problem seems to be that initial misconceptions about Lydiard’s base-building training methods have continued to be perpetuated by trainers, coaches, and runners over the years, to this day.
His article is terrific; I recommend reading it as I cannot repeat specifics of what he says without stealing from his work. My brief summary, which is not sufficient to use as a training guide, is that there are 3 types of runs in the base-building system promoted by Lydiard and supported by today’s science. The first two are designed to be run at MODERATE (not easy) effort, and by FEEL, according to the individual runner’s fitness level:
1) Fartlek runs: periods of short, harder/MODERATE effort running (but not at the fast speeds you would run when doing intervals or on hard tempo runs) followed by longer, easier recovery periods, repeated several times.
2) Steady state runs: without altering the pace much, are runs performed at MODERATE effort for the individual runner’s level of fitness, slightly slower than, or at, a “current“ marathon pace*.
3) Long runs: long distance runs (not identified as easy or moderate effort, but I assume they are easier)
The first two base-building component runs would initially be run by beginners for shorter time periods and at slower paces, than the times and paces run by intermediate or advanced runners. As the idea is to run by FEEL, not the clock, runners will need to pay attention to the physical cues provided by their bodies during these sessions, and NOT revert to running zoned-out, long, easy, slow runs. Personally I think this is the reason for continued misconceptions; it’s much easier to zone out when training!
GETTING BACK TO THE COACH CULPEPPER ARTICLE: incorporating the Gaudette information on base building, the advice for summer running by the Coach is to use speed training (get fast), base building (get strong), and frequent competition (race often), to become a better runner for the Fall. As summertime attitudes about work and social life do seem to be more relaxed than at other times in the year, it could be a perfect time to get a bit more intense about running.
* Not having run a marathon, i don't know what pace this would be for me. It seems the perfect example of when to run by FEEL: not so easy that i can carry on a conversation in full sentences, but perhaps respond in a few words to a question. I don't run with anyone else, so i talk to myself to determine this pace. LOL
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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