Thursday, November 21

Houston Marathon: Week 7

Week 7 Primary Focus:           Speed, Strength, Checkpoint
Longest Run To-Date:             10mi

This was a tough week. As you can see, I ran five different times for a grand total of just over 23mi -- the most mileage I've put in since starting the training seven weeks ago. The individual runs weren't long (longest run was just over 7mi), but the sum total over the seven days added up. The intensity of the workouts also increased as my focus shifted to more speed.

You've heard me mention both 'volume' and 'intensity' throughout this series, so I wanted to take some time to briefly cover each topic and the difference between the two.

Volume & Intensity

Volume is the quantity of mileage or the duration of time. When people talk about volume they're sometimes referring to longer endurance runs; but most the time people speak about volume in terms of a sum total of mileage over a given period of time. As an example, a 'high-volume' week would typically include longer runs that add up to a good amount of mileage.

Intensity refers more to the level of effort put forth during individual workouts. Yasso 800s, hill repeats and other interval/speed workouts are prime examples of high-intensity. Most of them all end up being shorter runs (3.5-4mi) but at a very fast pace or hard effort where the heart rate is elevated.

Volume and intensity are both two different levers we can pull to achieve a certain workload. It's the aggregate of that workload (with incorporated recovery & nutrition) during a training program that makes the athlete stronger and faster.

Volume x Intensity = Workload

Many traditional marathon training programs rely too heavily on the volume lever, encouraging runners to put in ridiculous amounts of mileage which beats up the body and increases the odds of injury. This mentality of "more is better" is becoming a philosophy of the past as more and more research indicates less volume and higher intensity is a safer and more effective way to train.

I want to expand on this concept of workload just a little further. My Coach and I use an online software program called Training Peaks to communicate back and forth regarding my training. He submits my schedule for the week and I'm able to view it in a calendar format. I then upload my workout files (gathered by my Garmin sports watch) so that he's able to analyze and determine my progress. Training Peaks has a measurement that they call a "Training Stress Score." Essentially, it's a number that takes into account both volume and intensity to approximate "the overall training load and physiological stress created."

Just so you can get a gauge on the different scores, consider the following workouts and their respective TSS:

45min Zone 2 Run: 26.7
This week's Yasso 800: 54.4
Newport Marathon: 347.8

November 17, 2013: Yasso 800s (#3)

Yasso 800 #3 was a bit of a mess. My legs were not fresh as this was at the end of a tough week. Furthermore, it was 82 degrees outside! Not sure why I was surprised by this, as it's a pretty common thing for November in Dallas. Regardless, for the past several weeks the hottest it had been was in the upper-60s, so this increase in temperature threw me off a bit as my body wasn't used to it. Having said all of this, my willpower muscle kicked in and I was able to match Yasso 800 #2 back in Week 5 by completing 5 sets. I suppose you can call this 'progress' all things considered.

Back to the Houston Marathon home page.

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