Tuesday, 26 September 2006


Posted by speedygeoff on Tuesday, September 26, 2006 with 2 comments
quote of the day: Où sont les Neigedons d'antan?” (Where are the Snowdons of yesteryear?) Joseph Heller, Catch-22.

Training is all about putting the body under stress, and adapting to that stress. We aim to push our body in training right to the point of self-destruction, achieving maximum efficiency, training the necessary kilometers to run PBs, but not so much that injury, illness, or staleness, occurs.

Adaptation requires a gradual build-up.

Hal Higdon – “There's a catch-22. You have to train hard to be able to train hard. But if you train too hard, you no longer will be able to train hard. Too many [kilometers] too soon result in injuries: strained tendons and ligaments, stress fractures, chronically dead legs.”

An endurance base is easily the single most important factor in getting fit. People worry about speed, but if you concentrate first on distance and improving your strength, you can move to the speed phase later.

Prevailing wisdom states that to improve your fitness and general endurance, you ought to move through a gradual progression in increments of less than ten per cent a week, and every third or fourth week drop back close to the starting point to recover.

If you build constantly week after week, you get stronger, but you also find your break point. It's best to approach your break point without reaching it. You advance in steps. Rather than facing ten percent more every week, you should build in frequent recovery weeks. Go up two or three steps, drop back one or two steps, then go back to where you were and start stepping again.

I think ten percent is too large. Anyone with a history of injuries (isn’t that everyone?) should be more conservative. Rather than ten percent, I suggest a weekly increment should not exceed five kilometers.

A weekly kilometre build-up plan could for example take a fifty kilometre per week runner to eighty over three months. Weeks of 40, 50, 55, 60; 50, 60, 65, 70; 60, 70, 75, 80 achieve that. Initially it may seem to take a long time to build up distance, but once you are there, you have a very sound base.

"Anything worth dying for is certainly worth living for” – Joseph Heller, Catch-22.

happy ultra runners
Ruth (winner of last Sunday's handicap) & friends


  1. Love the Catch 22 references. A favourite book of mine.
    A very sound advice as well.

  2. Pity I wasn't there to congratulate Ruth on her win.

    I remember long ago, when Cathy and Ruth both got their 50 run T-shirts on the same day.