These 104 weeks would consist of running six days a week, with five x one hour runs, a day off and one long run of approximately two and a half hours. All of these runs would be undertaken at an aerobic intensity.
When glycogen gets into the picture, we get into anaerobic exercise the realm of explosive movement and threshold effort or ‘suicide pace’ as Steve Prefontaine romantically described it. Anaerobic exercise hurts, and requires extra fuel, rather than relying on our body’s ample stores. Anaerobic exercise is akin to setting a box of matches alight. The flame burns hot and bright, but it goes out quickly.
Imagine running for 624 days at an aerobic pace, burning your matches one at a time. This method yields a smaller flame, but these flames last longer, and there are more of them. Would it challenge you to slow down to speed up? The slower and more efficiently your cardiovascular system works, the easier it will be to transfer oxygen to the blood, and the more effort it will take for your heart to get up to your maximum aerobic heart rate; ergo, as your aerobic capacity develops you’ll run faster with a relatively lower heart rate. Come time to race, accessing the increased cardiovascular headroom when needed would yield greater pace, with less effort. When it does come time to set the matchbox alight and run at an anaerobic pace, it would be at a significantly higher level of respiration, your fuse would be longer, and when the matchbox caught it would burn very bright.
Consider another side to this 104 weeks; Could you put aside competition for 104 weeks if you knew that in the longer term you would perform more efficiently? I would suggest that for most of us, putting aside our seemingly infectious desire to compete in multiple events would be the most confronting facet of this manner of training. I guess if we were to look at what we want out of running, and why we run, we might reconsider this. Do you run to compete in multiple events, regardless of the period of time between them? Do you run only for medals? Does the the perceived reward around your neck validate your experience? Or do you run as an it is an integral part of your being, that you see directly impacts your well being and will be something you will do for the whole of your life? I would suggest if you value progression, growth, and enjoy the meditative rewards of our discipline, 104 weeks building a base of cardiovascular strength out of the 4200 weeks of our average lifespan isn’t that much of challenge at all.
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