Training update: Building volume

I'm three weeks in to structured training and have found a good rhythm, so figured I'd post an update on where my head is at from a training perspective.

The three highest priorities for me right now are:

  1. Developing my aerobic system
  2. Increasing the training volume my body can handle
  3. Reducing excess body weight

The first two goals go somewhat hand-in-hand.

To develop my aerobic system, I'm focused on putting in as much low-intensity running as I possibly can.

One of the biggest mistakes new runners make is training at too high of an intensity for the aerobic system to optimally develop. I'm focused on keeping my effort below my aerobic threshold. In traditional endurance training circles this is known as 'Zone 2' or MAF (maximum aerobic function) training. For me this means keeping my heart rate in the 140 - 145 beats per minute range.

Basically, it's an easy effort--one that I could maintain a conversation with. It feels so easy that it almost doesn't feel like anything's getting done, which is why so many people make the error of pushing too hard.

But work is definitely being done.

The challenge is, and this is where people also go wrong, is constantly pushing the amount of time I spend with my heart rate at this range. Three hour-long runs per week will only improve aerobic ability for so long before the body grows accustomed to the volume and no longer has reason to adapt. Constantly pushing the volume is the key. And the intensity is low enough that really going after volume is a relatively safe thing to do, compared to other high-intensity efforts.

This constant increase in volume at these low intensities will form the foundation of my fitness. My aerobic system will develop, which will be evident by faster speeds at these low heart rates, and my muscular system will adapt to hours pounding and stress on my feet.

A third goal of mine is to get my body weight down from the 205 pounds I'm currently walking around with.

I'm still fairly muscular (for a runner) and don't carry too much body fat (11-12%), but there's definitely an excess that I can afford to lose. I feel that getting some weight off of my frame will help my aerobic speed and my endurance tremendously.

I do not have a specific target weight. My approach is to let my training progress be the guide and see where my body weight ends up settling. As long as I'm getting faster and am able to absorb and recover from the training, I'll be happy.

My focus will be on sticking to a nutrient dense whole-food, (mostly) plant-based diet, training hard, and sitting back to see how things develop. I don't want to restrict calories too much, as that can be an added stress on the body that will prevent my fitness from developing.

The priority is speed and endurance. I really need to be able to handle 60-70 mile training weeks and 25+ mile long runs if I hope to have a good race, so my focus right now is being able to gradually tap into those kinds of numbers over the next 3-4 months.

Plan for this week: March 27, 2017

Monday: 75-90 minute MAF run
Tuesday: 75-90 minute MAF run
Wednesday: 30-40 minute Fartlek (intervals)
Thursday: Off or long-walk
Friday: 2:30 - 3:00 hour long run (10-12 miles; normally done on a Saturday but a weekend event is forcing me to reshuffle)
Saturday: Off or long-walk
Sunday: 75-90 minute MAF run

I've also got a daily mobility routine that I'm sticking to and will be adding some low-volume, high-load strength training throughout the week, depending on how I feel on each given day.

Feeling refreshed and excited to attack another week of training!

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