Sunday, 5 May 2013

Julian Goater advice is not as universal as I previously thought

I think training has been going fairly well, although I am often only at 3 runs a week, the long run has been preserved! One thing I have been seriously questioning is Goater's higher cadence "gears" approach. As discussed in his book in his running technique sections and also elsewhere in this blog, he promotes maintaining a high cadence, no matter the level of the athlete, and with major emphasis on stride length as the significant variable for hills, fatigue etc.

Firstly, a case is to be made that my experience does support. In December 2012 I survived my first 70km snow trail race and it was tough. However, at 60km I was feeling pretty good and running well. I feel like I owe this to adopting some of Goater's approach of small efficient strides that saw me padding up hills that others had slowed to a walk up. So for low intensity this seemed energy efficient to me.

But I have found that training for the marathon distance this spring in 2012 has caused me to reflect with caution on universal rules on technique. I have noticed, for example,  that I have been able to reduce breathing rate (and I suspect heart rate too, but I need to check this) by extending my stride and reducing my cadence while maintaining my marathon pace (4:15). Of COURSE this is not me saying that therefore I need to be running at slower cadence etc. as I have already said. In fact the maintaining of cadence was very helpful for the hills in Marseille marathon, and contributed to me netting another PB (and, hurrah, the marathon distance is no longer my worst distance! ). What I am questioning is about this being applied when in those "cruising" scenarios, on the flat, no headwind, already at-speed.

What I find my body really appreciates is a bit of variation. So if I find heart rate can slow by increasing my stride, then great, but you won't catch me doing that all the way through a marathon. Another example is foot strike. I have been advocating for over a year now the marvels if the forefoot strike as opposed to the heel strike. It was with some humility that I started to realise during some mid-marathon experimentation last October that some heel strike in that cramp-prone window around the 35 km mark can actually help alleviate cramping while avoiding the need to stop and stretch.

ok this post has taken a few montha to complete so apologies if it seems a bit disjointed! Time to publish...

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