February 2000



Coach's Column from Max Jones

I'm having to make a slight adjustment to my minimal marathon training method. I find that it is now taking my soft tissue maintenance crew - growth hormone, testosterone, a handful of enzymes, etc, etc - an extra day to weld together the torn pieces after I've damaged muscle fibres or connecting tissue in a race. It is well documented in the USA that (the Dreaded) DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness, which is the first sign that more serious fibre damage than usual has been incurred, does not make its presence felt for 24 hours. It is obviously essential that frayed bits must be fully healed over before tissues are subjected to the same degree of overstrain again. In practice, that means that there's much more risk of inflicting more damage by training every day than every other one. So, now that it is three days before I dare re-start training after a race, I can get out on the roads even fewer times every month. With my regular training run of only 4 miles and racing, say, twice a month over a total distance of not much more than 25 miles, that adds up to an average over a year of only about 18 miles per week.

I had missed so many training days that I had averaged only 13 miles/week in the 13 monitoring weeks before this year's Brass Monkey Half Marathon at the end of January : it took me 1:41 to run it. Relative to 3 years ago, when my time was 1:31 off 28 mpw, I was 3 minutes, i.e. 6 lbs, more overweight and my resting pulse rate - 5 beats a minute higher than previously - cost me the other 7 minutes. So, with marathons in Los Angeles and London in the programme in the next two months, I shall endeavour to get round one more lap of my training course - up to, shock/horror, SIX miles ! - so that I can bring down my weight (a little) by running the extra distance and my resting heart rate (a lot, hopefully) by running for twice the time over my maximum heart rate as derived from the formula "220 minus age".

There was one small crumb of comfort for me in the Brass Monkey race, though, my Age-Graded percentage. Just creeping into the "National Class" definition at 80.71%, that was equivalent to a young man's time of 73:54 which, had they been all age-graded, might just have been good enough for a share of the prizes (which, being only 2nd M70, I didn't get through the front door). This year, Otley AC's Ian Fisher broke the course record with a 66:35, 89.58% age-graded. My 90:59 in 1997 calculated to 68:08 Open Class, a time which would have won the race that day by over a minute. My Age-Graded percentage then was 87.84, so I'm hoping that getting my weekly miles up from 13 to 20 will get me back nearer to that standard again.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, new Valley Strider Lou Gilchrist from, er, Lancashire, ran 1:39:22 in the Four Villages Half the week before. So what? So she's a W66, WAVA Gateshead gold medallist in the cross-country, silver in the 5000m and bronze in the 1500m, that's what. Age-graded, her 99:22 calculates exactly to Ian Fisher's Brass Monkey 89.58%. When I rang her the day before Four Villages to say I wouldn't be coming because of the adverse weather forecast - icy roads and strong northerly winds - she said straight out "you think I'll beat you, don't you". Very perceptive are young women these days, aren't they ?!