Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Hadd training

This year has proven a tough one, redundancy and apparent long-term unemployment, (unless I accept the increasing plethora of money laundering middleman offers I receive from careerbuilder.com the longer I remain out of work), forced emigration, and two poor marathons. Whatever about everything else I have a definitive plan for getting my running career back on track in 2012. Some years ago a coach began offering advice on letsrun.com. He was very conscious of his privacy and did not want those with whom he shared his ideas to have the ability to individually identify him and let that prejudice their attitude to either him or his training approach - sensible man. This coach referred to himself as John Hadd. Hadd's approach is similar to that of Arthur Lydiard; lots of slow aerobic base building miles. His basic argument is that unless you have developed an excellent aerobic base you will compromise your ability to run at a progressively faster pace that does not cross your lactate threshold; eventually if you continue to ignore the aerobic base and train faster than your aerobic base allows for adaptation to appropriately occur you will experience burn out and an increasing dissonance between your shorter race times and your longer race times. To explain his ideas Hadd used the example of 'Joe', a talented athlete who had not runs for years but who wanted to get back into shape and run a personal best for the marathon. Hadd extols the virtues of slow running to allow the development of Mitochondria in the cells that convert glucose to energy. This aerobic capacity building allows you to run faster at all efforts, even where you might never or rarely run at those efforts. The analogy he uses to explain this approach is that of a toothpaste tube; to get all the paste you need to fully and progressively squeeze upwards. If you squeeze only near the top of the tube you will initially get some paste but the remainder will remain in the tube, no matter how hard you squeeze near the tube's top. Consequently in Hadd training there is little or no running of intervals, tempo runs or even marathon paced running. It's not quite as simple as that but generally a Hadd schedule looks something like this: run everyday for at least an hour, where recovery runs do not exceed 75% of max heart rate; two quality workouts each week, preferably on Tuesday and Friday, building up to ten miles at 80% max heart rate; and a long run on Sunday of between two and three hours at recovery pace. As your aerobic base develops you should slowly see your speed increase for all efforts. With time and when you are comfortable doing ten miles at 80% MHR without any cardiac drift or slowing, you can slowly edge the effort for these runs up towards 90% of MHR, which he reasons is the absolute max of HR that an exceptionally well trained runner could run a marathon. The discussion of this training approach in great detail is archived on the Let's run website. A summary of the web forum is also available. This is a summary of the online thread and so is not the best written piece, being somewhat disjointed and repetitive but is well worth the effort. Hadd's untimely death in September revealed his true identity as John Walsh, a Briton based in Malta and founder of the Malta marathon. He insisted on his anonymity and only those who he worked with as coach, gratis, knew his identity, and as a condition of his coaching services they never revealed knowledge of his true identity until after his death. Appropriately his none de plume of Hadd is Maltese for anonymous. Looking at photographs of him it is hard to imagine that the man who looked like the embodiment of Scottish martial prowess and someone whose image you could imagine on a Victorian recruitment poster for a Scottish or Irish regiment could die so suddenly of a heart condition. I am hoping I might do his legacy some homage by making a success of my running in 2012; success in other areas would be nice too, but alas Mr Hadd cannot help me with that.


GISAK said...

I also recently discovered "Hadd" and hope his training philosophies can revive my stagnant running. Best of luck with everything in 2012. I think you can break 3 hours. - GI

Pam said...

I first found Hadd in about 2004 and though followed the training though not at the mega mileage recommended still had success at it and am convinced this works. Currently building mileage to start again. Good luck