Beast on the Bay Blog: Aerobic Endurance Training
The majority (≥ 6 miles) of the Beast on the Bay will be on the beach, which is completely different than running on pavement. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the hips and legs will be utilized in ways you may not have used them before. So, it is imperative that you begin running on the beach at least once a week, for a minimum of 1 mile, progressing to 4 miles by the end of your training. Your gait should be more of a shuffling stride when running on the beach, due to the instability of the sand. There will also be trails through the wooded areas of the peninsula, as well as stretches of ankle-deep mud through the reeds. If you live in the Erie area, I highly recommend the Brown’s Farm course, as well as the trails of Asbury Woods for familiarizing yourself to uneven terrain.
The Beast on the Bay requires a combination of energy systems from its participants and thus, must be implemented in a training program. The types of aerobic training programs are as follows:
1. Long, Slow Distance Training (LSD)
LSD training is also known as “conversation exercise”, because you should be running at a pace that is conducive to being able to carry on a conversation with someone. The physiological benefits of this type of training include enhanced cardiovascular and thermoregulatory function, improved oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle, and increased ability in using fat as a fuel. Too much of this training may be disadvantageous to competition, due to the lower intensity.
2. Pace/Tempo Training
This type of training is also known as “threshold training” or “aerobic/anaerobic interval training” and should be at race competition intensity or slightly higher. You can perform this program in two different ways, steady and/or intermittent. Steady pace/tempo training is continuous for approximately 20-30 minutes at an intensity that is slightly above race pace. Intermittent pace/tempo training is referred to as “tempo intervals”, since is consists of shorter bouts of exercise with small recovery periods between intervals. In both programs, if the workout seems fairly easy, it’s better to increase the distance, rather than the intensity.
3. Interval Training
This type of training enables you to work at intensities close to VO2max for a longer duration than would be possible at a continuous high intensity. The work intervals can be as short as 30 seconds, but preferably between 3 and 5 minutes. It’s imperative that you have already established a solid base of aerobic endurance training prior to performing an interval program.
4. Repetition Training
It should be performed at intensities greater than VO2max, with the work intervals lasting from 30-90 seconds. This program relies heavily on anaerobic metabolism, so you will need ample time to recover between bouts. With this program, you can expect to acquire greater running speed, enhanced running economy, and improved tolerance of anaerobic metabolism. It’s also beneficial for the final stretch of an aerobic event, when you really want to give your all.
5. Fartlek Training
This is a combination of the four other types of training previously discussed. It calls upon basically all systems of the body and helps in changing up your daily training, by reducing the monotony of your workouts. It may enhance VO2max and lactate threshold, while improving running economy and fuel utilization.
I recommend employing a mix of these types of aerobic endurance training programs. The Beast on the Bay is an endurance event based on its distance of 10 miles, so you will want to be able to cover at least 5 miles in one bout. The distance between obstacles will require you to run the durations found in pace/tempo workouts. The concept of the Beast is based on interval training, since it’s structured with running and intermittent bouts of anaerobic exertion. The physiological benefits of repetition training bode well for enhancing your performance in the Beast and there will be elevation changes in the sand, so the fartlek program including hills, would be beneficial. The following, is a table with the basic principles of each training program. As always, please feel free to ask me any questions.