Home > Running > June 6, 2010 – Sunday: Gear Theory explained and experimented

June 6, 2010 – Sunday: Gear Theory explained and experimented

The weather was beautiful. Very surprising, for this time of the year, it had rained overnight leaving the morning fresh and a little chilly, albeit a little humid as well.

I was in the mood to do a long, but slow run.

Theory overview:

I have been reading a bit about the ‘wall’ and specifically how it could be overcome. Most of the articles seem to suggest that going faster when you encounter the wall might be a way to overcome it. That seems bizarre, but the going logic was that when you run faster, you use different muscle groups which has 2 benefits: 1) Gives your usual running muscles a ‘break’ while 2) recruiting different muscle groups to cover the same distance.

I expanded on that theory by forging one on my own – something which I call as the ‘gear theory’.

I have seen that some excellent fast runners seem to struggle and tire when forced to run much slower than their usual pace. The main example of this was Shameek during a long run a couple of months back. We had forced Shameek, a super fast athlete, to run along with us and he was distraught at the end of the run.

Vice versa is also true. Case in point is me: I struggle to do even a 10k at a pace even 10-20% faster than “my” normal pace while I can cover that distance with *relative* ease at my pace.

Point: Nothing here that makes space ships fly. You get used to a certain rhythm of running, at a certain pace, using certain muscle groups in a certain way, with a certain stride length, certain heart rate etc. Lets call this “profile” as the A profile.

Most people try to keep expanding on that A profile so that they can run longer using the same way. Call this as their running style, call it as a gear that they engage to keep going, call it what you want – but it seems as if a runner is comfortable in one way (their) way of running.

One more theory point: This gear can take them only so long. It might require them to have a B profile, a C profile which requires them to engage a 2nd gear or a 3rd gear – which enables them to adopt a totally different style of running (different stride length, different muscle groups, different heart rate, different rhythm) – to go longer, and tire later. 

So, I have been thinking and talking about having multiple gears. I feel the need to have at least 2 gears – a slow gear at ~8.5 to 9 kmph and another one at ~10 to 10.5 kmph.

What is equally important is that you are comfortable running at both speeds, because I know that you really can’t pick up the pace and beat the wall if you are not comfortable at that speed.

Phew! That’s a lot of crap I’ve written now.

Finally back to the run

Anyway, coming back to the morning run. I was going to experiment a little bit – I wanted to split the run into 2 distinct halves – the first to be run at a very comfortable pace, and the next to be run at at least 1 to 1.5 kmph faster. If you get the walks included, there were going to be 3 gears utilized: 5.5 kmph (walks right through), 8 to 8.5 kmph (1st half) and 10 kmph (2nd half).

I got some real able allies in Senthil, Ramesh and Yash. I tried explaining this theory over the first 15-20 minutes. I was not sure that they got it, but we were all there, running together – on a 5:1.

I could see Senthil tugging at the reins during the 1st half because I was forcing him to run at a slow speed which is just not his natural speed. I guess he was itching to fly, but I kept pulling him back.

We got to Besent Nagar Beach (10.4 k or something) in 1 hour 15 minutes. We took a 3-4 minute break there to drink some coconut water, and then turned back.

Now, we adopted the train approach, with different people leading a chain, to get back. Each of us led during the 5 minute R:W run interval. This time, the kitchen, by design, had the heater turned on.

Senthil had a free rein, which, to his credit was admirably controlled, but still got going at ~10.5 kmph. I kept the pace during my turn. Ramesh and Yash also did so, but dropped off close to Malar leaving it to Senthil and I to keep going.

I struggled, but keeping in line with my theory, tried my best to keep it at around the 10kmph mark on the way back, except towards the end where I obviously flagged and cut back.

We also took the extra AU Quarters loop to make sure that we did a 21.1+ and finished at the car park, having done 21.33k in 2:23. The 2nd half was at least faster by 7-8 minutes, but need to check my Garmin to be sure.

Before, I jump into the lessons learnt, I owe a little bit of an apology to Senthil for having taken him through a very rhythm_disruptive run, where we went slow, then fast, then walked, turned abruptly into loops, adopted the train approach over the more preferred side-by-side approach etc. Not sure if he reads this, but I hope he does. 🙂

Lesson learnt:

Not sure if there is one :-). Nothing got established or proven. I was tired at the end of the run, but not in a debilitating or a fatigued way. That can simply be due to conserving energies during the first part of the run, and not because I ran in a different way.

I am not yet sure that – running in a different way in different parts of the run is a better way to run.

Divs/ Dwa – What do you think?

Categories: Running
  1. Chenthil
    June 7, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Kalakare Dr. Karthik

  2. Senthil
    June 8, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Nothing to apologize for Karthik. It is good to try out differant things and know how our body reacts. Keep your theories coming. Nice writeup btw.

  3. Dwarak
    June 8, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I think I did try running in different speeds when I was injured so that I use different muscles. It surely helped me then and I try to do this normally towards the end of the race mostly as I would be in pain around that time 😉

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