Thursday, January 29, 2009

Made in Colorado -- Constantina's Buildup to Beijing

Running Times had a good article on Constantina Tomescu-Dita's training heading into the Olympic marathon in Beijing this past summer.  It is a good illustration of successful implementation of adaptive training:
Constantina Tomescu-Dita's marathon training is based on a one-week block of workouts that has remained constant for years, with only slight variations for the season and distance from a goal race (see box). not only are the distances and intensity of each day consistent, but also the location, even the course.
The author also highlighted some of Constantina and her coach Vali's approach to fueling during her race:
Vali also used the lab throughout Constantina's training for Beijing to monitor her lactate threshold and glucose levels, finding that well-timed dextrose tablets (every 5K, starting from the first 5K), kept her glycogen level constant, and used this information to design her replenishment strategy in the marathon. One other strategy, that aroused comment during her gold-medal run, was a menthol-based liquid that she sniffed in later miles to "keep her brain awake," according to Vali. "These are the types of little things you need at this level," he says.
Also covered are some training insights:
Vali's main work is to keep Constantina's intensity correct, both when doing speed work and overall, to ensure proper recovery. Before Bolder Boulder, she had been flying in workouts, a memorable one 10 X 1,000m in 3:02 (under 5:00/mile pace). In hindsight, Vali says, "It was my mistake; she was doing anaerobic work too soon, too close to the race." While in the Bolder Boulder 10K she found that she "didn't have the next gear," her strength showed her readiness for the next level. After the race, they dialed down the pace and added volume. "We figured, we will need no faster than 3:20 per K or so," Vali says. "Why would we do 3:02? We need to learn how to sustain 3:20." Constantina adds, "But I was not doing 3:20, I was doing 3:15, and 18 of them. But not 3:10, because if you run 3:10 in the marathon, you die."

"In my philosophy of training," Vali says, "the most part of it is recovery. Babies grow up when they are sleeping. With runners, if you are doing an intense workout, you are only going to get the numbers if you are recovered, and you gain the strength when you are recovering. The most important thing is to be healthy at the start, and at the finish."
Click through the link above and scroll to the bottom to see the template of her training week.

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