Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Limbo Mania

The recent edition of Runner’s World discussed a speed boosting work out called “progression training”. While it’s not exactly the same thing as my patented “Limbo” training, it is close enough to launch an unwarranted lawsuit asking for ridiculous seven figure damages. That’s how I roll. Another of my personal mottos: “What’s a week without an overblown, irrational lawsuit.”

Progression training is described, by McMillan, as “begin running at a slow, easy pace but finish at a fast pace.”

Limbo running, a F.M.S. created training technique, is similar in that you start out at an easier pace and finish at a quicker pace. However, in order to be a successful Limbo run, each mile (or whatever equally incremental distance you desire), gets progressively faster. It’s not just measuring the beginning and end points but specific milestones along the way. For me, I choose a nice comfortable loosening mile – not too slow but not quite to my “comfortably hard” pace either – and then try to shave a few seconds off each mile (i.e. getting under the limbo bar set by the previous mile) until I finish with my quickest mile at a predetermined target pace.

If I’m doing a 5 mile Limbo run and my “comfortably hard” pace at this distance is 7:00 minute miles, I might start my first mile at around 7:05-7:10 to loosen up and then start subtracting seconds each mile (second mile 6:55, third mile 6:50, etc.) until my 5th and final mile is around 6:35. That’s the plan anyhow. Unfortunately, lately my third or fourth miles have actually gone back UP in time blowing my Limbo.

It’s a challenge to keep the time going DOWN as the miles go UP. It’s also my favorite type of training run. It mixes things up and keeps me focused on speed as I get tired. Plus, I look cool choking for air as I whiz past my neighbors on their nightly stroll spraying them with wicked sweat from one of my race shirts covering my flailing arms. It’s a real attention grabber.

The challenge, as mentioned, is to actually increase speed as you get tired. Also, to maintain some pacing discipline. If your first mile is 7:05 and your next mile is 6:00, well, your next three miles need to keep getting faster. Is it gonna happen? For me, no. So, you better have a good read on your pacing. Of course, it helps tremendously if you are already baptized in the Church of Garmin (praise be with you).*

I choose to tackle my Limbo runs by combining them with the accepted industry standard fartlek style. I’ll alternate a comfortably hard pace with mashing the accelerator back and forth at least once during each mile. If any of you don’t use fartlek style runs, you should. They’re wonderful for building speed and confidence (just don’t get caught with your mouth open during one of ‘em. Get it? Get it?) Plus, its also fun to say “fartlek” and giggle like a school kid.

The beauty of the fartlek, besides its awesomely disgusting sounding name, is that, when you pull out of a fart lick, er, fartlek, you find yourself resuming a speed that is actually faster than what you were probably doing going in. You may not even perceive it at first. But Garmin don’t lie (praise be with you).** Try it. Do a few fartleks and notice how your resumed comfortable pace is suddenly faster than you intended!

An easy way to understand this is through an obvious and familiar example to all. When you rob an orphanage, you tend to accelerate quickly from the scene – way above the posted speed limit. Then, realizing you are going fast and ought to slow down before drawing attention from the local fuzz, you pull back your speed. Try as you might, you don’t end up back under the speed limit. Your adrenaline is surging(you just robbed the orphanage, right!?) so you are still going a bit faster than planned. Next time you steal money from innocent children, notice this effect in action.

A few folks have asked what my “limbo” runs mean so I thought I’d take the time to explain it. Also, I’ve been reading several accounts lately of different speed training various runners have been doing to improve their overall speed. Since I’m self indulgent, I thought I’d go ahead and pretend like you wanted to know about my favorite form of speed training.

Whatever you do, if you want to increase your speed, you have to push yourself. You have to push your lactate threshold. The only way to BE faster is to TRAIN faster. There’s many plans out there. Some of them have merit. But, unlike the Limbo run, none of them have received the F.M.S. stamp of approval.

Happy trails.

* And also with you.
** And also with you.

No Limbo run last night. Just the standard 800's. I'm trying to ramp up some speed for a couple of July 5k's I have planned.

Total effort:

5.70 miles
6:35 pace

4 x 800 (with 400 meter cool downs in between). 800 laps of:


Next week: 5 x 800 @ 2:50 pace.


Teacher Pursuits said...

That sounds challenging... I typically decrease speed as the mileage goes up. Actually, I do more of a fastish to start, slow in the middle, fast to finish. This is intriguing... coupled with my bear training, it might be possible for me.

Kristina said...

I think my Garmin do lie; it tells me I'm at a 10:30-10:40 pace throughout a run and then reports my avg at 8:30. But no idol is infallible so I still worship, and I seem to keep tithing to Garmin on a regular basis anyway.

nwgdc said...

next time, do a limbo run with your 800 repeats! now THAT would be impressive!

Aron said...

thanks for this post! i have been reading into fartleks this week trying to figure them out, so much to learn! i also like the idea of your limbo runs! will definitely have to try them out.

Anonymous said...

fafafafartlililickkkkkk. fartlicker.

*tee hee*

Marcy said...

Oy, no more talk about lactate threshold LOL. Hell awaits me.

Anonymous said...

I did one of those Limbo runs from mile #20 until the finish line of my last marathon.

Now that was fun!

Meg said...

That's some good advice, thanks for posting it!
It's also a tough habit to get into sometimes, to control your pace because you want to be able to increase your pace over the next couple miles.

Debbie said...

I like your limbo run....sounds challenging....

Tall Girl Running said...

No wonder my orphanage robberies always go awry! Not to mention the nursing homes.

Must. Pace. Self.

Anonymous said...

I know Im in the nonbigrunner minority here but most of what you says applies to me as well.

the IF YOU WANNA BE BIG YOUVE GOT TO LIFT HEAVY (my adaptation) is what I needed to be reminded of.

I cant slack and expect miracles.

(love the term Lifeshaver)


C said...

If the Church of Garmin is anything like Scientology, I'm not joining.

Ax said...

I don't belong to the church of Garmin, but I often try to run the limbo. It is definitely challenging, but sure feel awesome when you hit it.

By the way, those were some great 800s. I think I'll head out for some 800s as well. Good luck on those 5ks.

MissAllycat said...

Praise Be To Garmin!!

sRod said...

Alas, still no Garmin. But I will be giving the limbo/fartlek workout a try as I move into marathon mode.

Unknown said...

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with this post, but do you ever write under the pen name Paul Consella? (See below):

Marci said...

Wow your 800's are fast!! Thanks for this post, I may try your limbo approach on my Friday tempo run!

chia said...

Where is the almighty mecca to the church of garmin and do they sell my sugoi running skirt there?

Great post - I'm going to have to try that out tonight! Thanks!

thebets said...

Good to know...for next time I rob an orphanage. You have also continued to contribute to my longing for a Garmin.

P.O.M. said...

Praise be with Garmin.

The Limbo runs sounds way to hard. I just barely started to Fartlek. But I was so surprised at my speed on Farleks - even my slow pace was faster. I am definatley going to do Farteks at least once a week.


Unknown said...

Ok.. I am here to make a confession. Limbo sounds too hard. I am trying to make flatuence. Opps, I meant fartlek. My biggest problem is that I am too comfortable at my own pace and set myself on autopilot without changing gears. Endurance is what I thrive on. I would stay on autopilot for a long time. I don't have any desire to push myself to the edge with any fancy terminology.

Scott said...

Good post. Running fast hurts. I'd like to get back to some speed work sometime. My long distance training has hurt my hip a bit such that running fast really hurts. Doing the "limbo" would be a cool workout. Painful, but cool. :)

Unknown said...

I tried limboing yesterday but made it a tad more challenging just to prove I'm more of a bad-arse than you. I ran my first mile at a comfortable pace, then sped things up for my second. I saw that my 2nd mile was 16 seconds faster, so that meant I had to run my third mile AT LEAST 16 seconds faster. Ran that 19 seconds faster, so my 4th mile had to be at least 19 seconds faster (ran it 21 seconds faster).

Then I barfed up a lung and went back to a reasonable pace for miles 5 and 6.

The Sean said...

How low can you go. Have you tried this in a long run setting? Dropping a couple of seconds per mile until you run out of gas and then catching a ride back to wherever you left your car at? could be interesting!! Also, do we need to permission to run one of these? Is there an entry fee?