Ten Weeks of Tiger Presses and LSD

Eventually, 18 weeks of marathon training is no longer so intimidating. Even though the long runs will be hard, you know what to expect. You get better at preparing, better at recovery; hopefully you get better at staying injury free. In spite of how many approaches there may be to these 18 weeks, there’s nothing really new in the execution.

Unless, of course, you’ve found yourself behind schedule or preparing “last-minute” for one reason or another.

I actually love spontaneity. Love it when something happens unexpectedly or there’s the pressure of a deadline. In our early years, my husband would call me up and say, “Can I pull your trigger?” This was code for, “I’m in xyz city, do you want to meet me?” And, off I’d go.

The Marine Corps Marathon was one of those events that couldn’t be booked last-minute though. So here I sit with a date on the calendar far in advance and time to kill between now and then.

So, I’ve decided I’ll fill the extra time with a little base building..

Base training is closely linked with peaking training, something for which the Kenyans have become quite adept. In 1984, after the Kenyan boycott of both the 1976 and 1980 Olympics, future teams chosen to represent Kenya in major international events were chosen from the best runners present at a three-week training camp held at altitude. This meant the best of the best would race each other daily in training for 21 days. They represented the survivors of the hardest peaking training program undertaken by athletes.

The rule is that peak racing performance only occurs when a period of high-intensity, low-volume training (peaking) follows a prolonged buildup period consisting of low-intensity, high-volume training (base training). Lore of Running by Tim Noakes, MD.

If you’ve studied distance running, you’ve no doubt heard the term LSD, long slow-distance running. This is the foundation of base training. The goal is to run as high a mileage possible without overtraining and to increase gradually the average speed and distance of each session. Some coaches suggest devoting 6 months to a year for this training while others are ok with an 8-week schedule.

My base training session will last 10 weeks. The plan I’ve chosen includes daily runs of similar distances, such as 6,7,6, rest, 7,5,9, and gradual increases over time to build up mileage slowly. At the end of 10 weeks,  I’ll be ready to start the 18-week marathon program and hopefully a successful peak.

Apparently running isn’t the only opportunity for base building in my life though and this new “opportunity” gives me much more heartburn than 10 weeks of LSD.

I really enjoy Kung Fu – well, most of the time. Right now, I have to learn the 12 animal forms. First, we memorize one of the animal forms, perform it across the classroom ensuring our hands are held in just the correct way, stepping this way but not that way, and doing all of this with just the right amount of “intention” as if we were actually using this form to fight an imaginary opponent. It’s a lot to remember and your body NEVER moves the way you need it to – the way you want it to.

After we’ve demonstrated our knowledge of the animals back and forth across the classroom, Sifu says, “Line back up class.” And, if there are a few minutes left before the hour is over….good lord, we know what’s coming next. Tiger Presses.


This miserable exercise is about 3 times harder than an ordinary push-up. So we all drop to the floor for a count of 18 of these monsters – don’t dare even let out a moan or the number gets doubled.

Heaven forbid my Sifu discovers this little blog of mine, but I have to be honest and say I’d rather skip the animals and the tiger presses. This week one of the black belts informed me I will eventually face a test of 100 tiger presses.

Inside my soul I had a heart attack.