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the oregano project

What is The Oregano Project? It’s just a bit of fun – in a somewhat serious way. I value the pursuit of experiments to see what effect they have on my running. This project (set of experiments) is nothing more than my desire to see what happens when convention is thrown away.

“If you do the same thing repetitively,
you’ll get very good at doing the same thing.”

The above quote is not quite what Henry Ford once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” However, it does ring true in much the same way. Every change we make in life, makes a difference. Outcomes will vary, some good, some bad but different. Running is no different to anything else we do; make a change and you’ll see a difference. Subtle or seismic, it could be either but changing things around will change the way you run. I’ve dubbed a new pathway for my training, laced with experiments, as The Oregano Project – just a bit of fun but in a serious way.

Having trained in a structured way for many years, I have had significant gains over short distances. Despite adding to my years on earth, I kept adding to my lifetime PBs also (and I’m now the wrong side of 40). Tailored speed-work sessions coupled with distance worked really well for me. This approach helped me to set some great personal times. Also, I knocked a big chunk from my marathon PB, which was previously set without structured training. The proof was in the results.

However, when it comes to tackling full and half marathons, something about me doesn’t scale with the results from my training efforts. I have undergone VO2 and lactate testing and all numbers point to more than I have achieved to-date. The Oregano Project is an investigation of that problem by discovering just why my distance running falls below par. How? By fighting fire with fire – studying distance by running distance… constantly. My long runs will become normal runs. I will mix experiments into the runs, across a range of distances. The goal is to see how my body reacts to different strains at different points, with different levels of fatigue. I will try to break myself… just hopefully not too badly. Knowing where I break will hopefully prevent me from doing so and better understand my limits.

“Run like a Kenyan”

The project also incorporates an element of strength training, using weights. This is something that I have never included in my training before I turned 40. The weight training is entirely supplementary such that it should fit into any runner’s routine without much disruption/burden. I say “run like a Kenyan” because a book I read prior to formalising all my thoughts like this pretty much changed my entire attitude to running. Adharanand Finn’s ‘Running with the Kenyans‘ is a masterpiece that spoke to me and made me want to shake up my training so greatly.

The Oregano Project: a real-time series of experiments to discover the limits of my distance running

where can I read about the project?

The project is an on-going, real-time experiment. There is no single write-up that I can provide at this stage to describe the experiments and outcomes. I will divulge all discoveries of the project publicly (no sneaky training). Frequent posts on the site will cover key moments in the project along with some diary style entries.

My runs and tests will generate a huge amount of data and I will try to publish this on the site in the best way possible. If goals are not met, lessons will still be learned and at least I will have answers rather than questions. I believe that I will ultimately achieve my goals though – never give up! Stick with me; this story promises to be a voyage of discovery.

The Oregano Project gives no guarantees. It is not a prescribed training plan nor do I advocate that anybody should follow what I do. This is a diary and analysis of my journey, to discover exactly what my body can achieve as a part-time amateur runner.