Some words on the training of John "Hadd" Walsh, RIP September 2011

  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    Those of you who have visited the Letsrun board for several years will have read some training discussions involving someone calling himself "Hadd." His real name was John Walsh, and he lived with his wife in Malta, and recently passed away of a heart attack during his regular morning run, at age 56, the same age his father died of heart disease.

    I had the privilege of calling John my friend and coach since about 2002. He was a very private person, which is why his identity never became known to the web until he passed on. His nickname, "Hadd," is Maltese for "nobody," which reflects his desire in life to be considered as just some guy, nobody of importance.

    From my experience working with John, and watching him guide others, I can say I think he was a brilliant coach, with adeep understanding of the scientiic principles of distance running, and, more importantly, a clear understanding of the practical application of these principles in training and racing. He also had a tremendous talent for clear communication, and made ample use of brilliant metaphors in his detailed explanations.

    Over the course of a few posts, I will try to elaborate what I think I learned from him. Much of this has direct relevance to the other long training thread, but I'd like to avoid the details getting buried in the multiple lines of discussion in that very interesting thread.
  • User
    peteq2
    For today, I'll just write one initial post with some basic principles to establish general context.

    John's training is deliberate and methodical, and progresses from very basic, simple easy running (at first) and progresses through to unbelievably hard training.

    99.9 % of his training as about training to train, not training to race. Distance training is a long road, and reward the patient. There's nothing sexy about the long, hard road of building the basic aerobic foundation for good distance runners, just a lot of seemingly mind-numbing repetition of the basics.

    Two main metaphors are sprinkled liberally about his writing: squeezing from the bottom of the toothpaste tube, and, not pulling up your potatoes to see if they've grown. The first means you start with the easier efforts and master them before moving up to harder efforts. The second means you train until you'e ready to race, without checking your fitness every week, worrying that maybe it isn't improving.

    Concepts like "peaking" and periodization have less emphasis in Hadd training, at least the way I experienced it, than in other familiar systems.

    The first, and most important, focus is to develop a proper aerobic foundation. He invented a novel approah for this, replying on the heart rate monitor.

    More later....
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    @peteq2

    Ran out of time yesterday. Before a substantive post, a few out of context "Hadd" quotes that reflect the training philosophy:

    "... try and not think of hard/easy, but hard/easy/easy (and even hard/easy/easy/easy if your body says so). "

    and

    "Always protect what you've got before you reach for more. "

    and

    "... training MUST NOT BE hard (for the large percentage), ... It will become "hard" in later Phases, but that hard will be carefully controlled at all times and always be well within your current capability."

    and

    " role for them (coaches); holding back the good runners from doing more than is good for them."

    and

    "If there is one constant with just about everyone I have ever coached it is that I begin by getting them to train slower than they ever have before. Without fail."

    ------------------------------

    On that last note, I'd like to introduce his "base training," or what he called "Phase I," which is the initial approach to developing a proper aerobic foundation for later training and racing.

    This "Phase I" was originally described in a long thread on Letsrun back around 2002. The thread included a lot of back and forth over questions from readers, and has since been somehow deleted from the archives, but several people, myself included, managed to take copies of the guts of the thread, and Hadd's main essay describing "Phase I" can be found here:

    www.angio.net/personal/run/hadd.pdf
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    @peteq2

    OK, two more posts for today. First, I'll try to describe what you are trying to achieve in this "Phase I" training. Then, I'll try to summarize the execution of the training, in the knowledge that our ADD-riddled culture will prevent most readers from working through the whole essay I linked in the last post.

    In the other long discussion thread on distance training, Africans etc, wetcoast asked about Hadd's and Snell's "discovery" about glycogen utilization, muscle fibre activation etc.

    I won't try to explain any of the science, because honestly, my brain rejects anything to do with biology or chemistry, but I may use some scientific terms, hopefully correctly, but only to try to establih context, and not in any rigourous way. If anyone wants to debate the science, or quibble about terminology, they'll need to do it with somebody else, as I won't pretend to be expert in that stuff.

    The basic thrust of the Phase I training is to work away, deliberately, at successively harder efforts, each in turn, after having "mastered" the lower efforts, to build a solid, stable aerobic foundation. In doing so, you improve (increase) the pace that corresponds to any given effort, and lengthen the time you can run at that effort at that faster pace.

    The work is done progressively from below (i.e. squeezing from the bottom of the toothpaste tube). Over time, the pace at any given effort, as measured subjectively by perceived effort, or objectively by the HRM, will increase, and you will push all of your working paces closer together.

    In my experience, this method is so effective in building aerobic strength that it really nearly ought to be considered cheating. Successful correct implementation of this training creates an aerobic "animal," who is ready to either run a decent marathon, or start into, survive and thrive on the really hard training required for shorter races (800-HM).

    The biggest problem with this approach, in my opinion, is that it is largely counterintuitive, and most runners lack the patience to do it properly.

    A final note before the Cole's notes summary, back to wetcoast's question about glycogen utilization. What happens over the course of this training is that you alter the fuel mix your legs use in delivering power for running. The untrained runner will burn glycogen (and thus generate lactate, which corresponds with fatigue but also serves as a secondary fuel source) at high speed, and rely little on fatty acids. The aerobically well-trained runner will burn a different fuel mix, drawing on fat to a greater degree, thus generating lower lactate at all efforts (than before) and preserving glycogen stores longer.

    You can see this directly by doing lactate testing on an athlete at various stages of the training, or can infer it from HR levels and perceived effort versus pace.
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    Here's a Coles' Notes version of Hadd's base training, as I understand it and experienced it.

    Keep in mind as you read this – it ONLY DESCRIBES the process of building an aerobic base, which may be lacking for a lot of runners. It doesn’t say anything at all about subsequent phases of training or race specific preparation.

    Disclaimer – these are my words, not the original words of John Walsh, so misunderstandings from the original intent are mine. Refer to the original writing to clarify as necessary.

    The basic principles are that workouts and easy runs should be based on appropriate effort, rather than pace, and effort is measured by watching the heart rate via a heart rate monitor. The body adapts based on how hard the heart is working, not what speed the legs are moving. The heart isn’t aware of external factors (heat, humidity, wind) the way the legs are.

    Training is broken into different phases. In the base Phase (that this post discusses) you're working on your aerobic threshold (AeT), trying to nudge it closer to your anaerobic threshold (AnT). Later phases of training focus more on AnT and other things. If you skip (or cheat on) Phase I, you won’t get the optimum benefit of later Phases.

    Base training concentrates on aerobic base development. It makes you stronger than an ox, and ready for later phases of training. All phases are mostly easy aerobic running, with (normally) two work sessions and a longer run each week.

    Here's the gist of the base phase:

    Buy an HRM and learn to love it.

    Determine your HRmax plus or minus a couple of beats. You MUST know this number to get to work. Don’t guess or use textbook formulas. They’re useless. If you don’t know your HRmax, go to the track and do a good warmup. Run 800m all out. Suck wind for maybe 30 seconds, then run 400m all out. The highest number you see on the HRM during this workout will be close to your HRmax, within a couple of beats.

    Start running at 70-75% of HRmax, or less, every day until you work up to being comfortable running 50 miles per week of easy mileage. At this point, you will begin to add in stronger aerobic work sessions. These work sessions will be guided by HR, not pace. Don’t worry about pace, but track it so you can see the improvement over time. Keep the HR within the intended zones.

    Space the work days two or three days apart. The body needs this recovery time to be able to adapt to the work you’ve done. A “work day” would be either a workout, long run, or race. Don’t do more than three work days in a week. Often (ie. when one is a race or particularly hard workout) you will only do two work days in a week.

    During base training, you concentrate on aerobic work sessions, and the idea is to "lock in" each HR range until you could run at that HR all day (well, 60 to 75 min) without slowing down. You do this progressively, starting with lower HRs and shorter "intervals," and over the weeks ratchet up the duration of intervals, total duration of work, and working HR levels, or maybe shorten the rest between intervals.

    But don't move up until you've mastered the level you're already working at, which means being able to run more than 60 minutes at that HR without slowing down to keep HR below the target.

    So you might begin the program (after getting to 50 mpw of easy running comfortably) working at 80-83% of HRmax on Tuesday and Friday, and stay with that level until you can comfortably complete an hour of work without slowing down, and knowing you could keep on going at that effort and pace. As the pace-HR relationship gets locked in, you can up the second work session to 82-85% of HRmax.

    So week 1, maybe you do 2 x 20 min @ 80-83% Tuesday and then 30 or 40 min @ 80-83% Friday. Next two or three weeks, maybe stay at that HRs, but get the sessions up to 2 x 30 then 60 min continuous for 80-83% work, and then maybe start to ease in something like 2 x 12 min, 2 x 15, 3 x 15, 3 x 20, 2 x 30, 60 continuous for 82-85%.

    Over the following weeks, work up into higher HR ranges, with similar interval progression (85-88%, and 87-90%).

    Again, don't move up until you've mastered the level you're at, keeping HR and pace steady, and finishing knowing you can keep on keeping on. You want to finish every work session feeling fairly fresh, like you’ve worked but you know you could continue at that effort. If you feel spent at the end, you’ve gone too hard, and need to ease back.

    Work at this until you're at about 88% HRmax for 60-75 min continuous at a steady pace (with HR staying steady over that duration) feeling like you can keep going, and you're an aerobic monster, ready to tackle faster training and racing.

    Many people find the 70-75% of HRmax running to be too slow, especially at first. Some people find they need to walk some stretches (ie. hills) to keep it below 75%, particularly for untrained or young runners. Early in Phase I, if this is the case, it’s OK to keep the easy running at 80% or less, if 75% is really too slow, but over time you should get the easy stuff below 70-75% as the aerobic fitness improves, and then keep it there. If you’re running a hilly course, it’s OK to let the HR drift about 5-10 beats higher than the target for short uphill sections, but don’t let it stay there for very long, and keep the overall average within the target (70-75%).

    Fuel is really important. The work sessions will gobble up glycogen (the fuel in your leg muscles). Eat/drink soon after all runs. Always eat well (lots of carbs) the night before and after a workout or long run. Always. Without exception. Your legs will thank you for it.

    Incorporate doubles when the mileage starts to creep up there (maybe ~ 70 mpw for some runners, as an example). Instead of running 13-15 miles on an easy day, maybe run 7 in the morning and 7 at night. Try it once a week and see if you can manage to add more.

    Warm up and cool down should be a couple of miles or so easy running for the aerobic work sessions.

    Every third or fourth week drop the work sessions entirely and let your body absorb the work. Assuming all else is well, you'll see improvement after three weeks, but it normally seems to take up to six weeks at one level to really nail it.

    You will find that pace at certain HRs will vary depending on conditions. If it is hot and humid, expect to run 10 to 30s/mile slower than you’d like or expect. Don’t worry about it – that’s just the way it is. On these days, stick with the target HR and don’t worry about pace. The heart has no idea how humid it is outside or what pace you’re running, and it doesn’t care either. The training effect is based on effort, which the HRM judges more accurately than your watch.

    If you give this a go, you'll be amazed, over time, at how easy it'll become to run for 60 minutes at efforts that start out being damn hard. Improvements don't happen in linear fashion, but every six weeks or so, you'll have a "holy shit" moment where you ask yourself, OK where the hell did THAT come from?

    -----------

    I have found is that for most people it's VERY difficult to get into the program and stick with it without always thinking "gee, this slow running is probably making me slower, I better do some fast running" and then cheating the program. Don’t cheat by throwing in some extra fast runs. It will hurt you, not help you.

    --------------

    One more word... there is no set "schedule" for Phase I. It will take as long as it will take. For reasonably well-trained runners, a first successful pass through Phase I might take 2-3 months, for a younger or less experienced runner, maybe 3-5 months, maybe more. To do this properly, you have to start it without a preconceived notion about when you'll be ready for more advanced training.

    However, any runner who has been through this training properly doesn't need to go back to the very beginning the next time they decide to go back to aerobic basics, but can rather start a little further in, and expect a quicker passage through.

    ---------------

    Sorry, one final word for today, as I don't think I've adequately emphasized this concept.

    Most running in Hadd's Phase I, and indeed in all of his training, is meant to be EASY. When I write easy in this sense, I mean easier than most people reading this thread likely consider to be easy. Runners do not have a natural sense for truly "easy" running, but you can develop one over time with the HRM.

    "Easy" in the sense I use the term means, again, 70-75% of HRmax OR LESS. There is no practical lower limit to "easy" in Hadd's training, you can run as slowly as you like. The upper limit, most properly described as 70-75% of HRmax, cn be as fast as about 75-90s/mile slower than M-pace in a well trained runner. This will be closer to 70% than 75% in the well-trained runner (75% will be more like M+60-ish, whih is too fast for everyday easy running, but maybe okay from time to time).

    In my experience, the upper end of Daniels' or McMillan's easy pace range is TOO FAST, at least for application within this training approach.

    However, by contrast, many of the hard sessions are frighteningly hard as the training advances and the athlete develops. And by that point the truly easy nature of the easy running is welcome, if not necessary.

    OK, that's it for today.
  • Site Admin
    coachc1
    Interesting stuff Pete,

    I do have a question I hope you'll answer before you go on. I find that when most people talk about heart rate they neglect to clarify if they are talking about , say, 80% of absolute max heart rate or 80% of heart rate reserve because it makes a difference and I just want to be clear.

    Assume a runner with a max Hr of 200, 80 % of absolute HR would be 160bpm.

    Using Heart rate reserve we subtract resting HR of say 50bpm from max hr and we get 150. Take 80% of this or 120 and add back on the resting hr of 50 and you get 170bpm

    10bpm is significant.

    So to be clear as you move forward did Hadd use absolute hr or heart rate reserve in his work.

    Thanks Pete, looking forward to the next post.
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    oasis
    @coachc1

    great thread pete, any chance you could describe Hadd's theories on the training of fast twitch distance runner's


    @oasis

    Patience.... only so much time in a day.

    Bill, he uses the absolute value, so resting HR doesn't come into play. I know there are systems that use HR_reserve, but honestly I think that's an unnecessary refinement of an already uncertain measure. I could explain mathematically why I think that if I had time, but I don't think the explanation would add much to the discussion, but would rather just distract from the main focus.

    Suffice to say that when I use a percentage of HRmax, I'm talking about HR/HRmax x 100%.
  • Site Admin
    coachc1
    Thanks Pete,

    I wasn't trying to make any comment as to which is the better method in fact I don't think it matters as the % would shift depending on the method used. I just wanted to be clear on what method Hadd used. Thanks for the clarification.
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    @oasis

    You asked about training for more-FT types. The first answer is that the training I've just described, the "Phase I" base training, is far and away the most important component for FT types, and there's no real point dicussing the sexier, faster stuff in the context of Walsh's (Hadd's) training for an FT runner who hasn't been through a cycle of that training.

    I will get to a discussion of the sexier stuff in due course, but please just be aware that it will be described with the assumption of being implemented by a well-trained (aerobically) runner, and attempting the training without a VERY STRONG aerobic foundation will not be particularly productive.

    @bryano

    When I've used the term "mastered" in this thread so far, it's been in the context of mastering a given aerobic effort level. Simply put, it means being able to run at a given elevated HR range (say 87-90% as the top end aerobic target range) for 60-75 minutes without having to slow down to keep HR under control, and finishing the session "knowing" you could carry on and do some more.

    (As an aside, nearly every had work session in Hadd's training should be finished knowing you "could" do some more, although you might perhaps not "prefer" to do some more, so even in the very hard stuff, there's no knee-bent puking by the side of the track, although as I've said, some sessions get to be very, very hard)

    When I can find a bit of time, I'm going to give an illustrative example to show what I mean by "mastering" a given level, and to better illustrate how this Phase I aerobic training unfolds.

    I would point out, though, as a matter of (I think considerable) interest, that there is a very simple and unequivocal test to see if you can benefit from this phase I training, assuming you know your HRmax. Head down to the track, HRM strapped to the chest, and start running continuous laps at a strong, but conversational aerobic effort. Let your HR creep up over the course of a mile or two into the 87-90% HRmax range. Run laps for 75 minutes, keeping HR pegged under 90%. If your pace starts to fade, or if you just can't even finish the session, this reveals that there is work you can do to improve your aerobic fitness.

    The more you fade in this test session (which is, BTW, pretty good at identifying FT types, who will tend to suffer more horribly than their ST counterparts), the more you can benefit from a solid round of Phase I training.

    Sound like a hard test? It is! But I'll guarantee it is an accurate indicator of whether you could benefit personally from a cycle of this training.

    -------------

    BTW - I'm not particularly endorsing the idea of someone trying this test straight out of the box... it would be extremely difficult for a relatively untrained or younger runner to finish this session, and very hard for a well trained runner who in't in the later stages of marathon training. But starting the session and seeing how far you can get before the pace starts to dive off will tell you all you need to know. If the pace starts to fade before and hour, and it will for 99% of runners I expect, this training can benefit you, and the earlier it starts to fade, the more you can benefit

    ------------------

    Likely won't get at the illustrative example today, work deadlines and all.

    For info, while I've tried to present a fairly comprehensive overview of Phase I training (primarily including the original description by John himself), when I delve into later phases of race-specific training, the discussion will be more general, using examples to illustrate concepts, but not attempting to provide any kind of "unified approach," or cook book formula.

    His approach to training is responsive to the individual, taking account of many factors including "type," background and current fitness, current and long term goals, current "life" situations, response to last week's training, etc. So while there is always a general direction the training is headed, it is designed/assigned a week at a time. This makes it really impossible to boil down into a prescriptive, menu-driven system.
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    Couldn't find time today to give a detailed illustration of Phase I training unfolding, but I have a few minutes to make a few more general comments.

    There are five aerobic effort zones you will use during the Phase I (aerobic base) training, let's label them as follows:

    E (easy) - 70-75 % HRmax (or less)
    D - 80-83 %
    C - 82-85 %
    B - 85-88 %
    A - 87-90 %

    What happens over the course of the training is that you wind up improving the pace you can run at each of these levels, and increase the dration you can sustain the effort/pace. Consequently, you end up pushing the paces associated with each effort level closer together.

    At the beginning, these efforts might correspond to the following paces (as a conceptual example):

    EASY - 7:45/mile
    D - 7:20
    C - 7:00
    B - 6:40
    A - 6:20

    However, the runner would not be able to sustain these paces at those HRs for the full ~ 75 minutes.

    At the end of Phase I, this same runner could be looking at the following range of paces:

    EASY - 7:15/mile
    D - 6:40
    C - 6:30
    B - 6:20
    A - 6:10

    There would be an increase in pace at all efforts, and the range in pace over that span of HR ranges would narrow from 60s to 30s. Further, the athlete would be able to sustain these paces for the full 60-75 minutes within those HR ranges.

    So might be thinking, OK, so what? Who cares if we can improve strong aerobic running at ~ 90% HRmax to 6:10/mile, that won't win any races.

    True enough, this doesn't do anything in paticular for the immediate ability to run a fast 5k or 10k. But it provides the aerobic foundation to start, survive and thrive on really strong training for those distances (well, for 800-M).

    When you've completed this Phase I training, that "A" level effort will correspond fairly closely with expected M-race pace.

    And, if you were to race a 5k off thi training, you would finish it without your regular ability to kick, wondering what happened to your speed. But in spite of being unable to run faster in the 5k, you will finish feeling like you could continue around again at the same effort. Meaning your 10k pace is now not so far off your 5k pace. So you've squeezed ALL of your paces together.

    Now to get to racing a good 5k (or 1500, or HM) after a solid round of Phase I training, takes a whole 'nother chunk of training. Which we'll get to, AFTER I find the time to give a live working example of Phase I training.
  • User
    Canrunner2662
    @peteq2
    It would be very difficult to implement this system in a typically Canada/US year with Cross country a month or two after track, followed by indoor then outdoor track again. The schedules here in Canada/US do not promote the right kind of slow buildup required for distance runners.

    comments?
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    @Canrunner2662

    I really like that question, because it gives me a little room to philosophize and pontificate a bit.

    When I get up tomorrow, I'll try to tackle the question from a few different angles, none of which may seem particularly satisfying.

    Then one more long post to wrap up the presentation of Phase I.
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    Canrunner2662
    @peteq2
    It would be very difficult to implement this system in a typically Canada/US year with Cross country a month or two after track, followed by indoor then outdoor track again. The schedules here in Canada/US do not promote the right kind of slow buildup required for distance runners.

    comments?


    @Canrunner2662

    One brief segue to answer this good question, then a bit about using the HRM, then a wrap up of the discussion of Phase I base training.

    -------------------------

    What I've presented so far is just aerobic base training, and so from one perspective, I don't see this as being any more awkward/challenging to fit into North American competition schedules than any other good form of base training.

    That said, it's implied in this training that proper base training will take as long as it will take, which might be a "normal" 2-3 months, or could be substantially longer. You finish it when you finish it, so if you want to do it right, you might have to sacrifice one or two race seasons (say XC + indoors) before preparing properly for the next season (outdoors in this random hypothetical scenario).

    So yes, if done right, this could conflict with our 3 season model for some athletes.

    -------------------------

    Following from the preceeding, one might ask the question, "OK, so what? What's the big deal if you miss one or two competitive seasons?"

    And that's a key question.

    What's more important to the athlete... long term development toward ultimate potential, or short term (and ultimately meaningless in the big picture, IMHO) competitive objectives?

    For most people, I think there is a powerful psychological need to keep checking our fitness, so there is a tendency to race more often than might be best for long term development.

    But the basic question remains... are you thinking about what's best for the athlete, or are you force-fitting an athlete into a rigourous structure?

    -------------------------

    Which leads me to a short segue onto the topic of periodization. I think (just expressing my opinion, claiming without proof) that most approaches to periodization are an attempt to create a rhythmic structure in training that works within the normal rhythmic cycle of racing seasons (whether this is 2 or 3).

    I mentioned in the other thread that in "Hadd's" training, at least the way I experienced it, there is less emphasis on periodization than in other more familiar training models. I mean this in two ways: first, the flow of the training depends on how the athlete is progressing, and is not strongly influenced by the artificial temporal structure of race seasons; and, second, the notion of regularly repeating the same typical cycles, whether on an annual basis, or within some more complex cyclical system of microcycles, mesocycles etc, isn't followed. The various "phases" or cycles of training take as long as they take, and are not shoe-horned into pre-determined set periods.

    The basic philosophy is one of building the race opportunities around the athlete, rather than building the athlete within the racing schedule.

    -----------------------

    All that said, an athlete who is well trained within Walsh's system can operate quite well within the traditional 3 seasons, ONCE THEY ARE VERY WELL TRAINED.

    The other point I made in the other thread is there is less emphasis on peaking in this training approach than in other more familiar systems. When an athlete is very well trained, they reach a very high level of fitness that can be maintained for a long period of time, without introducing sharp peaks into training and racing, and avoiding the need following peaks to take a long rest.

    A very fit Walsh-trained runner can be very close to race fitness across a wide range of distances (say 1500 to HM) basically all year, needing only a short period of focussed preparation to get race ready.

    One can't stay at close to M-race ready all year, and I won't venture whether one could stay close to 800-race ready all year (although I expect not), but it is possible to run well across a range of other distances over a fairly short period with specific appropriate adjustments in training.

    So, once very fit (which probably means paying the price somewhere along the way of sacrificing some race seasons), this training approach is no longer incompatible with our 3 season schedule.

    Now, whether it is particularly beneficial to one's long term development to have 3 serious race seasons a year is a whole other question that I'll leave to the philosophers...
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    OK, so I probably won't finish the example of Phse I training today, since I'm already eating into the work day, but I need to make a few points about using the HRM in training.

    Use of the HRM adds a technical element that can confuse people. The device itself is prone to certain errors, and sometimes the body behaves differently than expected. It takes a bit of education and experience to use it properly, and get meaningful input from it.

    The HRM will often give spurious readings at the start of a run. You may have HRmax of ~ 166 (like me), and see readings like 180, 200 etc when you first start jogging. This is meaningless garbage data, likely reflects a poor connection between the chest strap and chest. This usually goes away within a mile or two as you sweat and make a better electrical connection, but sometimes you need to tighten the strap.

    Your pace will vary at a given HR depending on conditions. If it is hot and humid, windy, or you are training on a hilly course, you need to adjust your pace expectations accordingly at a given HR. I've found that in hot, humid conditions (typical Ottawa July/August days) pace can be 30s/mile (or more) slower than in good (cool, dry, calm, flat) conditions. In this training, the body is reacting to the stress being placed on it, as indicated fairly objectively by the HRM. Don't try to force an expected pace, work within the planned HR and just take whatever pace that gives you.

    When your legs are low on fuel (during heavy training this can be pretty common), particularly after long runs or hard workouts or races, you HR will usually be lower than normal at all paces. This is a strange, counterintuitive situation, but it's very real. Work sessions should be done when the legs are fresh, usually 2-3 days after prior sessions, and with good nutrition between.

    This latter effect can fool you into thinking you've reached a new fitness level, because your HR will be lower than expected at a given pace. The legs will usually be a little heavy or sore in this situation, so if they are, adjust your interpretation of the numbers accordingly. Trust the HR numbers if you are well fuelled and the legs feel fresh. If less fresh, be a little skeptical about the numbers.
  • User
    peteq2
    I realize this claim may come across as a bit bold to some people:
    peteq2
    A very fit Walsh-trained runner can be very close to race fitness across a wide range of distances (say 1500 to HM) basically all year, needing only a short period of focussed preparation to get race ready.


    I make the claim without proof, offering only that this has been my own personal experience, and I've witnessed it in a large number of other runners.

    I will offer what I think is the explanation for this phenomenon: it's a simple result of the disproportionate (in comparison with many other training systems) emphasis on very deliberate, careful and complete aerobic preparation through the Phase I training I've been trying to describe, and maintenance of aerobic fitness through continued emphasis on strong aerobic training in all subsequent phases of race-specific training.
  • John Lofranco
    Site Admin
    Stingersxc
    @peteq2

    Hey Pete. Sorry to hear that your coach passed away. It's an odd feeling, to know he won't be around anymore for advice, chats, etc. Even though he wasn't coaching me anymore, I felt that void when Terry Goodenough passed away.

    Having read through the pdf, and your posts, I have two questions.

    1) John gives the various HR levels for training as actual bpm (175-77 for example), based on a few different maxHR. He writes that if your max is 193 or higher, then 175-77 is your HRmarathon. This seems like a pretty wide range. If my max is 200, is my HRmarathon going to be 30bpm lower than that? Seems odd, but maybe there's a reason? Or maybe I'm misreading?

    2) Doubles. John suggests that singles are better than doubles. (p9-10, talking about Lydiard saying 2h runs are better than 2x60min run). What do you think of this discussion: www.scienceofrunning.com/2009/10/is-9mi-once-bette.... I suspect part of the answer is that singles are better for doubles in the base phase, because the point is to build mitochondria, but once you are in a more specific phase, then those runs would be used for recovery, rather than building, and splitting them up can benefit recovery, without too much loss in aerobic work. But I wondered what you thought about that.

    Thanks Pete. Oh, and also, I feel like these discussions of base training always leave me wanting more: what are these tantalizing very hard workouts that happen once the 3-4months of proper base has been achieved?

    Please keep posting if you have time.
  • User
    peteq2
    @Stingersxc

    Hey John, I'll come back to this when I can find the time to do the last couple of pieces justice.

    On the question of HR for the marathon, a well-trained runner should average something like 88-90% of HRmax. HR might take a couple-few miles (possibly the whole first half) to creep up into that range at M-pace, then hang steady for most of the race. A "less-well" prepared runner will average something lower, possibly more like 85% of HRmax.

    For interest, when a runner "hits the wall" (AKA the legs run out of glycogen), HR starts to nosedive.
  • Christopher Kelsall
    Site Admin
    Wetcoast
    @peteq2

    This is generous of you, Pete, to type out the training method of John "Hadd" Walsh - appreciated.

    I read about 85% of what you wrote (throughout) and will finish it up later however, based on what I have read so far, the training is very much the same as one well-known name I won't mention here (so not to derail the core of the subject - Hadd/Walsh).

    The general approach is - from a 10000 foot level - the same: Phase 1 in which the athlete goes about building a strong aerobic base. This is the core of all successful programs including Coe's despite the famous belief on what the man did.

    The key differences are the use of the HRM, which pretty much predated he who must not be named. By the way, if you read (Google it) Lorraine Moller's Running Times Article, Be a Body Whisperer, you will see a logical article on why it is very important to be organically - if that is the right word - in-tune with one's own self.

    I did notice one thing that is interesting, I haven't read where he used this and believe me I have read mountains of articles and books on and by him, but the understanding is that an out-and-back run was used to monitor progress. A test run was never in the cards during the aerobic phase - no anaerobic work whatsoever, but an AT paced run or somewhere sub-AT if it is say well over 60 minutes for faster runners or well over 80 or 90 for mortals. The run now would likely to be referred to as "tempo run". It would be over a familiar route, where the same effort was put out and the time recorded when finished was analyzed. As long as progress was happening at the SAME EFFORT LEVEL as before the phase would continue, once a plateau happens - move on....

    Anything like that in the Walsh aerobic phase 1?

    I notice...that Walsh used percentage of maximum HR to establish effort levels. This makes sense if you are going to be guided by the monitor. They resemble the....OK I will say the name...Lydiard 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 7/8ths efforts to pace - which appear vague however, if one is in-tune with their body and they know their fitness level, they can or their coach can figure out within a reasonable range what their pace would be.

    I am pretty sure I did not see you mention (I am sure you are not done yet) alactic strides during the aerobic phase, running them under 10 seconds. Lydiard had his athletes typically do them once per week, but saying that, every situation and every athlete was treated as unique. Greg McMillan of McMillanElite has his athletes as a group (I think) do them several times per week.

    Any neuro-muscular speed/stimulation used in phase 1?

    Thanks,

    Wetcoast
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    Wetcoast
    (1) A test run was never in the cards during the aerobic phase - no anaerobic work whatsoever, but an AT paced run or somewhere sub-AT if it is say well over 60 minutes for faster runners or well over 80 or 90 for mortals. The run now would likely to be referred to as "tempo run". It would be over a familiar route, where the same effort was put out and the time recorded when finished was analyzed. As long as progress was happening at the SAME EFFORT LEVEL as before the phase would continue, once a plateau happens - move on....

    Anything like that in the Walsh aerobic phase 1?

    (2) I notice...that Walsh used percentage of maximum HR to establish effort levels. This makes sense if you are going to be guided by the monitor. They resemble the....OK I will say the name...Lydiard 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 7/8ths efforts to pace - which appear vague however, if one is in-tune with their body and they know their fitness level, they can or their coach can figure out within a reasonable range what their pace would be.

    (3) I am pretty sure I did not see you mention (I am sure you are not done yet) alactic strides during the aerobic phase, running them under 10 seconds. Lydiard had his athletes typically do them once per week, but saying that, every situation and every athlete was treated as unique. Greg McMillan of McMillanElite has his athletes as a group (I think) do them several times per week.

    Any neuro-muscular speed/stimulation used in phase 1?

    Thanks,

    Wetcoast


    @Wetcoast

    Hey Chris, a few quick answers.

    (1) First off, in the Phase I aerobic base training, there is no "tempo" running in the normally accepted sense, where "tempo" typically has the connotation of involving a pace in the vicinity of HM pace. I like to call the aerobic work efforts, which are guided by HR not pace, "easy tempo" work. Because of their eventual duration, they become a significant work load, but at an effort that is easier than traditional "tempo."

    Of interest, the range of paces most runners will see in the four aerobic work efforts, once fit, will fall squarely in the "junk mileage" effort range, in Daniels-speak, faster than his E pace, but (mostly) slower than M pace (except at the highest level.

    As for "out and back" test runs, I've generally run many of the long aerobic work sessions as out and back runs just to make it easier to see whether the pace is falling off for the same effort.

    (2) I suppose one might try to equate what I've called levels D, C, B and A with something like Lydiard's 1/4 to 7/8ths, at least conceptually.

    (3) No, he doesn't generally include strides in phase 1 training, at least not as a rule, but I will qualify that.

    First, a lot of people worry about "losing touch with speed" during heavy base training and include some fast short work to compensate. That's a real outcome, but if you're confident in your training it's a needless worry. Any "speed" you will preserve by paying attention to in base will come back fairly quickly once you change gears to faster training, so it's not really necessary to include strides or the like. The phenomenon of the legs losing a bit of snap, and development of a more "shuffling" stride in base is not a permanent change, like the loss of speed that comes naturally with age.

    All that said, depending on the athlete, he can and does include a sprinkling of very light faster running in base training, including the following possibilities:

    * sessions of 2 x 12 x 200/200 (maybe once or twice during phase 1, maybe not at all) - the fast 200s are run at about 5k pace, not faster, the slower "float" 200s at 15-20s slower than the fast bits. If the float 200s need to be slower to recover between fast bits, the fast bits need to be slowed down. This session stays entirely aerobic if done within the limits described.

    * short hill sprints (maybe once or twice during phase 1, more likely not at all) - 1-2 x 8-10 x 8-10s "all out" short sprint up a very steep grade, with long walk (2 mins+) walk back down rest. These are a relatively low stress was to improve neuromuscular coordination and put some real snap in the legs. This can be stressful first time attempted, so only 1 x 8 first time, and 8-10 min jog rest between sets first time 2 sets are tried.

    * 10 x 100/100 during warmups for selected work sessions (only for fit, experienced athletes, before SOME sessions - this is similar to your "alactic strides) - these are done at a strong, relaxed pace, running within oneself, with 40-45s float 100 used to control the pace. If this needs to be longer, the fast 100s are too fast. First time these are included the pace might be around mile pace, eventually these become something like 800 pace. If done correctly, this only serves to get the legs fired up for the subsequent work session, and doesn't constitute a work load on its own


    I'd rather not emphasize these components because they're not mandatory during phase 1, they need to be done with care (and sprinkled lightly in the training) and generally don't need to be done first time through this training, which is plenty challenging enough on its own without added complication.
  • John Lofranco
    Site Admin
    Stingersxc
    @peteq2

    Thanks Pete. I'm still not sure you've answered my question. He seems to say that BEST POSSIBLE HRmarathon will be 175-77 (he gives a number not a percentage) for ANY HRmax 193 or greater. Is that correct? To put it in terms of a percentage, is he saying that if your HRmax is 193 then your BEST POSSIBLE HRmarathon should be 90% of that (i.e. 175) whereas if HRmax is 203, then BEST POSSIBLE HRmarathon should be 86% of that (i.e. still 175)? Seems odd, but maybe there is a reason. It's on page 23 of the pdf.

    Good points, Chris. I was going to ask about strides as well.
  • User
    peteq2
    @Stingersxc

    Hey John, I think I did answer your question. Best possible average HR for the marathon, in a well trained athlete, is 88-90% HRmax.

    I'll have to look back at the bit you've quoted to see why the numbers seem to be taken out of context, I'm not sure if there is an error there in the original writing or in the editing of the thread (by whoevere compiled that pdf version of it). I'll try to find time later to have a look.
  • John Lofranco
    Site Admin
    Stingersxc
    @peteq2

    Ok. What you are saying makes sense to me. That is what I would have thought, but he seems to have an upper limit on it in terms of absolute HR for some reason. Maybe it was a mis-transcription.
  • Christopher Kelsall
    Site Admin
    Wetcoast
    @peteq2

    Ok the similarities and differences between Lydiard and Walsh, I mentioned - I mean the aspects that I noticed, I mentioned.

    In comparison to the "not mandatory" faster bits of running that you indicated, they are (not bad or good - just saying) just structured versions or defined versions of what Lydiard would have done, ie. sub-10-sec strides and the 200s...that would, I assume be closer to the weekly fartlek sessions. They are not that far apart really.

    Although it appears that Walsh, to this point in your description is very similar to Phil Maffetone. He is a percentage of time in preset zones of HR % type of coach.

    Maffetone seems to be taken up by runners nearing age 50 and beyond as it is viewed as a kindler, gentler version of Lydiard. And so I think it is. Gotta keep the injuries at bay.

    One thing. I find the short explosive hill repeats as intriguing. If they are under 10 seconds, as you say 8-10, then they are likely to not be anaerobic yet or barely. Interesting on that of creeping towards getting anaerobic in a run, during the aerobic phase, Rod Dixon told me that when he was running most of his mileage 100 - 120 miles per week, easily (easily that much) in Nelson, NZ, he didn't slow down the effort for whatever pace he was on when ascending big hills (as part of the run - not repeats) and assumed that he crept over the line. He said, "you can't completely avoid it, it is going to happen here and there." Rod was coached by his brother, who was a fine athlete, who coached by the same method.

    On that point Lorraine Moller, independently told me the same thing. She was describing running with Maffetone and he would have her stop or move to walk, to control the heart rate. She would have none of that. As a 4 time Olympian and winner of several marathons, she was coached before Phil by Dick Quax, Ron Daws and John Davies with advice from Lydiard and so she felt she knew better. She was describing, running up...I think they call is the Goat trail in Boulder, very long, steep hill. Even though she is VERY adamant that you do not go anaerobic during the aerobic phase, she admitted that on a hill like that you don't slow down unnecessarily to bring the heart rate down, you keep it going and yes you will slip into the anaerobic range....a little...

    ...so those short explosive hills in phase 1 sound interesting. What was the purpose to using them in this phase?

    In regards to not running at Anaerobic Threshold or half marathon effort during the Phase 1, THAT is one big difference that stands out. This is a very valuable effort range. The purpose is to put pressure on the cardio-vascular system for good stretches of time, like blowing up a balloon and keeping it inflated - this stress you recover from of course and become stronger - enabling the athlete to utilize more oxygenated blood. AT and in that area of effort is much more effective at developing the aerobic system than slower running is however, I haven't seen any definitive math on the difference.

    So I assume there must be a second phase after Phase 1, that deals with short Vo2 max and longer AT, but still not a total "quality phase" would that be correct? Sorry if you posted it before....can re-read everything right now.