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

  • User
    peteq2
    Wetcoast
    (1) 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.

    (2) 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.


    @Wetcoast

    Chris,

    (1) this is a key point of departure. I don't want to debate the relative importance of different components, I just want to explain the training, but the idea here is to focus FIRST on the slower, easier efforts, "squeezing from the bottom of the toothpaste tube," as it were. There is faster running in due course, but not (generally) faster than M-pace during the phase 1 base training.

    (2) We'll get to faster training eventually, but I won't use terms like VO2max.

    OK, now some more descriptive details to illustrate the Phase 1 training....
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    So first, a few words on EASY RUNNING.

    This is, ironically, the hardest part of this training. Most people who read this will probably dismiss it out of hand. Which is fine, I'm not trying to sell anybody, just trying to explain.

    Almost nobody will be able to will themselves to do this properly, so reader beware...

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

    First, a few pseudo-scientific words on what this is meant achieve.

    For most novice runners, and even experienced runners, the pace that feels most natural, and hence intuitively "easy" is pretty close to marathon pace. With a runner for whom this is the case, slowing down by 2-3 minutes per mile feels "more difficult."

    This is because the the much slower running engages some slow twitch fibres that are never used in normal (faster) running, and are hence untrained.

    By doing most running much easier than might seem natural, and also by doing longer runs, you engage and start to train these fibres, andbring them into the "team" of fibres you engage at all faster speeds.

    By slowly working upward in effort at progressively faster efforts (through the HR-guided "easy tempo aerobic work sessions), you slowly build a complete foundation of aerobic fitness that draws on ALL the muscle fibres your maker gave you.

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

    I mentioned that Phase 1 starts by first building to at least 50 mpw (can be more in a more experienced athlete who is already doing higher mileage), of only EASY running before introducing the aerobic work sessions (that I've called "easy tempo" and are guided by HR.

    Easy running means 70-75% of HRmax or SLOWER.

    For virtually everyone, this will, at least at first, be much slower than they're used to. Over time, this pace will increase, as fitness builds, eventually approaching the middle of the range of Daniels' E-pace, give or take.

    For untrained (or incompletely) runners, this effort will be two things: very slow, and awkward, even relatively "difficult" and uncomfortable.

    That's one of the counterintuitive parts, but in fact, if running at that effort feels "hard" (which it may), this is actually a sign that you can benefit quite a bit from doing this right, because it's revealing that you hae a whole bunch of muscle fibres that are untrained, never firing in your normal running (because you never run this slowly).

    Anyway, I digress. Start running at this effort every day, until you get to some decent volume of only easy running, say 2-4 weeks, before starting to introduce the ("easy tempo" HR-guided) work sessions.

    For some runners this effort at first will be ridiculously slow, and you might even have to walk up hills to keep HR in range. If pace is slower than something like 8:00/mile, or more than say 2:30-3:00/mile slower than 5k pace, then let the HR creep up a bit, but only at first. Over time as fitness improves the pace at this effort will get faster and this concern will go away.

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

    At the end of phase 1, M-pace will feel like very strong aerobic running, but won't feel naturally "easy." By contrast, 70-75% HRmax running will feel very natural and smooth, no longer awkward and "hard," and will likely be something like 75-90s/mile slower than M-pace (ish).

    This is the opposite of how most people would be at the start, with M-pace feeling nearly "easy" and slow running feeling awkward, uncomfortable and "hard."

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

    This easy running, as I've just described it, is a key ingredient, perhaps the most important one. If you can't (or won't) get this right, then all the rest of the training I'll describe won't yield the results you'd want, at least not in the context of THIS training system

    I'll describe working through the progression of HR-guided aerobic work sessions to wrap up this discussion of Phase 1, as soon as I get the time.
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    THE AEROBIC WORK SESSIONS IN PHASE I

    OK, this is about the "easy tempo" work sessions that are guided by HR. I said earlier there are four work effort ranges:

    Easy - 70-75% HRmax or slower
    D - 80-83%
    C - 82-85%
    B - 85-88%
    A - 87-90%

    The idea in this work is to progressively (and patiently) build to the point where you can run up to 75 minutes continuously at level A with no loss in pace, and finih the session knowing you could continue if necessary. That pace will be fairly close to (perhaps a little quicker than) M-pace.

    I'll briefly describe how this work progresses. First, some commentary about volume.

    To be a serious distance runner, you need to build to a fairly serious volume. What this means depends on a lot of things (age and experience, relative ability, target event, etc), but for a top level athlete aiming toward the longer distance events, this MUST include some training time north of 100 MPW, perhaps much more.

    For less serious athletes, how hard/much you are prepared to work may depend on how seriously you take your goals. You can run well on lower volume, but you can't reach your best without hitting some serious volume at some points in training.

    So, how do these "easy tempo" sessions work...? Pretty simple in theory, but takes some work to get the hang of it and do it right.

    Let's say the athlete has HRmax of 200, just to make the math easy. This gives us:

    Easy - 140-150 bpm
    D - 160-166
    C - 164-170
    B - 170-176
    A - 174-180

    After first building to some reasonable volume of only easy running (I used 50 MPW as a threshold, but this could be 80-90 MPW or whatever depending on experience etc), introduce two sessions at level D, plus a longer run.

    The longer run might be something like 75-90 minutes easy, or could be longer if the overall volume is fairly high.

    The aerobic work sessions at level D would start something like:

    Tuesday - 1-2 miles easy jog warmup, 2 x 15 minutes at sub-166 bpm with 5 minutes easy jog rest, 1-3 miles easy jog c/d

    Thurs/Friday - 1-2 mile w/u, 20-25 mins @ sub-166, 1-3 c/d

    Sun - 75-90 mins easy

    all other running easy

    The first time running at 160-166 bpm, the runner will find the pace may start to drift a bit toward the end of the faster running. If so, keep the work sessions about the same total length until pace is locked in at that HR, then build to longer sessions.

    Over the course of several weeks, the sessions at 160-166 bpm will progress something like this (all sessions with easy jog w/u and c/d, and 5-10 mins easy jog rest between work bits):

    2 x 15
    1 x 20-25
    2 x 20
    1 x 30
    2 x 25
    3 x 15
    1 x 40-45
    3 x 20
    2 x 30
    2 x 40
    1 x 60
    2 x 45
    1 x 70-75

    This is just a sample list. Some runners will be able to work to the top fairly quickly without hitting all these sessions, and some runners will need to spend more time working through.

    When you've reached 60 minutes at this level without seeing pace fade toward the end while keeping HR under 166, you can start to introduce sessions at 164-170 bpm.

    The process at this new level is exactly the same. Start with smaller session and work your way up, building toward the point where you have "locked in" pace at this effort and can run (effortlessly) at this HR at a constant pace.

    Same again for 170-176 and 174-180, move up into those levels when you've "mastered" the lower levels, but not before.

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

    This base training takes time and patience, but if done right, you come out the far end an aerobic animal, tireless and strong.

    There is a temporary loss of "speed." If you try to race a 5k at the end of this training you'll finish feeling "slow" and unable to accelerate like normal, but you'll also finish feeling like to could carry on around again and do 10k at nearly the same pace.

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

    OK, that's probably all I'll write about Phase I. I'll say a little bit about race-specific training when I get some more time.
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    One brief initial post about race-specific preparation.

    I'm not going to try to give an all-encompassing "formula" or cookbook, just try to give a sense of the training.

    The specific approach depends on a very wide range of factors, including target event, age and experience, and the runner's individual characteristics and personal considerations.

    One of the most important considerations is "type," meaning relatively more or less FT or ST. John and Antonio Cabral exchanged some interesting discussion on this topi here:

    www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read.php?thread=2375989

    We like to talk about the FT runner and ST runner as if they are black and white. In reality, there is a complete spectrum, with the true FT guys being sprinters, and true ST guys being ultramarathoners. When I use these terms in a discussion of distance runners, I'm really disntinguishing between runners with either more natural speed, or more natural endurance, among distance runners.

    I suppose for completeness it would probably better to discuss three broad "types" as more-FT, "normal," and more-ST. "Normal" distance runners would naturally develop race PB profiles that match the race time calculators (or have fairly consistent VDOT across events, if you like). More-FT runners will hae better short race times, and more-ST runners will perform "better" at longer distances.

    The more-FT runner generates more lactate at all paces tha the comparable more-ST runner. This is a double-edged sword... this runner can generate more power at all paces, but also get themselves into trouble more quickly by drawing on tha power at the wrong time. For example, a hard pace early in the race will weed out the more-FT types, who will tend to die much harder from starting too fast.

    Young, inexperienced or otherwise undertrained runners will always have more-FT characteristics (i.e. better speed, crappy endurance). For the purposes of this training, it's the characteristics that determine the approach to (current) training.

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

    Work sessions in race specific training employ a wide variety of work sessions. For the most part, sessions are controlled by pace, not HR. This is because most (but not all) sessions are at faster than M-pace, where the HRM is useless to guide effort.

    There are four primary variables you can change to vary the nature of a workout:
    * pace

    * repetition length

    * interval (rest) length and type

    * volume


    John's training uses a wider range of most of these than I've seen in other training approaches. I'll try to work through these in some sort of organized way, but first a few very general comments to build context.

    * easy running still forms the bulk of the training, and is still 70-75% HRmax or slower

    * most weeks there are two hard work sessions plus a longer run

    * the longer run might include a decent chunk of "easy tempo" running every second week

    * nearly all work sessions are meant to be finished knowing you could complete another repetition if coach insisted. Not "wanting" to do another one, but knowing you could. Sessons should leave you feeling tired but invigorated, not exhausted and spent

    * a small proportion of sessions may be assigned with "all out" short-ish repetitions (e.g. 6 x 150 w/250 walk rest, 5 x 1000 @ 3k pace on 3-5 mins standing rest). These are much more rare in the FT runner's training

    * the FT runner needs to take much more care to keep all sessions primarily aerobic, which is mostly accomplished through the use of short active recovery between repeats (often 200m jog rest)

    * it's OK to bail on a work session if it's not coming as expected. Better to err on the side of too little than too much

    * all races are treated as serious tests, and are tapered for. With a race on a weekend, the last big work session would be Tuesday/Wednesday. Maybe some very light work (short group of strong strides) on the Thursday

    * all races are recovered from. After 5k on the weekend, no Tuesday session. After HM, nothing strong till the long run the following weekend

    * warmups before sessions are fairly serious, aiming to get the body ready for the work. Usually 3+ miles with some light aerobic work (say 800m brisk), and often including 10 x 100/100 "fast"/float

    * cooldowns are serious too, usually 3+ miles. These will be all easy running after primarily aerobic work sessions. After the really hard stuff (say 8-10 x 400 "hard" on 3-4 minutes standing rest), you might do more like 5 miles with 2-3 of "easy tempo"


    More later....
  • User
    eighthundred
    peteq2
    So first, a few words on EASY RUNNING.

    This is, ironically, the hardest part of this training. Most people who read this will probably dismiss it out of hand. Which is fine, I'm not trying to sell anybody, just trying to explain.

    Almost nobody will be able to will themselves to do this properly, so reader beware...

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

    First, a few pseudo-scientific words on what this is meant achieve.

    For most novice runners, and even experienced runners, the pace that feels most natural, and hence intuitively "easy" is pretty close to marathon pace. With a runner for whom this is the case, slowing down by 2-3 minutes per mile feels "more difficult."

    This is because the the much slower running engages some slow twitch fibres that are never used in normal (faster) running, and are hence untrained.

    By doing most running much easier than might seem natural, and also by doing longer runs, you engage and start to train these fibres, andbring them into the "team" of fibres you engage at all faster speeds.

    By slowly working upward in effort at progressively faster efforts (through the HR-guided "easy tempo aerobic work sessions), you slowly build a complete foundation of aerobic fitness that draws on ALL the muscle fibres your maker gave you.

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

    I mentioned that Phase 1 starts by first building to at least 50 mpw (can be more in a more experienced athlete who is already doing higher mileage), of only EASY running before introducing the aerobic work sessions (that I've called "easy tempo" and are guided by HR.

    Easy running means 70-75% of HRmax or SLOWER.

    For virtually everyone, this will, at least at first, be much slower than they're used to. Over time, this pace will increase, as fitness builds, eventually approaching the middle of the range of Daniels' E-pace, give or take.

    For untrained (or incompletely) runners, this effort will be two things: very slow, and awkward, even relatively "difficult" and uncomfortable.

    That's one of the counterintuitive parts, but in fact, if running at that effort feels "hard" (which it may), this is actually a sign that you can benefit quite a bit from doing this right, because it's revealing that you hae a whole bunch of muscle fibres that are untrained, never firing in your normal running (because you never run this slowly).

    Anyway, I digress. Start running at this effort every day, until you get to some decent volume of only easy running, say 2-4 weeks, before starting to introduce the ("easy tempo" HR-guided) work sessions.

    For some runners this effort at first will be ridiculously slow, and you might even have to walk up hills to keep HR in range. If pace is slower than something like 8:00/mile, or more than say 2:30-3:00/mile slower than 5k pace, then let the HR creep up a bit, but only at first. Over time as fitness improves the pace at this effort will get faster and this concern will go away.

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

    At the end of phase 1, M-pace will feel like very strong aerobic running, but won't feel naturally "easy." By contrast, 70-75% HRmax running will feel very natural and smooth, no longer awkward and "hard," and will likely be something like 75-90s/mile slower than M-pace (ish).

    This is the opposite of how most people would be at the start, with M-pace feeling nearly "easy" and slow running feeling awkward, uncomfortable and "hard."

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

    This easy running, as I've just described it, is a key ingredient, perhaps the most important one. If you can't (or won't) get this right, then all the rest of the training I'll describe won't yield the results you'd want, at least not in the context of THIS training system

    I'll describe working through the progression of HR-guided aerobic work sessions to wrap up this discussion of Phase 1, as soon as I get the time.


    @peteq2

    I have never heard 'easy running' explained in this context. Often I hear about the necessity of actually recovering on your non-interval days while still building mitochondria, but never about this specific physiological need it addresses (engaging slow twitch fibers). I am very skeptical about it, but have have noticed this implemented in the African system -- where they run 7 miles at a shuffle pace on their morning runs.

    Alberto Salalzar stresses the opposite

    For his part, Salazar cites three reasons for Farah’s improvement: greater body strength from weights sessions, a better structure to his workouts and, above all, a step-change in the pace of his training runs.
    “He used to run all his mileage very slowly,” Salazar said. “His average pace was probably 6min 45sec per mile. Now the average pace that he and Galen run is about 5-45, and that’s 17 to 20 miles a day. They sometimes do 20 miles and go 5-30 pace, and that isn’t a particularly hard day.”


    www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/athletics/86....
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    @eighthundred

    Again, I'm hoping to illustrate the training rather than debate it.

    I will say that a top class, fully developed elite athlete's approach to easy running can and should be different from that of a developing athlete. In Mo Farah's case, maybe one could connect the dots between his past approach to easy running and current performance, eh?
  • User
    peteq2
    To continue what will be a brief discussion of race-specific training, first, I neglected one important general point:

    * work sessions are designed around *proven* current fitness, not goal fitness or imagined fitness. This can be proven in races, or in selected work sessions that have a pretty strong correlation with race fitness


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

    After having progressed through the Phase I training, a distance runner aiming to race well at a variety of distances will train to be able to complete the following sessions:

    6 x 800m at 104% of 5k pace with everything from equal time recovery (down to) 1:15-1:30 recovery.
    5-6 x 1k at 5k pace with 200m jog recovery in 90 secs
    3 x 3k at 95-96% of 5k pace with 800m jog recovery
    2 x 5k at 93-94% of 5k pace with 800m jog recovery
    8k at 92% of 5k pace
    16-20k at 88-90% of 5k pace"

    (quote extracted from John's words at www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read.php?board=1&id=238....)

    Once you've built the kind of fitness where you can run each of these sessions, you will be in good shape to run well across a reasonable range of distance events.
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    peteq2
    ...Once you've built the kind of fitness where you can run each of these sessions, you will be in good shape to run well across a reasonable range of distance events.


    One brief digression... by "reasonable range of distance events" I mean, generally, 1500 to HM, although proximity to best fitness for a given event in this range may vary depending on the (type of) athlete and how the training has unfolded.

    But I want to qualify that I'm NOT talking here about preparation for 800 (or shorter!) or the marathon.

    I think proper 800 training is fairly technical, and outside the limits of my knowledge and/or experience.

    Marathon training, on the other hand, is easily supported by this training, but not in the same way as 1500-HM.

    I won't go on at length about marathon training except with the following few general comments:

    * for FT runners, the Phase I training already described is 95% of proper marathon training, and arguably all that is required. Of course, one might ask the fair question "why would an FT runner WANT to race the marathon???" I've asked myself that very question, and I don't have the answer. An FT runner will never run a great marathon in spite of best efforts, but one can always try (my last five marathons were 2:44, 2:44, 2:42, 2:42 and 2:44; my last two halfs were 73:29 and 73:39... you do the math, haha)

    * for ST runners, the final phase of marathon training should look a lot like the Phase I training already described, but with a sprinkling of faster work at HM and even 10k pace. An ST runner should be at pretty close to 5k/10k peak fitness not too far out from race day if they hope to run well

    * if the FT runner is in strong 5k/10k fitness 3-4 weeks ahead of the marathon, he'd be best advised to sleep in on race day, it won't go well. The FT runner's marathon training should NOT see efforts faster than M-pace

    * Prior to the final (Phase I-esque) polishing phase of marathon prep for the ST-runner (of perhaps 2-3 months), there should be a good period of faster training and racing. This is less important for the FT runner, but won't do any harm

    * the objective in marathon training is to teach the legs proper fuel efficiency at M-pace. The marathon is ALL about fuel management. He who preserves glycogen stores longest arrives at the finish line strongest, less likely to have "hit the wall." Training needs to focus on improving fat burning and (consequently) reducing glycogen consumption at M-pace. The Phase I work already described does precisely this


    OK, next (probably last) post will provide more detail about preparing for the other distance events, 1500-HM
  • User
    peteq2
    OK, just about finished...

    To prepare to race distance events (by which now I mean 1500-HM), Walsh uses a wide variety of paces, ranging between, roughly, 800 race pace (maybe even a sprinkling of 400 pace, athough perhaps not) to M-pace or a little slower (and some slower still "easy tempo" work for the FT folks). Workout efforts are chosen from along a continuum of paces, rather than a small set of specific paces (like R, I, T etc, to use Daniels as one example for comparison). I don't think the legs know that Daniels invented these paces , and a good training response can be provoked using other, different paces in addiion to these.

    Repetition length also varies along a continuum, using 100s to 10k or even 20k chunks of work, with a nearly infinite range in between. I've done workouts with 100, 150, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, 1600, 2000, 2400, 3000, 3200, 5000, 8000, 10000 and 20000 m repeats.

    The duration and style of rest interval between work bouts also varies, from something like 100 m float (fast jog) to 5-6 minutes standing/walking, or 8-15 minutes easy jog. In my case as an FT, the most common rest intervals (at least in faster sessions) are short and active, like 100j, 200j, 400j. An ST runner might see a greater proportion of longer static rest (say 3-4 mins walking/standing). The difference is that the FT runner has to be more careful with his ability to generate lactate, and the ST runner needs to work to address his inability to do so.

    Given tha one can also modulate the total volume of fast running in the workout, you can see there is basically an infinite variety of sessions that can be used to provoke a wide variety of training responses.

    The previous list (2 posts back) provided a basic list of "target" sessions that are not really an end in themselves, but can be considered to be good indcators of fitness. If te athlete is capable of running all those sessions, it's time to get them on the track to re-write some of their PBs.

    That list also provides a range of useful training paces, namely:

    104% of 5k pace
    5k pace
    95-96% of 5k pace
    93-94%
    92% of 5k pace
    88-90% of 5k pace

    These aren't the only paces used in training, but they are among the most common.

    The balance of sessions drawn from the continuum of available training paces depends primarily on two factors: runner "type," and target event. If aiming for longer events (10k-HM), there would be greater emphasis on the "slower" paces. FT's would need a greater proportion of work at these "slower" paces, and ST runners a greater proportion of the faster stuff.

    To get started, you need a good idea of current 5k pace (not "best" 5k, nor "hoped for" 5k, but honest to god actual CURRENT 5k fitness), plus some idea of whether you have better "speed" or "endurance" for a distance runner.

    If you don't know either, you cn formulate initial opinions through some test sessions. 5 x 1000 w/200j (75-90s), aiming to finish faster without feeling completely spent, will give a pretty good read on 5k fitness. Or you could do a 3k solo TT, or arrange a group 5k TT (simulated race). To know whether you have better endurance or speed, either you already know you have the abiliy to race 10k "better" than 5k (more-ST), or you cn muster a better mile/1500 than 5k.

    Set aside for the moment that most undertrained/young athletes will have better speed than endurance. Train them as if they are FT until/unless you confirm otherwie.

    If you know 5k pace but still don't know if FT or ST, run 8 x 400 w/200j, aiming to finish faster. This should give a fair read on mile/1500 race pace, and if this is "better" than 5k pace (by VDOT, rac time calculators, etc etc) train as if more-FT.

    OK, one more post to wrap this up, in a couple of days when I get back home and cn peruse my log books a bit for some details.
  • John Lofranco
    Site Admin
    Stingersxc
    peteq2
    @eighthundred
    In Mo Farah's case, maybe one could connect the dots between his past approach to easy running and current performance, eh?


    @peteq2

    They say a change is as good as a rest. It could be that Mo had squeezed from the bottom of the tube already, and now he's just squeezing what's left higher up. I.e. he'd developed lots of ST before, and now he's working on the FT (or whatever, not sure on the scientific specifics).

    Also, it's possible to do well without doing this easy running phase--lots of people do. I think it is more a question of sustainability. So Mo blew the doors off this year. Will he be able to continue that next year? Will Rupp? Also, in the meantime, like right now, how fast is he doing his mileage? Maybe he's back to a very slow phase while in recovery, and he'll build up to London in 2012 with faster easy runs. It's hard to trust what coaches or athletes say in the media about their training because you never really get the whole picture.
  • John Lofranco
    Site Admin
    Stingersxc
    Another question that popped into my head about this was re: cross-training. I am on-board with the idea that to be good at running, you have to run. But in certain situations, it's not always possible. Would you apply the same principles re: HR to work on the bike? It might even be easier to do. I know for me, my HR on the bike is much lower than when I'm running. I imagine this is true for most people who are not good at cycling for the same reason the slow running Walsh talks about is both hard and good for you: we are recruiting muscle fibres we don't normally recruit. So can cross-training be beneficial in that way as well: by working to build strength in an area of weakness?
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    @Stingersxc

    Hey John, I won't claim a lot of expertise in the science of cross training. When I was out for extended periods with injury where it was possible to cross train on cardio equipment in the gym, I typically have done a lot of stationary bike work and found I could maintain reasonable (but not fantastic) running fitness, so that it wouldn't take me TOO long (but still longer than I would like) to get back into racing form after running again.

    John did get me to do some very specific stationary bike training, which was I believe something he was experimenting with for more-FT types like me, involving low revolutions biking for moderately long periods (45-60 minutes) at moderate effort. I won't elaborate on this because I don't think he wrote about this publicly anywhere, and I'm not sure yet what his wife is doing with any writing he left in progress.

    Like you, I've found I can't maintain the same HRs on the bike as while running.
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    OK, so I'm going to try to wrap thing up now. Hopefully this will come through in a logical, orderly way, but no promises...

    So I've explained the training uses a continuum of paces, from something like 800 pace to M-pace or slower, rather than 3, 4 or 5 discrete paces or gears. It also uses a wide variety of combinations of different repetition lengths, and rest interval style and duration, to provoke a wide variety of training responses.

    I've also said there isn't the same pronounced periodization as in most other familiar programs. The training has subtle modulation of volume and intensity, rather than discretization of essentially different training focus in distinct seasons or phases.

    I think I've also emphasized that there is a strong emphasis on aerobic training at all times.

    Finally, I've made the point that different runners are treated differently, emphasizing different training components depending on target event(s) as well as runner "type" and experience.

    Given this general context, I'll hope it's obvious I can't lay out the training in a prescriptive, all-encompassing way. The best I can hope to do is offer a few illustrative examples, and leave it at that. So that's what I'll try to do with a couple of illustrative examples.
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    Recall that I've said the "most common" training paces outside the Phase I base training are:

    0 - 108% of 5k pace (I didn't include this one before)
    1 - 104% of 5k pace
    2 - 102% of 5k pace (I didn't include this one before)
    3 - 5k pace
    4 - 95-96% of 5k pace
    5 - 93-94% of 5k pace
    6 - 92% of 5k pace
    7 - 88-90% of 5k pace

    I've given them numbers for ease of reference. We use more than these 8 "gears" but this is plenty to start the discussion.

    Let's assume we're working with two runners whose current 5k fitness is 15:00, or 72s/lap. One of these runners has 31:00 10k fitness (more on the ST end of the spectrum, let's call this runner STeve), and the other guy has 8:30 3k fitness (more FT, let's call this runner Frank). They're both training to race 5k to 10k, aiming for an important race in 10-12 weeks.

    If we only know 5k fitness, we can still distinguish Frank and STeve based on what they CAN'T do.

    Take both runners down to the track and get them warmed up for a good session. Frank CAN'T run 12 laps continuous at 75s/lap in a work session. STeve CAN'T run 3 x (4 x 400) w/200/400j in 66-67s/lap.

    Steve will find he has to work harder to improve in the lower (faster) gears.

    Frank will find it tougher to work on the higher (slower) gears).
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    So we're going to work in training toward the following target work sessions:

    0 - 108% of 5k pace, ~ 66.5-67s/lap - 3 x (4 x 400) w/200 jog between reps (< 75s), 400 j between sets (< 2:30)
    1 - 104% of 5k pace, ~ 69s/lap - 8 x 800 w/200j
    2 - 102% of 5k pace, 70.5-71s/lap - 5-6 x 1000 w/200j
    3 - 5k pace, 72s/lap - 4 x 1600 w/200j
    4 - 95-96% of 5k pace, 75-76s/lap - 5k continuous, and/or 3 x 3k w/800j
    5 - 93-94% of 5k pace, 76-77s/lap - 2 x 5k w/800j
    6 - 92% of 5k pace, 78s/lap - 8k continuous
    7 - 88-90% of 5k pace, 80-82s/lap - 16-20k continuous

    If you examine some of these sessions carefully, you'll see they demonstrate higher fitness than assumed. For example, if you can run 6 x 1000 w/200j at 102% of 5k pace, it means your 5k time is ready to come down. Which is the whole point, right? So anyway, as you work through the training TOWARD these objectives, you are steadily building fitness toward a higher level.

    You don't run any of these sessions straight out of the box, however. The idea is to build within each effort level TOWARD these general objectives.

    A typical training week will usually incude one session faster than 5k pace (or a race), one session slower than 5k pace, and a longer run. Something like every second longer run might include some work at the slow end of the spectrum, like 45-60 minutes at 88% of 5k pace within a 90-120 minute run, for example.
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    Let me just give some examples of different sessions you might see at some of these paces, in rough order of difficulty that might represent a progression through a given effort over time:

    0 - 108% of 5k pace (i.e. ~ 67s/lap for our 15:00 runners STeve and Frank):
    3 x (4 x 300) w/200/400j
    2 x (4 x 400) w/200/400j
    10-12 x 300 w/200j
    6-8 x 400 w/2-3 mins standing/walking
    2 x (5 x 400) w/200/400j
    3 x (4 x 400) w/200/400j (this is a very good mile/1500 test session)

    1 - 104% of 5k pace:
    8-10 x 500 w/200j
    2 x (4 x 600) w/200/400j
    2 x (3 x 800) w/200/400j
    8 x 600 w/200j
    4 x (600, 200j, 800) w/200j
    6 x 800 w/200j
    8 x 800 w/400-800j
    5 x 1000 w/3-4 mins standing/walking rest (this i a very good 3k test session)

    2 - 102% of 5k pace:
    6-8 x 800 w/400j
    4 x 1000 w/200j
    5 x 1000 w/3 mins standing/walking
    4 x 1200 w/400j
    5-6 x 1000 w/400j
    5-6 x 1000 w/200j

    3 - 5k pace:
    8 x 800 w/200j
    5 x 1000 w/200j
    4 x 1200 w/200j
    3-4 x 1500 w/3 mins rest
    5-6 x 1000 w/200j (this is a very good 5k test session)
    3 x 2000 w/4-5 mins standing/walking
    4 x 1600 w/200j

    4 - 95-96% 5k pace:
    3 x 2000 w/4-5 mins standing/walking
    12-16 x 400 w/100 float
    8 x 1000 w/200j
    2 x 10-12 x 400 w/100float, 800j between sets
    4 x 2000 w/400j
    25 x 400 w/100 float
    10 x 1000 w/200j
    2 x 3000 + 2 x mile w/800/400j
    5k continuous
    5 x 2000 w/400j (this is a very good 10k test session)
    3 x 3000 w/800j

    5 - 93-94% of 5k pace:
    5k continuous
    3 x 3k w/400j
    10-12 x 1000 w/400j
    5 x 2k w/400j
    5k + 3k + 2k w/400j
    6 x 2k w/400j
    2 x 5k w/800j
    8 x 2k W 400j (this is a very good HM test session)

    .......... I think I'll quit there, I'm sure you get the idea. At 92% of 5k pace, you'd sneak up on the continuous 8k by first bearking it into smaller chunks, working toward lengthening the chunks and/or shortening the rests until you can put the whole 8k together in one strong run.

    One final point.. racing during Phase I is generally discouraged, as it's counterproductive. Racing during this training can be frequent, and is encouraged, with the caveat that tapering and post-race recovery be considered, and races count as "faster than 5k pace" efforts (regardless of duration), so other sessions in that time frame are usually slower than 5k pace work.

    Again, not meant to be all-encompassing or a prescriptive cookbook, really just a quick glimpse of the training. I think there are substantial differences in there from the way a lot of people I know train, and therefore thought this might be of some interest. This was all given to me freely (John refused any form of payment for his advice), so it needed to be passed along.

    Cheers,

    Pete

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

    Postscripts.... you may notice a very low proportion of sessions short, fast repetitions involving long standing rest, and a lot of sessions with very high volumes of fast (but not blazing fast) running. This training isn't about seeing how hard you can run sets of 400s on long standing rest, it's about applying deliberate, methodical, thoughtful aerobic stress to your legs to produce a strong distance runner who can run somewhere close to top speed, effortlessly, all day.

    So some readers, not seeing a lot of blazing 200s, 300s and 400s might be tempted to think this training is easy. If it appears that way, first of all, running 300s and 400s on 200 jog rest, or 20 x 400 on 100 float, is completely different than running them on 3-4 minutes standing rest. And secondly, I dare you, go out and try either the 3 x 3k or 8 x 2k sessions I've listed (a the prescribed paces). Or 25 x 400 on 100 float. Go ahead, I dare you.

    (**** every time I look at this I see some minor typos in the listed sessions, I'm trying to clean them up as I spot them. Sorry, I wrote this out pretty quickly without a lot of proofreading)
  • User
    peteq2 Edited
    One more FINAL post... I know I keep promising I've nearly finished, but this i really the end.

    Just a few words on how our fictional ST runner STeve and FT runner Frank will approach this training differently, with the objective of racing 5k-10k, having a big race in 10-12 weeks.

    STeve will not enjoy the faster sessions, and will even prefer not to include strides in the warmup if he can get away with it. Really fast running is less comfortable for him. By contrast, he can probably hadle most of the high end sessions at slower than 5k pace nearly right away, and given the choice, will choose one of those sessions over 200s, 300s or 400s any day of the week.

    STeve will, consequently, have considerably more difficulty than Frank working through the faster sessions to get to, say, 3 x (4 x 400) on 200/400j. With Steve, we would likely add some even shorter and faster stuff to get him running more efficiently at faster paces, and to try to eliminate his natural jogger's shuffle stride. This would almost certainly include a few sessions of 6 x 150 "all out" on 3+ minutes 250m walk rest. This would probably also include some sets of quick 200s and 300s.

    STeve would also approach the faster work sessions differently. He will have great difficulty running at 108% of 5k pace, and will probably need to work his way through the sessions with longer rests at first. For him, the key will be to first manage to complete the sessions AT PACE, without worrying so much about the rest interval. If he needs to take 4-5 minutes standing between fast 800s, say, to get through the session on target pace, so be it. Over time, after he can muster up the pace, he can work on shortening the rest interval toward the intended short active jog.

    For Frank, running these faster sessions on long rest is more dangerous, and would be included sparingly, if at all. He will LOVE to run fast, and it will be hard to get him to hold back to the target pace. Forcing him to keep to short active jog rests will force him to keep the sessions within himself, and keep them primarily aerobic.

    Frank will NOT enjoy the slower than 5k pace work sessions, with high volume of high quality aerobic running. He will find this work to be very difficult, and not particlarly enjoyable. He will probably need to break the slower work sessions into shorter chunks than STeve, and will take longer to progress through them.

    So assuming we're training both guys for the same distances (5k-10k) over the same period of time, we would see more careful emphasis on shorter, faster work for STeve, and more emphasis on longer, slower (yet still strong) work for Frank.

    For both Frank and STeve, the stuff they enjoy the least, is the stuff they need the most.

    One more difference... Frank will need to be creful and work hard to protect his aerobic fitness, which will be in a finer balance than, and less robust than, STeve's. Whereas STeve may get a dose of additional short, fast work with longer recoveries, Frank will likely do some additional strong aerobic running in otherwise easy runs.

    OK, truly finito. I mean it this time
  • User
    RacingFlat
    @peteq2

    Pete,

    Sorry to hear of the loss of your coach and thanks for this great information.

    I have one query, when in Phase 1, would it be counterproductive to do some strength and conditioning work? I am just a few weeks into Phase 1 (after a short break following a marathon) and have a long time to build up (till April at least before another race of any significance). As such I have also started some strength and conditioning work e.g. squats, deadlifts, basic plyometric stuff, mainly just using bodyweight or light weights concentrating on form for now. But I was just wondering if in Phase 1 this might be counterproductive if I am recruiting FT fibres when doing these exercises, when the aim of Phase 1 if I understand it correctly is to get the ST fibres going as well as possible. Very grateful if you have any advice on this. Thanks.
  • User
    peteq2
    RacingFlat
    @peteq2

    Pete,

    Sorry to hear of the loss of your coach and thanks for this great information.

    I have one query, when in Phase 1, would it be counterproductive to do some strength and conditioning work? I am just a few weeks into Phase 1 (after a short break following a marathon) and have a long time to build up (till April at least before another race of any significance). As such I have also started some strength and conditioning work e.g. squats, deadlifts, basic plyometric stuff, mainly just using bodyweight or light weights concentrating on form for now. But I was just wondering if in Phase 1 this might be counterproductive if I am recruiting FT fibres when doing these exercises, when the aim of Phase 1 if I understand it correctly is to get the ST fibres going as well as possible. Very grateful if you have any advice on this. Thanks.


    @RacingFlat

    John never gave me the impression of being very big on drills, plyometrics, strength work or other general conditioning for LD runners, rather, the philosophy as I understood it is that running specific strength comes from a lot of running. That said, there were a couple of summers when my primary focus was to try and improve at 1500 and hopefully 800, and at those times he did try to encourage me to find someone local to work with on 800-specific strength work and drills, like box jumps and the like. So I gather he saw value in some emphasis in this area for MD runners, but my exposure to MD-specific training is admittedly fairly limited.

    If I were to offer a personal opinion and try to divine what I THINK John would have said, I would probably say that anything in balance is OK, so a small volume of low weight, high rep strength work would likely not be incompatible with effective base training. But by the same token, too much of a good thing is not a good thing, so a strong emphasis on strength and general conditioning is probably not compatible with effective base training. With a lot of time to work with, you can probably afford to experiment a bit. If you are able to see improvements over the course of training, while also doing some strength work, it's likely not harming you.

    I realize that all sounds a little wishy-washy. Sorry, it's the best I got. :)
  • User
    RacingFlat
    Thanks Pete,

    That was very helpful. I've sent you a pm rather than derailing this thread but understand if you are unable to reply.

    All the best.
  • User
    RacingFlat
    @peteq2

    I'm new to this forum so perhaps sent it incorrectly, although it is there in my sent messages folder. I've just resent it again, hopefully you'll get it this time.

    Thanks.