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One approach to distance training 3/6/2003 3:03AM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Thanks to some of you, this suddenly got easier for me to post...

Recently I was asked a number of questions by Wise Man on an earlier thread (see Joe Blow thread).  Questions that basically asked for more general guidelines on how best to proceed rather than very specific one-off replies to individual queries.  The questions were basically along the lines of ?how do we put into practice training as you (Hadd) suggest??
Try as I might, I could not think of a way to put the answer to this into concise form (never did master the art of the one-liner).  The more I thought, the more I could think of to say. I came to see that any attempt at brevity would simply result in further questions down the line. Yet I do not like NOT answering...

Another thing that held me back was my doubting there was wide enough genuine interest to justify a whole thread. I was held back to even as late as last night, basically doing the Gollum-thing...
"you're gonna sound like an arrogant know-it-all (gollum, gollum)"
"but we only wants to help, precious..."
"You're STILL gonna come across as an arrogant..."

So, as I said above, this morning this suddenly got easier to post, and I would like to thank those of you who expressed their appreciation of my earlier posts in the "most informative" thread. I'm glad that some of you are finding them of value. You helped convince me to go ahead with this.

Enough preamble, therefore. Let's go to work....

So I am going to write this as I would approach it.  And hopefully along the way a number of people will be able to see how they, personally, fit into the picture. Note, this is only ONE approach to training. There can be many. Other coaches on here may have other (equally good, or better) ways of working. But this way is worth looking at, because it works.
Put up the Under Construction signs therefore, and just view this as a work in progress.  There will be more posts added by me.  I have not laid this out in chapters like some planned book.  So, if some bits are incomplete, or I can later think of instances that might not be covered by parts I have already written, I will come back and fit them in.
I think the best thing would be for me to number each part therefore, in the knowledge that there might well be later addenda to part I (or part II), for example, and so everyone will know where those addenda belong. Although there is no plan (for the good reason that it gets longer the more I think about it), I have a good general outline of what I want to say and where this will go. I would expect 4-5 long-ish posts by me (not counting replying to questions), culminating in an actual real life example of all that goes before being put into practice.
Obviously, if there are questions, chuck them in (although I may defer them to later, if I know I will answer them in a future post).  They may help me to nudge this in the direction it needs to take, and keep it applicable. I will try to make it as general as possible.

Before I forget, I would suggest that if you have not already done so, you read my earlier long thread before getting into this. May help to make it easier to understand. (And you don't have to tell me it's long, I wrote most of it!);=42240&page;=0

PART I -----------------------------------

Let?s start from the very beginning.  A male (or female) approaches me for training. It could be you. (If I use he/she in the following posts in this thread, please note that either of them apply equally well to both sexes.  What I am saying works for male and females.)
Now I am not a college coach, only used to young studs aged 18 years and up.  Which is good, because I get to see a wide spectrum of runners, many of them past-30 and wanting to get back into it again.  This has allowed me to gain experience of coaching all ages and all fitness levels and gives me wider knowledge of heart rates (HR) (and not find, as with teenagers, that everyone?s HRmax is simply, "over-200").  Note that many on Letsrun fall into this category, wanting to get back in the saddle and work to improve their times in their 30s and 40s?
Yet I do coach young kids; youngest boy and girl 15 years old, then 17-18 and on up to early 20s? So some of this might in places apply to teenagers. (Having said that, if you are already getting coached, I would recommend that you do what your coach tells you, and don't chop and change ideas with every book/schedule you read. You cannot beat consistency over time.)
So, a male or female approaches me? I generally want to know some background before agreeing to take them on.  Usually I ask for recent race performances.  But I am not just looking at the times here, more importantly I want to see the relationship between the race times and distances.
I may get numbers for events like this:
From a young runner; 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5k (maybe)
From an older (road) runner; 5k (maybe), 10k, HM and marathon (maybe)
Right away I?m really looking to see what?s wrong. (If there is nothing ?wrong?, there will be a limited amount I can do for the guy).  Not what is wrong with the times (eg: they're slow), but what is wrong with the relationships between the times  a) there may not be a relationship, or b) the relationship might be too loose.
Let?s look at what I mean:
Here are some times I might receive (all number are actual real-life examples)
Young runner: 56.x (400), 2.09 (800), 4.37 (1500), 38.30 (10k)
Older runner: 17.02 (5k), 36.45 (10k), 1.24 (HM), 3.10+ (marathon)
Many of you will have seen equivalence tables somewhere.  Tables that give points per performance per distance and allow comparisons between (e.g.) 800m and marathon.  The Hungarian Tables are one such example. Mercier tables are another.
But no-one suggests that a single person can be equally good at all distances across the board (apart from rarities like Rod Dixon).  Your genetic strengths tend to weigh you more in one direction (speed) or the other (endurance).  So, some people?s performances get better as the race gets longer (or shorter).  And this is beyond/in excess of a training effect, they are just more gifted aerobically (or anaerobically).
BUT there should still be some form of relationship across distances, and this is what I look for when I hear someone?s PR?s. 
Frank Horwill once defined this sort of relationship by saying that if a runner slowed up by 16 secs/mile at any distance (actually, I believe he said 4 secs per 400m lap), that runner could then keep going for twice the distance. (Note that better trained runners slow up LESS than 4 secs per lap to go twice the distance?)
So, according to Horwill, if you can run 5.00 for one mile, you can run at 5.16m/m for 3k/2 miles and 5.32m/m for 5k, and 5.48 for 10k, and 6.04 for 10 miles and 6.20 for marathon (plus or minus a second here or there).  This is what I mean when there should be a ?relationship? between race performances (assuming good/similar level of training for each event).
For better-trained runners, the relationship is even tighter.  I have coached one runner like the example just given; has a 4.59 one mile PR.  Who can run 5k at 5.20m/m (instead of Horwill?s 5.31).  And 10k at 5.31, HM at 5.40 and marathon at 5.59m/m (instead of Horwill?s rule of thumb 6.20m/m).  But this runner?s one mile to 5k distances are seldom trained for, or raced, so there might be some secs still to come off of both of them.
Think of it roughly like a clock face: Your one mile PR should be at 12, your 5k PR pace should be at quarter-past (+15 secs), your 10k PR should be at half-past (again, +15 secs), your HM PR should be at quarter-to (again + 15 secs), and your marathon PR should be once again at the top of the hour.  (This also fits in with the old rule of thumb that your marathon PR pace should be mile PR pace + 60 secs/mile)
So what is wrong with our runners above? (remember, Horwill said slow up by 4 secs/lap to go twice the distance. We'll use his rule of thumb here.)
Young runner: 56.x (400), 2.09 (800), 4.37 (1500), 38.30 (10k)
400m = 56 secs
800m = 2.09 (should be 2.00 from 400 time)
1500m = 4.37 (should be 4.00 from 400m time or 4.16 from 800m time)
10k = 38.30  Fuggedabouddit?
So, our young guy gets rapidly worse as the race distance increases showing he is poor aerobically.  Note that he gets worse even on the next distance up, showing how poor his aerobic conditioning/capacity is.  He has NO relationship between his race performances.
Older runner: 17.02 (5k), 36.45 (10k), 1.24 (HM), 3.10+ (marathon)
5k = 17.02 (5.28m/m)
10k = 36.45 (5.55m/m ? should be 5.44m/m from 5k time)
HM = 1.24 (6.24m/m ? should be 6.00m/m from 5k time and 6.11 from 10k time)
Mar = 3.10 (7.15m/m ? should be 6.40 from HM time and 6.27 from 10k time)
Like our young guy, this runner is also poor aerobically.  He too has NO relationship between his performances. What we COULD have found is a relationship between 5k-10k-HM but NO relationship between HM-marathon (just meaning that he was not as well prepared for the longer distance as he was for the HM).
Now these times are all plus/minus a few seconds, not hard and fast.  So we do not need to quibble on whether it should be +15 or +17 secs/mile.  The point I want to stress is the existence of a relationship.  I don?t hold hard and fast to Horwill?s 16 secs/mile (as I have shown, for better runners it might be 12-15 secs/mile or tighter still).  But I do agree with his concept of a relationship between performances at all distances.  I am always working towards it with runners I coach (at least within the range of events in which they wish to be competitive). This relationship can tell a lot about how well prepared a particular runner is for a given event.
Note that there can be two things ?wrong? with your PR?s.  One, as shown, there can be no evidence of a relationship (usually meaning your aerobic ability is wayyyyy poor).  Or there can be a relationship, but it is too loose (instead of slowing up/adding 16 secs/mile to run double the distance, you slow up/add 20-24 secs/mile).  In this second instance, your aerobic ability is less poor, but still needs work.
To sum up; if you are well trained aerobically, you do not fall apart (as in the earlier examples) when the race gets longer.  And here some of you may like to do a quick check and see how your own performances compare?
So, on seeing these, or similar, numbers, I expect to hear at least one (and maybe both) of two things from the athlete concerned:
1. Low mileage background in training
2. Whatever mileage being done is being run ?too fast? (for performance level)
To be continued?

RE: One approach to distance training 3/6/2003 3:27AM - in reply to Hadd Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Hadd. Your expertise and willingness to advise is much appreciated.

RE: One approach to distance training 3/6/2003 3:54AM - in reply to Hadd Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Thanks Hadd. Yes your information on here is very well appreciated!

Wise Man
RE: One approach to distance training 3/6/2003 4:22AM - in reply to x Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

thanks a bunch for this. you shouldn't have had any doubts about posting your knowledge because what you know is extremely useful to all of us and the way you've done it in the past showed no trace of arrogance, but only the most sincere desire to be of help.

thanks again and all of us are looking forward to your posts.

RE: One approach to distance training 3/6/2003 4:56AM - in reply to Hadd Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
don't leave us hanging!

log cabin
RE: One approach to distance training 3/6/2003 5:12AM - in reply to wow. Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Could you please explain the part at the bottom where you said 2. Whatever mileage is being done is being done to fast. Thanks.

Ouch 3/6/2003 6:18AM - in reply to log cabin Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
400m 49.7
800m 1:56.6
Mile 4:23
3k 8:57
5k 16:30
10k 35:30
10m 58:47
Mar 2:56:14

So who's poor aerobically????!!!!

Hadd - Really looking forward to the rest of your posts.

RE: One approach to distance training 3/6/2003 6:35AM - in reply to Hadd Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

I want to echo everyone else's appreciation for your contributions here. I'm also interested to hear more about your second point:

"2. Whatever mileage being done is being run ?too fast? (for performance level)"

Until very recently, I've always run as hard as I felt I could for the given day and distance. Most training runs (between 5 and 22 miles) would have been at or close to goal marathon pace, depending on how I felt and how far I was going (some shorter runs maybe 15 to 25 sec/mile faster, some longer ones maybe 15 to 30 sec slower). I've made steady improvements over the last decade, and think my PRs show a fairly good relationship from 2 miles to half marathon (almost there for the marathon - just need to be smarter about pacing).

I've recently (early winter) switched to more "traditional" training methods at the urging of an older (and wiser?) running buddy, and now run a lot of slower miles. He thinks I can go faster if I train smarter. I'll be interested to see how this year's race calendar unfolds.

I don't have a specific question. I'll go back and read that other thread, and will be looking with interest to see what else you tell us in this one.

RE: One approach to distance training 3/6/2003 6:43PM - in reply to log cabin Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Log cabin,
"Whatever mileage is being done is being done too fast (for performance level)" simply means that even if the runner if doing 70-80-90mpw (which many people think is all you need to do for aerobic development), if there is no relationship between race performances, then that mileage is being done at too fast /too intense a pace to stimulate the greatest aerobic development. (In other words, if they slowed the pace down, they could get better). This will be explained more fully in later posts.

I have to be honest and say that I don't know too many runners who go for (short) runs at 25 secs/mile faster than M-pace. Since, according to Horwill, M-pace and 10k pace should only be 32 seconds apart, you are talking about boogieing along at v. close to 10k pace. That's quick. I'm confident you will achieve better results if you follow your (wiser) friend's advice to slow it down a tad. Enjoy the read of the other thread.

Part II should come on Sat. (There may always be a coupla days between the longer posts.)

RE: One approach to distance training 3/6/2003 7:07PM - in reply to Hadd Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
so about 99% of the track guys on this board are poor aerobically...

hornet power
RE: One approach to distance training 3/6/2003 7:29PM - in reply to Hadd Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Hadd what's you opinion on HR training. The best training method is to combine Lactic Acid readings and HR training. But since I don't want to afford the Lactic meter, I've been following advice on that suggest that you do you training within "aerobic" HR. I think was 80% and the rest 70% and below. These numbers are off the top of my head and could be wrong. They also suggest that if you are training regularly the 80% barrier can be breached, although he suggests just training strictly aerobically very reminecent of Lydiard training system. Let me know what you think.

RE: One approach to distance training 3/6/2003 8:36PM - in reply to hornet power Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Hi facts,
You could be right. I think if you talk to many runners, they will agree that (over a range of PR's at everything from 400m to the marathon) they have a "favourite" PR that they know is solid and a "not-so-hot" PR. My bet is that the "not-so-hot" PR is the longer one. What do you think? We could ask Moz, above... That 400m time of his is hot, but I think he would agree that his marathon time could be better. No criticism of Moz here, (and I hope he doesn't mind me singling him out) most people's marathon time could stand some improvement.

Hornet power,
You are definitely on the right track... read Parts II and III (still to come). I will check out that ironmanlive link, (sounds interesting) thanks.

RE: One approach to distance training 3/6/2003 11:32PM - in reply to Hadd Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Exactly. My marathon time is perhaps a little soft!!!

RE: One approach to distance training 3/7/2003 12:13AM - in reply to facts Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

facts wrote:

so about 99% of the track guys on this board are poor aerobically...

Yes. Aeerobically developed Americans are few and far between.

RE: One approach to distance training 3/8/2003 8:21AM - in reply to trackhead Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

Part II 3/8/2003 11:32PM - in reply to bump Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
So, if we find that our runner has little or no evidence of a relationship between his/her race performances (especially if this is so as the distance gets longer), we can be very sure the problem is in his legs.

If you waded your way through the long thread I referred you to above, you will realize that this means the mitochondria, capillaries and aerobic enzymes your training should have created in your leg muscles, did not happen. Whatever training you have done to this point has not been as effective as it could have been. Usually, I have found, for two reasons (as given above):
1. You don?t run enough mileage.
2. You train too fast.

Way back in 1973, physiologist David Costill and his coworkers introduced what they termed, the "fractional utilization" of VO2max. Which really just means, how much of their VO2max can each runner actually use in a distance event. The argument was made that those who could use the greatest fraction (percent) of their VO2max stood every chance of being among the faster runners. This "fractional utilization" we now know is basically made up of a runner?s lactate threshold (LT) and their particular economy.

As the authors state, "At all running speeds above 70% VO2max, the faster runners were found to accumulate less blood lactate than the slower runners at similar speeds and relative percentages of their aerobic capacities. The findings suggest that successful distance running is dependent on the economical utilization of a highly developed aerobic capacity and the ability to employ a large fraction of that capacity with minimal accumulation of lactic acid."

Simply put, the more you can use of your maximum aerobic potential in a race, the better you will perform.

As recently as 1997, this paper by Costill was cited by J.A. Hawley et al in a paper aimed at enhancing endurance performance.
As the authors state, "It would appear that the fraction of VO2peak or power than an athlete can sustain for prolonged periods is inversely related to the accumulation of lactate in the working musculature." (more lactate = lower % VO2max that can be sustained = stop sooner; less lactate = higher % VO2max = maintain for longer).
They go on, "For example, in well-trained endurance athletes, there is little or no increase in blood (and presumably muscle) lactate concentration until the work rate elicits close to 85% VO2peak. Direct support for this comes from the data of Coetzer et al (1993) who reported that black African distance runners had lower blood lactate concentrations after submaximal (21km/hr) and maximal (24km/hr) exercise compared with white runners, despite similar running economies. Elite Kenyan distance runners have also been found to have lower lactate levels than top Scandinavian distance runners during both submaximal and maximal exercise."

Sooooo. Let?s sum all this up, it?s very simple.

1. Better trained runners can maintain a higher percentage of their VO2max (85% or higher) in a marathon than lesser trained runners.
2. They can do so because their blood lactate AT ANY PACE or any percentage of VO2max is lower than the blood lactate of less well-trained runners (ie: they are not "tougher" and just somehow putting up with more discomfort than the runners around them, they are actually more "comfortable", under less lactate "stress", than all other runners at the same pace/intensity).

This also agrees with a large amount of sport science studies which show a very high correlation between the lactate threshold and performance in distance events. The higher (faster) the running pace at the LT, the faster the pace in distance races.

Sjodin and Svedenhag (1985) in a review on the physiology of marathon running agreed, "the ?threshold? is the single best predictor of performance in long-distance running, including the marathon." Once again, fast pace at LT = fast pace in a distance race.

As I repeatedly stressed in my long earlier thread, the training to improve your VO2max (essentially the stroke volume of your heart) is NOT the same training as that required to raise your LT (increase capillaries, mitochondria and aerobic enzymes in your muscles). The speeds required are totally different. LT training is one case in which faster is NOT better.

So. To go back to our hypothetical runner. After I find out the PR?s of the runner who has approached me, (and assuming he/she has no good relationship between performances), I lactate test him.

Now don?t be concerned, I only bring this in here to explain exactly why our young runner (and possibly yourself) cannot maintain a positive relationship across performances. In short, his LT is weak. It will NOT be necessary for you to undergo lactate testing to know how to proceed to improve your own training and your LT.

You see, I know from his poor race results that my new runner is building lactate long before he should (which is why, as I have tried to explain above, there is NO relationship). Remember, high lactate = poor long distance race ability.

So, somewhere along the way as he increases his running pace, his blood lactate is climbing (earlier than it should and at slower paces than it should). I know this. His results are telling me this, even before I test him. If I can determine when that happens, at what pace/effort that is happening, I will then know exactly how to train him to make the lactate at that pace begin to stay low, and not climb until he runs at a faster pace. And then a faster pace... and a faster pace...

Think of it like this. If your LT is low (at slow pace relative to VO2max), you are "borrowing" from your anaerobic ability to help your aerobic ability maintain the particular pace you are running at. Like having an overdraft at the bank because you cannot live within your monthly wage. But as the race distance gets longer, you cannot borrow more and more, but can only borrow less and less. Until at the marathon, which is 99% aerobic, you cannot borrow at all and your poor aerobic ability is exposed and you are left wondering why the pace is so slow compared to (eg) your 10k.

Now here I would have liked to explain the mechanics of how to test, because although you will not need to be lactate tested, the knowledge of how to do so will be important further down the line. However, for you to understand it fully, you would need to see some charts, which I am unable to post. Fortunately I am able to refer you to a website that does a very good job of explaining the rationale and the lactate testing procedure in a very clear manner. If you would genuinely like to improve your training (and race performances), spend some time and go and read the information on the linked site. It is only a single page of text and charts (although there are other links that some of you might like to explore, although doing so is not necessary). I expect to have to refer to the knowledge the single page contains in later parts.

Final summation: if you cannot maintain a good relationship across race performances it is because your LT is not good enough (not a high enough percentage of your personal VO2max). Your LT is dependent on adaptations in your leg muscles caused by training. If you have a poor LT, your adaptations have not occurred well enough (despite even years of training). As will be better explained later, these adaptations are intensity dependent (train too fast, they won?t happen).

My apologies if this appears long-winded, but it is a long-held belief of mine that runners train better if they understand WHY they are doing such-and-such training.

To be continued...

RE: Part II 3/9/2003 1:49AM - in reply to Hadd Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

as I read through this post a little light was slowly coming on in the back of my head. Regardless of race duration, my speed is always limited by my legs, ie I never get "winded" but come to a point where my legs won't carry me any faster. I try to pace myself correctly to maintain an even race pace, but haven't managed it at marathon distance yet.

In my earlier post, I should have noted those paces were in reference to my marathon PB pace, rather than goal pace. My goal pace would have been about 15 s/mile faster, so my fastest training would have been at best 15 s slower than 10K PB (and that would have been a redline 5 mile run), ranging to about a minute or slower than 10K (although that would have been what I considered painfully slow).

My training approach has been somewhat dictated by my addiction to running, rather than any book smarts or coaching (I've always run for me, and only started racing much a couple of years ago). When I run, I like the feeling I get from running fast, so that's what I've traditionally done. Note this same addiction is beginning to cause me injury trouble.

I have started training slower, but I still have a hard time making myself slow down. A couple of days ago I ran 15 miles at about 50 s slower than marathon goal (10K + 1:15ish), and felt like I was moving veeeeery slowly. Is that too quick for a long'ish run?

Apologize for asking a question that you've likely already answered in the other thread - I haven't gotten through it yet. I have printed it out and will go through it during a hockey tournament this afternoon.

Looking forward to hearing more...

RE: Part II 3/9/2003 2:01AM - in reply to Hadd Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

I wanted to ask you a question about my training schedule.

A large majority of my runs are 60 minute runs starting at 9:00-9:30 m/m for about 20 minutes. I then progressively get faster over the remaining 40 minutes, until the last 5-10 minutes are close to 20K(Usually +10) race pace.

I go to the track one to two times a week and do 10x1000m or 5x2000m at 20K race pace with 90-120 seconds rest.

I also mix in a medium hilly long run of 80 minutes and also a longer hilly run of 100 minutes.

I started with lower volumes, but recently I've reached about 90-100 mpw.

Do you think this type of training is efficient?

RE: Part II 3/9/2003 3:10AM - in reply to Strider Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
What does it mean if your lungs are always what keeps you from going faster and not your legs. Usually during a race (a shorter race like 800 or mile) I am so out of breath that I cannot up the pace. My legs are usually find except for a little burn from the lactic acid? What does this mean? Am I poor aerobically, anaerobically or both?

RE: Part II 3/9/2003 8:50AM - in reply to Nick Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Awesome explanation so far Hadd. Since you're about to talk about LT training, maybe my question can help sculpt your answer.

I just ran a 5K today in 16:40 (5:22 mile pace). This was a pleasant surprise for me, probably about 50 seconds faster than I expected.

I've been using Daniels running formula and since I thought I was in 17:30 shape, I'd been running my threshold runs at 6 minute pace (based on Daniels' charts). One week the book calls for 20 minutes at this pace, the next week it is repeat 1000's at this pace with 1 minute recoveries.

Anyway, based on today's performace, my threshold training pace jumps to 5:45 pace.

I know I'm not well-trained aerobically. I worked on it a lot this winter (hence the new PR), but my shorter PR's are still much better.

ANYWAY, my question is, I think that 5:45 pace may be too stressful - how do I know the correct pace to run to work on my LT? It SHOULDN'T be too stressful, if I were aerobically well-trained, but I expect that it will be. Should I just go for it? After all, race results are one of the best indicators of fitness, right?

I do have a heartrate monitor at my disposal, if that makes any difference.

Thanks Hadd.

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Great Gifts

Billy Mills

Steve Prefontaine
"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

Steve Prefontaine
"It's More Than Just a Race"