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Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities
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(yet another training thread disguised as a running thread)

Note - as always, please contribute and call me out when you think you smell BS. Sometimes I miswrite, sometimes I assume too much, and even on rare occasion I'm just plain wrong! ; ^ )

My hope is that most people are well on their way with their fair weather training plans. However, sometimes one needs to revisit exactly what their training goals are.....or even if they have any. Here I hope to open a discussion about the benefits and pitfalls of "easy" training.

As I've said many many times, there is a huge benefit to training less intensely. By "less intensely" I mean something that is in Friel's zones 1 and 2. Something that you can do for a long period of time and comfortably carry on a conversation. For running this is typically at 65%-80% of your max HR.

This benefit is that it develops our aerobic energy system, something that is of crucial importance for ANY race longer than 1 minute (YES, ONE MINUTE!!!!). Training at this level will cause physical changes to occur in your body that will simply allow you to go farther and faster.

However, there is one big catch. Training slow doen't really give you any more benefits than training fast does. In other words, a 1/2 hour easy running is no more beneficial than a 1/2 hour fast. So then why do it?

This is the part where I become a broken record: YOU TRAIN SLOW SO THAT YOU CAN TRAIN MORE.

The difference isn't between running a 1/2 hour hard or a 1/2 hour easy. It's between running a 1/2 hour hard or running 1 to 1 1/2 hours easy. For long term improvements, inevitably the MORE approach is going to yiled greater results. This doesn't mean that you should do nothing but easy training 4 weeks out from a sprint triathlon championship race. There is certainly a place for hard training, especially as the important races get near. What it means is that you should always strive for a high training volume on a year to year basis.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR TRIATHLETES:

One problem that triathletes run into is that when balancing the training between three disciplines, only the very very serious athletes will be willing to put in the training time to maximize their potential. In otherwords, if YOU did nothing but easy training for 6 months straight, you would probably hit a point where you simply run out of available training time. That point might be 10 hours, it might be 15 hours, it might be 25 hours......but that point will be reached. What happens then?

My recommendation is FIRST strive to get to that point. Gradually increase your mileage by 10% every 1-3 weeks with a goal of maximizing your training volume. Do that until you get to a point where you simply won't train any more. THEN start adding in intensity giving priority 1st to 20-40 minute tempo runs at ~90% max HR or longer, slightly slower tempo runs (especially if training for longer races), then to short intervals with long rests and hills.

Again, I'm refering to a focus throughout most of the year. As important races near, your focus may change and you'd likely want to shift everything toward more harder efforts.

A POINT SYSTEM:

I addmitedly am stealing this part from Jack Daniels, but have simplified it here so that it's easy to remember. Again, I'd love to hear comments or different approaches peopel use.

Each hour easy counts as.....1 hour easy.
Each hour at 1 hour race pace (plus 15 seconds a mile) = 2 hours easy.
Each hour at 1 hour race pace = 3 hours easy.
Each hour at V02max (11 minute race pace....10-20 seconds faster than 5k pace for most) = 5 hours easy
Each hour at 5 minute race pace (HARD!) = 7 hours easy

So, for example, if you have maxed out your run training at 3 hours a week and you are ready to take another 10% jump in your training, instead of going to 3.3 hours you could add in a tempo run. A 20 minute tempo run = 60 minutes of easy running (intesity wise), so 2.3 hours of easy running plus a 20 minute tempo run is roughly equivalent to a 3.3 hour week. You can now keep this 20 minute tempo run and gradually increase your weekly mileage until you build back up to 3 hrs a week. Then....increase you tempo run again. Etc. Eventually you may get to a point where a 3hr week includes 40 minutes of tempo, a 1 hr tempo +15, and a 90 minute long run. It's not ideal......but you do get to see your family.

Right now this point system seems to be working well for one of my athletes. He runs his own investment business and has picked up a lot of big clients at the same time his assistant got called in for 5 weeks of jury duty. His TOTAL weekly training gets cut in half some weeks. On those weeks I have him do a lot of cruise intervals (tempo pace) to make up for all the training that he isn't able to put in. So far, so good.

What I descibed above is merely one way to look at training. Every situation is unique and there is no way that someone could possibly write a generic fail safe cookie cutter program for all to follow in just one short post. I mainly throw it out there to hope that it will spark a training discussion. Sometimes I get flamed by people who don't know what they are talking about, but other times flaws in my thought process are exposed. I'm always learning.


NEVER FORGET - There really is no substitute for high volume training, but there are work arounds that may get you 90% there and enjoy a healthy life outside of training.



Flame away!!!

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
Last edited by: BarryP: May 5, 07 9:54
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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NEVER FORGET - There really is no substitute for high volume training, but there are work arounds that may get you 90% there and enjoy a healthy life outside of training.
Intersting...You explain a point system very well. I think this write up is very well articulated. But what you were explaining was that you can reach the same volume with different types of miles and intensities. So, this last statement is contradicting everything you just said. Volume = reps x intensity, in simple terms.
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [joonya] [ In reply to ]
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The last statement is a reminder that you CAN't simply substitute volume and intensity 100%. IOW, consider the following three options (during base phase):

A) 5 hours easy for 20 weeks
B) 3 hours easy with 60 minutes of tempo for 20 weeks
C) 3 hours easy for 20 weeks


My point is that option A is the best plan. However, IF you don't have time to train 5 hours a week, THEN you will want to add in some intensity.....that is option B. If you don't add any intensity to a short week, then you leave yourself severely understrained.

So, where B is a good substitute for lack of volume, it is not and never will be an equivalent replacement.



Just as an example you can take a look at Dev. Paul's training plan. In the winter he adds intensity to his training because he doesn't train as much. However, in the summer he drops the intensity so that he can build up his mileage to prepare for an Ironman. He doesn't stick with the same lower volume, higher intensity program becasue it just isn't as effective as 20 hour training weeks.

If I knew someone who was training for an OLY in the fall, I would probably have them do the same thing, but then take the volume back down in mid July and crank the intensity back up.

In the big picture, different combinations of training loads are 80 - 90% equivalent, but not 100%. That last 10% is the difference between the bad running in America during the low volume, high intensity era of the late 80s and early 90s and the high volume approach used in the 70s and now again in the 2000s. Though Americans got slower with the low volume high intensity approach, they weren't THAT far off. Consequently, NO ONE has been known to run well off of the low volume, low intensity approach.

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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Barry--thanks for the post(s), looks like very useful info there.
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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You're contradicting yourself again...

Volume = reps x intensity.

You need to add milage or time into the equation.

low intensity, high time can equal the same volume as high intensity, low time...this is your point. My point is high volume does not equal only a lot of time running.
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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A problem I have with your theory is this: Suppose one chooses option A, i.e. 5 hours easy, what is the best way to break up those 5 hours?

Clearly, 10 runs of 30 minutes easy pace is different than 3 runs of 1h40m or 5 runs of 1h, yet they all add up to the same volume and intensity.

That is the problem I have with some of the run every day threads, etc. I just don't think that strategy is an effective strategy with a given limit to training time per week, than strategies that have a person run on fewer days but for longer period of time per run. (This is assuming of course a limited time to train)

I am asking in reference to long distance running in particular.
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [joonya] [ In reply to ]
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You're contradicting yourself again...
__________________________________

Actually I'm not, though I appreciate the your benefit of the doubt.
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Volume = reps x intensity.

________________________________

Not the way I have always understood it to mean. When *I* refer to "volume" and am talking specifically about total mileage (or total time spent training). What you are referring to is what I call "training load."

You can disagree with the terminology, but I would think that would be splitting hairs and missing the point of the post. Referring back to the simple examples during a base building period, option A is the largest training "volume," option A and B are a similar traing "load" and option B and C are a similar training "volume." Your priority during base building is a large "volume." As you train more and more, there is a fine line between optimal training and over training. This is the point where your body's ability to respond to stress is overtaken by the stress itself. It can't rest enough to recover and rebuild. However, if you spend less time training, you will be well below your optimal "load" (and volume) and, hence, be undertrained. Under this circumstance you'll want to add in intensity, 1st in the form of lactate threshold training.

Does this make more sense now?

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [DoubleTrouble] [ In reply to ]
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A problem I have with your theory is this: Suppose one chooses option A, i.e. 5 hours easy, what is the best way to break up those 5 hours?
Clearly, 10 runs of 30 minutes easy pace is different than 3 runs of 1h40m or 5 runs of 1h, yet they all add up to the same volume and intensity.

That is the problem I have with some of the run every day threads, etc. I just don't think that strategy is an effective strategy with a given limit to training time per week, than strategies that have a person run on fewer days but for longer period of time per run. (This is assuming of course a limited time to train)

I am asking in reference to long distance running in particular.

_______________________________________________

You bring up a good point. Desert Dude and I have discussed this concept in great lengths. Much like I said earlier that you train easy so that you can train more, the same applies to running every day. You do it so that you can run more. For example, if you want to run 35 miles a week, the only reason you'd run seven 5 mile runs is because you CAN'T get in that kind of volume on fewer runs. Somone like myself, on the other hand, wouldn't need to break up a week into that many runs. However, I may do that if, for example, I needed to run 70 miles a week (like if I was to run some sort of IM with a 40 mile run segment, just as an off the wall example).

Exactly HOW you break up the week can be tricky and is yet another facet of the "art" of coaching/training. IMO, for most cases during base training, you'll want to get in one long run a week that is ~50-100% longer than any other run during the week, the rest just fall into place as needed to get the training volume (total miles) where you want it.

You are correct that 10x:30 isn't the same as 5x:60......but I'd argue that they are probably within 85% of each other. The complexities of exactly how to divide that up and how much and when can be unique to each athlete. You pretty much have to feel it out and see what works best.

Those who have argued to run every day, at least those that I know of, do so for athletes who have really struggled with running because of a lack of any real volume. They may only be capable of running for 45 minutes, so it's not a difference of, say, 6x30 or 3x60.....it's a difference of 3x15 + 3x45 or just 3x45. The many small run approach gets their training volume up. I know that DD has consistently had great success with the people that he's applied this to.

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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I always understood what you were saying. I'm pointing out that you are contradicting yourself by using the term volume when you really mean milage or time spent running. Training load = volume.
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [joonya] [ In reply to ]
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I'm pointing out that you are contradicting yourself
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For the last time I am not contradiciting myself. Training volume is total training time or mileage regardless of intensity.

See my PM.

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [DoubleTrouble] [ In reply to ]
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Actually DT, I have a pretty good examle in mind right now regarding my own training. I'm currently riding about 7 times a week, many of them are rides shorter than 15 miles. I'm getting back into shape and have always been a much better runner than I am at cycling. I questioned whether or not I needed that many rides, yet noticed how slowly I've been dragging myself up and down stairs because my biking legs are so sore all the time. The conclusion that I draw is that I'm not ready to bump up the lengths of the rides (though some are pretty long). Cutting back on some of the rides will inevitably cut down my mileage, which I don't really want to do because I really need to get in more riding.

As I get into better shape, most of those rides will increase to the 25-35 mile range, and I may even cut some out.

Again, it's more of an art than a science. The more rides/runs you do, the more mileage you can get in......but there becomea point when it's counter productive (like a 1 mile run every 3 hours).

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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First, two protocols being within 85% of each other is IMO a huge difference, with clearly one protocol being markedly superior than the other. For instance if one protocol nets me an average pace of 8 minutes per mile in a marathon = 3h30min marathon being within 85% of this is 9min24sec per mile = 4h 06min marathon a 36 minute difference. That is a huge difference.

I think that how one divides up ones limited hours is just as important as how many hours one has to train. Personally, I feel that with 3-6 hours of run training available per week, 3-4 runs per week are better than 5-7 shorter runs. It gives some recovery time in between each effort, as well as being more race specific in terms of longer distance events. Obviously, as one is capable of training more or going longer per unit time (i.e. being faster), one can and should do more workout. However, unless one is at that level of fitness and time availability the more frequent but shorter runs in my opinion are not as effective.

Additionally, I feel that there is a huge mental component to training and race performance so that if one is consistently doing longer efforts, it is easier mentally to do that distance in a race, whereas someone who has done the same total mileage and intensity (but in more frequent and shorter runs) may not be mentally prepared to do the longer distance in the race.

My caveat and it is a huge one is that I have no scientific evidence to back this up. There may be evidence but I am too lazy to look it up. My opinion is a product of my own observation of my own training.
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [sbr140.6] [ In reply to ]
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However, unless one is at that level of fitness and time availability the more frequent but shorter runs in my opinion are not as effective.[/quote]
Actually if you are not fit, more frequent shorter runs are a better choice early in the season. (general prep not specific prep). 4 runs of 1hr is not as good as 7 runs of 30min.

The number one problem with the overwhelming majority of triathletes that bitch about their lack of running is they are not willing to sacrifice short term performance, aka this season, in order to become better runners for next season. They all (and this is not directed at you but is a generalization from years in the sport and 10+ years of coaching experience) want a short-term, permanent fix for their inability to run faster.

There is no short-term, permanent fix to being a crappy runner except running more and more often. I'm also not talking about a 2-4 month window, although devoting 4months to running would help greatly. Most triathletes should realize that they really need to devote 12-18mo to becoming a better runner. for example, I'm finishing up an outline for an athlete I coach to peak at a half IM in Oct of 2008. Yes 2008. He is willing to take the long term approach to getting faster realizing that he is going to have some less than great races at times between now and then due to how things are structured.

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching
twitter & IG = @accelerate3
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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Curious, if there are any studies to back up your claim. Remember, that the intensity is constant for both the 4 x 1hour runner and the 8 x 30min runner. I would venture that the 4 x 1 hour runs are better at the same intensity, and would lead to better results. If you have data to the contrary, let me know. Thanks.
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [sbr140.6] [ In reply to ]
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I'm was referring to genral prep not specific prep in my post and also for triathletes who are poor runners. Lets not forget that frequency is a very important component of training.

Why would you think, especially in the beginning of the training season that 4x1hr runs would be better than 8x30? It may be for triathlete #1 but not for triathlete #2.

Even though total duration is the same and even if you keep intensity the same, they are not the same workload. Now for specific prep if you are racing LC then 4x1hr would be better then 8x30. But I'd also say that if you are running 4x 1hr for specific preperation to race a half or full IM, you have missed the point.

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching
twitter & IG = @accelerate3
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Re: Runtraining6 - Optimizing time, setting priorities [sbr140.6] [ In reply to ]
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Curious, if there are any studies to back up your claim. Remember, that the intensity is constant for both the 4 x 1hour runner and the 8 x 30min runner. I would venture that the 4 x 1 hour runs are better at the same intensity, and would lead to better results. If you have data to the contrary, let me know. Thanks.
_______________________

If I may step back in for a second.....the difference is that 4x1hr is greater stress than 8x30. I can't back that up with a specific study, only general knowlege of distance running. For an avid runner like myself or Brian, 4x1hr would likely be the option because we can handle the stress that comes along with it and will reap the rewards of the training. However, I will contend, a "struggling" runner may have a difficult time recovering from 1hr runs. Therefore it gets broken up into 8x30 min.....just as an example. The idea is that 8x30 becomes 6x40 which eventually becomes 4x1hr.

The problem that the struggling runner runs into is that they attempt 4x1hr off the bat (again, just as an example) and are caught in that constant struggle.

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
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