I wanted to cover some basics of distance running, particularly regarding LSD versus higher intensity training. The question often comes up, "which is better?" to which I respond, "which is better for what?" You need both! Asking which is better is kind of like asking which organ is more important; your heart or your brain?
You will often see a question posted "how can *I* get better at running?" This is often followed up with, "how much are you running?" and replied with, "15 to 20 miles per week."
At that point you'll see either Desert Dude or myself (or Paulo, Qcassidy, Doug in Co, etocaj, and some others) simply say, "you need to run more"........which is often followed by a really long thread full of debates over the importantce of high intensity training versus LSD.
So, here I am hoping to try to clear up some misunderstandings about low intensity versus high intensity training.
IMO, THE number one benefit to low intensity training is that it minimizes the amount of stress you put on your body, thus allowing you to do MORE running. Running, unlike cycling and swimming, is a high impact activity. IT BEATS YOU UP! You need to, among other things, build up your body's tolerance to the activity.
"But what about high intenisty training? Many elites do lots of it." Yes, that is absolutely true. And YOU should do it too.....when you are fully prepared for it.
Early on in your running career, you will need many months of strictly LSD training before attempting higher intensity workouts. Some coaches suggest even as much as a full year before adding any significant amounts of speed. A novice runner may be best served by running LSD only for 4 months, and then incorporating a 20 minute tempo run once week for another month, and then incorporating an additional 5 weeks of 3-5 minute intervals with 2 minute breaks a bit faster than 5K pace.
However, if the same runner was to do this for 5 years, they will stop seeing improvements. Hence the infamous "More is more" thread. More training must be done in order to stimulate the body to improve. In this case, more training entails MORE slow miles during the base period, longer faster tempo runs during the transition (early quailty, preparation, etc.) phase, and more intense intervals during the sharpening phase. In fact, the sharpening phase may even be extended for a longer period.
And the process continues. To see more improvements, MORE must be done (disclaimer: this is assuming that you were doing optimal training....not over training.)
Now, to further explain this process, I'll go back to the original question. Which is better? The fact is, high intensity training will actualy stimulate more improvement in your running. Yes, now I am saying that high intenisty training is better. There's no argument. A well trained athlete will see their greatest short term improvements during their high intensity phase. However, this phase puts the most stress on the body. A better prepared athlete will be able to handle more stress.
"What do you mean by better prepared?" Someone who has run MORE MILES! Every now and then soomeone will point me to an article showing the high amounts of intensity that an elite athlete is doing and question why *I'd* suggest less intensity. To put it simply, YOU don't have the miles under your belt that HE does. Someone pointed me to a nice article today pointing out that Kenyans will perform 60% of their training at over 90% maxHR during their intense period. However, the article ALSO pointed out that they spent TEN YEARS prior running 100% of their training LSD!!!
So, if I can TRY to give a concrete summary:
Novice runner - MOSTLY LSD with short periods of intensity near goal race.
intermediate runner - MORE LSD. Add 1 Tempo run 3 months from goal race. Add 6K of V02max interval training 5 weeks from goal race.
Advanced runner - EVEN MORE LSD. More intensity during later phases. Later phases can be extended to 4 months and maybe 8 weeks.
Elite Runner (most elite triathletes don't even fit in this category) - More LSD still! Intense training still follows same fundamentals but these athletes may run a higher percentage of their over all training at high intensities. They may also begin adding in crazy workouts that are outside the realm of what is considered fundamentaly correct. They've done fundamentaly correct training for many years. They may need a different stimulous to continue to improve.
Summary: Many of you will improve if you run MORE first, then run harder later.
** Runtraining10 **
-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
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