Author Topic: 2 questions  (Read 5624 times)

dmedeiros@uwa.edu

  • Guest
2 questions
« on: October 07, 2012, 11:03:16 AM »
I am coaching a team and we are 2 weeks and 4 weeks away from our 2 "major" meets. We seem to be running slower than our workouts would suggest. After reading many archived articles I am guessing we may have been training too hard - our basic week is:

 - 6x1 mile with 3' rests on Monday. Some of our guys have averaged 4:59-5:05 for these on a flat dirt road.
 - EZ recovery run of 8-10 miles with last 800 at 8K race pace or faster
 - 5 mi progressive tempo run from 6:00 pace down to about 5:20/mi
 - Ez recovery run of 8-10 miles with last 800 at 8K race pace or faster
 - 300m-200m-100m hill repeats on a grass hill or repeat 400's or a fartlek on golf course - tee to green fast and green to next tee box slower. 400's have been run with 60" rest and our fastest athletes have averaged 69-72 for 16 repeats.
 - long run at comfortable pace
 - EZ recovery run at comfortable pace with last 800 at 8K race pace or faster

In weeks that we race on Saturdays we will replace the hill repeats/400's/fartlek with an easy 6 mile run.

So we have 3 workouts in non-race weeks and 2 workouts in race week. Some of our recovery runs were run progressively, starting at 7:30 per mile and working down to 6:00 per mile.

Our runners have had trouble breaking 27:00 this year - it has been an unseasonably warm fall here in the South but I think our times are slower than can be accounted for by warm conditions or even terrain considerations.

After reading many articles, especially those referencing Tinman Training, I am considering cutting back on the # of workouts to 2 per week - keeping the Monday repeat mile sessions and the weekly tempo run, and maybe slowing down the tempo run but increasing it's length from 5 miles to 7-8 miles. I know it is very late in the season but these athletes aren't able to produce in races and it's clearly not from a lack of effort on their parts in training.

So, one question is: what do you think you might do in this situation with 4 weeks left?

As I read the archived articles, many seem to agree that 2 workouts a week are plenty. I want to avoid this overtraining as we go into winter and prepare for the track season. I am considering a schedule utilizing the CV repetition and slower, longer tempo runs as the basic workouts and the rest of the days would be comfortable running.

So, a second question is how might you structure a typical week for winter training using these 2 workouts as the "hardest" days?

Thanks in advance for any ideas you are willing to share.
 -

Tinman

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4007
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2012, 12:15:48 PM »
Hi Don!

I think your athletes are training way too hard, and you'll improve their performance level quite a bit if you reduce the total quality of running they perform each week or each bi-week. For sure, get rid of one hard workout for every 2-week cycle. Also, stop your runners from doing their so-called "recovery" runs fast. That's a big, big hindrance to progress.

Seriously, coaching cross-country successfully is based on simple principles. (1) Get your runners to train the summer. If they run an hour a day and a long run of 1.5 hours on the weekend, they are 85% of the way to success during the xc season. (2) Avoid hammering runners into the ground with too frequent hard workouts. (3) Enforce that your runners keep their pace easy on filler runs between key workouts and races. (4) Balance training. Don't go crazy with V.O2 max workouts and forget about threshold type workouts. The converse is true too. Don't forget hills or speed, but don't overdo them either. (5) Teach your runners how to race intelligently, rather than impulsively and frantically. (6) Pay attention to your runner's unique needs. Some runners get fried on standard training. Some need more endurance-focus and others need more speed-focus. Stop making all runners do all the same workouts and distance runs. That's a recipe for disaster!  (7) Teach runners about the importance of getting enough sleep, good nutrition, and hydration. Too many college runners party or stay up late!

The above will work, over and over!

Coach,

I looked at your runners times from races, and my recommendation is that you cut their hard workouts back. Your top man ran 26:16.74 and your second and third man ran 26:53 and 27:14 for 8000m in the last xc meet, yet they are running 6 x 1 mile at about 5:00 per mile pace with 3 minutes recoveries. This may be a Vigil approach, but it won't work for your runners because they are not remotely fit enough to handle that workout.  Try 5 x 1 mile at 8k pace with 2-3 minutes jog recoveries or 8k pace plus 15 seconds per mile with 1-1.5 minute jog recoveries. Tack on some short hills reps or some 200s at the end of the workout for strength or speed development. That's hard enough. They will improve and won't get fried.

Take care,

Tinman
www.runningprs.com
runfastcoach@gmail.com

« Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 12:21:23 PM by Tinman »
Tinman
(coaching available)
Inquire via email:
runfastcoach@gmail.com

rycase

  • Guest
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2012, 12:28:03 PM »
Coach -

I am curious what the introduction of the 800 on each recovery run is supposed to provide. It appears that your runners never have a complete day of recovery?

What is the effort level on the 6 x 1 mile in 5:00/mi? These runners complete this workout however cannot complete 8K in 27 minutes? This is excessively fast  (candidly I have no idea how they can even complete the workout) with the addition of so many workouts. This would be a V02Max pace in the Tinman world - certainly not something that is a good idea for 6 x 1 mile. I would expect to see something closer to 5:30/mi for these runners.

All of your easy recovery runs include an 800 @ 8K pace - why are your runners not given time to just rest, run easy? You mentioned they also run progressive runs during some of these runs?

400M repeats in the 69 second range - again on a 60 second recovery this seems awfully fast for a 27 minute runner.

In summation - I am sure Tinman will chime in , I am just curious why you are pushing them so hard during the week. They are almost certainly not recovering from that amount stress which is leaving them flat from their workouts.

I would structure alternating weeks of CV pace or threshold miles for one workout. I also like the tempo paced workouts, however think that running 2 x 3 or 2 x 4 miles with a 2-3 minute recovery would offer equal benefit given they are racing so frequently. I would also let them recover - easy runs in the 7:30 range are perfectly fine (or whatever it takes to heal them up). A long run of 90 minutes each week , alternating with a few 5k paced surges every so often would be a-ok as well.

Good luck coach!

rycase

  • Guest
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2012, 12:29:13 PM »
Hi Don!

I think your athletes are training way too hard, and you'll improve their performance level quite a bit if you reduce the total quality of running they perform each week or each bi-week. For sure, get rid of one hard workout for every 2-week cycle. Also, stop your runners from doing their so-called "recovery" runs fast. That's a big, big hindrance to progress.

Seriously, coaching cross-country successfully is based on simple principles. (1) Get your runners to train the summer. If they run an hour a day and a long run of 1.5 hours on the weekend, they are 85% of the way to success during the xc season. (2) Avoid hammering runners into the ground with too frequent hard workouts. (3) Enforce that your runners keep their pace easy on filler runs between key workouts and races. (4) Balance training. Don't go crazy with V.O2 max workouts and forget about threshold type workouts. The converse is true too. Don't forget hills or speed, but don't overdo them either. (5) Teach your runners how to race intelligently, rather than impulsively and frantically. (6) Pay attention to your runner's unique needs. Some runners get fried on standard training. Some need more endurance-focus and others need more speed-focus. Stop making all runners do all the same workouts and distance runs. That's a recipe for disaster!  (7) Teach runners about the importance of getting enough sleep, good nutrition, and hydration. Too many college runners party or stay up late!

The above will work, over and over!

Coach,

I looked at your runners times from races, and my recommendation is that you cut their hard workouts back. Your top man ran 26:16.74 and your second and third man ran 26:53 and 27:14 for 8000m in the last xc meet, yet they are running 6 x 1 mile at about 5:00 per mile pace with 3 minutes recoveries. This may be a Vigil approach, but it won't work for your runners because they are not remotely fit enough to handle that workout.  Try 5 x 1 mile at 8k pace with 2-3 minutes jog recoveries or 8k pace plus 15 seconds per mile with 1-1.5 minute jog recoveries. Tack on some short hills reps or some 200s at the end of the workout for strength or speed development. That's hard enough. They will improve and won't get fried.

Take care,

Tinman
www.runningprs.com
runfastcoach@gmail.com

You beat me to it! 100% agree.

dmedeiros@uwa.edu

  • Guest
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2012, 12:50:31 PM »
Coach -

I am curious what the introduction of the 800 on each recovery run is supposed to provide. It appears that your runners never have a complete day of recovery?

What is the effort level on the 6 x 1 mile in 5:00/mi? These runners complete this workout however cannot complete 8K in 27 minutes? This is excessively fast  (candidly I have no idea how they can even complete the workout) with the addition of so many workouts. This would be a V02Max pace in the Tinman world - certainly not something that is a good idea for 6 x 1 mile. I would expect to see something closer to 5:30/mi for these runners.

All of your easy recovery runs include an 800 @ 8K pace - why are your runners not given time to just rest, run easy? You mentioned they also run progressive runs during some of these runs?

400M repeats in the 69 second range - again on a 60 second recovery this seems awfully fast for a 27 minute runner.

In summation - I am sure Tinman will chime in , I am just curious why you are pushing them so hard during the week. They are almost certainly not recovering from that amount stress which is leaving them flat from their workouts.

I would structure alternating weeks of CV pace or threshold miles for one workout. I also like the tempo paced workouts, however think that running 2 x 3 or 2 x 4 miles with a 2-3 minute recovery would offer equal benefit given they are racing so frequently. I would also let them recover - easy runs in the 7:30 range are perfectly fine (or whatever it takes to heal them up). A long run of 90 minutes each week , alternating with a few 5k paced surges every so often would be a-ok as well.

Good luck coach!

The 800's at the end were to hopefully help them learn to run fast when tired - not all of the 800's were at 8K pace - some were slower, but very few slower than 6:00 pace. My thinking was that a short distance at close to 8K pace wouldn't add much overall fatigue and keep the overall run "easy".

Why push them so hard during the week - mostly ignorance (I've never been a runner) and perhaps slavishly adhering to the hard-easy idea. This is pretty much how I "learned" from the coach who preceded me when I first started. I have tinkered from year to year with various ideas - unfortunately, the one idea I have not tinkered with yet is cutting back on workouts (the hard-easy thing again). However, it has become increasingly clear in the past couple of years that our long term improvement has not been very good.

I appreciate the ideas and suggestions that you have offered and can incorporate them into the remaining 4 weeks of cross season. I defniitely look forward to a revised winter training plan.

Thanks,

Don

dkggpeters

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 565
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2012, 02:35:33 PM »
This is an interesting thread as it shows that it isn't always who works the hardest that runs the best.  My view has always been that you should race a lot faster then you train.  6 X 1 mile at 5:00 pace would give the expectation of 25:00 or below for an 8k.

Hopefully you can get things back on track over the next 4 weeks as you hate to see hard work without the appropriate results.  Good luck.

Tinman

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4007
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2012, 02:52:07 PM »
Don,

You were a tennis player and coach, right? Let me relate your experience to one I had as a freshman at Southern IL University - Carbondale.  I had a teacher who was the tennis coach for the University. We discussed some sports physiology one day in class and I raised my head in response to what the teacher said. I said that I watched the tennis team often, as they practiced, since the cross-country guys met near the courts for stretching before running, and to be honest I had my eye on a female tennis player who was super cute and she lived in my dorm. Anyway, I asked the teacher/coach a simple question related to how he trained tennis players. (I knew he pushed his athletes hard, even the day before matches, and I was sure their poor performances were due to overwork.) Here was my question: "If fatigue inhibits neuro-muscular performance in sports, then why do coach push athletes once they are tired?" The teacher/coach explained that you have to train the athlete's mind to deal with fatigue so that they don't give up in competition.  Then, I asked another question, "Since research shows that fatigue reduces nervous control in sports equally among the novice and the expert, then why train athletes "past" fatigue?" The discussion went back and forth for about 10 minutes, with two other people in the class chipping in ideas too, but eventually the teacher/tennis coach realized that his initial statement was wrong. Maybe you train the mind to deal with fatigue, but you sure don't improve an athlete's skill level by continuing to push them when they are tired. I argue that the BEST strategy, no matter what sport, is to improve fitness of athletes so that their skill level doesn't deteriorate at a lower level. You can't do much to improve their skill while conditioning; you can only train skill while FRESH.

Think about skill level in running; if you push runners on their easy days to run faster, they are tired when it's time to train specifically for racing (key workouts).

Tinman
« Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 03:06:27 PM by Tinman »
Tinman
(coaching available)
Inquire via email:
runfastcoach@gmail.com

dmedeiros@uwa.edu

  • Guest
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2012, 03:29:47 PM »
This is an interesting thread as it shows that it isn't always who works the hardest that runs the best.  My view has always been that you should race a lot faster then you train.  6 X 1 mile at 5:00 pace would give the expectation of 25:00 or below for an 8k.

Hopefully you can get things back on track over the next 4 weeks as you hate to see hard work without the appropriate results.  Good luck.

Times in the 25's was my expectation at the start of the year since many of the athletes had run in the low to mid 26's last year. When they ran those fast mile repeats I felt the 25's might be just around the corner. An interesting point is that our fastest runner so far is a freshman who came from a very low mileage HS program - 25 miles a week. I have been extra careful with his mileage and he only does partial workouts like 4 tempo miles instead of 5 and 5 repeat miles instead of 6 and half volume recovery runs  - 4-5 miles and only this week up to 8 miles on long run and we moved up to those partial levels gradually. I was slow to make a connection here.


dkggpeters

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 565
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2012, 04:01:38 PM »
Don,

I think that you will get there as you are in the right place getting advice here.  When I ran in High School we had a superstar on our team and the workouts we did were the same that he did.  Buried us into the ground.

That is what really drew me to Tinman's approach to training.  I still have a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to VO2 max intervals from over 30 years ago.  Up until last year I did the Tempo, Intervals, Long Run approach and struggled.  With the slower paces using CV, tempos, HMP, and MP based runs only 2 times a week, I have gotten much faster, stronger, and finish marathons much stronger and don't fade.  I really enjoy training now where before with the hard easy approach, it became a mental drain and once I started not hitting target times in training it became a downhill slide.

There is still no free lunch as the workouts are still challenging and hard, but it is not racing on training days.  I don't miss key workouts any more and my marathon times keep coming down.

dmedeiros@uwa.edu

  • Guest
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2012, 07:13:59 PM »
Don,

You were a tennis player and coach, right? Let me relate your experience to one I had as a freshman at Southern IL University - Carbondale.  I had a teacher who was the tennis coach for the University. We discussed some sports physiology one day in class and I raised my head in response to what the teacher said. I said that I watched the tennis team often, as they practiced, since the cross-country guys met near the courts for stretching before running, and to be honest I had my eye on a female tennis player who was super cute and she lived in my dorm. Anyway, I asked the teacher/coach a simple question related to how he trained tennis players. (I knew he pushed his athletes hard, even the day before matches, and I was sure their poor performances were due to overwork.) Here was my question: "If fatigue inhibits neuro-muscular performance in sports, then why do coach push athletes once they are tired?" The teacher/coach explained that you have to train the athlete's mind to deal with fatigue so that they don't give up in competition.  Then, I asked another question, "Since research shows that fatigue reduces nervous control in sports equally among the novice and the expert, then why train athletes "past" fatigue?" The discussion went back and forth for about 10 minutes, with two other people in the class chipping in ideas too, but eventually the teacher/tennis coach realized that his initial statement was wrong. Maybe you train the mind to deal with fatigue, but you sure don't improve an athlete's skill level by continuing to push them when they are tired. I argue that the BEST strategy, no matter what sport, is to improve fitness of athletes so that their skill level doesn't deteriorate at a lower level. You can't do much to improve their skill while conditioning; you can only train skill while FRESH.

Think about skill level in running; if you push runners on their easy days to run faster, they are tired when it's time to train specifically for racing (key workouts).

Tinman

Tinman, I never played tennis either. I was dumped by an incoming women's basketball coach (no I never played basketball either!) and the AD needed someone to take over tennis. That was an easy gig - I had a former player who was a grad student and he hit with the girls. I made out the lineups and drove the van. Can't take much credit for the all-Amercians we had or the conference championship we won. I just kind of "managed" things. But I do get the point you made. I sometimes forget that good mechanics and such is a skill - and hence subject to fatigue. I guess one only need look at the end of 8K's and 10K's to see what fatigue can do to running mechanics. Thanks for that tip. I've written it down in my notebook where I'll see it every day.

kevinm

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2012, 02:14:07 PM »
Don,

I'll throw my two cents in. Tinman began coaching me 11 months ago. Back when I was in high school (1980), the emphasis was on doing a lot of intensity throughout the week. We would run a 5 mile "road race" every Monday, then had a couple of hard intervals sessions/hills and/or races during the rest of the week. We ran those workouts "hard" without any sense of moderation/control. We did have a couple of easy days, but we usually ran those relatively fast. This approach worked just ok for those of us who ran all summer and could handle that much intensity, but I would peak before the state meet, and suffered a lot from injuries. One of the biggest lessons I've learned from Tinman training, is there is much, much, much more benefit from running more mileage at a easy pace, and keeping your "hard" days more moderate in both intensity and volume. This is completely counter intuitive to how I was trained as a young man and at first glance seems illogical.  How can you race fast when your not running fast very often in practice? What I've learned is that those easy runs are actually building endurance, even though its pretty effortless. Doing moderate running at CV, HM and Marathon pace are building tremendous strength and endurance, and its fairly enjoyable. You actually look forward to the next hard workout. Running in general is more enjoyable, which motivates me to train year around. The coolest thing is the end result. In a race when you start feeling fatigued, and you decide you want to pick up the pace, it actually happens!! You can go to another level during a race at will. This is a tremendous feeling. As a result of this kind of training, I'm not far off of what I was doing in high school 32 years ago!! (Two miles in 9:29 then, and around 9:40 now). If I could only go back in time, and take Tinman training with me!!

dkggpeters

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 565
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2012, 02:34:41 PM »
Kevin,

You are around the time period that I ran in High School as I graduated in 81.  We ran twice a day for cross country and the morning run was 5 miles in which the first mile was really easy then all hell broke lose.  It was essentially a 4 mile race 2 to 3 times a week depending on whether we race once or twice a week.  We would also do one to two quality sessions a week as well as racing once to twice a week.  We put in a lot of hard miles.

To this day, I cringe at the thought of V02 max intervals and just don't do them anymore.  Seeing Tinman's approach was refreshing and I am noticing that I am getting stronger and stronger in the Marathon.

dmedeiros@uwa.edu

  • Guest
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2012, 10:23:46 AM »
Don,

. One of the biggest lessons I've learned from Tinman training, is there is much, much, much more benefit from running more mileage at a easy pace, and keeping your "hard" days more moderate in both intensity and volume. This is completely counter intuitive to how I was trained as a young man and at first glance seems illogical.  How can you race fast when your not running fast very often in practice?

After reading and thinking about the advice you all have offered, we took a different approach today on our long interval day. Instead of 6x1 mile at 4:59-5:08 pace (for a majority of our runners) we reduced the miles by one and slowed the pace down to 5:17-5:30 for that same group of athletes. Same 3' rest. They were asked to run their race pace from their best 8K of the season. It was sort of.....weird. They were talking to each other the whole workout. At 5:00 pace they weren't able to do that or at least didn't feel like doing it. They kept looking at me like they were doing something "wrong" by running "so slow". They all reported feeling very relaxed and were not even breathing hard at any time during the workout - yet they were running at their race pace. Thanks Tinman for this specific workout suggestion and all of you for your thoughtful comments.  We finished with 6x100m at 1500m  pace with easy jog back recoveries.

Here are some results:
Runner             Best 8K Race Pace           Today's average    Previous best 6x1 mi average pace
1                       5:17                                 5:17                      5:07/mi
2                       5:24                                 5:26                      4:59/mi
3                       5:24                                 5:30                      5:04/mi
4                       5:28                                 5:28                      5:00/mi
5                       5:31                                 5:27                      5:08/mi
6                       5:31                                 5:31                      5:14/mi
7                       5:50                                 5:40                      5:20/mi
8                       5:50                                 5:45                      5:23/mi

We have 2 filler days up next in which I will emphasize the easy nature of the runs. We are dropping one of our hard workouts and will have only 2 this week. Major race at the end of next week coming up.

Thanks again for your comments and suggestions.

Spider Man

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 52
    • View Profile
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2012, 12:56:22 PM »
Coach Don .... please do tell us how your guys get on this weekend.

Remeber that the benefits of this more moderate/sensible training intensity will be better seen in the long term rather than the short term.

kevinm

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 2 questions
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2012, 01:15:42 PM »
Don,

I applaud you for being a coach willing to do research and make adjustments! Many coaches won't make the effort to do this. How you train these runners will be with them for the rest of their lives. Giving them a proper training pattern to follow will help all of them achieve there potential. Your right about feeling guilty by not running hard, particularly when that is normally how you train. It feels like you won't improve, since your not running your guts out in practice. I've often said, that I'm not sure what kind of shape I'm in, until I race, since most of the running is moderate in nature. In the past, I would use my hard intervals to figure what kind of shape I was in. The problem of course, was that by doing so, I left part of the next race in practice. Isn't that why we race to begin with? It all makes sense to me now! Anyway, keep us posted on how training goes with the new approach in the months to come!

Kevin

 




Facebook Comments