Please help a high school runner
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senior2college
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Please help a high school runner

by senior2college » Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:05 pm

What is the best way a high school runner can modify in-season intervals into combo workouts?

Long story:
I am a high school senior - a slow-twitch, strength runner with not much speed. I’ve run a 16:00 5K in cross country and a 10:00 3200 in track. These fast times, however, always come mid-season for me. The final month or so I regress, my times get worse and I feel I have lost stamina. My coach has us run a lot of intervals and repeats with lower mileage (~35 mpw). In past seasons I would always run intervals hard, hitting the goal pace each rep, as I wanted to improve. Now I know better.

After two years of feeling burnt out by mid-season, I found Tinman’s training methods. This winter I have been running ~55-60 miles/week including a 30 min Tinman Tempo, 6x3:30 CVs plus 4x30sec @1600 pace, and a 12-13 mile long run as my weekly workouts. I’ve never felt stronger going into a season. For fun this winter, I jumped into a local half marathon in place of my long run. I’ve never raced over a 5K, but that day I ran an easy 1:20:00 and felt great!

I shared what I have been doing with my coach. I'm pretty pumped about the season and wanted to talk about how to best approach my in-season training so I don’t peak early again. That got shot down. He said he was disappointed in my training and that running CVs won't do me any good. He said 10K pace will only help if I am running a 10K or half marathon. As a 1600 and 3200 runner, I need lots of speed work. He said his plan is proven and I just have to believe in it. I'm not denying speed work is important, it's just that the amount I've done in the past hasn't worked out the best for me.

Official practice starts in a week, and I really need a plan. I’ve found some past threads where Tinman says the only thing a high school runner in this situation can do is control how you run.

My question: What is the best way to adapt my running during speed work so I don’t burn out mid-season again? Here’s what I was thinking:

Last few weeks in March: run all intervals as close to CV pace as possible
Spring break week: on my own - same as my winter training with TT run and 6x3:30 CVs plus long run
Last 6-8 weeks of season: divide the repeats in half - running the first set of reps at CV pace and the second set at the goal pace.

I know my coach will be yelling at me a lot to go faster, but would this be a good way to turn too much speed work into combo workouts? Should I also do a refresher CV workout on the weekend, like 3x3:30 at CV in the middle of my Saturday run to help maintain my stamina?

I know I have to keep my miles up and do my long run each weekend. I'm also planning to take some races "off" when I know I don't have to go all out to earn points for the team. My dream was always to make it to state, but right now I just want to get through one season without feeling burnt out and regressing. Any advice anyone can give would be very much appreciated.

Biff
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Re: Please help a high school runner

by Biff » Fri Mar 08, 2019 8:28 am

Ok it is hard to tell why you peak early from what you have written, but my assumption is that your coach has you doing hard intervals a lot and the mileage is not very high once you get into the speed work. That is typical for a lot of HS teams.

I will tell you my brother is in HS and has been in a similar situation and I have been able to guide him to improving significantly and consistently over the past year and a half, peaking at the state meet in XC.

Here is what you do:

The key is not so much the CV pace or the Tinman Tempo pace. Work with your coach. Do his workouts, and rather than just try to hit CV pace - focus on just running them within yourself. Most workouts should be doable, and not killers. If all the workouts are short speed (8 x 400 at mile pace etc), then make sure you are pacing appropriately and staying in control. You could even ask if you could run a 2 mile tempo before the speed - but some coaches may not agree to that.

More important - overall mileage, consistency and easy running. Make sure you are running easy on the non-workout runs. Truly easy. So for you, definitely above 7:00 pace, even slower than 7:30 a lot of the time. Add in morning runs. Use your morning runs and weekend runs alone to KEEP YOUR MILEAGE UP. So if your team is tapering off, or doing really short runs/workouts, make up the mileage in the morning with easy running. If you run EASY, you won't burn out. If you keep your mileage up, you won't burn out mid season.

If you can run 12 mile long run every weekend (and maybe an easy 8 the other weekend day), this will help keep you on the right track.

Remember, consistent easy mileage and a long run each week. Workouts in control. Do not drop mileage until the week of state. The workouts aren't as important.

Control what you can control (i.e. everything besides workout structure). You will be fine.

senior2college
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Re: Please help a high school runner

by senior2college » Sat Mar 09, 2019 4:21 pm

Biff wrote:Ok it is hard to tell why you peak early from what you have written, but my assumption is that your coach has you doing hard intervals a lot and the mileage is not very high once you get into the speed work. That is typical for a lot of HS teams.

I will tell you my brother is in HS and has been in a similar situation and I have been able to guide him to improving significantly and consistently over the past year and a half, peaking at the state meet in XC.

Here is what you do:

The key is not so much the CV pace or the Tinman Tempo pace. Work with your coach. Do his workouts, and rather than just try to hit CV pace - focus on just running them within yourself. Most workouts should be doable, and not killers. If all the workouts are short speed (8 x 400 at mile pace etc), then make sure you are pacing appropriately and staying in control. You could even ask if you could run a 2 mile tempo before the speed - but some coaches may not agree to that.

More important - overall mileage, consistency and easy running. Make sure you are running easy on the non-workout runs. Truly easy. So for you, definitely above 7:00 pace, even slower than 7:30 a lot of the time. Add in morning runs. Use your morning runs and weekend runs alone to KEEP YOUR MILEAGE UP. So if your team is tapering off, or doing really short runs/workouts, make up the mileage in the morning with easy running. If you run EASY, you won't burn out. If you keep your mileage up, you won't burn out mid season.

If you can run 12 mile long run every weekend (and maybe an easy 8 the other weekend day), this will help keep you on the right track.

Remember, consistent easy mileage and a long run each week. Workouts in control. Do not drop mileage until the week of state. The workouts aren't as important.

Control what you can control (i.e. everything besides workout structure). You will be fine.


Yes, my coach has us run a lot of intervals right away using Jack Daniels charts. We have no off-season training plan. I'm the only one that runs consistent miles in the off-season. A few guys run a little, most don't run at all. I really didn't know until this year that I should be keeping up my miles during the season. Last year I came into the season running 60 mpw and looking back at our workouts the team averaged ~35 so I know that was part of my problem. During cross in the fall, I tried to keep up my miles.

I've worked on keeping my easy days easy this past winter, around 7:30 pace on recovery days. I've read about keeping workouts "fast but relaxed". The problem I have is that since I come into the season in better shape than the rest of the distance team, coach has me pace the intervals. I'll be given the fastest goal to hit, with groups behind me hitting slower times. When you say "make sure you are pacing appropriately and staying in control." what do you mean by "pacing appropriately"? I think that's what I really need to figure out.

The longest run our team will take is 6 miles. I may have to ask about extending some team runs to keep up my mileage, as I'm not sure I can run in the morning. I double in the summer, but right now I leave for school in the dark at 7:00am and it's still pretty snowy and icy outside.

Thanks again for the help. I really appreciate it!

Biff
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Re: Please help a high school runner

by Biff » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:50 pm

Well there you have it. Dropping your mileage from 60 to 35 (almost cutting it in half!) and adding intensity will lead to peaking in a couple weeks and burnout/staleness a couple weeks after that. So that is a clear problem.

Regarding "pacing appropriately": run your workouts at an even pace, erring on the side of getting faster as the workout goes on. You should be able to run 1-2 more reps more at your current pace. You are training, not straining. Don't kill yourself in practice, or only do so rarely. You will have plenty of races as a high schooler to practice getting a full race effort.

Think positively. I am sure your coach's workouts have worked well for runners in the past. If you stay in control and pace them well, you will see benefits. Running fast workouts at this time of year is not a problem - Tinman would have you running fast hills and strides year round after your CV or Tempo work. The problem is if you do not balance out that speed work with continued easy mileage.

You have mentioned many barriers to getting more mileage in. Are you committed? You will have to be creative. Here are some ideas:
- double on the weekends
- run a long run on the weekend and the other day double
- get a headlight and run outside. Most places are warming up this week. Find a non-icy road and run small loops over and over
- extend your warmup and cool down on workout days
- go a mile or two further than your teammates on easy days. Tell your coach you feel stiff and need to loosen up
- run a couple miles when you get home from practice (not my favorite option)

If you can keep your mileage consistently above 50 all season by adding EASY running, you won't peak early. You will be amazed at the progress you can make.

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Re: Please help a high school runner

by senior2college » Mon Mar 11, 2019 2:45 pm

Thanks! You have really cleared some things up for me. Your definition of pacing properly really helps. I am planning to work on easy pacing, conservatively at first and not just hammering and trying build up to a fast but even, relaxed pace over the final reps.

You have hit on some of the ideas I’ve had for getting extra miles. I plan to keep up my 13-mile long run on Sundays all season until state week. I’ll run a shorter easy run on Saturday, unless I need to make up some miles. Then I will double. I’m going to see if my coach is open to me running a couple miles longer than the team on some easy run days, but he’s a bit of a curmudgeon.. If not I may just extend some of my cool down runs at the end of practice. In cross country in the fall, i would run extra when I got home, and like you that was not my favorite way to make up miles.

Thanks again for all your help!

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