Sprinters & Base

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Tinman
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Sprinters & Base

Post by Tinman » Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:08 pm

Every winter about this time, at least by February, coaches email to me with concerns about their sprinters and middle distance runners. They want them to run well during the track season but they are worried that their athletes won't have enough "base." So many times there are circumstances beyond the coach's control that prevent their athletes from doing the same kind of thorough foundational work that collegiate or world class runners do.

*If a track coach has a background in distance running, there is a tendency to think "base" only means "mileage run per week." Through experience, a coach who is an avid runner, knows that "putting in the miles" is an important construct of success, but how do they deal with young athletes who can't put in the base mileage due to stressful circumstances, or they refuse to do it?

The best thing a coach can do in this situation is start from the ground up: Design and administer training which develops overall fitness (first), followed by training focused on specific running endurance, strength, and technique.

*Note, distance running is not the only method of developing aerobic endurance. (I know this is heresy to many participants on running websites who think that "base" is just mileage, but I stand solid on this concept!).

In a perfect world we'd send our youth out on the roads or trails for distance runs over a 8-10 week period before tackling higher intensity workouts, but it isn't a perfect world! Runners can develop aerobic endurance effectively by doing many reps of slow paced intervals. Swim coaches sure know this, by the way!

A 400-800m runner who currently runs 24 seconds in the 200m (at full effort, today) can comfortably run a workout of 36-second 200s with 100m jog-recoveries, to develop endurance.

To illustrate the point, lets say Alan Webb, an elite middlle distance runner, needs to develop aerobic endurance and he lives in area that has a terrible snowstorm. It's so bad that he can't run anywhere without danger. So, he jumps on his cross-country skis and heads over to the indoor track, which is about a mile or so away. His coach arrives and says, "Alan, I did plan for you to run 10 miles at 5:10 pace today - a nice tempo run for your current ability - but doing that much on an indoor track (80 laps) is probably not going to be any fun, and it may cause some sore shins. I know you love to run up-tempo, so I'll have you do 200s in high volume at 50% best effort. Since you can probably run about 22 seconds in the 200 right now, I'll have you do 33 second reps. You'll get a 20 seconds jog recovery - just enough to catch your breath. You'll do 30 reps since you are in half-way decent shape. Since you xc skied over here, you only need to jog about 5 minutes to warm up and cool down. Go ahead! Report back here in 5 minutes and I'll time you."

Alan returns in 5 minutes and is warned by his coach, "Don't run too fast! This workout is designed for aerobic endurance development." Alan proceeds to run 30 x 200m in 33 seconds each, jogging 20-second recoveries. He does a 5 minute cool down and skis home. His total workout was about 8000 meters (about 5 miles), yet he worked is aerobic endurance well! He basically totalled 6,000m of 200m reps at 4:24 per 1600m speed, which is about 36-40 seconds slower than he could run all-out over 1600m. Perfect for developing aerobic endurance for Alan!

A 16-17 year old kid with athletic background who is not in good endurance shape (at the moment) may start pre-season conditioning by running 5 or 6 x 200m at 50% slower than current best time (not his or her "best-ever" time or goal time!). After 8 weeks of conditioning, doing 15-18 reps at the same intensity without fatigue is possible; thus proving that aerobic endurance has developed a lot. (Ask any decent swimming coach about slow interval training and they say it is quite common in their sport. They have used it for years because it works! )

*Elite swim-coaches at big clubs or universities test and measure their swimmers with lactate meters against velocity. They observe drops in lactate at set speeds or increases in speed at a set lactate levels due to use of slow interval training.

Example: A track coach may test (athlete) Joe over 200 meters at full effort. Joe runs 26 seconds (he's been running track 3 years and he's technically efficient, but his conditioning base is weak) but stuggles over the last 50 meters. Three days later (this is week # 1 of the off-season conditioning) Joe is tested over 400 meter and he scores a 62 second time, which is 19.2% slower per meter than the 200m sprint time. His track coach, who has a lot of experience, knows that any runner who slows more than 10% when he doubles his sprint distance (from 200 to 400 meters) has weak endurance and needs work in that area, above all else.

Application:

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday Joe's runs slow 200s. He starts with 6 x 200 meters at 50% effort (39 seconds per rep for Joe) with a 100m jog recoveries. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday of each training week Joe does half-distance reps at the same intensity, same proportional recoveries, and technique drills. He also includes may do some weight-room training: lunges or partial squats, leg presses or cleans, plus som anterior abdominal and lower back exercises for stability and endurance.

Each week Joe's coach increases the slow 200m interval workouts by 3 reps. So, the second week he runs 9 x 200m, the third he'll run 12 x 200m, and the fourth he'll run 15 x 200m! If there's more time to get in shape, Joe's coach will be more conservative and add just 2 reps per week to the 200 workouts. And, because Joe's coach believes that runners typically improve .25 seconds per week at the same effort (in the early part of the buildup), repetition training times are adjusted accordingly. Joe's rep times are scheduled as follows: 39 seconds (week 1), 38.75 seconds (week 2), 38.5 seconds (week 3), and 38.25 seconds (week 4).


Joe completes all 4 weeks of training successfully and on the 5th week he's retested for speed and endurance using the same 200m and 400m tests at full effort. At the retest, Joe runs 200m in 25 seconds (a full second improvement; a 4% incresae in speed per meter run) and 400m in 57 seconds (a full 5 seconds faster; and 8.1% improvement).

Clearly, Joe's made some very good progress! In training, he's reached 15 x 200m during week #4 (9 more reps per workout compared to week #1). He's 4% faster over 200m and 8.1% faster over 400m. (As you can see the slow intervals work both speed and endurance. The more important at this point is the endurance has improved twice as much as his speed via SLOW INTERVAL TRAINING.

Anaylsis of the 4 week "conditiioning period.":

During the first test week, Joe ran 19.23% slower (per meter) in his 400 than his 200 (200m/26.0 sec. divided by 400m/62 seconds = 19.23%). During the 2nd test week (5 weeks hence), Joe's 400m time wsa 14% slower per meter than his 200m time (200m/25.0 sec. / 400m/57 sec. = 14%). Conclusion: His endurance-ratio improved 5.23%. That's solid improvement in just a month!

Learning point: When the ratio between Joe's 200 and 400 speed per meter is 10% or less; his endurance is solid and he can move on to faster interval training.

Note if you were to take a blood lactate sample at the beginning, middle and end of Joe's slow interval workouts you would probably find that his lactate levels were modest. (If I had to estimate, his lactates would probably go from 1 mmol (at resting) to 2.5 mmols at midway, to 4 mmols at the end.) The second two lactate levels are basically efforts at ~80 to 85% of Max VO2.

Summary:

When Joe performs slow (enough) intervals, his energetic demand is way below local muscle failure where intra and extra-celluar ph drops below his resting value. A slow interval workout, like the one I described, is energetically no different than continuous tempo running at 80-85% of Max VO2; a solid aerobic effort which is nowhere near exhausting.

I hope the above explanation is helpful. The mission was to present a means of developing aerobic endurance (enhanced oxidative phosphorylation) quickly for sprinters and middle distance runners who are unable to do a traditional mileage base; due to time shortages, environmental problems, or lack of support from parents or administrators.

Regards,

Tinman

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Tinman
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Cerveza

Sprinters & Base

Post by Cerveza » Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:47 pm

Hi, thanks for the interesting information! Got something similar to your story, already been doubting to ask why people can run so good over longer distance (like 10-15K) with such a training aproach of only intervalsessions.. but you answered it now! ;)

A friend of mine (he's 3yrs older as I am, so 21) is running the verheul method : in short the training only contains "slow" interval sessions (from 200- 2000m) and the only endurance runs are the races which the atletes run nearly weekly and gymnastics is a very important part too (quite difficult to explain for me in english, so article is below ;))

He's booking great progress with it, he is really running so lightly and smooth! 1 year ago he ran a 47min 15K, but got shin splints for 5months due to running on puma h-streets all the time, but he seems to be back again after some months of training, few weeks ago he set a 30:30 10K!

But I'm curious what you guys think of this article!

[quote]The Verheul Method

In 1979 two Dutch runners, Klaas Lok and Joost Borm of the Utrecht athletics Club Phoenix took by surprise the first and second places at the National Cross Country Championships. The day after, it was recorded in the newspapers that their running style was much suppler and more relaxed than that of the defeated favourites, Gerard ter Broke and Tonnie Luttikhold.

In 2005 "The Misunderstanding of endurance runs" ("Het Duurloopmisverstand") was published by Klaas Lok. In this book the former Dutch champion on the middle and long distances explains that a supple and relaxed running technique can be obtained by running short intervals of 200m (15x) and 400m (10x), if necessary completed with even shorter intervals of 100m in a faster pace.[1] The pace should be fast enough to develop reactivity and running economy but also slow enough to gain a correct balance in training between load and relaxation.

Slow endurance runs at the contrary would develop a heavy stride and a slow push off, while hard repetition runs would undermine the necessary relaxation in running. This was the philosophy of Coach Herman Verheul (1932), who brought Lok and Borm to their successes. In his philosophy the very often ran races are the only repetition and endurance runs. Only in the most specific form of training - the race- athletes were thought to be able to reach an optimal performance of these two forms of training. In the Netherlands this philosophy of training is known as the "Verheul Method", and in the slightly different version of Klaas Lok labeled "Souplesse Method".

This method can be placed somewhere in the tradition of Zatopek and the coaches Woldemar Gerschler and Mihaly Igl?i, the most important differences being that Verheul moderated the volume and pace of the workouts but increased the time spent on gymnastics. In his gymnastics he used exercises he had derived from the ballet of the Don Cossacks. These gymnastics were thought to be very important and done before every workout and there was a special gymnastics training every Monday evening in winter.

In the Verheul Method the emphasis is on supple, easy running in interval training. The real individual rules for training paces are based on the manner in which the athlete moves, his capacities of relaxation, his rhythm, his general condition, and his capacities to recover. As a guiding principle Verheul used the idea of the Hungarian coach Mihaly Igl?i that you never should train harder than your capacity to be recovered the next day. So training velocities are highly individual and velocities mentioned below are just values that have proved to be effective for the average runner.

Verheul did not use tables to deduce paces for athletes, nor did he pay much attention to heart rates, but in stead he observed the individual athlete, asked, and drew his conclusions from the race results of this athlete. Nevertheless, to give an indication of the paces that were run you can say - as a rule of thumb - that the fastest pace of the 200m interval is 3k race pace or maximum 1500m race pace, that the fastest pace of the 400m interval is 5k race pace, and the fastest pace of the 1000m interval is 15k race pace. At the beginning of the winter (1 October) these paces were set back by Verheul from the fastest paces in the summer to paces that were 15 sec. slower for 1000m, 6 sec. slower for 400m and 3 sec. slower for 200m. From this level the system of periodization of the Verheul method (in winter increasing paces, in summer stable paces) meant that during the winter the paces increased every month with about 0,5 second on the 200m (6x0,5 sec. = 3 sec.), 1 second on the 400m (6x1 sec. = 6 sec.) and 3 seconds on the 1000m intervals (5x3 sec. = 15 sec.).

Besides the interval training and gymnastics there was a winter fartlek training every Saturday that consisted of a mix of an average of 16 tempo's of differing lengths and gymnastics and increased from 5 till 7 quarters of an hour.

A typical Verheul winter program (1 October - 1 April) for a runner capable of running 10k in 31 minutes (or 800m in 1.54, 1500m in 3.55, 3k in 8.30, or 5k in 14.40) is:

Monday: Gymnastics training (indoor)

Tuesday: 15x 200m 37 sec. -> 34 sec.

Wednesday: 6x1000m 3.20 -> 3.05 (temporarily out of the program at 1 April)

Thursday: 10x400m 76 sec. -> 70 sec

Friday: 15x200m 37 sec. -> 34 sec.

Saturday: Fartlek

Sunday: Race (cross country mostly, road, sometimes indoor)[2]


A typical Verheul summer program (1 April - 1 October) for the same runner is:

Monday: 15x200m 34 sec.

Tuesday: 10x 400m 70 sec.

Wednesday: 15x200m (but after pb's again 6x 1000m build up again easily, starting 3.20)

Thursday: 10x400m 70 sec.

Friday: Race (800m, 1500m, 3k, 5k, 10k etc. on track)

Saturday: 15x200m 34 sec.

Sunday: 10x400m 70 sec.


In fact the number of repetitions are never increased above the numbers of 15x200m, 10x400m and 6x1000m (the load increasing mainly by growing to faster easy paces and running faster in races and by adding a second 6x1000 program in a winter week). Decreased numbers are used for young, beginning and older (master) runners and in come backs after injuries. A typical ?reduced program' is 12x200, 8x400 and 4x1000.

Verheul presumed that training (we are not talking here about the races of course!) with heart rates above 150 beats a minute might add nothing to the development of the human organism and might be useless and maybe even detrimental. Apart from this insight, the emphasis in the Verheul Method, however, is not on the effects of interval training on the heart, but much more on the qualities of movement, and what is naturally connected to it, that is: the frequency of muscle contraction, the elasticity and reactivity of muscles. In the opinion of Lok this is the undervalued suppositious child in the world of runners. Lok suggests: "In fact there should exist a ?muscle elasticity meter', an apparatus that would indicate the moment that an endurance run should be interrupted the moment the elasticity (reactivity) lessens."

The interval training of Verheul was designed consciously to give the muscles a chance to relax after the endurance load (that is the weekly ran race). A so called "recovery endurance run" the day after the race is nonsense in his philosophy, because doing the same could never be a recovery. After a long race, short intervals over 200m have the preference. After every interval run athletes walk 10 till 20 meters to take off the stress from the (tired) muscles and to shake their legs loose with a few hops. Thereupon they do a slow recovery run over the same distance as the interval run. The same procedure is pursued in the 400m-interval program (with 400m recovery runs) and in the 1000m-interval program (with 1000m recovery runs). The last program is only done by advanced runners (once, later maximum two times a week), who start their 1000m intervals in the beginning of the winter season at a pace that is generally a little slower than their race pace of the half marathon.

The recovery distances are thus purposefully made relatively long when we compare them to the quite common use to take only recovery runs over the same distance in the case of fast repetition running and a shorter recovery run than the interval run in the case of interval training. The advantages of this distinctive use of recovery distances in the Verheul interval training are not only a fast general recovery but also that the muscles can regain the elasticity that might be lost as a result of the race.

This article is based on interviews with Herman Verheul by Herman Lenferink, as a result of which Herman Lenferink published two articles in the Dutch periodical:

Pro Loop, Vakblad voor de Looptrainer (part 3 and 4, 2005) under the titles: "De methode Verheul" en "De methode Verheul deel 2". This English article is a summary of these two articles.

Cerveza

Sprinters & Base

Post by Cerveza » Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:47 pm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] To be clear: Herman Verheul did not use intervals of 100m; it is something Klaas Lok uses nowadays sometimes after long intervals or after endurance runs with changing paces ("wisselduurlopen") with few repetitions (5-10) to develop reactivity, and Herman Lenferink in forms that resemble schemes of Gerschler and Igl?i, like 30x100m, to develop confidence with the rhythm and paces of the shorter middle distances, to develop speed and (acceleration)power, but also in a slower pace as relaxation runs or development runs for beginning runners with a bad condition (of course with less repetitions than 30 in the last case).

[2] The text "37 sec. -> 34 sec" means that the 15x200m is run at 37 sec in October, 36.5 sec. in November, 36 sec. in December, 35.5 sec. in January, 35 sec. in February, 34.5 sec. in Mars and 34 sec. in April - October. The 400m is fastening with one second every month, the 1000m with 3 sec.[/quote]

Tinman
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Sprinters & Base

Post by Tinman » Thu Jan 10, 2008 5:14 pm

I modified the first post I made today to hopefully make it more straight forward. I wrote the other one very late last night when I was tired, so it wasn't so fluid. Hopefully this one is easier to read. I am still tired (we have a newborn baby, so you know what that means!).

About the Verheul method, that's interesting. I do see strong resemblances to the Gerschler-Reindell and Franz Stampfl methods of training - especially to Stampfl (coach of Roger Bannister and many other elites of that era) who had a set progression from October to summer. I actually think the Verheul method is ripoff of Stampfl's method, with a slight twist - a bit slower paced intervals.

Good stuff, though!

Tinman

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by7

Sprinters & Base

Post by by7 » Fri Jan 11, 2008 6:01 am

my personal comment is that this "philosophy" looks very interesting for application in those "extreme" weathers, where it may be difficult or very tiring to use Tempo Run or long interval.
As mentioned by Tinman, it can be very interesting for Winter Indoor training or very warm summer climate.
In very warm/humid climates, we have serious issue to maintain a proper fitness during the warmer months: either run very slowly, with loss of the elastic properties of the muscles/tendons either run fast but for very limited time, to avoid overheating.

I may give it a try during next summer...

rocknrollrunner

Sprinters & Base

Post by rocknrollrunner » Fri Jan 11, 2008 4:22 pm

Thanks for the post Cerveza. really interesting stuff. I think I would get a stress fracture in a hurry if I ran intervals every day, but obviously your friend is running great on that system! This goes to show that there are so many different ways for runners to get good as long as they put in the work. Everyone is an experiment of one!

Cerveza

Sprinters & Base

Post by Cerveza » Sat Jan 12, 2008 9:42 am

[QUOTE=rocknrollrunner]Thanks for the post Cerveza. really interesting stuff. I think I would get a stress fracture in a hurry if I ran intervals every day, but obviously your friend is running great on that system! This goes to show that there are so many different ways for runners to get good as long as they put in the work. Everyone is an experiment of one![/QUOTE]


Your welcome! My friend won again today with about 3-4min advantage over 10K X-Country race! I tried that method too in 2006.. but it's not working for me, my legs got very tired (I think it has something to do with my low basic speed, my friend has a high basic speed).. Perhaps I had to get used to it, I dont know, but I was even getting slower every week.. and race times on 5K were about 30sec slower as the year before.. so I didn't see the light anymore and stopped with it after 2 months and joined therunzone.com in nov2006 (and went from 17:45 to 16flat now ;) )

~Cerveza

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