What happened to the Slow Tempo?

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BarryP

What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by BarryP » Tue Aug 26, 2008 8:16 pm

Note; I eliminated the Slow Tempo recently. From a physiological perspective I just don't think it's needed.

C'mon Tinman, you can't leave us hanging? What made you change your mind?



I'm curious because you and McMillan were the only two I'd heard this recommended from. My former college coach started adding them to his program at a pace similar to your recommendation (5K -60s/mile for 15min 5K guys), which I'm sure he got on the advice of another college coach.

Looking forward to your answer.

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What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by Tinman » Thu Aug 28, 2008 11:05 am

It depends upon how you define Slow Tempo. In my case, I set Slow Tempo at 75% of VO2 max. In truth, it is fine but I'd rather a runner do tempos @ 80% of VO2 max because acceleration of respiration typically occurs at that intensity (for trained runners). *It is my belief that faster muscle fibers are initiated to large extent at or above 80% of VO2 max so that is why respiration and lactate (tend to) exponentiallly increase above baseline at that intensity.

Note; my tempos have always been slower than the old Jack Daniels' tempos (which were set at 88% of vVo2 max, as I understand it), so my regular 80% of VO2 max Tempos are actually Slow by comparision to Jack's original ones. Thus, I still advise using extended "slow" tempos compared to what people in the running community used for several years (during the 1980s and 1990s).

I don't normally use 75% Slow Tempos, per se, unless it aligns well with someone's specific marathon pace. (I use MP prep training runs for marathon runners).
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Harry Hood

What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by Harry Hood » Thu Aug 28, 2008 7:13 pm

Tinman Lydiard had a 3/4 effort 10 miler in his schedule recommendations during his base phase. Many Lydiard diciples related this pace very well with about marathon pace to slightly slower than marathon pace.

Furthermore, I was looking at Brian Sell's training in preperation to the olympics. He did runs at 4:50-5 m/m almost weekly and often during segments of his long runs. Thats his marathon pace to slightly slower which relates very well to what Lydiards guys did.

Does this pace really have no value? I just find it very hard to digest.

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What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by Tinman » Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:05 pm

This post is somewhat random. Bear with it, there are various things you might pick up.

As I see it, running training comes in two basic forms: productivity training and proficiency training. I could name them capacity and efficiency training, too, I suppose.

Productivity training is all about increasing (power) output. A runner who increases oxygen uptake improves power, if everything else stays the same. A runner who improves the rate of anaerobic energy created per unit time is increasing productivity - as long as everything else stays the same. A runner who increases storage capacity of glycogen (carbohydrate) improves productivity. Increasing enzymes that breakdown fuel sources fast increases productivity.

Proficiency training is all about increasing effectiveness. It is an application tool! The result of proficiency training is using less force to generate pace or speed (velocity). It's about running further because less fuel is burned per unit time (per minute, for example).
-------------------
A Slow Tempo is more intense than easy distance running so there is no doubt it inceases productivity of aerobic pathways and processes relative to the same amount of easy distance running. But, in terms of how much productivity is incresed a moderate tempo is more powerful.

The big drawback of running tempos too slow is this: an athlete must run much further at that intensity to gain the same benefits as running a moderate tempo run. So, one might say, "Why is that a big deal?" My reply is this:
Pounding / shock!

Runners must absorb body weight when running, unlike cyclists and swimmers. A runner who elevates pounding substantially is going to have a lot of structural damage to mend in the subsequent hours and days. That means other (valuable) forms of training are likely to be compromised.

If an athelte must run 15 miles at Slow Tempo pace to gain the same benefits as running 10 miles at a moderate tempo then his total shock is a lot more. And, that means it takes him an extra day or two to recover from the structural damage than he'd need if he simply ran 10 miles at a moderate tempo pace.

Key; Slow Tempos have benefits but they tend to make runners lose valuable training time - in the days that follow a slow tempo run. It's about like running a marathon! A marathon has hardly any acidosis to it, but the structural damage caused to the legs is enormous. A marathon runner needs nearly a month to repair all that damage, and as a result very little training must be done that would improve performance in that 1 month active recovery period.

Related theory:

I think people runing races that last under 90 minutes should run doubles as often as possible. I'd rather Jim run 6 in the morning at 9 at night for a total of 15 miles per day or 105 miles per week than have him run 15-mile singles and be unable to do solid quality workouts each week. It doesn't matter how Jim runs 105 miles per week, in terms of developing aerobic capacity. Doubling allows runners to do better quality workouts each week than singles!

Caveat; anyone racing over 90 minutes should do some long singles to improve their ability to deal with pounding (and to a small extent fuel use). There's no good way around it, unfortunately!

Capacity vs Power:

Aerobic power is the application of force given a defined amount of oxygen consumed. Just because Jim has a VO2 max of 70 doesn't mean he will always beat Jerry who has a 65 for a VO2 max. Jim needs to have solid aerobic power (application) too.

Jack Daniels has shown this many times in charts that VO2 cost varies from runner to runner at a given speed. (I've seen it in the lab, too.)

Real life:

During my senior year in college all but 1 runner did a VO2 max lab test. The guy who placed 3rd at nationals was about 5th ranked in terms of VO2 max. The guy who was ranked first in VO2 max was 7th man on our team. Why? The guy ranked 7th on our team had poor aerobic power. He wasn't able to effectively use the great amount of oxygen he consumed each minute (like the faster guy did).
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Harry Hood

What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by Harry Hood » Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:29 pm

Good post Tinman.

I believe part of Lydiards philosphy was all about volume. I have read that doing tempo's slowly, yet very long your muscle's are using more oxygen thus conditioning the fibers efificently(with oxygen), becuase you are using a greater percentage of aerobic pathways. With short runs(1 hour race pace)you get a stimulas though you don't develope capllaries or stamina charastics because of the short time they add to work. You can set out on a long tempo and as your lower fibers fatigue your-*1 hour race pace fibeers* are recruited. Only now you develope them efficiently because you are working at an aerobic pace-- more fuel coming from oxygen is what I'm trying to say.

Actually runs btw 90-100% of *maximum steady state*- about marathon pace for faster runners, forms the back bone of Lydiards principles. He believed that you condition trough volume training not intensity. Conventional forms of tempo running would be what he termed "track work" wich came after the stamina building phase.

Just a thought.

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What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by Tinman » Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:20 am

Harry,

Actually, you get every single thing by running about 1 hour pace in training for a much shorter distance as you do by running much further but slower. It's a trade-off. The two major improvements you will receive from doing the faster tempo running is greater stimulation of fast twitch fibers (elevating both their mitochondria numbers and capillaries) and better improvement in coordination (whcih ultately can lead to better efficiency and running fast).

It's completely false for anyone to say the running faster tempo work (like 1-hour pace) isn't going to build capillaries like long distance work does. In fact, I bet I could find literature, if motivated, which would indicate that 1-hour type fast tempo running has a far better stimulation effect on fast fibers than longer but slower running.

Note, in my opionion Lydiard was completely wrong to state that long single runs are superior at developing endurance than running shorter runs but more often. As long as the total volume is similar the results will be similar. The big thing that really long runs will do is develop capacity to deal with shock (pounding of legs). It's debatable whether long runs are better at improving fat-burning mechanisms.

I've found in literature to burn fat faster is through higher intensity training. The fastest way to burn the most fat is run Tinman Tempo pace (or right at 80% of VO2 max). You burn more fat per second at that intensity than running much slower. Sure, the total percentage of Calories burned is higher when lower intensity training is used but the TOTAL number of fat Calories burned per second is higher at 80% of VO2 max because the total energy expenditure at 80% is high. Above 80% and the amount of fat burned starts to decrease again, as burning of carbohydrates elevates rapidly.
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What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by Tinman » Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:20 am

Harry,

Actually, you get every single thing by running about 1 hour pace in training for a much shorter distance as you do by running much further but slower. It's a trade-off. The two major improvements you will receive from doing the faster tempo running is greater stimulation of fast twitch fibers (elevating both their mitochondria numbers and capillaries) and better improvement in coordination (whcih ultately can lead to better efficiency and running fast).

It's completely false for anyone to say the running faster tempo work (like 1-hour pace) isn't going to build capillaries like long distance work does. In fact, I bet I could find literature, if motivated, which would indicate that 1-hour type fast tempo running has a far better stimulation effect on fast fibers than longer but slower running.

Note, in my opinion Lydiard was completely wrong to state that long single runs are superior at developing endurance than running shorter runs but more often. As long as the total volume is similar the results will be similar. The big thing that really long runs will do is develop capacity to deal with shock (pounding of legs). It's debatable whether long runs are better at improving fat-burning mechanisms.

Research literature supports the use of high intensity training to burn fat fast. *The fastest way to burn the most fat is run Tinman Tempo pace (or right at 80% of VO2 max). You burn more fat per second at that intensity than running much slower. Sure, the total percentage of Calories burned is higher when lower intensity training is used but the TOTAL number of fat Calories burned per second is higher at 80% of VO2 max because the total energy expenditure at 80% is high. Above 80% and the amount of fat burned starts to decrease again, as burning of carbohydrates elevates rapidly.

By the way, I use a capital C in front of calories to denote Kilocalories. There are calories (which are very, very small) and Calories (Kilocalories) which are the numbers you see on your cereal box labels. Using Calories in the middle of a sentence is technically correct if you wish to discuss the type of energy people are trying to pay attention to on food labels.
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S McGregor

What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by S McGregor » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:50 am

Tinman wrote:Harry,

Actually, you get every single thing by running about 1 hour pace in training for a much shorter distance as you do by running much further but slower. It's a trade-off. The two major improvements you will receive from doing the faster tempo running is greater stimulation of fast twitch fibers (elevating both their mitochondria numbers and capillaries) and better improvement in coordination (whcih ultately can lead to better efficiency and running fast).
Everything in training is a cost benefit analysis, isn't it? Not only is the "pounding" a factor, but generally, on longer runs people lose focus and often don't end up getting the "same" training stimulus. By that I mean, as you say, one can run fast tempos for 40 min or slower tempos for 70 min and get essentially the same training stimulus if the "slower" tempos were run fast enough (that sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?). BUT, when people are doing shorter workouts, they typically are cognizant of the limited time, and focus on maintaining intensity to maximize the effect. OTOH, on a longer run, presumably on less time constraint, the athlete often loses the urgency, or the focus to maintain the intensity, and hence runs a bit slower and ends up with a less than optimal stimulus.


It's completely false for anyone to say the running faster tempo work (like 1-hour pace) isn't going to build capillaries like long distance work does. In fact, I bet I could find literature, if motivated, which would indicate that 1-hour type fast tempo running has a far better stimulation effect on fast fibers than longer but slower running.
I believe we presented some of them on another thread just a few weeks ago. The Dudley study comes to mind, but much of Holloszy's work supports this as well. Ironically, this is the point that was being made by the Smith, McNaughton and Marshall study alluded to in another thread where they showed improved VO2max with 1200 m intervals at vMax. The subtext was that there is a common misconception in the lay training world that long slow training is more effective at stimulating capillary and mitochondrial development, and this is not the case. It is a myth that has been propogated by some who have misinterpreted some of the Exercise Science literature. The most effective intensity for stimulating capillary development is the highest intensity that can be sustained through aerobic work, and is specific to the fibers utilized (a bit of hand waving there, apologies to those who may see it). By that I mean, the only way to elicit capillary development in fast twitch fibers is to train above ~ 80% max in trained runners, and in general, the most effective intensity for such adaptations is closer to VO2max (but not above it). So, tempo or above is necessary to build capillaries proximal to fast twitch fibers. Since the biggest bang for the training buck results from elicitiing adaptations in the fast fibers, this is an important consideration.

Note, in my opionion Lydiard was completely wrong to state that long single runs are superior at developing endurance than running shorter runs but more often. As long as the total volume is similar the results will be similar. The big thing that really long runs will do is develop capacity to deal with shock (pounding of legs). It's debatable whether long runs are better at improving fat-burning mechanisms.

I've found in literature to burn fat faster is through higher intensity training. The fastest way to burn the most fat is run Tinman Tempo pace (or right at 80% of VO2 max). You burn more fat per second at that intensity than running much slower. Sure, the total percentage of Calories burned is higher when lower intensity training is used but the TOTAL number of fat Calories burned per second is higher at 80% of VO2 max because the total energy expenditure at 80% is high. Above 80% and the amount of fat burned starts to decrease again, as burning of carbohydrates elevates rapidly.
Fat oxidation is directly dependent upon the LT, meaning, if the LT is low, max fat oxidation occurs at ~ 50% of max, but in trained athletes who have a higher LT, max fat oxidation occurs ~ 80-85%. The primary factor determining fat oxidation is LT, and LT increases with volume of moderate to high intensity exercise. (Since this isn't LR.C, hopefully I can say LT without getting jumped on by all of those who argue it doesn't exist);)

Steve

Harry Hood

What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by Harry Hood » Fri Aug 29, 2008 6:57 am

Tinman check out this I dug up. Makes sense doesn't it? Did ya ever wonder why Lydiard used shorter intense days altered with longer but slower days. His system of conditioning wasn't about a single run. Each day was linked to another.

A model for the Lydiard method:

The model that is going to be presented here is just that; a model that will help you with your training and understanding of Arthur Lydiard's training methods. It is not a new theory, you'll see by some of the quotes that many of the great coaches think in this model's framework even though their methods differ from Arthur's. Arthur has often been accused of talking in ambiguous and confusing statements. This model will help explain those ambiguities and help you, as Arthur said, "balance" your training.


First a quick look at the model then a quote by the marathon coach Renato Canova with some discussion.

Below is the model which represents one dozen muscle fibers in your leg, they are stacked in five levels. The five levels represent the effort required to recruit the fibers to do work (run), "A level" being the easiest to recruit and "E level" the most difficult. The individual fibers have different endurance levels which vary depending on how well your training program is designed. After the model are some assigned values which represent an average runner.


The model:

E..........12
D.........11
C.......9...10
B......6...7...8
A...1..2..3..4..5


Fibers 10 - 12 Low endurance worth 2 miles
Fibers 7 - 9 Medium endurance worth 4 miles
Fibers 1 - 6 High endurance worth 10 miles

Note that even though two fibers have the same endurance (example: fiber #1 and #6), it will require much greater effort to use the fiber on the next level up (#6 on level B) .

Here is a Renato Canova's comment on a similar model:

"Our engine doesn't work like the engine of a car. If I have an engine of a car going for 5,000 revolutions, and 200 kilometers of speed, and I want to go at 100 kilometers of speed, revolution can be 2,000, but the way of working is the same. In our engine, the situation is different. Could be that I have a muscle of 100 fibers. If I go for maximum speed, I use all 100 fibers. If I go five kilometers, I use 20% of these fibers, always the same 20%. If I go a little bit faster, maybe 50, maybe 60, but when I never go for max intensity, I have a big percentage of fibers, maybe 40 percent, that are not activated."

What does this tell us? First that one way to recruit all the fibers (up to number 12) requires maximum intensity (like uphill sprinting) and second that if you run the same distance (let's say 7 miles) every day the same fibers will be used (most likely numbers 1-6). Those fibers will develop very very well but fibers 7-12 just go along for the ride and don't develop at all. One key to Arthur's program is expressed by paraphrasing Tim Noakes, MD ("Lore of Running" pg 12). "Optimal training should be at all running intensities so that all muscle fiber types are equally trained." It sounds like speed work is needed, right? Well not exactly. The other key to Arthur's training: duration ( or volume ), Peter Snell, PhD gives us a clue on this: "The adaptation of any given muscle to endurance activity is likely to be proportional to how much that muscle is used. To ensure that as many fibers as possible within a muscle are used, there must be an adequate combination of intensity and duration." So how does this relate to training? Next we'll look at different workouts and see how they relate to this.

A slow long run: (Less than 85% Marathon Race pace)

The pace requires 3 fibers to be active (fibers 1, 2, and 3) , now after about 10 miles they begin to fatigue so 3 more are activated (fibers 4, 5, and 6). They also can last for 10 miles (like the average runner in the model). Then 3 more are called up (fibers 7, 8 and 9), they haven't been used much because they are hard to recruit so they last 4 miles, then 3 more are called up (10,11 and 12) and they are low endurance and last only 2 miles, then you have to stop. So what happened, we just ran 26 miles to work all the fibers .

An optimum higher speed long run (between 90% - 97% marathon race pace)

Now the pace requires 4 (Fibers 1,2,3,4) to work at the same time, after 10 miles the next 4 fibers (5,6,7,8) are called in. Now remember two of these are medium endurance (7 and 8) and they last only 4 miles so at 14 miles 2 more fibers (9,10) are called in and Fiber 10 (low endurance) only last 2 miles so Fiber 11 (low endurance) comes into play at 16. At 18 miles fiber 9 and 11 quit so fiber 12 (low endurance) is called in but since only 5 and 6 are still active the pace slows). What happened here is in less than 20 miles all the fibers had to work. Note that they only worked aerobically and not anaerobically like a speed workout would have them work.

Tempo Run / Threshold Run ( Jack Daniels PhD - "about the pace for a one hour race" )

Let's say threshold pace requires 9 fibers but now they are not as efficient because not all the oxygen they need (as evidenced by the rise in lactate) is being delivered. Still we have plenty of endurance for this type of workout. After 3-4 miles Fibers 7, 8, and 9 fatigue and 10, 11, and 12 jump in for the last part. You can see why this is a stimulating workout ( high oxygen usage for a large number of fibers). You feel invigorated but this is where runners and physiologist go wrong. Those last recruited fibers don't really learn to use oxygen efficiently (they won't be forced to develop capillaries and stamina characteristics because of the short time that they have to work).

Now after a few years and cycles of Arthur's Marathon training. Your fibers start to look like this:

Fibers 10 - 12 Low endurance worth 6 miles
Fibers 7 - 9 Medium endurance worth 8 miles
Fibers 1 - 6 High endurance worth 12 miles


This a key ingredient of Arthur's training. While everyone else has improved fibers 1-9 with tempo runs and fast training, only the marathon runs at a good pace (1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours at 90% marathon pace) get to and really change those 10 - 12 fibers, the exact ones that are needed at the end of every race. Through the marathon training they are trained the proper way without oxygen debts (better oxygen usage, better capillary supply, better efficiency). Everyone else slows down but your 10-12 fibers are better conditioned and you maintain your pace.

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What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by Tinman » Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:06 pm

I am in a hurry and don't have time to think heavily about the model you presented (sorry). At one glance it's what I've said all along: mulitple-intensity training is the best way to train muscle fibers for competition performance. You simply can't train every fiber with one intensity! That's why I don't have only distance work at an easy pace during a so-called base training period. I always use variying paces (linked to intensities) to condition many fiber populations and combinations of those fibers. It's just common sense!

By the way, Jack Daniels, who I like as a person, gets way too much credit for things he did not develop (but he made well known). People like Dr. Alois Mader of Germany made 1-hour pace the standard back in the last 1960s an into the 1970s. Cruise intervals were developed by a swim coach in Louisiana in the early 197Os (Bowman was his name).

The same can be said about Lydiard. A lot of his methods were borrowed. Van Aaken, Holmer, etc. all had work published that Lydiard read and used. Lydiard mostly tried those method and figured out how to implement those methods in his unique situation and evironment. He played with the variables and developed his (own) model.

A lot of newcomers don't realize that people like Van Aaken had written articles about long distance training in the 1930s. Holmer came along in the 1940s and published articles that not only described fartelk training but illustrated EFFORT tables - which Lydiard (via Garth Gilmour) used in his coaching of runners like Snell, Magee, Davies, etc. The 1/4tth, 1/2, 3/4th, 7/8th effort stuff was Gosta Holmer's ideas and methods long before Lydiard started using them. And, most of you don't know that Lydiard did use exact paces in his coaching of elite runners in the lat 1950s and early 1960s. He wasn't overly strict with them, but he sure did assign paces - and he actually used a lot of interval work after the 10 week marathon training "base."

Many people think it was purely random running at whatever felt like 3/4th effort under Lydiard's direction. It was not! There were pace guidelines. Later, because I think people stuggled to understand Lydiard's methods, he basically said, "Get out there and run a lot - and vary your effort." He dropped the explanations of effort related to pace out of necessity to convey the concept of training (do a lot, vary the intensities and do more than the next guy without breaking down).
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Harry Hood

What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by Harry Hood » Fri Aug 29, 2008 8:38 pm

"This a key ingredient of Arthur's training. While everyone else has improved fibers 1-9 with tempo runs and fast training, only the marathon runs at a good pace (1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours at 90% marathon pace) get to and really change those 10 - 12 fibers, the exact ones that are needed at the end of every race. Through the marathon training they are trained the proper way without oxygen debts (better oxygen usage, better capillary supply, better efficiency). Everyone else slows down but your 10-12 fibers are better conditioned and you maintain your pace."


Can you explain that paragraph? It was writtin by a coach BTW not me. You are saying from a physiological perspective you don't think these runs are needed. Right?

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What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by Tinman » Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:56 pm

Harry -

Who are you talking to and can you be more specific?

Note, I am on limited time - I have school work, athletes to coach, and I'll be gone from Saturday to Monday evening. Steve or others might have to help you if I don't get a chance.
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Harry Hood

What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by Harry Hood » Fri Aug 29, 2008 10:08 pm

The question was for you directly. When you get time. Or you don't have to answer at all. When you see a method of training that has worked for so many runners and coaches use it constantly you have to ask when you hear someone say- From a physiological perspective I just don't think it's needed. "

BarryP

What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by BarryP » Sat Aug 30, 2008 12:02 am

Wow. Good thread.


Two points:


1) The idea that longer tempos create more shock to your legs is exactly why I had told DonM that I felt that longer tempos were more difficult than slower ones. I typicaly like to begin with 20 minute tempos and build to the middle of the season, then shift emphasis in the last 6-8 weeks depending on what my goal race is.


2) I've explained to triathletes on another forum that the main benefit of running slow (65-80% of maxHR) is that you can run more. In the end its the most effecient way to build endurance. If runner A spent all of his time training at 99% of maxHR while runner B spends all of his time at 75%, runner B will be able to maintain a higher "training load" and stimulate more imprvement in the aerobic power.....over the long term.


BTW, I was considering doing a half marathon in 3 weeks and running it at slow tempo pace. The problem is that I have yet to do a long run longer than 11 miles this year. Even though 20-40 minutes at fast tempo should be the same stimulous as 80 minutes at slow tempo, I know my shins and knees will be mad at me if I do the latter.

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What happened to the Slow Tempo?

Post by Tinman » Sat Aug 30, 2008 1:04 am

Barry -

To clarify things: endurance and power are only slightly linked. Endurance is the ability to hold a percentage of max power for a long time. Aerobic power is short-term, and it typically relates well to peak delivery of oxygen and anaerobic capacity.

The major benefit of running more miles per week are threefold, as I see it.

1) Slow twitch fibers are able to operate at low intensities for long periods of time, so doing plenty of distance work at easy to modest paces will stimulate slow twitch muscle fibers well. If you want to improve those fibers it is important to drain them of glycogen by doing plenty of miles. Once mitochondrai are drained of glycogen key adaptations will take place (like improved numbers of mitochondria plus more enzymes to process fat with oxygen to create ATP - energy).

Since more than 55% of muscle fibers at slow twitch in distance runners legs (often up into the 80% or more for marathon runners) it's important to run many miles at modest speeds to train those buggers well!

2) High mileage drops body weight, which elevates aerobic power automatically. As long as a distance runner includes some intense workouts in their high mileage program they won't lose "speed."

3) High mileage is great for preparing the legs for very hard pounding; which could take place in workouts or races.
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