Late Season Advice

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djjazzyjoel22
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Late Season Advice

Post by djjazzyjoel22 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 5:02 pm

Hi everyone, I'm a new member here and I was hoping someone could give me some advice. I am a distance coach for track and head XC coach. My #1 runner has not run a season best in over a month. His season best is actually our school record of 10:12 on March 9, but yesterday he ran a pedestrian 10:38. We were expecting and certainly hoping for sub-10 and the conditions weren't perfect, but favorable. Here are the last 3 weeks of training. Any suggestions? I have been averaging them around 30 miles/week. One coach told me I was doing too much racing and VO2 work, so after week 8, I tried to back off of that, but I can't just not enter them in meets whenever my head coach asks me to fill slots. Any thoughts? Conference meet is in 3 weeks.

Week 10
Mon: 4 x 500m @ current 800m pace  [Rest = 9-10 minutes]
Tues: 40 min @ recovery pace
Wed: 10 min warm-up 25 min tempo (10k pace), 10 min cool down
Thurs: 40 min @ recovery pace
Fri-Sat: 2-day meet (3200, 1600)

Week 9
Mon: 5 x 1000m @ 40sec per mile > 3200 pace  [Rest = 1 min]
Tues: 60-70 min @ recovery pace
Wed: 2 x (3 x 300m) @ current 800 pace (Rest: 3 min each rep; 5 min each set)
Thurs: 40 min @ recovery pace
Fri: Race (800, 1600)
Sat: 40 min @ recovery pace

Week 8
Mon: 6 x 150m @ max effort [Rest: 4 minutes]
Tues: 40 min @ recovery pace
Wed: Up to 10 flying 50s @ max effort [Rest: 4 minutes (2 jog; 2 static)]
Thurs: 5 x 1200m @ current 3200m pace  [Rest = Work]
Fri: OFF or 30 minutes recovery
Sat: Race (3200,1600)

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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by Tinman » Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:06 pm

Coach -

To be frank, some of the prescribed workouts are too hard for an average (boy) 3200m runner.

- 4 x 500m at 800m pace: that's an elite 800m runner's workout.

- 25 minutes @ 10k tempo, run just two days later, will  wipe out your athlete and make it impossible for him to compete well later in the week. I suggest that you ease back on the pace by 30 seconds per mile, if you are going to assign a tempo run for Wednesdays.

- 5 x 1200m @ 3200m pace with equal rest times? That's something I might give an elite runner too. Try adding 10-15 seconds per rep to this workout, and then your athlete will be able to handle it well.

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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by djjazzyjoel22 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:56 pm

Tinman,

I guess I'm a little bit confused. If their race paces are average, doesn't the fact that mean that these workouts will be run at more average training paces mean it's not as impossible?

Still, I see your point. Week 8's 1200s were a poor decision on my part, but they all ran the 500s last week perfectly. In fact, many PRd at the JV championship that Wednesday. Do you think it was the tempo on Wednesday for the varsity runners that really hurt them for Friday's 3200?

What would you advise going forward? Like I said, I don't know where to go from here and there are only 3 weeks left. I don't simply want to run the same workouts over again at slower paces, but don't have many better ideas. For Monday, what about 2-3 x (2x400) at mile pace? 45 seconds in between reps, 3-5 minutes in between sets? Just a confidence booster to get the week started?

My greatest struggle has been balancing workouts that will challenge them while still giving them an opportunity to succeed in a meet. I've dropped down the mileage since last year, but apparently the reduced miles are still at too difficult a pace to allow them to actually develop!  :(

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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by runthe8 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:46 pm

I don't have any great advice, other than I think they need more than 1 easy day between harder workouts.  If we have a weekend race, I usually shoot for an up-tempo workout on Tuesday.  Easy mileage on Wednesday.  Then, on Thursday, I might do some cut-down 200's after a 30- 40 minute run (usually 2 sets of 3  starting at mile pace, then cutting down 2 sec one, then going back up to mile pace and down again for the second set) They jog 200 meters in between these, so they get in another 1.5 miles. These are not hard for the kids and I see them as long strides, really.  I HATE the weeks when we have two races and I have managed to keep most of my better kids out of the Wednesday meets, or just have them run one event followed by a mini-workout if they have a Saturday race.  We never run huge sets of fast reps- I don't think even my 4:14 1600 kid would survive 4x 500 at his 800 pace!  However, he would survive a 3-4 mile tempo run followed by 2 sets of 400 (mile pace)-300 (800 pace)-200  (400 pace) all with jog recoveries and a bigger jog between the sets.  That is probably the hardest workout he has done- we usually don't do that much volume of  fast stuff in one workout. But he had 3 easy days after this workout, then a meet, and it worked out well.  I really prefer combo workouts where you combine different paces, such as CV reps followed by something shorter and faster, or a tempo run followed by something shorter and faster.  But his mileage is much higher than your kids- in the mid 50's.  I'd be curious what Tinman says about what to do the next 3 weeks for your crew. 

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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by BoilerTom90 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:17 pm

Joel,

I also don't have any great advice, but my simple observation is given the the types of workouts being done (hard/fast reps with very long recoveries) and the terminology used (e.g. flying 50s) you appear to be using a similar plan that my son's HS team is using (Scott Christensen, perhaps?).  Whether it's the same training plan or not, the results are the same.  We're only 2 or 3 weeks into the ourdoor season and it appears improvement has stalled for most runners. I expect a random suprize race by a few runners every now and then, but that's the symptom of very hard training, with a heavy dose of fast intervals with long recoveries.

As an example of this, last Tuesday one kid had a nice 1600m of 4:36.  Yesterday, he ran the 3200 and was trying to break 10, which seemed reasonable given the 1600m peformance 4 days earlier. He went through the mile at 5 flat with the leaders. But, then, he feel apart. Where as 5 guys left him in his dust and ran either negative or even splits, he struggled the rest of the way and ran his second 1600m in 5:10. Very dissapointing for him, especially given his 1600m race and the fact that he ran a 5:07 in a TT during practice just a couple weeks ago. 

Actually, I do have some advice.  In a different thread RunThe8 has posted a general outline of some of the workouts used with her team and she's getting great results and not killing her athletes with super hard workouts.  I also strongly consider looking into using CV reps in lieu of some of the hard intervals.  I think you'll find the runners are fresher for the races, and will be able to hold their pace better.

Tom

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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by djjazzyjoel22 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:03 pm

Thanks so much to all of you! I'd like to know the name of that other thread if either of you remember it - may just go browsing around for it in the meantime and see what I turn up.

Tom, it's hilarious, you hit the nail on the head with the Christensen method. I adopted his plan and, while it's not been a total failure (every one of my guys has achieved career PRs at every middle and long distance), the law of diminished returns is getting a majority of them down the stretch. We looked incredible in the early season, now everyone has caught us. Other coaching mentors of mine have told me to back off the monster reps in favor of threshold or CV running, I just haven't had the wherewithal or understanding to change gears midseason very well.

For now I'm looking at some much more reasonable intervals and then closing out easy days with some grass strides. Yes?

Very glad to have happened upon this forum. Looking forward to learning from each one of you.

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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by BoilerTom90 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:28 pm

[quote="djjazzyjoel22"]
Thanks so much to all of you! I'd like to know the name of that other thread if either of you remember it - may just go browsing around for it in the meantime and see what I turn up.

Tom, it's hilarious, you hit the nail on the head with the Christensen method. I adopted his plan and, while it's not been a total failure (every one of my guys has achieved career PRs at every middle and long distance), the law of diminished returns is getting a majority of them down the stretch. We looked incredible in the early season, now everyone has caught us. Other coaching mentors of mine have told me to back off the monster reps in favor of threshold or CV running, I just haven't had the wherewithal or understanding to change gears midseason very well.

For now I'm looking at some much more reasonable intervals and then closing out easy days with some grass strides. Yes?

Very glad to have happened upon this forum. Looking forward to learning from each one of you.
[/quote]

Joel,

The same is true with my son's team. Every one ran early season PRs.  But  I'm not one to just look at the final time to evaulate a race. What I witnessed was guys hitting PRs because they started so fast and just hung on. It wasn't like they got stronger during the race. But, now, ther'e starting to die more than they were earlier in the season. Unfortunately, the outdoor season really has just begun, but this training method began during indoor season, to my dismay.

I can't find the specific thread where the RunThe8 spelled a few things out, but I might have mispoke on that anyhow.

If Tinman chimes in with advice, ignore what I say and do what he suggests.

If I were a coach and trying to switch gears and "salvage" a season, I'd start out by substituting one of the interval sesssions with a CV workout.  Say you race on Tuesday and Saturday.  I'd imagine you'd do a workout on Thursday, so make that a CV workout. You could start out on the shorter rep end and do 600s, jogging 200 inbetween. Make sure they don't run too fast. Use the calculator on RunningPRs.com to determine each runner's CV pace.  Perhaps do about 4 or 5 of these reps.  If you feel like some kids need some leg speed work, finish the key part of the workout by doing 4 x 200 fast (800m to 1600m pace) w/ 200m jog between. Then, do a long cool down (don't neglect this). In fact, do a longer than usual warm up too.  This will kill them like typical speed work, but will start rebuilding some of the stamina. This is a pretty typical CV workout to start.  If the 600s go okay, you can increase the rep distance to 800 and 1K in subsequent weeks, but control/limit the total volume of CV runnign appropriately. The general rule of thumb is 1min of recovery for every 1K of work.

Btw, a few years ago when I first stumbled upon this site and read about CV training, I googled for Critical Velocity and found this very imformative artile: http://www.championshipproductions.com/ ... rticle.pdf

It works!

Good luck!

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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by runthe8 » Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:03 am

Piggybacking off of BoilerTom here.  With my kids who run similar times to your best boy, I have been using CV 600's so far this season, but will likely move them to CV 800's next week (we have 7 weeks till states now and our conference is not competitive so they have time to adjust to it.)  The last CV workout we did was 3 x 600 at CV pace and then 4x200 at mile pace and 2x200 at 800 pace (for the milers)  My 400/800 girl ran 3x 600 at CV and then 3x200 at 800 pace and 2x150 at 400 pace.  This is fewer CV reps than I would normally do but we only had 2 days before a meet at this point to recover and were all doubling or tripling at the meet that weekend. My 4:14 boy does 1000's instead of 600's and just does more volume of everything than the other kids.  His long run is 75 minutes whereas my other boy distance runners are only up to 60-65 minutes. 

CV and other stamina paces really work, even though it doesn't feel "Hard" to kids who are used to running long sets of faster stuff.  My kids are PRing right and left every week, from the 800 to the 3200.  I had two senior boys this past weekend run 3 second PR's IN THE 800!  These are boys who have been running for 4 years (albeit, with beyond HORRIBLE lack-of-coaching for 3 of those years).  One of them then came back in the 1600 and ran a 13 second PR.  My two miler girls ran 11:50 10 days ago, coming through the first mile in 6:00 and negative splitting.  They are strong.  This past weekend, one of them improved her time to 11:36 (after running a totally different race, going out in 5:45).  I might also add this was after running the 1600 earlier in the meet in 5:19, which was a 16 second PR  :) This is her first season of track, though she did run cross country for the last 3 years. The other girl only ran 12:02 but went out too fast for her current ability (she couldn't handle that fast first mile as well as my other girl).  She also was coming off of a 5:28 mile earlier in the meet (which for her, was a 10 second PR).  All of these kids are running between 30-40 miles per week, similar to yours.  The girls closer to 30, the boys closer to 40.  I feel that that is not much mileage considering they are juniors and seniors, but I have to look at their background and extremely low mileage from the previous coach (usually around 20 miles per week on a good week.)

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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by BoilerTom90 » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:30 am

Thanks RunThe8!  It's exciting reading about the success your runners are having using the Tinman method.

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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by Tinman » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:29 pm

Look, I am not just a coach and exercise physiologist; I competed for 30 years as a runner. I know what those workouts feel like that you assigned! 4 x 500m at 800m pace is too hard for most high school athletes, even with 9-10 minutes rest. I'd rather you assign 4 x 500m at 4-6 seconds slower than race-pace with 5 minutes of jogging recovery. However, that's for an 800m or 1600m runner. In my opinion, there's little justification for assigning an average high school 3200m runner a workout of 4 x 500m at 800m pace. It's not an appropriate workout! It's not going to help the kid much once they bet past the 800m mark in their 3200m race.
The 5 x 1200m at 3200m pace (equal jog recovery times) is a super hard workout. Totally unnecessary to run that much volume at close to VO2 max pace! Your athletes are not Bekele or Gebrselasie! Even Lagat has never run workouts that are so difficult! Three reps is enough. However, it would be better to runt the 1200s at CV pace and take a 1.5 to 2 minute jog recovery, and then they should finish with 3-5 x 200s quicker(jog 200 between reps).

As an example of an appropriate 800m workout (for people who needed to be in top 800m shape), we ran 4 x 300m at 800m pace (jog 3 minutes between reps) or 3 x 400m at 800m pace (jog 4 minutes recovery). We had one of the top small school teams in IL for the 4 x 800m and the top individual (champion) too. He won the open 800 in 1:54 with even pacing, so I know he was actually in 1:52 shape, not 1:54 shape. Our small school - 256 kids - had 7 kids running 2:04 or faster. Nobody trained in the winter for track! The champ and I played basketball, as did the 7th fastest guy (2:04.2). The other guys did NOTHING in the winter and didn't start track until March. By the middle of May we were running 2:02-2:00 (Jerry was 1:54).  Had we another 4 weeks of training, I think 5 of us would have been sub-2. Remember, this is a small school, no year-round training, no winter racing or training, per se.
Last edited by Tinman on Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by Tinman » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:40 pm

By the way, I wrote the season schedule for a high school team in La Crosse, WI. They were not fit when they started training in February. They were not very talented, either. At the state meet, in early June, they ran 7:51 for the 4 x 800m. Had they trained from November to February, and had the above average talent, I'm sure the would have run 7:45 and been in the top 3 teams in America. If you saw their workouts, you'd think they were quite manageable...and you'd be right. Lots of combo workouts, as I have called them since 1989. Combos have CV plus race pace (a modest amount) plus a small amount of short reps at faster than race. A weekly Tempo Reps workouts - not too hard! And, they ran a weekly track meet (usually two races). Steady improvement was demonstrated throughout sprint track racing season!
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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by dkggpeters » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:50 pm

djjazzyjoel,

I get the feeling that your best runner hasn't run a PR in over a month is because you cooked him and he is over trained.

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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by Tinman » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:55 pm

It's important to remember that racing is hard training! Kids who run a couple of races at a track meet each week are already pushing hard. They don't need a lot of hard intensity during the week to continue improving. More times than not, hard training will stall their progress after about 4-5 weeks. My high school coach trained use the least my senior year, and we set all the still-standing school records, and that was 29 years ago. Most of our hard workouts were races at track meets. The previous three years, we did a lot of hard interval training and plyometric workouts. I was sore, tired, beat up, and so were my teammates. We improved for 5 weeks, a lot, and then we were hit-and-miss with performances after that each season.

Our coach was constantly frustrated that we'd compete well at one meet and then run awful at the next meet. I was in his advanced drafting class (he taught drafting and woodshop), and I harped on him for two years to cut back on the hard workouts and he didn't. Finally, my coach, who was normally as super calm and controlled teacher, barked at me after class that I should stop hassling him and just do what I was told. I barked back that nobody on his teams had come remotely close to the performances of the previous coach, who was still on-staff as a teacher, cross-country coach, and girl's basketball coach. I told him that I had convinced our cross-country coach to stop prescribing those huge, hard interval workouts too, and look what happened? We went from never having a team go to state before to placing 6th, and that was with a runner on the team who had cancer and would later die (my best friend).

My track coach must have done some hard thinking about the situation - maybe he talked with his fellow staff member, our cross-country coach, I don't know - but I noticed right away in March that our workouts were much more sensible. Instead of 10 x 300m hard, we'd do 4-6 reps. Instead of 12-16 x 400m at goal mile pace, we'd run 8 reps at current mile pace. Instead of doing interval workouts two times per week, along with racing in two track meets per week, we'd do just one interval workout and compete in two meets. Big difference! All the records, both the fresh-soph and varsity were set that year. My dad, who went to the high school basketball games this winter, said my name and my brother's name are still up on the record boards, along with our classmates. No improvements since the 1980s!
Last edited by Tinman on Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by djjazzyjoel22 » Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:15 pm

I apologize, guys, I hope I did not sound like I was challenging anyone's knowledge of training. Quite the contrary, I know I have a lot to learn. I hope you understand from all of this that I'm just frustrated with myself for having chosen this route and I'm asking for a lifeline to do whatever right I can do by my guys before the season is up.

dkggpeters, I know I cooked him. Now what do I do?

Tinman, I meant no offense. I know the previous workouts were bad. If I thought they were good, I wouldn't be here asking for new and better ideas. I'm here because you come highly recommended and I need all the help I can get. I hope you didn't see my last comment as ungrateful.

We ran 6 x 200 at 3200 pace cutting down to the last two slightly faster than mile pace Monday (37-35-33). Unfortunately, we have to race Wednesday for our sectional, but he's only going to do the 3200 and hopefully we'll see a turnaround. We'll probably wrap up the week Friday with CV reps now that I've read the article Tom left me. Am I on better footing now?

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Re: Late Season Advice

Post by BoilerTom90 » Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:02 pm

Joel,

When someone is "cooked," the remedy is either rest or easy running for a few straight days. Nothing hard. Sometimes, it also helps to run long and easy.

I remember  a time in HS when I felt cooked, and depressed from another dissapointing Saturday race, and I don't know why I did this but something motivated me to go out and run the longest run I had ever done. This long run was done on a Sunday morning. Anyway, the following week, we had meets on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Those 3 meets were some of my best races of the season. Looking back, I wish I had done that Sunday long run more often.

As for getting back on track, it would help to see how yoru meets play out for the next few weeks.

Tom

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