5k-paced or VO2max workouts for longer distance racing

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dilluh
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5k-paced or VO2max workouts for longer distance racing

Post by dilluh » Mon Jun 08, 2015 4:42 pm

I'm trying to convince a friend that focusing on 5k-paced or faster workouts that are more VO2max specific are not as valuable as stamina-based workouts for 10k or longer racing. Is this true, or are there types of runners who can benefit from more VO2max specific sessions for 10k, 20k, HM, 30k, etc? I always thought the only reason to do stuff like 4-5x1000 @ 5k pace was to get ready to race the 5k.

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Re: 5k-paced or VO2max workouts for longer distance racing

Post by BoilerTom90 » Mon Jun 08, 2015 6:31 pm

I'm on your side. Tinman coaches me and I primarily focus on longer races. The emphasis is on stamina. However, a few years ago when he was training me for a 800m and 1500m track meet, the volume of V02Max reps was pretty small compared to stamina paced reps.

Of course, there always needs to be an appropriate balance based on the race and the runner's needs. But, don't most runners need stamina more so than anything else (that's been my experience!)?

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Re: 5k-paced or VO2max workouts for longer distance racing

Post by Tinman » Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:27 pm

BoilerTom is correct, as I see it. To me, the weak link for performance is nearly always Stamina. Why do I think this? First, I was a competitive runner from 1978 to 2005. I raced mid-distance on the track, cross country, and ran lots of road races. I have many years of personal observation that I used for analysis. I also talked to hundreds of runners over the years whenever I was at those competitions, and I talked to many of my teammates who were happy to share their opinion about their training: their training prior to either good or bad performances. (I also have coached about 700 runners since 1989 - 25 years, so I have lots of information by which I can derive generalizations.)

As a college (university) runner, I was well-known on our team as a go-to-guy for determining how to train better, how to analyze one's personal training data, and how to sort out the details from many weeks or months of logs. Even the head coach for our university team, a man who is on two hall of fame lists (NAIA and NCAA) as a coach (a bad year for him was placing just 7th at the National meet for Division III, and many years his teams beat up on Division I team, who bolstered very talented, scholarship runners) consulted with me about training dozens of times. To his credit, he had a great memory and could recall how he trained runners over 30 years, how certain individuals trained differently from the main pack, and how his thoughts on training changed over the years. He recalled discussions with Lydiard, who was on-tour and spoke in Milwaukee, Wisconsin back in the 1970s.

My university (college) coach had a PhD in physiology of exercise, too, so he could talk to me in terms of science, how the research confirmed or denied commonly held practices. This I enjoyed a lot because I was a science geek. I combed the research journals and compared them to the information provided in the literature by runners and coaches, in addition to endurance athletes and their coach's thoughts from sports other than running. Very often his words of response were interesting to me because he had such a vast breadth of experience (as a collegiate runner in the early 1960s, as a high school coach in the mid to late 1960s, and as a collegiate coach from 1969 through 2000) to reflect upon and compare data, inputs (training) and outputs (results). He even the training logs of about 150 of his runners from the 1970s and 1980s, which he collected and filed away. Dozens of those runners were All-Americans (top 30 at the National meet), by the way. It's very interesting to peruse those logs because it became clear to me that during periods of training that were not of the highest intensity the results were the best (consistent/reliable, and strong).

Reading through the logs, I noticed that once high intensity workouts were included to the training regimen, the duration of good, sustainable performances in races typically lasted just 3-weeks. A small percentage of runners could stretch that time-frame out to 4-5 weeks, and a similar small percentage only thrived for 1-2 weeks of high quality training before performance eroded.

Regarding long distance events and using V.O2 max training, factors need to be considered. I'll get into that with the next post, given this post is already long.

Regards,
Tinman
Thomas M. Schwartz, M.S., M.B.A.
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Re: 5k-paced or VO2max workouts for longer distance racing

Post by dilluh » Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:47 am

Tinman wrote:Regarding long distance events and using V.O2 max training, factors need to be considered. I'll get into that with the next post, given this post is already long.

Regards,
Tinman

I know you're a busy man Tom, but I'd love to hear the rest of this...

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Re: 5k-paced or VO2max workouts for longer distance racing

Post by Tinman » Fri Jun 26, 2015 3:57 pm

The true benefit of 5k pace type workouts for long distance runners (equal to or greater than 1.5 hours duration) may be neural activation. Specifically, the necessary ability to efficiently activate / fire muscle motor units (the muscle fibers and the nerves they innervate) in order to effectively generate force in the running stride is what I am "talking" about.

Supporters of 5k paced workouts (or faster yet at V.O2 max pace) typically implicate or outright state that such fast paced workouts are necessary to elevate V.O2 max, a key (by their assumptive logic) to long distance racing performance. Yet, exercise science research denies a strong connection between V.O2 max and racing performance in homogeneous groups of runners.

A framework: if we test 100 elite marathon runners for V.O2 max and correlate it to marathon race times, we'd fail to reliably predict the finishing order. If V.O2 max is truly important, subjects scoring the highest value would finish ahead of those scoring the lowest values in, for example, marathon races. In reality, an individual may be ranked 50th out of 100, yet have the fastest marathon time. The truth: it's hard to generate a positive correlation between V.O2 max and marathon racing time in any group of runners who have reasonably similar performance times.

It is just as likely that a marathon runner scoring a 2:10 time would have a higher V.O2 max than a runner who has a 2:05 time. It should be the other way around if V.O2 max were truly that important for long distance running. Sure, if we compared a V.O2 max of 50 against one that's 75 it's very likely that the 75 will beat the 50 every time. But, that's a huge difference in V.O2 max. My rule of thumb is this: times within 5% of each other have no relationship to V.O2 max. If we compare two people who have run 3:00 (180 minutes) and 3:09 (189 minutes) for the marathon distance (a 5% time difference), there's almost no chance of predicting who will have a higher V.O2 max in a lab of field test. If the first place male runner in the Olympic marathon runs 2:08 (128 minutes), he may have a lower V.O2 max than the man who placed 12th in the race at 2:14:24 (134.4 minutes) (a 5% time difference). An elite runner scoring 81 for a V.O2 max (mL.kg.min.) may be equally likely to run 2:08 as 2:14:24 (a time perhaps equivalent to 77 for V.O2 max..

What counts, once the V.O2 max is reasonably developed through mileage (kilometrage), tempo runs, threshold workouts, or CV workouts, are factors aside of the heart's capacity to circulate large amounts of blood. In my opinion, and enough research confirms my position, training that focuses on endurance running (long duration, mostly easy or moderate paced running), stamina running (medium duration, moderately intense running), and mechanical strength and efficiency are hugely important for long distance runners - and I contend for track runners too.

A slight segue:

If one believes that boosting V.O2 max is necessary to run fast races, it's important to know that fit runners (let's say those who are within 10% of their top performance level based on personal genetics/potential) are unlikely to derive measurable gains without training quite a bit faster than 5k pace. A study in Brazil showed that 5k paced training (about 95% of V.O2 max) was insufficient to elvevate V.O2 max in fairly fit runners. It wasn't until runners ran at V.O2 pace (about the pace that can be held for just 6-7 minutes, all-out) the improvement in that metric were evident. Yet, when the same subjects (people) were tested over a 5k racing distance, training at V.O2 max was no more successful (at improving the time) than running faster, at V.O2 max pace in training. It was only for the 1500m race distance that running at V.O2 max speed in training added valued at all to performance versus training just at 95% of V.O2 max (about a 14-15 minute time-performance equivalent). Thus, even if you are training for the 5k event, V.O2 max training was basically not effective compared to training at 5k pace or slower.

Follow my logic:

Imagine that you are training for the 10k event and longer: why should you include training at 5k pace or faster, especially faster, unless you use it minimally as a means of improving leg strength and coordination for surges or fast finishes /kicks (given the evidence mentioned above)?

My position:

Based on a few thousand posts and article that I've written, in summary: It's not necessary for most runners to do much training at 5k pace and faster. It's just not that effective! I'd rather you spice in small amounts of 5k pace or faster and instead focus on Stamina Training (CV, Threshold, and Tempo running), if you are distance runner. Top runners (within 10% of the world records for any given event) benefit by using a bit more faster training compared to non-elite runners because they simply need more leg power and mechanical efficiency than the average runner. I don't think that they need a higher V.O2 max, necessarily; they need more technical skill and specific power for their stride actions).

Regards,

Tinman
Thomas Schwartz, M.Sci., M.B.A.
runfastcoach@gmail.com
www.runningprs.com
(coaching available)
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Re: 5k-paced or VO2max workouts for longer distance racing

Post by dilluh » Mon Jun 29, 2015 3:38 pm

Fantastic Tom. Thanks so much! So in short summary…

If you are elite:

- If one is interested in raising their VO2max, actual VO2max reps are more effective than 5k pace reps. (By reps here I mean an actual structured workout with a rep being at least ~800m or longer, i.e., more than a fartlek workout)

- BUT, there is not much difference whether 5k pace reps or VO2max reps are used in terms of actual 5k race outcome.

- VO2max reps are more effective than 5k pace reps for training to run the mile/1500.

If you are not elite:

- Besides strides, short hill sprints or 200s w/ full recovery, there is no reason to do reps any faster than 5k pace to train to run a 5k race.

- Anything longer than 5k race and one should skip the 5k pace reps and focus more on stamina. Add the fast stuff at the “spice it up” level, i.e., strides, hill sprints and 200s, 5k-paced fartlek.

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Re: 5k-paced or VO2max workouts for longer distance racing

Post by wuxcalum » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:14 pm

This is a bump from a this older thread.

Based on Tinman's post above it can be concluded that some Vo2 Max work would be beneficial for very good 1500m runners. Is this true also for very good 800m runners?. What about Vo2 Max work for good to very good HS runners such as those who can run under 4:20 for the 1600 and under 1:58 for the 800? Thanks!

Jimmy

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Re: 5k-paced or VO2max workouts for longer distance racing

Post by acanais80 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:04 pm

BoilerTom90 wrote:I'm on your side. Tinman coaches me and I primarily focus on longer races. The emphasis is on stamina. However, a few years ago when he was training me for a 800m and 1500m track meet assurances deces, the volume of V02Max reps was pretty small compared to stamina paced reps.

Of course, there always needs to be an appropriate balance based on the race and the runner's needs. But, don't most runners need stamina more so than anything else (that's been my experience!)?
You're lucky to have been trained by someone so talented.

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