"Wave Fartlek Long Runs"

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Gabe1
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"Wave Fartlek Long Runs"

Post by Gabe1 » Sun Jun 28, 2015 2:48 am

I'm interested to know the background/story of these "wave fartlek long runs" that Tom prescribes during marathon training (I don't want to write here exactly what they look like, because I don't want to give Tom's secrets away if he doesn't want me to). I have looked at many marathon training programs, but never seen anything quite like it before.

Are they based on something other coaches/runners have done before or are they an invention by Tom?

What is the benefit of doing a "Wave Fartlek Long Run" instead of doing a regular long run and toss in 45 minutes of marathon pace towards the end?

Thanks!
G

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Re: "Wave Fartlek Long Runs"

Post by dilluh » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:54 am

I think wave runs are great early preparation workouts for marathon training as you can get some good volume of MP (or faster) running in without beating yourself up. I think the closer you get to the marathon the more you want to be simulating the demands of the race and thus the wave runs might morph into the "end a long run with x miles of MP." Just my two cents though and I am certain Tom has a much more informed view on this.

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Re: "Wave Fartlek Long Runs"

Post by Tinman » Mon Jun 29, 2015 12:27 pm

I created Wave (Fartlek) Runs in 1984 (just prior to the Olympic Games). I based the method on what I learned from my first coach in the 1970s. My coach assigned once per week "Pole Fartlek" runs. Outside of our small town were many gravel roads where we trained. Mr. Mick assigned us a Pole Fartlek where we ran from one pole to the next at an easy pace (about 60 yards), to the next was a medium speed, and to the next was a fast speed, over and over for 1 to 2 miles. It was a very simple to execute training method. I loved it's simplicity (slow, medium, fast).

I adjusted the Pole Fartlek method in many ways during the summers or winters in the early 1980s. I'd run from one pole to the next easy, the next at 10k or 5k or 2-mile pace, back and forth. In other workouts, I'd run 2 or 3 or 4 Pole to Pole sections at a given speed and then go to a medium or faster speed for a similar number of Poles. I tried many variations, and all of them were for training effect as well as mental change (variety). I fell upon a fun way of getting my base mileage up in the summer of 1984 as I prepared for my senior year of cross-country racing that would ensue that autumn. I alternated one mile (corner of one section of country road to the next) with one mile at what I had already developed as my Tempo Pace (3 mile or 5k pace plus 1 minute per mile was my original Tinman Tempo pace). I did a workout each week that week using that method, and I loved it. I ran on hilly gravel roads, using the flatter miles as an easier pace and the hillier miles as the Tinman Tempo pace. Then, for variety, I rotated one miles easy, one mile at a moderate, and one mile at 10k pace (which later became CV pace). I tried half a mile easy, half a mile at moderate or Tinman Tempo pace, and a half a mile at 10k pace as another "Wave" fartlek. I tried a wide variety of what I just called "Aerobic Fartleks" back then. It was just a great way for me to create an effective way to build endurance (long-term running) and stamina (short term running) so that I'd get fitter without sharpening (as Lydiard would call the fast paced training that brings a runner to peak racing capacity).

Later, while in college (university), many runners in classes that I attended found out that I was a runner on the university team and they asked me questions about training. I offered the Wave Run, as I called it then, as a simple concept for them to use in their training as they prepared for 10ks and marathon races (the two most popular road racing distances in the 1980s). A professor whom I really admired was age 54 and a serious marathon runner and I talked after class one day about marathon running. He was preparing for the Grandma's Marathon. (He was a really interesting person - fantastic at training rats to run around the auditorium where he taught psychology - the rats would run up to a student along a rail, for example, and stand on it's hind legs and reach out one paw, and the professor would say to the student, "Give her a "high-five" and the student would. The rat would run all the way back to the podium and get some bits of food from the professor. It was fun to watch!) He asked me about my favorite workouts, perhaps as a nice way to share our fondness for running. I mentioned Wave Runs due to the effect it had on both physical and mental fitness. He smiled and said he'd try the workout. I talked to him about a month or so later after class, as he had motioned to me to come down and talk to him. He smiled and said that he loved the Wave Run and found it motivating, as it seriously gave him a lift compared to his standard of running as nearly hard as he could for 10 miles 2 or 3 times per week as his main workout to boost his fitness. It was that moment that I realized that the Wave Run was fun for someone else besides me.

By the way, I called it the Wave Run because I always had a dream of someday going to Hawaii. I wanted to run on some trail above the ocean and look down at the waves coming into the shore. I had seen Magnum P.I. television show many times in the 1980s and thought that Hawaii was paradise. I imagined the waves coming to shore as representative of the changes in speed that I was using during the workouts. The first wave was slower paced, the next was medium pace, and the third wave was fast paced. I came up with that idea while watching one episode of the show and Magnum (Tom Selleck) was training for a triathlon and swimming among the waves. There seemed to be an amazing rhythm of the waves; nature was rhythmical I noted. I thought it was cool!

Tom Schwartz
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Re: "Wave Fartlek Long Runs"

Post by Fusio » Mon Jun 29, 2015 1:20 pm

Thank you for this fantastic story Tom :)

Gabe1
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Re: "Wave Fartlek Long Runs"

Post by Gabe1 » Mon Jun 29, 2015 6:14 pm

Tinman wrote:I created Wave (Fartlek) Runs in 1984 (just prior to the Olympic Games). I based the method on what I learned from my first coach in the 1970s. My coach assigned once per week "Pole Fartlek" runs. Outside of our small town were many gravel roads where we trained. Mr. Mick assigned us a Pole Fartlek where we ran from one pole to the next at an easy pace (about 60 yards), to the next was a medium speed, and to the next was a fast speed, over and over for 1 to 2 miles. It was a very simple to execute training method. I loved it's simplicity (slow, medium, fast).

I adjusted the Pole Fartlek method in many ways during the summers or winters in the early 1980s. I'd run from one pole to the next easy, the next at 10k or 5k or 2-mile pace, back and forth. In other workouts, I'd run 2 or 3 or 4 Pole to Pole sections at a given speed and then go to a medium or faster speed for a similar number of Poles. I tried many variations, and all of them were for training effect as well as mental change (variety). I fell upon a fun way of getting my base mileage up in the summer of 1984 as I prepared for my senior year of cross-country racing that would ensue that autumn. I alternated one mile (corner of one section of country road to the next) with one mile at what I had already developed as my Tempo Pace (3 mile or 5k pace plus 1 minute per mile was my original Tinman Tempo pace). I did a workout each week that week using that method, and I loved it. I ran on hilly gravel roads, using the flatter miles as an easier pace and the hillier miles as the Tinman Tempo pace. Then, for variety, I rotated one miles easy, one mile at a moderate, and one mile at 10k pace (which later became CV pace). I tried half a mile easy, half a mile at moderate or Tinman Tempo pace, and a half a mile at 10k pace as another "Wave" fartlek. I tried a wide variety of what I just called "Aerobic Fartleks" back then. It was just a great way for me to create an effective way to build endurance (long-term running) and stamina (short term running) so that I'd get fitter without sharpening (as Lydiard would call the fast paced training that brings a runner to peak racing capacity).

Later, while in college (university), many runners in classes that I attended found out that I was a runner on the university team and they asked me questions about training. I offered the Wave Run, as I called it then, as a simple concept for them to use in their training as they prepared for 10ks and marathon races (the two most popular road racing distances in the 1980s). A professor whom I really admired was age 54 and a serious marathon runner and I talked after class one day about marathon running. He was preparing for the Grandma's Marathon. (He was a really interesting person - fantastic at training rats to run around the auditorium where he taught psychology - the rats would run up to a student along a rail, for example, and stand on it's hind legs and reach out one paw, and the professor would say to the student, "Give her a "high-five" and the student would. The rat would run all the way back to the podium and get some bits of food from the professor. It was fun to watch!) He asked me about my favorite workouts, perhaps as a nice way to share our fondness for running. I mentioned Wave Runs due to the effect it had on both physical and mental fitness. He smiled and said he'd try the workout. I talked to him about a month or so later after class, as he had motioned to me to come down and talk to him. He smiled and said that he loved the Wave Run and found it motivating, as it seriously gave him a lift compared to his standard of running as nearly hard as he could for 10 miles 2 or 3 times per week as his main workout to boost his fitness. It was that moment that I realized that the Wave Run was fun for someone else besides me.

By the way, I called it the Wave Run because I always had a dream of someday going to Hawaii. I wanted to run on some trail above the ocean and look down at the waves coming into the shore. I had seen Magnum P.I. television show many times in the 1980s and thought that Hawaii was paradise. I imagined the waves coming to shore as representative of the changes in speed that I was using during the workouts. The first wave was slower paced, the next was medium pace, and the third wave was fast paced. I came up with that idea while watching one episode of the show and Magnum (Tom Selleck) was training for a triathlon and swimming among the waves. There seemed to be an amazing rhythm of the waves; nature was rhythmical I noted. I thought it was cool!

Tom Schwartz
Tinman
http://www.runningprs.com
coaching available
Thanks Tom this was exactly the kind of answer I was looking for! It is alway super interesting to understand how a training method idea evolved. Thanks for that great story, and of course, I also loved watching Magnum PI and Tom Selleck, it was really big here in Europe as well :)

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Re: "Wave Fartlek Long Runs"

Post by jbarts » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:30 am

On a personal note, I found wave fartleks to be effective in helping the high school kids I coach (especially girls...more on that later) learn how to manage pace changes. We followed a basic progression throughout the season, and every two weeks or so we'd substitute our usual tempo run for a wave tempo. I mention the girls specifically because they became very, very good at hitting paces in workouts but lacked the ability/mental fortitude/conditioning/etc. to respond in pace changes in the middle of races. Even though the wave tempos were slower than race pace (although eventually we did go back and forth between race pace, but not for long, and Tinman tempo pace) it helped them get used to paying attention to effort levels and having to respond accordingly.

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Re: "Wave Fartlek Long Runs"

Post by Gabe1 » Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:58 am

jbarts wrote:On a personal note, I found wave fartleks to be effective in helping the high school kids I coach (especially girls...more on that later) learn how to manage pace changes. We followed a basic progression throughout the season, and every two weeks or so we'd substitute our usual tempo run for a wave tempo. I mention the girls specifically because they became very, very good at hitting paces in workouts but lacked the ability/mental fortitude/conditioning/etc. to respond in pace changes in the middle of races. Even though the wave tempos were slower than race pace (although eventually we did go back and forth between race pace, but not for long, and Tinman tempo pace) it helped them get used to paying attention to effort levels and having to respond accordingly.
Yes, Fartleks are a great way to learn how to find the pace by feel.

But the Wave Fartleks that I am thinking about is the ones where you run, for example, 7 minutes easy - 3 minutes @ MP. And repeat for 2,5 hours. I have never seen those kinds of long runs in any other program before.

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Re: "Wave Fartlek Long Runs"

Post by Tinman » Fri Jul 10, 2015 11:37 am

Yes, Gabe, that's a version I created in 1989 and still prescribe today. The reason I started using minutes for the Waves was because I coached two runners who did not know the exact distance of their running routes. They often ran on trails, and so prescribing Wave pickups by time was practical.

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Re: "Wave Fartlek Long Runs"

Post by Tinman » Fri Jul 10, 2015 11:47 am

Gabe,

Also, the reason I prescribe some very long Wave Fartlek runs is simply due to psychology of distance running. Years ago I noted that I got bored with long runs at a steady pace. In 1988, when my mom and brother visited me La Crosse, WI (I was attending university and they drove up to see me and have a nice weekend together), I ran a race in the morning (8km cross country), and then ran on a trail about 1 mile (1.61 km) from the campus. The trail, called Hixon Forest, was shaded and cool, while the in the open areas near campus was about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. My mom and brother went for a walk on the trail while I ran. And, I basically ran one of two loops in Hixon (on the trails). The loops had two fairly long hills, some nice long downhills, and some rolling terrain at the base before the hills. I really enjoyed running those loops because they varied in terrain a lot. It was easy for me to stay motivated because of the variation. I had a 2-3 minute uphill climb for either loop, a longish downhill stretch, and and so on. The loops lasted about 10 minutes each. I basically ran 2.5-3 minutes on the hill per loop. That is, I ran about 7-7.5 minutes at an easy to moderate pace and 2.5-3 minutes at an increased effort on the uphill. Because of that nice variation, I didn't get bored. I realized that such a variation makes time go by fast. Before I knew it, I'd run nearly 2 hours on the trail that nice day, even though I'd run an 8km race that morning on a golf course. My point is with the variation of time I was not bored - time passed quickly - and I ran a lot farther than I would have on a flat road at a steady pace.

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Re: "Wave Fartlek Long Runs"

Post by dilluh » Fri Jul 10, 2015 12:12 pm

Tinman wrote:Gabe,

Also, the reason I prescribe some very long Wave Fartlek runs is simply due to psychology of distance running. Years ago I noted that I got bored with long runs at a steady pace. In 1988, when my mom and brother visited me La Crosse, WI (I was attending university and they drove up to see me and have a nice weekend together), I ran a race in the morning (8km cross country), and then ran on a trail about 1 mile (1.61 km) from the campus. The trail, called Hixon Forest, was shaded and cool, while the in the open areas near campus was about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. My mom and brother went for a walk on the trail while I ran. And, I basically ran one of two loops in Hixon (on the trails). The loops had two fairly long hills, some nice long downhills, and some rolling terrain at the base before the hills. I really enjoyed running those loops because they varied in terrain a lot. It was easy for me to stay motivated because of the variation. I had a 2-3 minute uphill climb for either loop, a longish downhill stretch, and and so on. The loops lasted about 10 minutes each. I basically ran 2.5-3 minutes on the hill per loop. That is, I ran about 7-7.5 minutes at an easy to moderate pace and 2.5-3 minutes at an increased effort on the uphill. Because of that nice variation, I didn't get bored. I realized that such a variation makes time go by fast. Before I knew it, I'd run nearly 2 hours on the trail that nice day, even though I'd run an 8km race that morning on a golf course. My point is with the variation of time I was not bored - time passed quickly - and I ran a lot farther than I would have on a flat road at a steady pace.

Tinman
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This is really great stuff Tom. I think a similar thing has been said for modifying a LT or CV session on the track to its equivalent on the roads using a time-based scheme. 5 x 4 min CV + 2 min jog, etc. Some people dread anything having to do with the track or prefer running on grass or trails primarily – this is a perfect way to accommodate that. Though this is not in the spirit of a wave run exactly – more of stress/recover.

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