How to train most effectively on hard surfaces

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cweeks
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How to train most effectively on hard surfaces

Post by cweeks » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:37 pm

Hey everyone,

So I just started coaching at a high school that is not blessed with trails, dirt roads or hills. The area around the school can be classified as a cement jungle with little to no soft surfaces. Our coaching staff has been doing our best to work around this by practicing off campus once a week, and bringing all our kids to Wednesday and Saturday meets to race or train. We also encourage the kids to run on the grass next to sidewalk as much as possible. However, over the winter and spring, it becomes more difficult to leave campus for workouts and the grass next to the sidewalk can be covered in snow during the winter months. With no way of relocating to a location with a softer surface, the kids have been forced to run on the cement. This makes "keeping the ball rolling" very difficult since in the past our kids have suffered from multiple injuries. (Last year 9 kids had stress fractures!).

Some parents on the team want their kids to be doing extremely low mileage and high intensity. This seems to be the exact opposite of what Tinman training is all about. However, at the same time I don't want to cripple all of my kids.

Does anyone out there have any advice or experience with training under these circumstances? Thanks!

FTIR
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Re: How to train most effectively on hard surfaces

Post by FTIR » Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:47 am

I don't know how many you have on your team, but 9 stress fractures in a year suggests that there is more to the problem than just running on cement. Can you describe things a little more? What is the distribution of the stress fractures? Are they equally distributed over 3 seasons or do you have say none in the fall, none in the winter and 9 in the spring when the say basketball teams join your track team? Do you have a track? What type of surface does it have? What about football/soccer/baseball fields? Can you describe your kids' training year? How many train in the summer? How much? Is the summer training similar to or compatible with the rest of the year or are they with a low mileage high intensity youth track team? Between seasons do they all take 3 or 4 weeks completely off or can you get them to run on their own or with a captain? What about build up? Do your feeding middle school or schools have track/XC programs or is their youth track/XC in the area? Do freshmen end up doing the same workouts as upper class men? Is there a reason that your athletes' diets might be similar and not appropriate?

Just to get started, as a 50-something, I have found when you only have limited access to soft surfaces it doesn't always pay to focus too hard on forcing yourself to use them all the time. For example, the park nearest to me is small. Doing strides in the park 3 or 4 days a week was very helpful. The problems started to creep in as I got fixated on the idea that using soft surfaces was the answer. As the number of miles I ran in that park increased, the fraction of my miles that were across the flat smooth middle of the park dropped. I ended up doing things like running on the grass near the sidewalk around the park to create the largest loop possible. This grass was not as smooth and often canted down to the sidewalk. While I ran both clockwise and counterclockwise, the cant itself caused problems even though (or maybe BECAUSE) the surface was soft. The other thing that I think hurt was that since I could get myself to do 5 or 6 miles of the same small loop alternating forward and backward, I did. But if I wanted to do a long run, I would end up back on the cement for the entire run. Both ended up being too much. It turns out to be MUCH better to mix in many different surfaces into EVERY run.

cweeks
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Re: How to train most effectively on hard surfaces

Post by cweeks » Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:58 pm

Thanks for the helpful advice!

We have about 80 kids that run XC and 15-20 that run year around. This was my first week with my new team, but from my research, most of the injuries came out of the group that tried to run year around. Out of those 15-20 kids, they had several stress fractures, shin splits and other minor things that kept them from training consistently. These setbacks usually took place over the winter when they built up approximately 50 miles a week for the Jr./Sr. Boys . I'm not sure how long their break after XC was, but I know they added 5 miles to their weekly mileage, every week, until the the injuries set in. The kids who took the winter off or played another sport usually stay injury free which is causing the kids to not trust winter/year around training. Their summer training was solid once the XC season started but I don't believe it was consistent before then. The number one boy last year (9:25 for 3200m, 16:00 for 5k) was running 20 miles per week before the official XC season started during the summer of 2016. I believe they have been using the training methods of Dr. Jack Daniels and have the faster Fr/So. boys doing the same interval and tempo work outs as upper class men with shorter recovery days and long runs. I would guess 30-35 miles a week for Fr. boys and 50-60 miles a week for Sr. boys. I also believe they are going too fast on non CV and tempo days. For instant, one of our kids, who currently runs 17:17 for 5k, likes to run 6:45 when he feels good. To me this seems too fast. We have a track in great condition and have access to soccer, baseball and lacrosse fields when they are not in use.


Thank you for your time!

dilluh
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Re: How to train most effectively on hard surfaces

Post by dilluh » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:39 pm

cweeks wrote:
1. The kids who took the winter off or played another sport usually stay injury free which is causing the kids to not trust winter/year around training.
cweeks wrote:
2. I also believe they are going too fast on non CV and tempo days. For instant, one of our kids, who currently runs 17:17 for 5k, likes to run 6:45 when he feels good. To me this seems too fast.
1. This tells me they are probably running too much or too fast on easy days (or both) - most likely too fast on easy days. There's no reason one should need to take significant down time from training if it is set at the right level.

2. This verifies point 1. I just read an article about Nick Willis (multiple WC and OG medalist in the 1500) who runs his easy mileage (70 miles/week) at 7:00 pace. This is someone who is sub 3:30 in the 1500 and would easily run mid-13 for 5k. He says that anything faster takes too much energy away from his key workouts. No points or awards are given for how fast your easy run pace is.

Tinman's pace calculator would put this runner at about 8-8:30 pace for easy runs when he's fit enough to run 17:19. Out of season when not in that type of shape he could run even slower on easy days with benefits such as increased volume of running and more consistent/quality workouts. 6:45 is long tempo pace for him - definitely not easy pace.

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