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Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:14 pm
by Tinman
m -

I don't recommend running hills on easy days, ever! Incoporate them in your "harder" days.

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2008 12:58 pm
by Pastuso
Hi Tinman,

I read your Easy-Medium-Hard low mileage program and it struck a chord with me. I ran something similar way back in high school (I'm 38 years old). I quit our bad XC team to run road races, and my 5 and 10K times dropped from 18 and 37 minutes to 16 and 34 minutes, respectively, over a 4 month period. I would simply lace up my shoes, head out the door, and run hard one day, very easy the next.

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2008 12:58 pm
by Pastuso
Hi Tinman,

I read your Easy-Medium-Hard low mileage program and it struck a chord with me. I ran something similar way back in high school (I'm 38 years old). I quit our bad XC team to run road races, and my 5 and 10K times dropped from 18 and 37 minutes to 16 and 34 minutes, respectively, over a 4 month period. I would simply run hard one day, easy the next, about 60 miles per week. I ran two years of XC in college as a D1 walk on, but never got below 34 minutes for 10K. Looking back at my workout logs, I'm quite certain I left my best races in practice because I ran some tremendous interval workouts, invariably leaving me with dead legs for our Saturday race. I should have been much faster than my high school times, but I only equaled them. I lacked speed--my best 400 was only 58 seconds, best mile was 4:32 in a solo time trial as a college freshman.

Anyway, I'm getting back into the game, like a number of people here. I've been running for 3 months, and am up to around 30 miles a week. Due to my workload and family obligations, I can only run very early in the morning, for about 45-50 minutes max. On rare occasions I can run in the evening after work. Weekends are more flexible and I plan on doing a Sunday long run.

So, I've started your 3-Zone rotation. Been doing it for 2 weeks now. I do Day1-- very easy; Day2-- moderate tempo; Day3-- fartlek, what feels like race pace. I'm at 35 minutes per day right now, but will work up to 50 minutes per day. I'm not too concerned right now with my pace, though I can feel myself getting stronger and faster every day. Plus, I like the fact that I don't have to think about my training--it's already set. I haven't raced at all in 15 years, but I plan on doing a 5K within a month or two to see where I stand.

My goal is to break 34 minutes next year (2009). May not be feasible, but I'll give it a shot. If I do, I'll talk to you offline about maybe coaching me to go even faster. I'd love to talk more about this 3-Zone plan. Good stuff!

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:17 pm
by Tinman
Pastuso -

Glad you are running again and enjoying it! The 3-day rotation philosophy I used was designed for simple reasons.

1) I had a demanding work schedule with limited energy and time to train.

2) My energy levels varied radically due to work, so using exact paces was very hard to do; almost impossible.

3) I needed to have some short of quality in my training about every 3 days if overall mileage was going to be low. Otherwise I would not race well. My body can do well on medium-high mileage if I have the energy and no injuries, but my situation didn't allow that to happen. So, I had to take the lower mileage route, which meant I had to blend the three most important ingredients to distance racing success: basic endurance training which acts also as active recovery (slow running), stamina training which acts to elevate peak aerobic capacity of slow twitch fibers (tempo training that's near 80% of VO2 max or about 60 to 45 seconds per mile slower than current 5k race-pace), and fast distance running to enhance aerobic capacity of fast twitch X fibers (the intermediates) (CV pace or CV effort does this best).

I will note that I generally played full court basketball once a week (Wednesdays or sometimes Tuesdays) with my co-workers, so I actually did a small amount of speed training once a week.

Essentially, I believe a runner who, for whatever reason, can't commit to doing mileage probably can benefit from my 3-day rotation method. By doing the 3-day rotation over and over you can quickly figure out just how hard you should push on any given day. If you overdo it one day the next will suffer and the rotation is messed up. The rotation method keeps you honest and in-tune with your body. Your goal is never to train hard but train consistently well. YOu must not kill yourself in workouts or else you won't be able to keep the rotation going.

Now, an alternative to the original rotation I used is varied distance work. I coached a gal from Canada (she was on their elite cross-country ski team) for a few months (April to October about 4 years ago) with this model. It looked like this:

Day 1: 5 miles Slow (very easy) + lots of stretching
Day 2: 8 miles with 4 miles at a Tempo effort over hills.
Day 3: 2 miles progressive warm up, 3 miles of CV work in 400 to 1600m intervals + 4-6 x 100m hill bounding (very important for skiing), 2 miles warm down.

This basic structure was used over and over for those few months. She ran in 3k and 5k race to test her fitness along the way. She had Canadian team time trials over 3k every so often, by the way. Anway, she dropped about a minute (I think 56 seconds) in her 3k time and set a lifetime best by 32 second in the 3k.

I haven't thought about that gal's training in a long while. Sure wish I could remember her name. She was from B.C. (about age 22 or 23, I think). Maybe someone who is from Canada could figure it out.

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 3:50 pm
by Pastuso

Did I read correctly that you set most of your PRs with this 3-day rotation?

Obviously this schedule is not for everyone and may be, as Harry said, "insane." But, if done properly, can be effective for people with limited time (I have a engineering job, little kids, soccer coaching, wife is in night school, etc). When I run, brother, it's gotta count! (I do get your point about not overdoing the hard days and allowing for recovery).

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:14 pm
by Tinman
P -

Yes, I ran my p.r.s of 15:13 (5,000m) and 4:01.98 (1500m) on 5 miles per day in a rotation (easy, medium, hardish). Note; in retrospect, I believe that if my job wasn't a total bear (hard on my body), I probably would have run 20-30 seconds faster in the 5k. The rotation method I used may be of value to guys or gals out there who are very short on time like I was (and energy), but more mileage (still within a runner's adaptive capacity) would have been ideal.

If I could do it all over again, I'd go back to college at age 19 and run half an hour every morning and an hour every night with a 1.5 hour long run on the weekends and do that week after week as long as I could. I have no doubt that I could have run in the mid-14s for 5k by my senior year; had I done that basic program. I don't think there's a lot of magic in that program, just steady distance work in medium-high volume done for many months in a row.

People get into problems when they make speedwork/interval training the focus on there training plans. Speed and interval work are the icing on the cake, not the cake.

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:02 pm
by citius99
Could an 800m runner (also will race 1500/400, but 800 is priority) do well off a low mileage schedule like this:

Mon-5/6mi@3-5kpace+1min/mi [Weights]
Tue-intervals: 100-200's @ 400/800 pace
Wed-5/6mi@3-5kpace+1min/mi [Weights]
Thu-intervals: 100-200's @ 400/800 pace
Fri-5/6mi@3-5kpace+1min/mi [Weights]
Sat-intervals: 100-200's @ 400/800 pace

3mi up/1mi down for each interval session.

I believe this is similar to the moderate approach that Tinman mentioned worked well for a 8k xc runner doing moderate 60min runs every day. In this schedule no one day is completely exhausting as it is low mileage and the intervals are very short. Doing the intervals every other day at or faster than race pace will promote efficiency at race pace while the 5/6mi (along with once a week 10miler) at fast paces is good aerobic support for 800m.

I have been trying this approach in training for the 800m and believe it has been very effective. Of course, when the racing season takes place, modulation will occur, and intervals will get longer than 100-200's (same speed). My periodization is now in the order of: get strong, get fast, get fit. For me it looks like this:

10 weeks; focus on weights/general strength/circuit training/injury prevention. aerobic running and fast strides.
10 weeks; reduce strength training volume, faster distace runs and lots of short intervals faster than race pace
4-6 weeks; attempt to hold the speed I developed in previous phase for longer intervals (200-400m). peak races.

What do you guys think?

Ps: My last week of training looked like this (in strength phase):

*could probably race a 5k right now at 4:55-5:00 pace

Mon-5mi @ 29:24 [weights]
Tue-3mi/10x100 @ :13-14/1mi
Wed-6mi @ 35:39 [weights]
Thu-3mi/12x200 hill @ 800 effort/1mi
Fri-5mi @ 30:09 [weights]
Sat-3mi/10x100 @ :13-14/1mi
Sun-10mi @ 59:50

*weights; heavy weight low reps-cleans,squat,bench
*daily general strength work; pullups,pushups,dips e.t.c

In the next phase weights will go to maintenance and I will speed up both distance runs and short intervals.

Thanks in advance

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 2:02 am
by Tinman
Citius -

I recommend the following for you:

Day 1: 8-12 miles EZ (about 5k pace plus 2 minutes per mile).

Day 2: 5-6 miles (first mile EZ, then gradually increase the pace to 3k plus 1 minute per mile).

Day 3: 3 miles progressive warm up. Then, do one of the following, on alternate rotations:

a) 10-20 x 100m at about 800m race effort on grass (jog 200m recoveries). 2 miles warm down;

b) 10-20 x 15 seconds hill charges at 1500-800m race effort (jog down slowly, then jog 50m away from the hill before jogging back to the hill - and charge again). 2 miles warm down.

Try the above for 5 weeks and let us know how you are doing. I'd like to have you do a time trial over 600m at that point.

Take care!

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 8:08 am
by citius99
Thank you very much Tinman! This schedule suits my personality as a runner (I love doing short intervals and fast distance runs) if that makes sense. I hope you don't mind if I ask a couple questions though (I have no doubt this schedule will work I just always like to know how as it reassures me what I'm doing is productive):

1) Is it really ok for me to go that slow (~7:00 pace) on the every third day 8-12milers? Is it ok if I'm feeling good the last couple of miles to progress to a decent clip or should I stay at the EZ effort? Is 8-12mi every third day too long for an 800m runner?

2) If I want to continue my weight training (very low reps; heavyish weight), what day should I put them on, if it all?

Again thank you so much, I know you are busy with your studies and I can't thank you enough for taking time to help out the running community. You really are making a difference :)

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 7:15 pm
by Tinman
C -

I do think every 3rd day you should run slower. Seriously, if you run fast every day you'll hit a wall and make no further progress.

Is 8-12 miles too long for an 800m runner? Hmmm, arguably one of the best 800m runners of all-time (Peter Snell) ran a 22 miler every week. No, I don't think 8-12 miles is too far.

Weight training should be on the fastest of the three days, but be sure to limit the amount you do because the combination of the 100m reps and weight training could overwork your legs.

Glad to help!

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:00 pm
by maccy
Hi Tinman,

I'm trying to compare some of Jason's recommended paces to mine as our 3km times are the same. I'm not sure what %of Max HR would be equivalent to 75% of Max VO2?


Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:00 pm
by Tinman
~82.5% of HR max = 75% of VO2 max.

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 10:02 pm
by citius99
Tinman, I like to do either a race or time trial every 2-4 weeks all year (varying distances/surfaces; 100m-10k) just to remind myself that the goal of training is to race, not to train. Could I still do a race or time trial every 2-4 weeks when doing the Tinman 3-day rotation you prescribed for me?

Would you still go moderate the day before a race or would you have to alter the cycle to get these in? For example, for the 600m time trial you asked me to do 5 weeks from now, would this be ok:

1) 8-12mi easy
2) 5-6mi (1st easy, progress to 3k+1min/mi)
2) 3mi progressive, 5x100, 600 time trial, 2mi cooldown

Last question, I swear! :) There are a couple 5k xc races I like to do to guage my strength and reset training paces every year. If i wanted to do these, but still follow the 3-day rotation you gave me, how would you alter the training?

Thanks in advance

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:37 am
by Tinman
Citius -

I've used the three-day rotation for long periods of time and raced too. Whenver I plan to race I count backwards the number of days from an upcoming race to the present. By doing that I can figure out how to reach race-day with enough energy to perform well. Look at the following example for clarfication.

Today is the 8th (a Monday). I did a hard workout today. Tomorrow will be an easy day, regardless, but what I do in the days that follow depend upon my race-schedule. After looking online for races I see one is Saturday the 20th of September. I count backwards and label each day to the present.

20th - Race day - hard!
19th - moderate day - but cut the distance of tempo running in half
18th - easy paced day
17th - Hardish Day - if the race is very important I will probably cut-back the amount of fast running I do today OR increase the recovery intervals between reps (if it is a repetition workout).
16th - Moderate day (close to normal distance, unless I am extra tired).
15th - easy paced day
14th - Hardish day - no corrections - the usual, that is.
13th - Moderate day
11th - easy paced day
(10th - 9th) - those are days I have to adjust because I did a hard day on the 8th but have to get into the right rotation to reach race-day in perfect form. So, I ran hard on the 8th and the 9th should be an easy day. The 11th, as I can see from my count-back is going to be an easy day. Thus, I may just do a moderate day on the 10th and go back to an easy day on the 11th that was realized from the count-back method. Basically, the remainder of the count-back schedule will look like this:
10th - Moderate day
9th - easy paced day
8th - Hardish day (which I already did).

As you can see, all I did was skip a hardish workout on the 11th and instead did an easy paced day to get into the right rotation that brings me to race-day in the correct pattern.

Regarding time trials:

In my opinion, seldom is in necessary to do time trials while fully rested. I say this because as an athlete for a long time I found it better to know that a time trial or insignificant race that preceeded a goal race was run with less than full strength. Mentally, it gave me a boost to know that when I actually did arrive on the big race day my body would be fully peaked in strength. Thus, I could expect a stellar performance.

If I were training for an 800m race and decided to do a 600m time trial to assess my fitness, I'd do a normal moderate run the day before the 600m time trial.

Another thing; if you taper training quality for a few days priror to the 600m and set it up as a peak effort, you'll probably run into pacing problems in training in the days that follow. Why? If you run a 600m fresh in 1:30 and set your subsequent workouts at 15 seconds per 100m (the average per 100m pace of 1:30 over 600m) it's likely you'll be doing your normal training cycles and struggle to do high volume 100m reps at that pace. However, had you run the 600m time trial as part of your normal rotation then the result might be 1:33 and you'd set your training rep 100s at 15.5 seconds instead of 15 seconds. The extra half a second slower would probably right on the money (perfect) for training purposes while the 15 flat reps in high volume would cause you to strain.

The above example is relevant to many different situations. Training at paces that correlate to your current (meaning today's) racing capacity is the key to success. You won't beat yourself up if you use today's training pace related to today's performance capacity. You dig a whole and strain when using goal pace or a pace that doesn't relate to what you can do in a race today.

Lower mileage - but still effective?

Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2008 11:23 am
by Old Guy
Tinman, that is a great read on how to set things up while racing. However, in the interest of just keeping things simple, can I just make the day before, and the day after, an easy day?

Given the fact that a race should be a very hard day, it really shouldn't matter if the schedule worked out to where you had two easy days in a row (Thursday and Friday). This is especially true if you're getting a couple of Tinman-tempo efforts and CV workouts in each week through the 3-day rotation.

Even if Thursday (before a Saturday race) is a scheduled Tinman-tempo or CV workout, that workout should not be so difficult under normal circumstances that you couldn't come back with a race on Saturday. Depending on how hilly the tempo course is, I might make the concession of moving it to a flat course. Other than that, I'd probably just run a normal workout unless it was my goal race for the season.