Coach Blog: Fall training September 29-October 5

Hello again!

This week’s training featured a test and some light fartlek. Nothing fancy as we were on an easy week. A bit about that: I used to cycle training 3 weeks up and 1 week down. This is not uncommon, as many groups do it this way. That said, I found that too often in the middle of the third week, people would break down, either get sick, or just feel tired or heavy. So I figured that increasing the frequency of easy weeks would help. Nothing is perfect, but generally I find this a much better cycle. I also noted, and it was pointed out to me by some athletes, that sometimes the easy weeks were not quite easy enough. So I’ve tried to make the point to really scale things back in both volume and intensity so that there’s not too much accumulation of fatigue throughout the year.

So this week is one of those down weeks.

Monday: 2k+400m test. This is the test that I use as a kind of “diagnostic” to see what kind of runner we have on our hands. The 2k is a decent aerobic test, longer than the mile, but not as taxing as a full 5k, which might be better. It has been suggested that a 20k or 1hr time trial is the best aerobic test as it really filters out all the anaerobic contributions, but I don’t believe our group is advanced enough to hand that. The 2k will have to do. I use the 2k to predict 400m time with McMillan, and also to predict 5k. The 5k is more for interest: if the prediction is close to or faster than the athlete’s PB, then it serves as a useful motivator. If it is far slower than the fitness we know the athlete has, then that’s an indication (possibly) that we could stand to work on some shorter, faster stuff. It also could be that conditions were not ideal, as was the case last week. It was pretty cold and windy, and certainly the “practice time trial” does not have the same energy as a race situation.

More importantly though, is the 400m prediction. After a full recovery, the athletes hammer a 400m all out. This gives us a clue as to their anaerobic abilities. If the 400m is slower than predicted (i.e. predicted 60, ran a 64) then we know that they need to work on the turnover end of things. If the 400m is faster than predicted (i.e. predicted 75, ran 68) then that could indicate that the aerobic side is not as developed. The good thing about this part of the test is that it is less dependant on weather, how the athlete is feeling that day, etc. Both the 2k and 400 are subject to the same conditions, so the relative measure between them will still be useful.

How this changes the training is as follows: perhaps not much. I say this because the training cycles through various kinds of workouts and so for most of the year, everyone is doing something at all speeds. Someone who needs to work on her speed will get turnover work by doing strides every day. Maybe they need to do a couple more, or do them at the beginning of the run instead of the end, so they run them fresh, and teach the most efficient movement patterns. Someone who needs to work on the aerobic end will get their tempos, and maybe we look at increasing the volume of easy running a bit more rapidly (but this also depends on the individual). We can also add fast 200m or strides to the end of a workout for someone who needs to work on that, or put extra tempo in the warm up for those who need that stimulus. There is probably a period of the training cycle where we will specifically focus on weaknesses, and make groups based on this test. But it is just as important (more so, I think) to work on strengths, especially leading up to competition.

It could have an effect on event choice. I know there are a few marathoners in the group who might really be better off as middle distance runners. But people will do what they like to do. I think it is an interesting bit of information to give them though, and offer the opportunity to become very good at something instead of just pretty good at another.

On Wednesday, we repeated the test for those who couldn’t make it on Monday. Those who didn’t do the test did a light fartlek of 5x2min/2min or 10x1min/1min at 10k pace and some strides.

On the weekend we just did an easy long run. For everyone the volume comes down around 20% this week.

Short week: short post!