Coach Blog: Training March 9-15

Can we stop calling it Winter training yet? This week was much better in the weather department, with temps in the single digit minuses, and the sun coming out and melting a lot of the snow. We did both workouts outside due to some leaking in the field house (happens when you get so much snow and then it all melts at once!) but thankfully the conditions were not unreasonable. I think we made it! (womp, snowstorm hits…)

Anyway, here is the training:

Monday we did 3min at cruise pace, 1min jog. The number of intervals was determined by each runner, with a planned range between 8 and 15. So basically they decided when to stop.

Wednesday we did an “uncertainty workout.” The plan was to do it on the track but, as mentioned, we had a slight facilities issue so we went outside. I created a number of cards, each with either an interval length or an intensity written on it. The runners draw from the cards to determine the workout.

Saturday was an easy long run.

This week’s workouts are both a bit different in that runners decide (in one case with control, in the other without) what the workout is. This was planned before last weekend’s events (where Mel and Jullien crushed expectations with big 5000m PBs), but it ties in nicely with the idea that we should not place limits on ourselves. Monday’s workout is basically: run a fartlek until you don’t feel like running it anymore. It allows the runner to explore his or her own limits. A useful skill. Wednesday’s workout is tough because the runners will not know until right before they do each interval what they are going to do. This will force them to just do it without thinking about it too much. That’s a useful skill as well.

The uncertainty workout ended up being 4min at 5k pace, 3min at 10k pace, 4min at 5k pace, then 2min all out, 1min all out, and 1 mile at half-marathon pace to close. Interestingly it is not that far off what a coach might design for a workout anyway, though arrived at completely by chance. I suppose this kind of workout brings into question the need for strict structuring of workouts, but I don’t really see it like that. Each workout should have a purpose. The purpose of this workout was to remove the mental element of “pre-workout worrying” and show the athletes that they are capable of doing whatever is put in front of them. The range of options was such that it was still going to be a nice mix of aerobic and/or anaerobic work, which was fine, but the physiological adaptation wasn’t the goal of this particular session. We couldn’t do randomized workouts like this every time, though I wonder if we did how far off it would really be.

The purpose of the Monday workout was a little different. That was more about forcing the athlete to make the decision on when they had had enough. It could go a couple different ways as for some runners, the tendency would be to do the full workout no matter how crappy they might be feeling, and that is not always the best idea. On the other hand, other runners may take any excuse to cut things short, missing out on the full stimulus of the workout. So this basically calls both runners to account: 15x3min is a lot for most in this group. But the official “full amount” wasn’t 15x, it was between 8-15. So the decision really rested on the athlete to figure out for him or herself what was the optimal amount. For those who might bail early, the challenge is more subtle: can you do just one more? And maybe one more after that? These are the conversations we need to have with ourselves as runners to become aware of our bodies, and what they need to improve. Awareness is the key here, in either direction.

We also had a few more PBs over the weekend.

At the FQA indoor track championships:
Marie-Eve Bastien 5:05.46 PB and won her heat
Marie Haines 5:23.88
Henry Bassel 4:56.29

Thomas Labelle 57.34

Stephanie Harris threw 16.35m in the hammer


Marie Haines 2:46.72
Les Landsberger 2:24.34 PB
Thomas Labelle 2:17.17

Nassim Ennabaoui 9:59.07

And at a 5k in San Diego, Lauren Gingras ran 21:32 for a PB.