Coach blog: Fall Training December

We had a good year. 85 PBs for the group starting in April with 5 at the St. Laurent 5k, and ending with Shawn Kehoe’s 58:34 at the Boxing Day 10 miler. Best thing that happened this year though was my son Mike. He has definitely enhanced everything I have experienced this year. Onward to 2015, but first, let’s close out 2014 training:

The four weeks of December and the first into January were a sort of choose-your-own-adventure for our group. Various exam, travel, weather and facility schedules led to runners doing a series of workouts in a variety of orders. Here are the key sessions for the month:

Lots of tempo:

40min progression run: 4x10min increments starting at marathon pace, finishing at 10-15k pace.

3x9min intervals at tempo pace. This was a pretty easy one that most ended up doing on their own as there was a big snowstorm on the Wednesday night. Instead of slipping and sliding through intervals we just went for a run. The next morning conditions were fine for running faster.

10x2min at 10k effort, 1min recovery at marathon pace. There was some black ice at Summit for this one, but they decided to go for it. Turned out ok. Sometimes the conditions at Summit are not the same as at McGill. I let them decide if they wanted to go and they did.

Tempo and hills: 800m tempo, 4x10sec hill sprint, 1mile, hills, 1mile, hills, 800m. I like his workout as it is both mentally challenging (to ramp back to threshold after the hills) and has a useful physiological result (fast twitch fibre recruitment).

A couple interval sessions:

13x400m at 5k summer goal pace, 200m jog. The 800/1500m specialists did 300-200-100 or 4-6×400.

Mostly we did this one on a Saturday morning, since the McGill indoor track was closed for exams. It was the first time since I’ve been around that this was the case. I imagine it has to do with budget cuts, as other options may have incurred a rental fee.  As much as we in the track and field community found this to be a challenge (it is fine for distance runners: we can go outside most of the time. But sprinters, jumpers and throwers don’t really have any other options), we are relatively small in number, so I suppose the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. 

Early in December, during a week with no other workouts, we did the following: 1200m fast (1500m race effort) followed by 4-6x400m at the same pace, 3-4min rec. this was partly a test of fitness for some (the pace on a time trial 1200m is likely the pace of a live race 1500m), as well as a rare venture into anaerobic work. There are a few reasons why we don’t do a lot of anaerobic stuff. One is, as Greg McMillan (and Arthur Lydiard) have put it: we are still training to be able do the training. There’s no sense bashing out these kind of intervals on a regular basis at this point in the season. We are trying to build up the engine first. I am not a strict Lydiardite in that we don’t do a “pure” base season: we are doing some workouts. In order for those workouts to be executed properly, I prefer that the runners are not burnt out from interval work. The idea is that working on the aerobic side now will allow for a more intense anaerobic period later. So that’s why this workout was fairly isolated, with two days easy running before and four days after.

The runners were also instructed to take two weeks of just easy running and strides. For most this would take place over the holidays, though some chose to take it during heir exam period and do the workouts over Christmas. We are 4-5 months into the training year. I find this is usually a good time to take a break, but not completely off. Unless a runner is injured or really mentally burnt out (neither of which happen as much when anaerobic intervals and racing are limited…see above) there’s no need for a full break. Just removing the structure of weekly practices and the intensity of the workouts is enough to refresh, usually. And taking a week completely off can mean needing another couple weeks to ramp back up upon the return to training.