Coach Blog: Fall training September 15-21

This week was pretty heavy on the training. We did a hill workout, a cruise workout with some fairly long intervals, and a long run. We also had a few people racing in Toronto at the Zoo.

Monday the workout was 5min tempo uphill, jog down, hill circuit, 5min tempo uphill, jog down, hill circuit, 5min hill tempo, jog down. Core afterwards. The circuit itself was as follows:
100m fast run (jog down)
50m walking lunge, 50m fast run (jog down)
50m jump squat forward, 50m fast run (jog down)
100m fast run (jog down)
50m bounding, 50m fast run (jog down)
100m fast run (jog down).

The hill we used is a nice one right behind UdeM. From the top you can go left into the cemetery, right down an old ski hill or straight ahead down a trail and out at Cote-des-Neiges. Last year we did something similar but instead of going up and down the same 100m stretch, we actually wound our way all the way up. I wanted to keep everyone more together and keep it as up-tempo as possible. On the long climb up it is easier for people to get left behind and therefore to drag their feet. This made the circuit a little shorter, but I put in the 5min tempo climbs to add volume. Alternating between essentially uphill sprinting and something closer to race effort in theory helps to recruit muscle fibres not otherwise used. So in the first tempo part, all is normal. Then you go fast up the hills and this requires you to use some fast-twitch fibres (or at least, activate some fibres you don’t use on more moderate paced running). When you switch back to the tempo the second time, you’ve “woken up” those fibres and they can be used during the tempo, which means, in theory, you will fatigue less. In the long term, your body remembers this, and when racing later, it knows it can access those previously less-used muscle fibres.

At least that is what I have been lead to believe by my reading, and what some other coaches have explained. To put it another way, we are just working on a few different kinds of suffering here. In xc you need to be able to suffer at all paces. When we get back around to this workout again in a couple of weeks, we may modify the circuit a bit, and change up the longer climbs to something slightly shorter and closer to race pace (3-4min at 10k pace maybe).

We jogged back to the track and did the core session as usual.

Wednesday the workout was a progressive 3x8min for the women and 3x12min for the men. Then back to the track for 4x200m. I normally don’t distinguish between training for men and women, especially when we are talking about timed intervals, but because we were training with varsity, those two groups were extant so we rolled with it. Some of the less fit/experienced men went with the women.

So the workout is pretty basic. The original plan was to do it at cruise, and varsity was going to do it at tempo, but then Jim decided to go progressive, and I agreed. So the first one was at about 10sec/k slower than race pace, the second one 5sec/k slower and the last one fast. As fast as one can go on a 12min interval…

The point of doing it progressively is really just a safeguard to ensure everyone gets through the workout. If you go to fast on an 8 or 12min interval, you might get yourself into trouble. We wanted to make sure everyone got the load in. The pace choice is basically to keep it aerobic, but fast. So we are pushing the threshold between aerobic and anaerobic. Doing it on a hilly, grassy xc course makes it tougher, but it also makes it specific for this time of year so that’s good. There’s nothing all that exciting about this workout. Just getting out there and grinding it. The 4x200m after is nice to get the wheels going, too.

Saturday was an easy long run for most. Some of the vets through in 5x2min at 10k pace with 4min rec (i.e. lots) just for kicks.

Racing: We had a small but high quality group run at the Zoo Run in Toronto, aka the Canadian 10k road championships. Ryan Noel-Hodge finished 13th in a time of 31:50. Jacques-Sylvain Lecointre was 32:59 and Gabrielle Vaillencourt ended her racing season with a solid 38:59. The course at the zoo is pretty tough in the final 5k. The first half is fairly wide open and smooth, but once you enter the zoo the turns are tight and there are quite a few ups and downs. Most people will run around 1min slower on this course, so that bodes well for those three. Ryan ran it faster than he did last year, so I think it is fair to say he is back in shape now after a spring/summer to forget. Hopefully a blog is coming soon from him. Jacques is getting ready for the Chicago Marathon and this little kick was just what he needed to make the 3:30/k marathon pace feel a little easier. Gab has had a long season of racing (probably raced too much) so to finish on a relatively high note was nice. She has a lot of potential that can be harnessed with a solid training block and a little more targeted racing.

I also wanted to give a shout out to two others in the race: Laura Batterink of Evanston, Illinois by way of Port Perry, Ontario finished 4th in the Canadian championships in a time of 34:27. Her recent PB from August of 33:47 put her nicely in the mix of this very competitive field, and she was able to beat all but the Canadian Marathon record holder, the Canadian half-marathon champ and 5k runner up, and a very experienced runner from California. Not bad for someone who never ran in university.

Also, my buddy Paul Gallant from New Brunswick rolled in in 33:27, which puts him in fine shape. Paul is a guy who also probably races too much, but then again, living in rural New Brunswick, when you don’t have many training partners, it might not be too bad to get out and race people often. Everyone’s got to figure out their own thing. Anyway, good job Paul!

Next week: another “cross-over” workout, choose-your-own-adventure, and more racing!