The Science of the Long Run (Read 1744 times)


Feeling the growl again

    His (Wardian's) Houston double last year -- 2:21/2:31 on Sat/Sun - was pretty inspiring, I thought.

     

    I had not known of that.  Dang.

    "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

     


    I'm back!

      Yeah. I watched the first one (Olympic trials). The second... he was just a bit ahead of me.


      Feeling the growl again

        Yeah. I watched the first one (Olympic trials). The second... he was just a bit ahead of me.

         

        Didn't quite tuck in to draft, eh?

        "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

         

          ...I think one of the biggest problems is that, in reality, it's always a combination of lots of things.  It's not one long run or 16-miler or 20-miler; but it's got background, speed of those runs, running style (or maybe running economy) or how much you run in total per week or per month...  In research, you'd HAVE TO pick one element and isolate that and you only look at that one element.  You'll get some idea of that ONE thing would or wouldn't do but it really wouldn't show the big picture at all.

          I agree with this and Matt M's comments on it.

           

          There's actually multivariate statistical techniques that could be used to look at multiple variables since change in one variable alone may not show a difference or elicit a desired response. It's the whole package of training - past and present, plus perhaps lifestyle. (someone coming from a backpacking lifestyle may do better at longer stuff while someone coming from soccer may do better at short, fast stuff - at least initially)

          "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

            http://fellrnr.com/wiki/The_Science_of_the_Long_Run

             

            Just to comment on the Science aspect of this webpage, there are so many factors, and for every conclusion (the average), there will be counter-examples (the anecdotes). 

             

            Looking at the data from section 1.1, which even though comes of a study done long ago and the error bars on the charts are not shown, the immediate conclusion should be that there is no relationship between # of long runs or length of long run and finish time, for finish times < 3 hours.  For finish times of 3:08 or less, the slope of  LR miles vs. finish times is statistically consistent with zero.  There is clearly a different factor that separates 2:25 from 3:08 (hint: 70 MPW vs. 40 MPW).  The data from this study perhaps defines the advanced training schedules in most books and articles of the past 35 years:  Have a base of 70 MPW, and do 3 LR of 20-22 miles 3-8 weeks prior to the race.

             

            The more interesting aspect, which is gaining traction, is that a long run need be time-based, perhaps as little as 2 hours long.  It is also possible to infer this from the study.  The 2:25 marathoner with a 20-22 mile long run will be done in about 2 hours, recovering well enough to log another 50 miles (7 hours?) during the week on other important workouts.  That is to say, run long for 2 hours, spend another 7 hours a week doing other running workouts, and over time your fitness and running economy will progress to the point that you will be doing 20 mile long runs on 70 MPW base.  Does that get you to a 2:30 marathon?  Well, who knows, but I don't see it happening on a base of 40 MPW where 20 of that is a long run.

             

            The question that science needs to answer is the time spent on the long run for the best cost/benefit, rather than the distance covered on the long run.  If I can ever get my accursed back to feel better I might be able to test some of these questions and be yet another anedcote.

             

            Oh, and +++ for Nobby for providing a great discussion.

            2013 H1:  7 hours/week base.  Q3: Train for goal race.  Q4:  Goal Race.


            Dad of a real runner

               Nobby

               

              posted: 12/17/2012 at 1:10 PM

              Quote from still bluesky on 12/16/2012 at 3:01 PM:

              Perhaps in the spirit of full disclosure it might be appropriate for those of us discussing the "long run" to state just how many long runs we've done in the past 52 weeks.  That might add a bit of validity to our comments.  I, for instance, have had 8 @ 16 to 18, 5 @ 18 to 20, and 5 over 20 (including 2 marathons).  I'm sure that many training for marathons put these numbers to shame.  But if all you have is, say for instance, one run of 10 miles, then I'm not sure what you can really add to this discussion, or why you would even want to be involved.

               

              Reply from Nobby:

              This is an interesting proposal but I'm not sure if it can be valid enough...  You see, I feel just putting down the numbers and try to get some "formula" is not going to work.  For example, without knowing your own status, how can we determine your having done lots of around and beyond 20-miler was actually effective?  

               

              Point well made - I was just being a little puckish - should know better than to show my butt.

               

              You made another post that I'd like to get some clarity on.  You said

               

              "I think when you talk about 4~8 hour run is fine only curtails to people who are adequately prepared.  I do maintain that it is most probably problematic for people who barely goes 12-miles in 2 hours.  There are a lot more issues concerning training benefits vs. problems.  Going slow is fine to gain more distance but, as you go slower, and of course not for everybody but quite a few of them, the shock of landing will be greater because the speed at which you move your Center of Gravity over your landing spot is slower; hence the landing shock would multiply.  IF you have smooth running style, even at the same speed and you go the same duration, the muscle trauma would be less impactful."

               

              When I do a run of 18 miles or more, I have taken the words of caution from those more experienced than me on this and other forums, and have slowed my pace down to around 9:20 pace.  But I feel no less beat up than if I had kept my pace at 8:55 or so, and it takes many more minutes.  Is your quote above suggesting that because of change in running style at the slower speed that I'm not really doing myself any favors by slowing down? 

               

              And thanks to you and many others on here that have contributed to this discussion.  It's one of the best I've seen for some time.

                ...

                In short, going the distance is fine so long as your target is just that--going the distance.  But if you want to run "well", then other ingredients would have to be taken into consideration.  Right now, majority of runners jump to run a marathon and ALL they are concerned with is to cover 3/4 of the marathon distance so they feel "comfortable" with the distance...  I guess I never quite finished what I was going to talk about in response to George (about IRS this and that...) but basically the point is; if you're not ready, you're not ready.  THAT is inevitable.  Recent trend of this run-walk is something that allows you to go the distance even if you're not ready for it but, to me, if you have to do that, that's a pretty good sign that you ARE NOT ready for it.  It's easy for anybody to say; "If you want to run 26-miles, do this."  But that's quite a bit different from; "If you want the most suitable training that's actually beneficial..."  And, hate to say, if you ain't ready, you ain't ready and you've got to bite the bullet and work for it so you can safely handle it.  Now WHAT determines that would be a very interesting topic of research.  I think experienced coaches have some idea--though they don't seem to be the same across the board.

                 

                I think when you talk about 4~8 hour run is fine only curtails to people who are adequately prepared.  I do maintain that it is most probably problematic for people who barely goes 12-miles in 2 hours.  There are a lot more issues concerning training benefits vs. problems.  Going slow is fine to gain more distance but, as you go slower, and of course not for everybody but quite a few of them, the shock of landing will be greater because the speed at which you move your Center of Gravity over your landing spot is slower; hence the landing shock would multiply.  IF you have smooth running style, even at the same speed and you go the same duration, the muscle trauma would be less impactful.  Naturally, some will do fine, and improve, going very long, it seems as Not-Too-Swift had demonstrated.  Is it something we can recommend to majority?  

                I agree. Keep in mind that even for marathons, they're not all flat. Many of the people doing the long long runs are training for hilly trail races. Traditional training for flat races doesn't always work for hilly races and may leave a person undertrained. Except for the 10k and shorter races, most of my races in 2012 had at least 3000ft of uphill. So I do a lot of hill work - both up and usually down (a few races this year were all uphill, so didn't do the downhill training like I usually do).

                 

                I disagree with the pace issue being a problem - at least for hilly trails. Wink  I can barely get 5mi in 1hr on xc terrain - slower on everything else with larger, steeper hills and footing issues. I understand where you're coming from, though. I was going to say that the run/walk approach mitigates that until I realized that we're most likely to walk the uphills and run the downs. Wink  oh, well.

                 

                I do think there's an optimum level of pace / effort for even the slowest end. I tried low-heart rate training one time and lost a lot of fitness because the effort was too low. If I'm going that slow, I'd usually power hike - less pounding and less effort to go the same speed.

                 

                Would my race times come down if I reduced my long runs (maxed out at 4-5 hr vs 8 hr) and ran other stuff faster - or at least some of the other stuff? I'm not convinced - unless I was only running short stuff (15mi and less). My experiment of one, when I had my best year, I'd been at close to my max volume for 1 yr and upped it a little, had lots of hilly long runs (several in the 8-hr range), then knocked 1.5hr off my time for 38mi (13hr to 11.5hr, but that's carrying a pack with supplies and getting water from stream - no aid station between trail heads). After that, recovered, added hill repeats, then knocked about 20+min off my HM time (3000ft up in first 4 mi) about 6 wk later. But I always have 3 key workouts - besides the long run - in a 2-wk microcycle.

                 

                My race times would come down by running faster courses. I've shown that - but where's the fun in that. Smile

                "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

                  When I do a run of 18 miles or more, I have taken the words of caution from those more experienced than me on this and other forums, and have slowed my pace down to around 9:20 pace.  But I feel no less beat up than if I had kept my pace at 8:55 or so, and it takes many more minutes.  Is your quote above suggesting that because of change in running style at the slower speed that I'm not really doing myself any favors by slowing down? 

                   

                  And thanks to you and many others on here that have contributed to this discussion.  It's one of the best I've seen for some time.

                  This is, I guess, another one of those "X-Factors".  We were watching "Best in the Show" last night and, toward the end of the show when those dog owners are "jogging" across the field with their dog, I said (more or less to myself...), "Gosh, why can't they run more smoothly...?" meaning that they were all sticking their feet right into the ground with their heel.  Of course, my daughter is home from college and, along with my wife, they had to attack me with such a "silly" comment!! ;o)

                   

                  There's a YouTube clip, something called something like "Best Running Form" this and that...and it's a 2-part series.  Pretty good stuff.  There's a clip of this guy running at various speed--10MPH, 7MPH and 5MPH and his cadence is all the same, his landing (mid-foot) is all the same at these various speed.  Quite intriguing.  My saying that "the slower you run, the harder you land" is more or less a very general comment.  People with correct running technique can go slow and still run with very minimal shock.  I have no problem landing mid-foot at, say, slower than 4.5MPH.  

                   

                  Now when people tell you to "slow down so you can go further", it's more of an energy system issue.  If you're running "aerobically", it wouldn't matter if you're running at 8:00 pace or 10:00 pace.  Likewise, you'll get in trouble even at 12-minute pace IF that's no longer "aerobic" for you.  

                   

                  Besides, I don't think 30-seconds per mile would make it or break it.  To me, that's more or less normal "range" according to the day's condition.  I would not put it in a way that "if I do it this way, am I not doing myself any favor?"  I believe ANY training is doing you a favor.  Well...I'll take it back.  I guess there are some workout that could do you no good...  But in general, if you slow down and you go further and you don't see any ill-effect; then it's GOT to be doing some good.  If not one thing, then something else.  Some people say that, even your long run, if the effort is such-and-such level, say like 75% of your VO2Max or higher, it won't do you any good (hence it's junk miles).  They have NO idea what they're talking about.  If not VO2Max, you may be strengthening your muscular skeletal make-ups...or capillarization...or fat-burning system...or form!  This is the thing; there's NO physiologist in the world who can say "this is no good" because they only look at one thing.  If it's VO2Max, they can turn around and say Tabata sprints improve VO2Max more than an hour's easy running.  So does that mean Tabata sprints is superior workout? We ALL know that it's not so.  Comparing VO2Max maybe.  But would that make you a better runner?  That alone, highly doubt it.  So, in a practical sense, you always have to look at it in a big picture.

                    MTA this on earlier post:

                     

                    Nobby: "Is it something we can recommend to majority? "

                     

                    I would agree with you on the assumption that for a new runner coming from sedentary lifestyle who wants to race / run / do a marathon in 4 months (couch to marathon in 4 months), that a 3 or 4-hr training run on flat asphalt is likely painful and not that useful. My concern is that that gets taken out of context and translated into "don't do long runs longer than 3 hr because you'll get injured" - regardless of training.

                     

                    The new runner is likely to do it anyway - regardless of what you tell them - and hurt like heck afterwards, maybe injured, maybe DNF - or maybe DNS if injured in training. They may or may not want to ever run again, depending on personality. (some people thrive on discomfort)

                     

                    Run/walk done properly is one alternative. Taking longer to buildup - if they're willing - may be the desired alternative.

                     

                    If everybody waited until they could run the entire course before they entered some of my races (hilly trails), there would be some pretty lonely races when the RD would really like you to come participate. Some RD's (who may be very competitive in their own right) are very encouraging to slower runners, as long as they can do it safely.

                    "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog
                    fellrnr


                      Hey, sorry for the harsh "introduction"! ;o)  

                       

                      And also sorry, I do not have URL for the ones I've mentioned.  I've read them in books.  With Peter Snell's presentation, I have his presentation with several references made on long runs, including a few charts and graphs.  The problem, and something I do have some issue with, is; when you refer only those that are available on-line, I would very much question the validity of the whole "thesis".  As is evident with some of recent "running is harmful" articles, even from Wall Street Journal or NY Times, I take a lot of what we read on-line are garbage. I wouldn't even take everything that's been "researched" unless I understand how they tested.  So you'd REALLY have to be careful with what you read on-line.  When you take up the responsibility of posting a broad title like "Science of Long Run", I feel you'd take up responsibility of doing thorough research on you part.  I don't think skimming through internet is not enough.  It is admirable what you're doing--trying to collect all the information out there for all to see.  One of the most thorough work of this kind, be it research on various training effects or various athletes' training, had been done by Dick Brown and Jeff Johnson.  Jeff had binderful of information of various athlete in quite detail.  Dick had all the different comments by runners/coaches on various topics all put together based on topics.  It was quite mind-bogglingly impressive!  Good thorough research cannot be done on-line alone; you need some leg-work.

                       

                      I'm not telling you what to do or how to do it or what not to do.  People do what they want anyway; it's a free country, right?  Often people throw a bunch of BS at anybody without identifying who you are on-line (you know what I'm talking about).  I'm just giving you my opinion.  

                       

                       

                      Most peer reviewed research is either available online or at least has the journal details so you can access the hardcopy of the journal. While there are issues with peer reviewed research journals, it's the best source we have. So far I estimate I've spent about 40 hours reading peer reviewed research ('skimming the internet'), but I've also spent time reading other materials, including various renowned couches guides. I do reference some internet resources in my entry in addition to the dozen or so peer reviewed research article, but that's a reflection of my difficulty in finding good research. For instance, I've found nothing on capillary density and long runs, though there is quite a bit around capillary density in general. It's not like caffeine (http://fellrnr.com/wiki/Caffeine) where I found over 100 peer reviewed research articles that were relevant.

                        Most peer reviewed research is either available online or at least has the journal details so you can access the hardcopy of the journal. While there are issues with peer reviewed research journals, it's the best source we have. So far I estimate I've spent about 40 hours reading peer reviewed research ('skimming the internet'), but I've also spent time reading other materials, including various renowned couches guides. I do reference some internet resources in my entry in addition to the dozen or so peer reviewed research article, but that's a reflection of my difficulty in finding good research. For instance, I've found nothing on capillary density and long runs, though there is quite a bit around capillary density in general. It's not like caffeine (http://fellrnr.com/wiki/Caffeine) where I found over 100 peer reviewed research articles that were relevant.

                        I have a book from Japan right here with me called "Physiology for Long Distance Runners" written by 9 people, one of whom I personally got to know, all of them a university professor.  Each chapter deals with a different topic and with references at the end of the chapter.  There's a topic on long distance training (granted; you are very specific about "long run" and this book basically covers anything and everything about training for distance running events) on VO2max, cardiac output, size of the heart, affect on different muscle fiber types, CAPILLARIES, recovery, lactate level...  There's a reference to Dr. Costill's study on the effect of long distance training (again, not limited to long run) on blood content done in 1999, female athlete's period and bone density...  This is just the first half of this book and it goes on and talk more about some of the experiment on the actual athletes (mostly students it looks like...), different types of training (I'm sure long run is one of them)...and move on to putting together the effective training plan.

                         

                        Again, I understand that you want to find "legit" papers on specific workout--long run.  But it seems that your assumption is that "most peer reviewed researches are available on-line".  My assumption is, with all these information available to write a book, I'd be very surprised there had only be done a handful (a half a dozen or so) of researches only done on long run.  Just to name one, for example, Peter Snell had a graph of the effect of sprint training vs. endurance training on recovery from lowering of blood pH level which I don't believe you covered.  It's either Dr. Snell was talking about something so bogus that has not been "peer reviewed" or there must be some other research that you overlooked somewhere in the universe.  The whole presentation by Snell was "How Long Running Makes You Faster".  It's got to be about long runs!!  And his presentation was over an hour.

                         

                        I've been involved in running business (well, not in a sense I was making a living off that) for the last 40 years.  I've been fortunate enough to be in touch with top level coaches and athletes in the world in the past 30 years, attending many seminars and clinics around the world literally, not just in the US.  I've been in association with Arthur Lydiard and his gang for the last 25 years and I now feel good enough to say that I can present Lydiard training to public.  I'm not sure if you were being sarcastic or serious but, although I do point out that your motivation is admirable, 40-hours of skimming through internet, on the assumption that all the peer-reviewed researches are available on-line, won't cut it for me and say it's good enough to share it with the world  If you do that, as far as I'm concerned, you have the responsibility and personally I wouldn't take that responsibility lightly (not that I'm saying you are).  Also, I'm sure in the scientific world, this "peer-reviewed" is important but, as far as I'm concerned, whether it actually works or not, as a practical coach, is more important than some lab people in white coat "approves".  I've seen many "peer-reviewed" researches on training that's not worth the paper it's written on.

                        fellrnr


                          I have a book from Japan right here with me called "Physiology for Long Distance Runners" written by 9 people, one of whom I personally got to know, all of them a university professor.  Each chapter deals with a different topic and with references at the end of the chapter.  There's a topic on long distance training (granted; you are very specific about "long run" and this book basically covers anything and everything about training for distance running events) on VO2max, cardiac output, size of the heart, affect on different muscle fiber types, CAPILLARIES, recovery, lactate level...  There's a reference to Dr. Costill's study on the effect of long distance training (again, not limited to long run) on blood content done in 1999, female athlete's period and bone density...  This is just the first half of this book and it goes on and talk more about some of the experiment on the actual athletes (mostly students it looks like...), different types of training (I'm sure long run is one of them)...and move on to putting together the effective training plan.

                           

                          Again, I understand that you want to find "legit" papers on specific workout--long run.  But it seems that your assumption is that "most peer reviewed researches are available on-line".  My assumption is, with all these information available to write a book, I'd be very surprised there had only be done a handful (a half a dozen or so) of researches only done on long run.  Just to name one, for example, Peter Snell had a graph of the effect of sprint training vs. endurance training on recovery from lowering of blood pH level which I don't believe you covered.  It's either Dr. Snell was talking about something so bogus that has not been "peer reviewed" or there must be some other research that you overlooked somewhere in the universe.  The whole presentation by Snell was "How Long Running Makes You Faster".  It's got to be about long runs!!  And his presentation was over an hour.

                           

                          I've been involved in running business (well, not in a sense I was making a living off that) for the last 40 years.  I've been fortunate enough to be in touch with top level coaches and athletes in the world in the past 30 years, attending many seminars and clinics around the world literally, not just in the US.  I've been in association with Arthur Lydiard and his gang for the last 25 years and I now feel good enough to say that I can present Lydiard training to public.  I'm not sure if you were being sarcastic or serious but, although I do point out that your motivation is admirable, 40-hours of skimming through internet, on the assumption that all the peer-reviewed researches are available on-line, won't cut it for me.  Also, I'm sure in the scientific world, this "peer-reviewed" is important but, as far as I'm concerned, whether it actually works or not, as a practical coach, is more important than some lab people in white coat "approves".  I've seen many "peer-reviewed" researches on training that's not worth the paper it's written on.

                           

                          Yes, there's lots of research on 'endurance', but that term tends to have a different meaning in scientific papers, often referring to aerobic capacity. I've not seen Dr Snell's work on sprint and endurance training, but I have read many papers on the subject. It's a fascinating area of research, and there's a recent article suggesting that HIIT (sprint) is the best option for improving performance in highly trained endurance athletes. ("The scientific basis for high-intensity interval training- optimising training programmes and maximising performance in highly trained endurance athletes") However, none of those papers says anything about the long run.

                           

                          I was quite serious about spending 40 hours reading peer reviewed research to find information around the long run; you can call that 'skimming the internet' if you like. Those 40 hours were focused on research appropriate to the long run; I've spend vastly more time reading other endurance related studies.

                           

                          I quite understand that you may prefer the authority of a coach over science. Personally I don't subscribe to that approach as few coaches try different approaches to see what works and what fails. I believe that coaches have a tendency to find something that 'works' in the sense that it works some of the time for some of the people with no understanding of how the approach compares with alternatives. It depends on how you value science compared with the anecdotes of coaches.

                           

                          (One caveat - when I said most peer reviewed research is either available online, or has a reference online, I didn't mean to suggest it is publicly available, but it is available via university access.)

                            Yes, there's lots of research on 'endurance', but that term tends to have a different meaning in scientific papers, often referring to aerobic capacity. I've not seen Dr Snell's work on sprint and endurance training, but I have read many papers on the subject. It's a fascinating area of research, and there's a recent article suggesting that HIIT (sprint) is the best option for improving performance in highly trained endurance athletes. ("The scientific basis for high-intensity interval training- optimising training programmes and maximising performance in highly trained endurance athletes") However, none of those papers says anything about the long run.

                             

                            I was quite serious about spending 40 hours reading peer reviewed research to find information around the long run; you can call that 'skimming the internet' if you like. Those 40 hours were focused on research appropriate to the long run; I've spend vastly more time reading other endurance related studies.

                             

                            I quite understand that you may prefer the authority of a coach over science. Personally I don't subscribe to that approach as few coaches try different approaches to see what works and what fails. I believe that coaches have a tendency to find something that 'works' in the sense that it works some of the time for some of the people with no understanding of how the approach compares with alternatives. It depends on how you value science compared with the anecdotes of coaches.

                             

                            (One caveat - when I said most peer reviewed research is either available online, or has a reference online, I didn't mean to suggest it is publicly available, but it is available via university access.)

                            I (think I) understand what you mean and where you come from.  I do have a tendency to come out strong.

                             

                            I've seen sprint training works well ON HIGHLY TRAINED ATHLETES and I have no issue with it and I actually agree with it and I've actually seen it work.  The problem, when it's published as such, is that so many view it as "this is better than long run".  How many times have you seen, when papers like that comes out, a thread title "Traditional Endurance Training is Outdated!!" or "Aerobic Training is Dead!"?  Even here at RA.  Short sharp sprints like so-called Tabata sprints, or like 50/50, really works you and you feel all of a sudden your aerobic capacity is lifted to the next level.  I've experienced it many times myself.  So is it true?  I'd say yes and I guess science backs it.  Would you replace all your training with this kind of workout?  I'd say ABSOLUTELY no.  Would many view it that way?  I think some do.  "But this peer reviewed paper says Tabata sprints, done 8-minutes a day, improved VO2Max more than an hour a day of long slow running...!!"  Research shows only one piece of the puzzle.  

                             

                            ...I believe that coaches have a tendency to find something that 'works' in the sense that it works some of the time for some of the people with no understanding of how the approach compares with alternatives...

                            If I read your comment here correctly, I'd beg to differ...in a way.  Science only shows ONE thing.  So it "proved" Tabata sprints, or HIT, works great.  And some poor 4-hour marathon runner would try it and gets injured or perform poorly; and they would turn around and say; "But his VO2Max DID improve as we predicted..."  Like I said, I've seen some papers that's not worth the paper it's written on....in terms of us runners.  I'm sure it's true and may work perfectly all the time in every situation.  But so what?  Us runners want to perform well and improve.  Some research are valuable.  But when it comes down to it, some others don't even have any place in actual training and coaching.

                             

                            ...It depends on how you value science compared with the anecdotes of coaches.

                            In that respect, there's not even a comparison because, when it comes down to it, what works works.

                               

                              I've been fortunate enough to be in touch with top level coaches and athletes in the world...

                               

                              I would just mention in passing, since some may not be aware of it, that fellrnr is a "top level athlete"  - assuming we're still counting utlrarunners as "athletes" Smile

                              fellrnr


                                I (think I) understand what you mean and where you come from.  I do have a tendency to come out strong.

                                 

                                I've seen sprint training works well ON HIGHLY TRAINED ATHLETES and I have no issue with it and I actually agree with it and I've actually seen it work.  The problem, when it's published as such, is that so many view it as "this is better than long run".  How many times have you seen, when papers like that comes out, a thread title "Traditional Endurance Training is Outdated!!" or "Aerobic Training is Dead!"?  Even here at RA.  Short sharp sprints like so-called Tabata sprints, or like 50/50, really works you and you feel all of a sudden your aerobic capacity is lifted to the next level.  I've experienced it many times myself.  So is it true?  I'd say yes and I guess science backs it.  Would you replace all your training with this kind of workout?  I'd say ABSOLUTELY no.  Would many view it that way?  I think some do.  "But this peer reviewed paper says Tabata sprints, done 8-minutes a day, improved VO2Max more than an hour a day of long slow running...!!"  Research shows only one piece of the puzzle.  

                                 

                                If I read your comment here correctly, I'd beg to differ...in a way.  Science only shows ONE thing.  So it "proved" Tabata sprints, or HIT, works great.  And some poor 4-hour marathon runner would try it and gets injured or perform poorly; and they would turn around and say; "But his VO2Max DID improve as we predicted..."  Like I said, I've seen some papers that's not worth the paper it's written on....in terms of us runners.  I'm sure it's true and may work perfectly all the time in every situation.  But so what?  Us runners want to perform well and improve.  Some research are valuable.  But when it comes down to it, some others don't even have any place in actual training and coaching.

                                 

                                In that respect, there's not even a comparison because, when it comes down to it, what works works.

                                 

                                Yes, science requires an understanding of what is being studies and what the implications are. Your comments about sprint training are appropriate: sprint training has benefits when compared with 'endurance training', but those studies are often comparing the sprints with relatively short steady state runs. Looking at study construction, blinding, sample size, outcome measures takes some deeper understanding.

                                 

                                My article on 'the science of long runs' is not intended to be 'everything you need to know about long runs' by any means, but an entry specifically on the science. It's an intentionally narrow topic, and I hope to continue building it as more research becomes available.

                                 

                                The conclusions I draw are too narrow and need to be moved out of this page, as I think the only recommendations that can be made on the basis of the science alone are too weak to be of much use. For instance, the science indicates that a >20 mile run is appropriate for a long run, but there is far more to the situation; mileage, terrain, build up period, pace, etc. Therefore a more nuanced set of conclusions with rationale and caveats that is based on more than this specific research is appropriate.

                                 

                                Your comments and this thread has been remarkably useful, and I'd like to thank you and the other contributors.