Increase speed or increase distance? (Read 1288 times)

    I tell you what; I don't need to come here and try to convince people.  But what bugs me is that sometimes somebody who just has NO clue comes on and spread the wrong concept of training.  Unfortunately, sometimes it "sounds right" and some of those people, often, but not exclusively, beginners listen and they would end up hurt or burnt out or not fulfill better potential.  And they would say "But I didn't get hurt..."  More often than not, those are people, when we try to explain things in a logical way, say things like; "But we are all individual, we are all experiment of one..." NOT realizing THEM not being hurt is in fact exception.  Unfortunately, there's no loop-hole in human physiology.  

     

    If they want to counter with "their" anecdotal story, well, I can also share several myself.  Not that I've been seriously running in the past several years (my "competitive" days are pretty much over as far as I'm concerned), I ran 21 minutes for 5k a few years ago with NO structured speed training.  21-minutes ain't that great anyways so I wouldn't dare use it as "a good example" but still better than some people.  My wife ran 3:46 for a marathon with NO speed training because, she said, she hates to hurt!!  Kristen, better known as wannaberunner here, had run 3:38 being her first marathon, then 3:20 and then 3:11 at Boston, all in 7 months (I personally didn't prefer all these crammed in...) with virtually NO speed training at all.  I ran my first marathon, a sub-3, with NO speed training at all.  All due respect, being top 20% or 1:54 half marathon from a chain smoker and couch potato, as impressive as it may sound, ain't that great.  Good, but not great.  I have NO reservation at all to say that you guys would have run BETTER if you train more correctly.  My wife, an avid jogger, had won a race before.  One time we were both amazed that, in one of those races, she received a card afterwards and it said she was "top 2%" in that field.  Again, top 20% is good, but not great.  Hardly good enough to use as a good example to write a book about so other "beginners" can use as a starting example.

     

    Again, my point is not to "exclude" SPEED training.  I believe beginners would need certain form of SPEED training in order to work on their proper form and strengthen their legs as a form of plyometrics.  But you can't challenge physiology.  "No pain, no gain" just does not work no matter how correct it MAY sound--"you need to get used to the pain, you have to go through the mental barrier..., etc., etc., etc..."  Again, not everybody would have to be great.  If you just want to "have fun" and don't want to go through "boring" continuous running, fine, settle with mediocre.  I personally feel far too many people just "settle with 'good enough'" saying "I don't have genes" or "I'm not fast" or whatever.  Again, not everybody has to try to fulfill their potential; let alone fulfilling potential in a very limited activity called "running" which obviously some people view as "boring" and "unnatural".  But that wouldn't give anybody right to misguide others.


    Muddling through

      I hadn't intended to post here because I think my personal experience may have been the exception rather than the norm, but I'd like to add some comments and observations. When talking about beginners we usually assume people running at 10, 11, 12 minutes per mile, but not all beginners are that slow. Would your advice or recommendations be different for a beginner who does easy runs at 8 minute pace or faster? How much of a difference would the beginner's goals make in deciding whether or when to incorporate speedwork into a program, even formal intervals? I'm thinking of beginners who may need to pass a test for entrance to a program, e.g. military, law enforcement, etc or a case like mine where I wanted to start running again to beat my HS PBs.

      2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race

        I hadn't intended to post here because I think my personal experience may have been the exception rather than the norm, but I'd like to add some comments and observations. When talking about beginners we usually assume people running at 10, 11, 12 minutes per mile, but not all beginners are that slow. Would your advice or recommendations be different for a beginner who does easy runs at 8 minute pace or faster? How much of a difference would the beginner's goals make in deciding whether or when to incorporate speedwork into a program, even formal intervals? I'm thinking of beginners who may need to pass a test for entrance to a program, e.g. military, law enforcement, etc or a case like mine where I wanted to start running again to beat my HS PBs.

        George (isn't it?):

         

        Points well-taken.  Two things though; One, "slow" is a relative term.  When I was in college, 8-minute-pace was slow (those were the days...) and I would still start with build-up first.  Again, if you were pointing these comments at my comments, one more time; I WAS THE ONE WHO SUGGESTED SPEED TRAINING FOR BEGINNERS FIRST but not 400m repeats for someone who's running 2-miles max.  And I feel one of the biggest mistakes many "runners" make is that they let their goal (or wishful thinking) dictate their training.  If you want to run 2:10 for a marathon; fine and I can easily write a schedule for you.  Whether or not you can manage it is something I do not want to be held accountable however.  Chances are, you can't.  Then why is it okay to let the goal to dictate the training?  Many have posted here asking; "I have a 1.5 mile test in 3 weeks and I have to run it in 12-minutes (or whatever).  What do I need to do?"  Any many would suggest things like "Do 3 X 800m in 3:50 or do 10 X 400m in 1:45..."  Sounds about right, doesn't it?  But that's the same approach as me writing a 2:10 marathon schedule and hand it to you, isn't it?  So if you were starting to train again to beat your HS PBs, and I have no idea where you are or what your HS PBs are, but if you were a speedster, then would you go straight into the kind of training you were doing in HS?  Or would you start to build up FIRST so you can handle that sort of training...whenever your body is ready?


        Muddling through

          George (isn't it?):

           

          Points well-taken.  Two things though; One, "slow" is a relative term.  When I was in college, 8-minute-pace was slow (those were the days...) and I would still start with build-up first.  Again, if you were pointing these comments at my comments, one more time; I WAS THE ONE WHO SUGGESTED SPEED TRAINING FOR BEGINNERS FIRST but not 400m repeats for someone who's running 2-miles max.  And I feel one of the biggest mistakes many "runners" make is that they let their goal (or wishful thinking) dictate their training.  If you want to run 2:10 for a marathon; fine and I can easily write a schedule for you.  Whether or not you can manage it is something I do not want to be held accountable however.  Chances are, you can't.  Then why is it okay to let the goal to dictate the training?  Many have posted here asking; "I have a 1.5 mile test in 3 weeks and I have to run it in 12-minutes (or whatever).  What do I need to do?"  Any many would suggest things like "Do 3 X 800m in 3:50 or do 10 X 400m in 1:45..."  Sounds about right, doesn't it?  But that's the same approach as me writing a 2:10 marathon schedule and hand it to you, isn't it?  So if you were starting to train again to beat your HS PBs, and I have no idea where you are or what your HS PBs are, but if you were a speedster, then would you go straight into the kind of training you were doing in HS?  Or would you start to build up FIRST so you can handle that sort of training...whenever your body is ready?

          I wasn't suggesting that one jump immediately into hard interval training or had waited until the last minute then panicked about training for a test. Perhaps if I relate what I did do beginning back in May, 1968, it would help. I had run track and xc in HS in a half-hearted fashion and quit after graduation with a mile PB of 5:22. Four years later I decided to start running again at age 21 with a hope to eventually be able to not only beat my HS PB, but to run sub-5:00. The college had a beginners running program supervised by a grad student in Phys Ed which I joined. I jumped in at level 3 of the 4 levels in the program. We ran 5 days a week, M-F, and level 3 workouts were 2-2.5 miles, some in a quasi-fartlek style and some steady runs. Within a couple days the supervisor asked me about my background because I didn't fit the profile of the typical participant. When I explained my background and goals, she proposed personalizing my workouts with that in mind and claimed she could have me running sub-5:00 in two months. We began increasing the length of my runs and started incorporating intervals after about 4 weeks working up to 8x440yd in lieu of the fartlek workouts. We gradually lowered the 440yd intervals from 85 to 75 seconds with a full 440yd jog recovery. At the end of two months I ran 4:56.4 for the mile. The workouts were designed for a very specific goal. Once that goal was reached my training was more general in nature anticipating eventually running xc and road races as well as the middle distance track races.

          2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race

          MrNamtor


          DON'T TREAD ON ME

            .

              What started out as a simple question turned into a very interesting discussion.

               

              Three or four years ago, after a couple of years of running, I was eager to help beginners and offer opinions- now after 6 years, reading several books, magazine articles and discussions like this one I am beginning to realize how much there is to learn.

              PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                                  10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.

               

              MrNamtor


              DON'T TREAD ON ME

                .

                  Good lord.  60+ miles per week before doing structured speed work?  I have never seen anything remotely that conservative.

                   

                  I've been on this board a while now and read a lot of stuff by Nobby and this strikes me as pretty much the opposite of what he believes, so...something is getting lost in translation. I think he was reacting to the type of workout in particular, not the concept of working on speed in general.

                  Runners run.

                    A common mistake for new runners is to conflate running faster with running harder.

                     

                    The thing to focus on is figuring out how to run fast without undue strain. You want to try to get faster at the same effort. That's why Nobby recommends short speed strides, for example, instead of hard interval work or repetitions. If you can figure out how to separate fast from hard -- incorporate some faster running in a relaxed way without changing the effort of your running, then you are on the right track. There are a million ways to do this, and a lot of good things have already been mentioned on this thread.

                     

                    The one thing you want to avoid is taking the average pace of each run as an indicator that you are getting faster. That's what too many people mean by "increasing speed." Instead, practice speed by learning to run fast, in short, quick bursts at first, then perhaps in little timed intervals, something like 4 x 60s fast (not hard) with 90s jog recovery between each one would be a great place for a runner at your level to start. You are running too hard on these little pieces if you can't settle back into a jog after each one. Incorporating these little pieces won't bring down the average pace of your run, but will add some variety into it.

                     

                    As others have mentioned, your paces will naturally come down as you get fitter aerobically, and the straight path to aerobic fitness is simply increasing the volume of aerobic training.

                     

                    One last thing to consider -- you may not have to increase anything. Most new runners will get faster just by maintaining the work that they are doing over months and finally years. Resist the thought that running faster requires doing MORE. Sometimes it just takes being patient.

                     

                    Those guys and girls at the front of the race -- they are not running harder than you; they've made fast easy. That's the challenge.

                     

                    Cheers!

                       There are a lot of ways to skin the cat. Sure, lots of easy miles will eventually translate to a faster runner in most cases. Short bursts of 40ish meters for 3-5 repeats are good. Throwing in occasional strides are good. 400M repeats or even a bit quicker mile in the middle of a 3 mile run is a good workout. These are part of basic building blocks of running. A careful study of how O2 is transported, how muscles build, and how the body recovers is good (not that I'm claiming expertise of any kind here). A good diet is great. Generally speaking, all these ideas have value.

                       

                      My point is there are many opinions on the specifics of how to progress towards a goal. Gaining a basic understanding of as many of these factors as possible and then applying that understanding to your past and current experiences is the best path forward.

                       

                      For me, I've ran 7 marathons and a couple of ultra's. Never been overly fast but I've won a couple age groups awards and have always maxed the run portion of the Army PT test. Like most, I'm sure I have never achieved my true potential so I must be settling for good enough. Some might even call that mediocre. For me, I say my performance is just a reflection of my discipline to learn, train, and eat properly. That's probably true for all of us. For training others, I've trained literally hundreds of Soldiers to meet Army Standard. Many came in good enough shape to progress on their own and they would have passed the standard with nearly any program or even no program, but some came that could not even run a 1/2 mile. My team trained them to run two miles at Army standard pace in less than 8 weeks. We also had them running 4-5 miles by the end. No one solution worked for everyone. Each required a somewhat individual plan tailored to their daily schedule, the weather, their attitude, and their starting point. 400M repeats were always a piece of a solution but so were probably a dozen other workouts or activities. All had value.

                       

                      To say that a couple 400M repeats, run at only a slightly faster than easy pace, with walk breaks in between, thrown into an easy run are patently wrong is just bit more opinionated that I desire. I don't argue the idea of short bursts and working on form. That's great too, but any workout that does not violate too hard, too fast, or too soon is pretty much OK.

                      MrNamtor


                      DON'T TREAD ON ME

                         The edit feature is so excellent. Real life should have one of these.

                           ya yas

                           

                          Just fyi, Nobby's native language is not English.

                           

                          Also, he's not right about everything -- we've had our disagreements, but his involvement in the sport and contributions to it are very deep and long lasting. You can google Nobby Hashizume to read about some of these.

                           

                          His tone definitely could have been better, and you are right to be upset with that.  As to the actual training issue at hand, I think Nobby's point was that you can't learn much about training humans from watching dogs run around. Which is probably true.

                           

                          One thing that having open logs at RA does is put training advice into context. Nobby is sort of an exception here because most people know him from his coaching, not his training. I appreciate this about RA, though, as one thing I find irksome about other boards is that you get a lot of people recycling bits and pieces of "common sense" that aren't well grounded in experience.

                           

                          This is not to say that new runners have nothing to add to the conversation -- on the contrary, experienced runners forget too easily what it's like to be new! But when going head to head with Nobby on training fundamentals, you better have your ducks in a row.


                          No Talent Drips

                            Right on Jeff. Are looking to adopt anyone, Dad?

                             

                            You should go get the clap just so you can give it to her. --beef

                              Right on Jeff. Are looking to adopt anyone, Dad?

                               

                              Ha. One is enough for now, holy smokes!

                              MrNamtor


                              DON'T TREAD ON ME

                                yeah i like Nobby.

                                 

                                And I am sort of sorry for criticizing his grammar. I only really speak English with a smattering of horrible Spanish so I definitely cannot criticize anyone who is basically fluid in more than 1 tongue.