Rethinking ‘hard’ training.

For those who have heard me speak on training you know that I am no scientist.

I just don’t care for it. The arguing over terminology, the laboratory studies, the white coats who’ve never run a day in their lives…I just don’t care for it.

Lydiard was a milkman. His science was trial and error. He learned by doing. He experimented by being the guinea pig. That’s my kind of science.

So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I want to ‘rethink HARD training’ for a minute. Year after year I find that I come away disappointed with performances after a period of race pace or race specific or VO2 max training…NOW, I am speaking on the 10,000 meters and down…I definitely believe in specific pace training for half and full marathon training (but that’s not VO2 max work…)…

In 2016, Kelsey Bruce had a season that most runners would kill for. She qualified for the US Olympic Marathon trials with her still personal best time of 1:13 in the half marathon. She then went on to PR in the 5k and 10k (those were broken this year) and finish in the top-10 in the US in the half marathon, 20K, and 25K Championships. Then she went on to ‘debut’ in the marathon with a 2:36:07 in a very hot and humid Grandmas marathon. And we did all of that with nothing more than steady running, racing, and cruise 200 meter reps.

The argument against no VO2 max work could be…well, outside of the 5k/10k she was running longer distances that don’t really require much work there.

And that’s true.

But I also look at the improvement rates that our kids have during the Indoor and early Outdoor Seasons where they run ridiculous PRs off of nothing more than progression runs, long runs, and some light tempo work…

My belief is that you start with a very general body of work…steady running, all aerobic, and just turning the legs over with some cruise 200 meter reps…then you build into some faster tempo running and hill repetitions, and then you get into the faster work such as VO2 max repeats and some lactate clearance / tolerance workouts…however, we run GREAT until we get to the period of VO2 max training and faster…

So…two thoughts as I ‘rethink hard training’…

  1. Do you even need the VO2 max work if you are training at a high level aerobically and making sure to keep some speed maintenance in the legs? Or, needing just a very little bit of that kind of work?or
  2. Do we need to introduce it earlier in the training and build it up over the training cycle, just like we do the other types of work? Technically the hill repetitions do that, right? But, maybe the body needs time to adapt to that ‘toxic’ work…

Just a few thoughts as I think through the work my athletes have done over the past few years and where we’ve had our UPS and where we’ve had our DOWNS.


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