WHY A MULTI PACE/EFFORT TRAINING SYSTEM?
It is common for the neophyte runner to report that no matter how much training they do, they cannot seem to run any faster for the shorter distances than they run for the longer distances & they seem to get stuck on a fitness plateau that leaves them “stale” & unable to break through to the next level no matter the run training volume they achieve.
Enter the need for a change of pace.
Varied pace run training been around since the 1910s (Paavo Nurmi used Fartlek in the forests of Finland). This was designed by a Finish coach by the name of Lauri Pikhala.
Interval training was further developed by Gerschler & Igloi—this led to the 1st sub 4:00 mile.
Extreme disciplinarians like Zatopek (3 golds in 1 Olympics) ran as many as 40 quarter mile repeats in one go & Arthur Lydiard had his milers run 100 miles per week of these mixed paces.
Modern coaches utilize multiple pace training, all in one workout with paces ranging from walking to all out sprinting within the same workout. The great Sebastian Coe was coached by his father. He learned of multi tier training from a wonderful British coach by the name of Frank Horwill. The Kenyans almost instinctively train like this, starting out at 45:00 10km pace & ending workouts with well over a mile’s worth of work in under 4:00 mile pace
The key in these types of workouts is to progressively stimulate & fatigue ALL the endurance athlete’s physiological energy production systems, so that they can absorb training & eventually leave the athlete able to run longer more easily & be faster for longer in races. These energy systems can be sub-divided by pace &/or effort. Effort can be measured in longer efforts by the heart rate. However effort is not a good way to determine pace—the better runners sense pace from speed of movement & not by effort.
To teach the body & mind to “learn” pace is essential if one wishes to run races to the best of one’s ability. The only way to do this is to train over varying measured distances at varying intensities & speeds. The modern GPS, accelerometer & heart rate monitor telemetric technology is a great boon in this department nowadays.
The body can only produce energy for fixed amounts of time at various intensities. We have “instant” energy available for .5 of a second, the next slightly slower delivery system lasts for about 5sec; then for 45sec, followed by up to 6:00. The next level is at about 30 to 40 minutes. After this our ability is limited by the ability to burn fat, stay cool, hydrated & fed & finally the ability of leg muscles to endure long term sub maximal loading (muscle endurance). Of course ALL these systems are functioning at varying intensities at ALL times.
Runners need training in all zones:
Zone 1 is to develop endurance in the leg muscles & prepare the O2 delivery system for the more specific quality work that makes for a fast running performance (Constitutes 60-80% of training)
Zone 2 work is to teach the body to effectively run at half marathon to marathon pace—this pace also trains the body to metabolize & flush lactate in the faster shorter races (10 – 15% of training)
Zone 3 efforts allow the runner to improve speed in the 30 to 40 minute zone. This is associated with large parts of the 10km (Also around 10 – 15%, depending on the upcoming event)
Zone 4 This is most associated with efforts that are shorter than 30 minutes. The runner can only hold VO2 max pace for about 6 min. The athlete’s prolonged finishing ability is strengthened here. (6 – 8% of training)
By effectively using a multi pace/effort system a runner can expect progressive improvement over the full range of racing distances & be specifically prepared for that one specifically targeted race.
Learn to pace yourself—gain the most powerful of all the racing tools a runner can have & get the most out of your fitness on race day.
Bobby McGee ©BMES 2007