Tried and Tested

Mark Wetmore. Coach of 71 All-Americans and seven NCAA champions.

2-hour up-tempo run. 1 to 1.5 minutes slower than your 10K personal best. A continuous run with no breaks. This run is for aerobic development and requires patience.

The rationale for this kind of workout is that doing the long run at a steady pace, without going anaerobic, advances the aerobic metabolism most effiiciently, according to Wetmore. It gives you the most neuromuscular and capillary stimulus of the muscle groups being used. These benefits occur “when you are running too hard to talk about complicated subjects, but not too hard to talk in complete sentences.

Dick Quax. Former world record holder, 5,000 meters. Silver medalist 1976 Olympics 5,000

A long 2 to 3 hour run. Continuous. Easy at the beginning and getting faster as the run progresses.

Fundamental to Quax’s success were long runs between 2 and 3 hours at a pace fast enough to “apply constant pressure on both the central and peripheral circulatory systems.” And the most effective runs for Quax were the long runs that improved his aerobic capacity. The long, steady runs of over 2 hours built Quax’s aerobic endurance, which he calls the building block for all successful distance running. Quax says his long runs always included hills because it made the run tougher and more interesting. However, it is not critical to include hills on your long runs, says Quax. “In Eugene we would run on the flat quite a bit and the results were still just as good.” According to Quax, during their long training, runners need to run “far enough and fast enough so that when they get into the final stages of a long run they have that ‘heavy legs’ feeling resulting from glycogen depletion. That is not a particularly satisfactory way of describing it but it’s the best I know.” These long runs as mentioned previously, increase the number of capillaries, which increases the blood supply to the muscles involved in running. The long run also “aids the recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibers to do aerobic work, and it can be mentally relaxing.”

Kim Jones. Former U.S. national marathon champion. 2:26:40 marathoner.

A continuous treadmill run for 21 1/2 miles at 7 minutes per mile pace once a week.

“This workout is good because it teaches me how to change pace in the middle of a marathon. I don’t watch TV when im doing it. It’s too distracting and can make you fall off the treadmill. I do listen to music on headphones. My daughter made up a tape of music from the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. A little bit of everything.”

Kathrine Switzer. Pioneer of women’s running. PR: 2:51 (marathon)

A continuous overdistance long run, done during her winter base phase. Pace? Whatever it takes to be able to complete the distance of 27 miles.

Going beyond the marathon distance helped Switzer believe she could race the distance at a time when it was anathema for a women to be running marathons. In fact, in 1967, Boston Marathon official Jock Semple tried to pull her off the course after spotting her during the race. After the long runs during winter, Switzer would add a track workout to her schedule, usually 20 quarters in about 80 seconds. Those were done on the track, alone, in the dark, because she was working full-time. Switzer advises time-constrained runners to, first of all, do the long run at a pace you can finish the distance in. This will make you strong. Then, when you want to start racing, begin adding some speed to your training. “If you work out at 9-minute-mile pace, you’ll race at 9-minute-mile pace” she says. “Some days you need to go faster.”

I could only agree. I am a follower!

Emil Zatopek. Only man to win Olympic marathon, 10,000 and 5,000-meter gold medals (1952). 1948 Olympic gold medal 10,000 meters, silver 5,000 meters.

100 x 400 meters with 150-meter jog for recovery. Hard but not so fast that you can’t finish the 400s.

“Why should I practice running slow?” Emil Zatopek asked as a young runner in Prague. “I already know how to run slow. I must learn how to run fast.”

Zatopek is one of the most beloved runners ever, both for his training innovations and his iron will, as well as for his humanistic, international approach to running and to life. He questioned the training methods of his day and formulated his own ideas. The basis of his revolutionary training was combining speed and stamina in the same workout. In 1954, Zatopek broke the 5,000-meter world record, which had stood for 12 years, by running 13:57.2. The next day he became the first runner to break the 29-minute barrier in the 10K, clocking 28:54.2. In order to prepare for those records Zatopek did the toughest training of his life, out in a pine forest near Prague: 100 x 400 meters; 50 times in the morning, 50 times in the afternoon, with a 150-meter recovery. “Everyday for 2 weeks. Oh, it was a lot of work,” he said. ” I was able to change this quantity of training into quality of running.”

Steve Plasencia. Two-time Olympian, personal bests of 13:19:37 (5K), 27:45.20 (10K), 2:12.51 (marathon)

6 x mile with 400 meter recovery jog in 2 1/2 minutes @10K race pace per Mile.

During his long career, Plasencia has consistently run 6 x mile at his 10K race pace. Plasencia takes a 400-meter recovery jog, in about 2 1/2 minutes, in between each mile. Plasencia says this is one workout over the years that tells him what kind of shape he is in for 10,000 meters. He typically does it on the track. According to Plasencia, “when you start out on the first mile you are not focusing that hard, but it climbs on you as the workout goes on. By numbers 4 and 5 in particular, your quads are aching.”

Plasencia’s general tule of thumb is that if he could average a certain pace for the 6 miles, he would be able to run that pace for a 10,000-meter race. For example, if he averaged 4:30 per mile, he could run 28 minutes. “I like this workout because it gave me a pretty direct indicator of where I stood.” This workout was usually run alone, meaning that Plasencia did not have the advantage of people pulling him along.

For runners not at his level, Plasencia does not recommend doing 6 x 1 mile. “The volume will be less, because it is a pretty heavy-duty workout. I was running 100 miles a week when I would do this workout.” Someone aiming for a 40-minute (-yours truly raises hand and shouts: Present!) 10K would do four times a mile at roughly 6:10 per mile. “You could do more, but if you are not doing the volume (of mileage) you could be beat up from the workout.” Always keep the miles at your target 10K-race pace, Plasencia recommends. “If you find that difficult and start slowing down, cut back on the number of miles you are doing to keep the miles at your race pace.”

“choose your poison”…written in a book from Abe Lim.


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