Thursday, 27 October 2011
Junk Miles Help You Run Faster!
Article by Steve Magness
A couple somewhat recent studies have come out that help show the importance of easy running. Both were done in Spain on relatively well trained distance runners (in one, performances ranged from about 30-34min for 10k I think).
The original study set out to quantify a group of runners training for two CC races using HR. They split training into 3 HR zones and recorded their HR during all training for 6 months. The 3 zones essentially came down to easy running, threshold type running, and interval/speed type running. It’s more complicated but that makes it easy to think about the training. At the end of the study 75% of the training was done in zone 1, 21% in zone 2, and 8% in zone 3.
The surprising thing was that the ONLY thing that significantly correlated with how an athlete performed was the amount of training done in zone 1. So, the more training in zone 1 an athlete did, the better he tended to perform.
This was obviously surprising since you’d expect that the amount of training in the faster zones would correlate to race improvement since they were racing over 4.1km and 10k. So, they did another study to figure things out.
In the 2nd study, they took a group of runners and split them into two even groups. One group did had a zone distribution 80%, 10%, 10%. While the other had a distribution of 65%, 25%, and 10%. They made sure the training load (calculated based on HR, essentially it is volume X intensity) was equal in both groups. Basically, the 1st group did more easy and steady running, while the 2nd group did more tempo work.
What happened? Both groups improved. That’s good. BUT, the group with more easy running improved even more so. In fact, they improved a statistically significant amount more.
So, what does all of that mean? EASY running, including junk mileage, has a place! It works.
Lastly, let’s look at Moses Mosop’s training prior to the Kenyan XC champs, which he won. For the months of November, Dec, Jan. and Feb. he had the following avg. miles per week: 124, 127, 88, and 125. That’s a lot of running. Let’s look a little deeper at the average training over these four months.
Weekly mileage –AVG= 116.2mpw
Regeneration Mileage (< 6:10/mi)- AVG=52.33%
Basic Aerobic Mileage (6:10/mi ><5:30) AVG= 27.73%
Aerobic Endurance Mileage (5:30-4:50) AVG= 10.7%
Aerobic Power Mileage (4:50- 4:25) AVG= 7.89%
Specific Speed Endurance Mileage ((4:25-0) AVG= 1.02%
Speed (faster than 15” per 100m) AVG= .11%
Short Length Hills (60m >< 150m) AVG=.03%
Medium Length Hills (200m >< 300m) AVG= .19%
Just to compare it to that last study, approximately 80% of Mosop’s training would be in “zone 1”. 10% in zone 2, and 10% in zone 3. Pretty crazy how that works out…
It’s no surprise that his training percentages come out that way. There’s some research that suggests that higher percentages of intense work may suppress the sympathetic NS a bit and effect catecholamine secretion. The important thing though is that because of Mosop’s large base of support on which to work, he can handle more TOTAL work. Thus his total work at the intensities is higher than someone else might be able to handle. Thus, why that someone else can only run 80mpw with similar percentages of intensities while Mosop can handle 120mpw with the intensity.
With all this being said, I think it is very important to look at EACH training session. Look at the progression of the training that Mosop did for example, it’s great, especially the long run progression. Looking at averages just gives us an easier way to look at how an athlete globally trains.
THE BIG ENGINE'
Check out Moses Mosop's training log [Coached by the legendary Italian Renato Canova] which got him 2nd place at this years amazing Boston Marathon.