with that in mind, from time to time i realize just how many insights and tidbits i've picked up since developing this running obsession. one of my strengths is connectedness, which i understand to be an aptitude for understanding links between events, experiences and information.
in one way that means that i'm a walking treasure trove of trivial knowledge.
but it also means that if you need it, i can direct transfer some of that knowledge your way.
case in point: my friend lewis is prepping for his first ever half-marathon race this april. this week he decided to share with me something of his homebrewed training plan with an invitation to comment on it. to his credit it had the right mix of variable workout elements: long runs, speed intervals, race-pace runs and recovery days. i know that the first plan that i used for half-marathon training simply laid out distances to be covered on any given day without any real description or prescription as to intensities appropriate for that workout.
my first bit of feedback to lewis was about the fact that he was plotting hard workouts (e.g. race-pace runs and tempo days) back-to-back. here's how i responded to that:
i think that putting a race pace workout back-to-back with a tempo workout is either (a) a recipe for injury or (b) an almost guaranteed less-than-optimal tempo workout. i think that almost any workout plan that you can find prescribed by a coach or a training program will not put key workouts like this adjacent to one another - the idea being that your body needs an easier day between speed-focused runs to recover and build on the gains from that workout. also keep in mind that the tempo workout should be at 10-20s/km faster than race pace - if you can pull that off after a decent race pace day, then your race pace might be too generous.
so here's my challenge - to stretch out those distances so that you get a true 'interval' session. what speed training does is to (a) improve your running form as form tends to break down when running at slower speeds; (b) develop fast-twitch muscle fibres which are important for later stages of a race; and (c) aid in mitochondria development (both in terms of volume and density) which is important because it's mitochondria which help your body convert carbs and fat into energy.i'm about 85% confident that what i'm sharing is accurate from a science/exercise physiology standpoint - and 95% confident that these comments can be helpful to him as he reviews his progress and the path to the start line. but the fact that i've no formal education in science (unlike my friend stan - now there's somebody who knows what he's talking about) and that i fumble about in my own training makes me worry that i'm just offering a load of balderdash.
the 50 or 100m sprints are more what i would consider as 'strides' - short bursts of speed which help to loosen/stretch the leg muscles but do little in terms of grander-scheme development. i would recommend trying at least 400m but optimally 800m intervals (with 90s-120s jog/walk breaks in-between sets) to really get some benefit out of the speed training.
i don't purport to be a coach of any kind.
i hope that i'm not leading my friend lewis astray.
all i can say is that the running community (online and otherwise) as i've experienced it is incredibly generous with their sharing of information and trial-and-error stories. i know that i've benefited from tales told on the run, and i want to be part of that pipeline rather than behaving like a bottleneck or a blocked valve.
please feel free to correct me (especially since i can pass it along to lewis!) if my advice seems askew - and let me know how you've maybe helped to encourage/coach/inform somebody else on their own running journey!