We deploy a variety of runs and workouts to get optimum performance from our athletes. The foundation of our training is about developing extremely strong aerobic capability. Delivering a high volume of oxygen to muscles when training for racing is the goal of our aerobic-based runs. We work on being able to sustain that volume for long periods of time. Aerobic capacity is critical for creating highly competitive race-ready athletes. We complement that with strength and faster race pace training to condition our runners for the paces necessary to compete strongly in races. Please review each technique and know the goals of each type of workout.
Normal Runs are the basic building blocks of your aerobic foundation. Depending on your ability and the length of your overall time in the program, these will range from 4-9 miles and vary in pace from 6:20 to 7:50 per mile. As you improve – "normal" becomes faster and longer. These build your oxygen delivery system - heart, lungs and circulatory vessels - as well as the muscles that move you. A basic rule for pacing yourself is that you should not be able to speak more than short, choppy sentences. Do not try to carry on conversations during Normal Runs as that will interfere with developing strong respiring rhythm. Normal runs are also high-calorie burners and help to eliminate body fat. This increases your lean-muscle mass to body fat ratio which boosts your metabolic rate and is critical to being a competitive runner.
Long Steady Runs are our deep aerobic guarantors. All the strengths of the normal runs are compounded even more when we increase the mileage once or twice a week for Long Steady Runs. These will range from 10-18 miles, again depending on your experience. Pace will range from 7:15 to 8:30 per mile. During long steady runs you may be able to converse with teammates. However, do not let that cause you to drift away from making the mileage count and maintaining a steady pace with a precision running stride. A smooth steady gate strengthens your body over the long mileage. Sloppy, careless plodding for many miles will lead to injury. Long steady runs executed properly are one of the key difference makers once the racing begins.
Tempo Runs are fast runs with very specific paces, prescibed by the coaches, for distances between 2-6 miles. These begin conditioning athletes for the paces that will be necesarry for racing. Strong aerobic bases developed by the Normal and Long Runs allow runners to be effective during Tempo Runs and those, in turn, condition runners for the increased rigor of the race. Aerobic efficiency and deep capacity of longer mileage are now put to use increasing your system's ability to maximize its oxygen delivery.
Interval Training is designed specifically to be the final conditioning for racing. Training runners to maintain fast race paces is the goal of interval training, although sometimes the prescribed paces are slightly slower and/or faster than your exact race pace. Interval training consists of fast repeats (4x2k, 5x1-mile, 6x1k, 8x800 meters for example), followed by jogging and/or walking to recover then repeating the fast pace distance again at the same pace as the previous one. As Tempo Runs push our oxygen delivery toward maximum levels, Interval Training takes that even further and in some cases will condition the body to run well beyond the body's maximum oxygen delivery treshold. That becomes anaerobic conditioning. While that is more useful for shorter races such as the 1,500 and 800, in the final half mile of a Cross Country race, the runners that are able to function efficiently while their muscles are in oxygen debt will be the runners that will summon the best kicks.
Hill Repeats are strength builders. We will run them in 30-second, 45-second, 1-minute and up to 2-minute sections on hills that have similar grades to those you will face in races. They will range in numbers from 6 repeats up to 30. In some cases they will be the exact hills on which you will race. However, because they are strength builders, when we do hill repeats we do them faster and stronger than we may tell you to run them in a race. You should think of hill repeats like an explosive power lifting session at the gym. Blasting up the hills as fast as you possibly can because the goal is to build your strength.
Recovery Runs enable you to keep your weekly mileage up, thus helping to maintain your aerobic capacity, while giving your legs a partial day off. Hearts, lungs and capillaries are designed so that they can be constantly pushed without rest. While your muscles do need some time off from the more strenuous paces. Recovery runs are from 3-6 miles at 7:30 per mile or slower. However, as mentioned in Long Runs, NO sloppy plodding. Slogging = Sloppy Jogging = Injury. If your legs are so beat that you fear that you may Slog, then find a pool for a 45-minute swim or take a fast, flat bike ride for two hours.
Strides are short, fast repeated bursts of between 50 and 200 meters. Strides are usually run following a Normal or Recovery Run and are a drill that conditions your neuromuscularity with a precision stride, fast turnover and a powerful bound. Your best running gate is achieved when you are running as fast as you can. Moving your body at top speed sets your neuromuscularity in the proper rhythm and repetitive motion. Strides are also good to set the tone for competition with specific reference to the beginning, the run-out – and the end, the kick, of the race. Coaches may tell you to imagine the run-out or the kick of a race while doing your strides.