This is not as strange as it sounds, that I use 5k PR pace to determine the pace of workouts. I am extremely pragmatic; I am not interested in "ideal world" conditions in which we might take someone and lab test the bejeezus outta him/her to decide the optimal training. I am not even sure such a thing is desirable or even possible. I definitely do not think it is necessary. Many coaches have achieved great success without ever taking their athletes to a sports science lab; I once had the coach of a 2:08 marathoner tell me that the runner "had never had a VO2max test in his life". So my scientific background is really just for me; to deepen my understanding of how bodies work and how they respond to training. I've had enough lab rats over the years (self included) to get a good handle on physical response to different training intensities in a number of physiological "types".
Antonio Cabral wrote:
I also note that you prefer to use 5k PR pace or a percentage of 5k PR pace to set the workouts, rather than to estimate HM pace. I find that curious, coming from a coach like yourself who has a background in sports science.
But to return to the practicality; I coach runners whom I have never set eyes on, from all corners of the globe. What would you expect me to do in such a situation, ask them to nip down to their local sports science lab and get a quick VO2max test and email me the results?
Hardly. So I need some kind of info on which to base the training, and I get this from a) HR data, and (for quicker sessions), b) a recent 5k performance. Both of these are cheap and nasty enough to obtain just about anywhere, and will tell me pretty much all I need to know about the runner in question to get him/her to some good performances.
On a number of occasions in the past I have lactate tested many runners; once again to understand how the lactate (glycolytic) energy system works in different "types" of runners and how it reacts to different intensities of training. I very rarely test now, although I will do so if I am unsure why a particular response is occurring.
I would just point out that I require two data types (HR + 5k performance), and will put all runners through a period of Phase I before any other training. If I do not know the runner involved (thru training experience), then I don't understand how anyone can go off knowing their 5k performance alone. Consider this:
1) a young m-d runner who can run a good 800m, not so good 1500, poor 3k and very poor 5k (relative to his 800/1500, this is because he has poor aerobic conditioning). You read about such runners on here, young punks who can run sub-2:00 for 800m yet run 17:00 for 5k.
2) a strong endurance-type runner who has run a good marathon, but not a good 5k. He can finish a 5k race and go round again, but cannot get faster. (ie: his marathon performance is relatively superior to his 5k performance).
The two come up to you with the same 5k PR. Do you think they both need the same training?
No need to answer that, because it's really a rhetorical question... I would hope that we both / everyone agree the answer to that question is a negative.
Talking about questions, I must ask you one soon. I can think of some "big" questions (like) can you tie in your discussion of "intermittent training" to the success of Portuguese long distances runners in the the last 25 years? But I imagine you are going to get to that in time... So I need to come up with a smaller "bite-sized" inquiry....
Talk to you soon!