Training For The Mile
University of Michigan
Every coach has his own ideas which he incorporates into his training program. Sharing ideas with other coaches, attending clinics, readings and a coach's personal experiences all help to formulate a coaching philosophy. As training methods improve, a coach's training philosophy changes. There are several methods used today, all of which merit some discussion. A brief discussion of physiology may help provide a basis for understanding the different training methods used today.
Physiologists have not identified the exact mechanisms involved in determining the working capacity of human beings, but much has been learned about the adjustments that are made to the demands of the activity. Three critical factors that seem to determine the working capacity of the individual are:
Oxygen Requirement of the Task. This is simply the amount of oxygen the body needs to perform a given task; the more intense the activity the greater the oxygen demand.
2. Oxygen-Debt Tolerance. When the demand of a task exceeds the capacity of the circulatory system to meet the oxygen requirements of the tissue, a deficit exists. The level of which the deficit can be built before one must cease activity is called oxygen-debt tolerance.
Maximal Oxygen Intake. This is the amount of oxygen an individual can take into his system during exercise.
We can assume that to increase the work capacity of the individual, we have to be concerned with these factors. In relation to running, if we reduce the oxygen requirements of the run, increase the runner's oxygen-debt tolerance, and increase the maximal oxygen intake, the performance of the individual will be improved.
Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise
The controversy over whether it is best to run long distances at a slow pace, or short distances at a fast pace, centers around the concept of aerobic and anaerobic exercise and the physiological adaptations of the body. Aerobic means "with oxygen," anaerobic means "without oxygen."
Aerobic exercise takes place when there is an adequate supply of oxygen carried within the cir-: - atory system during a given run. In other .-. :rds, aerobic running occurs when the oxygen ~:uirement of the run does not exceed the max-- al oxygen intake of the runner.
Anaerobic exercise occurs when the circu-3-ory system cannot supply enough oxygen for a given runâ??the oxygen requirement of the run exceeds the maximal oxygen intake of the runner, and a deficit occurs. This deficit is referred to as the oxygen debt. During very fast running, oxygen intake is inadequate to supply the oxygen required for production of the energy demanded, so the energy for muscle contraction is derived anaerobically through a complex series of chemical reactions (KREB CYCLE).
In these chemical reactions, lactic acid is the end product of the anaerobic metabolism. This build-up of lactic acid and the depletion of the glycogen (the energy source which is stored in the muscle tissue) results in the failure of the muscle to contract any longer, and thus the runner slows down.
Endurance is the ability to withstand fatigue, or the ability of the body to withstand fatigue, or the ability of the body to withstand the stresses set up by prolonged running. Endurance includes
â?¢ aerobic endurance,
â?¢ anaerobic endurance, and
â?¢ muscular endurance.
These types of endurance are closely related within the unity of the human body. In terms of running a given distance in the fastest possible time, it would be most ineffective for the sprinter to concentrate primarily on the development of aerobic endurance or for the long distance runner to concentrate primarily on the development of anaerobic endurance.
Aerobic Endurance, also referred to as stamina, is the general ability to withstand fatigue of the entire body in the presence of a sufficient supply of oxygen over a prolonged period. It involves the ability to resist fatigue under conditions where oxygen intake and oxygen requirement for the run are kept at a steady and equal level. This is sometimes referred to as cardiovascular endurance and circulo-respiratory endurance.
By definition, aerobic running is running at a pace over a given distance so that the running effort or pace does not go beyond the capacity of the circulatory system to supply enough oxygen for the effort involved in the run.
The more running that can be done at this pace (Lydiard refers to this as steady-state running), the more efficient the runner's respiratory and circulatory systems will become. The stroke volume of the heart will be increased, allowing a more rapid blood flow throughout the circulatory system. With the increased blood flow, a greater volume of oxygen and carbon dioxide can be exchanged in the lungs. With increased activity more capillaries develop as well. The increased efficiency of the respiratory and circulatory systems will allow for more oxygen to be taken into the body, thus raising the maximal oxygen intake of the runner. An increased maximal oxygen intake is one of the factors exercise physiologists have used in determining the running ability (work capacity) of the individual. Also, the more efficient the runner becomes, the lower the oxygen requirement of the task becomes which is a second factor in determining the ability of the runner.
Anaerobic endurance is endurance in the absence of oxygen. It is the general ability to withstand fatigue of the entire body when oxygen is in insufficient supply. This type of endurance is especially important in middle-distance running. Muscular endurance is local endurance which may be either aerobic or anaerobic. The extent of the blood supply in the muscles involved, oxygen transport at the tissue level, muscle tissue viscosity, and muscle strength are among the qualities upon which muscular endurance is dependent.
By definition, anaerobic running is running at a pace over a given distance so that the running effort goes beyond the capacity of the circulatory system to supply oxygen for the effort. This situation creates the critical situation of oxygen-debt. Because of the complex chemical reactions that take place, lactic acid is produced, and this lactic acid cannot be easily removed by the cells within the muscles, so it is passed into the circulatory system. The circulatory system develops buffers to help neutralize the lactic acid, but most of it is removed through the kidneys and liver. Much of the lactic acid remains in the system and slows down muscle contraction. This, along with a depletion of glycogen, causes the runners to slow down. An increased oxygen supply will allow the runner to go farther because the system can supply more oxygen to the muscle cells, thus postponing the onset of the oxygen-debt.
During anaerobic running the body becomes accustomed to the stresses of performing in an anaerobic state. The more efficient the runner becomes in handling the state of anaerobic running, the higher his oxygen-debt tolerance will become, and thus he will be able to sustain his effort at a faster rate, and for a longer duration.
The most common method of training is the interval system. It is a system of repeated efforts in which a measured distance is run alternately with measured recovery periods of low activity. The term "interval" refers to the rest interval between the repeated efforts. The control of the rest period is the most important segment of the interval system.
The goal should be to reduce the rest period as much as possible after the number of repetitions has been established. This should be the primary goal in the early stages of interval training. For example, instead of running 10 X 440 @ 70 seconds with a 440 jog rest, run 10 X 440 @ 75 seconds with a 220 jog rest. From this point work on reducing the time of the repeated effort to a level, perhaps of 10 X 440 . 66 seconds with a 220 jog. A possible format might be:
1. Establish number of repeated efforts to perform (10x440).
2. Reduce rest period between repeated efforts.
3. Reduce time of repeated efforts.
Overdistance Running involves training at distances greater than those of actual competition, and may include continuous runs of six to ten miles or more. The pace of such runs is normally pre-determined and is usually slower than the runner's racing pace. In pre-season training the pace should not be as fast as it would be during the season, when the pace for the over-distance runs should only be slightly slower than the runner's racing pace. During the racing season these runs should be timed.
Fartlek Running is kind of a combination of1 overdistance and interval running. It is defined as "speed play," freetype running done over an in-j definite distance for an indefinite time with some' segments of the run performed at a faster pace than others, depending on the way the runner feels during the run.
Research has shown that it is possible to raise an individual's maximal oxygen intake by 9-13%. Since one factor in determining a runner's work capacity is the oxygen intake, this aspect should be dealt with first. The question therefore, is how can the runner's oxygen intake be increased? The crucial factor in determining the level of oxygen intake is the limitations of the circulatory and respiratory systems. The primary concern should be to strengthen these systems, thus increasing the ability to take in oxygen. To strengthen these systems you must increase the heart-stroke volume capability of the heart, thus increasing cardiac output. This will allow more blood to flow through the system. An increase in capillarization must take place as well. This too will allow a greater volume of blood to flow through the system. Once the systems become more efficient, a greater volume of oxygen and carbon dioxide can be exchanged at the tissue level and in the lungs. This increase in oxygen availability for the muscles will help in postponing the onset of oxygen debt. However, once the systems are loaded beyond their capacities, oxygen debt becomes inevitable. When oxygen debt occurs, the runner goes into a state of anaerobic exercise, so the next aspect of training should be to train the runner so that his body can withstand the stress during this state of oxygen-debt, intensive interval training at fast speeds can bring about these stress situations. During the middle and late stages of the racing season this type of training should be stressed.
Continuous slow running (7:00 pace or fasteR)should be done during the summer months. This running should be relaxing with little emphasis on running races. This type of training is most effective in terms of producing aerobic endurance. It is a superior method of increasing the stroke volume of the heart, capillarization of the local muscle groups, and generally increasing the efficiency of the respiratory and circulatory systems. This type of training is the first step in gradually adapting the runner to tolerating the stress of running and the increased ability to withstand fatigue. This summer running (on roads, cross country courses, and golf courses) is the basis for your fall program and the basis upon which later to apply faster training. During the fall, continuous fast running can take the place of the slow running thus increasing the aerobic capacity and increasing the ability to handle the stress encountered in running at faster speeds. During the fall the training emphasis should be on developing strength, stamina and the basic aerobic capacities. Interval training, when used, should help develop the anaerobic capacity with an attempt to reduce the rest interval between repetitions. In early season the repeats should be run at about race pace or slightly faster. Mid-season interval training should be at race pace with the rest interval reduced. In late racing season, speed-interval training should emphasize the quality of the effort run, with more 'rest in between the timed efforts. The number of timed runs can also be reduced.
This, hopefully, brings about the "sharpening effect" we attempt to reach in the big meets. (See Fall Training)
A major problem a runner faces in Michigan during the winter months is where to train. The answer is outside. A pair of gloves, a wool hat, long underwear, and a hooded sweatshirt is all a distance runner needs for the winter months. At Michigan we go outside 5-6 days a week unless it is below zero or the roads haven't been cleared of snow. I have seen many runners train very hard and become very fit during the fall. They have built their strength and endurance to a very high level. .Vhat many fail to realize is that they must become more capable of handling the interval-oriented
â?¢raining program for the half mile and mile. Improvement of leg speed can be accomplished with 110's and 150's as well as 55 yard in-out sprints during this period. These sprints can be run on
-oads, in parking lots and on the outdoor track if it s cleared of snow.
You might say the runners need a break from the pressure. The pressure comes not so much 'com the training but the anticipation of racing. Prom November 1st until February, there are very
w races a high school runner can perform in. .nese three months allow a runner to continue ils strength training with no pressure to race, popefully, this will carry him over to the spring
len the pressure races become important.
If intervals are used as a basis for training during these months, strength (endurance)-oriented intervals should be used. Example: run repeat miles, %'s, 880's, and 440's (run at slower than race pace with litye rest between repeats). The speed-interval should be used in early spring. Thi 110's, 150's, and 55 yard in-out sprints should b" enough "speed work" during this period. (See Winter Training Insert)
Spring Training (March and April)
Maintaining strength and stamina (aerobic capacity) are atill very important during the early spring. I would recommend runs of 8-10 miles twice a week supplemented with 110's, 150's, and 55 yard in-out sprints.
The emphasis during this period should be
placed on the development of anaerobic running.
Faster intervals can be run, race pace and faster.
As the weather improves (hopefully) the speed-
interval training should'be done, possibly three
times a week. You shoukJ onfy run fast intervals
two days in a row. *
Wednesday Distance and pickups
Friday Distance and pickups
The distance day between hard intervals allows the runner to recover from two successive days of fast interval training.
The speed interval sessions might consist of 440's, 330's, 220's, and 150's. Staircase sessions starting with an 880, 660, 440, 330, 220, 110's, might be used. During this period the 110's should be run at top speed, only after a complete warmup and stretching. Interval sessions with a maximum of 12-14 repeats are more than ample to bring about the desired effects, if the fartlek and 110's-150's were maintained throughout the winter training period. Determining how fast the intervals should be run depends on several factors. First, how fast has the athlete run a mile? How fast can he run a 220? Was he on a winter training program? As the performance of the runner improves, judgments on changing the speed of the repeated efforts in the workouts can be made. (See Spring Training Insert)
Every distance runner needs upper body weight work. We lift weights two-three times a week during the fall and we continue the weight training throughout the year. The winter training period is an excellent time to concentrate on weight-lifting. Use curls, bench presses and presses as well as rowing. One or two sets of 8-10 reps would be sufficient. The weight session should only last 10-15 minutes. If weights are not available, push-ups and pull-ups are excellent.
POSSIBLE FALL TRAINING
2 mile warmup ^ ,iSV
stretching and striding *
f 4-7 mile run at 5:40-6:20 pace (on hills if
stretching plus 6-8 X 110's @ 1/2-3/4 speed
(Try to give a split 2-3 times during the
run to help the runners with pace)
Warmup run (2-3 miles) â?? (possible race) stretching and striding 3X1 mile @ 4:50-5:30pace(4-6min. recovery) 2 X 880 @ 2:20-2:35 pace (3-4 min. recovery) mile warmdown and stretching
8 mile run @ 6:00-7:00 pace (hills if possible) stretching plus fi^X 110 @ 1/2-3/4 speed
Thursday: &l ^
warmup run 2-3 miles
stretching and striding (4 x 110 easy) t?i
3 X 880 @ 2:18-2:35 pace (3-4 min. recovery)
', 6 X 440 @ 65-75 pace (60-90 sees, recovery)
M 1-2 mile warmdown plus stretching
*â?¢* and 4X150 "
6-8-10 mile run â?? steady â?¢ stretching ffX 110 fast plus 1 X 880 in-out 55 yard sprints
(possible race) 8 miles Fartlek (2 miles easy,
3-4 Fartlek, 2-3 easy) Pick out telephone poles and go hard for
3, easy for 6, hard for 4, easy for 2,
hard for 1, easy for 6 (The pattern should be according to how
the runner feels)
Steady 10-12 mile run
Total 55-70 miles per/week
NOTE: Possible morning workouts 2-3 days a
week, 3-4 miles easy. ,,, r
POSSIBLE WINTER TRAINING
6-8-10 miles (on hills if possible) stretching 4X150(1/2-3/4 speed); 4X 110 (1/2-% speed)
2-4 mile run â?? stretching interval training â?? repeat miles (2-3), half miles (4-6), 440's(8-12)
slower than race pace; little rest between reps, or 6 mile run â?? stretching plus 1 mile 55 in-out sprints 1 mile warmdown
6-7-8 miles Fartlek
First 2 miles easy; next 3-4 mile Fartlek;
next 2 miles easy stretching plus 1 X 880 in-out 55 yard sprints
8-10 mile run
stretching . 4-6X150's
Fartlek run 6-8 miles (on hills if possible)
Distance run plus stretching
4-6 X 110 plus 1 X 880 in-out sprints
10-12 mile run
Approximate total miles: 60-70 miles per week.
POSSIBLE SPRING PROGRAM
warmup and stretching
1 x %; 6 x 220; 1 x 440 plus 6 x 110 hard (pace
work) or 880, 660, 440, 330, 220, (110's x 4)
warmup and stretching (race?)
6 x 330 â?? fast
4 x 220 â?? fast
1 x 880 â?? in-out 55 yard sprints
distance run 8-10 miles 4 x 110's â?? 4x150's
warmup and stretching
4 x660 @ pace
4 x 440 @ below pace
2 x 220 @ below pace (fast)
1 x 880 â?? in-out 55 yard sprints
distance run plus pickups or Fartlek (if not racing Saturday)
race (Fartlek if not racing)
8-10 mile run steady
* Presented at the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Clinic, Oakland University, January 9-10,1976.