Good questions, Zohaib/ATX. Without wanting to “write a book” in reply, lemme make a quick stab at it. Since you always have Jay’s coaching knowledge and experience to discuss them with, what I write should be enough to answer your initial queries.
Here we go:
Q: What is the reasoning behind doing these BEFORE the uptempo sessions? I have been doing these striders post-easy runs 2-3 times a week. Should I not do that?
A: These “strides” are gonna use (only) muscle glycogen. Therefore I like runners to do them PRE-session when the muscles are most glycogen-loaded. If you do them POST-session, then there is every likelihood that your muscles will be more glycogen-depleted, which means we won’t get the response we want. Remember, we want to provoke glycolysis on these strides, and that means 100% glycogen-fuelled.
Q: You talk (on here) about not doing [strides] faster than 1500m pace. But in the mail that you sent to Jay and I regarding my training, you actually asked me to do these at sub-800m pace. Is it because of my very very abundant ST fibers?
A: These strides are vital for ST runners, the reason being that their glycolytic (lactate) system is naturally weak due to their preponderance of ST fibres. I give general guides that these should be done at ~1500m pace, because that will provoke glycolysis on a regular enough basis to keep that system perking along, because if you put an ST on Phase I for a long period of time (lots of long slow HR-controlled sessions) they risk becoming stuck-in-second-gear-ultra-marathoners, as their glycolytic systems (which start already weak) atrophy even further through lack of stimulation.
So, two uptempo sessions per week and 6-8 reps of alternating 100-100 (100m at 1500m pace immediately followed by 100m jog in 45secs) before each session. Think of it like striding the straights and jogging the bends.
Now these are NEVER AFAP (as fast as possible), so running them faster is not the point. We don’t want tons of lactate, we don’t want to interfere with the workout that follows, they are simply to provide regular stimulus for your glycolytic system.
So why did I tell Jay and you to do them faster? Let’s say you get a kid on day one and tell him to take off running and to turn back when he gets tired. He starts (like you) in Texas … and the next thing the coach knows, he’s getting a call from Canada and the kid wants to know if he can come home! Straight away the coach knows he has an ST-monster on his hands.
BTW; big difference between ST and FT on day one. The ST can go off and jog for 30-60 mins no problem. The FT is wayyy less keen on that and maybe tires after 15 mins, and he would much rather go and do a set of fast 200m intervals with standstill recovery (which the ST hates).
So, the coach has an “ultra-ST” on his hands. What the coach MUST do is avoid the knee-jerk reaction of “okaaaay! Got myself a marathon runner here! Right; we need mega long runs, regular tempos, and that’s it.” Nothing could be more wrong. That would be the wrongliest thing the coach could do.
Jay has often heard me say that everyone will run their marathon PR at a fraction of their 5k PR pace. Makes sense, right? From experience, I know that ST’s are capable of running marathons at as high as 90% of their track 5k PR pace. So, although your ultimate best performances are going to come at the marathon, it should make perfectly logical sense to maximize your 5k ability before you even turn to the marathon. Every second you shave off your 5k PR, is gonna have a knock-on positive effect on your eventual marathon PR.
So far that advice makes sense not only for STs but also for FTs. Let’s face it, this is what elites do; maximize ability at 5k and only then turn to the marathon. So nothing new there.
But even more than that (and this is MUCH more relevant to STs than FTs), if you are a young guy (like you), got a long running career ahead of you, got some potential, tons of enthusiasm and good coach, do this…
If you are a strong-ST (can head for Canada …) spend a couple of years becoming the absolute best 800m runner you can be!
Sounds illogical, huh? T’isn’t. Even though you will never shake the trees at 800m. Even though you will get everybody and his brother outkicking you at 800m. The more time and effort you invest in maximizing your potential at that distance, the more it will pay off in spades when you (eventually) graduate to the marathon. Hell, you’ll feel the benefits at every single distance on the way up.
So don’t worry about getting beaten, just keep chipping away at that 800m PR.
So, in a strong-ST, a serious rate-limiter to performance at all other longer distances is ability at 800m. Work on it ad nauseam for at least 2 full years. It’s money in the bank with the payout coming with interest when you move up.
And another thing; once you achieve that 800m PR, never get too far away from being able to repeat it on demand! If you get to (let’s say) 2:15, never lose the ability to go to the track any time of the season and run 2:18. Don’t worry, it’s easy for ST’s to maintain this ability … you just gotta work at it.
Hell, even Seb Coe once said that he also made sure he could go down to the track any time of the year and run 1:48. He would expect to run 1:42-1:43 in peak season, so he’s allowing himself more leeway than I advise for you, but it’s easier for ST’s to keep the numbers close together.
Q: Finally, just a question about running up these hills at a "glycolytic" effort. For runners like me who are very ST, is it okay to try and go up these hills semi-hard to help us produce more lactate? Or is that just a stupid question?
A: There are no stupid questions! Note what I said above, we do not want to provoke tons of lactate on these pre-session strides, so hills are not a substitute for those. However, it is necessary for STs to improve their glycolytic ability (as we just discussed) so hills do have a place. I would suggest finding a hill not too steep and running very very hard for 30-40 secs, and taking a longish recovery between each one.
As an ST you will feel “recovered” quite quickly, but you must beware; it is your “aerobic” system that has recovered, not your “anaerobic” system. We want to give you enough time for your “anaerobic” ie: glycolytic system to recover. You’ll know it hasn’t if the next rep is slower. Be careful with these, you don’t need too many.
Q: I know that you ask your runners in Phase I, to not do more than 2-3 sessions a week of uptempo running. But I usually find myself turning my easy runs into a progression, where I spend the last third (even half at times) of a 60 min at M-effort to 5K-effort (10K-5K stretch only lasts 2-3 minutes).
A: I thought you said “Finally …” up above? Here’s another question! (smile) To be frank, I don’t like progression runs. Let’s look at the point of Phase I. We want to train the runner to be able to run (up to quick paces) without having to provoke any blood lactate build-up. In other words, we want the runner to do so at under 2mM BLa. That isn’t gonna happen once you hit Mpace and faster … so, although you are doing some form of training, it is no longer “Phase I” when you pass Mpace (here we are defining Mpace as >90% HRmax).
What I find happens when runners do like you suggest, is that instead of easy days and hard days, they wind up getting lots of medium days. In other words, the easy days are not easy enough, so the hard days cannot be hard enough! I would counsel against doing what you are doing. Talk it out with Jay. If need be, contact me and we can discuss it some more.
Okay. I’m done. Keep up the good work, Zohaib!