concepts in the history and development of
On another thread (which discussed the effects of lactic acid on performance), the poster named “balance” wrote the below (in bold) comments/questions. I answered him on that thread. But since that particular thread was beginning to “fade away”, and balance’s questions were concerning a new topic (interval/repetition training), the poster “Sir Lance-a lot” asked me to start a new thread on this topic of intermittent training. I agreed to meet his challenge. And with his English editing help, I re-wrote my answer to balance, and now begin this new thread with a re-posting of my comments to him here.
Some people refer to the fast running segment as a repetition. I have even seen coaches classify workouts by the durations of the fast runs, where long repeats of about 800m or more are called receptions, and anything under this is called an interval. Anyone else get confused or annoyed by the all the possible misuse of these words? I prefer to refer to interval training in the classical term, where the recovery period is always the interval, and the fast run segment is always the repetition. If everyone adhered to the same terminology I believe it would reduce some confusion. Just thought I'd put these thoughts out there. Discuss if you like.
Well, when the subject of “intermittent training” is discussed, incorrect terminology is often used to describe it. I see the word "interval" indiscriminately used to define many things in training, but rarely do I see it used to define the actual interval training system that the Germans Gresheler and Reindell conceived of.
The Americans - and others - they gave the name “interval training” to every form of training that resembles intermittent training, but that´s not correct. And to prove that to you, most of you have either one of two incorrect conceptions of interval training. Most of you believe that interval training is either:
A) a training method that is mainly concerned with the intensity of the running pace(which could vary) of the repetition portions, but which pays no special attention to the rest/recovery interval portions, or
B) you believe that interval training is a method in which the repetition portions are only to be performed in a nearly all-out intensity, and the recovery-rest interval portions should be quite complete.
I often see the advice that "one should not do 15X400m short intervals because that´s too fast, to do them in 60sec for a 14:10 runner". Of course that´s too fast - that´s more than fast, that´s a wrong pace if you are desiring to use the interval training ideas from the German-Gresheler-Freiburg method.
In my opinion people often uses 3 different names to refer what they think is the same thing, but in fact are actually 3 different training concepts: intermittent training, repetition training and interval training.
The first basic discrimination, is that apart from "continuous" training, you have non-continuous or "intermittent training". Intermittent training is no more than a run workout that contains pause-rest intervals or that contains 2 intensities - fast/slow or run/pause. All interval training is intermittent training, but not all intermittent training is interval training.
A first question arises. Why and how was the intermittent training method used in the early days? Most of information from the early 20th century is lost. But I think that the main reason why those early pioneers use this method is basically because of what Mr. Frank Horwill says in his article "Why do repetition running?"
"...Glen Cunningham (USA) was seen in 1932 running a mile flat-out every day on the track. A puzzled coach asked him what he thought he was doing. Cunningham replied that he was trying to get his mile time down. The coach told him that that was not the way to do it. He should run parts of the mile faster and run double the distance slower. For instance, if his best time for the distance was 4:40, he should attempt to run half-mile 4-seconds a lap faster, ie 2:12 (66 secs / 44O yds). Also, three-quarters of a mile 2 seconds a lap faster ie 3:24 (68 secs / 440yds). For stamina. it was suggested he ran 2 miles at 10 seconds a lap slower (10:40 or 80 secs / 440 yds). Cunningham was to break the world mile record 2 years later, running 4:06.8. This routine, was known as under-distance faster, over-distance slower..."
In my opinion this is a good article and in part justifies the use and benefits of intermittent training(yet despite my praise for the article, you will soon see that I don´t agree a lot with Mr. Horwill regarding his other thoughts on interval training).
The fact is that by the use of the intermittent training the runner improved his conditioning as he had not been able to with the use of continuous runs only. Mr. Frank Horwill refers a 1932 fact. But intermittent training, that was created some decades earlier on. I´ve read some articles and books from 1910-1920 and they describe the use repeat fast runs with pauses to recover. Finn champion Paavo Nurmi - 1924 first Olympics - used to run repetitions.
The second basic discrimination is that "intermittent" training began to be utilized because in the past they learned that instead of doing a run in a single/continous period (non-stop) one may be able to do MORE – either more Quantity (total mileage, distance, number of reps, time duration) AND/OR more Quality (faster, higher pace intensity) - efficiently in one workout – if he uses pauses in between the running segments.
Each one of these set parts of a total run were seen as a fractions of a the total distance run, so this training was named as fractional training, meaning to cut or to divide the total run into parts.
When they decided to run those fractional runs several times, they called those repetitions. The repetition was the designation of the short intense run portions of the workout. For example, let´s say 100m could be the repetition, as that´s the designation of the longest repetitions one would do quite close to the race pace for say 800m or mile training. The universe of this classification deals mainly with the intermittence (fast-stop-fast-stop-fast-stop) of the workout and the pace intensity of the repetitions run. And it follows that if there is no special concern about the duration of the interval pause(which with this training there is no such concern) – then that means that you may have quite complete recovery periods/rest intervals, which are in proportion to the high the effort demand of the repetition. That means that if you do repetitions of a fast speed/very intense pace or a of long duration, consequently you need more recovery interval time. Thus, many incorrectly call this type of training “interval training,” just because there are some rest intervals involved, as there are in all intermittent training. But this is wrong, because the rest intervals are not the focus or considered a very important part of this type of training, but only the repetition portions are the focus. In real interval training, as you will soon see, the rest intervals are considered a primary focus of the workout.
Third basic discrimination is that in this scenario, now we have all that variables in the intermittent training or repetition training:
1. Time - the duration of your run, and also the duration of each repetition segment
2. Distance - the mileage that you cover in each segment and in the total of the segments
3. Pace - the consequence from the time over the distance
4. Interval - the time that you are passive (interval)
At this moment in the history of running distance training, this exact type of true interval training was not yet in existence.
Of course all 4 of the above variables are in a close interdependence. For example if you run an intense pace for your repetition, it is for sure that you will need a longer recovery interval, or you will need to only run a short distance for the repetition, or your total volume of repetitions will be few, etc, etc.
Historically we had not arrived to Gresheler and the interval training yet. But the repetition workouts existed before Gresheler, only Gresheler did build a very particular type of repetition training - the interval training.
That´s only now that Gresheler and Reindel they enter in the running scene.
I will tell you later the master lines of Gresheler/Freiburg interval training - the original format, genuine format, that is how it was distinct from the repetition training or fractional training of the period. And this difference was mainly due to the fact that true interval training (as conceived by Gresheler/Freiburg) deals with an INCOMPLETE recovery interval variant, which was utilized in order to create artificially a strong heart and also to allow the runner to manage lactic acid concentration. How exactly did they effectively use that ? By having their runners train with repetitions run in a sub-maximal pace but with a very accurate pace average range.
For me there´s no doubt that we can name interval training to a workout only if the recovery period is incomplete. Tony Net, a critic of Gresheler (thus we can trust him) says that with Gresheler each runner may use an individual interval pause(different for each athlete) but also an incomplete interval pause. Beginners may walk in between each of 2 fast repetitions, but when they have more experience and maturity they shall jog in between, 100m or 200m.
In my next post I will continue with the specifics of the Gresheler/Freiburg interval training method and more on the history of intermittent training if you wish.
I appreciate all you comments and doubts and questions.
(end of part 1)