I'm not happy with this, so let me come back to it and see if I can explain the background to my advice to "oasis" a bit better. It seems all I am telling him to do is slow down, and this might seem paradoxical since the whole point of training is to race faster. Fortunately, I have a similar case here I can use as an example.
(Aside: this is where offering coaching advice on a board falls down. You cannot encapsulate a training program into 200 words, and the guy goes off and does it with no other contact. So I offer this, and any other, advice on here with that in mind. I know how difficult it will be to put into practise without continuous input. There is no substitute for regular contact with a coach. And no, I am not angling for a job. I don't believe online coaching works without tremendous input from both sides. To do it well seems more difficult than coaching face to face. My advice to anybody, find a knowledgeable experienced friend/running partner/coach near home. It's okay to get 5% advice on here, maybe checking/confirming something someone else is telling you, but no board should ever be your only source of running/coaching advice.)
Anyway, I was approached two weeks ago by a 37-year old male who has a 1.25 half marathon PR after 3 years in the sport. Had played football until late 20s and then stopped all sport. Got motivated to start by buddies at work and here he was. Within two years he got a 1.25, but everything he had done since then was doing nothing for him, couldn't improve any more. Even his 10k times had stalled. He came to me, brought me his diaries and was convinced I was going to make him train "harder" (and so help him improve).
First day of training I made him run slower. A female 1.29 HM runner I coach was running at her M+20 pace. I got Nando to join her, just calling out his HR as they came round (this was done on the track, so I can observe them). While hers stayed steady at 155Â±, his began to climb to 165+. After 20 laps, I got him to jog a bit and then come talk to me. He was full of questions.
He would expect to beat the female by four minutes in a race, why was he running her pace? Wasn't this pace too slow? Shouldn't he be running faster than race pace? What about 400s and 600s? (He liked those sessions).
I got him to join her for another 20 laps, and at the end, it was obvious he was suffering a lot more than she was. To prove it to him, I also lactate tested both of them at the finish; her lactate was 1.8mM and his was over 4.0mM. His final HR was 172, while hers never climbed over 160. (Both have HRmaxes of 185-188).
So, over the next few sessions, I spent some time explaining to him what happens when we run. I was able to explain to him why she was "more comfortable" than him at M+20 (see lower HR and lower lactate), despite the fact that he could beat her in a race. I was able to explain that he was able to beat her in a race not because he was better trained, but that he was better endowed genetically. I also showed him that if he was as well trained as her, he would race much faster.
I explained that his HR was climbing because his legs were not as efficient as hers at "grabbing" the oxygen that was coming by in the bloodstream. So his heart had to pump more. That as his muscle fibres "tired", he had to recruit other, less well-trained fibres, which were even less capable of "grabbing oxygen", so the HR climbed even more.
That his lactate was higher showed that he was using a higher percentage of glycogen than she was (meaning he could not run as far as she at that pace), and that he was not breaking the glycogen down into energy aerobically. In short, his aerobic system was not well-trained.
This was a shock to him. He thought I was going to train him harder, not slower. Up till these last two weeks, he had been a disciple of the "no pain, no gain" school of training. I told him that while that had got him to his current level in a (relatively) short period of time, such training methods had pretty much maxed for him. To improve, he was simply going to have to train "better". More wisely.
I did give him some encouragement. The poorer he was now, the more potential he had to improve. In those two weeks, he spent some time warming up and cooling down with some of the other guys I coach, and seems to be happy. He is now getting down to training without a quibble. The first thing I did was make him run even slower than M+20; for now that's too hard. I have explained to him that we need to start from the ground up.