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Nice input. I recall that Rob De Castella made a comment while living in Boulder, CO that the university runners did not understand the difference between running slow and running easy. He said they train too hard on most of their distance runs. While he and others who were close his ability were running 6:15-6:30 per mile on most of their runs, the university runners were running 5:30-5:50/mile. Why do I bring this up? First, because use of the numbers properly can be helpful for some runners. Since Deek could run 28:30 for 10k in Boulder where the air is thin his average distance runing pace was 4:35 pace per mile/6:15 per mile which was 73.33% of is 10k pace. Now, take a very talented fellow from the local university with a recent personal best of 30 minutes on the Boulder track (probably mid 29s at sea level) and use the same formula (4:50 pace per mile/.7333) and you see quickly that he (the university runner) should be running about 6:35 per mile if he wishes to emulate what the best pros do in Bouler. Do you see why kids from the local univeristy were getting injured? They were running to darn fast most days (5:30-5:50 per mile).
* Over the last 3 years they have slowed down quite a bit from where they were (they had to learn the hard way, unfortunatley the delay wasted away precious time for those young fellows) which has reduced breakdowns, and I will argue enhanced performances too.
The point is, some folks can intuitively understand what efforts need to be done in training, and they train well and perform well. Too many, however, burn out or blow up because they are so driven to succeed that they push too fast, too hard, too long. Giving them some precision of paces can help them significantly reduce their problems. I will say the majority of runners overtrain 3-4 times per year. They waste away precious time that could be used to grow fitter and faster. Sure, a good coach like a good chef may not need a recipe in front of them, but most athletes do. That is, as soon as the coach turns his head to acknowledge another athlete who needs guidance, the first kid is running too fast... or once in a while too slow. Telling the kid "Your 800s should be close to 2:30 since we are training VO2 max today" provides framework for the kid to both understand the objectives of training and the tools to do it properly.
It is always situational.
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