Running Hard, but Running Controlled: Long Runs

Let me preface my comments by saying that for many runners – runners of all ages – there needs to be a build up of the long run to a level that they will maintain for months.  This post pertains to that long run, not the preceding long runs where the athlete is building their volume.

I firmly believe that to fully develop the aerobic system you have to run a weekly long run.  And that run should not be slow.  Doesn’t have to be a “race from the gun” type long run (though I’ve done my fair share of those) but at the least it should be a progression of running that takes the athlete through faster paces as the run progresses.  Or, say you’re running 17 miles.  You run the first six really easy, then the next four still talking, then you run five at a pace where you could talk but you probably aren’t talking, and then you squeeze it down just a bit more for those final two miles.

That said, when you do a hard long run, you should be able to say, “I could have run one, two or even three miles longer at that pace.  Those extra miles would have been really hard – maybe even felt like a race – but I could have done it.” [Read more...]

Running Hard, but Running Controlled: Repeats

Tomorrow I have practice with Athletics Boulder.

One group will be doing repeats – 4 x 1,600m with 400m easy jog.  This should be a hard workout, but also a controlled workout.  So the question is, how do you know if you ran it controlled?  My simple answer would be, “Could you have run one more repeat in the same time as your last one?”  If the answer is yes, then you ran controlled.  But if the answer is no, then you ran too hard and failed to execute the workout.

Running hard a couple of times a week – assuming you’re 100% healthy – is sound training, as long as you’re doing it controlled.  When workouts go from being controlled to being race-like then you’re on your way to over-training and into a cycle of fatigue that may take you weeks to get out of.

So run hard on your workout days, but run the hard days controlled.

Note: The term “interval” and “repeat” are often used incorrectly by athletes and coaches.  Repeat should refer to the distance being run, while the interval is the time or distance between the repeats.