Here you go. A training paper from Renato Canova written by John Davis in 2011. Click to download:
The very first thing what comes across is appropriate pacing at workouts. So for a training block or call it macrocycle if you wanted to, there are chosen training paces, to achieve a distance goal on a certain pace. That is basically a race ! A time over distance goal !
Those paces do not change ! Ever ! Never during the training block ! What changes is the number of intervals, the length of the intervals, the length of the recoveries. Sometimes the frequency of workouts. However not the predetermined paces !
Why ? Because what you need is not higher stress, but resistance and adaptation for the same stress over longer periods. This is why we can see for instance many 37-38min runners going for 35sec in 20 x 200s or 1:18 in 12 x 400s , but cannot go under 37minute for a 10km. A 400m @ 1:18 is 3:15/km pace, while 37minute 10km is 3:42/km pace. That is a whopping 30seconds a kilometre margin between “endurance” training paces and race pace. Running 4.8km @ 3:15/km pace while your best ever 10km is 37min @ 3:42/km pace is dangerous in case of injury, burning down and something that is not working. In some occasions I can see the benefit of 5 x 400 @ 1:18 with 5minutes of jogging recovery. But that is critical speed for that 37min 10k runner, not a regular training pace.
The funnel shaped periodisation of Canova is a great example of this. Very hard run’s frequency and volume decreases as we approach race and tending towards race pace. Longer efforts, tempo and threshold, tempo and cruise interval runs get closer and closer to race pace, arriving to race pace and time and length increases at race pace.
Maybe it is only me, as I delve into these training methods very often, but it makes such a lot of sense. When looking at the models of Bompa and listening to some old videos from Joe Friel, or reading into Jack Daniel’s and Hudson’s book, coaches work very similarly. There is no real new thing in training. What makes one athlete, one coach, one’s coaching method different from other’s, is the knowledge of the actual athlete and the quantity and quality of immediate, reactive and sensible individualization of workouts in that coach/athlete relationship.
However the fundamentals are always the same. Build base, build resistance and quality, specify.
If you’ve seen the latest Oregon video of Salazar training Yomif Kejelcha, they could capture exactly this. Yomif was not hitting the splits for the distances needed on that last hard set, 10 days out. Instead of throwing in the towel, they used a “down-ladder” workout, adjusting to the fatigue and keeping the speed in the same time.
At that high-end, speed really matters as they were going for the mile world record. You cannot say that I need to run 28.00sec 200s, but 29sec is still good as it stimulates my aerobic system. No !
However this is different and very different for instance for a runner who just want to run a Sub 3 marathon and doesn’t care if he did it on a 2:57 or a 2:59.59 fashion. In training though it is again different. Splits must be respected. Pacing must be followed. The human body is pliable, but it needs time ! If you follow your heart and do 2:30 800s instead of 2:33, you’ll see, that you’ll be in trouble. Maybe already down the 6th rep, maybe at the next workout, or if placed badly in the training cycle, it can ruin 2 or 3 weeks of structure. 3seconds on 800 is 37.5 seconds at a 10K. When was the last time you ran a 10K at that pace ? Never !
If you follow actually for instance Maffetone’s training model in case of beginner runners, the opposite would be true. Your body, if well rested, can do extraordinary things and can remember race speed, race pacing and all out efforts. In this case, running instead of 10reps, maybe 14 or 16, but even 6 to 10 seconds slower is enough. Beneficial and very rewarding ! In case of mental fortitude, but fitness too.
My half marathon PR on a flat course was @ 3:36/km pace. Actually I never ran that pace for 6months. I just used the MAF heart rate training model, where all of my training runs were between 4:10 and 4:40. I mean no slower and no higher. My fitness went up to 16km @ 4:10/km @ 143bpm average heart rate. The only thing where I derailed is a 15km hard trail race 2 weeks out and 10 x 1000 with 2min recovery @ 3:40/km 9 days out. I ran at 3:36/km pace while never touched that ever during 6months of training. I of course ran some 10seconds hill sprints up and down, I did steep and hard trail running drills, strength and conditioning and plyometrics, nordic walking and proper cycling and mountain biking.
There might be a big difference between 3:36 and my training paces. However, I ran a lot fast before and 6months of high volume low intensity training cannot make that disappear. Also looking at my development, I was able to run at that 4:10/km pace at the end of the training cycle, every single day for 10km or more, even twice a day, while keeping my heart rate low and recovery practically immediate. This shows also the truth to straight periodization or even the funnel model approach.