The idea between a lot of periodization principles applied by coaches is to be the fittest possible. In this case, workouts are to be constantly improved till taper and racing arrived. The issue with this can be, that what does fittest mean ? How can you grasp this idea ? I could also say the fastest possible or faster then the previous race. This can also be kind of a big shot. You could could give some precision to it, like “I want to run a sub 35min 10k”. What is this ? 34:10 or 34:59 ?
The moment you exact it out, like you want to run a 34:45 10k, that changes. You got the exact pace of 3:28.5/km and you can funnel it down to this exact pace. Of course, you can apply similar principles to a linear step type periodization too, I was just dramatising a bit in the intro 😀
When you go linear, at the beginning of the training you might start out with certain workouts like a 10 x 400 @ 1:30 and a 4 x 1000 @ 3:40 and what you want is to arrive to similar style workouts but faster. Like 15 x 400 @ 1:15 and 6 x 1200 @ 3:20/km.
When you go funnel, you start with a general high or very high volume. You mix in very short but very fast running, than slower than 10k speed but very long running. What you will do is slowly add volume to the fast running section and slow it down and slowly decrease volume to the long run section and speed it up, till they converge.
For instance in case of the short stuff you would start out with 15 meters of skipping, 15 meters of bounding and 50m sprint. If you followed a meticulous base training with the necessary appropriate hill repeats, these sprints should be very safe and very fast. As an example, when you arrive to the 10 x 100m sprint, it could be done at like 15 – 16 seconds what are 2:30 to 2:40/km pace. Like 1 minute faster than your actual 10k pace. Then you go for the 200s and it is slower like 33 to 35 what is 2:55/km pace. Then you go for the 10 x 400s and that is 1:13 to 1:15 what is 3:07/km pace. Then you arrive to 6 x 600, 10 x 600, 6 x 800 and so on…Then when it is 6 x 1000 @ 3:20, it starts to be specific.
In the meantime, you would also do the longer runs. Like 4 x 5000 @ 4:15/km. That would converge down to 3 x 5000 @ 4:10/km and 3 x 4000 @ 4:00/km. 3 x 3000 @ 3:45/km.
Now that your initial speedwork is up to 6 x 1000 @ 3:20 and your 10k specific endurance is down to 3 x (3000m @ 3:45 + /r1:00), you can start converging them together and work towards the 10k specific speed-endurance.
Workouts to be added constantly !
What must also to be understood, that workouts and volumes change, speed changes a little bit, but nothing disappears. Only the proportions and the regularity what will actually change. The actual re-occurrence of workouts should be determined by the athletes needs. For instance some athletes if stop hill sprints for more than 7 days, start losing foot strength, achilles elasticity and ankle stability. Others might recover very fast from weekly long runs and cannot have 10day or 14day gaps between 30km long runs. You must understand or the coach must understand, what is the minimum effective dose for certain workouts, in order to scale down the volume and frequency and to add in other new routines.
During base training you do only aerobic runs, short hill sprints, long runs and threshold efforts. Then as you go to phase one, you add in other stuff, then again, then again and so on we keep on adding in tons of stuff.
You might say, that I cannot fit in, sprints, hill sprints, downhill sprints, tempo runs, marathon pace run, speed intervals, fartlek runs, VO2Max interval, long runs and medium long runs, 10k-pace practice, strength and conditioning and so on into a week’s schedule. What to do now ? I am confused !
What you have to understand, that when I said that workouts do not disappear, you must put that into a perspective.
You have to observe yourself and analyse workouts. This is why noting workouts, splits, heart rate, cadence and how you felt is very important. This will give you a lot of indications on what you should do next. The focus should be on week points in your progression towards race goal. This can be starting miles, finishing kick, general endurance, high end endurance, speed endurance, lactate resistance & elimination, speed, race pace execution, posture and so on.
For instance an athlete able to do 10 x 1000 @ 3:15 but cannot bring a 34:50 10k to the table. Of course this can be multifaceted, but most likely it is not speed or strength what are his limiting factors. Endurance, aerobicity, muscular endurance, speed-endruace and so on. What I would do in this case, is check heart rates during workouts in the last 4 to 8 weeks and look for a sign. If the athlete has higher heart rates during 2 x 3000 @ 3:28/km, than during his 10 x 1000 @ 3:15, that can be one sign. If during the 10k time trial or race, his heart rate was climbing steadily and never evening out or it stays steady, then jumps up and stays up, that can be another sign too. We should see how many longer workouts the athlete had, what is the long run looking like and this is how we progress.
If there are no hiccups and plateaus, instead of dedicating entire sessions to certain necessary but non-important work, we can do some mixt stuff. That is one of my favorite thing to do as these mixt routines are time effective, strengthening and motivating.
It can be as complicated as a 4 in 1 routine.
- 3000 @ lactate threshold
- 8 x 400 @ 5k speed
- 3000 @ 10k speed
- 5 x 200 very fast in spikes with big recoveries
This was an example. Of course, there must be an objective and an idea behind each mixture. It is not just to make up some funny looking, weird mess. You want to increase finishing kick ? You add in 50s / 100s / 200s after each workout. This will add to your overall speed volume. How much ? Not too much. Want to gain speed ? Very low volume, big recoveries, high frequency !
You want to gain endurance. That takes time. You also must build up towards good habits. I like Daniel’s post workout race pace / threshold routines. For instance you do a 10k specific short interval set of 6 x 600m and finish of with 3 x 1600 at lactate threshold.
On the same exact way, you can play around with long runs too. That is especially a good idea right now in the beginning of the XC season. If you integrated some 10k to half marathon efforts into a long run and a short 7sec to 15sec hill sprint / hill bounding, skipping, hopping and hill accelerations. The final 10k would be mentally very challenging, especially if it was done at specific constant speeds.
You got the idea. It is not that different than regular periodization. Except that you don’t try increasing fitness and speed on both ends.
One side is speeding up, while the other side is slowing down. Till the two converge.