Ask an Expert: Getting the most out of distance runner…

Kevin Christian Distance, Philosophy/Ideas 1 Comment

In your professional opinion how much of training should be devoted to speed work vs. miles per week for 1600/3200 runners?

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    While this response may seem to avoid answering the query, the balance of speed and distance is just that – a balancing that is in a constant state of flux for distance runners. The usual rule I have used is that of one day of speed work a week once the distance base is secured, or two days in a 10-14 day micro-cycle.

    The amount of speed work should be a varying amount based on several factors. The factors that need to be considered are the stage of the season or development of the athlete, the strength of the runner, the actual distance, the physical conditioning that the runner has undergone and the training regime that the runner has been working on (based on cycles or weekly meet) for peaking .

    Speed work needs to be a gradually added element to the distance training. Once a good base and strength level have been created, one day a week (two a micro-cycle) could be added. At the beginning of the addition, the speed should be of a repetition type, with a minimal amount of reps. At the training progresses, the amount of reps accompanied by increased speed can be implemented. When the peaking process begins, intervals should be added. This can be as a second part of a workout in addition to the reps or as a substitute for them – depending on the athlete and his/her abilities, or as the second day when cycles are being used. Again, the speed should be increased and the intensity built up based on the desired peaking. [While this reply does address the level of speed work, it does not go into the intensity factor, which should also be structured based on the development/performance stage of each individual athlete separately or in small ability groupings.]
    -Thomas Gavin

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