Thursday, January 04, 2007

Viren, 200's and a Lesson in Trust

"Speed comes around quickly, and the stuff that lets you run 33 minutes for 10k is already in your legs." Eric made this comment yesterday after I spent some time lamenting my lack of efficient turnover during yesterday's 200's, and I'm hoping he's right.

The coach suggested I re-read an article he sent me some time ago on Lasse Viren's training evaluations. Rolf Haikkola, who was heavily influenced by Arthur Lydiard had a standard workout to test Viren's fitness to ensure he wasn't peaking too early; you guessed it, 20x200. Six weeks before the 1972 Olympics in Munich, where he took the gold in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, Viren ran 5,000 meters in 13:19. The newspapers doubted he could hold onto his form through the Olympics. His coach then had Viren perform a test run where he ended up breaking the world record for two miles with an 8:14 for the distance, which showed Viren was ready. Even Viren was a bit concerned at this point about the chances of his form deteriorating, but Haikkola had a test that showed Viren was still on the way up. He would have his runner perform 20 x 200 meters, measuring his heart rate and time for each repeat. In June he averaged 30 seconds and 190 BPM. In July, before the two mile record, he averaged 29.3 and 186. In August, before the Olympics, Viren was down to 27.2 and 172. "So we had real proof there was nothing to worry about," Haikkola said.

The article goes on to describe the faith Viren had in his coach: "Trust doesn't come from personality", Haikkola says. "It comes from being able to show a runner what he can do. Before Montreal (the '76 Olympics) we gave Lasse the same test. He averaged 28.2 and 182 beats per minute, not his best. His training had been interrupted by a month-long sinus infection that had to be drained six or seven times. So we did another test, to discover what kind of work was needed. He did 5,000 meters on grass by sprinting 50 meters and easing 50 meters, easing and sprinting. 50 sprints in all. He finished in a time of 13:32 (better than all but a handful of runners can do while running an even pace). But his pulse was only 186. In perfect racing condition he would go over 200 after such a sustained stress-ease exercise. His body was not reacting to the stress in an efficient manner. It was obvous that he needed additional speed training, but there were only eight days left before the 10,000 meter heats. It was here that Lasse was different from any other runner I've known. He believed me when I said there was still time. Three days later he was quicker; you could see the difference in the action of his ankles. He was reaching his maximum sharpness."

In my previous cycles it did seem that the speed came around quickly, so I have no reason to doubt it will this time after working the kinks out. As for the part about trust, I agree with Haikkola. When Mystery Coach first emailed me back in June after my difficult marathon in San Diego with some of Lydiard's training articles I wasn't quite sure what to make of him. He menitoned how I probably didn't rest up and recover enough before the race, which seemed to be true after looking over my log. Soon after he became a sounding board for my questions about many of Arthur Lydiard's training philosophies. As time went on he started to make suggestions to steer the course of my training for the fall, and the more I tuned in and followed his advice the more I seemed to improve. Soon enough I found he had the unnerving ability to predict within seconds when I would finish my early fall races given my training paces, recovery, and adaptation to the workouts, even though before the race I felt these predictions were a bit aggressive.

In short, I trust the coach and I highly value his input. In this spirit I'd like to formally thank him for becoming an official contributor to my blog, and I look forward to his contributions.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:10:40, 7:04 pace. I let the legs dictate the pace and they wanted to take it easy
Yesterday pm., 6.2 miles at 7:20-7:30 pace with the Running Shop gang. Felt much better at the end than at the start


D said...

Your mystery coach certainly knows his stuff. Perhaps one day he/she will be revealed?

Re: your last post - I wonder why the coaches do not enforce their kids to respect the people using the track by ensuring that they along with their belongings are not in the way of anyone else using the track. Ugh.

D said...

that should have force not enforce

Phil said...

Mike ... you write the most informative running blog on the web. Thanks for sharing

Mike said...

See, it's not all talk about baked goods and photographs of my kids around here!

Anonymous said...

you need to check out "running is your life" my pirated copy of the Viren DVD. Thanks Ebay!


Abadabajev said...

After reading your Thursday, December 28, 2006 blog(laughter like an idiot), I could not help but erupt in laughter. Good post.

I did not believe you had it in you to chop your volume and dilute your intensity after your marathon.

I did not believe you would be satisfied unless you did Mach 4 with your hair on fire.

It appears you will prove me wrong.

Michael said...

Nice post, I liked it. I've never done that 200m workout, seems interesting... very interesting.

Mark said...

Welcome aboard Mystery Coach and thanks for helping out Mike. I agree with Phil as this is the most informative running blog on the web.

The 20x200 story is cool, I think I have read about it somewhere, you did fine, although recovery times seemed a little quick.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that story! It is very insightful!

Could you please post those Viren training method articles?