Monday, October 22, 2007

Ask the Mystery Coach

Mystery Coach,

What is the purpose of the 1000s that you use with your runners?, I've seen you use it a few times.


AJ, The 1000 repeats starting every 5 minutes are nothing special from a physiological standpoint but it is a standard workout that I use that gives me good feed back on how a runner is progressing. The work out is given like this; run 1-10 times 1000 meter runs starting every 5 minutes and only start the next one if you heart rate is under 125. When a runner starts this workout they usually run about 10 mile pace and do 3-5 runs before the 125 HR stops them. After 3-4 sessions (about a week apart) they will run 8-10 of them at around 10K pace before the HR exceeds 125. I don't look at the times as much as how easily they recover in between the runs. When a runner can do the 8-10 reps with ease they are close to being in peak shape. If they start having trouble with the recovery to 125 (causing them to stop early) either they ran the reps to fast or they had not recovered from the previous hard workouts. From that information I slow down the reps and add more easy running before returning to the 1000s again. By having one signature workout you can get good feed back on what you should be doing between that workout. For women runners I adjust the distance down to 800 meters and with them starting every 5 minutes also (this way mixed teams can run the workout together over two different loops).


Thomas said...

That's highly enlightening. But I have two follow-on questions to that.

1) What do you do between the repeats? Jog, walk or stop?

2) What about slower male runners, e.g. 3:12 marathoners? Would they run 1000s, or should they run shorter repeats? After all, the slower the runner the shorter the recovery period with that method.

Eric said...

Great question. I probably should have asked this one myself after all the 1000s I've done!

I've really appreciated the benefits of sticking with a particular workout and tracking the performances over time. When I was training in college, we only did the same workout the following *season* (always, something was you don't get 'burned out'...what a load of b.s.), so there was really no comparison other than 'last year'. It's very helpful to be able to look at three workouts over a nine week period, for example, and be able to make decisions about training based on the observations.

While you can't turn training into a completely objective exercise, it certainly helps to add some science to the art.

Mystery Coach said...

Thomas, most of my runners just walked (the grass loop we used was about 1085 meters so they walked to the start where they checked their pulses).

Try for a distance that gives you from 3-3:30 of running. A 3:12 marathoner would start at about 3:30 for 800 meters for the first workout (maybe 3-4 reps)then would see improvement to around 3:20 after 4 weeks (8-10 reps).

The key to this workout is not getting ahead of your ability to recover (the main reason to stop when the HR stays over 125 at the end of the rest period)

Eric said...

Follow up question: is it advisable, then, to go faster to elevate the recovery to a level where one is getting close to missing the 120-125 HR recovery?

I ask because the first time I did this workout, I was encouraged (good fitness)/dismayed (oh, the pain!) to find myself recovering well within the time/HR limits, and with no end in sight after six reps.

And, yes, the 'faster' question is a trap. You should always think everything is a trap...

Mystery Coach said...

Eric, I always think everything could be a trap. That is why I am still alive. The workout is designed as a test on how well your system can maintain a balanced state (the heart rate would rise quickly if you ran much faster). Initially this can "feel" very stressful and by the same token in later sessions will not feel hard (but your HR will indicate imbalance is taking over). So at first it has you working harder because your mind is not used to the stress (and it will tell you when you have had enough) but later when you think you can go on forever (and over train yourself) the HR will tell you to stop even though it does not feel as stressful