Monday, December 03, 2007

Ask the Mystery Coach

Hi Mystery Coach, I have used the training schedules from some of Lydiard books but have come into my peak race with tired legs even after running very little during the last ten days like he says. What do you think? Chris O.

Chris, I can think of a couple of things that might be the problem. You didn't say what version of his schedules you were using but if it is one them with the effort tables you might be training too hard. One line that most runners miss is when Arthur says when using the tables is to take the average of your previous 6 best times for a distance. Most runners miss that point and base their speed work on their personal record time. You have to remember when you ran your best time you were probably well rested and in very good shape something that you will not be when training hard and building up. Look at the following chart that shows Peter Snell's 1962 world record buildup:

Note how his racing performances dropped as he trained harder, Arthur always said you can not train and race well at the same time. Also note that the hardest training took place 4 weeks before his peak. Runners that I coach have a hard time believing that the hardest training should be a month out from the goal race and tend to train too hard in the last month. The last month should be sharp and not hard, my thought is that you should be ready to go 10 days out and be anxiously waiting for the goal race.

A follow up note: All the volunteers who responded to last weeks request will hear from me in the next week. If any others are interested it won't require you to change your workouts but just to record some physiological data every few weeks. If you might be interested you can email me: mysterycoach at

1 comment:

Mystery Coach said...

I received an email that had a few questions that will hep explain the chart.

a question about the Peter Snell chart. I have not heard about Purdy Points before.

1. The lower the number the harder the effort?

2. Is the chart showing that Snell backed off of his training paces when his racing effort was the most intense?

Purdy points comes from the book "Computerized Running Training Programs" by Gardner and Purdy 1970 (It is out of print and the new version I feel is not as clear on how to use the system) gives a rating system in points to workouts (such as 10X440 yards in 59.8 seconds worth 940 points) and race performances (Mile race in 4:03.1 is worth 940 points. The higher the number the better the performance.

The chart shows a few things:

1) Off of base training Peter Snell was racing at the 890 point level ( about a 4:10 mile)

2) After three weeks of moderate level training (840 point level) his racing improved to 950 points (4:01 mile) and his training increased to the 1000 point level (10X880 yards in 2:10.

3)He trained very hard for two weeks (10 mile runs every morning plus 950 point level workouts (such as 10X440 yards in 59 seconds) this caused his racing performances to drop to a lower point level (860-840 points) than when he was just doing base training.

4)After 5-6 weeks of hard training he began to "freshen up" and his racing performances improved over the next 3 weeks where they peaked with new world records in the mile (3:54.4 worth 1005 points) and 880 yards (worth 1010 points)

I have put together similar charts for other athletes and the ones who peak the best have similar profiles to this.

Key things to remember:

1)How well you do your base training determines where you start in heading toward your peak.

2)Moderate training first, then a short period of hard work which will cause your performances to fall.

3)Three weeks of lighter training before you reap the benefits of the hard training.

To follow up on this if runners want to send their best workouts (such as 5 X 1000 meters in 3:00 or the like) that they did in their best racing season I'll put together a future post showing the relationship between the workouts and racing performances.