Last weeks post generated a number of comments and questions on the use of workouts to predict fitness levels and racing times so this week will follow up on those questions.
How do you predict racing times from workouts?
I'm sure most runners (especially marathoners) have heard of Yasso 880s (a 2:45 marathoner should be able to do 10 X 880 yards in 2:45) but probably not Viren 200s ( a 35 minute 10K runner should be able to do 20 X 200 meters in 35 seconds with 70 seconds rest (Viren could run 20 X 27.4 with 60 seconds rest when he was in sub 27:40 10K shape)) or the 1000s (at about 4-5 mile race pace) starting every 5 minutes yet they are all based on the same principle. There is a direct relation between your work capacity in a workout and in a race. This principle although understood by coaches and athletes for a long time was explained in the book "Computerized Running Training Programs" (1970) by James B. Gardner and J. Gerry Purdy. Their running calculations are more accurate than Daniels' Running Formula or McMillan Running Calculator.
Each runner has a relationship and by keeping a log of your workouts and what your performances you can know what condition you are in at any given time in your training. When working with runners I set up a personalized normal performance curve and derive the workouts from it. Each runner has a different relationship between their workouts and their race performances. Mike tends to have quicker recovered between workouts than most runners so his 3:17 for 1000s may look faster than someone who has slower recovery from day to day and runs 3:28s yet both could be in 2:37 marathon shape. The slower recovering runner might benefit more from a taper where as Mike responds better to a shorter less drastic taper. These are individual traits that the workouts have to be adjusted for. Working out at someone else level is a recipe for failure. If nothing else remember this Axiom:
"Workouts show what condition you are in, they don't make you into that condition."
What about anaerobic threshold workouts?
There is nothing special about anaerobic threshold workouts except they are slow enough to do enough volume speed work. In fact studies have shown that even short repetitions like the Viren 200s when done in volume (20-60 minutes total workout time) improve running performances to a greater degree than threshold workouts. Any type of a speed workout can be used as long as it is 20-60 minutes long (and this is also why 4 mile-10K races are good speed developers for Marathoners)
The only thing that matters is the bio-mechanical efficiency and chemical efficiency of the runner. (this is where volume training comes in and it takes years to develop fully).