Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Threshold Training

I picked up one my cycling magazines and was thumbing through it yesterday. I stopped on an article about threshold training. The main theme of the article as I understood it was to ready cyclist for surges during a race and the feeling that comes with the acceleration.

We all know that feeling. It is when you have pushed across the line. The red line as I like to call it because all sorts of bells and whistle starting going off in your brain. The resonating thought that you are about to blow up. This is usually followed by the thick and heavy feeling in both legs and consequently, your paces slows.

Mainly, as runners we usually like to avoid these scenarios because it is not conducive to fast races.

This thought process is reinforced through our training plans because we are often asked to stay with certain boundaries while running as fast as possible.

Again, I agree lifting this from cycling training plan so it is not exactly a one for one. For example, there is no ability to setup, coast, and recovery in running. This is unless you stop running, and typically once you are done; you are done.

The point of this article was to prepare the body and to some extent the mind to handle going into this red zone.

Here's my adaptation of the concept.

Basically, it goes something like this. For the first minute, you go all out. The second minute, you back it down to say 95%. The third through the fifth minute, you run at 90%. The fifth through the seventh minute, you run at 80%. This is followed by a "half" type recovery and repeated two to three times. Everyone's concept of 100%, 95%, 90%, and 80% are all different but you get the idea. Learn to get yourself back under control.

Extending on this idea we want to build up the heaviness in our legs and then to teach our self to run through it.

I seen a lot of training plans but usually, they have the concept inverted where you are going from 80% up to 100%. Even when most people do their intervals, the first interval is usually the slowest and the last few are the fast. Partly, this is due to an inadequate warm up but then this is a different post.

But think about how we run most races, the first mile is generally the fastest unless you are running a marathon. And I have seen some fast first miles there too. Generally, however, the later miles are usually slower.

The next time up are adjusting your training plan, you should try to throw in a workout like this one. This way, it reminds the body and the mind of what racing is truly like.


Happy Holidays from the Cool Down Runner



Mark Hadley said...

Bill, sounds similar to a wave workout I was talking about recently in another blog. The premise was the same, to make the legs heavy and then learn how to run under that condition. The premise is to run at a pace that is fast enough to build up some lactate/lactic acid, then "recover:" at a pace that is quick enough to hold that lactate level constant but not increase it, then you do another surge to rise the lactate level even higher, then another "recovery" segment learning to deal with new level and so forth until you you have had all you can handle or all you want for that workout. Usually the fast pace is something faster than 5k pace and slower "recovery" pace is something near marathon race pace.

Like I said, I think this is something similar to what you are describing in your blog. Great minds must think alike. :-)

DRL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DRL said...

We've never met, but I read your blog a novice runner, its really helped. However, coming from a cycling background, this is something that I can relate to. LT training, and the reason for it, is one of the big differences I've found between running and cycling. In bike racing (TT's excluded), drafting and tactics lead to bursts of intense frenzy, punctuated by moments of relative calm. Thus, the key to success is being able to go hard (anaerobic even), recover quickly, and then go hard again. In fact, that's how I define endurance in's not being able to ride a metric or full century (nearly anyone can do that). Rather, its the ability to recover quickly over the duration of a long and hard workout...keeping yourself in the mix for when the winning move goes. The hardest thing for me to adjust to in running has been to learn not to cross the red line early.

Cool Down Runner said...

Mark, thanks for sharing. I am always interested in learning new training methods.


I agree this is training technique is very useful in cycling. And, I find my recoveries much like you described.

Where I find the training technique might be most useful is with Marathon training. Most other races 5k, 10k etc are too short to have suffient time for any time of recovery.