Q&As with Amby Burfoot
What are your thoughts on 'over distance' training runs for most race distance i build my long run to be 10-20% longer than that i am racing for ... what are you views on this?
A note on race day pace and Tanya's basic question...We've got a lot of people who have asked: SC gives me a pace for every run, why not for race day?
So we took a crack at that. But haven't incorporated it into the "live" code yet. Why? Because SC gave people relatively modest improvements, certainly nothing like what Tanya was hoping for. And we're afraid that if we show people their modest improvements, they'll work backwards and pick a newer/faster SC program that will actually be detrimental to their training.
Any coach can give you a program that will kill you. The tough thing is providing a program that you can achieve successfully, and that will also lead to consistent improvement. That's SmartCoach's goal.
Responding to Wild Will on overdistance...you're not just wild, you're tough too. I actually think overdistance is often counter-productive. And believe me, I've done a lot of overdistance and learned the hard way.
We distance runners are so damn tough and disciplined that of course we like to do more than we need to, ie, overdistance. It's admirable to be tough and disciplined. But overdistance is also a big stress; it can increase injury risk, and that's something SC would like to avoid.
SmartCoach tries to find a moderate balance of distance, tempo, and speed. SC wants to be an efficient training program. It wants to help you improve with a minimum of miles and effort, not a maximum. It can do this because of the combination of "science" and "collective wisdom" that I keep referring to. Neither of those is a totally precise term. But they form the very basis of SmartCoach, and I think it's a good foundation.
I am quite new to running and have been using the Smartcoach to train for a 10k in November. The only area where I am confused with is how do I work out, from the training times, a realistic race day pace as presumably my fitness will increase if I stick to the plan?
Responding to Dib... that's a great question, and you're right that SC doesn't provide the answer. So I'll take a whack at it.
In your first races, you should simply aim to start at what feels like a comfortable pace. You'll probably go out too fast anyway, so the more you hold yourself back, the better. In the first mile, you need to keep saying, "Take it easy. Take it easy. Take it easy." After a mile or so, your body will tell you what to do. But don't force it. Stay as relaxed as possible. You should be running hard-but-controled. You shouldn't feel massively out of breath.
The only way to learn racing is to race. And you'll learn quickly. Everyone does. The good news is, after a race or two, you'll be able to refine your SmartCoach training plans to get them exactly on target for your fitness.
Out of interest, I plugged in the data for marathon training on a 16 week plan. The result looked sensible, but there was no optional inclusion of half marathon races as part of the build-up. Last time i trained for a marathon, my schedule included 3 or 4 HMs (one of which I had to miss as i wasnt well) and I found them to be extremely effective. The schedule tended to say things like "15miles or HM race" which I found to be approximatley equal in terms of effort. For me, 16 weeks is a long time to go without any races which may help boost morale, or simply fulfill someone's club responsibilities. Any possibilty of a later version including this feature?
Hello Amby, I would like to start training for ultra distance races (30-50miles) in about 12-14 months time, any plans for increasing SC to these distances?
Also, I like hills and race hilly races, but there are no dedicated hill-sessions. What kind of ratio would be ideal for a moderate marathon schedule - every other speedwork for example (I'm in it for fun and not serious competetion)?
many thanks, H.
Thanks for that - I will give your advice a try!
I have found that SC has introduced me to different types of training which has been very motivating and there has been definate improvement.
Responding to flyaway on races during training...I agree. Races can be very important. SC doesn't know when its users have an opportunity to find a good race, so it wasn't able to say something like "Run the Great North" or anything like that. Also, people will use it at all different seasons of the year.
I agree also that the longer your buildup program, the more you will need a couple of races for motivation, checking up on progress, etc. A note on races: I believe the race should have a very specific purpose. Either use it as a sort of tempo run for a hard, steady effort. Or take a decent taper, and run a fast race.
I don't like it when people run races that they haven't tapered for, and then get injured or discouraged by the results. I've done that too often myself. Treat races with respect.
Responding to Rover on irregular training and racing paces...hard for me to answer without knowing what you input to SC. No way you should have been able to do tempo runs at 50 seconds per mile faster than recommended. And the interval days should have been quite demanding also.
You got the PB anyway but are disappointed that you didn't run even faster??? Okay, I'm a little confused, sorry. I can only suggest that you do another good buildup to your next race, and I hope you have another PB.
Try several different inputs on SC just to be sure you're getting the precise one you want. Oh, and SC does believe you can run faster than expected on race day with taper, fluid stops, competiton...all the good stuff.
Responding to heraroja...SC has received other queries like this. I don't think SC will be producing ultra running programs for some time. I'm not sure there's much science to ultra running. Just putting in the time/distance.
But you raise a VERY important point about hills. I think hills can be a big factor in training programs, and in improving race times.
Of course, every hill in the world is a different length and incline--as opposed to standard 400m training tracks--so SC doesn't really know how to give hill advice.
But run hills, run hills, run hills. They improve power, strength, economy, just about everything.
Responding to Rover Queen about 80 percent paces...well, I guess I would say that an 80 percent pace tells your body it still has 20 percent in reserve for going faster. I don't mean that to be a smart-ass answer. MUCH research has shown that endurance athletes in different sports all do about 80 percent of their training at an easy, relaxed pace. Yet they can compete much faster.
That's because they reserve 20 percent of their training for more specific, and often faster paces. This is what SmartCoach does too.
Most runners don't have to worry that they're doing too much easy, slow running. They might have to worry that they're running too fast on easy days. And also that they're not doing enough tempo and interval running at appropriate paces.
Thanks for joining in the discussion...I gotta go off to my real job.
Good luck with all your training. I hope you keep using SmartCoach, and discussing the outcome on your Forums.
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