2007-06-22 00:00:00

Running Defined: by Sean Coster

Running Defined

Part 1 of a 4 part series on developing a well rounded training program

for the 10K through the half marathon

Running has a language of it???s own. Terms like Fartlek and Tempo are often used by runners of various abilities to describe their workouts. With the internet and dozens of texts available for the home schooled students of distance running there are few gate keepers to these terms. The question is when we discuss our running with each other, are we speaking the same language?

Anytime a conversation about a workout or aspects of the athletes training program takes place at Complete Running Programs, we take care to use terms everyone in the program understands. For example: A ???Tempo run??? means something different to each runner unless a definition of the runs intensity accompanies the instruction. Furthermore any running done needs to have information pertaining to the duration of that run (distance and/or time), the intensity (pace, heart rate or ???perceived effort???) and the amount of rest involved (if applicable).

The articles following in the next 3 months will discuss general areas of preparation for runners looking to set personal bests in events from 10K to the half marathon this spring and summer. The topics below include generally used running terminology and an attempt to define them so that the information in the next 3 months??? articles are clear to all. Where appropriate an example of how to apply the term or concept is included after a general definition. Keep in mind you may need to ask more specific questions of your training partners or coaches when some of the terms below are used to make sure you are all speaking the same language.

Periodization: the practice of organizing a season???s training into smaller sections that each emphasizes developing various aspects of an athlete???s fitness.

Macrocycle: a relatively large period of time within the annual training program that focuses on 1 or 2 goal races. A macrocycle is often a ???season???. Typically 1 to 2 macrocycles will exist during a calendar or racing year. The macrocycle is used to frame the period of time the training plan will be created for. Example - a 6 month period before a half marathon that has been identified as one of the most important races for the year.

Mesocycle: a period of time that can range from weeks to months within a macrocycle that will focus on developing specific fitness goals. Example - a 4 week period of time devoted to improving general strength in running by conducting specifically chosen hill and road workouts in conjunction with a core strength program in the gym.

Microcycle: a short period of time typically 1-2 weeks within a mesocycle. Specific goals attainable within this time period are the focus. Example - achieving a long run at a specific distance and intensity, a particular workout at Max VO2 pace and 2 sessions in the gym during this microcycle.

Session: A session is one occurrence of training. Keep in mind this may be a run, track workout, strength training session or a cross training activity.

Base Training: Also referred to as a preparatory period, this period focuses on developing the areas important to conducting the work at race pace to come later. This should include a gradual increase in miles run per week up to a predetermined point, general strength and flexibility as well as balance, agility and dynamic flexibility training. For a in-depth review of the concept of Base Training read CRP???s article ???Foundations of Base Training???

Tempo, Tempo Run: Tempo simply refers to the pace that one is moving while running. This can be described in an objective way like minutes per mile. However, the term tempo is often used to describe running that is at a pace faster than a ???recovery??? or ???easy??? run. Unfortunately how much faster than those paces is not usually described. Based on the work of Jack Daniels, PhD. we could infer that when the phrase ???Tempo Run??? is used, it is attempting to describe a pace that is near the lactate threshold (see below).

Lactate/Ventilatory Threshold: is the point in which a net accumulation of lactate is found to be significantly increasing in the blood[i]. Since lactate is always present in the blood and your diet can effect the concentration of this lactic acid over various intensities of exercise[ii], determining an objective measure of this is difficult when directed to go out for a 20 minute run at Lactate Threshold pace. If a recent performance over a known distance is available, then this pace can be determined from existing calculators or formulas (Daniels??? Running Formula, Human Kinetics). More practically this pace can be thought of as a ???comfortably hard??? one in which this oxymoronic description is appropriate in that you experience a greater rate and depth of respiration but a feeling that this can be maintained for a relatively long period of time. For a fit endurance athlete this would be most accurately identified as the race pace one can maintain for a 1 hour race. This is a lengthy definition worth the space due to its common misconceptions and importance in the role of improving performance over the 10K to half marathon distances.

Interval: is simply used to describe a unit of distance covered in a running workout. This could be 800 meters in your 400m, 8000m, 1200m, 1600m ladder.

Set: a set can be used to separate groups of intervals in an effort to manipulate the recovery or intensity for the entire session. An example of a set being used to describe a workout would be doing 2 sets of 4 x 400m at a pace of 1:30 seconds per 400m with 3 minutes of recovery between each interval and 7 minutes of recovery between the two sets.

Pace: The velocity of a run; typically described in minutes per mile or minutes per kilometer.

Intensity: The effort extended while running for a given distance. This is often discussed in terms of a percent of Max HR and a percent of VO2 Max. These two points of reference require a known maximum heart rate and VO2 Max respectively. Jack Daniels, PhD. has integrated intensity and pace nicely using performances over known distances in his book ???Daniels??? Running Formula??? (Human Kinetics).

Recovery: is an amount of time taken between each interval. This is as important as the distance and pace run in properly conducting a workout. A recovery can be taken with either running at a specific pace or remaining at a standstill.

Keep in mind any type of running done that has bouts of recovery in it should specifically indicate the distance to be run (interval), the pace or intensity to be run and the amount of recovery to be taken between each interval and/or set.

Perceived Effort: is a means of evaluating the effort extended while running by subjective means. The Borg scale of perceived effort uses values of 6 through 20 that range from, 6 ??? no effort at all to 20- maximal exertion (complete scale below). These numbers are intended to roughly match the heart rate divided by 10 an athlete with a maximum heart rate of 200 bpm would have. The shortcomings of this means of evaluating effort are that the actual pace being run can vary greatly, particularly at intensities of 17 ??? 20 on the scale.

Hill training: any running done up (or in some cases down) a hill. Therefore a workout simply referred to as a hill workout needs further explaining. Hills are a great way of developing strength in running for developing greater top range speed. They can be used in runs from continuous and long uphill runs to workouts with hills incorporated in an interval of the workout.

Repeats: are usually used synonymously will intervals.

Long Run: the longest run an athlete has during the week. For more information on practical applications of the role of and how to gradually increase the distance of the long run see ???Foundations of Base Training???.

Recovery run: a run at a comfortable and conversational pace that is used as an active recovery between more intense units of training. The pace of this run can vary as needed by the athlete to achieve a proper recovery pace.

Maximal VO2 (VO2 Max): the maximal volume of oxygen that can be taken from the blood and used by the bodies tissues over a specific period of time. Most often this is referred to in milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. This term is also referred to as Maximal Aerobic Power. More useful is determining your velocity at VO2 Max. Owen Anderson, PhD. in his journal Running Research News, describes a time trial over 6 minutes as an effective way to determine your velocity (or pace) for 100% of Max VO2. Determination of this intensity can then be used to define the other training paces for a runner.

Heart Rate: The number of beats per minute by your heart.

Fartlek: is a Swedish word for ???speed play???. In running this term is used for any continuous run that has some variations in speed. Keep in mind the principles of distance, pace and intensity when conducting a fartlek. An example of a well defined fartlek workout would be: after 20 minutes of running at 7:30 min/mile pace begin alternate runs of 1 minute at 6:00 min/mile pace with 1 minute of running at 7:00 min/mile for 20 more minutes.

Use the information above and other definitions you encounter to speak the language of running clearly to others. This will enable each of us to be effective in communicating what that great workout was you felt rounded you into your 10K shape and how to apply it to our training. Read next month???s newsletter for concepts on transitioning your base training into running with more quality to prepare for the spring and summer races at distances from 10K to the half marathon.

If you have any terms you would like to add to this list email me at the address below.

Long may you run,

Sean Coster

Founder ??? Complete Running Programs


Borg Scale of Perceived Effort

6 No exertion at all
7 Extremely light
9 Very light - (easy walking slowly at a comfortable pace)
11 Light
13 Somewhat hard (It is quite an effort; you feel tired but can continue)
15 Hard (heavy)
17 Very hard (very strenuous, and you are very fatigued)
19 Extremely hard (You can not continue for long at this pace)
20 Maximal exertion

[i] Better Training for Distance Runners. Martin and Coe. 1997 Human Kinetics.

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