My rebuttal to a Runner’s World Junk Science Article
Articles like this drive me crazy. Based on this article, to improve your 3,000 M time (and probably your 5k time as well) you should hop on a bike and do short intense reps with short rest intervals- right?
Not so fast! While there are interesting implications for runners in the story and it demonstrates that short intervals with short rest improve speed performance it does NOT by any stretch demonstrate that cycling is the best way to become a better runner!
- If you take a bunch of runners and one sub set does everything the same, and the other adds additional exercise, the ones doing extra work get faster. Duh.
- Among the ones doing extra work, the shorter rest intervals athletes improve the most. Duh.
What if your compared a group of people who did short bursts of running with short rest intervals to runners who trained with short bursts of cycling and short rest intervals? We don’t know for sure but I suspect the answer is that the principal of specificity comes into play and the runners get better at running while the athletes doing the cycling training improve some but not as much as they would if they did the running sprints.
I still don’t understand the running community’s fascination with cross-training. I love to run. Running is the best training for running. Not swimming, not cycling, not yoga, not cross fit, not burpees, not Zumba, or anything else. If you want to get better at running, RUN! Or try Cat Flexing. I’m pretty sure there’s a scientific study showing how it can help you run a faster 5k.
Many of us focus on the physical aspects of track workouts. We look for hard sessions that balance speed, strength and pace work for a goal race. The often overlooked aspect is finding sessions that mentally prepare us for the race. Here are three workouts that will get you physically AND mentally ready for your next race.
2 Mile + 6 X 300: Run 3200M (2miles) at goal 5K pace. Rest 5 min. Then do 6 X 300 with 100 rest.
Run the 300s at a little faster than 1 Mile goal pace.
The idea of this workout is to wear out your legs on the 3200 M and then run the 300s feeling tired; just like the last part of a race feels. This workout gives you confidence that even with rubber legs, you can still run fast and finish strong.
Alternating Pace 400 /200: Run 3 miles continuously, alternating between:
- 400 at 5K goal pace (or just a little faster)
- 200 at Half Marathon goal pace
Or it could be written out as 8 X 400 with 200 rest. Run 400s at 5K goal pace, run 200s (rest) at Half Marathon goal pace.
Have you ever gone out a little too fast in a 5K and then had to recover during mile two (while still running fast) and resume full 5K speed for the last part of the race? Or have you had to respond to a surge in a 10K and then get back in a groove? Or fight up a hill and have to recover while still running hard? This workout teaches you to shift gears and recover during a race which gives you a tactical advantage. Plus, the time you can run for 3 miles alternating paces, is very close to what you will run for a 5K race so it is a good prediction workout too.
14X400 Descending Rest: Rest 1:30 between rep 1 and rep 2, rest 1:20 between rep 2 and rep 3….. deduct :10 each rest interval until the rest before rep 14 is :10 sec. Run reps 4-5 seconds faster than 5K goal pace. So if your 5K goal pace is 6:00 per mile, that’s 1:30 per 400 M, so run these in 1:25 or 1:26. Don’t go too fast early in this one! You’re probably used to doing 400s faster than this but the short rest at the end will bite you. This purpose of this workout is to exercise control early, knowing that it will get harder- just like a race. You have to start out controlled and smooth and then be ready to fight the last few reps.
Pick one or two of these during the lead-up to your next race and you’ll have a mental toughness advantage.