Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Progression Runs for the Beginning Runner

 This is an extension on my blog about tempo runs for the beginning runner.  In that blog I suggest that the beginning runner should be doing a 15 to 20 minute tempo pretty much once a week throughout all their training seasons.  I also mention that a progression run of similar length can be added in once a week as well to vary the stimulus a bit and to increase the aerobic training stimuli in the micro cycle.

  In the tempo blog, http://nateruns.blogspot.com/2015/02/tempo-tuesday-tempo-runs-for-young-or.html , I go off topic a bit and talk about the overall focus of a training plan for the beginning runner so I won't rehash that here.

  The progression run will take a bit of work to teach to new athletes who have a natural predilection to going out too fast and fading.  However the work you put into teaching this workout will pay off two fold.  First the fitness gains can be huge.  Second it teaches the athlete not to go out too fast in races and other sessions and how fast and strong they can be if they run with control in the early stages.

  I suggest using a flat loop less than a mile in length.  It can be a bit longer.  You can have the kids run in groups or entirely by their own effort.  Set up RULES.  This seems odd but if you don't some kids just will not go out slow enough.  The rules are simply.  You have a goal distance.  IE the goal is 4 laps.  Rule 2 if an athlete does not run faster on a lap their workout is over. This will cause an athlete to not complete a workout or two but the lesson is well worth it.

  I suggest the athletes run the first loop at about their normal training pace.  Just knowing it is a workout will suck them into going a bit quicker than that which is actually ideal.  The next lap only needs to be faster.  A second or two is fine.  This is not a workout that needs to be overly structured.  Each lap needs to be a bit faster than the last and the final lap should be run as fast as the athlete can manage.

  Some athletes will increase in fairly even increments and only go a bit faster on the last lap.  Some athletes will increase only a bit each lap and then finish with an incredibly fast last lap.  Both of these are fine.  In fact if you have a group of similar level athletes training together you will likely get a mix of these type of efforts depending on who is 'leading' the pack and that mix is awesome.

  For the beginning athlete these runs should not be very long 15 to 25 minutes.  You need not adjust them to progress them.  They will adjust themselves by finishing faster and faster and with time and regular tempos and strides in their training programs as well you will see their starting "baseline" pace increasing significantly as well.

  You will see big gains in general fitness with sessions like this but the most noticeable effect you will see is that as your athletes tire in races their bodies will respond by actually increasing the pace.  They will mentally and physically learn how to make a long killing drive to the finish that particularly in high school racing can be absolutely devastating to their competition.

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