I believe Lydiard is saying that the coaching of athletes doing interval training is just as empirical as are all forms of coaching, which is all the more reason to have two heads working on the problem rather than just one.
2. Fast running is best done when the body and mind demand it. Fast running should be an enjoyable change from the occasional monotony of long training runs. When fast running is not enjoyable, this indicates that the body is too tired, and the session must be postponed until the speed session again becomes pleasurable. Remember the different approaches of John Walker and Derek Clayton. If Walker struggles in an interval training session he packs up and goes home; when Clayton struggled he carried on until he had completed what his mind said that his body should do. Such obsession is inevitably destructive and explains why Clayton was so frequently injured (see post 8).
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3. Speed training cannot be done indefinitely. Carlile and Lydiard taught us that 6 to 8 weeks of intensive training, when added to a solid training background, are all that is needed for a peak performance; many researchers seem to agree (Daws, 1977; Dellinger & Freeman, 1984; Galloway, 1983; Glover & Schuder, 1983; Osier, 1967, 1978). Even Clayton (1980) wrote that he could sustain heavy training for only 10 weeks before his performances began to deteriorate. Significantly, Hill came to precisely the same conclusion (R. Hill, 1982): “My ideal build-up to a peak occupies a period of 10 weeks” (p. 160). When two of the world’s best marathoners come to the same conclusion independently, then there is likely to be some truth in it. Yet often I have known not only runners but other endurance athletes who have tried to maintain heavy training for longer than this period and who have all come badly unstuck either because of injury or overtraining. This is always a tragedy: They have invested much effort, which, for the want of just a little knowledge, has been wasted.
4. The most beneficial forms of speed training for marathon and ultramarathon runners seem to be hill running and fast, long intervals on the track. The
Principles of hill training have been best described by Daws (1977). Although Lydiard includes the use of short intervals (100 and 200 m) in his marathon training methods, I think that longer intervals (800 m to 1 mile) are probably better for 10-km and marathon training.
5. One of the joys of speed training is the rapid improvement that is felt. Very little effort produces remarkable rewards. I have found that when I start my interval training sessions, I may be able to run only two or possibly three 1-mile repetitions, each of which are very tiring. But after four or five such sessions, I am able to do twice as many repetitions, and I can run them much faster and without the distress I experienced in the first session.
As long as I am running as fast as or faster than before with the same or less effort, I know that the speed training is beneficial. However, if the sessions become increasingly difficult and if my interval times start to slow, I know that I am in trouble and that my body is telling me it has done too much and requires rest, not more training.
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