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 Speed training with Hal Higdon
Rustyboy

LA, CA
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 5:16 pm 

This week is my first week of training for a 1/2 marathon at the end of March, and I was wondering...

Following Higdon's guidelines for intermediate runners, I'm to do speed workouts once a week, 5 x 400 meters for the first time on Wednesday. In between these speed laps, how long do you recommend I do a "resting" run for? I was thinking another 400 m lap at a slower jog, but I'm not certain.

Any thoughts?


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 6:45 pm 

Higdon doesn't specify a particular rest duration? Maybe it's buried in there somewhere.

Daniels' Running Formula has good info on the theory of rest between intervals. It's important that the rest be fairly short, because the whole point of the speed workout is to keep your body in an elevated state of aerobic effort. You can do that with long intervals, or with short intervals and short rests. Short intervals with long rests will allow for too much recovery between each interval, so you won't get as much time near max aerobic effort, and won't get as much training benefit.

To put a number on it, for 400 meter intervals I'd say you need to keep the rests very short, like 60 seconds. So jogging another 400m between intervals would be too long. For comparison, when I do intervals they are usually 800 or 1200m, and I rest for 90 to 120 seconds between each one.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 6:48 pm 

One additional thought: I'm not sure if the 400m interval distance is Higdon's idea or yours, but it might be a little bit short for someone training for a half-marathon. Most books I've read recommend intervals in the 800 to 1600 meter range as providing the best training benefit for distance runners, with shorter intervals usually reserved for those targeting 5K or shorter races. I'm certainly no expert there, though, so if Higdon says go with 400m than I'd stick with it for now.

Rustyboy

LA, CA
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 8:00 pm 

Thanks for the input - I'll certainly limit my recovery time so as to not let my heart rate drop. I'll start with 60 seconds and if it feels to much or too little, adjust.

Yeah, I also thought 400 m sounded like a short distance for a half marathon, but sure enough, that's what he starts ya with. Granted, they increase up to 10 x 400 m by the end, so I'll stick with it at first and add additional mileage if I don't feel challenged enough. After all, this training level (intermediate) is recommended for "those who can run for up to an hour with no problem", which I've been doing weekly for the better half of a year.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 9:34 pm 

On a semi-related note, you might be interested in Yasso 800's. It's a combination interval training workout and race results predictor. You do a set of 800m intervals (I think it is something like 10 intervals with 90 seconds rest between each), and your average time in minutes and seconds for each interval is supposed to predict your marathon finish time in hours and minutes. So if you do the 800's in 3:20 (about 6:42/mile pace), then theoretically you will finish the marathon in 3 hours, 20 minutes. Obviously it's a pretty crude estimator, but it's still kind of interesting.

Rustyboy

LA, CA
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 10:18 am 

Wow, that sounds interesting. I'll dig around for more info!

mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 6:24 pm 

I have to disagree with the idea of a short recover period. The idea of your interval workout is run each interval strongly and with good form, technique and speed (quality). You don't want to make your recovery too short or you wont have enough strength to run each interval with good quality effort. The rule of thumb is to jog or walk for at least as long as it takes you to run the interval and as much as 2-2.5 times your interval time. The goal is to allow your heart rate to settle back down to about 60-70% of your MHR. You don't want to keep it elevated above that continuallyt (that's what tempo runs are for). You want to be ready to run the next interval strongly. Interval training builds speed and strength.. If you go out too fast or don't recover enough you won't be able to complete enougy quality intervals.

I always include interval session based on Yasso 800's as part of my training before a marathon (http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,5033,s1-51-54-0-624,00.html). For me, my goal has been to run a 3:20 marathon. So I start out doing my intervals at a 3:20 pace and allow my self to recover for up to 3-3:20 while I jog or walk (which ever helps me cover 400 meters to get back to my starting point again). I've found that I'm usually recovered sufficiently after baout 2:40. If I find my interval time starting to drift closer to 3:25 then I know I need to increase my recovery time so I can run a bit more strongly on the next interval. If my time drifts again after I've reached my maximum recover time (3-3:20) then I know it's time to quitI. I come back the next week and try to maintain the same pace but add another interval.

You may need to run a couple interval session to see how you do before you know what the right pace and recover time for you is. If you know what your 5K race pace is then this is a good starting pace for doing Yasso 800s. Focus on maintaining your pace over the number of repetitions you want to complete. Adjust your recover time as necessary to complete those repetitions. When you fiind you can complete all the repetitions without slowing down then it's time to either add another 1 or 2 intervals...or lower your pace and start with fewer repetitions again. Kind of like weight training.

If you've never done interval training...start off easy and increase your effort as you feel the need. Hard workouts like interval training are where you're most prone to get injured if you push yourself too hard too soon. Trust me...I know...my Plantar Faciitis was caused by doing too many sessions of .25 mile hill repeats (16) at 5K race effort. Live and learn.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 11:47 pm 

mfox wrote:
I have to disagree with the idea of a short recover period. The idea of your interval workout is run each interval strongly and with good form, technique and speed (quality). You don't want to make your recovery too short or you wont have enough strength to run each interval with good quality effort. The rule of thumb is to jog or walk for at least as long as it takes you to run the interval and as much as 2-2.5 times your interval time.

What you're describing sounds like what Daniels refers to as a repetition, which is different from an interval. The purpose of repeitions is to develop good mechanical efficiency through form improvements, and you take lots of rest between each one as you described, usually several times the duration of the work interval.

But for VO2max intervals, the purpose of the workout is to accumulate lots of minutes near or at your VO2max. Keeping the rest periods short helps you reach VO2max more quickly at the start of the next interval, so you get more time overall at VO2max. If after several intervals you find that you're starting to fall apart and can't stick to the intended pace, then Daniels recommends that you cut the workout short, and try a slower pace next time. Increasing the amount of rest between intervals would partially defeat the purpose of the workout and reduce the training benefit.


OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 5:53 am 

Yeah, Daniels does a great job of explaining the WHY of those VO2Max workouts, and how keeping the recovery period limited is what produces the improvements in VO2Max. It's that understanding - that other training books such as Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning never provided to me - that now gives me the willpower to start that next interval when I'm supposed to, rather than letting myself take that extra recovery time that I'm aching to have.

Rustyboy

LA, CA
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 8:10 am 

Sounds as though this is another "See what works for you/don't push too hard" dealios. More often than not, I've encountered contradictory training methods all over the place, for any variety of sports.

I'm actually heading out now to do my first intervals - I'll keep my heart rate elevated in between laps and see how that feels.

Thanks for the input!


Rustyboy

LA, CA
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 10:22 am 

I got into work a little while ago from my first 5 x 400m interval training and HOLY &%$$#, it kicked my butt! Following each 400, I jogged easy for 60 seconds and that seemed to work. According to my HRM during those jogs, my heart rate never dipped below 165 (around 90%) and elevated as high as 182 on the sprints.

My legs feel like rubber and I'm exhausted. Perfect way to start the workday. Sheesh.


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 10:54 am 

Yeh, this can be a confusing topic. One of my biggest complaint about the "science" behind training is that there's a fair amount of inconsistency between the "experts" about how to conduct different types of run workouts.

Since Rustyboy indicated this is supposed to be a speed workout then VO2 max isn't the goal. VO2 max workouts should be conducted over longer distances because you need to have your HR elevated for a longer period (3-5 minutes per interval) than what a 400m interval would allow.

According to Daniels the 400m interval (90 sec per) is more of a "repetition or mechanics" workout. And you should recover fully.

if you are training for a 1/2 Marathon I think you should do longer intervals that build VO2 max in addition to or instead of shorter intervals that focus on speed. Consider doing 800-1600 meters...or whatever it takes to get your heart rate elevated to 90-100% of your MHR for 3-5 minutes. Your recover should be less than full recover (about 60-70% MHR).

Rustyboy, if the workout leaves you feeling too worn out to take an easy run the next day then you may have pushed it too hard. Whether you decide to stick with the 400m interval or bump it up to something longer be patient and allow youself some time to find the right pace and recover and then go from there.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:12 pm 

mfox wrote:
Yeh, this can be a confusing topic. One of my biggest complaint about the "science" behind training is that there's a fair amount of inconsistency between the "experts" about how to conduct different types of run workouts.

The confusion may be mine... I had assumed he was doing these intervals for the purpose of improving VO2max, which is why I suggested short recovery times and longer distance intervals. I think that's the best prep for someone targeting a half marathon. But if the purpose was to improve running mechanics, then shorter intervals and long recovery times are indeed best, as you said. It's all about what benefit you're trying to gain from the workout.

It may be that Higdon doesn't actually specify the purpose of these intervals, in which case you're left to guess. That's why I tend to dislike cookie-cutter training recipes. If you can't say what the purpose of a particular workout is, then it's not much help.


Rustyboy

LA, CA
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:21 pm 

I'm hanging with the 400 intervals for now since the next speed workout is 6 X 400 (they increase every other week by one 400m lap, and every week without speed work is replaced by an increasing timed tempo run) and it feels as though it's a decent, steady progression.

I finished up this morning by adding a slow mile following the speed work to mellow out my muscles and then some nice, long stretching. I don't believe they'll wear me out for my easy Thursday runs...but I shall see in the AM!


Runner58


Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 30

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:24 am 

I think Hal is old fashioned; the latest research based thing is Billat's 30-30. Here is one cite:
http://www.brianmac.demon.co.uk/vvo2max.htm
There are more articles on www.pponline.com as well, like
http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0896.htm, and
http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0600b.htm, and
http://www.lwcoaching.com/library/intervaltrainscientific.htm
- The basic point is that you want to spend as many minutes at VO2max as possible, and the 400m is just too long for that. 400m is what they have been doing since the 1950s since it was once around the track, not because they had worked out the optimal interval distance.
BTW, Rickshaw, maybe you could do one of your excellent article reviews on Billat's stuff.


Runner58


Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 30

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:40 am 

BTW, if you want to read about Billat and see her picture,
www-ma1.upc.es/comcom/ cv_speakers/billat.htm


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 12:38 pm 

Runner58 wrote:
The basic point is that you want to spend as many minutes at VO2max as possible, and the 400m is just too long for that.

I assume you meant that 400m is too short, not too long? To get the most minutes at VO2max, you'd want longer intervals, up to about 5 minutes in duration.

I haven't heard of Billat, but I'll check it out.


Runner58


Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 30

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 4:54 am 

No, I meant too long. Billat's idea is to run 30 sec at your vVO2max (a pace that is a little faster than most people's mile race pace; see the links above for details) and then jog 30 sec then 30 hard again; the work out is called 30-30. The idea is that it takes a long time to get your heart rate and aerobic flow up to VO2 max (which is where it needs to be to most effectively push up your VO2max). In an 400m interval, with full recovery you're there only about half the time or less.
For an 800m interval, you may never get there since you have to slow down to keep up the pace for 2 laps.
Doing VO2max pace for prolonged periods it is very difficult/painful to run at this pace for long due to the lactate build up. By doing 30-30, you can stay for more minutes in the VO2max range since your heart rate, etc, doesn't drop far from the max, but your lactate recovers a lot.
- Check this out; it is all research based and sort of the newest thing. The basic idea is to train very, very specific parts of your aerobic capacity by running very specific paces.
- For me, the good thing is that you don't actually run very far this way and so don't really do much pound on my middle aged knees.
- I used to do, like 4 or 6 800m at about 5"50 pace. This season, I'll try say 8 to 10 minutes of 30-30s.


Rustyboy

LA, CA
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 8:52 am 

This sounds interesting. I completely "get" the concept: your heart rate has a better chance of staying at it's maximum for shorter disntances. It just goes to show you that there's more than one way to train, and in building a personal program, you can borrow from many different places.

That said, I'm still gonna feel like I'm gonna drop dead after my speed workouts no matter who I listen to. And that's a good thing.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 10:17 am 

I finally checked out some of the articles about Billat's techniques, and they look very promising! A review article is coming soon...

mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 6:13 pm 

I'd never heard of Billat until now. I have to say, I was a bit skeptical after reading Runner58's post but after looking into the various articles it seems very interesting. I plan to give it a try as soon as I'm ready to start doing intervals again.

sfird
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Long Island, NY
Joined: 10 Dec 2004
Posts: 80

Re: Speed training with Hal Higdon Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 11:27 am 

Hal Higdon has a relationship with the Chicago Marathon and participates in the forum that they maintain. If you subscribe to the forum at http://www.chicagomarathon.com/page_L2.aspx?subMenu=7&Page_ID=236&Nav_2_ID=255&Page_Title=InterActive%20Forums, log on and ask your question, I wouldn't be surprised if Hal answers you directly. Good luck.

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