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The Organization of Training for Distance Runners

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

Over my life, I've been obsessed with a lot of things. It's not the most desirable trait, but here we are.


In elementary school, it was football and the Denver Broncos. I was one-hundred precent positive that I was going to be a wide receiver for the Broncos just like Vance Johnson and the Three Amigos. I'd never drop a pass and we'd never lose a game.


High school brought an obsession with trying to win races on the track. I didn't really know what to do, but I wanted to be faster, so I'd add in some hill repeats after dinner to toughen up the legs. Sometimes before school, I'd just fast for a mile or two. To be honest, it probably didn't help my racing, but at the time, it was the best I knew and it gave me confidence.


As I went through college, I was too dumb in the 22 hours outside of practice to find out what sort of runner I should have been, but it was during that time that I became obsessed with training...like not actually doing the training, but discovering that you weren't just supposed to run as fast as you could everyday, rather workouts were designed for certain outcomes.


My Mom and Dad bought me The Lore of Running for Christmas maybe my freshman or sophomore year of college and I read the whole thing cover to cover; it's like Bible thickness...I'm fairly certain this was the first book in my life that I'd read by choice. My college coach had Daniels' Running Formula, so I bought that I read every word. Those two books were my gateway drugs.


Now my obsession has shifted to how all of these different workouts fit together and trying to blend them in with the development of biomotor skills such as speed, strength, flexibility, mobility and the skill aspect of running. Legendary coach, Boo Schexnayder discusses the importance and arrangement of ancillary training in his informative D-Crew clinic.


From a couple of decades of vulture-esque scavenging the internet, reading books and picking brains of coaches way smarter than me, I've been able to see multiple ways that coaches plan training.


I think it's somewhat safe to say that the majority of distance coaches use the same types of workouts. However, one thing I'm so far away from figuring out- and maybe you're the same- is the optimal arrangement of training; how different types of training best fit together.


How different types of training best fit together.

If you're trying to maximize development, there's a lot of pieces that need to fit into this puzzle. Just with running workouts, you have a bunch of different intensities that should be visited periodically at minimum.

  • Easy Runs

  • Marathon Pace

  • Lactate Threshold Pace

  • 10K Pace

  • 5k Pace

  • 3k Pace

  • Mile Pace

  • 800m Pace

  • 400m Pace

  • 100/200m Speed

Furthermore, training has to compliment or enhance the other items around or else it's just "stuff" that's making your kids tired.


I'm writing this because I'm currently working through organization of training with my own team. I'm watching and listening...and adjusting A LOT. There's a lot of work I value, but I also realize that we can't do it all, so there's prioritization and trade-offs.


Here's a sample of our pre-season Cross Country 5K training. I'm sure it will look a little different next year and maybe even next week. I like to think we're developing a "base" of a lot of different things that we're going to need to be successful later-on in the season, so you'll see some really short, fast work interspersed with typical pre-season Cross Country stuff.


MONDAY

  • Dynamic Mobility + Mini-Band Hip Circuit

  • Endurance Run

  • Sprint Drills + Plyo Skips

  • 4-6x 60m Sprint-Float-Sprint @ 100/200 Speed

  • Rope Stretch

TUESDAY

  • Dynamic Mobility + Mini-Band Hip Circuit

  • Tempo or Progression Run

  • 20s Hills @ Mile Effort

  • Strength

  • Rope Stretch

WEDNESDAY

  • Dynamic Mobility

  • Easy Med-Long Run over Hills

  • Rope Stretch

THURSDAY

  • Dynamic Mobility + Mini-Band Hip Circuit

  • Endurance Run

  • 5x80m @ 400/800 Rhythm

  • Multi-Jump Circuit

  • Rope Stretch

FRIDAY

  • Dynamic Mobility + Mini-Band Hip Circuit

  • Sprint Drills & 3-4x50m Accelerations

  • Fartlek (1:1) at ~10k Pace or (3:1) @ "LT" Pace

  • Strength

  • Rope Stretch

SATURDAY

  • Dynamic Mobility

  • Easy Med-Long Run over Hills

  • Rope Stretch

SUNDAY

Off


Hopefully you found that interesting. I'd LOVE it if you'd share your current training in the comments. I know I'll be an internet vulture and likely steal a few things I like.

 




* FYI, the book links are Amazon Affiliate links and there's a very real possibility of me making a few cents if you clicked the link and make a purchase. By law I have to include this silly disclaimer.

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