Long Intervals at 15K or 10 mile race pace--about 10-20 seconds per mile slower than 10K speed, running slower than 10K speed will improve your ability to run a great 10 kilometer race. Sounds far-fetched doesn’t it! But running about 15 seconds slower than 10K pace will improve your anaerobic threshold, the point at which you produce ever increasing amounts of lactic acid. According to Jack Daniels Ph.D., researcher, coach of the over achieving State University of New York at Cortland cross-country team, and author, “Anaerobic Threshold is the pace or intensity beyond which blood lactate concentration increases dramatically, due to your body’s inability to supply all its oxygen needs.” Daniels continues. “Physiologically, threshold training teaches muscle cells to use more oxygen--you produce less lactate.”
Most runners are trundling along nicely by week 15. You are used to your mileage, and you are used to running quality mileage too. Maintain those long runs for a few more weeks, then you will rest up for your main 10K race. Advanced runners will be running those long reps at 5K to Two Mile race pace for the remaining 6 weeks. Fairly well advanced runners will continue with those short Intervals of 300 to 600 meters as explained in Week Nine. You will move efficiently to long reps in Week Seventeen. Runners who became comfortable with 10-12 mile runs, plus 3 miles of fartlek once or twice a week by Week Thirteen, have by now run two hill sessions. It is time for you to move to Anaerobic Threshold running for two weeks. Read Weeks 7 & 8 for the details. Here is some additional information on combining threshold pace running with strength training to get two types of training from one run.
Most countries which produce top class distance runners have a cross-country racing season. But it is not the cross-country racing which is the secret to these runners’ success. It is the training for cross-country racing. Running on dirt, sand, springy grass and through mud or streams, jumping or stepping over small obstacles, builds strength in the key running muscles...Quadriceps, Gluteals and Calf muscles. By running your long anaerobic intervals at 15K pace effort, you can gain the benefits of cross-country racing while stimulating your threshold to improve. Run a variety of courses which take you 5-15 minutes at 80-85 percent of your maximum heartrate. Choose undulating courses when possible so that you can practice relaxed uphills and striding downhills too. Your times will vary according to how much mud and water is on the course, how windy it is, and how many layers of clothing you need to wear. The time that you run for is unimportant; the exact distance you run is unimportant: Your running intensity is vital. Run these reps at threshold effort to raise your threshold level, the point at which you go into oxygen debt. Most of you will eventually settle on definite start / finish points for most of your reps. But you can use a different (say) 10 minutes of the trail for many weeks without repeating yourself. See next week for running measured distances to monitor your progress.
Running into the wind is a great training tool. Your cardiovascular system gets a great anaerobic threshold workout while your legs are ambling along closer to marathon pace than 15K pace. This keeps your legs fresher for other speed running, while reducing injury risk. Long gentle hills work too. 5-15 minute runs up a 1-3 % grade allow you respectable leg speed (close to half marathon pace), while that trusty cardiovascular system again works at 15K intensity. Very long hill reps allow you to get the muscle strength benefits from hill training while improving your anaerobic threshold.
Note that wind and mud etc. can be used to get a VO2 stimulating (5K intensity) session. Your legs can run at 5 mile to 10K pace while your oxygen uptake and use system works at close to VO2 maximum effort. Again, injury risk is decreased; running variety is increased. But make sure your last two to three VO2 max sessions are run on an even surface at 5K to 2 mile pace: you do need to practice running efficiently at the faster paces pre-race.
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