Monday, August 11, 2008

Favorite Workouts

Olympian Browning Ross was my coach in high school and then again for some of my post-collegiate running years. Like most runners with a great coach, I felt like I had a real edge when I went to the starting line with Browning in my Coach Browning Rosscorner. In fact, I did my best running during this period. A good coach, like Ross, can provide a real psychological boost, helping you to maximize your ability-- possibly even giving you an edge over another runner with the same ability.

If you are not presently working with a coach, but are looking to improve your performance, the next best thing may be a great workout you haven't thought of that can still help you take your running to the next level.
In the words of Coach Ross: "I'd like to find something new in training. Something the others haven't got… The same elixir, perhaps, which all the athletes of the world are seeking. When training clicks it is a joy."
We contacted some great runners and coaches for their favorite workouts.

First, two sample workouts from my days running for Coach Ross:

~Browning Ross workout for March:

Every a.m. do an easy 3 or 4 miles.
Monday: Easy 4 miles 8 x 165 yards (straight aways) about 24 seconds. 50 yd jog interval
Tuesday: 3 x 660 at 1:42 6 miles steady 6:30 to 7 minute pace 4 x 110 at 7/8
Wednesday: Same as Monday Olympian Browning Ross running for Villanova
Thursday: Long steady run 15 miles at pace that feels comfortable, accelerate last mile.
Friday: same as Monday and Wednesday
Saturday: same as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Sunday: Race or 8-10 miles at 6:30 to 7 minute pace

~Browning Ross workout for May:
Monday: 4 x 3 laps at 3:32 with 400 jog interval; 5-6 miles at 7:00 pace 6X110 strides at 7/8 effort.
3 mile jog in grass or woods. 6 x 220 jog interval
Wednesday: 2x 220 at 30 seconds with 220 jog interval; 3 x 660 (1:40) 4 x110 (15 seconds); 4 miles easy
same as Tuesday
Friday: 5 miles at 7:00 pace
Saturday: Competition-3 miles afterwards if possible
Sunday: 10-15 miles easy
3 days a week 3-4 miles before breakfast at 7:00 pace.
Note: Monday's workout following competition on Saturday same as Tuesday's.

Here are the favorite workouts of some great runners and coaches:

Johnny Kelley, Olympian, Boston Marathon Winner
Johnny Kelley (Former Olympic roommate of Ross in 1948 and 58-time finisher of the Boston marathon who passed away in 2004 at age 97): "My favorite workout -- on a track, run repeat miles twice a week. What can you lose??!"

Coach Benson
Coach Roy Benson, noted Heart-Rate training expert: "I favor big volume workouts at anaerobic threshold. I like 4-5 miles of intervals at slower than current 5K pace. It's slower than the usual speedwork at 90-95 percent of max and keeps kids fresher and from peaking too soon."

Tim Noakes, Author, Physician, and author of The Lore of Running:"Distance runners spend far too much time doing low Tim Noakesintensity training and not enough high-quality peaking-type training."

Ron Hill, Olympic marathoner, and holder of the world's longest running streak since 1964: " My favorite workout is to run hard and count Ron Hilldouble strides, i.e., each time your right foot hits the ground. Start with 10 double strides, jog for 10. Push for 15 double strides jog 15 etc., until you get to 55. After 55 I come back down to 10. Then I run easily for ½ mile and then repeat. Fifty-five is usually the maximum. The beauty of this workout is that the sprints come in all types of terrain and that teaches you how to accelerate."

Alberto Salazar, Former Olympic marathon world record holder and presently a coach:"Here is my favorite workout: 4 x ¾ in 3:05 to 3:08, 3 x mile in 4:15 to 4:25. Or a fartlek run of 1mile in 4:30 Greg Meyer, Alberto Salazar, Bill Rodgers  Lep Kulinski Jr Photoand 4 miles at 5:05 pace, 1 mile in 4:30, 4 miles at 5:05 pace. The 3 fast miles were run on the track, the 4-mile segments on a wood chip trail 1-mile long. I'd go straight into 5:05 pace after finishing a 4:30 mile. Times can be adjusted; but it makes a good marathon workout too."

Bill Rodgers, Boston, New York marathon winner and Olympian: Bill Rodgers, Leo Kulinski Jr  Photo
"I like running 6 x800 + 6 x 400 repeats mixed together with my 4th repetition my hardest effort. It simulates a mid-race surge. I also used to do that on some of my 20-mile training runs, up the pace for a minute -- or a mile -- than ease back. I also believe light weight lifting for the upper body helps, along with stretching and massage. Train well, but rest well. Learn when to cut back your effort-training and racing throughout the year."

Bill Squires Former coach of the Greater Boston Track Club (Rodgers, Benoit, Meyer et al.): "First workout: A ladder at 10K race pace Coach Bill Squires Photo by Leo Kulinski Jrconsisting of the following (about 2 ½ miles): A 330 with 1:30 minute rest, 660 with a 2:20 rest, 1000 with a 3 minute rest; 330 with a 1:30 rest, 660 with a 2:20 rest, 2 x 1200 with a 5 minute rest. Or this second workout: Do a 10-mile run; every 10 minutes do a 2 minute pick up; at 30 minutes do a 5 minute pick up; at 60 minutes 3 minute pick up."

Of course these workouts will need to be adjusted to fit your present fitness, experience, and goals. But hopefully they can give you a fresh perspective on your running-just like a coach.

Written by Jack Heath, This article formerly appeared in Runners Gazette Magazine:

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