There is a principle in sport science that is one of the most basic tenets of training philosophy. It’s called the SAID principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand). Essentially you get better at what you practice.
Want to get faster? Frequently practice running fast.
Want to run longer? Frequently practice running long.
Want to run faster for longer? Frequently practice running faster for longer.
This all seems pretty basic but the devil, as always, is in the details, and of course there is more than one way to skin a cat. When designing workouts there are all kinds of things that can be manipulated, especially when we think about interval training.
We can change the intensity of the work periods, the intensity of the rest; we can shorten or lengthen the rest periods; we can change the number of repetitions, the number of sets, and the rest periods between the sets. We can change the terrain, flat vs hill vs rolling. Throw some snow or a technical trail into the mix and there are even more things that can have an effect on the training stimulus.
When training for pure speed, the consensus seems to be that first we should maximize our pace during the work effort, then when that plateaus, add repetitions, and then ultimately reduce rest.
Here’s an example to demonstrate: if you’re running 5 x 300m with a 60s recovery (and I pick 300m because Canmore has a 300m track for some bizarre reason!), let’s say you can run that lap in 65s. In terms of training progressions over the weeks or months, you would try to run those laps faster, say 60s then 55s. Once your speed maxes out and you aren’t getting any quicker, add reps, so it may become 6 x 300m in 55s, with a 60s recovery jog. Eventually you may find you can progress to 10 x 300m in 55s. At some point you’ll find that as you add reps, you are unable to maintain that 55s speed. This is now the time to start reducing the rest period. So the final workout, after several weeks or months may be 10 x 300m (in 55s) with 45s rest.
Lastly, if you want to run some intervals, come join us on Thursdays at 6pm!