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Random Thoughts

In this section of my website, I will post random thoughts I have on training.  If something jumps into my mind for that day, I'll discuss it on this page.  Also, I will answer questions people e-mail me on this page if I think it will help others to see the answer to a question.  Please e-mail( me with any questions you have on any subject, and I will answer them here, sort of like a in depth question and answer section.
  1. Maintaining_Speed_During_Base_Training
  2. My thoughts on a Craig Mottram_Interview
  3. Trial_and_Error:_The_best_science.
  4. Why_are_track_athletes_so_stubborn to change?
  5. Where_have_all_the_good_running_books gone?
  6. If_I_run_100_miles_per_week_now_how_do I improve in the future?
  7. Lazy Sunday-6 hours of baseball
  8. Four Minutes-ESPN movie review
  9. Minimalist Shoes- Part 2
  10. Hurricane_Rita
    1. September_23rd
    2. September_22nd
  11. The_No_Pain_No_Gain_Myth
  12. Your_training_plan_is_not_set_in_stone
  13. Saint_Ralph-_The_movie
  14. Minimalist_Shoes
  15. Dont_be_a_slave_to_your_watch
  16. Training_during_wisdom_teeth_removal
  17. Getting_in_the_basics_first
  18. The_House_analogy
  19. Burnout Myths

My Rants:
Maintaining Speed During Base Training:
I might get some flack for it, but I don't think it's a good idea to "just forget about speed" until track.

It just doesn't make sence logically. It'd be like getting to the end of track season and saying...'don't worry about the endurance work, that will come in the summer' and just doing endless sprints. We all know that would not be a succesfull way to train because your endurance would erode quickly because you would ruin that balance developed and nothing would be stimulating the mechanisms responsible for endurance training in the muscles.  Not only logically does it not make sence but scientifically it does not either.  When something is not stimulated, it detrains, and to further the damage mileage and high end aerobic work (thresholds and such) seem to errode anaerobic capacity.  So when you do nothing but long runs for months, the anaerobic capacity is getting beaten down to a pulp which puts you at risk for overtraining and makes it hard to regain that "speed", meaning more sprint workouts in track season that have potential for injuries.

Why then does it make sense to spend months doing nothing but just mileage (which will only stimulate the ST fibers). What happens to that anaerobic ability, or those Fast twitch fibers, or that neuromuscular coordination? If it's not used, it regresses.

I you buy into my premise (which is admittedly not an original idea but that of many great coaches, ala Renato Canova- It's just something I thought about too), then what do you do? Well I came to the conclusion that in order to maintain sprint speed and/or anaerobic metabolism the following can be used:

-pace 200's-(8x200 getting down to mile pace w/ slow 200 jog) Give you coordination and a slight lactate build up (but not enough to damage your aerobic base)

-Short hill sprints (taken from Mr. Canova and swim coaches)-8-10x60-80m full out sprints uphill w/ AT LEAST 2-3min recovery in order for creatine phosphate to regenerate since it is the main system used.  The recovery does not matter because these are supposed to be at max intensity, so do not think that it is better to reduce recovery as you get fitter. These recruit a very large portion of muscle fibers, including those hard to activate FT fibers.  These also act like weight training in developing strength.

That and strides usually does it for the average mileage runner, but for a high mileage runner or for those who do many high end aerobic runs (or 2 thresholds per week) then another ingredient is needed:

-Fast Medium Hills w/ long rest (other people do this for sure, but I've been doing these since 9th grade in the summer, just did not know the science of why until now)- build up to 5x100-150m hill run at near full speed. This stimulates Anaerobic Capacity.  This kind of work kind of keeps the anaerobic system revved up and waiting instead of going months without ever being stressed to a large degree, thus preventing detraining.


-100-150m near full speed sprints, long rest-(800 down to 400m pace) (taken from Jan Olbrecht)- What this does is it stimulates anaerobic metabolism and the anaerobic Capacity, plus all of those FT fibers.  On these two advanced anaerobic stimulants you have to be sure not to do too many or with too little rest, because then the lactate will get way out of control and start inhibiting the aerobic process.  I found that doing 4-5 was sufficient of either during a workout.

Now you know the about the when.
It all depends on how much mileage and high end aerobic running you do. Because you see what your really trying to do is create a balance of aerobic vs. anaerobic capacity.

For strides, and short hill sprints- you can pretty much do these w/ out it affecting your aerobic base, because strides are not intense enough and short hill sprints are short enough that not much lactate will be produced, and the little that is will be cleared very fast. I'd say build up to where you do once a week of short hill sprints, and then strides maybe a couple times a week after easy runs

For the Advanced stuff (Fast medium Hills and longer sprints) Leave that stuff for the higher mileage runners and the runners using lots of high end aerobic runs. The reason these are needed is because these high end aerobic runs and the mileage will suppress your anaerobic abilities. These sprints will help to even out that balance and prevent a drop in that, while you build a base. So the more of these things you do, the more you need these. I'd limit these two to a max of once a week and that's only reserved for those runners who run like me(100+mpw w/ 2 thresholds a week) . So for a guy doing 1 threshold a week and in the 70mpw range, I'd think SH sprints would be sufficient, with maybe once every 3 weeks a FMH session.

Using lactate testing I was able to see the effeccts of this kind of sprint training had on the lactate threshold. The trick for me was to try and increase the lactate threshold while keeping my anaerobic capacity about the same during the base phase. Lactate testing gave me feedback to monitor this little experiment. My results:After a 6 week period including an average of 105mpw alternating 1 threshold a week and 2, I found that my threshold increased with only a slight drop in anaerobic capacity when I did 5 SH sessions, 1 long sprint session, during this 6 week period. After this I upped the threshold to 2 per week and was able to sustain my anaerobic capacity by doing 4xFMH,1xlong sprints, and 1-2xSH during a 7 week period.

Take that information for what it is worth, but hopefully it provides some insight into keeping that balance needed during racing season of your anaerobic capacity and your lactate threshold, or put simply, between your speed and endurance.

Mottram Interview:
       I highly recommend reading the above interview with Craig Mottram.  While the interview only contains bits and pieces of information on Mottram's training, it contains a few great quotes that need to be hammered home to many runners.
Your observation that I’m in good shape for several distances throughout the year is because my aerobic fitness is good all year; the base is always there. The basic principle is a lot of running, longer reps and pace runs. There are maybe only six weeks in the year when I’m not at 150 to 170 kilometers for the week. I don’t go much below 140 kilometers a week even when racing in the European summer"
  One of the key things to take away is the heavy emphasis on base work.  The mileage is almost always high and the emphasis is on aerobic development.  It's interesting that he doesn't seem to coform to the traditional American system of significantly dropping the mileage throughout the season.  He seems to keep it high throughout the entire year.  He may be able to do this because his recovery runs are done at a slower pace, so he is not trying to hammer all of his distance work and is able to keep the mileage high during heavy training or racing periods because these runs function solely as recovery.
       "But to be honest, if I need to be, I’m never more than six weeks away from being in sub-13:00 shape."
This may be the best quote in the whole interview.  This shows that the base/strength work that he is doing is of good enough quality that he only needs 6 or so weeks to sharpen up and be ready to roll.  The specific stuff is just to top off the main core of the work done.  From the quote it can be inferred that he is in very good shape year round.  It is something to think about and is at great contrast to some of the more heavily periodized programs out there.  I completely agree with the idea that you should rarely be that far from being in top shape.  I think that is where doing threshold type workouts throughout the entire year come in.  Threshold workouts are of sufficient intensity to put you into great aerobic shape and if you sprinkle in some longer reps occasionally then you should never be more than 6 or so weeks from being near PR shape.
    "We always run slowly. That’s why you have your [hard] sessions. Recovery runs are just that—recovery runs. I train a lot of the time with girls, and they drop me some of the time. They’re just able to get rolling sooner than I am."
       For anyone who reads my rants or articles on training, you know I love this quote.  Recovery running is just that, recovery.  There is very little point to hammering your easy or recovery days when that is not the purpose.  The harder or more intense workouts are the ones in which you are trying to fully stress different aspects of your body.  Then after they are stressed, the recovery runs are there to allow for adaptation to take place.  What is the point of stressing your body during a hard workout and then not giving it enough time to recover, or running too hard during the easy day so that it doesn't have enough energy to recover?  Also if you run too hard on the recovery days, then the harder days might suffer so that you are not stressing your body like you want, which then leads to less adaptation.

"Yeah, I’m fit pretty much all year round. At the end of the European season, I rest a bit, but I still run every day, because I like going out for a run and I just like feeling fit. There’s no point in the year when I’m not fit or I’m putting on weight or anything like that."

The message is simple: Running is a year round thing.  There can be some down time, but there is no long off season like in other sports.

MR: By “pace runs” do you mean threshold work?

MR: What’s an example?
The other day we did three times 15 minutes, with a one-minute jog between.

    I just wanted to include this to reiterate the point made above.  Aerobic development and LT work is incredibly important. This type of work (along with his "longer reps" and longer hills) is what most likely keeps Mottram in great shape year round.  He says he normally spends 30 to 50minutes doing these pace runs per session.  I just wanted to show you an example of an elite athlete and how they do their threshold running.

Trial and Error: The best science.
    Arthur Lydiard developed an entire training program based on his experiments with his own running and that of athletes he coached.  He asked simple questions such as how many miles a week can I run before it becomes too much and it is counterproductive?  From this the 100 mile week was born.  Other experiments such as how many weeks of hard anaerobic training can my guys do before they start to break down were conducted.  From these experiments Lydiard shaped a training program that helped alter our thoughts and ideas on distance running.  Science has advanced since then and now there are hundreds of experiments done in the lab to help our understanding of what and how things work.  Some coaches rely almost solely on this data to come up with a training program, but one key element is missing and that is that each individual athlete reacts differently.  One thing that is missing in many programs is that an experiment of one may be the best way to find that "magic" training combination.
    There are so many questions that arise when training a distance runner.  How much should he do, when should he do it, how hard should he do it?  These are just a couple of questions that must be answered before training.  When you have an athlete who you will be coaching for several years it's easier to figure out how to best train him.  The most important thing to do is to keep a log.  Then don't just let that log sit there at the end of the year, but disect it.  Break it down until you start to notice patterns in his training.  Maybe you notice that after 5 weeks of anaerobic training he ran a PR, and then after 10 weeks of anaerobic training he started racing poorly.  What this does is it gives you a guideline of how this athlete reacts to training.  You then use this when planning for next season.  If it took him 5 weeks to reach a peak with anaerobic training last season, then it would make sense to start anaerobic training 5-6 weeks out from the first peak meet.  If he fell apart after 10 sessions, then plan the peak so that his last peak meet is before this falling apart point.  Obviously the athletes response to training will vary some from season to season but at least the training will be based on more than just a guess.  This type of analysis needs to be done for each part of the year.  Another example is to see how fast the athlete ran off of just base and threshold work, this gives you an idea of how the athlete responds to just that type of work.
    Besides looking at long term changes, short term changes can also be evaluated.  For example, you might want to see how many "workout" sessions an athlete can handle in a week or how much recovery he needs.  To do this you might schedule a hard week with many workouts and see how the athlete responds by having him measure his morning heart rate, the amount of sleep he got and how good of sleep it was, his emotional state, and a whole slew of other items.  From this you get an idea of how much hard training the athlete can handle.  I've done the same experiment with myself and noticed how different workout effect me.  For example, short hill sprints barely effect my recovery at all and I've been able to do them the day before a hard workout with very few residual effects.  I've also experimented with doing up to 5 "workouts" in a week.  Most of these workouts were medium workouts, but it was a good experience to see how I responded to a bunch of medium workouts day after day without a true full recovery day.  I learned how well I recovered and how many full recovery days I needed after each type of workout by using all of the above mentioned things such as noting what my morning heart rate was, which gave me an indication of how well my body was adapting to the training stress put on it..  This allowed me to improve my weekly schedule so that I knew if I needed a full day of easy running after a workout or if I could schedule just a morning recovery run and then do a medium workout in the afternoon the day after a workout.
    It's important not to let your mind get stuck in the idea that you can not deviate from what science says or from what expert coaches say.  If this was true, then there would be no progress in training.  Base your ideas of a practical knowledge of physiology but try and be creative and use your imagination to see if something slightly different than is conventional will work.  Science hasn't tested everything and after all training innovation occurs out on the track or on the road, not in the laboratory.

Why are track athletes so stubborn to change?
    "Vo2max"  I mention this one word and I get the response that people in the book Harry Potter get when "he who must not be named" is mentioned.  It's not just that word either. Lactate, threshold, mitochondria, buffering capacity, and a ton of others.  These are all the cuss words of running.  No one wants to hear them at all.  If they are said in some coaches presence they immediately look down on you and think "Oh great! He's one of those physiology types!"  "He's too scientific.  He doesn't know the art of coaching.  That sort of stuff doesn't belong in running.  It's a simple sport why complicate it!"
    The argument against these scientific types go like this.  Why complicate the sport.  All you do is run.  You need to run faster than race pace, at race pace, and slower than race pace.  If you feel tired, run slower and recover. If you feel good, run faster and make yourself hurt!  To get better during track races, it's simple, make yourself hurt in practice so the race feels easier.  It's an appealing way to train because it's so simple and who wants to spend hours upon hours learning something extremely complicated and new?  Many cite that we ran plenty fast enough back in the old glory days of U.S. running, but there is one problem with this.
    People are faster than back then.  Times change, people must adapt.  Look back at all of the great athletes and coaches throughout running history.  They all have one thing in common.  They all were innovators and forward thinkers of the day.  They didn't just stick with what had worked, they improved upon it.  They took what was succesful and thought, how can I make this better.  A very good coach once said  "I should be a better coach than my coach and you should be a better coach than I am." Why? Because in theory the athlete should learn from his coach, use his knowledge, and then build on and improve this system.  Look at History for a guide.  Gerschler and his interval system.  Zatopek and his endless 400's.  Nurmi and his use of the stop watch.  Van Aaken and his long slow distance.  Lydiard and his periodized endurance training.  Igloi got his PHD in physiology and applied that to briefly rule the distance running world.  Coe and his multi pace periodization plan.  The list goes on and on.  All took training to the next level.  But for some reason many in the U.S. have stalled out.  Instead of learning from the past, we go to the past.  As runners we are too stubborn to change.  This is where science comes into play.  You usually have several types of science running guys.  Those who rely solely on the science to answer everything and think of it as undisputable proof (this is the bad kind), and those who use science to back up, verify, and try out new ideas on training to see if they make sence and work and above all use science as a TOOL, just like the Nurmi used the stop watch.  I'm betting back then that some thought it was a bad idea and that it made running too robot like or analytical.  Hmm I bet we don't think that now.  The first kind of science running guy is the dangerous kind and are the reason that science and physiology have a bad rap.
    I'd like all of you who think I'm crazy at this point to consider a couple of things.  First off, go to and read the posts of Renato Canova.  He's the coach of many succesful kenyans and others, notably steeple World Record Holder Shaheen.  His posts get the most attention and his training is great.  It works obviously and you have all of these people trying to understand it.  But many get stuck on some of his concepts.  Now, go pick up a good new book on elite swimming training.  Read it.  You'll understand exactly what Renato Canova's training concepts are.  You'll know why he does 60m hill sprints physiologically, you'll now how he does lactate tests to see if he created a MaxLass and to tests the athletes Aerobic Power.  You'll understand why he periodizes like he does.  You'll know how he knows what workouts to reduce lactate production (and thus glycogen use) for a marathoner.  It's all there.  Renato Canova uses science.  Go read Marius Bakken's web page and posts.  They will seem foreign at first.  How does this guy do all of that training, how does he do sprints the day after a threshold?  What does he mean when he says VO2max workouts lower or "flatten" out the lactate curve.  You'll figure out why he has to go to altitude to increase the stimulus on his threshold and why he can't simply run faster or farther. Guess what, it's all there in books and journals if you know where to look.  This is where I get to my main point.  These guys have took the old principles of training and built on it.  They use modern technology and knowledge to their advantage.
    One coach asked me why I use lactate tests.  He thought I was crazy. Why did I need to use that.  I replied that it's a TOOL, it helps tell me if what I thought would improve my aerobic capacity really did.  It tells me if I was trying to improve my anaerobic capacity and I didn't, then I better change something up to get the desired effect.  Bottom line is that it tells me what is going on in my body and if it's adapting to the training.  Wouldn't it make sense to get feedback like that every 5-6 weeks instead of go through a whole season, not run fast at the end, and be like "Well I guess something in the training didn't work."  Ya, that's great, wasted a year.  Still running coaches look down on using things like this as a tool.  It's too analytical, it's too robot like, just like they labeled Zatopek a "machine", and probably labeled Nurmi's use of a watch and departure from "feeling" and running by fartlek the same.  It's interesting to note though that using swimmers and cyclists as an example, they have advanced and emraced new knowledge. Take a look at what U.S. swimming has done:

    "During each major swim meet, USA Swimming sport scientists provide Lactate Clearance testing during post-race recovery. The results obtained from this assessment may provide valuable information related to a swimmer’s metabolic response to racing and training status and in the development of a post-race recovery protocol that is optimal for the athlete. Now coaches can see all Lactate Clearance testing results online. The database includes all major meets from 2001 to present."

    Australian Swimming is the same.  There training also is highly scientific.  They know what swimming at each speed does to their muscles, and what to train.  They know the effects that endurance training has on sprint training, and vice versa.  They know what speeds will recruit certain muscle fibers and how musch glycogen loss can be expected for an hour of swimming at some intensity.  Beyond knowing this stuff, they use it!  They plan their training knowing as exact as possible how long it should take an athlete to recover from certain repeats.  How much VO2max is too much, how much acidosis is too much, etc.  Of course they don't know exactly, but they use the science to give them the best idea on how to train.  Is it any wonder that US and Australian swimming are the best in the world?  It's not just them either a lot of other countries use the same science to their benefit.  On a US Swimming publication it has a picture of Michael Phelps getting his lactate levels tested. Hmm I think he was pretty good.  Cycling is much of the same.  Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Postal team test for lactate during training and racing, lance measures his food so he knows how much he's taking in, and they test for VO2max.  These are just examples.
    Maybe we could take our heads out of the sand, stop being stubborn and learn from these other sports and even those within our sports.  Or we could just take the easy route and not spend the countless hours reading and learning, and stick with the old tried and true that's gotten us a lot of success in distance running....oh wait never mind.  One of the more succesfull U.S. coaches told me "Now a days I rarely ever listen to a coach who doesn't have his PHD in physiology or at least worked towards his PHD in it.  There's too much bad information out there"  Interesting how that works.
Where have all the good running books gone?
    For those of you who don't know, I spend my whole day that isn't involved in actually running, reading.  I just sit around and read the latest literature on training, running, and such.  Well one day I became pretty frustrated with the fact that a lot of these so called "expert training books" started to blend together and sound like they were saying the same thing.  "Do workout A for endurance, workout B for strength, and workout C for speed, and boom you have a PR!  And if you are too stupid to figure out how to plan these workouts into a week, we'll even provide a 6 month training plan for you that takes care of all of the work!"  Uh huh.  In my head I began to ask, what in the heck is "speed" or "strength"?  What do those terms mean?  Being a runner with some background in physiology, when I looked at the exact workout sample I could tell you what it does in your body and to your muscles, but I still didn't correlate that to "speed."  In a training book, I expected to see the what, when, and why's of training. Instead I got the "How to run your PR in 6 months?"  Go read some books from swimming, cycling, or even rowing and you will be amazed.  Some of them are so in depth and aren't written for elementary school kids, but for actual COACHES!  "Lactate testing, Conconi tests, Aerobic Capacity, Anaerobic power, supercompensation, hormone release during exercise, pH drop, hydrogen ions, pyruvate production!" what are these things in these books?  You rarely ever see them in a running book and if you do, you better hold on to it!
    This isn't to say that there aren't some great running books out there because there definately are.  But even some of the "advanced" ones have a serious lack of material.  I thought our knowledge base was supposed to be expanding?  Our understanding of the human body and how it works is supposed to be expanding too right?  Then why aren't there more books like Coe and Martins that combine in depth information on what each workout ACTUALLY does to you and then also gives you a suggestion on how to put the puzzle together?  What happened to the books of old like Fred Wilt's "Run, Run, Run" which combined some of the best coaches in the WORLD's ideas on training together and also included the latest scientific discoveries?  What about books like David Costill's "A Scientific Approach to Running"?  Forget about the scientific side of it for one  side and consider that in the past you could get sample training weeks of a ton of succesfull runners in "How They Train" or listen to how Arthur Lydiard trained his greats in any of his books.  In the 80's you could see how Seb Coe or Steve Ovett trained in both of there coaches books.
     Yes I realize I'm jumping from topic to topic in this rant, but that's what rants are for.  Whatever comes to mind is what gets typed.  The reason for it is this.  Our coaches in the U.S. learn from books that they read.  They read what is available and what they can get there hands on.  Instead of being innovators and taking basic physiology principles and trying to figure out ways to improve them, coaches are stuck with "you should do this workout at this type of year."  There's no room for free thinking in it.  No room for experimentation.  If the coaches don't know exactly what they are trying to improve how can they use their imagination to try and come up with new and different workouts to improve that variable.  Don't you think the coach would be better if he knew that he was trying to improve the anaerobic capacity of an athlete, then just saying "speed"?  Afterall if I go work on my start and getting out of the blocks, I will improve my "speed" and I'll be faster at 100m.
What I am getting at is this.  Change is essential in this sport.  All of the innovative coaches that have taken training and athletes to the next level have come up with crazy ideas and tested their theories to see if they worked.  If they worked, they were kept, if they didn't throw them out.  Where will our innovative coaches come from if we are told to do 6x800s at this specific time of the year because it gives us strength?  Zatopek, Cerutty, Igloi, Lydiard, Coe, etc.  There training ideas were VERY different, but they all had one thing in common.  They were innovators, they experimented with "crazy" ideas that were against the norm.  Guess what?  Those crazy ideas are now part of what you do every season most likely.  Guess they were'nt so crazy after all.

"If I run 100 miles per week now, how do I improve in the future?  I’m saving myself for the future by running 40 miles."

            How many times do you hear this from younger runners?  In principle it seems like a logical argument.  If you run 100mpw at the age of 18, where do you go at age 19, 20, 21, and on?  You certainly can not keep increasing the mileage up to 130,150,180, 200 or more.  That would be impractical as at some point there is a point of diminishing returns.  So it seems as if the argument is correct, right?  How can you possibly improve if you can’t increase the mileage?

            The problem with this argument is that it assumes that mileage is the be all end all to improvement.  Mileage is but one component of training. Intensity or quality is another important factor.  This can be increased from year to year after mileage hits a steady number.  One of the basic principles of training is that your body adapts to the stress put on it, so progression is needed in training as you continually adapt to the stress and need more stress applied to keep improving.  Thus from year to year more stress, or stimulus, is needed to continue to progress.  Most people think of increasing the mileage from year to year as the only manner of progressing, but there are in fact many other ways. To show how this is done besides just increasing mileage, let’s look at some examples of progressing from year to year during the base period.

            For most High School runners most of the base period is spent doing only mileage with a couple of strides here and there.  So for our hypothetical athlete, he runs 50mpw all at an easy to steady pace with strides done once or twice per week.  Over the next couple of summers, he wisely increases his mileage all the way up to 100mpw but with very little quality done still.  He does mostly mileage with strides and maybe the occasional short hill workout throughout the majority of the summer and it isn’t until the very end of the base period that he starts adding some threshold work in the form of fartleks.  The next year, he decides that 100mpw is a good place to keep his mileage out so what does he do?  Simple, since he is in better shape with more mileage under his belt, he can now handle an increased amount of quality during the base period.  So for this summer he decides to add in a Lactate Threshold run once per week throughout the whole summer.  The athlete continues to improve because this summer was filled with a lot of mileage, but most importantly much more “quality” work because he was able to spend a good deal of time improving his aerobic system more than with just mileage and increasing his Lactate Threshold.  So the athlete comes into the new season with a better aerobic system and LT than he did the previous summer because he added an LT workout a week.  The next summer, the athlete can add some sprint workouts, or another LT run, or some paced strides, to continue the adaptation.

            The point of this example was to show that once the mileage has been “topped out”, the athlete can add various other aspects of training that can be done during the base period (such as LT runs, pace workouts, neuromuscular sprint workouts, hill workouts, etc.).  The athlete is able to handle more quality every year because he has put in the mileage to allow him to withstand the increased demands, and he has slowly implemented it from year to year.

            To further the point, go look at the base periods from world class athletes and compare it to that of a High School athlete.  The mileage might not be that different in some of the better HS kids, but unlike most HS kids training, the base period includes a great deal more higher end aerobic or quality work.  For example, take a look at Steve Ovett’s training.  It includes LT repeats, high end aerobic runs, etc. most days of the week.  Marius Bakken’s includes about 4-5 LT sessions per week along with neuromuscular workouts.  Steve Scott included some longer repeats, a hill workout, and some higher end aerobic running throughout his “base” period.  Just a couple of years ago in HS I ran 100mpw for base, but I couldn’t handle much quality while doing this.  Most of the runs were easy to steady with an occasional hill workout done.  Now, my base includes up to two LT runs, a hill workout, and either a pace or neuromuscular workout.  The amount of quality runs during the base period went from maybe 1 per week to up to 4 or so per week.  I can now handle so much more quality because I have stayed consistant with my training for years.  If I attempted to do as much  as I do now, back in HS, I would have fallen apart in the base period from overtraining, and never would have run fast.  The difference is that I can do things in training now that I  couldn't back then.   I'm sure you have noticed the same thing in your own training.  As a freshman in HS you certainly could not handle the amount of mileage or quality workouts per week that you can now handle.

            My point in showing you these examples is that once the mileage is maxed to what you can handle, you can improve dramatically by progressing in other areas of the training spectrum.  A High School athlete can not handle doing much more than 1 or maybe 2 quality sessions per week during the base training at such a young age.  If he slowly progresses and plans his training for long term development, than he can slowly increase the amount of work load he can handle until in a couple years, he is able to handle the amount of quantity AND quality work that is done by the elite athletes.  Trying to “save” yourself for the future just puts you further behind and you have to increase the quality and quantity too much to try and catch up, thus risking a higher chance of injury.

            Ask yourself the simple question.  Who has the better chance of being able to handle the work load of an elite 5k runner when they are 25 doing 100mpw with 3-4 LT sessions, 1-2 neuromuscular workouts, and maybe 1 VO2 workout during the base period?

            The 18 yr old who runs 40mpw with 1 quality session during base?  


            The 18 yr old who runs 80mpw with 1 quality session during base?

    Lazy Sunday-Astros game (October 10th)
    Sundays are what I consider my lazy days where I just kick back relax and only run once during the day.  The run is also pretty short, normally 10 miles, and pretty slow.  Sundays are the days when I rejuvinate physically and mentally from the past weeks worth of work and prepare for the next one.  A lot of the time, the day is filled with massive amounts of sports watching, mostly baseball or football if it's in season, and maybe some video game playing.  Some might say that the day just wastes away with nothing being accomplished, but I find it is a necessity when training at a high level.  However, this past Sunday took the term "lazy day" to an extreme thanks to the watching of a certain baseball game that lasted 18 innings, and almost 6 hours.
    The day started off as usual with the morning wasted away by a combination of sleeping, reading, and surfing the internet.  At noon, I made my self a sanwich for lunch and turned the TV on for the traditional sports watching.  Today I had the choice to make of either watching the Astros playoff game or the Texans football game.  I've always been a baseball fan and the fact that it was a playoff game and the Texans suck, made the decision a no brainer.  So Astros game it was for the next 3 or so hours and then a nice easy run before dinner, or so I thought.  The first couple of innings were spent watching at the kitchen table with nothing too exciting taking place.  The astros pitcher, Brandon Backe, looked okay at first but it quickly became apparent that his command wasn't there.  In the third inning this led to some major problems as he walked two batters and hit another to load the bases.  Then, Boom, Adam Laroche nails one out of the park.  Oh great, a 4-0 lead and the Astros are looking like they aren't going to hit at all.  I moved to the big TV in the living room at about 1:30, or around the fifth inning, which is where the Braves tacked on another run, 5-0.  It wasn't looking good at all and I found myself periodically checking the Texans game who at this point were relatively close to the Titans.  In the bottom of the 5th, the Astros showed a glimmer of hope by loading the bases with one out, but they showed their lack of hitting and only managed to drive in one run, 5-1 braves.  I continued to watch as the Astros bats fizzled out again.  Going into the 8th inning, with only two chances to make up 4 runs left, it didn't look good, especially after the braces tacked on another insurance run by a home run in the top of the inning, 6-1 braves.  I was still sitting on the couch at this point, about 2:30 into the game, when the astros did the unthinkable and loaded the bases up for Lance Berkman with only one out thanks to a couple walks and a single.  As soon as Berkman hit the grandslam I jumped off the couch, which I had switched from a sitting position to a sleeping position thanks to the lack of excitement until now in the game.  After the grand slam you sort of expected Ensberg to knock one out of the park, tie the game up, and complete the miraculous comeback, but instead it was a strike out.  Following Lamb's flyout, the astros had one more inning to make up one more run.  Into the bottom of the 9th we go, a little less than 3 hours into the game.  At this point, I'm just hoping, really begging for any one of their bottom three hitters to do anything to get a hit.  As Lane comes to bat, In my head I'm talking to myself saying "here's our chance, Lane's the best home run hitter we have up this inning." but no go for that home run wish, a groundout to first instead.  At this point in time I am looking forward to the next couple of hitters and realize it's pitcher's spot and Brad Ausmus, the catcher.  I see the Phil Garner, the manager, is using Vizcaino to pinch hit for the pitcher to probably try and get on for a pinch hitter for Ausmus to knock him in.  This immidiately brings to mind that Jeff Bagwell is on the bench.  It all makes sence now, Bagwell will pinch hit for Ausmus and save the day.  What better ending then for the greatest Astro ever who is hobbled by a shoulder that won't allow him to throw the ball to pinch hit and drive in the winning run.  It would be a fariy tale ending and it had to happen!  Well, Vizcaino struck out, so there goes that idea. But, all hope wasn't lost because now Bagwell would pinch hit, hit a home run and be just like Kirk Gibson when he saved the day as a beaten down old ball player.  The only problem was that Bagwell didn't pinch hit.  The manager left Ausmus in there, a guy who hit 3 home runs all year.  I was fuming at this point, yelling at the TV and all that stuff, but then it happens Brad freakin Ausmus hits a deep fly ball that was going to be close.  All hoped looked lost as gold glove super center fielder Andruq Jones was running the ball down and had a chance at it.  He leeps against the wall and doesn't get it!  The ball strikes a couple inches above the yellow line, meaning home run!!!!!  Tie ball game and we go to extra innings.
    Well it'd been 3 hours at this point, and little did I know that I had 3 more to go.  In the 10th inning it looked like the game was ours.  Luke Scott missed a home run by inches, so there goes that hope.  Then Berkman doubled and was replaced by a faster running Chris Burke with Bagwell coming to the plate.  Here came the story book ending! Nope, denied, fly out.  On we go.  At this point the innings begin to blur together as they seem to go something like this, braves put up a decent threat against the astros relievers, but they can't get anyone home.  Then the astros bat and go 1-2-3 easy.  It looked pretty hopeless.  At around the 4 hour mark I found myself alternating couches and chairs to sit on.  I couldn't really get comfortable at all but I continued to watch.  By the 13th inning I realize, hey this guys our last reliever in the bullpen and I see Clemens warming up.  There's no way Clemens gets in this game, it's going to end soon.  Also at this point, my plan on doing my run at 4 or 4:30 are dashed.  In addition to the alternating seats in the living room, I began to switch TV's every half inning.  I was cramping up sitting all day so I alternated between my bedroom TV upstairs and the living room TV.  The walk upstairs gave me a nice little workout and stretched out the legs a bit.  Fast forward to the 15th inning or so when we're getting close to the 5 hour mark.  At this point, I realize I need to get my run in before dinner.  So I come up with the plan of running with my radio to listen to the game.  I'd though of this earlier at about hour number 4 but decided the game would be over soon enough.  How wrong I was.  In an interesting twist I started talking to people on AIM between innings who had been at the game, but left at inning 11 or 12 and made it home (40minute drive) and the game was still going on.  In my head I secretely cussed these people out saying that they didn't deserve to go to that game as they left.  What true fan would leave even if they'd been there for 4+ hours!  Yes your mind begins to rot after 4 or 5 hours straight of TV.  So at hour humber 5 I begin looking for my radio, but couldn't find it.  I did however find a small portable TV, so that would have to do.  At 5:20ish or at right around the time Clemens came into the game I set off on my run, portable TV in hand with the antenna fully extended and head phones on so I could listen to the game more clearly.  Yes, I looked like a complete idiot running with a portable TV in my hand, but that's not the point.  At key moments I would lift the TV to my face so that I could see a key at bat or pitch.  This led to some interesting points of the run, as it's very difficult to run in a straight line without stumbling over something while watching TV. At around the 17th inning or 5:30 hours into the game, I began to wish that the game would go on longer!  I mean, Clemens can't pitch forever and they had no one else left, so I thought it'd be interesting to see who they'd stick in.  On the run, I quickly went through who I'd stick in there.  Biggio? No, not a strong enough arm. Ausmus? Why not, he's played Catcher and First base today, but still didn't like his arm.  After going through every person in the game, I came to the conclusion that Jason Lane would be the best pitcher.  Why?  Because as far as I could reason he had a good arm and was a decent athlete so why not. (I'd like too point out that my deductive reasoning was correct as manager Phil Garner came to the same conclusion).  Anyways, as this crazy thinking was going through my head on the 10 mile run, something amazing happened.  The game ended.  I stopped in the middle of my run.  Stared down at the TV as soon as I heard the announcers say deep...and I saw Chris Burke's ball go right over the fence.  I think I screamed and yelled at this point and my run became like a kid running hom excitedly from school.  I was bouncing around and actually yelled Astros won, astros won to random people who were out in their yards.  They probably thought I was some crazy man carrying a portable TV with antenna fully extended a good 3 feet, running around with only shorts and no shirt on.  It must have been quiet a scene.  Almost 6 hours after I sat down to watch the Astros play, the game was over and I was 5 miles into my 10 mile run.  I don't even remember the rest of the run, but all I know is that after 18 innings and almost 6 hours, the Astros won.

    Four Minutes-(October 7th)
    Upon watching this movie, my expectations were rather low.  This was mostly due to the fact that they created a fake double amputtee coach for Bannister.  When I first read that they did this I immediately assumed that they were going to dramaticly "hollywood" the story and add all sorts of useless junk that didn't need to be added to a remarkable true story.  After watching the film, it was obvious that they had in fact done this through the addition of the former great athlete turned criple coach and the love story.  Ignoring these two additions, overall the movie surpassed my low expectations and made it all the way up to the average or acceptable ranking.  Before complaining about what was wrong, it should be said that all of us runners should be greatful that they even did a movie on this subject.  Sure there were lots of flaws, but in the end it remained for the most part historically accurate, with a good amount of running footage in it.  The running footage was decent with some scenes better than others.  I liked the fact that every race had it's own distinct footage style.  For example, the first race had some bouncy/jerky shots, while another had a light/dark contrast thing going on.  The radio race scene was a nice touch too.  It did a very good job of conveying how much his Olympic race mattered to the people of England, and in connecting you to that time period with the radio.  The sub 4 race looked much smoother, and elaborately done showing the progression from the first jerky, hand held camera angles to the smooth shot sub 4 race, which  followed along with Bannister's rise from a nobody to the man to break the insurmountable barrier.  The downside on these race scenes were two fold.  Some of the actors did not look like runners at all.  I'm not talking about their running form, as if you watch footage of the original race, the actors do a commendable job of copying the runners form.  The problem is that some look like your local mile a day fitness jogger, than top of the line elite athletes.  For example, the actor playing Chataway looks down right fat for a runner.  This takes away from the realism of the film significantly as you find yourself constantly saying there's no way that guy can run that fast.  On the other hand, Bannister was portrayed pretty well in racing scenes and you could believe that he was really running that pace.  Another problem with the racing scenes was that at times when they showed the runners full bodies and ,to quote the overused line from Larry Rawson, "judging from their turnover" it appeared as if they were going about 7 minute mile pace not 4 minute mile pace.  Again, this took away from the realism some what.
    I realize that the love scenes were put in their to attract non runners as viewers, but some of them were extremely unneccesary.  The whole first girl friend was almost completely pointless.  The second love interest was done poorly in some parts so that you didn't really care about it and just wanted the sappy scenes to end and for Bannister to get on with his quest.  However, the love interest were effective in helping to catch a glimpse into Bannister's mindset as he shared his burden of carrying a nation and choosing running over medicine with the girl. 
    There were some memorable scenes in the movie that almost seem like prerequisites for any sport film.  The best scene in the whole movie might have been when Mcwhirter announced "three..." and the whole crowd goes crazy.  Also, the required workout scene was a nice touch.  At first I was dissapointed with this scene as during the first repeat it looked like they were playing, not running a gruelling workout, but thankfully as it went on it got better.  That kind of scene is what helps makes sports movies.  It gives the viewer a glimpse into the immense work that went into training for such a feat.  In my opinion, the movie probably could have used one more of these types of scenes because occasionally you got the feeling that Bannister didn't do much at all in training.  The start of the movie was a shaky beginning that left you somewhat confused at how old Bannister was or where they were in the timeline of history because of how fast they went through his life.  You really didn't know if Bannister was still a 4:30 guy, or a 4:05 guy during some periods of time, but by the end of the movie, the movie recovered and rallied for a strong finish much like Bannister did in real life.
    Overall the movie was a solid effort for the obvious budget constraints and being a made for TV movie.  It had it's innacuracies but they're to be expected to an extnent.  As runners, we often look for and demand perfection when it comes to running related movies, but you have to accept the fact that no one will capture this to perfection.  Often, we hold unrealistic standards of what the running scenes and actors should look like for the budget that most of these movies are on.  Once you realize, that these movies are not documentaries but in fact movies that are supposed to entertain, then some of the innacuraccies can be forgiven and you can enjoy the movie.
Minimalist Shoes-Part 2 (October 6th)
 In response to a question: "
what do you think of training in flats?"
    I think it's great if you work into it gradually and can biomechanicaly handle. The best part about flats is that it can help "force" you to run correctly without you doing anything or thinking about running form what so ever. The bad part is that while your form might improve, you have no idea what you are doing in regards to running form and lose the feeling of what it's like to run correctly. In addition to this, flats do not mean that your running form will magicly improve, for some people, running in flats won't do the trick and they will have to consciously think about changing their form. Why you have to be extremely patient and gradual is that if you run barefoot or with flats, you start using muscles in ways that you never did when wearing heavier constrictive trainers. This is good because you'll start to develop the muscles of the foot more, but you have to be careful because they haven't been used in such a way in a long time. It's easy to get hurt by being gung ho and switcing to flats completely, then end up getting achilles tendonitis or some other foot related injury because you are putting too much pressure on a tendon or muscle, that hasn't been used or developed in a long time. It'd be the same as if you hadn't sprinted in years, then one day start to sprint every day, you'd get extremely sore because your bodies not adapted to it and it wouldn't be a smart thing to do! Another example would be, if you are a guy who trains in your heavy trainers, decides to add barefoot running, so you add 20 minutes of barefoot running a day. Well I guarantee you that certain parts of your feet and especially your calf muscles will get extremely sore, and if you keep doing it over and over without adaptation will lead to injury.

As mentioned above, the main benefits of flats as I see it is improvement in natural running form, and strengthening of feet and lower leg muscles. The drawbacks is if your not a decent;y biomechanicly efficient runner, then flats can lead to injury. Also making the transition too fast can also lead to injury. Each case has to be looked at from an individual basis. I wear orthotics because without them i put to much torque on my achilles when I step down and push off, causing achilles tendonititis. Since haveing achilles tendonitis my junior year, I've run for 3 years without any lower leg problems, so why should I switch to flats? Well one could argue for the form reason or strengthening feet reason, but I feel that if I switch to flats without orthotics then I'd increase my risk of achilles tendonitis flaring up again. So my solution is this: I consciously work on my running form and have studied running form in order to know what I'm doing right or wrong. I film and watch myself running at various speeds to see what I am doing wrong, and then try and fix it. By doing this, I take care of the form problem, and make my running form more efficient and natural. As for the strengthening of feet that flats may give, I've built up to where I can run barefoot for 2 miles or so once or twice a week or do barefoot strides. In addition to this, when I walk around at home or most places I go barefoot or a minimal shoe. This allows me to help strengthenin my lower leg without overdoing it. In addition to this, on my hard efforts or threshold runs, I wear a lightweight trainer with orthotics. On all easy runs I wear a normal heavy trainer though with orthotics.

It's all about minimizing injury and getting benefits. I've figured out the best way for myself to stay injury free while still getting the benefits of training in a minimalist shoe and so should you guys.

   Hurricane Rita
September 23rd-
    Today was a day of waiting.  The roads were no longer in a bumper to bumper mess today.  During the long run this morning it felt like it was Christmas day.  Not in the sense that it was a happy day, but in the fact that not many people were out on the road we ran which went through neighborhoods.  Normally at 8am during a friday there's kids outside waiting for a bus and parents driving off to work, but this morning none of that was happening.  It was eerily quiet and kind of peaceful.  Yes, there were cars out, but not even as many a Sunday morning when everyones at church.  The thing that seperated this day from others was that several houses had boards covering all of their windows and there were too many houses with no lights on and no cars because of the family's evacuating.  In addition to this, on the bike trails we ran there was only one guy on a bike in the entire trails.  Normally we spend a lot of time ducking out of the way and dodging bikes.  One more thing that obviously told us that the day was not normal was when we ran past the gas station and cars were at every pump, but a majority had no one in them and there was no gas being pumped.  People must have abandoned cars at the gas station after there last attempt to find gas failed, or people clung to the hope that fuel trucks were no the way and figured that in leaving their car there they would be the first to get the highly desired gas.
    The peacefullness of this is quickly broken when you get close to the freeways.  At the wal-mart next to the freeway it looked exactly like the scenes I'd seen on TV during the Katrina hurricane.  There were tons of cars in the parking lot even though the Wal-Mart was closed.  People had pulled over and spent the night in this parking lot and some looked as if they were going to wait the hurricane out right there in the parking lot.  It was littered with trash such as baby diapers and really a sad scene to see.  The worst part about the fact that people had no where to go was illustrated when m friend told me a story about what happened to his neighbors last night.  He lives in a brand new nice neighborhood with a good deal of model homes and homes not sold.  Last night, one of his neighbors was outside making preperations for their house, when some people drove up to the unsold empty house next to theirs.  A man got out of the car and proceeded to walk up to the house and look for a way to get in.  He then saw the neighbor watching him and asked If he had a problem.  The confrontation went on until the man said something of the effect of don't make me go back to my car and get my gun.  Fortunately nothing happened and the people eventually drove off.  This illustrates how crazy some people are during times like these.  Trying to break in a house and even threatening innocent people.  It's just crazy to imagine that happening in an upscale neighborhood.
    Anyways, as I write this Friday night our power has been flashing on and off.  There's only been a sprinkle of rain and the winds aren't really that bad yet.  There's been some decent gusts but nothing bad yet, and the powers flickering.  That's the main problem in our area.  The power outtage for an extended period of time and then subsequent flooding if the Hurricane just sits on top of the area for days like Tropical Storm Allsion did a couple of years back.  If that happens then flooding will occur, but it most likely won't.  Overall, there's not much we can do but wait and probably be woken in the morning by some nice strong gusts of wind and rain.  I don't think the hurricane will be that bad for us truthfully.  But as my running partner, Andy, said to me on the phone just a bit ago "When we wake up in the morning, we won't have power, but I'll see ya at 6pm for the run at the bridge on the ditch. That is, if there is a ditch anymore."  I'll let you know how the running goes as soon as the power comes back online.

September 22nd-
    As I'm sure many of you are aware, I live just north of houston, TX.  Hurricane Rita is supposed to hit somewhere on the TX/Louisiana coast and houston is supposed to be hit pretty hard.  We're all expecting some strong winds and flooding in my area, but hopefully it's not too bad.  I decided I'd share my experiences of trying to run through the hurricane in this blog.
    We decided we'd stay here and wait through the hurricane instead of trying to leave.  The main reason for this is we're far enough North that we won't get the brunt of it and also my dad's been through 2 hurricane's here and decided why not a 3rd.  Plus, if we wanted to leave, we really couldn't anyways.  The freeways are jam packed, bumper to bumper.  During the day today (Thursday) going from houston to dallas it was bumper to bumper for 100 miles!  That is such an insane number that it's hard to imagine it without actually experiencing.  To further help you understand, I'll give you two examples of friends trying to leave.  One family friend, left at 4am to try and evacuate north.  12 hours later, at 4pm, they had gone 22 miles and decided to turn around.  22 miles in 12 hours!!!  One of Andy's friends had left during the day and made it 5 miles in 6 hours before deciding to turn around.  And this is with two extra lanes on the opposite side of the highway going north too.  These numbers make it sound unreal, but it's even crazier once you experience it for the first hand.  My friend Andy and I decided tha ton our run we'd take the ditch to the freeway and run beside the freeway for a while to check it out.  First off, while on the ditch, two guys passed us on four wheelers asking where they were because they were trying to make it to the store on their fourwheelers taking creeks and side roads to get their because it took too long in a car.  After making it to the freeway we didn't run beside the freeway, we actually ran on it.  Now remember this was at 7pm when the freeways were supposedly clearing up and moving now.  Upon arriving at the freeway, the scene was unreal, we were running passed basically every car.  We were going at a pace between 9-10mph and we were still moving passed these cars.  Based on this I'd estimate they were going 5mph at times maybe!  And remember they are going this speed when the news had just reported that the freeways were "moving" again, on a road that covered 6 lanes in total.  On the shoulder of the roads numerous cars were just pulled over with families standing or sitting by them.  Some of the cars had their hoods up and were obviously overheated, while others obviously had ran out of gas from idling all day and not moving.  In just a half mile of running on the freeway I'd estimate we passed at least 15 to 20 cars like this if not more.  The people standing outside their cars were the hardest to see.  Some were on their own looking demoralized and abandoned.  While others packed together in a sort of huddle just waiting.  In addition to these, their were cars pulled over onto the grass median just abandoned.  There were no people in or around these cars and it appeared like nothing in them either.  They appeared to be abandoned by their owners.  The scenes of cars passing by wasn't much better.  Most had windows rolled down or sliding doors opened in order to get some sort of breeze in their car as they were no doubt trying to conserve gasoline by not using the air conditioning.  Cars, vans, trucks, it didn't matter, most were jammed pact with kids, adults, and family possesions.  It was like a scene out of movie, almost like the scenes in the newer War of the Worlds only with people in cars instead of walking.  They were trying to get out, to where, i'm betting most didn't know.  They just wanted out.  It's truly too unreal to understand unless you experience it for yourself.
    As for me, I'll be here, waiting out the storm and trying to continue on as normal as I can.  A run won't be missed as I have several different running plans in order to maximize the amount of running I can do over the weekend.  Tommorow it looks like a nice early long run, before a shakeout run in the afternoon before the winds hit.   After that, all plans are thrown out the window and you play it by ear.  I'm going to sneak in a run saturday sometime, just got to be prepared to go any time the hurricane lets up just enough or else it could be endless runs up and down the stairs or maybe an Emil Zatopek style long run of running in the bathtub while doing the laundry.  Who knows, but it will get done.

The "No Pain, No Gain" Myth (september 5th)
    As an American, this statement is embedded into our heads.  It's present in every activity we do whether it's sports or just in life in general.  From when we are little kids playing Pee Wee football or little league baseball, we are taught the "No pain, No gain" mentality.  It's no surprise that this attitude made it's way into the sport of running. 
    Right about now, you're probably asking yourself, what's wrong with the "No pain, No gain" attitude.  Isn't that the attitude we want if we want to have succesful runners?  Shouldn't athletes want to push themselves beyond their limits each day in order to elevate themselves to the next level.  Aren't we constantly complaining about our U.S. athletes not being "tough" enough or having that "1970's attitude?"  Well in some circumanstances, yes that killer instinct attitude is necessary, but in a lot of cases it's taken over the top.  One of the best quotes to sum this up is:
"If running was just a mental game, we would have seen total domination by the Americans on the             longer distances. No running nation has the kind of "no pain, no gain" and "winning is everything"             attitude that you have there. They go hard, full hearted into any task. But this is not the case, they             did not even have a finalist in either mens or womans 5 km at the worlds." by Marius Bakken.

    This kind of "killer instinct" attitude may be well placed in racing situations, but in training athletes often take it to far.  The result is that runners sometimes think that no matter what the harder they train, the faster they'll get.  This type of attitude can lead to athletes running too fast in practice and forgetting what the purpose of the workout is.  Each workout should have a purpose, and the athlete should do that workout according to what he wants to be accomplished.  Numerous coaches have commented on this exact idea.  Lydiard was famous for saying "train, don't strain."  Other coaches have said "Train smarter, not harder."  And even Percy Cerutty who loved all out hard work said and I'm paraphrasing, Work does things, but intelligent work makes champions. If the purpose of the workout is a recovery run following a hard session, then why would a 17 minute 5k runner push the pace and run 6 minute miles for this run?  That wasn't the purpose of the workout and he just wasted a run according to his overall training plan, because now he's not fully recovered as the coach expected him to be for the next workout.  The same can be said for other types of workouts.  Take for instance a threshold run.  Too many athletes think threshold run and make it into some sort of time trial effort.  If the purpose of the workout is to work on your LT, then why hammer it for a new 4 mile workout PR on the course?  You're not following the purpose of the workout, you've just gone way over threshold and are not getting the high end aerobic benefits.  You don't know how many athletes I've talked to tell me they PR'd on a tempo run in practice and then I tell them, well that wasn't a tempo, and they get a perplexed look on their face not understanding.  I've also seen athletes come stumbling in from "tempo" runs, fall to the ground when they finish and proclaim the "tempo" was a success because they ran close to a PR.  Well, in actuality, the "tempo" was a failure, because they did not accomplish the point of the workout.  How many times have you heard of a guy telling you his killer workout, and thinking man there's no way I could do that.  Yet when it comes time to race, that athlete runs no where near what the workout indicated.  Workout PR's mean nothing, it's PR's in a race that actually count.  Remember, the purpose of training is to race, not the other way around.  Times like these is when the "no pain, no gain" attitude hinders our development.  There are times when you should be dead tired after workouts, such as hard anaerobic days or races, but the key is deciding when to do these types of workouts.  Not every workout has to be "soul-killing" hard for you to get a benefit.  In fact, if all you did was run steady comfortable mileage, you'd still race pretty well for distance races.
    This idea is also carried over to our every day runs.  Often times since runners in general are a competive bunch, we'll end up pushing the pace on days when there really is no point to it.  You've all been a part of a group that has several guys "two-stepping" each other, so the pace slowly accelerates.  There's nothing wrong with this as long as it doesn't get out of hand, but too often this does get out of hand and you see guys sprinting back from normal runs.  What is the purpose of that?  Also, some guys take the "no pain, no gain" attitude into every run they do.  Running high end aerobic runs for base is perfectly fine, but often runners take this too far and hammer every run they do, leaving no time what so ever for recovery and adaptation to occur.  How often do you see Americans running 10 minute miles like Kenyans do in the morning for recovery?  There's a reason that athletes like Harold Norpoth can jog around a ton and still run 13:20, or that Francesco Arese can do his base training starting at 7:10 per mile pace and slowly working it down to the lowest being 6:10-6:25 for normal runs and run a 3:56 mile in 1969.  Another example is Weldon Johnson who does normal runs at 7 minute pace and being able to run 28:06 for 10k.  I'm pretty sure most you reading this can hit most, if not all, of the paces mentioned for the easy runs here, but none or very few can come close to the PR's of these athletes.  The reason is that these athletes knew what the purpose of each workout was and knew when to use the "no pain, no gain" attitude and when to shut it off, listen to their body, and do what was called for.  Now I'm not suggesting that you should go and jog around at 8 minute mile pace all day.  The purpose of this article is to no when to push it and when to hold back.  As I said earlier, an intelligently designed training program has a purpose for every day, every workout that is scheduled.  There is no sence in going harder or easier then what the workout calls for, as going harder or easier will give a different training effect, obviously different than the one desired.
    The problem with many athletes isn't that they aren't "tough" enough.  It doesn't matter how mentally tough you are, if you can't run fast enough.  There is no way possible to "tough" it out to a 3:50 mile if your a 4:20 guy.  The key is training.  Sure you might improve if every day you go out and hammer for a while, but with intelligent, purposeful training, then you will improve and take the next step towards greatness, not settling for mediocrity.

Your training plan is not set in stone
(August 24th)
It's impossible for you to know how your going to feel from day to day.  Some days you feel like you can run forever, while others you drag yourself through an 8 miler at a laughingly slow pace that actually feels hard.  A lot of times the best thing to do is to sack up and do the days work no matter what.  In fact, I'd do that most of the time, but there's just some days when the training needs to be adjusted.  This is why whatever is written on your training schedule should not be set in stone.  It should be a flexible schedule with options.  When I set out planning a schedule I start out by planning what aspect or system is the emphasis for the day.  This is so I know that on monday I need an aerobic capacity (or VO2) workout, or on friday I need to hit on Lactate Threshold.  I write sample workouts that might be good for the day, but these are flexible.  What a lot of people do is if they have a workout on the schedule their doing that workout no matter what because it's on the schedule.  They don't take into consideration that they can do numerous other workouts to hit on the same system that they might find more enjoyable than the one writtin down.  We all have personal preferences and they should be taken into consideration.  If you wake up one morning and have a VO2 session scheduled for 8x800s and your just dreading doing that workout all day, then don't do it!  Do some other VO2 session that gives you similar benefits only changes things up so that maybe you look forward to doing it.  Let's face it, your going to have a better workout if you go in wanting to do the workout, rather than dreading 4pm because then you have to go workout.  Let me give you an example from my own experience.  Last week we had a VO2 session written on the schedule of 5x1mile repeats.  Now, we had to work out in the afternoon at 3pm that day when the heat index was 106 degrees.  I wasn't really looking forward to doing the mile repeats because our repeat course is in the sun, but I decided if we measured out a new course in the woods, it'd be fine.  However, we forgot to bring the measuring wheel to the park, so our mile repeats were going to have to be done in the sun.  Instead of doing this because none of us wanted to do the workout, we came up with an adjusted workout that still worked VO2.  We came up with 2x1mile, 2x800, 800,2x400.  We adjusted the rests to get the same effect that a 5x1mile workout would have.  We came up with this workout because we wanted to work on our paces, aerobic capacity and get some strength.  The 1miles were run in the sun but on a flat course with splits so we hit the paces, then we jogged to an 800m long extremely tough hill with lots of sand and did a repeat up and down it to get some strength and VO2 work, then jogged to another course and did the 800 and 400's on a more gradual hill that more resembles a cross country course to work on pace at VO2 a little bit more while still getting strength from the gradual hill.  Overall, it turned out to be a great workout and I'm sure it went better than the mile repeats if we had done them.  Another quick example is just because you have 20x400 written on the schedule, doesn't mean you have to do  20 400's.  The number 20 is rather arbitrary and is just to give you a guide of around how many you should do.  It's like giving workout paces.  The paces are a guess of around what you should hit.  If your hitting slightly faster or slower but are happy with the effort than stick at that pace.  The same goes with the number, if the point of the 20x400 is VO2 and you get to number 17 and you start falling off pace or struggling unnecesarily, then stop.  If you get to 20 and are just cruising along no problem, then do a couple of more.  Lydiard was always against having a set number of repeats to do just because your coach wrote them down.  He suggested stopping the workout right when you knew you could do one more if you had to.
    My point is that, your training schedule should be flexible.  I have what system I want to work on written down and I'm going to work on that system that day no matter what most of the time.  The difference is that the workout is adjusted to something I'll enjoy doing more because some days you just don't feel like doing monotonous workouts and you have to spice things up a bit.  Don't get caught up in having to do traditional mile, 800, or 400 repeats.  Mix and match to your liking as long as the workout purpose remains the same.

    Saint Ralph- The movie (August 7th)
As many of you probably already know, a new movie recently hit the theatres that has a running theme to it.  I'll spare the details about who made it and the basic story and such, since that information is readily available on the internet, as is a trailor.  It's a smaller movie and is mostly shown at theatres that seem to show more Indie films, you know the ones you normally think only weird artsy type people go see.  Well, me and a couple of friends took a nice trip to one of those theatres (the one we went to only had 4 or 5 screens total, which is really small for my area).  We went at an odd time, 2:25 on friday between runs, so when we got there, we had the whole theatre to ourselves for most of the movie until some guy walked in well into the movie.  It was rather strange being the only people watching a movie.  Anyways, my view on the movie is that is was solidly done.  It had some pretty funny parts and you can definately tell that a runner directed it as it has some humor that fits most runners perfectly (as in the quirky kinda perverted stuff).  The story line was pretty good even though the whole concept of a 14 year old boy running well at the boston marathon is kind of out there.  This is the reason, the movie was set in the 1950's so that it seemed more realistic that he had a chance, however this leads me to my first complaint.  The kid's form was horrible.  It looked like he was dieing the entire race while the guys he is competing against look like real runners and really smooth.  It was kind of annoying seeing the kid run like he did, and took away from the realism in my view.  Other than that, everything else was well done and it had some good scenes that us runners could connect to.  One such scene is that of the kid running endless mile repears it seemed like.  The movie did a good job of showing the amount of work it took to compete at that high of a level, which most movies ignore.  The workout scene was really good and showed the main charachter, Ralph, breaking through both physical and mental barriers, but another nitpicking thing is that when he gets done with the workout and talks to his coach, he's barely breathing and doesn't look that tired at all.  Again, that was just one minor thing I noticed that took away format he realism and hurt the scene a bit.  The marathon racing scene was well done.  The announcer was very good for the race and the way the whole school/town got into the race showed the importance of what Ralph was doing.  The finish of the race was done in slow motion with the announcer talking normally, so that he was talking for about three minutes about a finish that would take less than thirty seconds so you'd think this would hurt the finish making it seem a little fake, but it doesn't.  At this point your pretty much drawn into the race and the way they do the finish is excellent and you don't really think about the realism at this point as all you care about is seeing the outcome.  Therefore I think the finish of the marathon was the highlight of the movie and very well done.  Overall the movie was good.  I may be biased because I'm a runner and they're are very few running movies, but I really do think it's an enjoyable movie.  Sure there are a few down points and other things that you'd expect in a lower budget movie, but overall it was very well done and put together.  It kept me interested throughout and I'd highly recommend that you go see it.

       Minimalist Shoe (July 30th)
    I feel minimalist shoes are good and the way to go, but you got to remember that it takes time for the transition.  If you tell some HSers on here that minimalist shoes are the way to go, some guy whose wearing orthotics with some nice heavy brooks beast shoes is going to go to the store, ditch his orthotics and beasts and get some racing flats to run in.  This is a recipe for injury.  Just like in anything, it takes time to transition.  Yes, your foot is set up to biomechanicly function best when barefoot, BUT by the time runners realize this for most it's been 15-20 years of walking around in some nice heavy support shoes.  We've become slowly adapted to walking in these shoes.  In most cases the running/walking in these shoes have changed our natural foot strike and running gait.  So now our running form/footstrike is most likely messed up but it feels "natural" to us after all these years.  So to change it to the real "natural" running form, you have to slowly change and alter things.  You can't jus t jump into some H-streets (for most people) one day and expect to train injury free.  Your body hasn't functioned with so little cushioning and freedom in soo long it has to be slowly adapted.  If you jump into minimalist shoes your likely to get extremely sore muscles because you haven't used certain muscles in such a way in a long time.  Also, this can lead to other problems such as achilles tendonitis or some other such injury, because you will be putting more strain on this tendon than you would in a normal trainer.
    My opinion on the subject is that a lot of the results you get from going minimalist is because you begin to run biomechanicly correct (i.e. you stop heal banging, and land more flat footed).  Running barefoot promotes correct running form.   When running barefoot you don't really have to think about running form as most likely (not always though) your form will improve and you'll run how humans were meant to run.  Why does this happen?  Well go out and do some strides with heavy shoes on, then do some barefoot strides.  If you are like a lot of U.S. runners, with heavy shoes on you'll hit with your heal first instead of midfoot which is correct.  Now run barefoot and try and hit with your heal first.  It doesn't feel right and it's extremely hard to do. I've found that I have to force myself to hit heal first if I'm running barefoot, yet in my younger days I'd constantly hit heal first with trainers on.  So by going minimalist, it's like running almost barefoot all the time, so you are correcting your form for the most part without actually thinking about changing it.  The same thing can be accomplished without switching to minimalist shoes.  You can consiously work on your form and get the same thing accomplished and perhaps better with clunky shoes on.  Why could you get your form better by working on it than by simply switching to minimalist shoes?  Because you begin to understand what the feeling is of a correct stride.  You understand what feels right and wrong, while switching to minimalist shoes, you don't get that feeling.  You begin to understand what each part of your body should be doing while you are running.  In addition, the correction in your stride mechanics means that you can run correct with any shoe on because your stride is fixed by you conciously changing it, not because you put on some shoes and the shoes did the work for you to change it.  In minimalist or barefoot running it's a natural progression, as it changed your stride naturally because there is less shoe, so it automaticly helps corrects your foot strike without you having to think about it much.
    Anyways, there is my rant.  I'm all for minimalist shoes, but I think too many people see it as a be all end all.  The same and more benefits can be made with a little more work with working on your stride mechanics.  It's tougher because you need a coach who understands or a friend to help videotape your stride so you can see if the feeling you get corrects the stride.  My suggestion is go get a video tape of El Gueerouj running, slow it down frame by frame watch his drive phase, his knee lift, his foot strike in slow motion, then do the same thing with your own stride and compare.  Anyways, barefoot running is still important because you also get the benefit of strengthening muscles in your foot that you normally don't use.  So if you decide to go the change of stride mechanics rout, do some supplementary jogging barefoot or some strides barefoot just to work on your foot muscles.  Perhaps the best way to go would be to change your stride mechanics so you know what your doing, then slowly transition to a more minimalist shoe so that you get the added benefit of working your foot muscles, but it depends on the person. 

    Don't be a slave to your watch (July 27th)
Too many people let their watch dictate what they should run.  They're a great thing.  Training and running has immensely improved since guys like Paavo Nurmi used a watch to try and run even splits during races.  Without watches I don't know where we'd be today.  BUT too many runners become slaves to their watches.  You see it all the time, as guys know every mile split on every run they do.  While this is great for feedback purposes, runners often let the watch dictate how they should train.  What do I mean by this?  Well I'll give a couple examples.  During an easy run, our runner, we'll call him Joe, is doing 8 miles easy.  He's come up with the great idea that all easy runs should be 6 minute pace or faster.  So one day, Joe is cruising along feeling like he's going normal pace and  looks down, splits his 4rd mile and sees 6:30.  Joe sees this and starts to panic.  Instead of thinking to himself why 6:30 pace feels like 6minute pace normally does, Joe takes off increasing the effort to get to that arbitrarily assigned 6 minute pace.  Well after another 2 miles, Joe looks down and happily sees 6:00 for his split.  Joe is happy at the end of his run that he got back down to 6:00 pace, but feels a little more tired than usual.  Joe shows up for a workout the next day and has to really struggle to come even close to his goal times for his repeat 800s.  He is really working and doesn't know why it is so much harder than last week.  The pattern just continues.  Now let's look at Joe's problem.  He became a slave to the watch, thinking that he must run all runs at a certain pace or else he's not getting any benefit.  Instead of listening to his body when it was telling him that he probably needed to take it slow for the run when 6:30 pace felt like 6:00 pace, joe listened to his watch and ran 6:00 pace.  What did this do to him?  Well it made it where he wasn't listening to what his body told him, and he had to increase the effort significantly to hit his magic 6 minute pace.  So he's no longer running at his normal every day easy run effort level, even though he's hitting his almost normal every day 6 minute pace.  Because of the increased effort required, he now doesn't recover as well as he should have, and maybe his next days workout suffers, or maybe the next race does, or maybe he follows this pattern for weeks and weeks, and he gets so fatigued that his season tanks.  All because instead of listening to his body, he determined it was best to run at a certain arbitrary pace that on most days was fine because it was easy for him, but on select days he needed more recovery for whatever reason, and instead of paying attention to how he felt, he ignored it, and was a slave to a watch.
    The second example is when doing Lactate Threshold runs.  I hate having splits on these runs, because it promotes racing thresholds to run faster than last week, and this means you probably go over the threshold.  Let's use our runner Joe again.  Joe is running a 4 mile threshold.  He's used all those great books and determined that his arbitrary threshold pace is 5 minute pace.  Knowing a little about physiology and how your supposed to feel during threshold work, joe quickly settle into what he thinks is threshold pace.  He's shocked when he comes by and sees 5:15 for the first mile.  Joe thinks to himself, that this can't be threshold and cranks up the pace to 5 minute pace.  He's using more effort now and it slowly becomes pretty hard for joe.  He's no longer cruising along in the zone in a nice rhythm.  He enters his 3rd mile and sees another 5minute mile, but he is feeling pretty bad and knows he has to increase the effort a good deal to stay on pace.  So that's what he does.  He starts breathing really hard, his heart rate is soaring and he's pumping those arms.  Joe gets done with the 4 miles and see's he did, he hit 5 minutes again.  Joe is pretty dead after the run as he's bent over, and his legs are real heavy, but he's pumped because he hit the pace.  What happened here?  Well Joe goes out at around his true threshold at 5:15 pace, which through practice he found by feel.  For some reason (maybe his aerobic capacity isn't build up much) his true threshold is 15 seconds slower than the book threshold.  But joe relies on the book as the truth.  So he pushes the pace, increases the effort and runs at 5:00 pace.  Well since he's crossed his LT, his lactate levels begin to rise, instead of keeping them steadily under control at let's say 3.5mmol.  They continually rise throughout the run to let's say 8.0 mmol.  Well now the entire purpose of the workout has been lost.  Joe just ran significantly above threshold for a long period, causing his lactate levels to increase significantly, while we wanted to say below our threshold so that they wouldn't increase.  Joe's started using his anaerobic system more and more throughout the run, accumulating lactate and not being able to clear it.  So instead of working on his end aerobic system and on clearing lactate and using it as energy, he's worked on totally different systems than the ones the workout was intended to work.  All because he became a slave to his watch and decided he had to hit a certain pace and not listen to his body and run by feel.  Another common mistake by younger runners is that they "race" thresholds by trying to see if they go faster every week.  Well this leads to going over your threshold and makes you not run by feel and at your true threshold.
    These are just two examples of being a slave to your watch.  As you can see it can be harmful to your training and development.  It can cause you to not recover, not work the right systems, and not fulfill the purpose of the workout.  Remember training harder isn't always right, training smarter is.  The worse part is that being a slave to your watch reduces the likelihood that you will listen to your body, which reduces your ability to know when to go for it, and know when to recover.  This likely will lead to sub par performances and overtraining.

    Training during wisdom teeth removal (July 18th)
    I got all four of my wisdom teeth taking out on thursday morning.  The bottom ones were really messed up and impacted and on of them was really bad as it was laying sideways with the top pointing towards my tongue and the root pointing outwards.  The reason this was bad is because the root was starting to eat away at my jaw bone.  So that tooth presented a big challenge for the doc taking it out.  Anyways, after I had the procedure done I decided I wouldn't take any of the strong pain medications that they gave me because I'm stubborn like that.  I threw up when I got home because of the reaction I had to the anesthia given to me during the procedure.  The rest of the first day I  just iced like crazy and layed around. My diet consisted of milk, smoothies, fruit drinks, apple sauce and yogurt the first day.  It got kinda painful for a while but I toughed it out and didn't have any problems sleeping.  The next day I swelled up like crazy and I started spitting blood less. I decided to go on an hour and 10minute bike ride in the morning which didn't bother it at all since there was no bouncing.  The bouncing during running is what gets you because it can break the blood clot, then you have to wait for it to reclott and start the healing over again, which would suck.  In the afternoon I attempted to jog a mile, but it didn't pass my blood test, as each time I spit I spit a little more blood, so I stopped.  Instead I did an hour of deep water running with 25minutes of it being running in place with an aqua jogger thingy, 25minutes of treading water, and 10minutes of kicking things.  My diet improved a little, but I was still so swollen I couldn't close my mouth without biting on a ton of skin, so I mastered the art of chewing by using my tongue to smash things against the top of my mouth.  The third day I biked for 30miles in the morning with no problems.  I was gradually able to eat more today, but was still so swollen that I couldn't chew.  At night I decided I'd give running another shot because I was going crazy not being able to run.  Well I hopped on the treadmill and started running and I never spit out much blood so I just kept going.  I ended up doing 9 miles at 6minute pace because I was so excited to run again.  Ya it probably wasn't the smartest move but hey I was pumped to run again.  The next day I did a double and felt pretty normal running, just a little bit weak, but nothing too big.  So that's how getting my wisdom teeth out effected my running.

    Getting in the basics first (July 13th)
    As someone who has had a good level of success in this sport, I often get questions from beginners or high schoolers looking to improve.  I love when people ask questions, because it means they are taking a genuine interest in the sport and really want to know how to get better (which is one reason I created this site).  But what really annoys me is that a lot of the questions aren't about running!  A typical question someone asks is about what kind of supplements they should take, how can they recover better, is stretching beneficial, should they weight train, etc.  You get the picture, most questions are things that supplement your running.  Now most of those things I just mentioned are very important to be succesful, BUT they are just that, supplements to running.  They are great things to worry about once you get the basics down, which is running!  Usually the people asking me this run a whopping 20-40mpw.  The additional things will help, but I don't care how well you eat, it's not going to make you succeed more than upping that mileage big time!  I think a lot of people forget the basics.  To run faster, you have to do just that, run!  It's really a great concept, to run faster you have to run more.  Makes sence doesn't it?  Anyways, I think it just has something to do with the American society.  We are brought up wanting to follow the latest trend or quick fix.  Just look at some running magazines that are directed to the jogger audience.  There's a couple articles on running, but the majority are stuff like "The ab workouts to put your running over the top!" or "10 nutrition tips to a better marathon!"  Sure these things are great, but the general audience of these magazines jogs less than 40mpw.  They aren't getting the basic thing required to improve, which is run more.  If the editors wrote an article that said "99% Guaranteed way to run a faster marthon!" the readers would flip excitedly right to the article.  Only they'd be dissapointed when they saw that there mileage levels would gradually grow from 20 to 100.  99% of these runners wouldn't do the plan, even if it was guaranteed to work?  Why? Because it takes too much work, isn't instant, and requires too much time. They'd much rather do their 7minute abs to get better.  Good old fashioned work is discouraged nowadays.  So in conclusion, go run first.  Once you feel your doing the most that your current fitness and age level allows you to then add on the extras.  Nutrition, sleep, recovery, strength, etc. are all big parts of training, but you still have to train in order for these things to help.

    The House analogy-(July 9th)
Now this analogy has been told for generations I have no doubt.  I've heard it from coaches all over.  The first time I heard a variation of this was probably from my HS coach but since then I've read it online numerous times from coaches and athletes.  But since I recently explained it to someone, I thought it would be a good idea to have it on here, because there's a reason the analogy has been used for so long, IT MAKES SENCE.  So I'm not taking credit for some genius thing, but here it is for the next generation to pass on to:
    When you do mileage, your building the foundation for a succesful season, but without the extras(LT work, VO2 work, anaerobic work) your season won't reach it's potential. An often used analogy is that of building a house. Your base is the walls and roof and basic foundation of the house. So the bigger the base you build, the more rooms and levels to your house you can add on. Let's say with your base you can build a big 2 story house with a couple bedrooms, bathrooms, and all of that stuff.  This represents your potential for this upcoming season.  You have all this space in the house to fill, but without the correct amounts of the other stuff(mentioned above), your house is empty. Sure you can live in an empty house, but without the other stuff, it's like having a big house with no beds, air conditioning, TV, carpet, etc. Who wants to live in a house like that?  Thus you do not reach your potential for the season, and don't run up to your expectations if your house is basicaly empty.  It can go the other way too. You don't build much of a base and just do the other stuff and you have a nice bed, TV, couch, etc. but it's placed in a crappy wooden shack. Who wants that?  So you can only fill your small one room wooden shack with so much stuff before it busts(burn out, decreased performance).  It doesn't matter how much stuff you have to put in the shack, because it won't fit because you only have so much room(or potential) because you didn't consider build a big enough base.

    Burnout-(July 7th)
    I hear a lot of people say something like "I don't want to run too many miles during the summer because I want to save some room for improvement during the season and I don't want to burn out."  I always get mad when I read comments like these.  First off, training builds on itself, doing aerobic mileage for years will help you in the long run.  Secondly, you will NOT burnout physicly from running aerobic mileage.  Mental burnout is possible, but it is very unlikely if you are a dedicated runner.
For most runners, the mileage you do during a traditional American summer program is the majority aerobic. In fact it's mostly low end to medium aerobic for High schoolers. You can NOT burn out on this. What you will burn out on is too much anaerobic work too early because you will put your body in a constant state of fatigue by lowering your blood PH(because of the amount of acid being produced and unable to be buffered out because you are using your anaerobic energy system, meaning no oxygen, and your body can't recover from it) way too many times.  This happens a bit in many HS programs.  Another problem is that athletes sometimes run too fast too often in the summer.  They feel like the only way to get faster is to try and run faster every day.  So the end up doing a very large amount of LT work, since they are "racing" most normal summer runs, or they even go over the LT and go anaerobic on summer runs that are supposed to be aerobic.  When this happens the runners aren't getting the benefits of aerobic training(Capillarization, mitochondria increases, etc.) thus they have no base to build onto when there season starts. Many athletes don't provide adequate recovery runs either.  Notice that many Kenyans "jog" at incredibly slow paces during there morning runs to recover from the previous days work and for the upcoming days work. Young athletes can also burn out by doing too much Lactate Threshold work(more than lets say about 3 times a week for HSers).  Thus running mileage will not lead to burn out, only if you run your mileage too fast or do anaerobic work in high quantities will you burn out.  Training is about mixing and matching the systems, you don't want to overstress a certain one.