The question is off the comment you made about 4x3k at race pace in the September 2012 newsletter. How many of your athletes can do this and with what recovery?
As you stated many of your athletes are sub 30 min 10k runners so this particular session would be 4x3k at sub 9 per 3k effort. Seems a little overkill if you ask me. Efforts at 5k pace would greatly enhance 10k performance on top off a high volume of lower intensity running. 2x3k would achieve significant results but have your runners run in the 8:40 range.
Intelligent Triathlon Training replies:
If you were looking at improving 10-K performance in a one off race or in one race of the year, I wouldn't disagree with you.
However we want to raise the LT2 as high as possible and over condition the athletes. In many ways that session is more a half marathon session, and that is exactly what we are looking at: half marathon performance for a 10K race off the bike when the athletes are highly fatigued already and have used much of their anaerobic energy stores and so don't have the capacity to go far over LT2 for long.
You are exactly right about the speeds, we are looking at 4 x 9-min at 20km/hr. However this won't necessarily last for months at a time. This is a peak session that we would build towards with other sessions such as 6 x 2-km alternating 2-km at 21km/h and 2-km at 19.5km/h I.e. just below and just above LT2 (assuming it's about 20.5km-h).
This is designed to drive threshold up, with periods of time running above and below. This could be started as 1km above 2km below and developed. The distances are guides as if you run slower the distances would be shorter.
Also remember that this is built upon low intensity volume - for these guys we are looking at 100-130km a week total with extensive endurance runs at ~12-13km/h.
What we have seen with sessions such as those you suggest is that we can improve the 10-k time or 5-k time but not for sustained weeks and we hit a ceiling too soon. At present we are looking at LT2 speeds of 19.7/19.9km/h and to be challengers this needs to be 20.2/20.5km/h and rock solid.
In Olympic distance racing we are now getting very close to being conditioned enough to race up to half ironman with little or no changes to training, particularly the run.
Look at many of the results, they are often littered with ex-ITU racers who have 'retired' up to non-drafting. Bevan Docherty is a good example of an athlete who has mixed both Olympic ITU racing with 70.3 this year.
I would not suggest these distances and sessions for non elites (or even some elites), however I believe the principles of learning to run fast at race pace or above and then over time bringing this speed down to desired race pace with a suitable level of aerobic conditioning would benefit many non elites.