Quality over quantity. Intensity over volume. Strength training over easy runs. Run less but race faster. These are principles of a new training philosophy inspired by findings that triathlon athletes get injured less than runners. Biking and swimming are integral part of triathlon training and provide athletes with systemic cross-training. Could runners follow a similar training regimen by doing more cross-training, run less and still achieve their personal best?
A growing number of coaches believe so by allocating substantial amount of time for strength workouts as part of their training plans. One such training program calls for only 3 quality runs plus 2 cross-training workouts per week:
- Run 1. Speed work intervals at 5k pace (improve cardio)
- Run 2. Tempo run at target race pace (improve lactate-threshold)
- Run 3. Long run at fast pace of only 30s per km slower than a race pace (improve endurance)
- XT 1 and 2. Aerobic cross-training workouts (non-weight-bearing) that improve endurance but are "easy" on legs (swimming, rowing and biking are great, stair-master is not)
Despite only three runs per week, this program is not necessary easy. Intervals, tempo runs and long runs at relatively fast pace are hard workouts. As many of you know, I have always evangelized the importance to hop on the treadmill and do those very unpleasant tempo-runs as a necessary price of admission to Boston or New York Marathon. However, tempo runs are hard and require substantial time for proper recovery. To reduce a risk of injury or over-training, the new training philosophy proposes to do this recovery in the gym not on the road. As someone who almost always deals with a running injury, I find the promise of running faster and train “safer” as very appealing. Even now writing this blog, I can’t stop worrying about my sore left knee after the last week’s hard session on the treadmill. Is it time to take a week off and do a spinning class or hit the pool?
Run Less, Race Strong