“Hard training 100% of the time is not about going flat out for every session. Instead it is about the difficulty in doing the right session, at the right intensity, 100% of the time”. So said Glenn Cook. I know I have longevity as a Coach when I have to explain who Glenn Cook is but he was a triathlete who made a number of appearances in the British team between the mid 80’s and 90’s and who was a World silver medalist at the first ITU Triathlon World Championships in Avignon in 1989; the year that ITU was formed. For a bonus point can you name the other athlete in the photo? Cook was right of course and I think we are all guilty of doing what we like rather than what we need to do in training and further than that we are guilty of not making those easy sessions truly easy or making those hard sessions lung busting hard. However we can look to Cook’s quote and take some inspiration when designing our sessions. Taking a run example if we want to break 40 minutes for the 10km then we can break this time and distance down and train very specifically. A 40 minute 10k pace means running 25 x 400m at 96s per 400m. So initially we can do sessions where we build up to this; we may do for example 10 x 400m aiming to hit 96s for each 400m and take 30s rest in between them. We can progress this to sessions where we run the 400s but do a 200m “float” jog in between each and work this up until we can run the full twenty five 400s at our race pace.
Of course no one want 40:00 so running slightly faster and getting for you a magic 39 something instead of a 40 something is the way to go so you’ll want to be slightly faster than 96s. This often occurs on race day and hitting race pace in training is tough. However this type of training will give you the feel of what your goal pace is like and whilst not a ‘flat out’ session it certainly can be one of the right session in your build up. For the 40 min 10k runner these repeats will not feel like going 100% for the 400 as they are manageable and this can be, in Cook’s words, “the right session at the right intensity” for you to hit your goal.
Until the next time, heed the words of Glenn Cook and do the right session at the right intensity.