October 12, 2023

 How “real runners’ (like you) can do Norwegian Training

I enjoy researching new training articles from a wide range of sportsmed/health/fitness journals. No one can actually try everything that’s proposed here, there, and the next place. But you gotta keep up, first. And then learn to apply the systems that seem right for your age, lifestyle, and ambitions. 

Sometimes the first-person experiences are more valuable than the science-y stuff. We all want to know what our peers think of a certain shoe, a new gel, or a recently popular training program. This is one of those first-person case studies. 

The runner in question wanted to incorporate aspects of the red hot “Norwegian training method.” But without following two tenets: running twice a day, and performing finger-prick lactate tests during workouts. Okay, that’s cool, because few “real life” runners are going to mimic those practices. Best of all, our anonymous online reporter scored a significant half-marathon PR after following his/her adapted Norwegian program.

So what did the runner do? “I did slightly larger single workouts rather than doubles, and ran based on pace + HR + effort rather than a lactate meter.” Specifically, the runner tackled two long interval workouts: 25 x 400 meters at 5-mile race pace; and 12 x 1000 meters at half-marathon race pace). Both were done at a controlled pace, with short 60-second rests.

Yes, those are long, tough workouts. But they hit a basic precept of Norwegian training: to cover a significant distance at an important pace without running so long and continuously (as in a 6- to 8-mile tempo run) that you accumulate excessive fatigue. The presentation here, and responses from other readers, are really good and well worth reading. More at Reddit.

Get your next injury under control fast

Well known running coach Greg McMillan has a masters degree in exercise science, and uses established evidence to build his training programs for runners. But one reason he’s such a successful coach is his ability to go beyond science to find common sense solutions based on what I call “accumulated running wisdom.”

Science doesn’t always provide a guaranteed answer, but that doesn’t stop runners from wanting solid advice when faced with frustrating issues. So you have to give them the best that you’ve got. Which is what McMillan delivers in the below article--a “quick fix” guide to injuries.

McMillan claims up front that “Nearly 100% of the time, this protocol allows the body to heal and keeps tightness/aches/pain from advancing into a training cycle killing injury.” That’s a pretty high percentage, if you ask me.

Still, I can’t find fault with the advice. It includes: Stop running immediately, and take a day off. Then do several days at 50% of normal. If this doesn’t work: Seek medical help, take ice baths, try foam rolling, and do some “active isolated mobility.” (He cleverly avoids the word “stretching.”) 

McMillan has several additional suggestions, including: “Watch a lot of videos, programs and/or movies that make you laugh.” That’s a good one, and not part of most other recovery programs. More at McMillan Running.

[ Check out the podcast, “Running: State of the Sport,” with Amby Burfoot and George Hirsch. Recent episodes feature Deena Kastor, Mark Milde, and Jack Fleming. ]

How hard should you push your favorite youth runner?

We’ve all got kids or grandkids, or friends with kids/grandkids, and we all want those youngsters to grow up fit and healthy with a positive attitude toward regular exercise activity. Indeed, we wouldn’t mind if they actually excelled at sports like running. If you’ve ever gone to a high school or age-group cross-country meet to cheer for a favorite runner or team, you know exactly what I mean.

Our intentions are good. The question is: What’s the best way to help our intentions come true?

It’s a subject that has received a lot of attention in recent years, with some pointing to an alleged “10,000 hours” rule while others cast doubt on the same. Two well known books that largely support contrasting views: Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success and David Epstein’s Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. 

A recent study and systematic review tried to pry out the truth, at least in the elite sports world. It asked the basic question: What percentage of top rank “junior” athletes will attain the same status as “seniors”? The paper looked at more than 38,000 international-level junior athletes and more than 22,000 international-level senior athletes. The relationship was more clear-cut than I would have expected.

And it wasn’t a positive relationship. In fact, only 11% of the top juniors turned into elite senior athletes.

This seems to imply that we should encourage our kids to play, but we shouldn’t expect too much in terms of elite success, because the odds are stacked against them. Of course, there are plenty of reasons to participate in sports outside the quest for awards, acclaim, and podium finishes.. More at Sports Medicine with free full text.

Alex Hutchinson takes a deep dive into this topic at Outside Online. He particularly likes the story of Canadian runner Reid Coolsaet, a notable middle-of-the-pack 5K runner through his adolescence, but eventually a two-time Olympic Marathon runner. We all mature at a different rate--one that’s not predictable with future-looking lenses. 

Among adult recreational athletes, the outcomes are easier to predict. If you don’t do the work, you don’t get the results. On the other hand, consistent, year-after-year training will almost always take you to a higher level, even if it’s not necessarily a podium.

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

>>> One step at a time: What keeps new runners going? (Big hint--they need to find their “why.”)

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading. See you again next week. Amby

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