November 16, 2023

Everyone swears by this great half-marathon workout

A training question on Reddit yielded a flurry of eager answers. But that’s not what makes this link interesting.

It’s the fact that most of the respondents largely agreed with each other. Instead of favoring dozens of different workouts, they seemed unified in their approach. That says a lot, I think. A simple key workout is producing good results for a lot of runners. 

Okay, enough beating about the bush. Here’s the question: “What’s your favorite half-marathon workout?” That’s a good one, as the half-marathon is such a popular race distance, and the universal stepping stone to a top marathon.

To assess the full range of responses, you should read the below link. But if you only want my executive summary,  here it is: Run 3 x 2 miles at half-marathon pace with several minutes of recovery walk/jog between the 2-mile repeats.

Why is this workout so successful? Because it’s tough but do-able. It will definitely help you prepare for an upcoming half marathon. It’s also a great one to include in your training arsenal as you get ready for any race distance. More at Reddit Advanced Running.

Save yourself: Modestly hard short sprints are good enough

Speedwork doesn’t have to involve all-out sprinting to be effective and performance-enhancing. In fact, a new study has shown that 10-second sprints at 80% effort improve performance as much as the same sprints at 100%.

This occurred because “training at 80 percent of one's maximum still gets the heart rate up significantly higher than a runner's typical training,” noted the senior author.

In this trial, a group of veteran runners deviated from their normal training for 6 weeks. During that time, they ran 30-20-10 intervals 3 times a week for 15 to 20 minutes per workout. Here’s what this means: The runners ran slow for 30 seconds, then moderate for 20 seconds, then fast for 10 seconds (for a total of 60 seconds). They repeated this routine 5 times (5 minutes), then took a several minute rest period.

After the rest period, they repeated the 5-minute “block” and rest period again. In total, they did 3 to 5 blocks per workout. Roughly half of the subjects ran their 10-second sprints at 80 percent effort; the other half ran 100%. 

“Before” and “After” this training, the 2 groups completed a 5K time trial. Both improved by the same amount, about 3%, though the 80% sprinters actually trended a bit higher than the 100% group.

Conclusion: “Lack of time is a common barrier to regular physical activity, and 30-20-10 training has been identified as a time-efficient exercise strategy to improve performance and health.” Also, non-maximal 30-20-10 training is associated with “a lower perceived effort” than other interval training.” 

Thus, 30-20-10 training is “specifically applicable to people who are not highly motivated or able to do maximal-intensity training.” More at Scandinavian J of Medicine & Science in Sports with free full text. Also, a very complete press release here at Science Daily.

Best running headlamps for dealing with winter darkness

This is not my area of expertise, and I try to avoid running in the dark. But I realize that’s not possible for many, particularly those who have to rise early to train in the winter months. All I really care about is safety on the run. For everybody.

As for product reviews, I trust the runner-tested ones at “I Run Far” more than most. (They do receive an affiliate commission, which they acknowledge.)

The name of the game here is safety--not just being seen by vehicles, but being able to see various road hazards from sticks and stones to patches of ice. One of the top rated headlamps costs just $35, which looks like a great value. Others are pricier, but come with lamps that double as a detachable flashlight. That seems a very hand approach. 

The reviewers note that: “Battery and lighting technology improvements have made headlamps brighter, lighter, and longer lasting.” Good. Also, one of the products they tried is “the Most Ridiculously Bright Running Headlamp We’ve Seen.” Well, there’s a place for everything. 

The “Comments” section includes additional advice from well-informed readers. Stay safe this winter. Be seen. Be able to see the road/trail in front of you. More at I Run Far.

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

>>> Podium pride: Here are the shoes that “won” the New York City Marathon.

HERE’S WHAT ELSE you would have received this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text “Run Long, Run Healthy.”

# Is sodium bicarbonate the next big performance booster?

# You might think you’re getting enough marathon carbs. (But you’re not!)

# Why the “Wim Hof Method” failed a controlled experiment

# A look into the tantalizing link between your low heart rate (from running) and a longer life

# Which is more difficult, the Boston Marathon or New York City?

# How a Harvard physics prof broke the female record for the Trans-America run

# Are marathon shoes faster than track shoes?

# For Thanksgiving Day (the most popular road race day of the year), a great Ralph Waldo Emerson quote about “gratitude” 

Click here for info on subscribing to the full-text RLRH for just $4/month.

And remember: “I spend HOURS searching the Internet for the best, most authoritative new running articles, so you can review them in MINUTES.”

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