Workout of the Day
15 x 440y w. 50-yard rec.
Splits: 62 - 64
Recovery: 50-yard jog or ~15-20 seconds
Frank Shorter — Late 1970s
Context & Details
In the book, How Road Racers Train, Frank Shorter reports this being a stable session of his. It's damn impressive. Whenever I research training methods from the greats of the golden era (1950s - 1970s) of distance running, I am awestruck by the intensity of their workouts.
Shorter was a training hedgehog. He figured out what worked for him and stuck with it. Varying little from his established weekly training routine, he employed the same weekly schedule year round, year in and year out.
He ran 120 - 160 miles a week and did the same 3 workouts, differing only the paces of the repetitions as his fitness improved. He was notorious for interval sessions which consisted of very short recovery. This is an example of such. Remember, at the speeds Shorter was running, 440 yards is about 0.5 seconds longer than 400m. So he would have been running 61.5 - 63.5 seconds per lap on a today's 400m tracks.
Fifty-yard jog is 20 seconds at the longest, but I'm guessing it was closer to 15 seconds for Shorter. That is about a 1:1/4 work-to-rest ratio going at 3K pace effort, which I call critical speeds and many others call VO2 Max or vVO2 Max pace. Fifteen reps of 440y at this pace with such little rest is the essentially the equivalent of a race, or harder. And he was doing this every single week in training. Awesome.
Knowing this, it is no wonder Frank was the best runner in the world for nearly a decade. And with his gold medal performance in the 1972 Olympic Marathon, he fathered the birth of the first American distance running boom.