Workout of the Day
3 x 600m, 3 x 400m, 2 x 300m, 3 x 200m
600m — 1:57.6, 1:56.1, 1:59.1
400m — 72.7, 72.3, 72.2
300m — 50.3, 53.1
200m — 33.7, 32.4, 31.3
Recovery: 2' - 3' after each rep as needed
Marianne Falk — June, 24th, 2015
Context & Details
Marianne was an atypical locally competitive distance runner. She didn't run a step until after graduating college, quickly taking to regional level competitive racing. While managing a full-time career, she trained mornings, nights, and weekends with a goal of breaking 2:45 in the marathon. I coached her for about a year from late to 2014 to late 2015 — and enjoyed every minute. She was kind, sincere, and a joy to work with and be around.
We had been emphasizing speed work that spring and she was taking to it. She was prepping for the Pacific Northwest summer road racing scene and was scheduled to race every distance from 5K to half-marathon. She had a 5K coming up first and her goal was to break 17:00 — she had run 17:24.5 on the track earlier that Spring.
This session started off quick and got systematically faster. It is a critical speed and faster session, beginning with 600s at 3K pace and ending with 200m reps at 400m speeds. The 400s were at slightly faster than 1 Mile effort and the 300s at 800m pace.
The 300m reps were the most difficult for Marianne. Despite the fact she had just turned 30, she had a young training age of around 3 or 4 years at the time. And since she hadn't run track/xc competitively during her scholastic years, she was a neophyte to the harsh sensational and metabolic realities produced by longer reps at 800m pace. The original design was to run 3 x 300m at 800m pace, but I had to cut the final 300m rep because she decelerated too rapidly over the final 100m on the 2nd 300m rep for my liking. It was a signal she was fatiguing quickly towards a point of diminishing returns. When it is a matter of saving the integrity of a session or "pushing" an already severely fatiguing athlete, I always go with the former. Always.
Bill Bowerman's famous quote, "train, don't strain" is a compass I employ religiously in my coaching practice. And every time I make coaching decisions in the heat of a workout with it in mind, the athlete benefits. Anytime I'm obstinate and stubborn, demanding athletes comply with my workout assignments no matter what, I've put them at risk. And I've most likely impeded their progress.
Thankfully, I chose prudence that day and offered Marianne to take an extra 4 minutes of easy jogging after the overly abrasive 2nd 300m rep. When her 4 minutes were up, she had her usual smile and positive affect back, giving me a clear sign she might be ready for those quality 200s. But I didn't assume. I asked her if she wanted to continue as planned or cut the session, noting the only reason to run the 200s as planned is if she could run them fast and of the highest quality.
She thought it over briefly and enthusiastically affirmed her desire to continue as planned. And she clicked them off in fine fashion, taking about a second off each rep down to 31" for the final 200, which for Marianne was moving near top end speeds. She was on a high afterward, excited by her fast 200m reps. And that reaction of her's alone was worth the subtraction of a single 300m rep which, if ran, would most likely have soured her view of the day and ability instead of sweetened it.