Workout of the Day
2 Mile, 1 Mile, 2 Mile, 2 x 1 Mile @ 7,000 ft.
Splits: 11:22 / 5:23 / 11:19 / 5:24 / 5:28
Recovery: 3' of running between each rep
Tara Welling — May 11th, 2016
Context & Details
In 2016, during her build up for the Olympic Trials, Tara had two training blocks at altitude. This workout was in the middle of her second stint.
For the sea-level based athlete, doing workouts at altitude is tricky. There are a couple of essential compounding factors to consider. First, and most obvious, less oxygen is readily available so the gaseous exchange of the aerobic metabolism is severely compromised. Thus you have to pick, run workouts at slower paces but the similar volumes compared to sea-level or similar intensities and less volume. I always choose slower paces and similar volumes. Second, the recovery windows between reps and from workout day to next workout day is longer. Less oxygen requires longer oxidative recovery during the workout and post-workout.
Had this session been at sea-level it would have called for the 2M reps to be at 5:20s and the 1 Mile reps at 5:05. At 7,000 ft, I adjusted the 2M rep to 5:40/mile and 1 Mile to 5:25. Twenty seconds seems like a lot, but it was prudent given Tara's fitness and preparations at the time. Again, our priority was the volume of work, which I did not want to be compromised in any way by overly ambitious intensities.
Also, if at sea-level the recovery window between rep to rep would have been 90" but was doubled to 3 minutes.
Tara handled the session as intended. However, it is worth noting her next couple days were only very relaxed. She was in career fitness so it only took her 48 hours to feel recharged for another session (we had originally budgeted for 3 days). And it was the signal from that quick turnaround from this workout to the next, more than the splits of the reps that day, which indicated to me she was nearing the class of fitness needed to vie for a spot on the US Olympic team on the track.
Ultimately, she did not make the Rio Olympic team, but she competed well in both the 10K and 5K finals, holding her own against America's best.
When an athlete prepares as sincerely as she did that season and races with such courage as she had, as a coach, there is nothing more you can ask for. Meaning all you do is sit back, smile, and show thanks for the athlete's efforts on the day as well as during the long build-up to that championship moment.