Re: [Supertraining] Re: Strength Training for a 800m runner(In Season)

Thursday, 17 January 2008      0 comments

--- itsmeyoungb <> wrote:

> Ok..Let me try to throw my two cents in...

Brian, I would also like to add two cents of my own to
this interesting dialogue.

I do agree with Paul's assessment and his suggestions.
I have no experience in coaching runners however I do
have extensive experience in coaching cyclists.

I have never been one to accept on blind faith a
training regimen of any kind without asking the
question "why" should this work better than some other

One of the biggest problems I came across frequently,
while coaching cyclists, was athletes who did a lot of
hard training but very little "smart" training.

Many of the cyclists put in a lot of miles every week
with little benefit because they were not riding the
miles with a purpose. They putting in a lot of miles
because that was what the professional riders were
doing but there was no rhyme or reason to their

The same can be said for weight training and running.
lots of running and lots of lifting does not guarantee
faster times unless there is specific goals within the

You have done a lot of work over the past months
building your strength through weight lifting. Now
you have to convert that lifting strength into running

I have always found it best to break down an activity
into its components and try to analyze how to best
improve the various components and have them work well

I would like to first analyze your strength regimen.
When you did your lifting or squatting you probably
used relatively heavy weights with which you were able
to perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps each.

Each set took about 1 minute or less and you rested
about 2-3 minutes between sets. That makes for a
total of 36-48 reps of a particular activity over
10-12 minutes per session.

Now lets take a look at how you plan on using this
strength. You are going to run 800 meters as fast as
you can.

I have no idea how long an average stride is when
running a 800 meter race so I will, for the sake of
this discussion, estimate that you will have to take
350-500 strides from start to finish. That is 350-500
reps in about 2 minutes.

Nothing you did in the gym can replicate this

Now lets take a peek into the muscles you have
produced with all that work. Your resistance training
helped you develop a lot of large Type IIB fibers
which contain very few mitochondria. Great for short
powerful efforts but easily fatigued.

What do you need in order to perform 350-500 reps in
two minutes. Lots of Type IIA fibers loaded with
glucose burning mitochondria. To accommodate these
mitochondria the cell needs to sacrifice some
intracellular fibrils (thus sacrificing some

These are the type of fibers that Nick was referring
to in his discussion.

This 800 m effort will also produce a great deal of H
ions which need to be buffered and a large amount of
lactate which needs to be cleared as well as require
an increased Oxygen delivery capacity. This in part
gets back to the discussion we have had in the past
two weeks concerning buffering capacity and lactate.

The conversion of IIB fibers to IIA fibers takes time
and the proper training stimulus. This is were the
proper interval training on the track as well as the
hill running that Paul alluded to comes into play.

The intervals and hill climbing, if done properly are
very taxing on your system as well as requiring a
great deal of energy. Six weeks may not be enough
time to allow all your newly acquired IIB fibers to
adapt and transform themselves into IIA fibers.

Besides transforming you muscle fibers you also have
to increase your hearts capacity to pump more blood to
your muscles. You also have to upgrade your vascular
system to handle the increase cardiac output as well
as the capillary system to deliver the increase blood
volume to these muscles.

You have to increase the buffering capacity both
inside the muscle fibers as well as in the blood
stream. Only the proper training regime will do this.

Resistance training with its short work intervals (1
min or less for a set of 8- 10 reps) and long rest
intervals (2-3) minutes does not require a large
buffering capacity nor does it require and large
cardiac output and the IIB fibers have relatively
fewer capillaries.

You mention the Tabata protocol in the gym. If I
understand the protocol correctly from my reading, it
is designed to improve aerobic capacity and probably
should best be incorporated on the track and not the

After a very good warm up (10+ minutes- or until you
have worked up a good sweat), you run for 20 seconds
(150 + meters) recover for 10 and repeat this x 8 for
a total of 4 minutes then cool down for 10 minutes.

If you are unable to complete 8 sets, this indicates
that you started out to fast. Your last rep should
be just as fast if not faster than your first rep.

This type of work will produce a tremendous amount of
lactate, put tremendous strain on you cardiovascular
as well as pulmonary system, as well as tax you
buffering capacity.

This should be done at the end of you daily training
and preferably before a rest day. Initially this
should be done once a week.

This is just one of many different types of interval
training that can be used to transform you IIB fibers
to IIA fibers. Your coach probably has many other
types of intervals in his arsenal.

While working out in the gym may seem to make sense it
is important to remember that any energy expended in
the gym is energy not available for track work. Any
muscle fibers (IIB) built through resistance training
is useless to an 800 meter runner unless the majority
are converted to IIA fibers.

As a college student you must have many other things
to do besides train and recover. During your pre-race
period and during your racing season you have to train
smart and learn to allocate your precious energy and
time to your primary goal, in this case improving your
800 meter time and not your lifting strength.

You state that you do not have the benefit of a coach
who both trains runners and knows how to train you in
resistance training. You have the benefit of Paul's
advice who obviously has been training as a runner for
years and has experience in the gym.

As Paul alluded, there is no consensus in the running
field concerning the role of strength training. The
same can be said for swimming, cycling and rowing.

Individuals whose primary focus is resistance training
will argue that this type of training can benefit any
sport and some will say the heavier the lifting the
greater the benefit.

Ask them why they don't take up running to improve
their lifting. The reason is they are afraid that
they will convert their powerful IIB fibers to IIA
fibers and in the process of gaining endurance lose
some strength.

So much for my two cents. Two cents doesn't buy much
these days.

Ralph Giarnella MD
Southington Ct USA

> I am a 400/800 type guy. Although it is true that I
> need a certain
> amount of mileage, too much will kill me
> results.This summer, I did
> 25 miles a week on the road,and it absolulely was
> somewhat of a
> detriment to my progress.Although I had better
> aerobic capacity, I
> had lost a great bit of speed. This was evident as I
> am a 48 sec 400m
> runner and I could only mustard 53 seconds at the
> beginning of
> october.I am just now getting my speed back.
> Something else to remember is I am still mainly a
> 400 hurdler. I am
> running the 800 indoors to help the last 200 meters
> of my race for
> the 400 hurdles. I think Paul understood it as I
> only run the 800 and
> I am sorry if I was unclear about that. You post is
> not at all harsh
> as I am learning just as you are.

> This situation is difficult for me because my
> college doesnt not have
> a coach conditioned in this area of running and
> lifting and most of
> the athletes have to come up with their own strength
> and conditioning
> programs. In my case is could be hit or miss because
> I never know if
> Im doing the right thing. But In my humble opinion I
> believe the
> strength I have built up needs to be maintained as
> last year, I had a
> training partner who lifting like he ran the 100
> meters and he was
> about to run 1:52 for the 800 meters. My genetics
> and body type may
> be different but what is the point of building great
> deals of
> strength and power and not using it if can
> beneficial. The power lies
> in my situation is to balance the two without much
> weight gain as I
> am very very prone to weight gain.
> Those are just my two cents. Here is my program form
> the week it will
> allow everyone to see what I am doing. Heated debate
> is the only way
> to get to the truth of close to it, so keep
> everything coming.
> Monday January 14th
> Hang Clean and Jerk at 140lbs 3 reps and 5 sets
> Back squats x 5 at 275lbs,4 at 280lbs,3 at 285lbs,3
> at 290lbs,2 at
> 295lbs.
> Dumbell Bench Press 5 reps x 3 sets with 80lbs
> dumbells
> Dumbell Lat Row 6 reps x 3 sets with 65lbs dumbells.
> Wednesday January 16th
> Power snatch + overhead squat 3reps x 5 sets at
> 115lbs
> Barbell Bench Press 3reps x 5 sets a 190 lbs
> Good Mornings 5reps x5sets at 150 lbs
> Lat Pull Down 6x4
> I know I lift a little heavier than must 800 runners
> but is just a
> natural things for me. I havent really stopped
> making progress and I
> am not really gaining weight. So you guys can pick
> that apart. I
> appreciate the criticism.
> Brian.Archield
> Tampa,Florida USA
> --- In, "Nick
> Tatalias"
> <nick.tatalias@...> wrote:
> >
> > Hi Paul
> >
> > Thanks for this post, I guess be specific is the
> lesson here, I
> take your
> > point. Being some one who only ever sprinted
> about 60m to score on
> an
> > interception, I don't always get the middle and
> long distance
> stuff. Rugby
> > players are very different to this despite needing
> to sustain high
> intensity
> > sprints for about 90 seconds (probability of
> scoring peaks at about
> 90
> > seconds of possession). My coach used to train a
> top level (South
> African
> > champion standard) boxer also and again we adapted
> from the
> traditional road
> > training for him to short sprints (50 m) timed for
> 3 minute round
> with and
> > gym work as the mainstay - of course they went to
> the boxing
> coaches for
> > technical training. The problem with a sample of
> one is that the
> athlete may
> > just be a dam good fighter irrespective of what we
> did, yet when he
> went to
> > one off to one of the top fight trainers and back
> to traditional
> road work
> > training he seemed to lack the thrust and power
> and his career
> tapered
> > off. I was trying to use that experience
> (learning from other) and
> apply
> > this to Brian's situation. The problem is always
> making sure that
> the
> > athlete is progressing optimally and Brian would
> have to judge that
> for
> > himself.
> >
> > Best Regards
> > Nick Tatalias
> > Johannesburg
> > South Africa

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