Once again, the book Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss has me trying one more new thing!
For the last few months, I’ve been working on my strength through Russian techniques (see Deadlifting is HARD (and Dangerous) and Deadlifting for Faster Running). I’ve seen some definite increases in my track workouts, having dropped from 39 seconds to 37 seconds for a 200m run (that after dropping my time from 45 to 39 seconds simply by altering my form and in addition to my normal weekly treadmill neuromuscular speed training).
But having no real race goal in the foreseeable future, I cracked open my copy of Four Hour Body and engaged with ASRSpeed.com, the automated website training program built by Barry Ross using some breakthrough research from Rice University (see High-speed running performance: a new approach to assessment and prediction by Matthew W. Bundle, Reed W. Hoyt, and Peter G. Weyand) which is able to predict the final distance/time or time/distance of a runner from a few meters to a run of about 4 minutes. Then using this algorithm, Barry Ross and his colleague, Ken Jakalski, created a training system which removes two old ways of training:
1. Workouts of set distances and set number of repeats.
They cite the problem here is that a runner is always holding back in order to make sure they make the requisite number of repeats, and therefore, never trains at his maximum potential.
2. Running overdistance.
Running overdistance makes runners too tired and reduces top speed by its very nature to improve the energy system.
They and the researchers at Rice University figured out that for maximum speed, you don’t want to train the energy system but rather you want to train the muscles which the energy system fuels and reduce their rate of fatigue.
You first run a time trial. Then the website takes that data and returns workouts for you to perform. The workouts are in the form of distance and a goal time. You are NOT given a set number of repeats to run; instead you run full out each time until you can’t achieve the goal time, at which time you stop. If you hit 10 repeats and are still under the goal time, you stop. The website then makes you retest the time trial – in theory, you should be faster this time!
Without any races on the horizon, I decided to give this a go. In theory, if I get faster at short distance, this should make me faster at long distance as well. Also, it would be a complement to my strength building program from the same Barry Ross.
To prep for this, I got some blue masking tape to tape lines on a track. I also bought a Ultrak 495 100 Lap Memory Professional Stopwatch (using a wristwatch timer is OK but not ideal due to button position and pressing them on a full sprint).
Then I also bought a CST – MeasureMark 31-10M Single 4-Inch ABS Plastic Wheel Measuring Wheel in Meters/Decimeters to measure out the workout distances given by the website. You need this because the workout distances are not standard distances of any sort. Plus, I could never figure out track markings no matter what.
It also helps to bring some objects that you can drop on the ground to mark distances before you tape. I actually found some discarded pieces of flat plastic that worked great. Sometimes I end up just using the plastic and not taping the track ground.
I went to the website for my first workout, which was to run the time trial. This was 3 repeats of a 10m run, with a 25m fly-in (headstart, so that you are at full speed when you hit the start of the 10m). The second time trial was a 300m run, with 5m fly-in.
For the 10m run, my times were: 1.42s, 1.50s, and 1.49s for an average of 1.47s. My 300m time was 53.9s. I entered these into the website and then got another workout. The next workout I did the following day as I was not sure about taking days off or frequency of workouts per week. (The workouts seemed short enough that I could potentially run every day or nearly so – well this proved to be false.)
This workout was 40m repeats with a goal time of 6.30s, and rest interval of 4 minutes, and as many as I could before I could not hit the goal time. I used a fly-in of 25m although the website didn’t specify exactly how much. My times were:
I was under the target time by about .3s and was able to do this 10 times. So I called it quits and came back to enter the info into the website, at which time it asked me to run the time trial again.
One thing I found out was that this is more stressful on my body than I thought. Even though I had a whopping 4 minute rest interval which allowed almost full recovery, the hours after and certainly the day after left me sore. Full-on sprinting was a new stress on my body and while I tried to do my best at maintaining a soft but rapid footfall, it was still enough to make me more sore than I thought.
I think that I will adapt to this workout, but I don’t think that I could do this every day. I think my starting workout week will be ASRSpeed workouts twice a week, and then a 1 hour run added in. In the past, I have found that without at least one 1 hour run per week, it caused my overall fitness to drop where my track workouts were hard to make gains week over week. I will intersperse this with my strength training regimen, which is talked about on the website but gives no details, and my swimming.
More on this later as the months progress – I had entered my goal race as a 400m and my previously my fastest recorded 400m time was 1:27. I am hoping that this training program added to my strength training will improve that time, as well as my marathon times.