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Russian 200s - Mile Pace work year around

Published by
Coach Matt   Aug 23rd 2011, 9:15pm

The way we do Russian 200's is sets of 5x200m with 100m jog after each one, except a 200m jog before the last one in each set. If you start at the 1500m line, then this routine will total a 1500m with 1000m of it being "on." You'll finish at the finish line, and I have them jog 300m clockwise (backwards) on the track to the 1500m start line again. This will take about 3min between sets. We will do 1-2 sets in the fall as a supplemental workout, and progress it throughout the year. The most I have had athletes do is 5 sets when it is a stand-alone workout.


I expect roughly date mile pace for these 200's, with the recoveries being less than the time run. So, for guys who should be running 33-35's, their rest should be 30s or better; when they get really efficient I have had athletes running their recoveries around 25s. Girls who are running around 40-43's will have their rest be in the 35s range or so. At this time of the year (fall) I tell the athletes to keep the 200's consistent, though the reason for the longer recovery of 200m before the last one is for the dual purpose of making it a 1500m total distance run, as well as allowing them just a little extra recovery to drop the last 200m by a couple seconds; comfortably faster. (This also ends up being a great "simulation" workout later in the year, as the athlete can focus on different portions of the 1500m race throughout this workout. Good mental prep.) The great thing about this workout is that because of the short distace, as well, people of pretty vast ability levels may be able to work out a little better together. For example, a 4:20-miler and a 4:40-miler will only have a difference of about two seconds per 200m (32.5/35 pace). So, being able to group back up together within a 100m jog in 30s is not unreasonable.


The point of this workout, especially in the fall, is to help begin creating a strength base at faster speeds. I believe it is important to not only train the traditional base of easy aerobic running, but also the "speed base" to lay the gruondwork for even faster training down the road. Also, one of the largest limiting factors in performance over any aerobic event is teaching the body how to utilize and clear the byproducts that are produced. That is the reason why I prefer the focus of this workout -- at this time of the year, especially -- to be on keeping the recovery portion of the run honest. The shortened/honest pace rest also ensures that the athletes aren't trying to "kill it" in the 200's, which at this time of the year is not what I'm looking for at all.


Regarding clearing the byproducts, during a 200m effort at mile pace the body will begin to produce a little bit of lactic acid, but not enough that I don't believe could be cleared within a 30s recovery jog. So, by going through the constant cycle of producing byproducts then having the body clear it, you are teaching it to become more efficient at dealing with/transporting/ridding itself of these byproducts, which will prove invaluable during a race of any distance. Also, since mile pace is a great way to increase a runner's efficiency in general, these paces for shorter efforts allow the athlete to work on form over short timeframes (30-40s) with a break between.


A little more on speed-base... While I have had a lot of questions asking why I would do mile-pace work in the fall, I simply refer to the law of reversibility. Or, simply put, if you don't use it, you lose it. We never want to be too far away from being able to use any of the tricks in our bag, including speed. Honestly, mile date pace for 200m should not be that hard of an effort, and the athletes should be able to run this reasonably well looking fast but comfortable. (Think about it this way, it's 1/8th the race distance at that pace. So comparing it to a 5k this time of year, that would be similar to doing a 600m at date pace... and we regularly are having our athletes do 800's, 1k's, or even mile repeats. So 200m for mile pace is not a stretch.)


Another point on mile pace at this time of year... I believe that there is a great importance to training at higher velocities so that every subsequent velocity below it feels that much easier. If you run 7:00 pace all summer, then your first mile repeat at even 6:00 pace feels difficult. Whereas if you have constantly injected some sort of mile pace effort into your routine (be it strides, or Russian 200's, etc.) then a 6:00 mile pace feels SO much easier from the neuromuscular perspective, let alone the aforementioned byproduct-clearing benefits you have no doubt received. Additionally, we will call into play the mile pace near the very end of our races, be it the last 100m or 200m or whatever. So if you haven't trained the body to become stronger at this pace (both muscularly and physiologically dealing with wastes while running at that pace), then your "kick" may not last as long. Whereas the athlete who has trained to be able to handle this pace, grown in strength at this pace, and can deal with byproducts while running this pace, will be able to hold their "kick" for longer.


How many times have you asked an athlete to kick from 400-800m out? How fast is that kick, really? I contend that off all their aerobic strength and "traiditional" training of easy runs, tempo runs, long reps, etc. they will be able to make a push for the last 20% of a race (mile for 8k, 1200m or so for 5k). But to be able to "find that extra gear" or "drop it down one more time" they need to be able to have those speed reserves. And being able to do that from 300-400m out and maintain a pace close to mile pace over that distance will make your athletes far more lethal than the one-hundred-meter-heroes.


You can view a stationary camera view of the workout here.

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what do you have them run before & after?
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