Distance Clinic 2012
Last Sunday, April 29, San Francisco Track & Field Club held a Distance Clinic for mid to long distance members of our Club. As one of the few long distance runners on the Club, I wanted to organize a clinic where we invite a professional coach and have an interactive learning session on various aspects of distance training on the track. Our Club does not have any formal coaches but we coach ourselves by reading up literature and articles. In the past, we’ve had Speed Clinic and Throwers’ Clinic, so I could not wait till I had opportunities to organize a Distance Clinic. I also wanted to recruit new members to the Club by extending invitation to San Francisco Front Runners’ members.
I had contacted Andy Chan who is a head cross-country and track & field coach at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in San Francisco. He is also a President and coach of local running club, Pamakids Running Club. I had not known all this before I saw him at a Thank-You Dinner for volunteers at Kaiser Half Marathon back in March. At the dinner he was introduced as very active in coaching runners of all ages and all levels. And he’s been involved in the local running community for a long time. Sounded great, so I approached him a couple of weeks later and made an arrangement to meet. The rest was history. He was really easy to work with. I gave him all the info as to what I wanted to achieve and why. The morning of the Clinic, he showed up on time, prepared.
We started the Clinic with introduction and then right into warm-ups. We only had two hours and did not waste any time! After easy warm-ups like side stretches, trunk twisters and toe-tappers, Coach Chan had us go through more dynamic warm-ups, some of which were pretty identical to what Chris (our unofficial but knowledgeable coach) has us go through every Sunday before workouts. Shin grabs, flamingo, lunge & twist and a couple of others got blood flowing. After a couple of more stretches, like side swings and calves/Achilles stretches, we moved on to drills.
The drills were pretty much similar to what we usually do. Chris was really happy to see this and got his coaching some good validation. There were some new drills, though. We usually do not do butt kicks, power skips or high knees. Now, these drills are good to do but not necessary if you don’t have time before your runs. I don’t usually do much warm-up before my runs. Some stretching of Achilles and calves, then off I go.
After the drills, Coach Chan sat us down and explained the concept behind multi-tier training and how to understand your paces for the training. Basically, using different paces during a workout, runners will use different muscle groups and energy pathways. Everyone has favorite workouts or comfort zone, but in order to improve you have to get out of your comfort zone. We each ran 1 set of 400m, 800m and 200m at his own pace with a short recovery between. Based on my most recent Half Marathon time, my paces are calculated and listed below:
|400m Pace||Mile Pace||Overall Time|
Four-seconds rule is applied here. You take the most recent race time that is reflective of your current fitness level. I used my Half Marathon time from late March this year. Then calculate 400m pace and Mile pace of the race. This is going to be the baseline to calculate the rest. I suggest the baseline to be closer to your target distance; ie. if you are training for 400m or 800m, I would not use Marathon time to be the baseline, rather use 5K or Mile time. Then, you add four seconds to each distance above the baseline recursively and subtract four seconds from each distance below the baseline in the same manner. You fill the rest by figuring out Mile pace and Overall time based on the 400m pace.
Now, this is a bit different from what I get in McMillan Running’s Pace Calculator (McMillan pacing seems more aggressive or optimistic, whichever you prefer). From this table, I know I could do 400m x 8 at Mile pace which is 1:22, or I could do 800m x 4 at 2-Mile pace which is 1:26. Very useful tool. Oh, Coach Chan suggested that speed training be targeted to two miles all together but not over three miles consistently. I like that.
This workout is to remember or remind the body of your speed. There are different types of striders, and we did Acceleration 150s where you run the first 50m at 75% of your full speed, 85% next 50m, and 95% to 100% in the last 50m. This was a fun workout and everybody got really into it. However, being a master’s runner, I should be careful about doing too many of top-speed striders… I don’t need any more injuries! We did 2 sets of 150s, and that was good. But in practice, I could do more of relaxed striders after several miles of general aerobic run or recovery run.
Now, this was not much fun. Chris usually has this every Sunday, but I skip it saying I go to a gym and do this type of exercises. Not so true. I do some core workouts in the gym, mostly my abs. But my hip, glute, hamstrings, and quads can use some strengthening. So I did. The combination of pogo jumps, push-up, and squat killed me. Coach Chan also showed us other strengthening exercises, such as plank (sides, front and back).
And we were spent! Coach Chan gave us some motivational tips and other training related suggestions. Some of us had questions on recovery and race scheduling strategies, and his answers were informative. Many of the Club members are going to compete in a few track meets this summer, so it was a good learning experience and we should be ready for the competition! After the Clinic, I received many positive feedback from the participants. The turn-out could be a little higher, but I am happy with Coach Chan’s program and execution, as well as with everybody having focused and followed the program. Good job, everyone!