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FLORIDA SPORTS (US)
Vol.11, No.10 · December/January 1997-98
In Search of a 10k PR - Part I; Part II
by Dr. Nicholas Romanov

Editor's Note:
      As cooler temperatures and brisk northern breezes hit Florida, our running season kicks into high gear. It's a time when serious runners monitor the Weather Channel and scan the Events section of Florida Sports, looking for the perfect combination of race, weather and conditioning that will allow them to set that elusive PR, a Personal Records.
      While more and more events have shifted to the more user-friendly 5K distance, the 10K remains the Gold Standard of the roads. Your 10K PR will remain with you for a lifetime, the ultimate benchmark of just how good a runner you really were. And, after turning 40, you have another chance, this time to set your masters 10K PR and thus proudly demonstrate how your sport of running has kept the demons fo aging at bay, even as you await the dreaded "welcome" letter from the AARP.
      Setting the PR is no easy matter. Too many runners get bogged down in the same old same old, trying harder but never getting faster. Usually, their shortcomings are not a result of a lack of talent or desire, but a failure to develop a comprehensive training plan that incorporates all the necessary elements for success.
       Fortunately, in Florida we're blessed with the presence of Dr.Nicholas Romanov, a Russian-educated Ph.D. in exercise physiology who specializes in running. In the same way that other European trained coaches like Romania's gymnastics wiz Bela Karolyi or cycling coach Eddy Borascziewicz of Poland faced initial skepticism from official sanctioning bodies and mainstream media, Romanov's theories of running technique and training have met resistance in the U.S. The irony being, of course, that at distances greater than 400 meters, the U.S. has virtually no world class runners.
       We asked Dr.Romanov to outline a plan for serious runners seeking a Holy Grail - a 10K PR. What he presented was very interesting, definitely not something you would see in a retrograde publication like Runner's World. After looking at it, we decided to run it in two parts. Part One outlines the training scheme and concentrates on the relationship between speed and endurance. Part Two (due in February, just in time for PR season) covers the really important stuff: strength, technique and psychological preparation. Enjoy - and run faster.


This article is addressed to the army of dedicated runners who give immense time, effort and emotion in order to achieve their best results. And who, mostly, train by themselves, drawing their knowledge from a variety of sources, including friends and acquaintances. With the greatest respect for the passion and commitment of these runners, I write this article to help them to get the whole picture of the training process and to make it more effective for them.

Figure 1
Figure 1
In simplified terms, imagine the following scheme of the training process: (See Fig.1)

Top masters runner Lynn McFadden and Britain's 31 min 10K runner Jill Hunter put in their hill work on the Key Biscayne bridge
Top masters runner Lynn McFadden and Britain's 31 min 10K runner Jill Hunter put in their hill work on the Key Biscayne bridge
TRAINING PROCESS ADAPTATION
Endurance Speed Strength Technique Psychology

The Scheme of the Training Process

As you can see from this diagram, achieving your desired result – a 10k Pr – depends on the proper training process, which can be ultimately viewed upon as adaptation, different components of which are represented by the blocks. Most runners devote most of their time to a single component: developing of endurance by running long distances. Lesser attention is generally given to speed and strength development and practically nothing is done for technical and psychological preparation.

Undoubtedly, one can neglect these last two elements, as their importance for running 10ks isn’t so immediately evident as, for example, endurance. But these all are parts of an integral process and there are no unimportant parts in any whole thing.

Technique and psyche – your mentality – in the final account integrate all the elements of the training process into combined efforts to achieve your desired result, that personal best 10k.

Endurance/Speed Training

Technically speaking, the 10k isn’t just about endurance, as it also puts a premium on speed. After all, world-class runners average under 4 minutes 20 seconds per mile in 10ks. While you may never be so ambitious, clearly you will have to increase your speed to hit a 10k PR. Stated simply, the basis of endurance is speed.

This is confirmed by experience, which reveals the relationship between running performances at different distances. Based on the performance data of top runners, the distance-speed profile chart demonstrates that relationship.

DISTANCES - SPEED PROFILE
10M 55:17 57:03 58:41 1:00:32 1:02:00 1:04:00 1:05:00 1:07:00 1:10:00
10K 33:00 34:00 35:00 36:00 37:00 38:00 39:00 40:00 42:00
3K 8:56 9:11 9:27 9:43 10:00 10:17 10:33 10:48 11:22
1000M 2:41 2:46 2:50 2:55 3:00 3:05 3:10 3:15 3:25
400M 58:00 59:07 1:01 1:03 1:06:50 1:07 1:09 1:10 1:14
Figure 2

Comparing your own times with those on the table, you can evaluate you lever of speed and endurance in relation to 10k. For example, if you can run a 3k time trial in 9:34, you should be able to break 36 minutes in your target 10k.

If you don’t crack 36, then you need special endurance work. Conversely, if your 10k is significantly better than 36, then you could benefit from additional speed work. In any case, whenever you are out of proportion wit respect to this table, then you should be able to see what needs work. This distance-speed profile can be applied at all distances from 400 meters to 10 miles.

Use this table throughout all stages of the training process, constantly eliminating the weakest part of your running “chain.” Remember, the power of an integral system is defined by the condition of its weakest link.

Australia's 2:11 marathoner Daniel Boltz watches his heart rate drop to 120 while Dr. Romanov times the recovery interval
Australia's 2:11 marathoner Daniel Boltz watches his heart rate drop to 120 while Dr. Romanov times the recovery interval
Adaptation is the Key

Whether you're concentrating on strength or endurance – running big miles or quality intervals – your success ultimately depends on the adaptation abilities of your organism – your body and mind. This adaptation can also be evaluated by looking at key indices:
  1. FT = Finishing Time, the time of covering the distance
  2. FHR = your heart rate at the finishing line
  3. RT = the time it takes for your heart to recover to 120 beats per minute, irrespective of the distance
Looking at these indices, you can evaluate the quality of the complete cycle of movement of energy in your organism: Expense versus Recovery. Your time of covering the distance (FT) and your finishing heart rate (FHR) reflect the expense of energy. Your recovery time (RT) reveals the process of recovery in your organism.

To understand this better, you can compare it to the expense and earning of money. You know that it is much easier to spend the money than to earn it and that the first process (spending) wholly depends on second (earning). You also know that if you don’t have any additional resources of income (unknown to the IRS), spending too much will lead you into debt.

However, unlike the situation with a monetary deficit, which can be covered with the help of a loan, in real life your organism can’t borrow. It can “loan” energy only from its future resources, because the energy transferred in certain quanta (amounts), distributed in time (a second, minute, hour, day, week, etc.), in which it exists and where the balance between the expense and recovery is already established.

Generally speaking, optimum RT during training is between one and two minutes. If you are recovering in less than a minute, you can run longer or faster. If you are taking more than two minutes to recover to 120 bpm, its time to back off. Never forget the single most important principle of adaptation: its not how hard you work, it’s how fast you recover!!!

Work too hard in one session and your next session will take place without complete recovery. Going back to the monetary analogy, you're spending more than you're earning and your training will soon go into debt.

This is a tough concept for most runners to accept. They want to believe that harder work will lead to faster times, when in fact its faster complete recovery that shows you are ready to run faster times.

As your adaptation progresses, your FHR should become lower even at the same speed (FT). And when you adaptation period is completed, your speed will also increase (FT will become lower). In other words, when you train properly you will be able to run a given distance both faster and with a lower finishing heart rate. Your body has been transformed into a more efficient running machine. The following table shows how a runner actually backs off during the adaptation period and winds up with a 10k PR. Your stages of adaptation for distances of 10k and 1000m could look the following way:

Stages of Adaptation
10k 1000M
Week Time FHR RT
1 36:00 170 3:00
2 37:00 170 1:30
3 36:00 165 1:30
4 35:30 165 1:30
Week Time FHR RT
1 3:10 170 3:00
2 3:15 170 1:30
3 3:10 165 1:30
4 3:05 165 1:30


This sequence can be longer or shorter, but the main principle remains the same. How your whole organism recovering from your training load can easily be seen in the dynamics of the indices of HR at rest (Resting heart rate = RHR), in which the average figures + 3 beats/min. correspond to a normal recovery. When the RHR indices are higher than that level and then stabilize, it means that your load starts to be higher than your adaptation level and you need to lower the load.

So, in the final account, your task in training for 10k is to adapt your organism to a higher speed at this distance and also at the “adjacent” distances of 10 miles, 3k, 1000m and 400m, which would help in the development of endurance and speed at your designated distance.

And here you should take care of not “scaring” your organism with unnecessary high speed and volume of running, and causing only protective overreaction, instead of quiet “acceptance” and adaptation. That’s why it is so important to watch carefully your recovery processes, establishing experimentally your own adequate volume and intensity of running at various distances.

The Weekly Program

The actual distribution of distances in your weekly training schedule can also be established experimentally, using your previous experience. All other components of training (to be detailed in Part Two), can be conveniently included into your weekly schedule at your own discretion, if you always keep in mind you main goal – to adapt your organism to a designated distance, without breaking down your recover process.

Keeping that in mind, you'd be able to surprised how few miles you really need to run on a weekly basis to hit your 10k PR. That’s because you should build the other element of your training program into the schedule and not add them on as “bonus” work.

While each runner will customize a personal schedule, the following “generic” plan gives you an idea of how to construct your own scheme.

Monday: a.m. Strength exercise for legs / p.m. 2 x 3k.

Tuesday: a.m. Rest / p.m. run on sand 20-40 minutes or run up hills

Wednesday: a.m. Strength exercises for hips / p.m. 10 miles

Thursday: a.m. Strength exercises for upper body / p.m. 4-5 x 400 meters & 2-3 x 1000 meters

Friday: a.m. Running technique drills & jumping / p.m. stretching

Saturday: a.m. 10k

Sunday: Rest

The most important rule in designing your training schedule and evaluating your effort during a training session is also the simplest. If it takes you longer than two minutes to recover to 120 bmp after a run – of any distance – reduce your load by running slower, running a shorter distance or stopping the session. Conversely, if you recover to 120 bmp in less than one minute thirty seconds, increase the load by running faster, running longer or running more repeats. Keep that in mind and you’ll never break down on your way to your PR.


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