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Author Topic: Big Workouts  (Read 14630 times)
Joe Furse
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« on: May 31, 2009, 02:27:14 pm »

Okay, this is going to be a really dumb question for a lot of you but I keep seeing all of you really fast guys posting about "Big Workouts"  and I would like to know what a "big workout" consists of (I noticed there seem to be both speed/conditioning and distance oriented ones) and how it is used to train for a marathon.  The last (and first) marathon I did (St. George 08) I just got as many miles under my belt as I possibly could in the time I had and without hurting myself and I got 2:53 and still felt like I had plenty of gas in the tank to run a few minutes faster.  I'm looking to run TOU this fall and would like to know how I could utilize these "big workouts" to get my time down some more.  For various reasons I'm coming off a period with not a lot of running but I've been feeling much better of late and want to do well at TOU.  It just seems to me that these big workouts seem to be a smarter, more efficient way to use my time and miles than just racking up miles with no real focus. 

PS I guess I should have posted this as a training review, but I thought maybe others might want to know what these big workouts mean too.  Sorry for the broad question.
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Dave Holt
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2009, 03:46:00 pm »

Big Workouts are simply workouts targeted toward the specific demands of a marathon - i.e. fat and glycogen burning at the most efficient level possible, maintaining specific pace with demand on the body, etc...
They are generally made up of 2 workouts per week that focus on 1 longer tempo paced workout and 1 controlled repeat type workout (1000's on up to multiple mile repeats). 
I can send you some stuff that you could focus toward your TOU this year - but you already have one of the best resources readily available to you up there in Paul (he got many of us geared toward this in the past year or so).
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Jon Allen
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2009, 05:26:01 pm »

Yeah, Paul is the BW expert, so ask him.

One thing Dave didn't add, though- many running schedules have both medium-long runs (12-15 miles) or speed work, but don't combine them.  In fact, people often do speed work (track repeats) as fairly short days so they "feel fresh".  The whole idea of BW is to simulate what your body does during a marathon- hard and long.  So true BW are usually 14-16 miles, with at least half of it tempo or speed repeats.  Something like 15 miles with 8 tempo, or 15 miles with 3 warmup, 3 tempo, then 6x mile repeats, then cooldown.  Rather difficult workouts that help your body adjust to running hard and long.  Then all other runs are easy.
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Joe Furse
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« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2009, 07:42:58 pm »

Ok...seems to make a lot of sense.  I'll have to email paul and talk to y'all some more for some more examples and ideas on when to do them etc.
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Paul Petersen
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« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2009, 07:32:33 am »

This article pretty much covers everything:

http://www.therunzone.com/ntrz/?page_id=87
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Jeff Linger
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2009, 02:22:36 pm »

Most training programs call these Key Workouts or Quality Workouts. As if somehow those workouts not included are less than quality ... heh.
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Paul Petersen
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2009, 03:04:04 pm »

The key different between Big Workouts and "other" workouts is that Big Workouts are defined as being a duration of 90-120 minutes for the total run. So for example, today I did a 12-mile run that included an 8-mile tempo and 6x100m strides. The whole workout took 72 minutes. It was certainly a quality workout, but  was NOT a Big Workout. An example of a Big Workout would be a 16-mile run with 2 miles of warmup, 8-10 miles of tempo, and 4 miles of cooldown with some strides or hill repeats. Or 2 miles of warmup, 2 miles of tempo, 8x1000m with 200m recovery, 1 mile cooldown, 2 miles tempo, and 3 miles of cooldown (16 miles total, one of my favorite workouts).

These are very much marathon-specific. If you are not training for a marathon, I would not bother with these. The general idea is to train your body to use fuel efficiently, and train your legs/muscles/tendons to adapt to extended periods of pounding. You do not get these stimuli with a shorter workout.

If you are utilizing Big Workouts, all other days must be insanely easy. Run as slow as you can, throw in some strides if you are itching for some turnover. Shorter doubles are good on recovery days. Even though you are running slow, you are still building efficiency, blood volume, and aerobic fitness, so there is no such thing as "junk miles". But the true key for these days is recovery. All of your real work is done during Big Workouts.

Long runs are still used in Big Workout programs, but the long run (18-20 miles) needs to be at a slow to moderate pace. If you miss a weekday Big Workout, you can add it during your weekend Long Run.

If you race, only do run Big Workout that week, and use the race as the second.

Don't do more than two Big Workouts per week. Some people can only handle one per week, and that is fine too.
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Jon Allen
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2009, 03:44:03 pm »

Paul- one question:  the workouts in the link seemed to have more EZ miles as part of the BW than what we generally do.  For example, one common workout for me last year was 3 mi warmup, 2 mile tinman tempo, 6x1 mile LT, 4 mile cooldown.  But the webpage showed 10mi EZ with 7x1mi.  Do you consider the tinman tempo warmup as part of the EZ miles?
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Paul Petersen
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« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2009, 03:48:39 pm »

Really, the important thing is being out there for 90-120 minutes. How you allocate that time is more based on personal preference, strengths/weaknesses. Personally, I liked doing easy tempos before intervals because they "prime the engine" and get me ready for the workout. But it's not a rule or anything.

You can do it either way.
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Jeff Linger
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« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2009, 11:58:13 pm »

Really, the important thing is being out there for 90-120 minutes.

Do you recommend the rest of the week to not go above 90 minutes in any single workout?
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Paul Petersen
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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2009, 07:23:44 am »

No, all other runs need to be very easy and shorter. I usually draw the line at 60 minutes, but that's just me. Here is a sample week for a 100mpw person:

Sunday: easy 5 miles
Monday: Big Workout - 16 miles with an 8 mile tempo and 8x100m strides
Tuesday: AM - EZ 8 miles, PM - EZ 6 miles
Wednesday: AM - EZ 9 miles, PM - EZ 6 miles, plus 6x100m strides
Thursday: Big Workout - 16 miles with 7x1600m intervals and 10x100m strides
Friday: AM - EZ 8 miles, PM - EZ 6 miles
Saturday: Long Run - 20 miles, EZ progressing to moderate

Total: 100 miles
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Jon Allen
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2009, 07:52:01 am »

Jeff- I have found you can make other runs longer (60-90 min), but it will affect your BW.  But sometimes your schedule only allows that.  For example, I did 12 yesterday morning and 15 mile BW yesterday afternoon... and I struggled with the workout.  And I was so trashed today that my 10 mile morning run ended up being 5 miles run, 5 miles cross-train cause I honestly couldn't run 5 more miles.  Ideally you want to be fresh, but sometimes you have to get in more miles some days so have to push the miles (for example, if you can't run twice every day, don't run Sunday, etc).  But if you can do what Paul says and keep the non-BW short and easy, I think you would see the most benefit.
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Paul Petersen
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« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2009, 07:55:26 am »

I would rather do less total mileage with better Big Workouts, than higher mileage with mediocre Big Workouts. The beautiful thing about this style of training is that you don't need extremely high mileage.
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Josse
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« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2009, 08:37:47 am »

I would rather do less total mileage with better Big Workouts, than higher mileage with mediocre Big Workouts. The beautiful thing about this style of training is that you don't need extremely high mileage.
I really like this idea, and am trying it out this year.
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Paul (RivertonPaul)
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« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2009, 04:20:03 pm »

Good stuff, Paul.  Thanks for sharing your experience. 
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