Training Secrets Of The World’s Best Endurance Coaches

+ The best ways to continue exercising after a knee replacement

Training Secrets Of The World’s Best Endurance Coaches 1

Here’s the free but abridged version of the Run Long, Run Healthy newsletter. See the links below to subscribe to the full-text edition with more articles and deeper, more specific running advice. – Amby

Training Secrets Of The World’s Best Endurance Coaches

Training Secrets Of The World’s Best Endurance Coaches 2

Norwegian athletes have won over 350 medals in a wide range of recent international endurance sport championships. That’s an impressive result for a small country, and it has happened, at least in part, because the Norwegian sports system encourages strong communication of scientific principles among coaches.

Now, Norway is sharing its story with the world. In an epic new report, several well-known Norwegian researchers have compiled the strategies that worked in major sports like running, triathlon, nordic skiing, rowing, and swimming.

They used an interesting model to obtain this key information, following “the key informant technique in ethnographic research.” After gathering preliminary data, they interviewed each coach for at least three hours to get to the real nitty-gritty.

Below, I have compiled the most important findings. This is a bit longer than most summaries, but you’ll want to follow everything closely.

  • Most training programs included 75-80 percent of all “sessions” at a Light (easy) intensity, equivalent to almost 90% of all “time” spent training.
  • The duration of these Light sessions ranged from 30 minutes to 7 hours and were highly sports-dependent. Cyclists do long daily rides because their sport doesn’t produce the body “pounding” against gravity. Runners do much shorter sessions because of the pounding involved in running.
  • Training programs averaged 10-15% of sessions at a Medium intensity–tempo/threshold effort. In Norway, these are generally performed as interval workouts that include 20 to 90 minutes in the zone. Again, this is very sport dependent. The work:recovery ratio for these interval workouts is 6-4:1. In other words, 6 minutes of running is followed by a 1-minute recovery.
  • Training programs included 5-10% Hard training at a high intensity–speed work. These are either interval sessions or races. The faster the workout, the lower the total distance covered. The work:recovery ratio dropped from 3:1 for modestly hard sessions to 0.1:1 for very fast training. Norwegian coaches use racing as an important part of training programs, entering their athletes in 15-20 races per year.
  • Also, training programs follow a “hard-easy rhythmicity,” use lactate measurements for intensity control, include few all-out sessions, and mix zones within sessions, with a preference towards passive rather than active recovery during interval training,
  • There is a “prevailing notion that most Light sessions must be sufficiently easy to ensure that the subsequent Hard sessions can be conducted with sufficient quality.”
  • The Norwegian approach believes it a mistake to call Light sessions “recovery” workouts for two reasons: There’s no scientific evidence that Light training produces a recovery effect, and Light running provides “an important stimulus for peripheral aerobic adaptations.”
  • That is, while Light training doesn’t provide a true recovery, it does enhance your fitness. Don’t denigrate easy runs; they are important.
  • Many Norwegian coaches and athletes use cross-training, but it might not be particularly valuable for elite runners. Why? Because running is so very “specific” with its fast, hard-pounding strides. Many Norwegian coaches do not believe any cross-training exercise is specific enough for runners. An interesting but little-noted phenomenon: “Running is unique among endurance sports in that cadence does not and cannot be manipulated much.” Cadence changes more in training and racing of other sports.
  • Half of the coaches surveyed have adopted “double threshold” training, some training days with both morning and afternoon workouts that may include relatively long amounts of threshold work. They believe threshold intervals allow for running at faster and more race-relevant speeds “without the negative consequences of HIT in terms of fatigue and recovery.”
  • Norwegian coaches prescribe a wider variety of interval paces, especially slower, but also sometimes fast, than the classic intervals described in the scientific literature. These classic intervals almost always advise a speed of at least 90% and more of vo2 max speed. Norwegian coaches worry about ” nonsustainable ” approaches and are careful to keep intervals controlled so the athlete is never “floundering” toward the end.

Conclusion: For mechanical loading reasons, different sports require different approaches. Most coaches prescribe a high percentage of Light training. “Intensive sessions (Moderate and Hard) are considered paramount for performance progression, and all sports perform considerably more M than H sessions.”

Also: “Best practice interval sessions are characterized by a controlled, non-all-out approach, a high total work duration, and a slight progressive increase in intensity throughout.”

As an end result, they are “less exhaustive” than much previous interval training. Also, “We observed a trend towards lower work:rest ratios with increasing intensity.” More at Research Gate with free full text.

RELATED ARTICLE: How To Apply The Norwegian Method Of Endurance Training

Best Ways To Continue Exercising After Knee Replacement

Training Secrets Of The World’s Best Endurance Coaches 3

Knee replacements happen. According to some data, up to 8% of adult Americans will eventually seek the surgery known as “knee arthroplasty.”

Knee replacements happen to athletes and non-athletes alike. Many experts now believe that a sedentary lifestyle combined with obesity is a greater threat to knee health than normal inline exercise like walking and running.

Still, knee replacements happen because so many are living with chronic pain and limited mobility. After surgery, the smartest and most motivated seek a return to activities they know will provide optimal health and fitness: moderate aerobic exercise.

A new report has investigated which activities (sports) are most likely to prove successful post-knee replacement and which will prove difficult. The researchers gathered self-reports from more than 1,000 subjects who had undergone knee replacements.

The good news: “Return to sport is feasible with high satisfaction.” However, activities requiring full-body-weight support (like running) “demonstrated the least favorable participation rate changes.”

Conclusion: “Swimming and cycling represent manageable postoperative activities with high return rates, while runners and joggers face increased difficulty returning to equal or better activity levels. Patients should receive individualized, sports-specific counseling regarding their expected postoperative course based on their treatment goals.” More at Archives of Orthopedic & Trauma Surgery.

RELATED ARTICLE: Can You Run After A Knee Replacement? 5 Expert Tips To Get Back To Running

What!? Slow/Moderate Running Speeds Produce The Most Soccer Goals

Training Secrets Of The World’s Best Endurance Coaches 4

So far as I know, soccer is the world’s most popular sport, with the rowdiest fans and huge TV audiences. It is fascinating to read almost any exercise research that applies to “the beautiful game.”

This paper is even more interesting than most because it implies that a good distance runner should make a good soccer player. Maybe you can make it to the next World Cup Final. How’s that? What about sprinters?

Here’s the deal: A group of Polish researchers measured how much running team members did in the 5 minutes before a goal was scored. As you know, there are few goals scored in most soccer matches. So, any measure that links to goal-scoring is super important.

Result: In the key 5-minute pre-goal period, the team that ran most was likelier to score. Teams that ran less were more likely to give up a goal. Okay, that seems reasonable so far.

But here’s the surprise: High-speed and “sprint” running were not associated with goal-scoring. The goals followed “the volume of medium- and low-intensity running efforts.” Rather like the running you do when training for a half-marathon or marathon.

Conclusion: “The significant difference between teams scoring and conceding a goal lies in the distance covered during low-to-moderate intensity running.” This seems counterintuitive and differs from some other soccer research favoring high-speed running and scoring. However, it could mean that goal scoring is related to the “organized movement of the entire team.” More at Nature Scientific Reports with free full text.

RELATED ARTICLE: How Much Does A Soccer Player Run In A Game? 6 Sports Compared

SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU WOULD HAVE RECEIVED this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.” Why not give it a try? SUBSCRIBE HERE.

  • Don’t ever make this classic training mistake
  • Do male runners have damaged sperm?
  • All body types can be healthy. But be careful about your weight
  • 5 simple, at-home recipes for a great sports drink
  • Scientific strategies that give you a great pre-race sleep
  • No more calf pain–the complete user’s guide
  • An amazing and inspirational quote from Virginia Woolf

DON’T FORGET: I spend hours searching the Internet for the best, most authoritative new running articles, so you can review them in minutes.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. See you again next week. Amby

Photo of author
Amby Burfoot stands as a titan in the running world. Crowned the Boston Marathon champion in 1968, he became the first collegian to win this prestigious event and the first American to claim the title since John Kelley in 1957. As well as a stellar racing career, Amby channeled his passion for running into journalism. He joined Runner’s World magazine in 1978, rising to the position of Editor-in-Chief and then serving as its Editor-at-Large. As well as being the author of several books on running, he regularly contributes articles to the major publications, and curates his weekly Run Long, Run Healthy Newsletter.

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