Preface I have been running and racing for about 27 years; and like most runners, I dutifully read Runners World and several books by noted running celebrities. However, based on my engineering background, I was bothered by the almost total lack of any apparent scientific basis for the training recommendations. Rarely did they cite scientific studies or research scientists, there were no consistent recommendations [some said run intervals at 400m, some 800m, some 1200m, etc.]. I learned I was supposed to run intervals, hills, and long-slow-distances; but, no one explicitly said why. Every author had a different prescription for making me a world class runner. Obviously, there was no scientific basis for the recommendations; otherwise, they would be relatively consistent, with minor deviations. They never mentioned the physiological purpose for the workouts; we were just supposed to do them.
About 10 years ago, I began running with Dr. Bo Fernhall, PhD, Exercise Science, who ran the Exercise Science Laboratory at GWU. When I explained my concern about the lack of any science in the running literature, he explained I was correct and that there was a vast body of running science available, it just had not migrated into the popular literature. Bo suggested several books [among them was Dr. Tim Noakes, "Lore of Running"] and that I subscribe to Running Research News [RRN], etc.
Reading the science-based literature was a real education for me, Bo was right, the physiologists really do have a pretty good idea of what we were training and why. In the intervening years, there has been an enormous increase the scientific understanding of the physiological mechanisms at work when we train, and equally important, how we can focus our training on these mechanisms to improve performance.
I prepared this series of articles in response to dozens of requests by my fellow running club members to share this knowledge with all runners who would like to utilize modern scientific methods in their training programs. I am a certified RRCA Coach [Road Runners Club of America] and have extensive racing experience [hundreds of 5Ks, 8Ks, 10Ks, 10milers; about 20 1/2mars, 32 marathons and 4 50mi ultras]. This series in intended to provide you with the tools to develop your own training program. I can almost guarantee your racing performance will improve. Donna R. and Ann-Marie S. used the program, among many others, and achieved outstanding results. They have written about their experience; links to their articles are in the menu below.
Alan Rider, Road Runners Club of America [RRCA] Certified Coach email Alan Rider
Interesting Questions I was recently asked three interesting questions:  "Do we all have an innate maximum running economy"? The answer is in the next to last paragraph on page 3 of "Fundamentals".  "Why is my marathon WAVA% much less than my 10K's"? . The answer is in "Practical Considerations". And,  "I'm a senior runner and my times are falling off measurably. Is it just do to age or something else"? See "Older Runners, Using their WAVA% to Examine Performance Loss" on page 5, "Practical Considerations".
Articles [Note, Topic updates are noted with the last updated date. Generally, the links to updated articles are rendered blue.]
- *Comments by Donna R. on her experience using the program
- *Comments by Anne-Marie S. on her experience using the program
- *Fundamentals [5 Jul 2006]
- *Practical Considerations [1 Aug 2006]
- *Cardinal Rules [8Jun 2006]
- *Designing Your Program [draft 5 Jul 2006]
- *Measuring VVO2max [8 Jul 2009]
- *Determining your WAVA% [5 Jul 2006]
- *Heart Rate Fundamentals [12 Jan 2009]
- *WAVA% Calculator
- *A Race Pacing Calculator
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