Malibu Running Camp Day II & III

Day II
The morning started with the famed vVO2max distance test. A 6:00 all out test. Think of it like a mile race.  VO2max is achieved somewhere between 4:00 (for untrained or novice runners) up to 8:30 for elite level. Personally, I prefer to make this test more practical – 1200, 1600 or 2000 meter time trial. I can easily estimate which it will be for runners based on their performances in various races. This is a critical number in estimating your potential at many different distances.

I completed 1650 meters (5:45 mile then jogged). Here is how to calculate your vVO2max – the pace at which you minimally have to run at to achieve maximum oxygen uptake.

1650m/360 sec.= 4.5833 m/sec.
400m/4.5833m/sec = 87.7 sec. per 400m

When you perform vVO2max intervals you run from 100-800 meters. You don’t run more than a 3:00 interval. Start with shorter and gradually move towards the longer interval distances. You know you can complete at least 6:00 worth of this pace of course since you just ran it for the time trial. Therefore, you could start at 10×200. Always do a jogging rest of equal time duration. The goal is to be able to run 15:00 of quality running – 5×3:00 or 5×800 (or whatever the closest distance is i.e. 600). Last workout before your big race might be on a Tuesday, 4×3:00, then on Thursday do some race pace short intervals then race on Saturday. The physiological effects from Tuesday should take. Yet, it’s slightly less volume so you are tapering.

Now, for another use of this vVO2max test. Horwill’s Law is an extremely reliable calculation based on the years of work of this British researcher and coach. Simple stated – as race distance doubles, most runners slow by 4 seconds per 400 or 16 seconds per mile. This is accurate for large majority of runners over wide range of distances (800 meters to 100K). However for elite runners it can be as small as only a 2.7 second slowdown!

So, currently I should be able to run 88 + 4 = 92 seconds per 400 for 3200 (2 miles), and 96 seconds for 6400 (4 miles); 5k pace should be about in between these two so it would be 94 seconds per 400. 5000 is 12.5 laps (400 m) so my calculated would be 19.62 minutes about 19:37.


Today’s theme is hill work. We did a great 5 mile round trip trail run; first half uphill @ 10% grade; I flew coming down. Right now I don’t care if I ever see another hill or staircase. Hill repeats at noon with short, bounding & sprint drills. This was a very steep incline – 17%. I did not do them to ease my trepidation over my Achilles tendons – though so far, they are hanging in there well. This evening is a beach run it is a specific speed strength workout with drills. (At least it’s flat!?)

Another critical measure of fitness and performance is maximum running speed (talking distance runners not comparing to sprinters). If you run faster over 50 meters you generally will run faster at 800, 1500 5k, 10k and marathon. Since all paces are a percentage of your maximum speed it drags all other paces up.

Speed = stride rate x stride length
8 m/sec. = 95 strides/min (which is average in a quality workout) x SL
480m/min. / 95 strides/min. = SL which = 5.05 m (2 steps – right left)
Improvements on BOTH are critical. If you improve SR by 1% or SL by 1% they yield the same speed improvement. To improve your SR by 5% but then lose 5% on SL you end up just as fast.
Speed = 95.95 strides/min x 5.05 m/stride = 484.5m/min
Speed = 95 strides/min x 5.1 = 484.5m/min

Since runners are unique – there is no such thing as a single optimal stride rate. Though, the top end runners are all above 90. The best approach is to allow organic development, not an artificial goal of 90 or 92 or 96, or whatever
This is critical even for the beginning runner! If you can do runs at a faster pace your fitness will develop faster. But, this must be done in a gradual and progressive manner.

The goal is to do things that increase SR without hurting SL and do things that improve SL without hurting SR.
Merely doing quality work at 5k pace or mile pace is not going to make you intrinsically faster. Max speed development is about improving factors so that you can run at a speed you have not attained yet.

Decreased contact time yields faster leg stride rate. The normal range is 160-210 milliseconds (130 for elite sprinters). This is achieved through drills that include explosive powerful even plyometrics nature. It also helps to run at your current  all out 50-100 meter paces. For distance runners use a running start into these since we are not concerned with acceleration” like sprinters. Coordination drills also can help through efficiency of foot strike.

Stride length is governed by power, force against the ground. One-leg squats, jumps etc. and bounding drills are examples of what enhance stride length.

Heiki Rusko has shown that almost any runner can improve contact time by .015 seconds.
3:08 marathoner; 188 min. x 184 steps/min. = 34592 steps
34592 x .015 sec. = 519 sec. saved by reducing contact time; 8:39 saved on time therefore the 3:08 dips below 3:00 to 2:59:21. .015 is conservative and up to .025 have been shown in research studies.
16:00 5k runner; 16 min. x 190 steps/min. = 3040 steps
3040 x .015 sec = 45.6 sec. so the 16:00 now runs it in 15:15!
Heiki study on 5k runners; average 18:00; Group divided into 45 mile per week versus 70. The 45 did explosive drills and sprints, etc. After 9 weeks there was no change in 5k times for 70 mile group but .015 decrease for 45 mile per week group; times dropped to 17:10-20 range.

Tip: aqua running, not touching bottom; 8 weeks high intensity; shown to maintain conditioning for that 8 weeks.
Tip: Cycling can be a good cross-training for runners and actually help running if it is explosive cycling; it could improve lactate threshold level and power.
Little to no research has been done on the elliptical trainer.
Stair climber may benefit runners; use high intensity level though.

How much time off before fitness drops off? 4th day some decrease shows up (due to plasma volume is up when conditioned so end up urinating out excess fluid); some muscle enzymes decrease. After 20 days of no activity it typically takes double the time to regain it all. Unless you do high intensity alternative workouts. The only cross training that seems to have an affect at all is very high intensity (interval like) training.
The ACE gene is related to economy in running; researchers have found the same incidence in Europeans as Kenyans. Therefore, at this time there is no support to the common notion that Kenyans are genetically superior to non-Kenyans.
Overall, genetic factors and running have been poorly studied at this time.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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