I started reading Brad Hudson’s “Run Faster” book a few weeks ago and devoured the entire book within days. I really like Brad’s philosophy and the fact that he’s successfully coached Olympic runners definitely helps build his credibility as a coach. His running methodology is called “Adaptive Running” and is based on the principle that there is no single training formula that works perfectly for every runner.
How do you write an entire book (including training plans) if everyone’s plan is different? Well Brad does have some principles that he believes in and follows with all his athletes. He also believes that in general, there are certain truths in running that work for most people (i.e. run long to build endurance, etc.). These principles along with running truths help guide him as he creates their individual training plans and if you learn and follow them, he believes you can successfully coach yourself to achieve your goals.
Before we get to the 4 principles, there are 2 truths (I feel like I’m writing a philosophy term paper!).
Truth #1 : Understand how the human body adapts to different types of training and train accordingly. To summarize: there’s a lot of knowledge out there about what makes people run faster and you should understand it.
Truth #2: Learn how YOUR individual body adapts to various types of training, and train accordingly. To summarize: what works for someone else might not work for you. Learn what works for you and go with it. Pay attention to your body and adjust accordingly.
Truth #1 can be accomplished fairly quickly – lock yourself in a room for month and read everything you can get your hands on about running and you’ll figure out historically what makes people run faster. Unfortunately, truth #2 can only be learned over time and can only be learned by you (or a coach that follows your training over time). There is some patience required here.
Building on the truths, there are the 4 principles:
Principle #1: The goal of training is to stimulate the precise set of physiological adaptations that are needed to achieve maximum performance at a peak race. In sum: You need to pick peak race and do the workouts that work best to achieve your goal pace at that race. What works for a 10k runner won’t work for a marathoner and workouts you do 10 weeks out won’t be anything like workouts you do 3 weeks out from your goal race. Brad strongly emphasizes spending the final three peak weeks of training focusing on race pace runs. These weeks are intense but prepare the athlete for running the pace required to achieve their goal.
Principle #2: Training programs must be adapted to individual strengths, weaknesses, needs and goals of each runner. No plan is one size fits all. Some runners have more fast twitch muscle fibers, a higher natural VO2 Max, more or less muscle, etc. and a good plan will improve their weaknesses but also boost the runner up with runs that emphasize their strengths. Time constraints of the runner, desire/ability to stay injury free under higher mileage and your current fitness level are just some of the considerations needed when building a plan.
Principle #3: Individualized training schedules must be adapted daily, based on a runner’s response to recent training and any other factors that may affect the runner’s readiness for planned running. This means – LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! If you’re running yourself into the ground, do not do a hard workout. If you are feeling good, it’s ok to go a little harder than the schedule calls for (not too much harder though).
Principle #4: The runner must adapt his or her training from season to season, year to year, in response to the effects of the most recently completed training cycle, to stimulate further positive adaptations. What worked last year might not be your best bet this year. The body remembers past training and will adapt. You must take a look at what worked and didn’t work in the past and learn from it.
So how am I incorporating Brad’s methodology into my training? First and foremost, although I’m utilizing one of his training plans as a guide, I made the training plan completely customized to my own schedule. I basically took his 3 key workouts per week and put them in my plan and then added my own tweaks. Brad believes in high mileage but since I’m also juggling P90X3 and triathlon training, I am not going to run 5 days a week. Some of the mid-week runs are quite long and I’ve cut some of them down a bit to be more realistic for me as a 8-9 min/mile runner (if you run 6 min/miles, 8-10 miles on a weekday is much more feasible).
Second, as of now, my training plan is kind of a skeleton. I added the long runs and a few key workouts but I don’t fill in the days until the week or two before. I have been basing my training on how I feel. Tonight for example, I felt great so I decided to do the threshold run as scheduled (2 mile warm up, 2 x 15 min @ half marathon goal pace with 2 min recovery between, 2 mile cool-down). Last week, I pushed this run up a day in order to accommodate my schedule and did it at lunch. Instead of 2 mile warm-up and cool-down, I did 1 mile warm-up and 1 mile cool-down. Both achieved my goal and worked with my schedule and I felt great for both of them.
I’ve been running consistently for about four years now and I’ve learned a lot about what works for me. I definitely respond well to threshold/tempo intervals (Yasso 800s, 5 min-15 min tempo intervals, race pace runs) and I am weak at climbing hills. I gain a lot of confidence from race-pace runs and need them in my training plan to be confident going into to a race.
As a result, my plan incorporates strength (P90X and short, steep hill sprints), threshold runs, and long runs with fast finishes. I really like Brad’s philosophy that toward the end of a training cycle there is a lot of running at race pace. Come race day, that pace doesn’t feel so foreign.
So far, I’m loving the training. I am sure to keep the easy runs easy, and then I let it go on the fast ones. When I feel good, I push it more and when I’m tired, I take it easier. I’m feeling optimistic that Brad’s principles are going to help make the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon a great race!
What have you found works for your run training? Do you find yourself comparing your training to others?