Post Race Work-out

Mo Farah’s fellow training partner and US distance runner Galen Rupp has set a new 5,000m and 2 mile indoor American Record within a week. On both occasions, 15 minutes after his record run Galen Rupp started to embark on a track session.
It is not common practice among coaches to advise athletes to run a couple of (hard) aerobic/anaerobic  intervals immediately after a race. Depending on the athlete’s ability, the athlete could be fatigued or still occupied with the race experience. The majority of runners would separate race / training and would opt for a post race chat with friends and fellow runners, the more serious/competitive runners would consider a gentle 15′ cool down jog followed by another 10′ of stretching.

National Coach Mentor Neville Taylor (England Athletics) for Endurance was intrigued about this approach and thought to reach out to fellow coach mentees and ask to comment on Amby Burfoot’s (Runner’s World Chief Running Office) post “Opinion: Galen Rupp’s training is ridiculously rational“.

Since Galen Rupp broke Gerry Lindgren’s 5,000m high school record (unbroken for 40 years) it was obvious Galen Rupp would have the talent and ability to set new American Records (AR) records from 1,500m to the half marathon.

There has been rumours and speculation that Galen Rupp’s improvement would be a result of performance enhancing drugs (PED), Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), Hyperthyroidism and the scientific methods / facilities of the Nike Oregon Project (NOP). Personally, I don’t subscribe to any of those allegations. Rupp’s agent Ricky Simms clarified the allegations in a statement.

In order to understand the rational behind why Galen Rupp is doing those post race workouts I have put together a couple observations on Rupp’s training.

1 Mile – BU Terrier Invitational, Boston, 27/1/2013

Apparently Galen Rupp has been doing post race workouts for quite some time. However, after the Boston University Invitational a couple of videos have been published with Rupp doing a session after a race.

#1 1 Mile 3:50.92 Race

#2 4 mile Tempo Run on the treadmill @ 4’50”/mile, progressing to 4’30”/mile Video

Total Volume: 5m

According to Alberto Salazar, the purpose of the treadmill workout was not just a cool down jog, the tempo run followed by a hard mile effort leave the muscles more relaxed and helps to recover from the 1 mile hard effort. Salazar’s rational was that it was the last opportunity in Galen Rupp’s training schedule to accommodate a harder effort and he feels the workout will not leave Galen Rupp tired for the following day.

While the 1 mile effort is run at maximum capacity the 4m tempo run would operate more close to Rupp’s lactate threshold and is run at a much lower intensity compared to the 1 mile effort. The total volume of the race and training session is 5 miles.

5,000m – Boston, 16/1/2014

#1 5,000m 13:01.26 AR Video

… approx. 20 – 30 minutes later, Galen Rupp and Cam Levins

#2 2 x 800m/400m [95% 1 Mile] (400m Jog Recovery/3’45”) Video

Splits: 2:01/54.7/1:59/54.6

… approx. 7 minutes later, changing into spike.
#3 2 x 400 (54.5s / 53.8s) (400m jog in 3’45”)

Total Volume: 5 Miles

After setting a new 5,000m (American) indoor record Galen Rupp resumed training by running a few shorter repetitions at 95% mile race pace training his anaerobic capacity. The recoveries in between the repetitions likely lasted double the effort. The total volume of the whole session was 5 miles.

2 Miles – Boston, 25/1/2014

Flotrack covered Galen Rupp’s 2 mile America Record run here.

Galen Rupp’s post race workout (5x 1m) splits:

#1 2 Miles 8:07.41 AR (15 Minutes Rest)
#2 1 Mile 4’21” [10k] (3’30”)
#3 1 Mile 4’20” [10k] (3’30”)
#4 1 Mile 4’20” [10k] (3’30”)
#5 1 Mile 4’16” [10k] (3’30”)
#6 1 Mile 4’01” [80% 1.5k] (3’30”)

Total Volume: 7 Miles

Looking again at the session. More or less a time trial (2 miles) followed by long 1 mile  intervals with a 15 minutes full recovery break in between. Physiologically, the lactate build during the 2 mile effort should have cleared up within the 15 mins, though we do not really know Rupp’s lactate level post workout. Next, Rupp settles into 4’20”/mile pace, which corresponds to his 10k pace (27′ for 10k). The post workout intervals session was 4x 1m [10k Pace] (~3’30” rest/jog recovery) followed by 1m [90% 1 Mile Pace]. The total volume of the session was 7m.

Initially, my thoughts were in preparation of Rupp’s next race, a 1 mile AR attempt he would have to run shorter intervals at a higher intensity and train is anaerobic capacity, rather than focusing on training is aerobic power. The current AR for the 1 mile indoors is 3’49” set by Bernard Lagat, a middle distance specialist. According to this article in the Oregonian, Rupp is aiming high and will be targeting the 1 mile indoor world record of 3:48.45 set by Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR). The record attempt will be targeted for the 15/2/2014 in Boston.

However, reconsidering that point, considering having run a hard 2 mile effort, in the post race context an effort of 10k running, could feel similar to running shorter intervals at a higher intensity. Again, unfortunately we don’t have visibility of Rupp’s lactate levels before the race, after the race, before the session and after the session.

Athletes of the calibre of Galen Rupp follow a double periodisation programme as explained by his coach Alberto Salazar previously, typically a 2x 20 weeks cycle with a break in between. Within the cycle, instead of a block training approach, his athletes follow an integrated approach as per Oregon tradition. When running a hard 1 mile effort at the end of the session, muscles are already in a fatigued state providing new physical stimulus for muscles to respond and adapt. The psychological aspect should not be neglected too. Considering the athletes knows that he can perform such a session after a race could be a motivating factor and boost the athletes confidence. Comes the next race again, athlete can recall the experience and frame the new race situation accordingly.

1 Mile – BU Terrier Invitational – Boston, 5/2/2014

Two of Alberto Salazar’s runners, Mary Cain and Jordan Hasay conducted a post race workout. After Cain ran 4:24 and Hasay 4:28 in the mile both ran another session at the nearby Harvard University Indoor track.

Hasay ran a 4m and Cain ran 3m at 5:30 tempo pace. Both finished the session with a 600, 400, 300, 200 repetitions in race spikes. Video


1 Mile – New Balance Indoor Grand Prix – Boston, 8/2/2014

Galen Rupp started in the 1 mile race, though he dropped out (with 400m to go) with a sore left leg. The race was won by Nick Willis in 3:57.41. Video and Rupp’s post race statement.

What’s the benefit?

Coach Steve Magness (Science of Running) says “After races you have a hormonal profile that you just don’t get in practice. It creates an environment that allows for almost a super-compensation effect, where we can get more bang for our buck and higher volume/intensities of work than we normally would be able to get in. In essence, it creates a favourable situation for adaptation that you normally don’t get. So we try and take advantage of it.

Coach Urban’s View

These are just my personal thoughts and I don’t claim to be right about my own views. We don’t have all of Rupp’s data available, it’s just (one of many) perspectives.

Both record runs were done over shorter distances, rather than a 10k distance. For races < 5,000m extending the race with a session is possible as long the overall volume is in line of < 6 miles if we assume that 10% of the athletes weekly mileage is devoted to speed work. For Rupp training well beyond 100 mpw we assume the race and session represents only small volume in comparison to his overall training volume. The post race workout would be means to complete a quality volume of work within a given week, without requiring to make too many changes to the training programme.

Both runs were part of Rupp’s build up to an AR/WR attempt over the indoor mile. However, his agent Ricky Simm’s informed that Rupp was not going to attempt an AR/WR mid February and would rather target the national and world championships.

In order to optimise the build up and avoid disruption if the training, Rupp enhanced his race with a session. On both occasions the session was set to complement the race, e.g. when race volume is 3m and beyond finish with a mile worth of anaerobic work, while when the race was shorter but more intense finish with a session at lower intensity though at more volume.

Typically during the track season there are mid week track league fixtures which can disrupt the athlete’s training. Often there is a chance to double up with a 800/1,500 and then run a 3,000m a bit later as a training session. The challenge here is more the breaks in between events, which means the athlete’s muscle cool down and then it will be hard going to settle back into a training session. Unlikely, the track is free to use for training while competition is still in progress.
However, it would be possible after a 3,000m race to opt for 8x 200m @ 1.5k / 200m jog or after a 1,500m race to continue with 4x 1,000m [5k] (400m jog) as long as the athletes remains in a warm-up state.

Mixing race vs training? Athletes should focus predominately on the race and see the training session optional, otherwise it would be too much to contemplate and the athlete end up worrying about the training session before the race. Not all athletes are able to refocus after a race and can leave the race experience behind. If athletes are still analysing their performances then it will be unlikely the post race workout will turn into a beneficial session. Athletes shouldn’t sacrifice intensity / pace just to make it through the post workout routine. For example, if it becomes obvious the athletes will not be able to maintain the pace throughout the training session then it would be better to adjust the pacing or change the structure of the session. Such situations can likely impact the confidence of the athlete, i.e. being able to race well but getting sub-standard training times.

So, in conclusion if the athletes is on a high and feels to continue with a couple of reps/interval yes as long as the athletes remains in a warmup state, weekly quality mileage remains in line and the training complements the race. We assume the athlete is trained, healthy, injury free and has the required strength for a post work-out session. Especially, during a busy in-season such training can be beneficial when maximising the race days and recovery days in between races.

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