Speed translates up

Early when we opened the gym, we worked with Ric Rojas' athletes (we still have some that come to us). I've always liked Ric, he thinks about running the way we think about strength training - no long beat downs, just do what you need to to get faster (stronger).

He invited me to participate in some of his track workouts so that I could see what he did with his runners. I took him up on that because I used to run track and thought it would be fun to give it a try. His workouts are the running equivalent to #lazystrong (#lazyfast?). Run hard and short and recover a lot. No long grinds, or quick repeats that make you go glycolytic. Short bursts, low intensity work, and lots of rest.  

The rest of the strength community doesn't believe in our lazy strong approach. Likewise, it's been hard for the running community to understand that you don't need to train long and hard to race long events.  This article popped up over the weekend about how folks are finally learning that #lazyfast is as good as #lazystrong.

I really like Ric's commentary on the article which I'm stealing and reposting here.

Perhaps some of the research is catching up to what I've been doing for decades... I've always said that "speed translates up" to high performance at longer distance races and have historically worked mile training into even my marathon programs. In the meantime, many of the local running programs persist in prescribing long, slow intervals at altitude and long slow endurance running (LSD) at the expense of high intensity speed work and competition at track distances from 400m to 1 mile.

Training-short-and-recovering sounds a lot like lifting-heavy-and-resting or short bursts of intense work with long rests (a la antiglycolytinc training and A+A which we do). These patterns show up everywhere (e.g., the actual Barbell Strategy). Why?

I was trying to think of a clever way to tie it all together, and then I saw this twitter argument started by none other than Taleb:

Weightlifting, kettlebell swinging, and sprinting all fall under the same umbrella - they're the Alactic work of the A+A training. This pushes you towards the extrema which necessarily pulls your average up - but more importantly mitigates your risk for injury.

The way I see it: If you spend all of your time running at 80% so that you can train for a marathon or you spend all of your time lifting high-rep workouts, your body gets used to that narrow distribution of inputs and responds with a narrow distribution of adaptations. You fall apart at the tails of that distribution. If you do a few short sprints, or a few heavy swings, or a few heavy deadlifts, you body see the extreme demands and adapts (antifragily) to that tail event. You don't need to risk injury training around the mean to improve your performance - you train hard to increase the range and rest to recover.

The thing that takes most people out of athletics, or even just training is chronic over-use injury. The more time you spend working, the more wear you're putting on your body and the higher the chance of some type of injury. But if you can reduce time by increasing the effort, you can elicit an even better response from your body AND reduce the risk of injury. It's Jensen's inequality showing up again. But this time squared! Your risk of injury is a product of the convex functions of both time spent and intensity of work. Since this is non-linear, it's much better to be at short-time/high-intensity or long-time/low-intensity than to be moderate-time/moderate-intensity.

Michael Deskevich