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Polarized training

75 watchers
Dec 2020
4:55pm, 23 Dec 2020
3335 posts
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Kieren, if you're referring to the Fitzgerald book the I would say it's a decent introduction to polarized training ideas. But I reckon you would learn more if you read through this thread from the beginning (assuming you have not already done so) - lots of really, really useful information and ideas here.
Dec 2020
1:09am, 24 Dec 2020
4087 posts
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Thanks. I've read quite a lot in this thread & find itt very helpful.

I stumbled across this which might be useful for those planning the 20% hard sessions.
Dec 2020
10:29am, 24 Dec 2020
3337 posts
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Thanks, Kieren, that stuff is gold.
11 Jan
11:17am, 11 Jan 2021
3355 posts
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I had a proper go at these short interval blocks the other day - interesting experience. Because it's quite difficult to monitor your pace for these short intervals, I like to use a stretch of track of known distance. There's a convenient rectangle in the local park, where the short sides are about a quarter the length of the long sides, so it makes sense to use that (if my recoveries are at half the speed and half the duration, then I will cover a quarter of the distance).

What this meant is I ended up doing 3 sets of 10 x 42-43 seconds, with 17-18 second recoveries, separated by 2 minute rests. 42-43 seconds equates to something a little faster than 5K pace but not as fast as vVO2max pace. I suspect this is close enough to 2-1 ratio for it not to make any difference.

Maybe I should actually have gone at vVO2max pace, I'm not sure? It's not clear from Seiler's discussion exactly what pace one should be doing the short intervals at. The main benefit of these blocks seems to be that they allow you to accumulate a lot of training time at over 90% of max heart rate or VO2max (the two seem to be used interchangeably). If we're talking about max heart rate and using the Karvonen (heart rate reserve) method, then this session didn't quite hit the spot. My heart rate followed the kind of sawtooth pattern Seiler mentions, going up to 162-163 in the intervals and dropping to 158 in the recoveries. Using Karvonen, though, 90% for me is 163, so I'm hovering just under that. If I simply use 90% of HRmax, though, this is perfect, as that figure would be 158 for me, so the entire session is just a little above that.

One other point is that it was about 2/3 the way through the first block before my heart rate climbed up to and settled at that 158-163 range. So in effect, I only did maybe 24 out of the 30 reps actually in the 'zone' (although clearly the first 6 will also have had training benefit). I think a better way of doing this may actually be to preface it with a more effective warmup, with some strenuous stuff in there, to allow my heart rate to climb much more quickly as soon as I get going.

I'll be experimenting with these more in the next few weeks.
2 Feb
8:08pm, 2 Feb 2021
3374 posts
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I realise I have fallen, without intending to, into a rather ultra-polarised training pattern of late. Partly because of crappy weather and partly out of what's-the-point lethargy, my weekly mileage has dropped back to something like 30-35 miles per week at the moment. I'm typically running 15-18 miles (over two runs) at the weekend with Mrs J2R, normally at 11-11:30 mins/mile. But I also tend to do a long speedwork session in the week where my pace for the reps is typically 5-5:30 mins/mile. Quite a gap, eh? If this works out to be spectacularly effective, I'll publish a book about my method and let you all know when it is to be published. :)

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About This Thread

Maintained by Canute
Polarised training is a form of training that places emphasis on the two extremes of intensity. There is a large amount of low intensity training (comfortably below lactate threshold) and an appreciable minority of high intensity training (above LT).

Polarised training does also include some training near lactate threshold, but the amount of threshold training is modest, in contrast to the relatively high proportion of threshold running that is popular among some recreational runners.

Polarised training is not new. It has been used for many years by many elites and some recreational runners. However, it has attracted great interest in recent years for two reasons.

First, detailed reviews of the training of many elite endurance athletes confirms that they employ a polarised approach (typically 80% low intensity, 10% threshold and 10% high intensity. )

Secondly, several scientific studies have demonstrated that for well trained athletes who have reached a plateau of performance, polarised training produces greater gains in fitness and performance, than other forms of training such as threshold training on the one hand, or high volume, low intensity training on the other.

Much of the this evidence was reviewed by Stephen Seiler in a lecture delivered in Paris in 2013 .

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