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What's the point of pyramids?

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J2R
Sep 2017
10:23am, 4 Sep 2017
693 posts
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J2R
(This is strictly a running question, so egyptologists need not reply.)

The pyramid is a mainstay of many training programmes. What is the training benefit that this provides? I ask because I train by myself pretty well all the time, and I tend to keep things simple and don't do stuff like this. I'll do 200 metre, 1km and 2.2km (actually 8 minute) repeats at certain paces, plus the usual easy runs, long runs, fartleks, but I don't really do structured sessions like pyramids. Could I be missing something? Or is it more a way of making hard work palatable for groups?
Sep 2017
11:11am, 4 Sep 2017
14160 posts
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Dvorak
I used to do them occasionally on the track or treadmill and I found them useful for easing up to a high speed in a much less abrupt way than, say, intervals. I'd generally end up doing more at a higher pace than I would otherwise (I found doing a proper tempo run in training hard.) Although I preferred progressive sessions on the track as I generally lacked the patience to come back down the pyramid (much easier when pressing buttons on the treadmill).

Specific training benefits? Well, I ran better then, though I wouldn't say it was due to some pyramid sessions. I viewed it as just another bit of variety. Though through the progressive runs and pyramids, I ended up with pretty solid pace judgement.

(When I saw the title, I thought it was from GregP, just setting up some variations on "that bit at the top".)
Sep 2017
2:41pm, 4 Sep 2017
11082 posts
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Autumnleaves
Interval training boosts speed - and the pyramid is one way of doing intervals of different lengths. The faster efforts push you out of your 'comfort zone' - because you have the recoveries you can run faster than you would do normally. Personally I find the structure suits me better than fartlek - I will keep going to the end of the relevant time whereas it's too easy to be vague in my head about when the harder bit of a fartlek ends! The mistake many runners make is not taking adequate recoveries in a speed session - so that instead of working on the lactate threshold you end up with an aerobic session instead. Also personally, I find pacing through a pyramid is a very good session - and coming back down the other side particularly as the recoveries are shorter.
J2R
Sep 2017
10:12am, 8 Sep 2017
697 posts
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J2R
OK, thanks for the input. I suspect the way I do my intervals means that I'm probably already getting the benefits a pyramid session might bring. For my 1km and 8 minute (2.2km reps), I usually have 1-2 minute standing or walking recoveries, and for the shorter ones (typically 40 seconds) I have equal time slow jogging recoveries. I suppose the difference is that I typically won't vary my pace much within a given session, but I will do sessions of varying paces over a week. It's be interesting to know if the body handles this dfferently.

Autumnleaves, you mention working on the lactate threshold. What kind of pace are you talking about for that? I don't do much traditional tempo stuff, at lactate threshold these day - I'm a big believer in polarized training. I find I'm typically doing most of my longer fast stuff either around 10K pace, or maybe a little faster (but not 5K pace), and my shorter stuff (200-400m reps) at around 20-25 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Most of the rest of my running will be 2-3 minutes slower than 5K pace.
Sep 2017
11:27am, 8 Sep 2017
11095 posts
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Autumnleaves
Well I like speed sessions - I use the McMillan pace calculator to give me a guide for target times for the shorter reps - but for anything under 1km I work at more like my mile race pace, so it might be a bit quicker per mile than what you've done. However I too believe in polarized training - and as I train my own group of beginners a lot of my running is more like 4 minutes slower than my 5k race pace. I don't do much long fast running at all - probably one run a week that might have some tempo miles in the middle (at around 10k pace or half marathon target pace depending on how I feel).
J2R
Sep 2017
9:32am, 9 Sep 2017
698 posts
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J2R
Actually, I do tend to do my shorter reps (200-400m) at pretty close to mile race pace, in fact - around 5:15 pace, sometimes a little faster. I'm aiming to be around vVO2max pace, in fact, which McMillan gives me as 5:13, but it's hard to hit it to the second.

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Maintained by J2R
(This is strictly a running question, so egyptologists need not reply.)

The pyramid is a mainsta...

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