How to Deal with Suboptimal Training Situations

Over the weekend I put together a possible program for some athletes who are in a bit of a pinch to pass a 400m repeat test (that they just failed) in one month. Before you get all excited and scroll down, let me qualify this program with a few points:

  1. This program is NOT ideal –track style training should be undertaken when one has around 12-weeks to dedicate, minimally.
  2. These athletes are not long-distance sprinters (or anything close), they just need to pass this test.
  3. Bottom line, the athletes in question could use some overall general physical preparation and aerobic improvement (i.e., why they failed in the first place). So, regardless of sport specificity, this program will provide worlds of improvement for their baseline conditioning and that’s good for any athlete.
  4. The “Q” workouts stand for Quality and to get best results should be combined with 20-30min non-impact cardiovascular training on the other days of the week. These sessions will be recovery/base building sessions and heart rate should be monitored to stay within the suggested zone.
  5. General strength training 2-3 days per week should be undertaken in concert with this program.
  6. Because these athletes are not accustomed to running on a track for these extended distances, all efforts should be made to encourage recovery and regeneration. SMR (foam rolling), static & active stretching, dynamic warm-ups, ice baths, and post-training (all day would be even better) nutrition should all be addressed to stave off any potential problems.
WEEK 1

Q1 Workout:

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Warm-up

4x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

2x400m (2-3min Walking Rest)

4x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

5-min Jog at Easy Pace to Cool-down

 

Q2 Workout:

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Warm-up

3x600m (3-4min Walking Rest)

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Cool-down

 

Q3 Workout:

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Warm-up

4x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

1x800m (1min Rest)

4x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

5-min Jog at Easy Pace to Cool-down

WEEK 3

Q1 Workout:

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Warm-up

4x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

3x400m (2-3min Walking Rest)

4x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

5-min Jog at Easy Pace to Cool-down

 

Q2 Workout:

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Warm-up

4x600m (3-4min Walking Rest)

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Cool-down

 

Q3 Workout:

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Warm-up

4x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

2x800m (1min Rest)

4x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

5-min Jog at Easy Pace to Cool-down

WEEK 2

Q1 Workout:

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Warm-up

3x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

2x400m (2-3min Walking Rest)

1x600m (4-min Walking Rest)

2x400m (2-3min Walking Rest)

3x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

5-min Jog at Easy Pace to Cool-down

 

Q2 Workout:

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Warm-up

20-min Steady Pace

5-min Jog at Easy Pace to Cool-down

 

Q3 Workout:

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Warm-up

6x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

1x800m (3min Rest)

6x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

5-min Jog at Easy Pace to Cool-down

WEEK 4

Q1 Workout:

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Warm-up

4x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

2x400m (2-3min Walking Rest)

1x600m (4-min Walking Rest)

2x400m (2-3min Walking Rest)

4x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

5-min Jog at Easy Pace to Cool-down

 

Q2 Workout:

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Warm-up

20-min Steady Pace

5-min Jog at Easy Pace to Cool-down

 

Q3 Workout:

10-min Jog at Easy Pace to Warm-up

6x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

2x800m (3min Rest)

6x200m (1-2min Walking Rest)

5-min Jog at Easy Pace to Cool-down

Oftentimes as a coach or an athlete you get caught between a “rock and a hard place.” Training variables and conditions are rarely perfect and you constantly have to find the right fit for the safest and most effective training plan given a suboptimal situation to yield the greatest result. Personally, I think this is a big reason why my “job” is pretty much nothing but fun all day, every day.

Anyway, as a strength coach (or an athlete designing his/her own program) you have to rise to each unique situation, analyze it, acknowledge that it is not ideal, then move on to create the best program you possibly can give the restraints. I wish “good luck” to the budding, but short-term 400m repeat sprinters over this next month!

As a side note, Arabella is already showing signs of her future status as an elite athlete. Here she is pictured furiously searching Daniel’s Running Formula for training paces associated with her VDOT score – Haha. She really did look through that book around for about 5-minutes.