Six Paces Training
If your goal is to maximize your performance then you have to optimally train all the muscle fibers that are active and contribute to performance during your chosen event. There is no “training a muscle” or “overloading a muscle”. Instead there is “training individual muscle fibers” and “overloading individual muscle fibers”.
The only way to train a muscle fiber is to overload that fiber. A fiber that is not overloaded will not adapt or improve.
In order to overload a fiber you have to fatigue that fiber. Fatigue = overload.
Muscle fibers do not all fatigue at the same time. Different fibers have different rates of fatigue. Slow twitch fibers fatigue at a much, much slower rate than Fast A fibers. Fast A fibers fatigue much slower than Fast B fibers.
Furthermore, fibers of the same type are not all exactly alike. Instead, fibers of the same type vary widely in their contractile properties. For example, the average Slow Twitch fibers is slower, weaker, but more enduring than the average Fast A fiber. But that’s just the average. There are Slow Twitch fibers that are slower than the average Slow Twitch fibers, some that are average Slow Twitch fibers, and some that are faster than the average Slow Twitch fiber. In fact, there are some Slow Twitch fibers that are as strong and fast as some Fast A fibers.
The same thing exists in the other fiber types too. In other words, there is a continuum of contractile properties (a bell curve) in all muscle fibers – from slower to faster, weaker to stronger, more enduring to less enduring.
The endurance continuum found in your fibers ranges from a few seconds to several hours. In other words, you have fibers that fatigue in seconds, some that fatigue in minutes, and some that take hours to fatigue.
The amount of time it takes to train (i.e. overload) a specific fiber is dependent on the individual characteristics of that fiber. For example, a fiber that can contract for an hour before it fatigues will be minimally overloaded during exercise that lasts a few minutes.
Therefore, training (i.e. fatiguing) all (or as many as is practical) your widely different fibers requires using a wide variety of training loads.
Train all your fibers
For runners racing distances between 100 meters and the marathon I suggest 6 distinct training paces / workouts in order to train to fatigue as many fibers as is practical.
The 6 training paces:
1. Marathon training pace
2. 1/2 marathon training pace
3. 10k training pace
4. 5k training pace
5. 2k training pace
6. Sprint training pace
These 6 training paces will train as many fibers as can be reasonably trained.
Optimally training as many fibers as you can reasonably train is the path to maximum performance.
Marathon training pace workout = long runs (12 to 25 miles) conducted at easy to moderate intensity. This workout maximally trains the weakest but most enduring of Slow Twitch fibers.
1/2 marathon training pace workout = medium long run (8-12 miles) conducted at a moderate intensity (slightly faster pace than marathon pace). This workout maximally trains the average Slow Twitch fibers and the slower Fast A fibers.
10k training pace workout = medium distance (5-7 miles) run conducted at a moderate to moderately hard intensity. This workout maximally trains the fastest Slow Twitch fibers and the average Fast A fibers
5k training pace workout = shorter distance (2-4 miles) run conducted at a moderately hard intensity. This workout maximally trains the above average Fast A fibers and the slowest Fast B fibers
2k training pace workout = short distance (1-2 miles) run conducted at a hard intensity. This workout maximally trains the fastest Fast A fibers and slower Fast B fibers
Sprint training pace workout = very short distance (100 meters – 1200 meters) sprints / intervals conducted at a very hard intensity. This workout maximally trains the average to above average Fast B fibers.
All 6 workouts cannot be done in a single week – the intensity will be too high and overtraining will likely occur.
The 6 workouts can be conducted over a 2 week training schedule. Here is an example:
Week 1: Sprint workout, 5k workout, 1/2 marathon workout
Week 2: 2k workout, 10k workout, Marathon workout
Monday – sprint training pace workout
Wednesday – 5k training pace workout
Saturday – 1/2 marathon training pace workout
Monday – 2k training pace workout
Wednesday – 10k training pace workout
Saturday – Marathon training pace workout