Posted by Steve Magness
The second part of my training model paper:
Part 2: Global Change
The example above (in part 1) illustrates how to use science to our advantage. In order to do that we have to stop thinking of the singular effects a workout might have and start thinking about the global effects it will have on the athlete. After this is done, then you must think of the effects in the whole training picture. That is the most common mistake that is seen. We tend to look at each individual scientific variable and how we can individually improve them. This can be scene in most running magazines, where there are plenty of articles entitled “How to improve your VO2max” or lactate threshold or buffering capacity. These authors fail to realize that yes that effect might take place but at what consequence. Coaches that are scientifically trained tend to go from using workouts to improve aerobic capacity to VO2max to lactate threshold and then to buffering capacity. They only think of one effect of the workout and ignore the fact that one workout will cause many different adaptations and it is how these adaptations interact over a period of several workouts and an entire training cycle that matters.
The worst offenders of this are books that classify workouts into zones based on physiological parameters. You have VO2max workouts and lactate threshold workouts and all sorts of other cleverly named workouts. These workouts may improve those variables but the other effects are not discussed and the main problem is that many coaches then get the idea that ONLY workouts from that zone will improve that particular variable. They are then astonished when research comes out that sedentary people improved their VO2max by doing anaerobic or sprint workouts. “That can’t be true” they say, but they forget the global effects of a workout. In our example, an untrained person could improve VO2max doing sprint workouts because the FT-b fibers that rarely get used will get worked out and thus improve their aerobic abilities somewhat. However, in a trained effect, this same increase in aerobic capabilities of the FT-b might occur, but the highly trained ST or FT-a fibers will decrease their aerobic capabilities because of the acidosis involved and they are overwhelmed in the workout. This is important: It is possible to improve aerobic capacity in one type of fiber while decreasing it in another during the same workout! That is why analyzing global change is so important.
To reiterate, the key is finding the global effects of a certain workout. Once you know these, then you can organize your training in such a way that the workouts are blended together to produce certain physiological outcomes that lead to better race performance. This is important because workouts and training do not occur in a vacuum. They occur within the context of other workouts, training, and lifestyle issues that surround them. These different aspects affect that particular workout and will be covered later.
Now that we have a different model for analyzing different workouts via their global effects, it is important to understand how to fit that concept into improving race performance. Even if you know the global effects of a workout it does no good unless there is a model present that gives direction on how to improve race times. In essence the model has to provide a physiological map to better performance.