SPEED-TYPE AND ENDURANCE-TYPE RUNNERS

Speed-type distance runners, who have a generous amount of fast-twitch A muscle fibers, may benefit more from a high volume of interval training to improve endurance compared to endurance-type runners. Running many weekly miles at a low intensity doesn’t do as much for speed-type runners. Endurance-type distance runners, on the other hand, get a lot from running many weekly miles at a low intensity, because the slow-twitch muscle fibers love that kind of work. When planning your training volume and intensity, always remember to train to your strengths.

For example, if both a speed-type runner (miler) and an endurance-type runner (marathoner) train for the same race, the speed-type runner should run shorter reps of interval workouts, increasing the distance as training progresses, such as 800-meter reps at VO2max pace, increasing distance to 1,200 meters. The endurance-type runner should run longer reps of interval workouts, increasing the speed as training progresses, such as 1,200-meter reps at 5K race pace, increasing speed to VO2max pace.

Alternatively, the speed-type runner may run more, shorter reps at VO2max pace, while the endurance-type runner may run fewer, longer reps at VO2max pace, with the total distance of the workout (or time spent at VO2max pace) the same for both runners. Thus, there are two paths (types of runners) to meet at the same point.   

From the time I started running track as a sprinter when I was a kid, I have always been more of a speed-type runner, with muscular legs suited more for speed than endurance. I am also a speed-type runner psychologically — I have an intense personality, which is more aligned with short, high-intensity races and workouts.

Know who you are, both physiologically and psychologically, and train and race in line with who you are.   

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