Here, Lydiard is explaining a specific workout, 50/50. We had to shuffle different segments, making it a little difficult to get the right “flow”. He first explains about the purpose of Repetition/Interval training, which is different from 50/50. Please bear with him, at this point (back in 1983), we were still talking in terms of “lactic acid build-up which slows us down…” We know today that it is lowing of pH, caused by increased production of lactate, that slows us down.
This workout is sometimes called “Windsprints” (not to get mixed up with “Strides”) or “Shaprener”; or 100/100 or 50/50. The idea is to sprint almost flat-out a set distance, either 100m or 50m, and “FLOAT” the same distance (100m or 50m) — not “stop and jog”– and go straight back into the next sprint. Basically, you run the set distance very fast and you don’t give yourself much breather — you just simply “stop sprinting” and let the momentum carry you through. Given the short distance, you won’t get much recovery before you set out to sprint.
If done correctly, most of “regular” people can only handle 4 or 5 laps around the track. You will be sucking air like crazy!! This is exactly what we want. Some people, who never learnt to “sprint” may simply “run slightly fast” and go straight into their regular run pace…and they can go on and on and on. The very best of the elite may do (and had done) up to 3-miles of this. If you are, say, a 20-minutes 5k runner and manage to do 3-miles of this, chances are; you are not quite sprinting fast enough. We explain this in detail during our Lydiard Coaching Certificate Clinic, the idea is to stimulate your Anaerobic energy system just enough, but not too much, while adding the fine sprinting edge in your legs. If you are not quite sprinting and can go on and on, it’s most probably defeating the purpose.
If you are working on the Lydiard Pyramid, by the time you get this far, you would have completed hill training to strengthen your legs, intervals to get your tolerance to oxygen debt plus your are more or less accustomed to running faster. Now it’s time to sprint. Many people make a mistake of jumping to do this type of workout, after reading “Tabata workout” improving VO2Max better than an hour’s run. You cannot “sprint” properly if you’re not ready for it. Consequently you’ll be getting into too much oxygen debt by sprinting, end up opting to run at the tempo-run pace. An interesting side-note is; if you perform this workout, you will very quickly realize, by blowing in and out so hard, this WILL improve your breathing ability, hence increased VO2Max…seemingly. Again, we cover this during the presentation but your ability to perform well in a middle distance and distance event involves a lot more than just merely VO2Max. If you realize this, then you’ll realize anybody who would make a comment such as “cardio is dead” don’t understand what it takes to “perform well”.
The clip of Lasse Viren, a 4-time Olympic champion, doing the sprints in-field, shows briefly how it’s done. We will eventually post a video clip of 50/50.