FACA Clinic: The Foundation of Endurance Training

Scott Christensen is a championship coach and creator of "The Stillwater System" that he uses and teaches distance coaches around the nation. 

Here are our takeaways from Christensen's "Foundation of Endurance Training" talk at the 2020 FACA Track and Field clinic. 

Science of Distance Running

  • Science plays a significant role in understanding distance training, specifically to understand development, and order the sequence of workouts. 
    • "All the progress that has been made over the years when it comes to distance training, has been in how all workouts are sequenced." - Christensen

Training Methods & Zones

  • Have variety in training for combined zone racing: 
    • "Distance Runners have comfort zones and critical zones. Think of the mile for example: the first three laps are the comfort zone and the last lap would be what you call the critical zone." - Christensen
    • Two training methods: aerobic and anaerobic 
      • Aerobic workouts are long slow repeats and you can use date pace time trials to test Vo2 max of your athletes. 
      • Anaerobic workouts are short repeats and you can use date pace time trials of shorter distances to test the Vo2 max 
      • These workouts help the development, build the oxygen and mitochondria in your athletes to allow them to expel more energy in their races and have a stronger ability to leave the comfort zone and dig deep into the critical zone. 

The Importance of the Training Plan Sequence

  • Set up your training plan properly
    • "Figure out what their best race is and train them for that race, but that doesn't mean you can't swing them around to the other events. In fact, you should move them around other events." - Christensen
    • Christensen breaks down the training plan into three phases: the preparation phase, competition phase, and transition phase. He then divides up these phases into smaller cycles according to the event. 
    • "I coach the movement, not the muscle. As an example, my distance runners don't do benchpress. There's no movement in distance running that simulates that movement, so why would I have them do that?" - Christensen

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