By Barry Publow
Scott Pauley (yellow skinsuit) keeps track of the time during a session of interval training. Behind him is Shannon Hegarty and Jacky Shu.
One of the most profound misconceptions about training is that skating lots of miles improves your speed. I hate to disappoint all you mega-mileage freaks, but skating a ton of miles won't make you faster.
That's not to say that it's not good for you. Piling on the miles will burn calories, improve your cardiovascular performance, and elevate your relative muscular endurance. But these are NOT the things that allow you to go fast over a distance of 26 miles!
The only way to race fast is to train fast, and this is where interval and "fartlek" training come into play.
Most skaters know what interval training is. But few understand the science behind it. As a result, they don't know how to adapt it to their racing or training schedule. They do the same intervals whether they are preparing for a 10K or a marathon. And that's simply wrong.
Here are some rules to keep in mind:
When preparing for a race, do a long skate once a week. This skate should be about 80-110 percent of your race distance. (So, therefore, if you are preparing for a marathon, you should do one skate a week of 20-28 miles.)
Twice a week, do hard interval workouts. (These sessions will be the primary mechanism to make you fast!)
At least once a week, do a "fartlek" workout of roughly half the marathon distance. (Fartlek training consist of bursts of intense activity alternated with periods of less strenuous effort.)
Give yourself two days of rest each week, which only leaves one day of the week unaccounted for. On that day, give yourself an easy-to-moderate recovery workout.
Follow this weekly training cycle until 7-10 days before your race. At that point, you should "peak and taper": reduce volume while maintaining intensity.
(Excerpted from Barry Publow's Marathon Training Guide. Copyright - Barry Publow)
Barry Publow is an international roller speed skating coach and the author of Speed on Skates and the Science of Speed ebook. A former competitive speed skater, he is an university-trained exercise physiologist who specializes in sport-specific technique, biomechanics and training applications. He lives in Ottawa.
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