"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Steve vs. the Experts #5: Dellinger

The Oregon System of training began with Bill Bowerman and flourished under Bill Dellinger. It's essentially syncretic: it looks at what everyone else is doing, then picks and chooses from among their workouts; this is one of the essential flaws of most runners in the western world (the other being successive faddism). Bowerman was strictly a college coach and had little to say about the marathon. Dellinger also had little to say until one of his former athletes, Aberto Salazar, set the world record in the marathon and was a hopeful for the 1984 Olympics. He and Bill Freeman wrote "The Competitive Runner's Training Book" (1984), which has all the signs of having been hastily written and published. It was not popular, as it only gave elite training schedules, then said "scale back to your own ability level," without explaining how that would be done.

One constant of the Oregon system is a 3 week off-season training cycle. Types of training (some described inadequately, some not explained at all) are: steady running, fartlek, goal pace intervals, date pace intervals, cut-downs, rhythm runs, overdistance trials, underdistance trials, hard intervals, quick running and simulated race drills. This huge "bag of tricks" allows the coach of a team to quickly size up his team; the coach can see what each runner's strengths and weaknesses are and, unfair as it is, find out which runners can tolerate a lot of hard workouts without injury - these become the stars, as the others become support for them.

The schedule given for the marathon is for a 2:15 or better runner:

S. AM: 15 miles
M. AM: 20-30 min.
T. AM 7-10 miles
T. PM one hour fartlek*
W. AM 20-30 min.
W. PM 20-30 min.
Th AM: 7-10
Th PM: 7-10
F AM 20-30 min
F PM 20-30 min
Sa AM: 6x1 mile- 400m recovery. Start at 10 seconds per mile faster than marathon pace and lower the time as the season progresses.
Sa PM: 5-8
S AM: 20-30 min
S PM: 20-30 min
M AM 20-30 min
M PM 20-30 min
T Noon: 18 miles, steady pace. As the season progresses, increase to 24 miles or 3 hours, whichever comes first.
W AM 20-30 min
W PM 20-30 min
Th AM: 5-8
Th PM 5-8
F AM 20-30 min
F PM 20-30 min
Sa AM 9 miles, alternating miles in 5:00 and 5:30, starting and ending with 5:00. As the season progresses, lower the times to 4:40 and 5:20.
S AM 20-30 min
S PM 20-30 min
M Am 20-30 min
M PM 2-30 min
T AM 90 min fartlek*
T PM 5 miles
W AM 20-30 min
W PM 20-30 min
Th AM 7-10
Th PM 7-10
F AM 20-30 min
F PM 20-30 min
Sa AM "cut-downs": 5x(800m run, 200m jog, 300m run, 300 jog). 800's done in 2:40, 2:35, 2:30, 2:24, 2:20 and hard 300's done in 54, 52, 50, 48, 46.

* The book states "Every other week (sic) will be a fartlek run. Add time to the run until you reach two hours..." then "drop back down to one hour and begin increasing again."

The salient points are that there are only two hard workouts per week and that mileage is maintained with two-a-day runs. Dellinger states (p. 139) that some day a runner will break 2:00 in the marathon and that he believes that that runner will only train about 90 miles per week.

Alberto Salazar did not use this schedule for his unofficial world record marathon. Being more of an ultramarathoner by nature (his win at the Comrades 54 mile being as impressive as his marathons), he ran considerably more miles than this schedule has. Salazar has written a book on road racing, which is geared to beginners, with only a few apparent nods to the Oregon system, such as his marathon workouts including a run of 8-10 miles, alternating between faster and slower than race pace.

Another product of the University of Oregon is Brad Hudson, whose book will be the last in this series and is also syncretic in nature, but has more of a philosophy behind it.


Anonymous said...

Who is Bill Hudson?

SteveQ said...

OOPS! Funny typo (Bill Hudson was a very lame comedian who happened to be in my mind. Wrong Hudson, obviously). I made the correction.

Hey, anonymous, how'd the 50K go?