This may be the first in a series.
I drove a friend to the track where he was coaching a group of runners. On the way, he paused for a moment to write something and then proudly announced he had just created a pyramid workout for his guys for that day. Less than a minute of thought - you should know that quite often, coaches make things up just that quickly. When I parked, he showed it to me and asked me what I thought. I asked him why this particular workout. He responded that, while "they'll run quarters all day, but I can't get them to do halves."
I hate pyramid workouts. They are used by coaches as a grab bag: they don't know what you need, so they give you a little of everything and thus you should at least get something you need.
[For the uninitiated, a pyramid workout is a track interval workout that starts with short distances, builds up distance and then ends with shorter reps. There are variations, but that's the most common. For example: 4x200m, 2x400m, 1x800m, 2x400m, 4x200m]
If you're coaching a team, it's an easy go-to, because everyone needs something different and so everyone ends up feeling they accomplished something. Plus, it makes you look smart, because it's complicated. The problem is that it doesn't really do a lot for anyone.
There's a place for everything, however, and there's one instance where a pyramid workout is a good idea. If you have a runner that has a habit of going out too fast and also has no finishing kick, a pyramid's a good way to go. If they start the first rep too fast, it's short, so it doesn't take too much out of them. You can make adjustments. Also, the last reps are short, so you can often goad the runner into running faster than they did in the long reps.
4 days ago