I started leafing through coach Jim Vance’s book “Run with Power” a couple of months ago and never quite found the time to settle down to read it all through properly. I seem to spend WAY more time writing than reading and finding a couple of free hours is always tricky with ‘the day job’.
Jim’s book looks comprehensive and is geared towards both runners and triathletes. Indeed many triathletes will already be familiar with the concept of training with power for cycling.
The book starts out from first principles and assumes the reader knows nothing about training with power. On that basis, it’s probably more geared towards power newbies but still goes into some fairly complex areas of training as it progresses.
Whilst you might not particularly care how a power meter works you may probably be interested in some of the ways that power can measure ‘how good you are’. Not simply ‘you are more powerful than me’ but at a much more nuanced and useful level of how efficiently your power is translated into actual running speed on the ground. A power meter could then be used to assess the effects of changes to technique on the amount of power required to run at any given speed. Slightly more efficient technique means you can either go faster or go at the same speed for longer.
That might already sound ‘a bit too complicated’ and maybe it does sound that way.
But perhaps have a read of this interview (link to: the5krunner.com) I recently did with one of the UK’s best veteran 5k runners/triathletes, Mike Trees. I only asked Mike a few questions on power but he specifically noted that, as a masters athlete, not only did he continue to get faster; he did that by becoming more efficient. That really should make the older age group triathletes listen as perhaps the received wisdom is that we can only halt or reduce the decline in our times as we age. Mike was probably fast than both you and I and yet he got faster still.
So what will make you faster? An extra 2 hours training this week on top of your plan? Or understanding how to approach the next 102 hours of training this year to get more efficient and faster?
Returning to Jim’s book. Jim also covers power zones. They are conceptually the same as heart rate zones but it can be insightful to understand what bodily adaptation will be prompted by training in different zones. But simply training in the zones appropriate for your race is not enough. Your training needs to shift through different foci on different zones as race day approaches so Jim explains the well established concept of the periodisation of training for just this purpose in his section on Advanced Training.
His final section on RACING with power is also insightful. As runners we must all intuitively know that running at a constant pace is best in a race. Yet with various clever bits of power-based analyses we can quantify that amount of variability (VI=Variability Index). There’s more in there too over the 200 pages of writing.
I loved Joe Friel’s Training Bibles. But one thing they lack is a pre-canned training plan, instead Friel’s books give you the skills to create your own plan. Conversely and more usefully, Jim’s book ends with over 100 pages of running plans based on power. Those plans in themselves make the book worth the money: sub 16 minutes 5k; sub 18 minute 5k; sub 32 minute 10k; sub 40 minute 10k; sub 1:20 HM; Sub 1:40 HM; Sub 2:30 Marathon; and a sub 3:30 marathon. Maybe he should have included some slower 5k/10k plans in there as well !
One option is to get a personal trainer to guide your power-based training. It’s good to make sure you choose trainer, who have been trained through an accredited brand, such as Premiere Global, although I suspect that Premiere don’t support power-based trainers. There are several power proficient trainers listed on the STRYD website (link to: stryd.com) but I suspect that the book is considerably cheaper and, in any case, you may well have got the book free if you purchased STRYD in the USA. Maybe now is the time to read it ?
The Running Power Hardware – STRYD