The 4SPEED™ MethodThere's no worse feeling as a competitive runner than noticing training and race times stagnate. It takes away our primary motivation for running. What hinders you from further progress is a weakness in one or many of the 4 key performance metrics of your race fitness - general endurance, lactate threshold, VO2max capacity, and neuromuscular power.
“A weakness in any of the 4 key performance metrics limits your potential.”
General Endurance: Your general endurance is your ability to run for extended periods at an easy pace. It requires a well-developed fat metabolism, large glycogen stores, and the resilience of your bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles to withstand the repeated pounding that is characteristic to running.
Lactate Threshold: Your lactate threshold (LT) is your ability to process and clear lactate from your system. This is of major importance for half marathon and marathon races. 5K and 10K races are run above your LT and therefore depend more on lactate tolerance. A high LT lets you access a higher percentage of your VO2max at all distances.
VO2max Capacity: Your maximal aerobic capacity is your ability to supply your muscles with oxygen at a fast rate. It has the largest effect on your running speed for long-distance events. In fact, it determines your race pace by a staggering 80%. Adaptations occur at the heart, blood, and within the muscles itself.
Neuromuscular Power: Your neuromuscular power is your ability to generate force quickly. While you don’t have to clock the times of a sprinter to find success in long-distance running, your cadence (via ground contact time) and stride length (via plyometric ability) will improve significantly with more neuromuscular power.
4SPEED™ FunnelAs a competitive runner, you're already familiar with purposeful workouts such as long runs, tempo runs, VO2max intervals, and sprint repetitions. But the art and science of training is a balanced arrangement of those workouts in your training week and the appropriate workout modes at the right time over the course of your race preparation.
A new method used by many professionals is called funnel periodization. This places an emphasis on general endurance and neuromuscular power early in the training cycle, which then gradually transitions towards more race-specific intensities such as lactate threshold and VO2max, depending on your event. (See graphic below.)
This pre-conditioning allows for faster VO2max and lactate threshold training performances and hence faster race results.