Last night I took the train with one of our members who is quite an experienced runner, but new to track work-outs. She wanted to know how fast to run her track repeats, and how to decide on targets for certain distances in races. I told her about the-10-second rule (or 4-second-rule for track races), and about Toni Nett and Frank Horwill. I will now try to give a few hints to all of you who are not quite sure how to set target paces for certain work-outs.
Almost 50 years ago Toni Nett published in his book Der Lauf (Berlin. Verlag Bartels und Wernitz, 1960) thumbrules to calculate possible personal records for common distances. The possible personal bests are calculated based on known performances on the next shorter distance. Manfred Steffny extended Toni Nett's rules to cover the marathon and the 100 km. He found these rules surprisingly accurate when comparing personal bests of hundreds of runners of different levels from beginner to world champion. Here is the list of these thumbrules as given in Manfred Steffny's book Marathontraining (Mainz, Verlag Dr. Hanns Krach, 1984, 5. ed.):
1500 m = 800 m x 2<br>
3000 m = 1500 m x 2 + 20 sec
5000 m = ((3000 m + 20 sec) x 5)/3
10000 m = 5000 m x 2 + 1 min
marathon = 10000 m x 5 - 10 min
100 km = marathon x 3 (for each minute the marathon time is faster than 3 hours, you should subtract one minute from the final 100 km time)
A bit easier is Frank Horwill's approach. In 1980, he invented the 4-second rule, which states that the time per 400m increases by 4 seconds as the distance increases. Same applies in kilometers, if the distance doubles, you slow down 10 seconds per kilometer. More about Frank on the links below - My favorite coach.
These rules help tremendously when planning races or track work-outs. For example, if you run 5k in 20min, just double it and add 100sec for a 41:40 10k. If you run 10k in 40min, just double it and add 200sec for a possible 1:23:20 target time for 20k.
Now, if you do track repeats, just do the same. If you run 10x400 in an average of 80sec, your target for 5x800 should be double plus 8sec, so, 2;48. This is assuming that break times are constant and conditions are stable. A good break time is about 80% of the time you run, so, if you run 400's in 80sec, take about 64 seconds break.
One more piece of advice, if you are new to track repeats, make sure you keep a log and figure out your averages on certain distances. Never start out faster than the average of your last work-out on the same distance!
OK, so, now it's time to get out there and try!