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S.A.I.D. What? | Boddicker Performance

Filed under: Program Design, Running

S.A.I.D. What?

by on Feb 26th, 2009

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The Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand (S.A.I.D.) Principle is one that coaches and athletes must take into account in planning their training.  Quite simply, the principle states that the body will adapt to the specific load to which it is exposed.  Thus, a person doing tempo runs adapts to the stress of the tempo run, a person doing 200 meter reps at 26 seconds each adapts to running at a speed of 26 seconds per 200, and a person doing a long run adapts to the stress of 90 minutes of continuous running.  In application, the SAID Principle implies that for an athlete to run well at a specific pace or race distance, an athlete must be exposed to race specific paces and distances throughout the training process.

There seems to be a common theory among distance coaches and athletes that building a big “base” with long, easy, aerobically oriented work is the key to distance running success.  In fact, some even go as far as saying that a miler and a marathoner should do the same training up until 8 or so weeks prior to the goal competition.  I feel like that is a very short-sighted opinion.  Throughout the year an athlete needs to include frequent doses of running at the goal race pace.  An 800m runner with a goal of 2:00 should regularly perform runs at 15 seconds/100m.  A 10,000m seeking to run 31:00 should frequently perform runs at that pace as well.  Just “putting in the miles” will not lead to the most favorable of outcomes.  Do not take this as me saying that “you don’t need to run miles to race fast” or “the only training pace an athlete needs is his specific race pace.”  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Instead, I would encourage you to include frequent doses to specific race pace in your training.

I can hear some now saying, “What’s he talking about?  Nobody needs to run at race pace in the off season.  Anaerobic sessions way outside of track season will only lead to a premature peak or worse yet, injured!”  I agree and disagree.  While doing repeated 400m reps at 800m pace on short rest in September will certainly not be beneficial for many hoping to run fast in May or June of the next year, doing shorter reps with near complete recovery will not inhibit aerobic metabolism, increase injury risk, or lead an athlete to a premature peak.  For example, an 800m runner in September could do a handful of 60-100m runs at about goal 800m pace with full recovery following an easy run or a few reps of a little longer distance after a harder session with near complete recovery between each.  Throughout the year, the distance of each repetition is steadily increased building into the pre-competition period where a workout like the 400m session above may be much more appropriate.  Such Race Tempo sessions will go a long way in maintaining biomechanical efficiency at race pace as well as help to prevent some of the injuries that can happen to athletes who jump into running harder sessions after a traditional base period.

Stay strong,
Carson Boddicker

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