What was the secret? They wanted to know, in a thousand different ways they wanted to know THE SECRET. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottom of his running shoes. - John L. Parker

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Summer of Malmo

I’m going to try something new this training cycle: the Summer of Malmo.

The Summer of Malmo is an offseason regimen created by its namesake, George “Malmo” Malley who is a former American Record holder in the steeplechase and half marathon.  It has been expounded upon in multiple threads on letsrun, many of which contain some great advice from Malmo himself.  It was primarily designed as summer training for high school and collegiate cross country runners but is really applicable for anyone trying to build a base in the offseason.  So I guess for me this will be a Winter of Malmo. 

The full plan is explained in Q&A format below

Q: What is this so-called "Summer of malmo"?
A: It's a foolproof, no-nonsense, 100 percent guaranteed program that will help runners of all abilities to improve their fitness over the summer WITHOUT the attendant physical or mental fatigue. "Summer of malmo" revolves around a relaxed commitment from a group to meet just twice a week for an organized workout. One tempo run and one longer interval session. JUST TWICE A WEEK IS ALL I ASK. Emphasis on RELAXED and emphasis on COMMITMENT. Make this a social event.

Q: Who is it for?
A: Everyone (almost). Anyone that isn't reaching their full potential, and you know who you are. It's for runners that have been THINKING about doing doubles and haven't yet started. It's for you runners that have been THINKING of jacking up the mileage and haven't yet started. It's for college runners. High school runners. Boys, girls, men and women. Anyone that wants to make the leap for next year's cross country season. Different skill levels? No problem. Fitness levels? Coming off an injury and are way behind? It's OK, I've thought of it all. This foolproof SCHEDULE is all things to all runners!

Q: Who isn't it for?
A: Any runner who has immediate racing goals. This "program" is a springboard for the cross country season. An easy way to prepare oneself for the real training to be done in the fall.

Q: I thought that you don't believe in writing SCHEDULES?
A: I don't, these workouts are only examples, you can customize it any way that you want - EXCEPT FOR THE INTENSITY LEVEL. That part must always be relaxed and within yourself. Otherwise it is not a genuine Summer of malmo. The product and your warranty will be null and void.

Q: How do I start?
A: First up, call all of your running friends, crew, homeys, goodbuddies, gangmates, posse, stable, team or pals and commit to meet twice a week for a workout. Get together with runners from other teams in your town or city. Make it a social event. Meet for pizza or a BBQ afterwards. Start now. Also, start running twice a day now. In the words of John Ngugi, "Don't waste good time." Do doubles four, five or six days a week. Can't make it four days? Then do three. For most of you grasshoppers doubles are the missing element that is keeping you from reaching your full potential, so start 'em now.

Q: What if I get tired?
A: You will get tired, I can guarantee it. IT WILL PASS. Trust me.

Q: How many miles should I run?
A: I don't know, but more than you've been doing. The time is now to find out exactly where your personal sweet spot is. The main goals are to (1) increase the mileage and (2) to run doubles. Some of you may be running over 100 miles per week for the first time, other still think that running 70 mpw is a lot. It's OK, this PROGRAM will accommodate everyone.

Q: My friends are going to meet twice a week, where?
A: On the track. Why? Because the PROGRAM is designed to accommodate everyone with one simple formula. You'll see soon enough.

Q: What workouts do we do?
A: Once a week meet for a tempo run on the track of four to six miles. The other workout is four to six by 1200m to 2000m with one lap jog, OR 16 to 24 by 150m to 300m with FULL RECOVERY - that's a really slow jog. Walk if you have to. You determine what you want to do; these are just recommendations.

Q: How fast?
A: Whatever is comfortable for the group. Not once should you come off of the workout with your eyes rolling back in your heads, that's not the point. Basically it's threshold training, but don't tell anyone I said so - I've got an image to uphold.
Let's say on your tempo run you've got four of you who are comfortable with 5:20 pace for five miles but you have two others who would have to struggle with that pace and another two who just simply are not in shape. No problem. The middle two could probably run for two miles, rest a lap and when the group comes around again, jump back in. Just as long as it's still a tempo run for them. Both the leaders and the runners jumping back in will benefit from each other. Those two out-of-shape runners? Jump in at the back of the pack for a lap or two, rest a lap, jump back in for another lap or two, and repeat until the run is over.
Each week they'll be able to run more and more, and before you know it, they'll be right up there with the lead group. Same thing with the long interval session.
The beauty of the "Summer of malmo" is that no matter what kind of shape you or your comrades-in-sweat are in you can all train together and benefit from each other.

Q: What should my heart rate be?
A: I don't have a clue. I'm trying to get you to "feel" Kung Fu, not "think" it.

Q: What about those 200s? Why are we doing speed work now?
A: The only way to run fast is to, well, run fast. The time to start is now. Let's say the group is running 200s. Just go out and run them. FULL RECOVERY. The whole point is to train the neuromuscular system, to concentrate on the mechanics of running - you know it: forward lean, arm carriage, knees up and out, heels clipping your butt, stride length and turnover. I've always been amazed at the number of runners that think that they can "get speed" during the last three weeks of the season. It doesn't work that way.

Q: So what you're saying is a five mile tempo run once a week AND, lets say, five by one mile, OR 16 x 200 for the other workout?
A: That's exactly what I'm saying. All of these workouts should be within yourself. Remember this isn't the end-all training program, it will prepare your for the real work to begin in September.

Q: No hill repeats?
A: Nope. If you want to, go ahead, but the objective here is to get the most during the summer with the least amount of effort - that's PHYSICAL and MENTAL. By meeting twice a week and running in a group the mental effort should be at a minimum. REMEMBER, NO RACING IN THE F*****' WORKOUT!!! There will be plenty of time for that later.

Q: What about the other days?
A: Keep those doubles going. If you're out on a run and are feeling good you just might rip into another tempo run. My favorite: "run to the barn", that is, the last two to three miles of an easy run just let it rip. Go into orbit. Some of you geeks might even call it AT training.

Q: I live in the country and don't have anyone else to run with.
A: That's OK. Just do your tempo runs on the roads. For your long repeats you might just go out on the roads for an hour or so of 5:00 easy/5:00 hard (on of my favorite workouts). Still the same principles apply to you. All of these workouts should be run within yourself.

Q: I want to run some summer road races, can I?
A: Sure, why not? As long as these races are not the end-all. You've got bigger fish to fry in the fall so take it easy. Who are you trying to impress in the summer anyway? Not me, baby. Save it for later. If you've got the discipline then run your tempo run during these races. Alright, I know that everyone has one race that they'd like to concentrate on, go ahead and go for it. Just don't make it a weekly habit.

Q: How much will this cost?
A: Nothing. There is no "Gold, Silver, or Bronze" plan to sign up for. I won't provide increasing levels of attention dependent upon the amount on the check. This program isn't about me, it's about you. I'm just passing on to you what is public domain, hopefully you'll use it.

Q: Go over that again?
A: (1) twice-a-day, as many days as you can - four, five or six days a week (2) increase your mileage, look, you guys are made of the same muscle and bone as me, you can do it. Find your own sweet spot (3) meet with a group twice a week (4) one tempo run of just four to six miles and (5) one workout of 1200m to 2000m repeats OR 16 to 24 by 150m to 300m (5) don't try to impress anyone, run within yourself (6) relax, the real training doesn't begin until September.


I love this program for its simplicity: run as much as you can as often as you can and include some tempo and interval work, but not at paces that are crazy hard.  I also love the idea of bringing together kids from multiple schools to workout as a large group.  There was an old dyestat article about a group of schools in Oregon who actually did just that, meeting twice a week to do Summer of Malmo workouts.  They apparently had great success with it.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the article anymore.

Running doubles is really where this plan deviates from what I've historically done.  I dabbled a bit with doubles this fall.  Waking up at 4:15 for AM runs was hard to get used to but it did seem to get me in shape quickly and it allowed me to build mileage with a lot less aches and pains.  So I'm hoping that this will work well for my injury proneness.

Training for the Rite Aid Cleveland 10k starts this week.  I'm planning to stick with the Summer of Malmo plan until around the end of February, at which point I'll start more serious workouts.

Looking forward to a successful Winter of Malmo!

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