Interval Training Calculator (ITC): What is it and how to use it?
How to differentiate between the same intervals but on different surfaces
We coaches test our athletes and on those values we’re planning their training scheme for a micro, macro, or whatever cycle. We have one plan and we’re happy with it. We’re hoping that is enough!
My opinion from the real world is that is not near enough.
I think this is utopic thinking of many S&C coaches, as there are many, many different “ways-to-go” of our sessions and then there are some natural consequences on which we don’t have any influence at all (sickness, injuries, travel, happy main coach who think that all intervals are the same.) Being on the “dark-side” of coaching for some time I can attest that we as S&C coaches have to be well prepared for different occasions on which we don’t have any influence as we often are.
That’s why I developed the Interval Training Calculator excel spreadsheet to ease my job. To clarify what I am writing about I will write down a short post.
Recently I tested myself on MAS 5 minute run. I performed these tests on track and field surfaces. I inserted time and distance into ITC and excel spreadsheets manage to calculate MAS values for itself. Bravo Excel J. MAS being performance measure meaning maximal aerobic speed. Often explained as maximal speed with which we can run from 4,5 to 6,5 minutes.
Then I planned first interval sessions for five weeks based on MAS running just on track and field surface. Running longer intervals on the track, just in circles without shuttles, type 1 intervals based on Buchheit and Lauerson.
This is somehow an ideal plan for me at this moment of being in very bad physical condition. That is why I planned longer intervals beginning at 90% and slowly progressing over 100% of tested MAS in 5 weeks.
This is an ideal set up regarding always running on track and field stadium. But often I come to a track and field stadium and find it closed for recreational use or I am in some other place and can’t go running on the track.
The same is with athletes who are constantly moving from a place to a different place and can’t always use the same surface. That is why I also planned interval running performing intervals runs on a football field, on a grass. Which is quite different “feeling” on our body. On a football field, I can run in circles and watch the distance through GPS watch/app or I can do running with shuttles. As both (surface and shuttles) are more demanding I have “build-in” surface and shuttle losses in ITC, based on Mladen Jovanović and Dan Baker’s work.
So by calculating those losses in our plan, this plan is somehow getting closer to the original one regarding energy expenditure and exertion level.
I (now) know that because of shuttles where we have to stop and accelerate this is harder on our body (Type 2 regarding on Buchheit and Lauerson work) but these are only 90 – 108% of MAS intensity intervals, so stoppages and accelerations aren’t of a maximal intensity and aren’t taking a huge toll on our body.
If you take a closer look at pics above, you can see that it takes a lesser total interval distance when performed on grass, doing it with shuttles (because of build-in the calculation of surface and shuttle losses) from original straight runs. Total distance per 5-week cycle is more than 3% shorter on the football field than on the track. That means if you would run 100m on track you would do “only” 97m on the football field. This is not that much, but you have to look at the overall picture of exertion during running on different surfaces with or w/o shuttles and longer distances than 100m.
Intensity is the same for the whole cycle for both plans.
Some will argue that running on grass is more than 3% harder than run on track field (I already had one such, heated, conversation with fellow S&C coach). The 3% is regarded in distance, not on intensity. So the reasoning behind this is little off for a fellow coach. We can’t mix/compare the intensity of subjective measure of an effort with an objective measure of distance/volume. I too believe that running on grass is harder than running on the track and every individual has their own, different level of effort here. This is all approximation work and I believe it still better to have some options than none to build on.
Performing shuttles is also harder on the body than straight forward run. Hence, intervals with shuttles are type 2 level of effort for Buchheit & Lauerson, and straight forward running is type 1.
The idea behind this is that we have to have some substitutes for the time when we couldn’t perform ideal trainings as we planned.
When we come to such an issue we better have already made plans at hand and not starting to think when it is already too late as our athletes are on the field.
The ITC spreadsheet has this “quick” built-in option an you can calculate in matter of minutes “same-but-different” training protocols.
If you have any questions regarding purchasing ITC spreadsheets, need more explanation regarding using it, or have trouble with planning interval sessions for yourself or your athletes, you can contact me via email. I offer both ITC spreadsheet and workshops!
ITC can be purchased here!