Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ryan Hall Can't Break 30 Min for 10K

Last weekend Ryan Hall finished 15th in the Healthy Kidney 10K, running a dismal 30:15 seconds. According to Hall, he "just hasn't done the 10K work. My training is very specific to the marathon." From this, my guess is Hall does lots of tempo work at 4:50 pace (2:04:50 for the marathon, under 30 min for 10k), and maybe even Yasso type long intervals. Since he only runs 6 days a week, his weekly mileage is not excessive.

Is he in trouble? Based on past performance, probably not. While a medal in London is doubtful, he shouldn't be embarrassed. Hall has been very consistent for several years now, grinding out one good marathon finish after another, more often than not preceded by sub par races. Would he be a better marathoner if somehow he could run some fast times at shorter races? That is the question many are asking.

Hall has said he talked to lots of people when he decided to go it alone and self-coach, but I wonder if Frank Shorter was one of them. If I were in Hall's shoes, Shorter is the first I would have approached, a guy who before injuries finally took hold, seemed to always be at the top of his game, NO MATTER WHAT THE DISTANCE!   While Shorter is best remembered as a marathoner, he was also ranked in the top 5 in the world four times at 10,000 meters, and once was even ranked 10th in the 5000. 

Here Shorter describes his favorite 2 high intensity interval workouts, four x 3/4 mile, or 10 x 400s run very hard. Here he describes his intervals at "5K pace".

Interesting that Shorter describes 75-90% of his training as "conversational pace"- not anywhere near marathon speed. It wasn't all Long Slow Distance (LSD) training, however. In his book, Olympic Gold, Shorter wrote that when he's fit he'll run the second half of his weekly 20 miler at marathon pace.

I find an interesting contrast between Hall, who says he hasn't run any workouts at 10K pace, and Shorter, who believed his 5K pace interval sessions "were the critical ingredient in my training recipe".   And when Shorter ripped off 10 x 400 in just over 60 seconds at sea level, I don't exactly consider that 5K pace training. He ran hard! 

Shorter ran in the 70s and 80s, and unlike Hall, he never broke 2:10. But Shorter has 2 Olympic medals, not to mention a 5th place in the Olympic 10,000 meters. He could run both distances well, and even turned in many good 3 mile times, something that Hall the marathoner has yet to master, or apparently chooses not to.

Hall has proven time and time again he has the strength to run a good marathon but if he wants to take the next step and seriously go after a medal in London, I believe he has to show some speed at shorter distances.    Shorter's PR in the 10,000 was 27:45, run in 1975, the year before winning the silver in Montreal.  Hall ran an impressive 13:22 for 5K while still in college and 28:07 for 10,000 in 2007. 

I'd seriously consider Hall a threat to win a medal in London if he ever figures out a way to get back to running those times while maintaining his current long distance strength, just as Frank Shorter was able to do.  For now, it doesn't appear that is going to happen. 

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