Using the Training Mask during skill work and recover periods, we maximize the net training stimulus of an interval workout while preserving mechanics.
Written by Brian MacKenzie, Founder of CFE and co-author of Unbreakable Runner
Edit by T.J. Murphy is a writer, veteran endurance athlete, and CrossFitter and the former editorial director of TriAthlete, Inside Triathlon, and Competitor magazines. His work has also appeared in Runner’s World and Outside magazines.
To illustrate how we would advocate using the Training Mask to increase the training stimulus, I’m going to discuss below a "starter" running workout I use with a lot of athletes. I will vary this sport to sport, but overall this workout is a great crossover with running. The workout goes like this:
First off, 45 minutes of skill and drill work (yes, 45 minutes on just skills and drills. Crazy I know! You will be amazed at what happens as you adapt here). You can find samples of skill and drill work both in UnBreakable Runner and Power Speed Endurance. During your skill work,, I would have you add the Training Mask to the last 15-20 min to really fire up your respiratory system so that it’s warmed up and humming for the workout.
This is the main set of the starter workout: 6 to 12 (scale to what you can handle) 200-meter running repeats with 90 seconds to 2-minutes rest between each hard run. Time each of these runs. I refer you here again to the scaling option; if after five of the 200s, you start suffering a meltdown, then you should probably stop. How do you define melting down? For 200m repeats you should not really be off by more than a second in your consistency. For example, let’s say you do the first four reps in 32 to 33 seconds each, but then you struggling during five and six and your time starts plummeting to 34 seconds or slower. For those of us that are a little newer to this I would allow for a 4-second deviation. The recovery period varies as well in accordance with your fitness. If you are a little more seasoned please keep the rest at 1:30 and if newer or a little unsure, use the 2:00. Trust me.
Run these 200-meter intervals without your Training Mask on. So, NO Training Mask during the work portion. BUT, we will be using the Training Mask during the rest period. Uh, oh! Rest just became real…
Here’s what’s going on: The reason we are wearing the mask during part of your warm-up and during your cool-down—and not during the work set— is enable maximum training effect from each portion of the workout. We want to prioritize good mechanics during the work set. Rumbling around like a three-toed sloth is not going to help you get better mechanics, it’s going to reinforce poor mechanics. This is just another reason we like to let the work work set be work at max O2, and then recalibrate the rest periods to become a bit of a struggle.
For our newer athletes lets use the mask in the 3,000-6,000ft ranges, and for the higher-level athletes lets use the 9,000 – 12,000ft ranges. Immediately following each 200-meter rep you should have your Training Mask close by so you can toss it on immediately. Then five seconds before you start your next set tear that thing off and get back on the track.
Additional workouts and complete training plans for the 5k to the ultra-marathon can be found in the book, Unbreakable Runner.
You can also download a free 21-page .pdf preview of the book. Click here.