Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Let me ask a question...

...Take a poll if you will

Who thinks this statement is true? Beginner, intermediate, and advanced runner means slow, moderate, and fast respecively. In other words is ability as a runner based on pace?

If you're having trouble with that question, how about this one. When Lance Armstrong arrived at the starting line of the New York marathon last year, did you consider him a beginner, intermediate, or advanced runner?

Here's another one. If you were the director of a new marathon training program, and you had to divide participants up by ability, how would you do it?

I'll answer after some feedback.


Tiggs said...

I would say I'm an intermediate runner b/c I haven't put in as many miles or ran many races to be advanced. I think advanced is more defined by the number of miles, events completed and overall time you've spent running.

To me pace has nothing to do with it.

Lance was a beginner runner. And it showed. He didn't put in the miles like he should have- basically he didn't train properly. And didn't he eat like 20 gel packs during the race?! LOL! Definitely a novice runner!

If I were designing a program, I would divide it by pace simply to keep people grouped together so they could have buddies of their same pace.

Anonymous said...

Experince not speed defines are abilitys. Matt W.....

Steve Bezner said...

Advanced slow runners who run 48 hours at a time exist.

Beginner fast runners also exist who based on raw talent and other exercise experience, such as Lance, are fast.

If I was asked to design a program, I would tell him to join the Striders, and email coach Steeve with all the questions you have.

Matt said...

Short answer I wouldn't divide training groups based strictly on experience(beg/int/adv) or pace, but overall ability. Unfortunately this means a lot more groups. If you are limited on people I would divide based on pace. You can have slow advanced runners who help slow beginners and fast advanced runners helping the faster beginners. The advanced people can typically cover more miles(because their bodies are accustomed to the additional stress) and may choose to do so either before or after group runs and may do more on the indvidual training days.

Just my .02

David said...

Great question Vic!

Seeing that any runner will run at all speeds throughout their training program (i.e. speed workouts, threshold runs, long slow distance, etc), pace can be immediately disregarded as a tool to measure if someone is a beginner or advanced runner.

When Lance stepped to the line of the NYC marathon, I considered him a beginner runner with a big asterisk. Sure, it was his first running event but one needs to pause and remember that his life his consumed by endurance events and he surrounds himself with experts to steepen the learning curve. Imagine putting your child into grade 1 and letting him go through the school system. He will be a beginner like everyone else. Now, imagine being able to take all the great intellectual minds and use them as your child's personal tutor. Physics taught by Einstein, world politics taught by Bush (totally kidding!!), etc. Sure, your child is still a beginner, but not for long...

I am intrigued by Tiggs comment however - do the # of GUs you consume define the answer to this question? If so, what are the cutoffs for beginner (>5?), intermediate (3-5?), and advanced (0-2?). Of course, my tongue is in my cheek on this question!

Pony and Petey said...

WOW...great question! I don't really have an answer except that I'm thinking about my current experience with Faithy.

She obviously has natural running ability. She starts running in February, has her 1st sub-30 5k by the middle of May and can run faster than me already for shorter distances! She shows marked improvement every single time she goes out to run.

But she doesn't have endurance yet and that only comes with time. Also, she's prone to injuries which plague beginners, usually. Well, they did me anyhow. Wait, they still do!! arrrggghhh!!

So anyhow, I guess I think of her as beginner intermediate. One factor is time running (since starting), the other factor is raw talent. So Lance would be a beginner advanced. I would put myself at intermediate intermediate. I'd put David at intermediate advanced. Pizza Man would be advanced advanced.

But what about the runners that SteveB mentioned? The slow ultra-marathoners who have been doing mega-distances for decades? Seems like you need to add another defining factor in there for pace.

So you might describe someone as advanced, intermediate, moderate.

Lance would be beginner, advanced, FAST.

Ok, I'll shut up now = ) Think up more of these questions, Dude!! I love hearing what everyone else has to say!

JustJunebug said...

i subscribe to the Sean Wade way of thinking, which i know you dont buy into that and thats cool and thats where this question came from. i agree with slow, med and fast in his approach. Yeah guess i drink too much Wade-Aid

beginner is 1 or no marathons and looking for > 4:30; slower paced runners

intermediate is moderate amount of racing and <4:30 and runs over 30 miles per week usually

advanced: lots or racing including multiple marathons, fast paced runner < 3:30 marathon.

David said...

I did not train for my first marathon (I was a last minute substitute) and still managed a time close to 3:30. At the time I was VERY confident that I was a beginner, but June are you telling me that I was actually an advanced runner?!!! Sweet! :)

billd said...

I'm very slow right now. I've run many many races including Boston... am I a beginner ?

You can't really call Lance a beginner with all the triathlons he did as a teen.

My take on the terms "Beginner", "Intermediate" and "Advanced" used in a training program description mean are you currently training or not. Starting at zero miles = beginner schedule, intermediate might be 30 miles/week...advance would be more.

Maybe level 1, 2, 3 schedules would be better.

I think a program needs to take into account where you are starting from, what your experience level is, and what your goals are.

I divide into pace groups, and tweak individuals training duration, effort levels individually.

J~Mom said...

My friend Marcy is a beginner and faster then lightening. So no, I don't agree with those categories. I don't consider Lance a true beginner because he was an accomplished athlete at that point. Good question, I can't wait to see where you go with it!.

justjunebug said...

Cassie said: If I were designing a program, I would divide it by pace simply to keep people grouped together so they could have buddies of their same pace.

Bango!! Much like.. oh I dont know...pace groups?? This is how Wades program is designed. If you want to run in this time frame, then you fit here....with these people. Maybe the labels ARENT right but I think the PROGRAM is (when it comes to Wade's marathon training program).. in the beginning when its hills and speed work, everyone is trained the same. Only when it gets closer to race day does the training change

Sarah said...

Beg/Int/Adv don't directly correlate to speed, but they do correlate loosely -- simply because advanced runners likely have more experience and have been running longer and thus have built speed.

But I could run for years and never be a 6:00 miler, so you can't directly correlate speed and level.

As for me, I'd consider myself an intermediate runner. I don't work hard enough to reach my full potential so I don't consider myself advance, but I do run enough and have enough experience that I don't consider myself a beginner.

Anonymous said...

I would spend more time training then looking for the answer to this question but if you want a definition then here goes. Take two master age runers. One named Vic the other named Sean. One is a great guy that needs to be training more and the other is a two time Olympian and the #1 ranked Master's runner in the US. One is a beginner and one is advanced. The one that does not look for shortcuts to training and tries to PR everytime he toes the line is the advanced runner. Guess which is which.

Pat said...

If I joined a training group today, I would join the group that was at my pace, regardless of the name given (beginner, intermediate, advanced). Of course, my pace would mean I would be with the beginners and we would kick the walkers butts. LOL.

I like when you ask questions.


Humble Runner said...

Bill = Beginner idiot... er,
Bill = Beginner intermediate.

Now go post your Saturday long run. I wanna read what you say about me!