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Billat's Four by Five and the Thirty-Thirty
Veronique Billat is an expert on how to improve running
She is a fast half marathoner herself (sub 1:20),
coach of top runners in France, and a renowned
When she claims she has found a way which show how
to improve performance and increase speed, runners listen.
Below are two of her workouts. Both of them have
been scientifically tested and have proven to be
successful, so we'd
better pay attention!
What Do the Workouts Do?
Billat claims in her article in the "Journal of
Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness" that the 4x5
workout and the 30-30 both increase max VO2.
This is the amount of oxygen your body passes on to
A higher max VO2 will help you increase speed.
Another accepted way of increasing VO2 is via interval
How to Improve Your Performance with the Four
The recipe is simple:
Run four times for five minutes with a 2 1/2
minute recovery jog in between.
At what speed?
She explains further that you should do this workout
at a pace between tempo
and interval pace. This is normally close
to 5K race speed.
And What About the Thirty-Thirty?
Again, the recipe is simple:
Alternate 30 seconds of fast running with 30
seconds of a slower jog. Do this a maximum of
twenty minutes, or until exhaustion.
At what speed?
This should be done at interval pace.
Note that for these types of timed workouts the Gymboss
or a GPS heart rate monitor are both perfect little
tools to use.
Important Note About Recovery: Walk or Run
Veronique Billat's team continuously do tests and
studies to work out how the body reacts to different
One recent study compared runners who did the 30-30
with walk breaks
in between and those who did the 30-30 with slower jogs
To even out the workload the "walkers" did 50% more
improved their VO2max. The walkers did not.
Despite doing more intervals.
It is believed that the walking breaks allowed the
people to recover too well, basically. During the
interval sessions not enough time was spent really
So, when in doubt, don't walk your recovery periods,
do a light jog.
I think the effect of walking vs jogging in recovery
negligible (or at least smaller) when you are
doing longer intervals. When you do a five
minute interval, you'll be spending enough time
testing your VO2max anyways, so it would matter much less
if you'd be walking or jogging your recovery
But for short intervals, Billat's message appears to
be that you need to run in your recoveries.
What Do I Think of the Workouts
These are killer workouts. I like killer workouts.
At times... I like that they help make you really
strong. I don't really like doing them though!
These are pretty
good to do when you get to the phase in your
training just before your key race, say about 2-3
Both of them take limited time to complete, which
make them work reasonably well as lunch time
workouts for example.
My lunch break is not overly long (as for most
people), a bit too short to be satisfactory if I
stick to an easy jog.
However, the 4x5 and the 30-30 workout get me
sufficiently tired for the rest of the day!
They are good replacements for interval
And it is always good to get a bit of extra
variation into your schedule.
After all, as a general rule, the question of how to
improve your performance is best answered by
saying that a
runner needs to cover as many different speeds in
Each speed comes with its own benefits.
So, do the Billat everyone!
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