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The Nike Oregon Project’s Post-Millrose Workout

James Chu offers an exclusive coach’s-eye view of the Oregon Project’s post-race workout.

After the crowds had departed the 110th Millrose Games, as cleanup crews and reporters worked to compete their tasks, Cloud259 stayed trackside to detail the Nike Oregon Project athletes’ post-race workouts. NOP assistant coach Pete Julian appeared to be overseeing them.

First up was Shannon Rowbury. About 90 minutes after her 3rd place 4:23 in the NYRR Wanamaker Women’s Mile, it was back to work. Wearing Nike Zoom Streaks, Rowbury jogged a few shakeout laps before diving into a 4000m (~2.5 miles) tempo run. Rowbury completed the tempo in 13 minutes and 20 seconds (5:20 per 1600), snapping off 40 second laps without appearing unduly strained.

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Rowbury recovered for about seven minutes, drinking water, taking instruction from Julian, chatting with her husband (Mexican multiple national record holder Pablo Solares), and jogging. She finished the workout striding out 4×100 in 14-15 seconds per rep, with 300m jog recoveries.

Approximate 400m splits for the 4000m tempo: 83, 2:44 (81), 4:04 (80), 1600 – 5:24 (80), 6:43 (79), 8:02 (79), 9:22 (80), 3200 – 10:42 (80), 12:01 (79), 4000 – 13:20 (79).

Approximate 100m splits: 14, 14, 14 high, 15.

Like Shannon, Eric Jenkins showed up about 90 minutes after his performance, an emphatic 3:53 win in the Wanamaker Mile. Jenkins began his post-race workout in a black shirt with the word “EQUALITY” emblazoned in bold white lettering, the same shirt he had worn when accepting the trophy for the race. Jenkins blasted a 3x1600m cutdown, a workout that NOP teammate Galen Rupp executed with inhuman post-race efforts in the past. Jenkins ran 4:28 for his first rep, jogged 400m, and launches into a 4:21 in the next. He took just over five minutes of recovery this time, using the extra time to remove his shirt, among other things. With long, powerful strides, he ran the last rep in 4:14—a solitary end to a successful day.

Approximate 200 meter splits for 1600m repeats:

34, 1:08 (34), 1:42 (34), 2:16 (34), 2:49 (33), 3:22 (33), 3:55 (33), 4:28 (33)

33, 1:05 (32), 1:37 (32), 2:10 (33), 2:42 (32), 3:15 (33), 3:48 (33), 4:21 (33)

Shirt off

32, 1:04 (32), 1:37 (33), 2:09 (32), 2:41 (32), 3:12 (31), 3:43 (31), 4:14 (31)

Just when I thought we could go home, the winner of the Women’s Wanamaker Mile, Sifan Hassan, stepped onto the track well over two hours after the finish of her race. I found it interesting that she was doing her workout separately from Rowbury. Would it be the same workout? After receiving instruction from Julian, she caught me by surprise and started her tempo running clockwise (opposite the usual direction). I missed the first lap and started my watch 200m into what would turn out to be a 4800m (~3 miles) tempo run—800m longer than Rowbury’s. Hassan ran about 15:36 (5:12 per 1600) with metronomic efficiency (I approximate her first lap split at 40s). The newly anointed Dutch indoor mile national record holder—she destroyed the old record in her 4:19 Wanamaker victory—took a few sips of water and jogged a few recovery laps before switching back to making only left turns on the track (the normal counterclockwise direction). She took off with a conservative first 100m before turning it up a notch for another 300m. She completed 400m in 67 seconds. After about 3 minutes and 45 seconds of jogging, Hassan dropped a 47 second 300m. After a modest recovery, she looked sprightly in her final rep, 200m in 29.7 seconds. Her workout was more difficult than Rowbury’s, not bad for someone who was having stomach issues, according to what I overheard NOP head coach Alberto Salazar saying after her race.

Approximate 200 meter splits for Hassan’s 4800m tempo:

40 (guessing), 1:19 (39), 1:58 (39), 2:37 (39), 3:16 (39), 3:54 (38), 4:33 (39), 1600 – 5:13 (40), 5:52 (39), 6:32 (40), 7:11 (39), 7:49 (38), 8:28 (39), 9:07 (39), 9:47 (40), 3200 – 10:27 (40), 11:06 (39), 11:46 (40), 12:24 (38), 13:03 (39), 13:42 (39), 14:20 (38), 14:59 (39), 4800 – 15:36 (37)

Followed by:

400 – 67s, 300 – 47s, 200 – 29.7s

There are a few reasons for running post-race workouts. Typically, leading up to a race, an athlete will have reduced volume and intensity in training in order to conserve energy for the race. The post-race workout enables the athlete to get some of the volume and quality back for the week. The race distance for Jenkins, Hassan, and Rowbury was just one mile.

Another benefit is that an athlete is in a unique physiological state after a race, and running a workout during this post-race window is a stressor that stimulates adaptation not easily simulated in any other situation. Ordinarily, one would work on an energy system that was lightly used during the race. For example, if one raced a mile, a tempo run of 10-20 minutes or long intervals would likely be in order. If one raced a 5k, shorter intervals such as 200s or 300s might be the right call.

One thing that stood out to me about NOP’s post-race workouts was that there was plenty of recovery between segments or intervals in the workouts. Rowbury had generous recovery between the tempo and the 100s, and 300m jogs was plenty between the 100s. Jenkins had sufficient rest before running his final 1600m interval. And Hassan had plenty of rest between her tempo and the 400m, 300m, 200m reps. The objective appeared to be high-quality paces with the requisite rest to accomplish the task. — James Chu

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