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Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 5

Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 5

(1) A training unit is a specific assigned modality of work. Some workouts may contain more than one unit (e.g. a 40min fartlek will feature both aerobic and anerobic conditioning zones). This counts as two units of training.

(2) It assumes that a macrocycle lasts one year (52 weeks): 4 weeks of recovery (X0), 33 weeks of work (X1 to X4), 3 weeks of fine-tuning (X5) and 12 weeks of competition (X6). Depending on how frequently you race during the year, you may need to shorten the micro/meso/macrocycles.

(3) Marathon runners have a somewhat unique necessity for specific emphasis on high-volume aerobic conditioning each week. Thus, their total training distance will often be higher than outlined above.

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Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 4

Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 4

The four multi-pace training domains provide different physiological stimuli and subsequent adaptations that are necessary for a well-rounded distance athlete:
 
1) Aerobic Conditioning (aka ‘base work’ or ‘conversational running’)
This comprises the bulk of a distance runner’s training, especially during X1 to X3 mesocycles. It is characterised by large volumes of continuous, longer-distance running. Recommended pace is 55-75% of VO2 max pace or 70-80% of maximum heart rate (to determine these parameters, scroll to the bottom of this article).
 
The goals are to improve cardiovascular performance, stimulate slow-twitch muscle fibres, and promote tendon/ligamental adaptation. Note that excessive aerobic conditioning may risk tendon or ligamental injury because they are adapt to higher loads compared to muscles. Try not to run on crowned road surfaces whereby the left and right foot strikes are at slightly different elevations.
 
2) Anaerobic Conditioning
This is typically characterised by 15-20min of medium-intensity steady runs with walking recoveries between intervals. Tempo runs are a prime example. The purpose is to run at (or slightly higher than) your anerobic threshold pace – where blood lactic acid levels start to rise more quickly. Having said that, your cardiovascular system should be developed enough (from aerobic conditioning) such that it prevents excessive lactic acid accumulation. As such there should only be marginal anerobic accumulation, making this training load reasonably well tolerated.
 
Run at 80% of VO2 max pace (or anywhere between 75-90%) or 80-90% of max heart rate. Alternatively this approximates to your 15-21km race pace. However, the best practical method for runners to detect their anaerobic threshold pace is an awareness of increased breathing, stopping of conversation, a shift of focus from simply passing time to the actual work of running – a pace which they subjectively perceive as ‘comfortably hard’.

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Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 3

Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 3

This is the third instalment of a six-part series which aims to summarise David Martin & Peter Coe’s Multi-Tier Training System as described in Better Training for Distance Runners.
 
Recall from the previous article that the Multi-Tier Training System can be likened to the construction of a building. As the authors write:
“During one macrocycle (or complete training period, typically approximating one year) the building will be constructed (i.e. the training will be completed). Each level of the building represents a mesocycle (or tier), indicated by X. Thus, multi-tier training is a training plan with several mesocycles, or tiers, each of which has a different assigned goal for athletic development. The length of each mesocycle may vary depending on event requirements, athlete fitness, and the time available.”
 
In this article, we will delve into the specifics of each of the mesocycles of the Multi-Tier Training System. As a refresher, the overall structure is shown below:

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Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 2

Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 2

There are six mesocycles (X1 to X6) which make up one macrocycle, each with their own emphases (aerobic base, increasing intensity, consolidation, fine-tuning, tapering). The order in which these mesocycles are to be completed starts from the bottom (X1) and goes to the top (X6).
 
Within each mesocycle (aka ‘tier’ or ‘level’) there are seven domains (aka ‘rooms’) representing broad categories that classify different training assignments. These domains include aerobic conditioning, anaerobic conditioning, aerobic capacity training, anaerobic capacity training, general mobility, circuits and weights, and health maintenance.
 
The relative proportion of each domain (aka the size of each room) varies depending on the floor. For example, the ‘aerobic conditioning’ room is largest on floor X1, whereby the emphasis is on establishing an aerobic base.

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Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 1

Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 1

Periodisation refers to the arrangement of specific training elements into a unified plan with the aim of producing a single peak race performance at the end of the season. Prior to the 1950s, the planning and sequencing of training sessions were relatively crude; runners adopted common-sense training principles involving a basic cycle featuring hard work (with stress and fatigue), then recovery (with repair and regeneration), then an improvement in performance which leads into another cycle all over again. In the 1950s, New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard pioneered the first major periodised training system which prescribed an intentional separation of the training season (macrocycle) into distinct phases (mesocycles) and outlining the order in which different training sessions are to be performed.

In this article series, we will specifically focus on one such non-linear approach called the Multi-Tier Training System. This was proposed by Dr David Martin (Exercise Physiologist) and Peter Coe (Coach of Seb Coe) in the 1980s as outlined in their famous classic ‘Better Training for Distance Runners’. Here, we will learn how to precisely structure various training assignments into a unified periodised training plan that (in the authors’ opinion) will best support an athlete’s development.

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What Runners Should Know About Altitude Training

What Runners Should Know About Altitude Training

Altitude training is a complex topic which has garnered substantial attention in the modern running era. Most athletes are aware of the basic mechanism by which altitude training ought to enhance performance. But the real issue lies in how exactly should we approach this without, in the authors’ words, “disrupting all the other facets of lifestyle that contribute to the well-being of a healthy athlete”.

Here are six frequently asked questions about altitude training:
 
1) Can we quantify the extent to which a certain altitude slows down a marathoner’s performance?

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What Do Elite Runner’s Eat Before A Race? (Part 2)

What Do Elite Runner’s Eat Before A Race? (Part 2)

Getting enough food in is crucial, but also involves dancing on a knife edge – too much and you could be weighed down and feeling ill. Research suggests that 1.5-1.8 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight is optimal for aerobic performance. For a 150-pound runner that amounts to 225-270 grams, which is around 1,000 calories. This might sound like a lot to consume before a hard effort – the key is to get it in early. Three to four hours before the race is ideal according to the American College of Sports Medicine, allowing enough time to digest, leaving you hopefully with an empty stomach and replete glycogen stores. Make sure to stay hydrated as well.

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What Do Elite Runner’s Eat Before A Race? (Part 1)

What Do Elite Runner’s Eat Before A Race? (Part 1)

The days preceding the big race you’ve been preparing for over several months can trigger anxiety and doubt in any runner. What should I wear come race day? How much should I be running during my taper? What will the weather be like? How much should I warm up? A stream of worries that don’t come into play before a standard training session but are prompted by the pressure put on yourself because of months of preparation.

Another major source of confusion for athletes is what to eat! Here we look at pre-race nutrition and later we will examine the intricacies of feeding yourself during a sustained effort. Pre-race food is something that never fails to spark debate between runners and will most certainly continue to be met with mixed opinions for years to come.

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Why Run Easy? Here Are The Benefits Of Easy Running

Why Run Easy? Here Are The Benefits Of Easy Running

alent can take you far, but as many elite runners can tell you, talent is nothing without the commitment to train hard. Most of the best middle to long distance runners in the world frequently log 160km (100 miles) per week that consists of threshold runs, intervals, fartlek, hill work and continuous short, medium and long runs. No pain, no gain, right? Not exactly.A significant percentage of most elite athletes’ training logs consist of easy running; that is running at speeds less than 1 minute per/km (or 1.5mins/mile) slower than their 10km race pace. This effort “aerobic running” is done right around 70% (give or take 5%) of the maximum heart beat count per minute and at this effort, runners should be able to have a conversation.“The most common mistake most runners make is that they think if they’re running easily then they’re not getting much benefit,” says Brian Rosetti, a running coach in New York City and founder of the Run SMART Project. That couldn’t be more off-base because easy (or sexy pace) running comes with a laundry list of benefits.

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Altitude Training – Why, When And How To Get High (Part 2)

Altitude Training – Why, When And How To Get High (Part 2)

During a short stay at altitude it will be tempting to cram in as many hard workouts as possible to reap the benefits for which you’ve travelled so far. Many athletes fall into the trap of working too hard, too soon. This can overstress the immune system, interfering with the generation of red blood cells and leaving you flat and low on energy. For the initial days at elevation cut back on mileage and stick to easy runs, it’s important to go easy as the body is already subjected to significant stress. If flying from sea level to a significant enough elevation (generally over 2500m), altitude sickness is a real risk – and, importantly, aerobic fitness isn’t a protective factor. Watch out for developments of nausea, headache, trouble sleeping or significant shortness of breath. To start with, focus on feeling, not pace. Pay heed to your perceived level of exertion. It may feel like you’re struggling to even handle a crawling pace, this is a normal part of the adaptation to altitude. If you finish an easy run feeling like you’ve just run a hard race you should be cutting back. Make sure to keep pace easy and only progress to faster workouts after around a week of adaptation.

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400m Repeats – “The Ultimate Workout”

400m Repeats – “The Ultimate Workout”

This type of workout has a long and colorful pedigree. Legendary runner Emil Zatopek of the Czech Republic, who won the 5,000, 10,000, and marathon at the 1952 Olympics, reportedly ran 20 x 400 with 200-meter recovery every day before the 1948 Olympics, with hard 200-meter repeats before and after. Before the 1952 Games, he upped it to 40 x 400 daily.

Then there was Jim Ryun, the last American to hold the mile world record, who did the same workout in high school in the 1960s (also completing as many as 40 repeats). The 400-meter distance was ideal, Ryun said, because “it’s short enough that you can run pretty fast, but you can recover and do it again and again.” Here’s how to harness the power of repetition in your own training.

Marathon World Record holder Eliud Kipchoge schedules 400m repeats into his training at least once every month – sometimes running workouts such as 25-30 x 400m repeats in 62-64 seconds with 30-60seconds rest. Another common workout Kipchoge incoprorates 400m intervals into is 10 x 800m (in around 2:10) followed by 10 x 400m (in 62-64).

Other elite athletes known to include 400m repeats into their training include Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe, Kenenisa Bekele, Matt Centrowitz.. the list goes on.

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Ingebrigtsen Brothers – Key Training Sessions

Ingebrigtsen Brothers – Key Training Sessions

In April 2018, Gjert IIngebrigtsen – farther and coach of the fastest three brothers on earth over 1500m published some information on the training of the Jakob, Philip and Hendrik in Norwegian language. Here are some of the key take aways from the document:

[Important note: the example training blocks are leading up to races, so they’re the final 14 days leading into a key race.]

* 11-12 training sessions/runs per week 

* 2 days per week they will do 2 quality sessions in the same day – one in the morning and one in the evening. It’s a similar idea, in a way to Renato Canova’s Special Block but far less overall mileage. Example:
AM: 4 or 5 x 6min at threshold (assuming 1-2mins rest) – which for the brothers is around 2:55-3:00/km
PM: 20 x 400m (30-60sec rest) or 8-10 x 1 km (1min rest) at Threshold.
They measure their lactate levels during these sessions and try to keep them at around 3mmol/l

* Normally once per week they will do a training session at around 1500m pace. Example:

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Training Insights From Norwegian Long Distance Runners

Training Insights From Norwegian Long Distance Runners

Please note: this article was written by a European coach familiar with the Ingebrigtsen’s (and other Norwegian distance runners’) training. The article hasn’t been edited to correct grammar or brevity but rather published as submitted.

Norwegian long-distance runners are on the rise in athletics scene in the last two to three years. Especially the success of the three Ingebritsen brothers and the former European marathon record holder Sondre Moen. But already Ingrid Kristiansen was an outstanding runner from Norway in the 1980’s who has broken several world records from 5000m to marathon. She ran for example 14.37 in 5000m and marathon in 2.21.06 in 1985 and trained with a heart rate monitor and controlled her training by heart rate zone, which was very unknown in the 80’s But also Marius Bakken from Norway ran in the early 2000’s 13.06 in 5000m and he trained in very scientific way, by measuring lactate almost in all his training sessions.

Beginning with Ingrid, who won the London marathon in 1985 with a WR and came from cross country skiing, I want to bring the connection of the training philosophy from cross country skiing in Norway and her training approach in running up. In Norway cross country skiing is a national sport and has far more importance and financial support than long distance running. But the training for both sports has a lot of similarities in terms of distributions of intensity and training volume, as well the movement itself. For example, one of the best cross-country skiers in the world, Therese Johaug, just won recently the Norwegian 10.000m championships on track in 32.20 without specific preparation. Only 30 sec shies of the qualification standard for the world championships this year in Doha.

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Kenyan Elite Training Series: Betsy Saina (30:07 10km, 67:49 Half Marathon, 2:22 Marathon)

Kenyan Elite Training Series: Betsy Saina (30:07 10km, 67:49 Half Marathon, 2:22 Marathon)

Please note: this article was written by Thomas Potzinger (European coach and assistant to Renato Canova). The article hasn’t been edited to correct grammar or brevity but rather published as submitted.

“In the training from Renato Canova every week looks different than the previous ones and different forms of fartlek sessions, tempo runs, track sessions, long runs, hill workouts are implemented to build the athlete to get gradually ready for the race. During the above-mentioned fundamental period she did for example track sessions like 3 times 2000m in 6.50 with 3min recovery, followed by 6 times 1000m in 3.15 at a dirt track at 2000m altitude. But she did also shorter track workouts to bring back her abilities she had before she shifted to the marathon, like 10 times 600m in 1.52 with 1.30 recovery, followed by 10 times 400m in 72 sec with 1min recovery or even sometimes in the afternoon very short sessions like 10times 200m in 32 sec with 200m recovery jog between. As well different hill sessions like 10 times 100m uphill, 6 times 300m slope at 95% effort with 3 to 4min recovery or 10 times 80m uphill sprints where in the training included to recruit the fast twitch fibres. The goal should be never to lose what they athlete was able to do, even when shifting to the marathon. The track sessions became a lot faster in the specific marathon preparation, where the 2000m intervals came down to 6.10 and 1000m intervals were run consistently under 3.05.”

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Kenyan Elite Training Series: Agnes Tirop (14:20 5km, 30:22 10km)

Kenyan Elite Training Series: Agnes Tirop (14:20 5km, 30:22 10km)

Agnes is training in Iten with a group of Kenyan male pacemakers and there is no other female in the group. The training of Agnes contains a lot quality. The overall quality of her Training is higher than I have ever seen before. The volume isn’t that high. Around 120- 130 kilometres per week in average. Usually Mondays she does in the morning 14 to 16 km at a very high pace considering the altitude of around 2400m and the hilly terrain in Iten. She starts with around 4.20 pace and after 3k the pace goes to 3.45 – 3.35 per kilometre and even uphill she maintains that pace. This is faster for the normal Monday moderate runs in Kenya that I have seen with other female runners. She consistently drops many of the male pacemakers in training.

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Seb Coe’s Running Strength Program (Part 6)

Seb Coe’s Running Strength Program (Part 6)

Putting It All Together:

So how much time during any portion of a training macrocycle should be devoted to comprehensive conditioning? The authors of Better Training For Distance Runners, David Martin & Peter Coe, remind us that conditioning is merely an aid to running. It is not a substitute for it and must not be overdone. Running will always occupy the majority of the total training effort.

Also remember that middle-distance runners will need more strength, power and flexibility than long-distance runners. Furthermore, the individual strengths and weaknesses of each runner should be identified to construct a unique training plan for the aspiring athlete.

The following table as extracted from Better Training For Distance Runners show an overview of the varied intensity and pattern of circuit, stage and weight training that Seb Coe personally found useful during his macrocycle.

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