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More Tempo Running – A Key Ingredient To The Kenyan Success

More Tempo Running – A Key Ingredient To The Kenyan Success

For reference, the Kenyan athletes were completing about 60% of their total kilometres as easy runs, 25% as tempo runs, just under 10% as short intervals, just under 5% as long intervals and around 1% as tests/competitions. For comparison the national level athletes completed close to 70% of their total kilometres as easy runs, 10% as tempo runs, around 6% as short intervals, 12% as long intervals and 2% as tests/competitions. 

When considering the application of this for either your own or another athlete’s training it is obviously extremely important to consider the goals, strengths and weaknesses of that specific case however the comparison between athletic levels presented in this study is definitely interesting. If working in a similar time period (10 weeks from major competition) and you’re doing a lot of longer intervals, it may be worth switching some intervals for tempo runs, and hey, Wilson Kipsang does it. 

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VO2Max – What is it and Does it Matter?

VO2Max – What is it and Does it Matter?

So why does all this science matter and what does it mean for you? First of all, VO2max is the strongest independent predictor of future life expectancy so everyone out there should be at the very least slightly interested in their own value, athlete or not. Additionally VO2max  becomes especially useful once we consider its impact on athletic performance. 

In order to walk, run or move at all, our body needs to produce energy; we can either produce this energy without oxygen (anaerobic) or with oxygen (aerobic). Any exercise will require energy production from both aerobic and anaerobic systems however their relative contribution is determined by the duration and intensity of the effort. As anaerobic energy production is only possible for a very short period of time, our bodies will always try to meet the energy demands aerobically. In trained individuals it has been shown that during a maximal effort the switch to predominantly aerobic energy systems occurs somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds into exercise as by this point we have “run out” of anaerobic fuel. The rate of work, power output or running pace that an individual can maintain aerobically is determined largely by their VO2max. 

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800m Training by Peter Hoffman (Part 4)

800m Training by Peter Hoffman (Part 4)

o run a fast half mile you will need to be able to run a great quarter too.

Most half-milers neglect this area.

Sometimes I ask good half-milers what they can run for 400 metres; they will reply vaguely ‘Oh! I’ve run sub 48 seconds.’

But when you ask what they can run right here, right now there’s a world of difference.

So don’t kid yourself.

To run fast over a quarter you need to incorporate regular quarter-mile sessions e.g. 3 x 300 metres flat out in around 34 seconds with a full recovery.

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800m Training by Peter Hoffman (Part 3)

800m Training by Peter Hoffman (Part 3)

More recently the controversial Taoufik Makhloufli ran an 800 metres in 1:44.5 (10 minutes recovery) followed by 500 metres in 65 seconds; 400 metres in 52 seconds and a 300 metres in 39 seconds the last three runs with a four minute recovery.

An alternative good session which we did however use to do was to run a 600 metres (78 seconds); 500 metres (63 secs); 400 metres (48 secs); 300 metres (34 secs); and a 200 metres (22 secs) with a good recovery.

Whatever you do, don’t shy away from these sessions.

A further great session is 3 x 2 x 300 metres with a jog 100 metres recovery and full recoveries between sets.

Aim to run the first repetition in each set at 36 seconds.

Similarly an incredibly tough session is 5 x 300 metres with a walk 100 metre recovery kicking off the first two repetitions in 37 seconds and thereafter holding on!

The world record holder David Rudisha liked to run a 400m/200m/400m/200m at his 800m goal pace with a 3 minute recovery. So if you’re aiming to run 1:44 then your aim should be 52/26/52/26 seconds.

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800m Training by Peter Hoffman (Part 2)

800m Training by Peter Hoffman (Part 2)

Speed is your greatest asset and by running fast I mean sprinting flat out several times each week.

Be honest with yourself – when did you last sprint as fast as you could, putting the pedal flat to the floor? For most athletes it will be months, for others even years!

Unless you’re a 60 metres indoors specialist or a 100 metres sprinter 99% of runners never practice running flat out so how can you expect to suddenly turn on the turbo-jets come a race, especially if it’s a year on from the previous summer!

A good approach is to incorporate the all important strength sessions after your 30-50 metres sprints; do this several times each week e.g. 8 x 30 metres with a good recovery walking 370 metres between each sprint.

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800m Training by Peter Hoffman (Part 1)

800m Training by Peter Hoffman (Part 1)

I use my own grading system of (Ex) Extreme; (VH) Very Hard; (H) Hard; (A) Average; and (E) Easy. A good rule of thumb is at the very most to never undertake more than one Extreme; Very Hard; and Hard session in a 7 or 8 day cycle. By the way, Extreme is pretty much eye-balls out! And close to race effort. When adopt such an approach to your training will enable you to fly a half mile.

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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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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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Lactic Acid – Friend or Foe?

Lactic Acid – Friend or Foe?

Another commonly held belief is that the warm down after a hard workout or the shake out the next day is important to ‘help get the lactic out of the legs’. However, again the science doesn’t back this up. Yes, walking or jogging does shorten the time it takes for lactate levels to return to normal, but this return to baseline occurs relatively quickly anyway. By the time someone is doing a shakeout the day after a race or hard session, the lactate generated by that effort has long ago left the muscles. And where is it going? This is where lactate being a fuel source again comes into play, according to Brooks, after ‘exhaustive’ exercise lactate then becomes the preferred energy source, being burned up by muscles that are no longer using anaerobic respiration, and by the liver to regenerate glucose.

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Nick Willis – Train Smarter, Not Harder

Nick Willis – Train Smarter, Not Harder

Some example sessions:

4 mile tempo (5:00/mile), 4 x 1000m (2:50), 2 x 300m (41), 2 x 400 (56), 600 (1:21)

400 (59), 800 (1:58), 1200 (2:57), 2 x 200 (26), 2 x 300 (38), 400 (50.5)

The Michigan – 1,600m @ 10km pace – 2km tempo – 1,200m @ 5km pace – 2km tempo – 800m @ 3k pace – 2km tempo – 400m all out… Nick has run it with the following splits: 1600m – 4.20, 1200m – 3.13, 800 – 1.58, 400 – 52

200 (26), 1,000 (2:27), 400 (58), 6 x 200 (29)

3 mile tempo (14:10), 7 x 300 (42)

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How Much Protein Do Athletes Need? (Part 2)

How Much Protein Do Athletes Need? (Part 2)

It’s interesting that despite studies suggesting that the (already elevated) recommendations for protein intake by endurance athletes may be too low – failing to optimise performance – there are many top endurance athletes who controvert this. An interesting study looked at the dietary habits of elite runners in Kenya.

The athletes were consuming a diet very high in carbohydrates (76.5%, 10.4 g/kg of body mass per day) and low in fat (13.4%). Protein intake represented 10.1% of their total calories which worked out to be 1.3 g/kg per day, which matches the recommendations by the American College of Sports Medicine mentioned above. Another interesting point is that the estimated energy intake of the athletes (2987 ± 293 kcal) was lower than energy expenditure (3605 ± 119 kcal).

This aligns with what we witnessed whilst training with Kipchoge and other elites in Kenya. Coming in from a long run, there was no sign of protein shakes. The snacks of choice were bananas, white bread and milky tea saturated with sugar. The authors of this study also noted that fluid intake by the Kenyan athletes studied was modest, mainly in the form of water (1113 ± 269 mL) and tea (1243 ± 348 mL). Their conclusions: “Although the diet met most recommendations for endurance athletes for macronutrient intake, it remains to be determined if modifying energy balance and fluid intake will enhance the performance of elite Kenyan runners.”
Here we take a look at some of the research and recommendations on how much protein athletes should be consuming, and the reasons why. There’s no universal answer but I hope this will provide some interesting points to consider when making dietary choices. Protein is obviously of significance – playing a key role in myriad bodily functions – but figuring out how much, what type and when you should be consuming protein is really quite a confusing undertaking. It’s by no means as simple as protein = gains. I mean, firstly, what is protein?

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How Much Protein Do Athletes Need? (Part 1)

How Much Protein Do Athletes Need? (Part 1)

Protein! A hype word like no other in the health and fitness world. Endless tomes of information and misinformation on the subject lurk out there on the internet, with mud-slinging fights aplenty in any forum you care to look at. There is likely no other dietary component that inspires as much debate, insofar as athletes are concerned, as protein. This article isn’t being published to add more fuel to the fire, and I must warn you that there’s no magical solution proffered in the conclusion. Nutrition is something that different bodies react to in different ways and if someone is trying to bludgeon you with a concrete opinion, it’s probably worth questioning their motives.

Here we take a look at some of the research and recommendations on how much protein athletes should be consuming, and the reasons why. There’s no universal answer but I hope this will provide some interesting points to consider when making dietary choices. Protein is obviously of significance – playing a key role in myriad bodily functions – but figuring out how much, what type and when you should be consuming protein is really quite a confusing undertaking. It’s by no means as simple as protein = gains. I mean, firstly, what is protein?

read more
More Tempo Running – A Key Ingredient To The Kenyan Success

More Tempo Running – A Key Ingredient To The Kenyan Success

For reference, the Kenyan athletes were completing about 60% of their total kilometres as easy runs, 25% as tempo runs, just under 10% as short intervals, just under 5% as long intervals and around 1% as tests/competitions. For comparison the national level athletes completed close to 70% of their total kilometres as easy runs, 10% as tempo runs, around 6% as short intervals, 12% as long intervals and 2% as tests/competitions. 

When considering the application of this for either your own or another athlete’s training it is obviously extremely important to consider the goals, strengths and weaknesses of that specific case however the comparison between athletic levels presented in this study is definitely interesting. If working in a similar time period (10 weeks from major competition) and you’re doing a lot of longer intervals, it may be worth switching some intervals for tempo runs, and hey, Wilson Kipsang does it. 

read more
VO2Max – What is it and Does it Matter?

VO2Max – What is it and Does it Matter?

So why does all this science matter and what does it mean for you? First of all, VO2max is the strongest independent predictor of future life expectancy so everyone out there should be at the very least slightly interested in their own value, athlete or not. Additionally VO2max  becomes especially useful once we consider its impact on athletic performance. 

In order to walk, run or move at all, our body needs to produce energy; we can either produce this energy without oxygen (anaerobic) or with oxygen (aerobic). Any exercise will require energy production from both aerobic and anaerobic systems however their relative contribution is determined by the duration and intensity of the effort. As anaerobic energy production is only possible for a very short period of time, our bodies will always try to meet the energy demands aerobically. In trained individuals it has been shown that during a maximal effort the switch to predominantly aerobic energy systems occurs somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds into exercise as by this point we have “run out” of anaerobic fuel. The rate of work, power output or running pace that an individual can maintain aerobically is determined largely by their VO2max. 

read more

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