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HALF MARATHON

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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Renato Canova – Marathon Training (Mileage)

Renato Canova – Marathon Training (Mileage)

Traditionally, it has been thought that a marathoner must always run prodigiously high volumes—upwards of 20 miles a day for the top athletes. In contrast, James Kwambi and Duncan Kibet only run 80-90 miles a week, often only running once per day. However, other elite marathoners like Martin Lel and Robert Cheruiyot maintain 135-150 miles per week.

Whereas low-mileage marathoners run 60% (50 miles a week) of their mileage near marathon pace, higher-volume runners do less than 37 miles per week near marathon pace, and the proportion is much smaller—only 25-30% of the weekly volume. Why is high mileage not necessary for Kibet and Kwambi to run 2:04 marathons? To answer this, we have to return to Canova’s thesis—all non-specific training exists only to support the body’s ability to do race-specific training.

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Renato Canova’s “Special Period” Example Training Sessions

Renato Canova’s “Special Period” Example Training Sessions

Half-Marathon (59:47 PR)
– 7 x 2000m at 100-102% RP, 400m recovery in 2min
– 5 x 3000m at 101% RP, 1000m recovery at 85-87% RP
– 3 x 5000m at 99% RP, 1000m recovery at 85% RP
– 15 km long run at 102 % RP
– 25 km long run at 97% RP

Marathon (2:05 PR)
– 6 x 4000m at 102% RP, 1000m recovery at 89% RP
– 5 x 5000m at 101% RP, 1000m recovery at 89% RP
– 4 x 6000m at 101% RP, 1000m recovery at 89% RP
– 4 x 7000m at 99% RP, 1000m recovery at 91% RP
– 5 x 2000m at 105% RP during a 35km (22mi) long run at 91% RP
– 25 km (15.5mi) long run at 102% RP
– 30 km (18.5mi) long run at RP
– 35 km (22mi) long run at 97% RP
– 40 km (25mi) long run at 92% RP

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Renato Canova’s “Special Block” Explained

Renato Canova’s “Special Block” Explained

For the best development, Canova believes that athletes must increase the “modulation” or day- to-day variation in distance and intensity, introducing greater stresses with proportionally greater recovery. To this end, every 3-4 weeks during the special and specific periods, he includes what he calls a “special block” (during the special period) or a “specific block” (during the specific period). These “blocks” are days on which the athlete does two workouts, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Runners must take special care to arrive at a special block well-rested and to recover well afterwards. A special block can focus solely on endurance, solely on speed, or can mix both. Canova gives the following examples of each.

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Are You Overtrained? Everything You Need To Know About Overtraining

Are You Overtrained? Everything You Need To Know About Overtraining

The overtrained runner may maintain speed but with poorer form and with greater expenditure of energy. David Costill, PhD of Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, cited one other runner who, early in his training, could run 3:45/km pace at only 60% of his aerobic capacity. Later, when he became overtrained, the same runner had to use 80% of his capacity to maintain that same pace.

As athletes enlist all available muscle fibres in an attempt to maintain their training pace, they invariably exhaust their fast-twitch muscle fibres than their slow-twitch muscles. This is one reason runners lose speed: their fast-twitch muscles have become exhausted through intensive training.

But glycogen depletion is not the only problem. Another is microscopic damage to the muscle fibres, which tear, fray and lose their resilience, like a rubber band that has been snapped too often.

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The Importance Of “The Long Run”

The Importance Of “The Long Run”

What is the perfect long run training distance for marathoners?

There is no “perfect” distance. 32km (20 miles) is the peak distance used in most training programs, however many elite runners will run 35km or longer on 3 or 4 occasions leading into a marathon. Most coaches feel that once you reach 25km (16 miles)  you’re in long run territory. That’s the point where the psychological changes Vaughan mentioned kick in. But a few coaches prefer talking “time” rather than distance, “hours” rather than kilometres/miles.

Running much further than 35km in training increases the risk of injury, especially for those new to running. Many experienced coaches argue that running further than 40km for seasoned and elite runners is not necessary and again, increases the chances of injury.

It’s well known in the elite running world that some Japanese runners do 5+ hour runs when building up for a marathon. Former world record holder Robert de Castella and Steve Monaghetti from Australia would peak with a 48km (30 miles) run 5 weeks before the marathon, but that’s after steady diet of 35-40km runs nearly every weekend leading in. Most runners would self destruct on that much mileage.

Marathon World Record holder Eliud Kipchoge completes his long runs on Thursdays and alternates 30km one week with 40km the next and does 12 weeks of this 2 week cycle before a marathon, meaning he will complete 6 40km runs before a marathon.

Mo Farah is similar – peaking at 40km runs 4-8 weeks before the targeted marathon.

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The Benefits Of High Mileage

The Benefits Of High Mileage

Will running very high mileage actually make you a better runner? It can – but the main reason why it can isn’t what you’d expect. It won’t necessarily improve your aerobic or anaerobic threshold, VO2 Max or general fitness, but it will improve your ability to use fat as an energy source and this is key for racing a marathon.

The late physiologist Al Claremont claimed that high mileage helps you better utilise glycogen, the starchlike substance stored in the liver and muscles that changes into a simple sugar as the body needs it. Carbohydrates in our diet are our main source of glycogen – one reason spaghetti is such a popular pre race meal for marathoners. Glycogen is the preferred fuel for running, but your levels can become depleted within 60 to 90 minutes. Thereafter, your source of fuel is fat, which is metabolised less efficiently.

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Renato Canova – Elite 10km Training Plan (1 Month)

Renato Canova – Elite 10km Training Plan (1 Month)

This is a schedule Renato Canova designed for a hypothetical elite 10km runner to illustrate his training principles.

Week 1 – Monday: Long Easy Run (75-90min) + 5-10 Short Hill Sprints

Week 1 – Tuesday: Long Fast Run (25-30km) at 85% of 10km Pace

Week 1 – Wednesday: 2 Easy Runs Totalling 30km (Easy/Regeneration) 

Week 1 – Thursday: 2 Moderate Runs Totalling 30km 

Week 1 – Friday: 10-15km Tempo Run at 90-95% of 10km Pace

Week 1 – Saturday: 2 Easy Runs Totalling 30km (Easy/Regeneration) 

Week 1 – Sunday: Long Run (90-120mins) at Moderate Effort

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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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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?

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Jake Riley – Training for the Olympic Trials

Jake Riley – Training for the Olympic Trials

Troop detailed two key sessions that had been completed in the leadup to the trials.

One was completed at Teller Farm trails outside Boulder, as follows. 5km warm up. 4 miles of hills out, return and do a 5km press uphill back towards the parking lot. Jake closed the final 5km uphill in 16:45 in windy conditions, which Troop took as a good indication for his preparedness for the hilly course in Atlanta. He said that Jake’s cross-country pedigree would really favour his chances come race day.   

The other key workout which Troop uses is an eighteen-mile progression. This should be run eight and then four weeks prior to a race, with a three-hour run six weeks out. Troop aims to simulate race conditions as much as possible. The workout is completed on a three-mile loop, a drinks table is put out to practice taking on fuel. Practice makes perfect.

Three miles easy to warm up, change shoes. 

Miles 3-6: 5:55-6:00/mile

Miles 6-9: 5:30-5:35/mile

Miles 9-12: 5:15/mile

Miles 12-18: 5:00-5:05/mile – marathon pace (with a ~5second/mile concession for the 1600m elevation)

Jake ran this workout significantly faster in the leadup to Trials than when he was preparing for Chicago. Troop says he executed the session really well and looked comfortable.

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Training With Tokai University – Ekiden Winning Team

Training With Tokai University – Ekiden Winning Team

The athletes strip down to singlets and shorts. Next% adorn the feet of all but a few athletes, and we follow the fluorescent queue of feet out onto the track. There are a number of students at the infield next to the start line, wearing Tokai tracksuits but evidently not running. Noriaki says they’re the team assistants. The half dozen assistants are gathered around a cooler box and a small whiteboard. The athletes join them and form a circle leaving a gap for the two coaches to make their address. After attentively listening to both coaches speak, a collective bow by the students indicates the session is about to start. Five by one-mile, repeats followed by five two-hundreds. Jogging a lap between each rep. Noriaki explains that he and Moro asked the athletes to keep it very steady, make sure pace was constant.

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Thijs Nijhuis (2:10:57 Marathon) – Training Principles and Diary

Thijs Nijhuis (2:10:57 Marathon) – Training Principles and Diary

Week 51 (Denmark)
M: 10k in 4.00, commute to hospital + 14k in 4.00 commute back T: 8k in 4.10, commute to hospital + 20k in 3.59, commute back
W: 25k incl. 15 x 1k with 60 seconds standing rest. 1k avg. 2.58.
Th: 25k in 3.50 + 10k in 4.25.
F: 14k in 4.03
S: 26k incl. 5-4-3-2-1k with 3min light jogging rest. Times: 15.13-12.01-9.03-5.57-2.51. Overall 3.32 per k. Eve: 10k in 4.19.
Sun: 34k in 4.05, hilly forrest.
Total: 186k

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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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