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Welcome to an engrossing episode of the Sweat Elite podcast. Today, we dive into the journey of Victor Smangs, a distance runner from Sweden, who remarkably broke the sub-29-minute barrier for the 10k. Joining him in this incredible feat is his coach Mads Taersboel. Hosted by Matt, the founder of Sweat Elite, this conversation reveals the intricate science and relentless dedication that pushed Victor beyond his limits. 

Victor Smangs, who started running seriously at the age of 33, and Mads Tarsbolt, an exercise scientist and coach, unravel the strategies that enabled Victor to drop his 10k time from 29.5 minutes to an impressive 28:57. Below are highlights of the podcast. You can also listen to the podcast in the player below. 

Achievements and Initial Struggles

Victor, at 38, recently broke the 29-minute barrier for a 10k. Under Mads’ guidance, they explored key aspects such as pacing, training load, and Nutrition to enhance Victor’s endurance and performance. Interestingly, Victor had been plateauing at around the 30-minute mark before Mads’ intervention.

“Victor spent quite a few years actually stuck around that 30 low, 30 mid, 29 high mark until he changed coaches to Mads,” Matt shares, setting the scene for the talk.

Transitioning in Training Techniques

Victor recounts, “At that point in September last year, after the Copenhagen half marathon, I was quite tired of performing poorly the whole season. Mads and I decided that we needed to shift the training load from the double threshold sessions to something more manageable.”

Mads takes over to explain the scientific approach: “We began measuring Victor’s lactate levels, muscle oxygen (SMO2), and other performance metrics like VO2 max. The testing identified areas like Victor’s underdeveloped anaerobic capacity, which we immediately started to work on.”

The Power of Anaerobic Capacity Workouts

In Mads’ words, “Victor began doing 200 meter repeats with ample rest periods to boost his anaerobic capacity. This was followed by longer, paced runs to clear the lactic acid generated from the high-intensity workouts.”

Victor highlights the outcomes: “I started these initial sessions at Collingwood track in Melbourne. They provided the right intensity balance and improved my overall speed without overwhelming my system.”

Emphasizing LT1 Work for Long-Term Efficiency

Matt shifted the conversation towards LT1 work, inquiring how it was determined and improved. Victor reveals, “Back in May, my LT1 pace was around 3:40 per kilometer, which wasn’t ideal. Mads and I worked on gradually dialing down my LT1 pace while keeping overall intensity balanced.”

Mads explains the rationale, “LT1 work is like a bridge between easy and threshold training. It stimulated Victor’s aerobic capacity without undue stress, contributing significantly to his endurance.”

Nutritional Insights and Respiratory Efficiency

Nutrition played an equally important role in this transformation. Mads emphasizes, “Carbohydrates are more efficient than fats for creating ATP—our energy currency—and maintaining high performance. Victor ensured a balanced intake of carbs and other essentials.”

Mads also shed light on the importance of respiratory efficiency. “Improving how Victor’s muscles utilize oxygen and eliminating CO2 meant his overall endurance and performance heightened.”

Age and Running: Chronological vs. Training Age

Victor started running seriously later in life, which brought unique challenges and advantages. “Despite my age, I’ve never felt like I’m getting slower. If anything, this focused training has made me believe there’s another five good years of improvement left in me.”

Mads backs this by sharing insights on training age. “Victor’s less developed running history means there’s room for improvement biomechanically and physiologically. We can still optimize his performance as the years progress.”

Future Prospects: Eyeing the Marathon

When asked about future ambitions, Victor admitted his dream of competing in marathons. “The marathon is important to me, and I want to debut well. Though the Swedish marathon team is incredibly competitive, I feel there’s more in the tank.”

Mads evaluates, “Victor is very efficient in oxygen use, hinting that the marathon could be his next strong suit. However, there are no guarantees until it’s tested in the field.”

Conclusion

Victor and Mads represent the perfect blend of scientific rigor and indomitable spirit. Their journey from stagnation to breaking the sub-29 barrier in the 10k is nothing short of inspiring.

Stay tuned to the Sweat Elite podcast for more conversations that harness the power of persistence, science, and passion in transforming athletic performance.

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