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. 

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. 

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.

Eliud Kipchoge – A Typical Week of Training – Preparing For A Sub 2 Hour Marathon

Eliud Kipchoge – A Typical Week of Training – Preparing For A Sub 2 Hour Marathon

As we said in the last article which looks at Eliud’s build-up to the INEOS 159 Challenge, little has changed in Eliud’s training in the last five or so years, bar the addition of a more significant amount of strength and core work. This article looks in more detail at a typical training week for Eliud.

The general structure of the training week is broken down by Patrick Sang in the second part of the documentary released by INEOS.


AM Easy to moderate run: 16-21km
PM Easy Run: 8-12km


Tuesday is usually a track session. They basically do two kinds of workouts on Tuesdays and cycle them in two-week blocks:

– 15km of goal marathon pace work.

15km worth of intervals at right around their goal marathon pace (so 2:55min/km for Eliud). This is actually a bit harder to do on dirt and altitude than on road at sea level, but of course that is part of the training.

*Example workouts:
– 15x1km (90sec rest) in average of 2:50-2:55. They might start closer to 3min and end closer to 2:50, but the average is normally between 2:50 and 2:55.
-12x1200m (90sec rest) in average of 3:24-3:30.
– 5 sets of (2km, 1km) in 5:40-5:50 and 2:50-2:55.

Eliud Kipchoge’s Preparation For The INEOS 159 Challenge

Eliud Kipchoge’s Preparation For The INEOS 159 Challenge

Following this build up period the group shifted back into their normal training cycle, which we explore in more detail in Eliud Kipchoge – a typical week of training but is summarised by Patrick Sang, Eliud’s coach, in the second part of the documentary. The training week can be summarised as: Tuesday – track or fartlek, Thursday – long run, Saturday – fartlek, other days – easy. A notable addition to this training is the core work that can be seen in the videos. It is also interesting that it appears that Eliud is now using nutrition during some of the sessions, handed to him from the team van… this was not something that we observed during our time with him in 2017 in the lead-up to Berlin. 

Sang is interviewed at great length throughout the three parts of the documentary, discussing his relationship with Eliud and how it has transformed over the years, admitting that much of the time he now feels that he is a student of Eliud himself. The reverence that all involved with the project have for Eliud is clearly discernible, his self-belief is inspiring and a major focus of the videos.

When discussing Eliud’s nervousness regarding his performance and the pressure he is under, Eliud’s manager Valentijn Trouw says that “He wants to do it for himself, but at the same time he wants to do it for everyone that is involved in the event and everybody who believes in him.” His teammates clearly believe the barrier is within his grasp, when asked to predict his time, assuming all goes perfectly on the day, some respond that he could even go 1:58-low.

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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