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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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Jim Walmsley – Training WSER 2019

Jim Walmsley – Training WSER 2019

In January we published an article about Jim’s training in the lead-up to his qualification for the US Olympic marathon trials, running a 64-minute half-marathon in Houston. The Flagstaff local posts all his training on Strava, consistently huge sessions that entertain and inspire his legions of followers. Again, we are going to take a look at some of his sessions leading up to a big event, however this time it is moving away from relatively faster events on the road and preparing for the gruelling ordeal of a 100-miler with around 5,000m vertical gain.

The following day (May 14th) Jim posted a similar run: Elden #2. Mount Elden is a peak outside of Flagstaff, rising about 2,400 feet from the already elevated city of Flagstaff, the peak sits at 2,834m. By the end of the training leading up to the WSER Jim ran up Elden twenty-six times. His training block post Project Carbon X was kicked off with six consecutive days up Elden, followed by a 32km run on rolling hills outside Flagstaff, and then by more Elden climbs.

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