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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. 

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. 

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.

Seb Coe’s Running Strength Program (Part 5)

Seb Coe’s Running Strength Program (Part 5)

In this article we discuss number 2 – that is, Seb Coe’s Heavy Weight routine. Coe along with his Loughborough teammates would commence heavy weight training straight up in October (start of macrocycle) and are taken right through to the end of August (1 month before end of macrocycle).

Seb Coe’s Number 1 Heavy Weight Exercise: The Full SquatThis works the four quadricep muscles and the gluteus maximus, an exercise which certainly played an integral role in developing Coe’s superior leg propulsion, knee lift, foot contact and leg extension.

Start with fewer repetitions and lighter weights. Then build up to 2-3 sets of 6 reps @ 1.5 times body weight for men, or 1.25 times for women.The movement should be precisely controlled and proper technique is key. Feet should be shoulder width apart, pointing slightly outwards, knees pointing in the same direction. The Quads will initiate the movement, and at a particular angle or range of motion, the gluteus maximus will be recruited to bring the athlete into an upright position. When descending towards the ground, avoid bouncing at the bottom of the movement but also try not to pause.Interestingly, when Coe managed to build up to 3 sets, Gandy said that a ‘ceiling’ had perhaps been reached at this point in Coe’s strength development.

Seb Coe’s Running Strength Program (Part 4)

Seb Coe’s Running Strength Program (Part 4)

In 1979, Coe did something extraordinary in the history of middle distance running. In just 41 days, he set three world records: 800m (1:42:33), 1500m (3:32:03) and the mile (3:48:95). Coe attributed much of the credit to George Gandy, the mastermind behind his strength and conditioning workouts during these crucial years.
 
As Coe recalls, “When I arrived at Loughborough [University] in the late 1970s some of the conditioning work this guy gave me provided the basis for much of what I achieved. It was revolutionary stuff.”
“George Gandy taught me that running on its own was not enough to graduate into the ranks of an Olympian. Supreme core strength and physical conditioning went hand in hand.”

Seb Coe’s Running Strength Program (Part 3)

Seb Coe’s Running Strength Program (Part 3)

If you were to explore the training diaries of your favourite elite distance athletes, you would notice that virtually all of them include some kind of plyometric training in their routine. It could be a simple set of box jumps or bounding up hills.

Or if you’re Eliud Kipchoge – 1 hour of ‘rhythmic dancing’ and jumping on steppers, performed thrice weekly with your Kenyan comrades. But you may also wonder – exactly how relevant is it for distance runners to be interested in improving their jumping ability? After all, isn’t efficient running all about minimising vertical oscillation and maximising the conversion of energy into forward motion? 

The authors of Better Training for Distance Runners, Dr David Martin (exercise physiologist) and Peter Coe (Seb Coe’s coach), argue that a modest amount of plyometric training will add a beneficial power component that would not be acquired through the more traditional isotonic training techniques (i.e. lifting weights or wall sits). Such power would be relevant for sudden pace changes and reducing your risk of injury. In this article we outline the key points from Martin & Coe’s bestselling classic on plyometric training.

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