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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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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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Five 800m Lactic Tolerance Workouts by Elites

Five 800m Lactic Tolerance Workouts by Elites

#2: Wilson Kipketer (past 800m World Record holder and currently 2nd fastest 800m runner of all time)

Training Session: 600m, 300m, 600m, 300m with 5mins recovery after 600m’s and 10mins recovery after 300m’s.

Kipketer would complete this training session around once per month in the competition period. Kipketer would aim to run the 600m intervals in 1:16-1:17 (slightly slower than goal 800m pace) and 300m intervals in 35 seconds (slightly faster than goal 800m pace).

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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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5 Speed Workouts for 5km/10km Runners (Canova Style)

5 Speed Workouts for 5km/10km Runners (Canova Style)

Renato Canova is one of the world’s most successful long distance running coaches, having coached over 50 athletes to Olympic/World Championship medals over the 5000m through to the Marathon distance. Canova favours prescribing training sessions for distance runners at their target race pace to have them best prepared come race day.

Below you will find 5 interval training sessions for 5km and 10km runners that Canova has prescribed his elite athletes:

#1: 2km + 1600m + 1200m + 800m + (4x400m) with 200m jog recovery between all repetitions (approximately 1-1.5 minutes)
Begin at your 10km goal pace in the 2km repetition and slowly increase your speed to be at your 5km goal pace by the 800m (4th) repetition. The final 4x400m intervals should be at your 5km pace or faster. Between each interval, jog 200m at around your usual warm up/cool down pace, perhaps slightly slower. For most runners targeting a 5km in around 14-16mins or a 10km in 30-34mins, this should be around 1min to 1.5min jog recovery.

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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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Seb Coe’s Running Strength Program (Part 2)

Seb Coe’s Running Strength Program (Part 2)

In this article, we will explore the different types of resistance training that runners have used over the years. This is a summary of the key ideas from Chapter 6 of Better Training For Distance Runners written by David Martin & Peter Coe. 

Static Resistance Training: Isometrics

What is it? This is when we push against an object that is immovable. Our skeletal muscles generate tension but does not lead to movement. As such, muscle length stays constant throughout the exercise (at least externally; there are some changes which also occur microscopically).

Where’s the evidence? While there are many variables involved, the current status of studies suggest a weekly improvement in muscle strength by 2-5% when static resistance training is used. While the initial gains are sizable, they plateau rather quickly after about 5 weeks.

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Seb Coe’s Running Strength Program (Part 1)

Seb Coe’s Running Strength Program (Part 1)

Virtually all elite runners incorporate some kind of strength and conditioning work into their training routine. There are various reasons – to enhance muscle strength and endurance, as well as minimise risk of injury. But what kinds of exercises should we do? How often should we do this? How lean is too lean? Should we use weights? In this series, we will share the principles and practicalities on how runners should approach this minefield. This is a summary from Chapter 6 of Better Training For Distance Runners written by David Martin & Peter Coe.

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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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Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 6

Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 6

It is well accepted that specialisation in a particular distance requires an athlete to train at both faster and slower speeds in order to bring proper consolidation of overall skill. (‘Multi-Pace Training’ is essentially the fancy term coined by Martin & Coe to recognise this principle.) For example, the training program for a 10000m specialist would likely prescribe sessions involving repetitions at 5000m and half-marathon race pace.
 
But on what basis should you determine these so-called equivalent multiple-event paces for an athlete? The authors offer one such mechanism that may serve as a useful starting point for determining these speeds (at least initially). From there adjustments would of course be made.
 
As you can see in the tables below, these equivalent race times are calculated based on mathematical formulas. This is specific, simple and objective, in contrast to simply ‘guestimating’ what we think our times should be.

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Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 5

Seb Coe’s Middle Distance Training – Part 5

(1) A training unit is a specific assigned modality of work. Some workouts may contain more than one unit (e.g. a 40min fartlek will feature both aerobic and anerobic conditioning zones). This counts as two units of training.

(2) It assumes that a macrocycle lasts one year (52 weeks): 4 weeks of recovery (X0), 33 weeks of work (X1 to X4), 3 weeks of fine-tuning (X5) and 12 weeks of competition (X6). Depending on how frequently you race during the year, you may need to shorten the micro/meso/macrocycles.

(3) Marathon runners have a somewhat unique necessity for specific emphasis on high-volume aerobic conditioning each week. Thus, their total training distance will often be higher than outlined above.

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