It comes Down to SPEED

Haile Gebrselassie broke the marathon world record in Berlin on Sunday, with an official time of two hours, four minutes and 26 seconds. At the half way mark he was at 1:02:29. He had his fastest kilometer split of 2:50 at 35 k. It all comes down to speed. The winner will always be the person who can sustain the highest percentage of their maximum speed. Look at this guys track times, anyone who thinks distance running is about pounding long slow miles needs to rethink their approach. I have always loved to watch this guy run because I felt he was the model of running efficiency, a very compact stride that enabled him to instantly change gears.


At 10/1/07, 11:35 AM, Anonymous Web Designer said...

I agree with your point Vern that ultimately it comes down to speed and that it is always easier to hold 90% of a greater top speed max than 95% over any distance. Mind you, Geb was doing over 150 miles week prior to this competition but you do have to engineer the speed in before you start those miles.

In my event the 400m, training regimes are somewhat of a mystery. Jeremy Wariner runs 43.4 off of 200m times around 20.4 whereas his mentor Michael Johnson was running about 19.8 for the same 400m pace. Both are coached by Clyde Hart and by all accounts they did very little specific training with a strong focus on aerobic conditioning and multiple reps with low recovery well below race pace. (See http://www.nacactfca.org/articles/Hart-eng.htm)
). Hart appears to not stress much speed training and relies on the athlete's natural speed.

The best European runner of recent times, Iwan Thomas ran 44.35 off a 200m best of 20.87 and similarly to Hart, his coach Mike Smith used very little weight training with athletes doing much of their conditioning work in an old school hall with a few chairs and a couple of med balls.

So developing the ability to hold speed is key but the ways of doing for the 400m are varied. Interestingly the most successful methods of recent years have nothing in common with modern approaches such as Barry Ross's protocol. No weights, Slower Longer reps with short recovery Vs Lots of Weights, and Fast Sprints over short distance.

Any thoughts on this Vern? I know you were interested in the Tim Benjamin story a few months ago.

At 10/1/07, 12:26 PM, Anonymous Will Kirousis said...

I have found that teaching athletes how to go fast first allows them to go long faster in the future.

Endurance is not the ability to go and go and go. Endurance is, in the light of sport, the ability to cover a given distance as fast as possible.

What I mean is that Endurance Sports are not about how long you can go slow but how fast you can go long... Sounds like its semantics but it is not. The mindset and approach to preparation are very different here.

Great to see the record improved!

At 10/3/07, 3:55 PM, Anonymous Pete Leonard said...

As a cross country ski coach, I feel compelled to disagree with this post - at least to a degree. Balance is vital to training endurance athletes. Certainly if you can't run faster than the pace you want to for a marathon for 1k or 5k or 10k, then you're in trouble. So you definitely need to train to go fast.

However, this marathon pace has to be powered in a sustainable manner (aerobically). If your muscles do not have a large oxidative capacity, then you are in trouble. The most reliable way to develop that oxidative capacity is to do sustained easy training.

("Easy" I would add is a relative term from individual to individual - a world class endurance athlete versus a junior is going to be able to perform a much greater workload at say 1.0, 2.0, 4.0 mmol/L blood lactate (to use some 'objective' measurement of difficulty): I can't run 7 min miles for more than probably a half marathon, but that is undoubtedly much slower than Gebrselassie can run at 1.0 mmol/L.) So you definitely need to train your ability to produce energy sustainably as well.


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