Athletes like Wilson, Geoffrey, Abel Kirui, Emmanuel Mutai or (for women) Mary Keitany, Edna and Florence Kiplagat, Rita and Prisca Jeptoo, rarely run more than 200 km in one week (also who, and when, train 7 days without resting).
They built their "aerobic house" in many years, and at the moment they don't need anymore a lot of volume at low intensity. This type of training has the only effect to accelerate the consumption of the body structures, not giving any advantage under the metabolic and bioenergetic side.
What runners have to understand is that the development of volume can last 4-5 years (till a maximum of 200-220 km per week for a top class marathoner), but inside this volume the intensity has to grow together. When the construction of the "aerobic house" is finished, the only goal for further improvements is to increase the volume of specific training, and this can happen cancelling a big part of useless volume at low intensity.
Don't do the mistake to think that all the volume of top Marathon runners is fast : this' not true, because about 50% of this volume is very slow, but the reason is REGENERATION. So, in other words, at the mature stadium of their career, top runners have a high percentage of SPECIFIC VOLUME, and high percentage of REGENERATION.
What practically disappears is the volume of medium speed, useless as training because cannot give any stimulus to the body, but damageous for the body structures because slow kms increase the consumption of tendons, jointures and muscles, and reduce the ability in mental concentration for the specific training at high intensity.
All the big Kenyan groups use the classic system that Wilson uses. This is not due to a real technical choice, but to a choice of organization. These groups include sometimes 60-100 runners, not stayting together, and they meet in one defined place (we can call this place the MEETING POINT for every Group) coming from different houses and different part of the town (this in Iten as in Eldoret, in Kapsabet as in Keicho, only Kaptagat has a different situation because practically a real village doesn't exist, but the athletes live in the camp of their management).
For that reason, for example, all the athletes in Iten know that the appointment on Tuesday is at 7am on the track, or on Sunday is at 6:00 o'clock for going for long run, starting from the same point.
I use a different system, based on individual plans. With Wilson, after one month of this training, we had a talk, and he clearly told me : "Renato, I can't continue with this individual training. I have my house in Iten, I built a Church in Iten, I build a hotel in Iten, all my future life will be in Iten, and I have in my Group more than 80 athletes depending on me. If I go for my selected training only, they feel abandoned, and I don't want this, because Iten is my future, and I need to continue to help people and to be a referement for themselves. We need to have a more easy and detectable training schedule".
So, what did we organized was the modulation I think is the real key of improvement, inside the classic system.
The base of yhis phylosophy is clear and easy to understand :
1. Approaching the Marathon, we need to increase the percentage of Marathon Speed of long run, may be including long variations with more easy recovery, in order to have a consistant part of the session run at the same speed of the competition.
2. Since this type of training has a higher cost, we need to open the recovery, so it's not possible to follow the "classic" kenyan schedule, with one hard session every two days.
3. The solution. threfore, is to modulate the intensity, maintaining the same type of schedule.
Tuesday : Track for 12-14 km at high intensity
Thursday : Fartlek at LOW intensity (it's possible to run 30 times 1' fast at 3' per km pace alternating with 1' easy, finishing 1 hour with 17 km, but also with 19 km, and the "schedule" is Always 1 hour fartlek with 30 x 1' / 1')
Saturday : 35 km long run fast (95-97% of MP)
Next week :
Tuesday : Track for 9 kms at medium intensity
Thursday : Tough fartlek with 20 x 1'/1' + 20 x 30"/30", with fast recovery (in this case, for an athlete as Wilson, about 19 km)
Saturday : Long run 35-40 km at 85% MP (for example, if the preious Sat they run 35 km in 1:52, next Sat they run 40 km in 2:14)
In this way, we can give the right recovery to the body, using the classic 3 days (this was the plan created by Brother Colm more than 25 years ago for Young runners, then developed looking at Marathon by dr. Rosa).
I use something different because my training is based on individual situations, non on a Group. For that reason, I change the plan every two weeks, looking at the necessities of the athletes at the moment. This is with my best kenyans, but also with Ethiopians I follow with my programs through other coaches (Tsegaye Mekonnen, Tamirat Tola, Dino Sefir, Abdullah Shami and other through Gemedu Degefo, Tsegaye Kebede, Ayele Abshero, Abera Kuma through Tessema Abshero, Brother of Ayele).