Yuriy Borzakovsky: 4 x 25 Seconds
Even though he will only turn 20 on April 12th, Yuriy Borzakovsky already established his place in the history of track & field. So far, he’s performing better indoors than outdoors, achieving all possible titles in the former, while displaying superb results. He has three out of the top five all-time results, and his personal best in the 800m run (1:44,15) indoors exceeds his outdoor time. But his potential is not even close to being reached, to which his excellent 400m time for a stayer – 45,85 – is a testimony.
To run each 200 meters in 25 seconds for an 800m – that is the dream of Borzakovsky’s coach Vyacheslav Makarovich Evstraov.
Vyacheslav Makarovich, Yuriy came to you in 1997, with a personal best of 1:53,7. What did you start with?
- Initially, we worked more on technique. He was running fairly smooth, rhythmic, but there were some mistakes, which, from my point of view, had to be corrected. For example, when bringing his legs from the back, he did not start with the knee motion forward, but rather with a movement of the heel towards the buttock, and only then brought his knee forward. I explained to him that this is the long way, he quickly figured things out, agreed, and started to watch out for that. Also, the hipjoints didn’t quite algin at the push-off. The boys understand well what they have to do after I tell them: they bent forward slightly and the hips had to be brought forward. The hip musculature has to be soft, free, relaxed, and flexible, then you can bring it wherever you want to.
It seems as though you would need well developed abdominal and back muscles for this
- Indeed, it is essential that they are both strong and evenly developed. If there is a lean forward, more back exercises should be included, if there is a lean back – more abdominal exercises. Some form of strength training is done on an almost daily basis, not in large amounts, but in different forms: throwing stones during circuit training, doing gymnastics on the ground, the weight room.
You were saying that Yura pays close attention to your advice.
- Yura, unlike the others, very quickly improves the mistakes in his movements: his coordination and muscle-feel are developed naturally, and he responds very quickly and precisely to what you tell him. Others have to achieve this with much work. This winter he began to tie up in the finishing stage of races – he was basically stomping in the same spot. I explained to him, that the movement has to begin with the foot, and only then, with the hip, and he quickly went back from his deviation to what he was always doing, and then, at the World Championships, showed a powerful stride throughout.
When he was coming strong on the last lap, it was noticeable that the small numbers on his side were moving – is that sign of hip work?
- It happens due to the strength of the push. He even asked me himself about it, if his hips aren’t working too much. I calmed him down.
And what did you change in the training design?
- When he first came, I initially limited him in the total volume of running, even though the overall workload probably got even higher. Aside from long runs, we did a lot of runs focused on rhythm, and significantly increased the amount of OFP (overall fitness development – Russian acronym for developing the fitness of the whole body including all aspects such as strength, flexibility, endurance, dexterity, speed, endurance, etc.), sometimes up to twice a day. This seemed to have strengthened his body, and injuries became a lot less frequent, and even if they occurred, it wasn’t because of an overload of training.
It should be mentioned that he treats his regime very seriously. With all the traits typical of his young age, he understands that his main job is to run. He doesn’t smoke, never drank a drop of alcohol and is not planning on starting, watches out for his sleep, and does gymnastic drills daily.
We don’t work with bars (weight-lifting type). When we use weight-machines, we go through them on light weights (1-2 sets), so the load on the joints isn’t too high, and so the muscles strengthen instead of becoming coarse. We focus a lot more on work with his own weight. I think that the strength of runners should be, if one can say so, soft, relaxed.
In order to develop these skills, we do autogenic training after the gymnastic exercises. And during this time, I exercise psychological influence. They are lying there half-dreaming. Yuriy does this before every race. For about 5-6 minutes, he runs this relaxed feeling through all of his muscles.
Could you talk about your typical weekly plan?
- Usually we have two-a-days 5 times a week. One-a-day practices are held only in the transitional period after competiotion. In the preparation period, the main practice is from 10.30 to 12.30. First a distance run, then stone throwing – 5 sets, or we go in the weight-room, or do some exercises on the bar, where the guys compete against each other in different exercises.
In the evening we do a recovery run of 6km (if the workload wasn’t very high in the morning – 8km) and then do gymnastics in the hall for about 40 minutes. We do this kind of gymnastics 3-4 times a week. Really, we don’t do OFP only on Sunday, when we have complete recovery. Wednesday or Thursday is only one practice. When we are preparing for a meet, this plan might change slightly, adjusting to the days of the week.
On one hand it is very easy to work with Yuriy, but on the other – one always has to be very careful so he doesn’t overtrain. For some, the rate of improvement and preparation is gradual, but for him it resembles waves. He comes up and down very quickly. When this happens, we immediately back down on the load, recover, and then bring it back up, all the time like this. But we never make him do something when he isn’t in the state to do it. Probably because he’s young, I think. And since all of my boys are young, we don’t have a hard approach to training.
Did you have one before?
- Yes, we did, but you know why? We had a program developed by scientists, labeled KCP (Complex Goal Program), and the coach had to execute it, and then give them the results. They calculated everything, and if some parameter wasn’t fulfilled, they would blame you. Nowadays everyone coaches according to their ideas. Dance how you want, as long as you achieve results.
Did the overall volume of the running grow over the years?
- I’ll reiterate that we’re not trying to chase after volume, and definitely don’t count it exactly. I can say that in the preparatory period he ends up with about 440-450 kilometers a month.
What is the distance of the longest runs?
- 12 kilometers, occasionally 14. Although he was telling me about how he liked to do longer runs a lot. 20, sometimes even 30 kilometers around the village. The boys were telling stories about how he was still little, and ran away from them and ran for along time, although he had some leg problems after that. By the way, in 2000 he made a mistake, where when still recovering from an injury, realizing that he lost a lot of endurance, he started running distance runs fast without telling me, and overloaded his legs soon after again.
Lydiard told the whole world to run a lot and announced the formula – 100 miles a week. So you don’t have to run this much?
- I don’t know, perhaps Snell needed to, he was massive. However, we are not chasing after volume.
But still, is there some kind of numerical goal?
- I know that Yuriy is a speed-based guy, and during the preparatory period, we try to get 16-18 kilometers in the two-a-days, up to 20. I don’t feel that he needs to run more, but to run faster. But one has to watch out so he stays fresh.
So first is the optimal volume, second – freshness, what else?
- Correct technique, and most importantly, so on any long run, or even in any of long stretch, he can react to an acceleration, be able to switch gears, otherwise the runner turns into a pulling-horse.
Are you saying that he is not running at a constant speed most of the time?
- Probably only the evening runs occur at a constant speed.
What is the tempo for these runs?
- We don’t set time goals. It’s only important that the heart rate does not exceed 140 beats per minute, the most important thing here is recovery. During the day runs the pulse should not exceed 155, if he ate it could go up to 165 beats per minute.
But nevertheless, how do the long runs go? Do you give him specifics, or is it whatever his body allows?
- There are specific assignements, but he got used to it already and can’t run at the same pace and always has to switch somewhere. Here is an example. First three kilometers at a warm-up pace, then turn on stretches somewhat faster: 6-8 minutes at 155-160bpm, 3 minutes at 160, 2 minutes at 170. Sometimes two sets. If its 10-12 minutes, then one set, but all of this within 12 kilometers.
Do you use tempo runs?
- Not the ones in the usual sense, although we do 4 kilometer runs on the 2km circle in Kislovodsk at least once a cycle. We also do 3 times 2km and 4+2km in the preparatory period. And the so called work is done, usually, at 4.20-4.10 for 1km, then 3.50, 3.40, and finishing at 3.30.
So you’re saying that at the 3.30 per 1km speed, his heart rate does not exceed 155 beats per minute?
- That’s how it is. Obviously he could run like this before too, but the pulse was higher and he was more tired. Now he does interval training after this too. Before a serious workout he runs 3-4km, where 2km are fast, when there is a sprint coming up, he runs 600m fast. It should be mentioned that he does not like to run slow.
We talked about running endurance, but his strongest suit is his high speed traits. How did his speed develop over this time?
- He was obviously geared towards it, but due to the development of strength and technique, it grew significantly. The really good result in the 400 for a mid-distance runner speaks to this – 45,84, and so do our control tests. We do them with a flying start, because a low start locks the body up, and because mid-distance runners never start at maximum speed. This winter, indoors, Yura ran 60m in 5.85, 150m in 15.97. Last year, with a flying start, he ran 100m in 10.3, this year he ran the same result indoors. Consequently, I assume that he will be able to run even faster this summer.
We do this kind of speed drills all year-round. Even in the preparatory period we include speed work at least once or twice a week, when the legs are prepared for this type of work. We also work on jumping year-round, perhaps only excluding the time when we are in Kislovodsk, where the load on the legs is enough anyways. Usually the jumps (triple, quintuple, dextuple(sp)?) are included in the OFP.
Do you do control tests in OFP exercises?
- No, I try to not push these repeats to the maximum. For example, I don’t let him do pull-ups up to 10 times, so the muscles don’t become coarse. It happens, of course, that they get excited without me. When they were doing their exams they did 25 pulls up. Yura and Boris Kaveshnikov like to compete in the raise with an extension on the bar. They do it 10 times without releasing the bar. In stone throwing, weight-lifting, and jumping, there are no competitions, although they can jump about 3 meters from a stand.
The overall idea is not to go to the limit?
- If you do otherwise, you will pay for it later. For example, the past year before the European Indoor Championship, a number of mistakes were made. There was an unneeded meet at which he was made to race, that he did not need it at all. We weren’t able to do a small slump (this year everything turned out the way we wanted it to). After that, he had to race twice in Glasgow within 45 minutes. First the 800, then the 4x400. After that he admitted that he was tired, the legs were bad, and he yanked the hips pretty strong. Because of this he didn’t have the ability to do the same endurance work with his legs in April-May, which reflected on his summer season. Additionally, he twisted his ankle, but the main problems were with the hips.
Massages didn’t help?
- We did massage, but not too strong, and the condition wasn’t improving while he was almost screaming during the massages. He asked me to go with him and take a look how he is suffering there. When I saw how he’s twisting and turning, and the masseur just keeps going, I told him that he doesn’t have to go to the masseur anymore. And decided to do them myself. I’m not sure whether I massaged softer, or the psychological aspect was more of an influence, but he recovered gradually. Doctor Puhov was quite surprised. He probably put his soul to it, that’s the main part.
After these injuries he was very well prepared physically, because we had to emphasize OFP especially, we had no other choice. We selected 10 exercises and did 3-4 sets, to at least somehow bring up the pulse. Physically, Yura became much stronger, added about 3kg of weight, up to 73.5kg, and when the leg injuries were over it turned out that the speed remained from the OFP, while the endurance was gone. How do you get it back? In Saint-Petersburg, before the Znamensky Memorial he was running 150m in 16 seconds, but when I asked him to run 1200m, he only did it in 3.06. And it was very hard for him. At the same time it was necessary. That distance is always present in my training. The 400m he ran with a personal best – 46.14, but he wasn’t really ready for the 800m. Nevertheless, he still set a personal best (1.44.63) in a series of starts in Europe, even though he couldn’t win a single one of them. He simply didn’t have the fitness reserves to endure all the starts.
At the Russian Championships he ran the 400m again:
- I felt that he wasn’t ready for the 800m, but not because he would’ve lost to someone, but because it would’ve been very hard for him. Although the 400m finals, where he took second, weren’t easy for him either.
Even though we had races planned abroad in August, I told the manager: After the Russian Championship in Tula we are working only on endurance: distance runs, long intervals. We ran around the dachas in Zhukovo, on a 1800m loop, around the Malahovka stadium 500m loop, 3-4 times. We went over to the stadium too, where we made sure he retained his speed. He always has it, but his endurance goes away sometimes. 9 days before Syndey he ran a great 500m in 60.5. We had some intervals planned too but I cancelled them immediately. I kept thinking about what to do the next day, there were different plans, and I decided to do another 1200m. And when he ran 3.00, his personal best, I knew that he could run well.
But what happened in the Olympic final; he looked great in the semis; what was the mistake?
- There was a number of reasons, but the most important one is that in the day preceding the final, he walked around the city for 5 hours, got tired, and missed the initial warmup. I even got mad at him and left. He went to warm-up himself, and this happened 2 hours later than it was supposed to, which means 2 hours closer to the final. If would’ve been still there I would’ve forbidden him to warm-up at all at that point. He only made the situation worse, by becoming even more tired. Right before the final he was warming up as usual, even though I advised him to warm-up less (he was tired already), but he didn’t listen. Usually he runs 3km, then does (word missing), then drills. Everything usually pans out relaxed, not in a hurry. A few running drills, light accelerations, and 2x200m, around 26.5. Instead of that I was suggesting less of the slow running, and only run the 200m once.
When I walked over to the start of the race, I saw his eyes and understood that he would be better off not going there. In a few seconds he confirmed this to me. For a long time after Sydney, Yura wouldn’t talk about it, but ultimately he admitted his mistakes. Prior to this World Indoor Championship I wasn’t telling him anything, and kept wondering whether the Olympiad taught him anything or not. And I’m glad that it did. He warmed up less before the final on his own. Usually he starts an hour before, and here he went 50 minutes before, but that turned out even better, because the final was delayed 35-40 minutes, which is amazing for a World Championship. We knew that it would be delayed for 20 minutes, but it turned out to be even more!
Returning to the Olympiad, what kind of tactical advise did you give him?
- It was necessary not to let everyone else get away too far, and be right with them at 300m to go. He executed all of this but he simply didn’t have enough left in him.
So it wasn’t a tactical mistake?
- No, after all this was his third race, and he wasn’t able to recover sufficiently before the final, and probably, like for everyone, the double acclimatization did not aid him either.
Many people don’t understand why Yura let’s the other competitors get so far ahead on the first lap.
- A fast start is not characteristic of Yura; one time in Luzhniki he started fast, but then he felt really bad at the end. Now he is stronger, but starting in 49 seconds is still not his style. Additionally, all of our workouts are structured in a way so that the first half is more relaxed and slow, and the second half faster, so perhaps this could contribute to the development of his racing style also.
But the majority of runners hold to another tactic. It is also known that so called alactic energy sources exist, which aid a fast start of a race.
- Anyone can run the first half of the race fast and then sandbag the second, but in order to pace yourself well and hold out until the end, great skill is required. Of course in the summer he made the mistake of letting the competitors get ahead too far. I tried to convince him that if he sits back until the very end, he will lose every time. However if he were to run even and surge sooner, he would feel better, especially considering you have to run 3 races at the World Championships, and might not even make it to the final. That’s how he started racing this winter. I especially liked the final. After talking to many people in the first two days, I established that everyone’s hips were hurting. The Lisbon track has certain spring effect to it. When you are running in a group, the spring effect layers and who-knows-what happens. Yura was saying that it was impossible to find a rhythm in such conditions. The track was jumping under him. There were 2 possible tactics, but I made a different decision overnight. Feeling with a 99% certainty that Bucher would start out fast, it would be necessary to start in our 26 seconds with a small gap from the group, and not get in its resonance. And not to wait around when passing them, but surge by them. Ultimately, he was hitting his own rhythm, and not the interference of the group.
You were talking about how you were asked at a seminar in France whether Yura is worried when he lets everyone else get so far ahead.
- He is certain that sooner or later whoever is weaker than him will come back to him. And the strong ones, well they are stronger anyways. And when I was asked what my dream is, I replied that I want Yura to be able to run 800m not in 26 second splits like now, but in 25.
Main Training Schedule
Normal Start = no blocks
3. Day: altitude stadium (1200 м above sea level); 2000 м (6.33) – Heart Rate 150, after 1,5 min - 108, 4000 м (13.00) (165 -115), 3х200 м (27; 28; 24,11 in spikes).
4-9. Recovery days for acclimatization: distance runs, accelerations 100-150 м, OFP.
10. Day: 3000m (9.58), 2000m (6.28), 1000m (2.45,5) – Heart Rate=170 after 400m jog.
11. Day:12km, weight-machines, 8km.
13. Day: 5х400 uphill () at 165-170 bpm HR, 3х100 uphill.
14. Day: 12km, in spikes: 1000m (2.50), 4х150 (21)/150m.
15. Day: warmup 4km, 4km tempo on loop. Drive back to Moscow.
24. Comeptition 1000m – 2.29.
25. Competition 3000m – 8.32 (that was the plan/assignement)
30. Day: 600m (1.27), 300m (40), 200m (26)/5 min, 4х150 m (19)/50 m.
Total Volume for December: 450km. (280 miles)
4. Yekaterinburg. Competition 1000m - 2.27,4 (1st place)
11. 2х400m (55,46; 53,95)/400m, 2х300m (39,20; 38,25)/300m.
13. 2000m 6.00/10 min, 4х150m (20)/50m.
17. Competition, 400m - 47.67 (1).
19. 4х200m (29-30, 26).
20. Day Off.
22. Competition in Zindelfingen, 800m - 1.45,91 (1).
27. Competition in Moscow, 800m - 1.47,56 (1).
28. Day Off.
30. Competition in Dortmund, 800m - 1.44,35 (1).
Preparation for the 2001 Indoor Season
Trained at Home in November. Volume 340km.
Sample Week Plan
Monday: Day: 600m (1.34). 300m (44), 200m (27) – everything with 300m jog in between, 30min OFP, cooldown. Evening: 6km, OFP.
Tuesday: Day: 12km (HR @ 140-160 bpm). Evening: 6km, 6х100m working on technique.
Wednesday: Day: 10km (1300m fast), 3x60m, 100m. Evening: 6km, 30min OFP.
Thursday: 12km, Sauna.
Friday: Day: 10km, 6x80m, 3x100m, 2x30m, 2x60m. Evening: 6km.
Saturday: Day: 6km, 3x300m/400m every 2 minutes 47-46-45. Evening: 8km.
Sunday: Day Off.
7. Competition in Yekaterinburg, 1000 м - 2.28,0 (1).
10. 4 sets (300m (45)/300m+3х150m (21)/400m.
11. Distance Run, Blocks.
12. Day: 2х6 laps (50/50), accelerations on turn, straight-aways easy. Evening: Recovery run.
13. 1000m, (2.50), 600m (1.26), 1200m (3.25), 200m (27) with 400m recovery.
14. Day Off.
16. Competition, 400m - 48,22.
17. 8km, OFP.
18. 10 accelerations on the turn.
19.- 60m - 5,85, 3 sets (400m (58-56-52)+3x150m (18,5)/50m) 6 min recovery,150m in second-third lane, to get used to passing. 100m – 10,4 (with turn).
20. Day Off.
21. 10km (4 min until HR 155 bpm).
22. 4km(1 km - 3.00), 2х150m (15,97, 15,98) from normal start
24. 4х200m 26,6-24,8.
25. Day Off.
27. Competition in Karlsruhe. 800m - 1.44,15 – new Russian Record
4. Competition in Stuttgart, 800m - 1.45,64 – 1st place.
In the 11 days until the Russian Champions there weren’t any significant/serious workouts. Only 3 sets of accelerations (200m (26) and 100m (12.5). We were training through the Russian Championship.
16. Russian Championship, 800m heat – 1.50.14 (1.)
17. Russian Championship, final – 1.49.95 (1.)
After that, until February 24th, only distance runs.
24. 3 sets (400 м (55,91, 54,7, 52,41)+300 m (41,68; 39,6; 38,99).
25. Day Off, Sauna
26. 6km, running drills, 150m from normal start (16,4), 100m from normal start (11,00).
27. Evening: 600m - 1.20,42 (feeling good, plan was 1.24), 200m - 24,67 (plan 24,0), 10 min rest, 2х200/400m @ 24,88 (plan 25-24,5).
1. Day Off
2. 400m - 48,14 (24,19+23,96), 150m - 18,66,18,74 & 18,90.
3. Recovery run.
4. Day Off.
5. 4х200m (26,2; 26,0; 25,5; 24,9).
6, 7, 8. Warm-up/Recovery.
9. World Championship in Lisbon. Heat - 1.46,80 (1st place) (26,35; 27,19; 26,47; 26,79 handtimed).
10. Semifinal - 1.47,59 (1) (26,55; 27,16; 26,27; 26,62).
11. Final - 1.44,49 (26,01; 26,17; 26,20; 25,55; 1.43,93
handtimed) – 1st place.