I want to thank Northern Star for his effort in trying to interpret my training phylosophy. I understand it's almost not possible to have a clear vision of my philosophy analysing the REAL training of my athletes.
The reason is very simple : when I follow an athlete almost daily, I change the particulars of his training according to the feeling they can give me looking at their training. So, it's really difficult to extrapolate from the PARTICULARS of one training the GENERAL phylosophy at the base of my programs.
However, I think the interpretation of Northern Star can be accepted, since is not far from what I think.
The main points that characterize my phylosophy are as follows :
a) Aerobic training is the most important part of the preparation. Without a wide aerobic base, in my opinion it's not possible to reach the top personal level. In this I have the same idea of Lydiard.
b) An athlete needs about 8-10 years for building his "aerobic house". The beginning of this process starts in natural way, well before the "official" training with a coach. This is what happens in Africa, where boys and girls have a way of life very active under the aerobic point of view. They play hours every day running at different speeds, and build their aerobic efficiency when still very young. That's the reason because in my programs Kenyan and Ethiopian runners can move to high intensity after 2-3 years of official training : they had already several years of general activity in natural way, accumulating mileage and increasing their strength, running on very hilly courses at different speeds.
But this situation is not different from the situation in America, Europe or Oceania 50 years ago. Of course Elliot, Snell, Walker, Dixon, Quax, Ryun, Prefontaine, Lindgren, Salazar, Nenow and many others had an activity when young very much different from the modern life.
c) The "Aerobic First" of Lydiard was the compensation of the lack of aerobic strength for people having a very high muscle strength. When the athletes of 1960 approached athletics, they were already very strong under the point of view of their muscle strength. They didn't use long run, but normally plaid sports as rugby, soccer, basket, football that gave power to their body. So, we can say that the RUNNERS of 50 years ago needed essentially long aerobic runs for supporting a high lactic capacity already in their characteristics, while African needs to increase that quality, starting directly with running and being weaker under the muscular point of view.
d) After no longer than 2-3 years, easy long run doesn't produce any effect. If somebody thinks the process of capillarization can last for ever, he's wrong. After opening ALL THE VESSELS that is possible to open in his body (and this happens during the first 3 years, if his training is enough), the only way for increasing the Aerobic Power is the intensity. In this point I'm very far from Lydiard.
e) Aerobic doesn't mean slow running. Now the WR of Marathon is at a pace of 2:55 per km or 4:41 per mile, AND IS FULLY AEROBIC. So, we can use from the beginning of the preparation (Fundamental period) this type of speed WITHOUT TOUCHING THE LACTIC SYSTEM. The idea that short and medium intervals are anaerobic is wrong : this depends on the speed, not on the distance. For that reason, I use ALWAYS this type of training, without fearing to burn the athletes. Also in this case, I'm very far from Lydiard.
f) In my training phylosophy, TRAINING IS INDIVIDUAL. Training is like the cloth for an athletes, and the coach is his taylor. You can see a model you like in a shop, but it's casual the size of the cloth in the window is your size. So, the MODEL is the training phylosophy, the SIZE is the individual program of the athlete.
g) The athletes don't follow the program, but is the program following the athletes. This means that the program MUST change according what the athlete needs at the moment. Training is something based on the REAL SITUATION at the moment, is not the real situation based on the training. This is the difference between working with theory or working with practice.
h) The succession of different periods of training (Fundamental, Special and Specific) involves different training phylosophies. It's like to build a house : the first step is to have the project, and this can be very different depending on the money I can have at my disposal.
(The money is the talent of the athlete). The second step is to buy the material. The third step is to start to build the house using the material I have, following the original project. Buying the material is what we do during the FUNDAMENTAL period : we work for increasing all the qualities we need to use for the performance. We try to work for increasing General Resistance, Rapidity, Coordination, Elasticity, Mobility, Muscle Strength, in separate way, BUT IN THE SAME PERIOD. That's the reason because we NEVER HAVE TO LOSE WHAT ALREADY HAVE.
Building the house using the material is what we do during the SPECIAL AND SPECIFIC PERIODS : we need to assemble all the qualities we have at the moment in order to build the performance. During the Fundamental Period we look at the INTERNAL LOAD (the level of effort used for every type of training), during the Special and Specific Period we look at the EXTERNAL LOAD. External Load means MATHEMATIC. If I want to run 27:30 in 10000m, THIS MEANS 2:45 PER KM AND 66.0 PER LAP. If I'm not able running around these speeds in training, NEVER I CAN RUN THAT TIME.
h) For that reason, training during the Fundamental Period means to build the base for supporting the SPECIFIC TRAINING, that has DIRECT INFLUENCE on the performance.
i) Being the training with the direct influence, THE GOAL IS TO INCREASE DURING YEARS THE VOLUME OF SPECIFIC TRAINING: MORE QUANTITY OF SPECIFIC TRAINING WE ARE ABLE TO DO, FASTER WE CAN RUN.
l) Because the Specific Training has a cost, if we do more specific training, we spend more energies, AND WE NEED MORE RECOVERY. For that reason, we can't follow simmetric schedules, because the athlete is ready for the next session of high specific intensity ONLY WHEN HAS RECOVERED FROM THE PREVIOUS SESSION. In this case, IT'S THE ATHLETE HIMSELF DECIDING WHEN HAS TO DO THE NEXT SESSION. Higher is the intensity, longer is the recovery. MODULATION IS THE SECRET OF A GOOD TRAINING AND THE SYSTEM FOR PEAKING IN THE RIGHT PERIOD.
At least, one comment about the fact that training African runners is very easy. Of course, with people of high talent, to train for beating European of today is not difficult. The small problem is that the best have to beat the other African bests, and that's the reason because the winners have good methodology. Their battle is not TALENT vs TRAINING, but TALENT vs TALENT, and in this case TRAINING becomes the reason because one is the winner and the other are the loser.