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trackhead
RE: Mr. Renato Canova: Could You Please Answer a Question About Effective Ways to Improve the Lactate Threshold?
my arguement is that Coe ran a lot more than what most people think -- my guess is around 3,000 mi/yr.

This is based on statements that I've heard from credible sources discussing the matter with both Peter and Seb Coe, inlcuding one Peter Snell, who after personally speaking with the former WR holder said that the low mileage idea of Coe is "bullshit."

here's an article posted by bazza some time ago:

GREAT BRITISH OLYMPIANS

SEBASTIAN COE

Coe proved himself a peerless middle-distance runner with back-to-back golds.
By Hugh McIlvanney, Sunday Times

Running rivalry that went the extra mile

He captured and then successfully defended one of the most coveted of Olympic titles and he set 13 world records, including a time for the 800 metres that became a magnificent oddity in modern athletics by surviving for 16 years. Yet even the welter of glorious achievements in Sebastian Coe's career probably did less to make him an unforgettable middle-distance runner than the fact that he looked so good being great.

No athlete ever concealed the pain and strain of supreme effort on the track in a more beguiling impression of effortless grace. As he delivered his renowned double-kick, demoralising opponents by using what had seemed to be his ultimate surge as merely the basis for a further, devastating burst of acceleration, he appeared to be floating rhythmically six inches above the ground. If his events had involved awarding points for artistic effect, his rivals need not have bothered to turn up.

Part of the capacity to amass historic performances while remaining stylishly fluent, apparently immune to the exhaustion engulfing others, must have been transmitted to him through his genes. But at least as much was derived from a more tangible form of parental influence. He was coached by his father and the training programme devised by Peter Coe was both severe and boldly innovative. When the greatest runner Britain has produced talks today of the high points of his prime, it is the extent to which they vindicated his father's methods that gives him most pride. Having been as awe-struck as any fan by the phenomenal abilities paraded by Hicham El Guerrouj in the Emsley Carr Mile at Crystal Palace a week ago ("I was standing within eight feet of the track when he passed the three-quarter mile mark on 3min 45sec pace - two seconds faster than my best - and you could hardly notice he was breathing"), he was doubly thrilled when the 25-year-old Moroccan informed him later that the preparation for such feats was based on the Coe regime of two decades before.

"That was gratifying confirmation of something I already knew - that my old man was 20 years ahead of his time as a coach," he said. "What Peter was already doing with me in training pre-1980 is now considered to be orthodox. But back then the kind of approach that incorporated blood chemistry analyses, physiological testing and bio-mechanics was regarded almost as voodoo medicine, even by some senior athletes in the British team. I recall one household name telling me that, rather than fooling around with oxygen-capacity testing on a treadmill, I'd be better off going out and running an extra 10 miles."

Exhortations to put himself through the grinder were insultingly out of place. Peter Coe (the son fell into the habit of employing the Christian name everybody in athletics used to address his father) never allowed an enthusiasm for advanced techniques to dilute his belief in the value of relentless endurance work. If his professional background as an engineer made him particularly comfortable about enlisting scientific methods, his experiences as a useful racing cyclist helped to provide a practical understanding of the sort of fitness that translated into excellence on the day of competition. As Sebastian's athletic career developed, perhaps the most vital of its governing tenets was that a track runner, whatever his distance, could not hide from speed.

"We concentrated on both speed and endurance," said the performing member of the partnership. "The real art was melding the two together so that you had the ability at championship level to put four, five, perhaps even six races back to back and still keep enough in the tank to produce real pace when it mattered. And always we recognised that you couldn't hide from speed. If you weren't fast enough at 800 metres, you couldn't solve your problem by going up to 1500 and then to 5,000 and 10,000. These days the last laps in 10,000 metre races are being run in 51-52 seconds. Most of the men who were on hand in our day to be considered by Peter as middle-distance role models were guys you couldn't have taken down to a running track and expected, when they were fresh, to run a lap in 51 or 52 seconds. Many of them would have been pushed to get inside 60 seconds.

"We realised that much more was required and, from the age of 16 or 17, a lot of my training was done with 200-metre and 400-metre specialists. That was increasingly the case when I went to university at Loughborough to study economics. Afterwards, when people talked about my leg speed and my change of pace, there was a tendency to think those assets were entirely natural, advantages that came to me ready-made at birth. There is obviously a genetic foundation. If I hadn't been born with the right physiology, I couldn't have done what I did as an athlete. But the changes of gear that were so important to me would never have been possible without the endless hours of quality speed work, much of it done with international sprinters. Yet when that is given its due, the double-kick seems to have been something I had the luck to draw in the genetic lottery. Kicking away off a dawdling pace is easy, but the ability to accelerate again when you are 95% flat out must be attributed to physiology."

All along the way, nature was assisted by plenty of self-sacrifice. Eight years after Coe was born in west London, his father's job caused the family to move to Sheffield, and the hilly landscape of that part of Yorkshire and the adjoining Peak District of Derbyshire provided "very tough, very good terrain" for an aspiring athlete. He was training regularly as a 13-year-old, and a couple of years later was undertaking two sessions a day. "Everywhere from my front door was effectively up, and there was a run we used to do often that was uphill for 10 miles," he remembers. "We'd be out in all weathers, me running and my father driving alongside, an odd couple having conversations through the car window. Often he would have music on and once in a storm of swirling snow and hail, when I had 14 miles on the road to do, he said, 'I don't know what you've got out there, but I've got Wagner in here'. I told him it was pretty Wagnerian where I was, too."

On such days, he did not feel much like the epitome of grace, the two-legged gazelle of public perception. "People who watched me in the arena couldn't be expected to be aware of the two training sessions on Christmas Day, or the Commando-type conditioning course in the gym, with weight-lifting and rope climbing. Or the occasions when I ran 800 metres six times in a row, with just 45 seconds or a minute of rest in between, averaging about 1.50sec per run and once throwing in a 1.46. Racing meant a day off for me. There is no doubt it was all worthwhile. By 1981, which I still consider my best competitive season, physically and mentally, I felt there were no chinks in my armour.

"It was in the June of that year that I went over to Florence, mainly because I love Italy and fancied running on a warm Italian night, and did 1.41.73 for the 800. That world record stood until Wilson Kipketer broke it in September 1997. Considering that the 800 is a fundamental part of every major athletics meeting, the longevity of the record puts it in a very special category among the greatest satisfactions of my career. And I see it as perhaps the most shining testimony to my father's coaching. In 1981, I was just about unbeatable at 800 and 1500. Top athletes have those years and that was mine."

The man who was talking to me is now Lord Coe but, though our principal conversation took place in a plain room buried deep in the Houses of Parliament, and his words were boomingly punctuated by Big Ben, the image of him in ermine robes (or even the business suit he wore that day) could not compete with memories of how he looked when stretching the limits of human capability in a runner's vest. His driving power came in a small package. Standing 5ft 9ins tall, he weighed between 9st 4lbs and 9st 7lbs at his best. He is currently only about half-a-stone heavier and his overall appearance hasn't changed much, certainly not the black hair that still clusters luxuriantly above features fine enough to have encouraged some in the past to suspect that his spirit, too, might be delicate. There was a crushing answer in the resolution with which he rebounded from disastrous tactical ineptitude in the 800 metres at the Moscow Olympics of 1980 - "the very worst 800m of my 20-year career" was brilliantly penalised by a flawless charge to the gold medal from his arch rival, Steve Ovett - to win the 1500 metres six days later. Those suspicions were emptied of conviction long before another comeback, this time from injury and a serious, debilitating illness, saw him repeat his 1500 triumph at the Los Angeles Games of 1984.

Coe's political resurrection as a life peer, following his loss in the last election of the Falmouth and Camborne seat he won for the Tories in 1992, has been accomplished without conspicuous need of his courage and determination. His period as an MP was marked by little more notable than his appointment as a government whip. He could, no doubt, have become Sports Minister but rightly identifies the post as being without real power, responsibility or accountability: "It's the only job in government without a budget, one where any problem is handed over to other organisations."

He is back at Westminster as William Hague's private secretary, confidant and judo partner. His boss is, he acknowledges, a far more committed student of judo. But if the going got rough on the mat, Coe would have no trouble putting a bit of distance between them. He says that, at 43, his running is "just to tick over, to keep moving". Then he mentions that he covers 25 miles a week.

With the crowded schedule imposed by his work for the leader of the opposition, and the pleasant demands of family life with his wife Nicola (whose skills on horseback took her to victory in the Badminton three-day event of 1990) and their two sons and two daughters, the eldest of whom is eight, he is left with little chance of spectating at football and boxing as often as he would wish. He is an ardent fan of both and, although his devotion to Chelsea is deep, he admits when pressed that his passion for boxing outweighs even his love of the ball game. His favourite British boxer of any era he is in a position to assess is Ken Buchanan, which proves that, in matters of the ring, there is nothing naïve about his judgment.

Forming a league table of his own achievements on the track is an impossibility for him. However, having collected Olympic 1500 gold and 800 silver in both Moscow and Los Angeles (the dual triumph at the longer distance is unique), he says the later success in America resonates with more satisfaction. That reaction is unsurprising, in view of the horrors of injury and sickness that threatened to prevent him from competing in 1984.

If 1981 was an annus mirabilis - in addition to the wonder of his 800 in Florence, he lowered the world mile record twice in 10 August days, recalling how he had broken the 800, mile and 1500 records within 41 days in 1979 - what occurred afterwards would have wrecked the ambition of many an athlete. The worst of a plague of problems on the approach to LA was being struck down by toxoplasmosis, a relatively rare blood disease that was slow to yield to diagnosis and then necessitated prolonged, intense and frequently uncomfortable hospital treatment. But he overcame every obstacle and demolished the field in the 1500m final.

Of course, whatever his own perspective, the public will always regard his two clashes with Ovett at the 1980 Olympics as the most dramatic episode of his career. Both men had been enthralling the athletics world with a barrage of dazzling performances and the mass craving to see them go head to head was at last to be satisfied in Moscow. There was never a possibility that the runners themselves could remain aloof from such intensity. "The rivalry did seem to polarise the country," Coe conceded. "You were either for Steve or for me. Somebody, presumably a humorist at British Airways, managed to book us in seats next to one another on the way out to Moscow. But that was too much Glasnost in one go. The seating was rearranged.

"I didn't really know Steve until 1984 but suggestions that I was churlish to him on the rostrum after the Moscow 800 (where he ran perfectly to achieve his purpose, and I did the opposite) are nonsense. That's not my style. How I felt had nothing to do with Steve. If Mother Teresa had been on the rostrum with me I'd have behaved the same. It was about disappointment with myself. In the call-up room before the 1500, in that small space in the bowels of the stadium where the tension was unbearable, I remember Steve looking across at me and saying, 'When all this is done we should have a drink'. My only response was a kind of grunt. He had a gold medal and my silver made me feel empty-handed. I wasn't in chatty mode."

But that 1500 went beautifully for Coe and he won smoothly. Subsequently he was delighted to have Ovett as a guest at his wedding. They don't meet up much but the mutual respect is huge. It should be equalled by the nation's gratitude to the two of them.

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