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Speed Kills
RE: Mr. Renato Canova: Could You Please Answer a Question About Effective Ways to Improve the Lactate Threshold?
Trackhead and Hector Matos,

If all you know about El Guerrouj's training is what Marius wrote, then you don't have the whole story. In addition to what Marius wrote, I have an unedited copy of the article by Marco Validez (Mexico) that was floating around the internet for a few years before Marius picked it up, and I also have (from the British Milers Club) what El Guerrouj's coach said (during a speech in the UK) about his training up to 1999. I can supply these to anybody who wants a copy. The comments Marius made about mileage do not match with what his coach said 2 years earlier.

Keep in mind that when Marius wrote the comments about 200k/wk maximum, El Guerrouj was already planning to compete in 3000 and 5000. As you might expect, the training is not the same as when he set the WRs in 1500 and mile. This is not to say that Marius is wrong, but the timeframes are different.

Some of El Guerrouj'c coach's (Abdelkader Kada) comments:

"The athletes do not run excessive mileages. A miler such as El Guerrouj runs about 120km/week (about 75 miles) during the preparation phasae; while a 5000/1000m runner such as Hissou runs 140km/week.

The sheer quality of the training became apparent with the admission that what they termed 'jogging' was actually running at a pace of three minutes per kilmoetre.

Typical track sessions include 20-25x400 (1min rec) or 4x500(75sec rec)/2x1000 (3min rec)/1x2000 (5min rec)/5x400(1min rec)."

From: British Milers Club Journal, Autumn 1999, pp. 34-35. The article was also published in Athletics Weekly (UK), November 10, 1999.

Along the same lines, an athlete that I've met twice in meets in the last couple of years is Bernard Lagat. Pretty nice guy--he even says nice things about Masters. The IAAF carried an interview with him in 2002 in which he said he runs 8 miles a day and doesn't do "what Americans call 'junk miles,'" So I asked him what his typical weekly mileage was, and he said that he usually runs in the 50's.

If you put this all together, you get a fairly consistent story with all three 1500 medalists in Athens--when they were training solely for 1500--running not 120-150 mi/wk, but more like half that. If you talk to Johnny Gray or Joaquim Cruz, you'll get about the same story.

Regarding the huge aerobic base that Kenyans build up going to/from school, I have an old post from Kenyan Eric Kamau from the old t-and-f listserve (1/15/99). What Kamau said was that Kenyan kids may have walked to/from school as late as the 70's, but these days the majority of Kenyan kids stay in boarding schools for up to 4 months at a time and they don't have to walk to school at all.

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