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RE: Mr. Renato Canova: Could You Please Answer a Question About Effective Ways to Improve the Lactate Threshold?
Renato, what of these questions?:

From Tim Dalton:

Renato, thank you as always for this helpful writings.

Renato Canova wrote:
Instead, regarding 4-6 km continuous run at 95-98% (of course, 95% is for 6 km, 98% for 4 km) I confirm what I wrote. In your example, 95% is a pace of (2:36 = 156 sec, 5% of the pace is 7.8 sec per km = 2:43.8) and for 6 km this is a final time of 16:22.8 passing at 5 km in 13:39, very normal for an athlete able running in 13:00. The same case for 4 km at 98% (that is 2:39.2 per km) : 4 km in 10:36.8 are absolutely normal for a top athlete, going at 3000m in 7:57.6.

I speak about this then with respect to the top athlete and not a younger beginner since you talked about that later in this post. Even for a top athlete, though, I am surprised that there is work to improve the Max Lass so early in the season.

Maybe again I made a mistake in reading, because as yet we did not see the full year of Shaheen (or Kwalia, in this example; if it is possible can you show us? It is always informative to read the training of the best athletes, and for certain you coach and prepare the best), but I do not know when this training is used. I have not seen it in the programs of Shaheen you sent out by e-mail. Maybe it is new, like the circuits? It seems too stressful to do year-round. Even for a top athlete, I doubt a 13:00 5K runner is 365 days a year in 13:00 shape. If there is their lifetime best, the very fastest they have ever run on a perfect day with pacemakers, rested, at peak shape, then they are likely not in this condition at some point in the year far from competition. In this case, say in January, it may not be so easy for a 13:00 runner who has not raced for a while (and is not in Personal Record condition) to pass through 5K in 13:39 in training.

Our goal is not to improve AnT, but to create a special MAX LASS (or OBLA, if you prefer) that is the key of the specific endurance at high intensity.

Again this is my misunderstanding. I recognize the term Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation (coined by Owen Anderson of Running Research News) but not the idea "the goal is not to improve AnT." I remember in another post you said that the Kenyans from their early years have naturally a high AnT. But of course, an American such as myself that trains reasonably well and hard (but I did not run to school as a child, not living in the same conditions as a Kenyan) I do not have a naturally high AnT and probably neither do many of these posters, even good college runners competing in the U.S. X-C championships.

So probably they need to work on improving their AnT, because it is not naturally high. Can I assume that, in the offseason when an athlete cannot do safely a stressful training for improving the MAX LASS, the base of AnT is the best aerobic work to progress with? For an American, then, what training is used to improve the AnT? This is I think is what the original poster was asking, who probably being young and imexperienced but a distance runner who wants to improve maximally needs to work on his AnT with tempo runs and work at the "conventional" threshold of 4 mmol blood lactate, another term you mentioned.

What is your thougt about this idea?

You must not make the mistake to think of training for a young athlete like a miniaturization of the training of a top runner. The system for building your specific ability is something that has to change every year.

I can understand this, but what can I or other athletes do who cannot unfortunately received personalized programs from a top coach like you or someone else but "miniaturize" the work of the best? I do not have your phsiological knowledge nor the means to create a long term training program taking into consideration my lifetime activity and all my training of the past years. I and I am sure everyone else wishes they could do this, but that is why you are a great coach and we ask you the questions, you having the knowledge everyone else does not (or Mr. Cabral, or John Kellogg, or Hadd, or Tinman). So maybe it is not always bad to look at least at the principles of the training of Shaheen or Kemboi but fit it to an athlete not yet so fast (and probably even with good effort never as fast, because they are the best in the world).

So, with the beginner you must have a very big percentage of GENERAL TRAINING, using long aerobic run at low intensity but also technical exercises, exercises for cohordination, for elasticity, for reactivity. You must not only build the engine, but also TEACH TO THE ATHLETE ALL TECHNICAL THINGS THAT HE NEEDS FOR RUNNING FAST IN THE FUTURE. So, you must be a teacher more than a coach.
Going on in your career, the percentage of General Training decreases, and the area of Specific increases.
So, your example regarding Kwalia, for example, isn't pertinent, because you are speaking of an athlete coming from 15 years of training, and our beginners are really beginners. So, they have to do WHAT KENYANS DID FOR 10 OR MORE YEARS, without knowing the final effect, like normal activity connected with their type of life (also playing, for example, for 1 hr running and pushing a big tyre of a tractor when they are 8 years old), and that in our society nobody does (but in the past, at the time of Prefontaine and Lindgren, for example, I think that also in US was the same). So, what is able to do in training a 20 years old like Kwalia or Kipchoge, may be possible for an American or a European when is 28 years old, after having built the base that he doesn't have.

This is maybe the most discouraging thing about competitive distance running, that talent is such a big factor. OF course, no one can choose their parents, and no one can choose to live 10 miles from school so that they can build their base, knowing they want to be a great distance runner at age 5! But hopefully, everyone can improve as you said, but at a later date than age 20 if American or European.

One thing is sure : if you want running fast in competition, you must run fast in training. The problem is WHEN and HOW, not IF. A workouts like running 6 km at 95% of your pace in 5 km is something that you can carry out once every two weeks, for example. I never used microcycles, thinking that in the modern methodology for top runners this is not possible. For example, during the last 41 days before winning World Championships 99 in Seville in 3000 SC, Christopher Koskei (elder brother of Shaheen) had to compete 14 times in races of steeple (one every 3 days !). So, I had to manage this situation, and at the end he won, reaching his top shape for the Championships. How is possible to think of a microcycle ? May be that we use something similar during the Fundamental period, but in any case we have so many type of workouts to do that is not possible to put every thing in a short period. Another reason is that I prefer to adjust training following the effects of the previous training. My schedules are outlines lastings normally 2 months, but at the end of the period the training effectively carried out is like the program only for 50%, the other 50% is the product of a change that I do looking at the effects in short time of training already made.
If you want to follow a training like what (not only me) we use with top runners with a young runner, you make a big mistake. Remember always the 3 most important points of a good training : CONTINUITY, GRADUALNESS and MODULATION. You must have patience in building the body and the mind of an athlete, doing some hard training only when is possible.
Last thing regarding who tried to use the scheme for circuits that I wrote. Not refuse circuits, but try to adapt them to your current situation. Where I write 200m running go, for example, for 50m, where I put 40m bounding go for 20m only, reduce the length, don't use too high intensity, and START TO PREPARE YOUR BODY FOR BECOMING ABLE TO DO THIS WORK NEXT YEAR. Remember that the most important part of training is TRAINING FOR BEING ABLE TO TRAIN : 80-85% of your training has to have this goal, 15-20% the goal to prepare the competition.

I will keep this in mind. Thanks.

From Racer1 and others:

This is a really fantastic discussion.

Renato has answered already most of those questions assembled but these are the remaining:

2. Can you post the full programs of Shaheen, Kemboi, and Kwalia?

3. In reference to the Specific Strength: Endurance Circuits Renato said: "Being a very hard training we can use it only few times during the final part of the Special Period and during the period of main competitions. "

Specifically, how many time per season would these specific strength circuits (the extremely hard ones) be used?

7. you said that you spend the first 3 months for developing the AnT of your runners.
can you explain more about the base training that the runners are doing when home in Kenya?

8. How do you improve a runner's anaerobic threshold if they do not have one naturally high like the Kenyans?

10. I am most interested in how Renato sequences the workouts and fits them into the weekly program. It would be great if he has time to show Shaheen and Kemboi's program over several months to get an idea, particularly during the off-season where many runners need some idea of speficity.

Especially that circuit he uses for the competitive season looks nearly impossible. It goes 300 fast, 200 fast, 100 fast, then back up again (100-200-300) and in between are mixed squat jumps (and 10 of those at max effort is quite strenuous) and 100m bounding and skiping, twice each.

The whole thing is 1600m and to do that 4-6 times would be totally appalling. After even 1 of those I think I would be so locked up that the next circuit would be completed at a stumbling pace and I would be barely moving up the hill.

I can understand the benefit in the very last part of the season in placing the muscles under the most acidic conditions possible, but I imagine that it might be counterproductive towards running economy and the ability to even complete the next circuit due to such a strong muscle seizure from the flooding with lactic acid.

11. Renato, how can you determine whether or not someone has talent? Is it not always possible to improve? The athlete can always manage a race a little bit faster if they train a little bit harder, and a little faster the next time?

If it is all about what you are born with, how can anyone ever be among the best but the Africans? The 6 year old child who will one day become a runner cannot possbily know he must begin training by running quickly to school.

Additionally, a random query; I was watching earlier a tape of track races, one of which was Daniel Komen's 7:20.67 3,000 meter world best, easily one of the most incredible performanced I have ever seen.

Perhaps Renato, living among the Kenyans, knows, or to anyone who knows; what happened to Komen?

He was only 20 at his best, broke the records indoors and out for 3K, outdoors for the 2 mile and the 5K, and not only broke them, but put them so far out of reach in the 3K and the 2 mile that no one, not even Gebrselassie or El Guerrouj or Bekele has been able to touch them.

I saw him in October as a pacemaker at the Chicago Marathon but it is strange at age 28, still young, that he lost his ability so much.

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