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RE: Mr. Renato Canova: Could You Please Answer a Question About Effective Ways to Improve the Lactate Threshold?
We can use two examples, the American record holder in the 3,000 and 5,000, Bob Kennedy, and the world record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000, Kenenisa Bekele.

You will see that the only limiting factor keeping Kennedy from running near-world record times in the longer distances is BASIC SPEED.

Marius Bakken reported that Kennedy had 52 second speed at his very fastest. Using Frank Horwill's rule for endurance in longer distance events (though these standards can be tightened for elite runners that are stronger), Kennedy would normally have the following longer distance abilities:

400- 52
800- 1:52 (52+ 4 secs/lap)
1500- 3:45 (56+ 4 secs/lap)
3000- 8:00 (60+ 4 secs/lap)
5000- 14:10 (64+ 4 secs/lap)
10,000- 30:00 (68+ 4 secs/lap)

Even supposing for an athlete stronger than Horwill's rule allows, Kennedy would otherwise still be WAY slower than his actual PR's.

Look at his actual PR's and retention rates:

400- 52

800- N.T. (ran 1:55 in a workout with Komen that went 1600/1200/800/400 in 3:57/2:56/1:55/55)

1500- 3:38 (58.1 per 400; 89.5% retention)

3,000- 7:30.84 AR (60.1 per 400; 86.5% retention (already he is 30 seconds FASTER than Horwill's rule))

5,000- 12:58.21 AR (62.26 per 400; 83.5% retention)

10,000- 27:37.45 (66.3 per 400; 78.4% retention)

In short Kennedy was unbelievably AEROBICALLY strong. Of course, this is the most important element to distance running success. Kennedy was at one time the only non-African under 13:00 in the 5,000 with, at least on an elite level, limited basic speed.

HOWEVER, all of his career Kennedy was limited by one thing: LACK OF BASIC SPEED. You can only run so fast with 52 second 400 speed. Holding your 90% of top 400 speed for a mile, as he did, is unreal.

But he never won a medal or a big Golden League Meet, nor did he ever set a world record.

Flash to Kenenisa Bekele. Assume a 400 PR of 50 (indicated by Renato's guess about Bekele, Gebrselassie, and Shaheen).

Here is Bekele's list:

400- 50

800- N.T.

1500- N.T.

3,000- 7:30.67 (60.1 per lap; 83.2% retention)

5,000 12:37.35 (60.59 per 400; 82.5% retention)

10,000 26:20.31 (63.2 per 400; 79.1% retention)

Both are 5,000m specialists. Bekele can obviously go faster than 7:30 for 3K, and Kennedy admitted to "cautiously" going for the A standard and still popped a 27:37 PB.

So comparing their 5,000's is best.

Kennedy's numbers:

5,000- 12:58.21 (83.5%, 52 400 speed)

Bekele's numbers:

5,000- 12:37.35 (82.5%, 50 400 speed)

So, aerobically speaking, Kennedy is STRONGER than Kenenisa Bekele!

If Bekele could hold 89.5% of 400 speed for the 1500 his time would be:

50/.895= 3:29.5

His 3,000, with Kennedy's strength, would be:

50/.865= 7:13

So, if Kennedy had been able to improve his 400 time just 2 seconds, he would have shattered Komen's INCREDIBLE 7:20.67 by SEVEN seconds!

So, as the above clearly shows, speed can have HUGE returns in distance running at the top level.

Kennedy would be a world record holder, and almost CERTAINLY an Olympic champion (with 50 second speed and his retention, 50/.835= 12:28.5 5,000 (!!) SHATTERING Bekele's WR and approaching 4 minute mile pace for 3.1 miles).

Bottom line: basic, pure sprint speed counts BIG when you are at a high level.

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