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The answer, according to world-renowned coach Renato Canova, is that elites now base their training around extending specific
endurance -- in essence, high-volume goal-pace training. This method has led to a 2:03 marathon (Moses Mosop), a world
championship (Abel Kirui), and the third-fastest half marathon in history (Florence Kiplagat) in just the last year and a half.
Best yet, it's a system that's wholly adaptable to all skill levels.
Welcome to the Principles of Extending Specific Endurance. You can call it Canova 101.
1 — THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
Over the past 50 years, the most renowned distance coach to come along was the late Arthur Lydiard of New Zealand. Through trial
and error, Lydiard developed a system that emphasized a period of long-term aerobic development ("base building"). This base was
followed by the critical competition period, which is highlighted by shorter, faster intervals ("peaking"). Most Western training
systems owe their terminology and methodology to Lydiard.
Unfortunately, in Canova's estimation, overemphasis on Lydiard's base phase has slowed progress in certain pockets of the world.
Specific training already dominates shorter events, where an experienced 10,000m runner would think nothing of running 10 x 1,000m
at goal race pace. [Med norsk tekst: Spesiell trening har allerede dominert kortere distanser, hvor en erfaren 10.000m löper ikke
skulle nöle med å löpe 10 x 1000m der målet er konkurransehastigheten.] This hasn't translated to the marathon, however, where
coaches and athletes have long accepted easier long runs and shorter tempos as sufficient while preaching the benefits of
continued high mileage.
"This is not yet high mileage," Canova says. "Here [in the United States] it is 140 [miles per week]; 140 can be OK, but if the
mileage is too slow, you don't produce anything with this situation . . . . The problem is the tempo at the good speed is too
short. So there is no connection with the marathon. And the long [run] for the marathon is too slow."
To remedy this problem, Canova says, "What we do is to increase the volume and the duration and the single length of every type of
interval at this type of speed. We need to extend the ability to run at the speed you want and you can produce."
PACE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN DISTANCE
[Når löpere fra vestlige land skal trene er de mere fokusert på å nå antall km, mil og timer hvert år istedenfor å nå rett
hastighet og derifra öke distansen eller lengden på treningsökta.]
"A Kenyan runner's mentality is to run at the right speed," says Canova's assistant in Iten, Kenya. "The Western runner's
mentality is to run the right distance. I'm not necessarily saying one is better than another, but that's just how the mind-set
works." A good example of this is a workout where Abel Kirui was the only athlete, in an elite group of 20, capable of running the
full 4 x 6K workout. Yet most went home happy knowing they'd matched strides with a world champion. In the United States,
meanwhile, most runners would be disheartened if they didn't finish an assigned 20-miler, no matter how ugly it got at the end.
EXTENSIVE WORKOUTS REQUIRE LONG REST PERIODS AND NO SCHEDULE
In most programs, workouts occur on set days a certain number of times each week. This isn't true of the Canova system. As the
marathon approaches, a hard long run on Tuesday might not be followed by another high-quality session for a week. "That's quite
difficult for a lot of people to accept," says Canova's assistant. "One, that you'd do a workout so hard that you need that type
of recovery, and two, that having that amount of recovery is a good thing."
PACES CLOSER TO MARATHON PACE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THOSE FARTHER AWAY
"What does a 2-hour easy run have to do with the marathon?" Canova asks. "Nothing." He could just as easily be talking about short
repetitions at mile pace or 6-hour long runs. Following the Golden Rule of Canova, to achieve your best race-day performance, you
must practice running at or around goal race pace for long periods of time. A 30-mile trail run up a mountain will get you in good
general shape; it won't, however, make you a faster marathoner.
WORKOUTS GET SLOWER, NOT FASTER, AS RACE DAY APPROACHES
This isn't as counterintuitive as it might sound. Workouts become ever more specific in the weeks leading up to your marathon.
That means more time spent near goal pace and less time building up the support systems.
2 — THE GLOBAL PERIOD
One of the first differences you'll notice when training with Canova is the absence of a traditional base period. "It has kind of
turned the traditional Lydiard approach on its head," says Canova's assistant. "Basically we start from short speed and strength,
then gradually increase the distance and decrease the speed as we move through the training program." While moderately high
mileage, regular endurance runs, fast continuous runs (tempos), and some easier long runs do play a role in this period, the three
most unique components are:
Unlike the highly aerobic hill workouts cross country coaches have been using for decades, these hills are meant to develop raw
power. "If you want to develop strength you need to recruit the maximum number of fibers, which means you have to run very hard,"
Canova's assistant says. "In order to run very, very hard — particularly at altitude — you have to have a long recovery." A
typical hill session will be 5 x 300m up a moderate incline with a 5:00 walk back rest, increasing to 6 x 400m by the end of the
global period. The intensity is all-out.
A unique melding of stamina and explosiveness, these circuits mix jumping exercises [high knees, back kicks, squat jumps, ankle
jumps] with moderately paced intervals. A typical session might include 2,000m sets broken into 5 x 400 (at half marathon pace),
with 20-30 seconds of jumping exercises performed in between each lap. A long rest is given after each 2,000 m set. The number of
sets will grow from three to five.
It isn't uncommon to see a workout like 25 x 400m at 10K pace or 6 x 1,000m at 5K pace during this phase. While this work might
have once highlighted a serious marathoner's competition period, in Canova's model this work is relegated to the preseason.
If this type of training sounds overly aggressive, keep in mind Canova's athletes aren't starting from scratch.
If your aerobic house needs a bit more foundation work, don't fret over spending extra time in this period. ... Once a long run
of similar duration to your marathon feels comfortable, then you'll know it's time to enter the specific period. At that point,
Canova says, "What you need for stimulating is to increase the intensity of the duration."
Following Canova's Golden Rule, all track sessions need to have benefits that are transferable to the marathon. During the
specific phase, workout volume is always 16K (10 miles) or higher for his elites, and the pace is no faster than 110 percent of
marathon pace (roughly 10K–15K pace). These workouts can take the form of traditional track intervals (10 x 1600m @ 15K pace) or
continuous intervals (20K of 1K at 15K pace/1K moderate).
If you want to simulate meeting the specific demands of the marathon in practice, it makes sense to run hard for 26 miles. But how
do you accomplish that without sabotaging yourself? Special blocks. These workout days are split into morning and afternoon
sessions. Each is about a half marathon of quality running. For instance, the morning might begin with 7 miles at a moderate pace,
then 6 miles at half marathon pace. The afternoon session would follow with another 7 miles at a moderate pace, then 5 x 2,000m at
PACING, PLANNING & PROGRESSION
If the examples above appear intimidating, take heart. Almost no one enters the Canova system and immediately runs a 40K close to
their marathon pace. ...
IDENTIFY YOUR GOAL MARATHON PACE
Canova uses race times from the shorter events to establish his athletes' marathon training paces. You can do the same thing by
using an online tool (such as the McMillan Running Calculator) and seeing how your 5K or 10K PR translates to the marathon.
DETERMINE THE LENGTH OF THE GLOBAL AND SPECIFIC PERIODS
Three months is sufficient time for a specific period, according to Canova. The global period will be almost as long.
Conveniently, training for a summer road racing season of 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons is fairly similar to Canova's global
Easy run with short pickups
Marathon pace intervals with moderate recovery (e.g., (exempli gratia = for the sake of example)
6 x 3k w/ 1k recovery
Recovery run (extremely easy)
Recovery run + 6-8 x 12 seconds hill sprints (2 min. recovery)
Fast long run @ 90-95% goal marathon pace
Easy run + strides
Long intervals on tracks faster than marathon pace
(e.g., 6-8 x 1600 @ 15K-HM /half marathon/ pace w/ 3min. easy recovery jog)
Easy run with short pickups
Fartlek 8 x 2min hard/1 min easy
+ 8 x 1min. hard/ 1 min. easy
Easy run + 6-8 x 12 seconds hill sprints (2 min. recovery)
Continues intervals (e.g., 6K-5K-4K-3K-2K-1K, 1K recovery)
Start at marathon pace and increase pace a few seconds each interval
Easy run + strides
To dager med lettere trening for å ta igjen seg etter en hard trening!!!
Lactate Dynamics Training (LDT)
LDT focuses more on the recovery interval between faster repetitions than SRT, thereby forcing you to recover at a quicker pace
(the “float”) between target repetitions. While the float’s exact pace and distance will vary from session to session, you need to
stay mentally engaged during the recovery to ensure it’s paced properly.
Example: 12 x 400m @ 75 sec w/200m “float” recoveries @ 45 sec between each
In both examples, the runner targeted the same goal time during the 400m repetitions. However, in the first example, the athlete
likely ran between 8:00/mile and 10:00/mile pace during the recovery segment in order to get their heart rate down. In the second
example, the athlete barely backed off to 6:00/mile pace. For two athletes of the same ability, it is easy to see which session
would be more challenging and race specific.
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