Every year I experiment with training for one or two athletes in my squad – in swim, bike and run. If I find value in the outcomes, I then incorporate this into our athlete training methodologies and pass this information on to our Trisutto coaches.
This Kenyan technique I observed and incorporated into our training, where the last run of the day is always a non-stop run.
Kenyan runners have the luxury of being able to train three times in the same day. The additional third run is a ‘wake up’ run – an easy slow run/jog as the first run of the day. It may include some pickups if one wishes. This would then look like:
Early morning – A 40-minute slow easy run / jog. Pick-ups optional
Mid-morning – A speed workout, hill repeats or Fartlek workout
PM – A non-stop run, usually of 1 hour, starting slowly and very easily – but building to finish at race intensity.
I still believe in the long run, which for Olympic distance athletes do not need to be more than 75 – 90 minutes and done 1 to 2 times per week.
For age-group athletes who do not have the luxury of a midday workout, we may use either the two runs in a day Kenyan Day, or include a Kenyan Day structure within the one workout, like this:
The first part – warm-up, with easy pick-ups
Second part – main set with speed work
Third part – warm down with a build run of around 4 km.
The build-in the warm down clears lactate created by the speed work, when it is run at a moderate to medium pace.
The above applies to both short course and long-distance athletes. The overall weekly mix is a little different with long course athletes, but they still do a Kenyan Day once every 10 days. I believe this is why our long course athletes keep their run speed – they do not train it out of themselves with a diet of run training of all long slow distance work. I also believe that hill reps develop speed, so we do not use hill repeats or track work, or Fartlek on the same day. There are few exceptions to this, but we always use hill repeats first in those exceptions.
It’s been my experience that when I structure runs in this manner that we see a huge decrease in injuries. Many years ago, I used to follow a one run a day training structure for my athletes and run every day with track workouts on Tuesday and Friday at 5 pm in the evening. The results were very good, but we had 50% more injuries than using the above approach. We also achieve a higher rate of consistency in our program, maintain the speed of the athlete, while incorporating the volume required in an aerobic-based sport.
For those asking, yes treadmill is fabulous for build runs, especially for the last workout of a Kenyan Day – but that’s another blog.