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User since:
Oct 28th, 2013
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Ape said 7 months ago

shameless self plug

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  • ape User since:
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    Ape said 1 month ago

    Quoting: Oldster
    "Anthony, you were a great 800m runner based on whatever you were doing before, and you certainly can be one again-- but most likely based on some variation of whatever you were doing before! Don't be one of those athletes who thinks that the way they trained for years, and mostly succeeded based on, was completely wrong simply because they didn't achieve whatever "ultimate goal" they set for themselves at the time. And I've met a few formerly very good athletes who somehow believe they managed to become very good whilst doing almost everything wrong, and would change almost everything if they had a chance to do it over again. If you improved to 1:45, and repeated that mark several times, chances are you were getting most things right at the time.

    As an aside, if I were an aspiring 800 guy (it's a slightly different event for women, but that's another subject), I would probably look no further than Peter Snell's approach, at least for starters, and tweak according to my own situation.

    As another aside, pay no attention to the trolls. They secretly envy you and would, in a moment, trade their craven existences for a fraction of your accomplishments. Isn't that right, trolls?"


    I definitely don't and never did think what I was doing in Guelph was completely wrong.

    Like I said in the post, I think I have a much clearer understanding now of how to balance what I needed then and what I did wrong this year. Or in other words, what I did right this year and what was spot on in Guelph. I took a risk trying something new and doing it by myself but I've also tried to be clear about why I did that. In the end it was the best learning experience I could have asked for.

    I'm not saying I coached for one year and now I have all the answers. Not true, but also this one year of coaching put everything I've experienced over 14 years into a much clearer perspective. And being in Guelph allowed me to experience the accumulated efforts of Dave's long and successful career as a coach.

    I think if I get the chance to have another go as an athlete, I'll do much better. If I don't, I'll be a better coach because of this year.

    Thanks for the kind words Steve, as always.

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  • anonymous Anonymous
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    Anonymous said 1 month ago

    Quoting: Oldster
    "Don't be one of those athletes who thinks that the way they trained for years, and mostly succeeded based on, was completely wrong simply because they didn't achieve whatever "ultimate goal" they set for themselves at the time. And I've met a few formerly very good athletes who somehow believe they managed to become very good whilst doing almost everything wrong, and would change almost everything if they had a chance to do it over again. "


    I needed to hear this today... thanks.
    - a frustrated post collegiate runner

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  • ape User since:
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    Ape said 1 month ago

    Quoting: Trackie for Dummies
    ""The 800 is ultimately an aerobic event that requires speed. As a stand alone statement that sounds pretty obvious. When you get down to the details, I messed this up big time. If you’ve been reading this blog you know that I wanted to come at the event this year more from a quality perspective than I had previously. I felt that I wasn’t going to run 1:44 without increasing the average pace of my sessions, including a more robust “bottom up” approach: a season long progression from max speed upward to 800 pace. I ended up increasing my rests to target faster paces in almost everything. As a rule, that was wrong. Early in the year there is a purpose to having long rests in between max speed intervals. There are also certain other sessions that need long rest. But I could have done a much better job progressing my bottom up sessions to be more aerobic, and do it earlier. I should not have put so much emphasis on pace in everything else. I should have accepted a certain range of pace and maintained a strict focus on the aerobic challenge."

    I would like to understand this better, but am having trouble because I do not know the terminology as well as I should. But seems like an important thing to understand. Can anybody elaborate in simpler terms what is being said? Thanks!"


    lets say you're doing 10x400m. What are the goals of this session?

    I can arrange it so that I can run every rep around 60 seconds. But if I allow the rest to creep up past a certain point to accomplish that goal, I'm losing the aerobic benefits of the session by allowing my systems to recover. What you would typically use this session for is to challenge the athlete's ability to run pretty fast while still being almost completely aerobic. This primarily forces your body to improve how well it supplies energy aerobically to the necessary tissues, although your body adapts in other ways as well.

    What I did wrong was I allowed the rest to get too long sacrificing this primary goal to some extent. Because running a fast 800m is still mostly dependent on how well your body does this, my season suffered. I should have kept the rests short and accepted slower times, generally speaking.

    Alternatively, I felt that I needed to develop my comfort level at very close to my top speed in order to improve. Something I was proud of this year is that I regained confidence at high speeds by really working at the skill of running fast through the use of strength training, sprint drills, and more formal speed sessions. I still need to refine this process and find better ways to fit it into the primary goal of 800m training, which I described above.

    What I really hope 800m coaches/athletes take away from this is:

    Running fast, properly, is critical for the event no matter what your strengths are. Developing this throughout the entire year, year after year, will help the athlete feel better at race pace, help prevent injury and ultimately allow them to continue to capitalize on their potential in the long term. Yes, the 800 is predominantly an aerobic event. Yes, you can get away with not teaching athletes sprinting as a skill and still see improvement. Some athletes move well naturally, and are naturally fast! But were all in this sport because we want to see what our limits are, and I strongly believe that you will not get there without this approach, especially in the 800. The way I went about doing this isn't a perfect example of how to, but the experiences I have had trying to turn a 1:45 in something faster over the last 6 years should have real value to anybody in this event and I'm telling you that if you have never ran the 800 at this level you cannot physically comprehend this. Its just different than other events, because the race pace is so close to your top speed.

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  • anonymous Anonymous
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    Trackie for Dummies said 1 month ago

    Appreciate you taking the time to explain that. Makes sense. From the short time I've been planning my own sessions, I've definitely found it difficult to try balance all the things necessary without it tipping the scales too much in one direction so to speak. I'll have to keep this in mind in the future. Thanks for the input!

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    Certainly Not Skuj said 1 month ago

    Love this thread/blog, and imho, Anthony is already a great 800m coach based on what he has said about the training, and his mistakes along the way. RUN!...don't walk, but RUN away from any coach who claims perfection and knowitallness.

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  • anonymous Anonymous
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    Bomber said 1 month ago

    I've argued over the years (from a purely technical POV) that the 800 is the toughest event to problem solve. There are so many factors/variables at play and it's trying to figure out that puzzle egs FT vs ST, etc....

    Nothing can be ignored and it is really all about degrees of what one focuses on. So in that regards there is a lot of speculation, odds and trial and error. One could say this about any event/athlete and I'd agree, but with the 800 the benefits and risks are far greater. But once the coach and athlete figure it out and find that sweet spot it's magical. I go back to Maria Motula's training with Margo Jennings. They covered many areas and in some regards there were even some surprises on what they did egs 3mile tempo runs (and I'll assume closer to her 10km pace for her) throughout the year until the last phases of racing began.

    Quoting: Ape
    "lets say you're doing 10x400m. What are the goals of this session?

    I can arrange it so that I can run every rep around 60 seconds. But if I allow the rest to creep up past a certain point to accomplish that goal, I'm losing the aerobic benefits of the session by allowing my systems to recover. What you would typically use this session for is to challenge the athlete's ability to run pretty fast while still being almost completely aerobic. This primarily forces your body to improve how well it supplies energy aerobically to the necessary tissues, although your body adapts in other ways as well.

    What I did wrong was I allowed the rest to get too long sacrificing this primary goal to some extent. Because running a fast 800m is still mostly dependent on how well your body does this, my season suffered. I should have kept the rests short and accepted slower times, generally speaking.

    Alternatively, I felt that I needed to develop my comfort level at very close to my top speed in order to improve. Something I was proud of this year is that I regained confidence at high speeds by really working at the skill of running fast through the use of strength training, sprint drills, and more formal speed sessions. I still need to refine this process and find better ways to fit it into the primary goal of 800m training, which I described above.

    What I really hope 800m coaches/athletes take away from this is:

    Running fast, properly, is critical for the event no matter what your strengths are. Developing this throughout the entire year, year after year, will help the athlete feel better at race pace, help prevent injury and ultimately allow them to continue to capitalize on their potential in the long term. Yes, the 800 is predominantly an aerobic event. Yes, you can get away with not teaching athletes sprinting as a skill and still see improvement. Some athletes move well naturally, and are naturally fast! But were all in this sport because we want to see what our limits are, and I strongly believe that you will not get there without this approach, especially in the 800. The way I went about doing this isn't a perfect example of how to, but the experiences I have had trying to turn a 1:45 in something faster over the last 6 years should have real value to anybody in this event and I'm telling you that if you have never ran the 800 at this level you cannot physically comprehend this. Its just different than other events, because the race pace is so close to your top speed."

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  • anonymous Anonymous
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    Anonymous said 1 month ago

    Anthony, there’s a lot of coaches who’ve been successful with 800m athletes with approaches similar to what you were attempting.

    There’s also been many fast high school 800m runners who were developed this way, only to be ruined by University coaches who threw them in with their 1500/5000m/XC training groups.

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  • oldster User since:
    Sep 25th, 2013
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    Oldster said 1 month ago

    Quoting: Bomber I've argued over the years (from a purely technical POV) that the 800 is the toughest event to problem solve. There are so many factors/variables at play and it's trying to figure out that puzzle egs FT vs ST, etc....

    Nothing can be ignored and it is really all about degrees of what one focuses on. So in that regards there is a lot of speculation, odds and trial and error. One could say this about any event/athlete and I'd agree, but with the 800 the benefits and risks are far greater. But once the coach and athlete figure it out and find that sweet spot it's magical. I go back to Maria Motula's training with Margo Jennings. They covered many areas and in some regards there were even some surprises on what they did egs 3mile tempo runs (and I'll assume closer to her 10km pace for her) throughout the year until the last phases of racing began.
    ""


    I don't envy anyone trying to figure out what works for a given (male) 800m runner. The event is as tricky and sui generis as the marathon-- the two running events where you find the most pure specialists. In the 800 there is more scope for trial and error (i.e. far more opportunities to compete), but you can probably blow whole seasons by getting even the smallest things wrong for a given athlete. I still think that if there is a template for the typical athlete its probably closest to what guys like Snell, Coe, and Steve Cram did (and don't let anyone tell you Coe didn't run a ton of easy volume). They would still be contenders today-- maybe the best, with the tech tweaks since then. Then again, if you're running 45-46 secs for 400 as a teenager, you might want to look at some other models too. Again, no easy answers at all in this event.

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  • ahutch User since:
    Feb 21st, 2011
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    ahutch said 1 month ago

    Anthony, it sounds like you've been chatting with Gareth Sandford about speed reserve. If you haven't, you should look up his work and connect with him:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30374943
    https://twitter.com/gareth_sandford
    https://www.speedreserve.net/

    He spent several years travelling around the world talking to and testing elite 800m runners (heck, maybe you were one of them), and (from what I understand) is now in Vancouver and working with AC.

    I think his work is really interesting. But I also agree with Steve that most of us tend to overvalue the shiny new workouts and ideas that others are using and undervalue the information provided by our own training logs.

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  • ape User since:
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    Ape said 1 month ago

    I know Gareth and participated in the study yea!

    I don't think his study influenced me more than gave perspective to what I had been feeling for a few years. Honestly I think what I've been saying about speed so far is pretty straightforward. I think paying close attention to speed development is also pretty key in transitioning away from a varisty race schedule iand also as athletes age.

    Also, coaches on this thread, what have your experiences been with using sprint/strength training on your distance donkey types? The guys who have huge gas tanks but they could never look like Cam does when he closes in a 10k. Maybe I'm totally off here but I've long suspected that one of the real differences between a guy like Cam and your typical mediocre distance runner with a gigantic tank is how well they can sprint. Common practice is to just say they don't have that kind of talent, or that Cam is just more talented. But we know sprinting is most definitely a skill, and we know that learning the skill has at least SOME applications to distance running. I'm wondering if any coaches here have had success in this regard.

    I remember how my brother ran in HS and early college. He was a 1:56/4:03 guy in HS and never improved after mostly due to injury. He had terrible form. But interestingly enough he had decent leg speed, and a really high vertical. Then he became an S&C coach and started working out alot and sprinting regularly. I remember I went on a long run with him a few years after he had made this transition and I was blown away with how much better he looked, like the most talented of runners, even though he had done almost no distance running in 3 years and had never looked like that before.

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  • anonymous Anonymous
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    Bomber said 1 month ago

    Forgot I had added to this thread...so let's keep it going.

    My 2 cents Anthony...

    1) You ask if coaches use sprint/strength....my answer....only a truly incompetent coach would not (sounds harsh, but I am being honest here). And I would say that in any running event. Once again it would depend on the athlete, event, etc... what one might do specifically. This really is the most basic coaching thing one can do with young athletes and I argue that it is something we should never leave behind. Some coaches want to watch some 'high' level coach at practice, but for me I learn a ton by observing people who work with the younger kids. They focus on those most basic concepts (Occam's razor) that we often forget about when trying to create some fancy workout. The coaches who also work with the younger athletes also tend to be very creative in addressing technical thing. Sometimes you'll look at something and think that's way to easy...then you do it and go whooaaa..... there is very helpful

    2) The question of technique...at least for me would be answered as much by keeping the athlete healthy (and in general this correlates to efficiency.....). So for me working on the glute muscles is extremely relevant (and I also tend to focus on rotational issues, so you and me would have some very long 'technical' conversations ;-) )and even actual part of the workouts (see #3) warm ups, activation exercises are added. Some I may specifically add to some athletes and others I don't worry about as much.

    3) There are both conscious and unconscious ways to work on sprint technique for even the most basic situation. For egs my go to are the mini hurdles, hills and accel sessions. IMHO hills (of varying speeds, lengths and gradients) are the single greatest way for a coach and athlete to see problems Egs gives great feedback to the athlete and 'feel' self correction. it also naturally works the muscle group I want dealt with and we don't need to hit the weight room for this. It also shows up more for my basic 'eye' test vs the track, especially as I advocate for a slight bound and straight leg push/glute technique up the hills. Now am I as technical as an expert sprint coach...not even close, but it doesn't mean I am not watching for these things.

    4) There are also some areas I tend to walk the line very carefully and this is high degrees of neural work. Jama Aden (yeah I know druggie coach) was asked about this and he actually does what I tend to do and that is unless I am working with a pure 400-800m runner I don't do it. Instead i do more change of pace session after (egs 150m accels, 90m of 30 med-30 hard-30med). Not saying one shouldn't do neural work, but for me it's a bit risky to add to the whole workload, so I tend to stay away from it.

    5) Gareth did his research on 'speed reserve', but if you sit down and talk to him (because he stayed with me when doing his research and is now over on this side of the country) in depth he'll really say his research is there to help a coach just have more tools at one's disposal, but it's not earth shattering. He'll also tell you that you need other elements, and his research is one of those essential pieces (I am sure he didn't live in New Zealand and not be influenced by Lydiard). It's what make him and Trent such powerful resources. They are in the trench sort of researchers...not ivory tower.




    Quoting: Ape
    "I know Gareth and participated in the study yea!

    I don't think his study influenced me more than gave perspective to what I had been feeling for a few years. Honestly I think what I've been saying about speed so far is pretty straightforward. I think paying close attention to speed development is also pretty key in transitioning away from a varisty race schedule iand also as athletes age.

    Also, coaches on this thread, what have your experiences been with using sprint/strength training on your distance donkey types? The guys who have huge gas tanks but they could never look like Cam does when he closes in a 10k. Maybe I'm totally off here but I've long suspected that one of the real differences between a guy like Cam and your typical mediocre distance runner with a gigantic tank is how well they can sprint. Common practice is to just say they don't have that kind of talent, or that Cam is just more talented. But we know sprinting is most definitely a skill, and we know that learning the skill has at least SOME applications to distance running. I'm wondering if any coaches here have had success in this regard.

    I remember how my brother ran in HS and early college. He was a 1:56/4:03 guy in HS and never improved after mostly due to injury. He had terrible form. But interestingly enough he had decent leg speed, and a really high vertical. Then he became an S&C coach and started working out alot and sprinting regularly. I remember I went on a long run with him a few years after he had made this transition and I was blown away with how much better he looked, like the most talented of runners, even though he had done almost no distance running in 3 years and had never looked like that before."

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  • new-post-last-visitape User since:
    Oct 28th, 2013
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    Ape said 1 month ago

    Quoting: Bomber
    ""


    Awesome stuff! Thanks for the input!

    I knew what I had proposed would probably prompt some eye rolls just because it sounds too simple and in the end pretty obvious... all athletes could benefit from better mechanics.

    I like the idea of using injury prevention as the guide. As I said in my last blog post, practitioners who treat on the table, out on the track and in the weight room simultaneously are the one's I've had the most success with. *Hippy Voice* : Everything is connected maaaannnn!

    One of my favourite quotes from Jason Kerr was "I'm a glutes man". Maybe the two of you should connect and talk glutes. I like saying glutes.

    My instinct is telling me that Mr. Doping McDoperpants is probably spot on. I guess the question would be how much pure neural work does an athlete need in advance so that they can run fast while fatigued in practice effectively. Let's say you start the season off with hills, sprint form drills and resistance training. At what point do you say, Ok this athlete is ready to do this a little tired without their form breaking down and hurting themselves. Do you use hills first in that way so they are really forced to hold it together and its much more forgiving on the body?

    My thoughts on this also touch on the 4 year cycle. Maybe you put more emphasis on neural work in year 1 and 2 and then shift away from it gradually after that.

    Speaking of coaching younger athletes...any HS coaches here have their athletes in the gym? How do you go about that? I imagine logistically this must be tricky. If not, do you have a set up at the track/trails for RT? What does that look like?

    My Dad asked me yesterday how I felt about moving up to the 15. This is something I've given alot of thought over the years. My answer was that even if I trained for the 15 entirely, I still believed I would run a better 800 off that program because of my strengths. What are your thoughts about that?

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