Abstract

Abstract The aim of this study was to compare training volume and the distribution of training intensity of six of the best long distance runners in Norway from the last decade. Three international-level long distance runners (two males and one female) and three marathon runners (one male and two females) were included. The runners’ training diaries for one of the seasons they competed in an international championship were analysed. The reported running volume (km/week) was used to estimate the distribution of training at the prescribed intensity zones in representative weeks in the preparation period and in the competition season. During the preparation period (November - February) the marathon runners ran an average of 186.6 ± 25.7 km/week and the track runners 161 ± 11 km/week. For all runners, 80 ± 5 % of the weekly training distance (km/week) in this period was continuous running with a heart rate (HR) between 65-82 % of maximum. The remaining 20 % of total training volume (km/week) was performed at intensities near and above the anaerobic threshold (82-92 % of HRmax). This was done in three to five weekly interval sessions or continuous running sessions. All athletes ran 11 - 13 sessions per week. The training volume (km/week) in the pre-competition period and the competition season did not differ much from the volume in the preparation period. The track runners increased the amount of high intensity training at specific race pace in the pre-competition period (March and April), and in the track competition season (May - September). Key Words: elite runners, long-distance training, training volume, training intensity
This file was dowloaded from the institutional repository Brage NIH - brage.bibsys.no/nih
Enoksen, E., Tjelta, A. R., Tjelta, L. I. (2011). Distribution of Training Volume
and Intensity of Elite Male and Female Track and Marathon Runners.
International journal of sports science & coaching 6(2), 273-293
Distribution of Training Volume and Intensity
of Elite Male and Female Track and
Marathon Runners
Eystein Enoksen
1
, Asle Rønning Tjelta
2
, Leif Inge Tjelta
3
1
Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Department of Physical
Performance, P.O.Box 4014, Ullevål Stadion, N-0806 Oslo, Norway
E-mail: Eystein.Enoksen@nih.no
2
Telemark University College, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, N-3833 Bø i
Telemark, Norway
3
University of Stavanger, Faculty of Arts and Education, N-4036
Stavanger, Norway
ABSTRACT
The aim of this study was to compare training volume and the distribution
of training intensity of six of the best long-distance runners in Norway from
the last decade.
Three international-level long-distance runners (two males and one
female) and three marathon runners (one male and two females) were
included. The runners’ training diaries for one of the seasons they
competed in an international championship were analysed. The reported
running volume (km/week) was used to estimate the distribution of training
at the prescribed intensity zones in representative weeks in the preparation
period and in the competition season.
During the preparation period (November - February) the marathon
runners ran an average of 186.6 ± 25.7 km/week and the track runners 161
± 11 km/week. For all runners, 80 ± 5% of the weekly training distance
(km/week) in this period was continuous running with a heart rate (HR)
between 65-82% of maximum. The remaining 20% of total training volume
(km/week) was performed at intensities near and above the anaerobic
threshold (82-92% of HRmax). This was done in three to five weekly
interval sessions or continuous running sessions. All athletes ran 11 - 13
sessions per week. The training volume (km/week) in the pre-competition
period and the competition season did not differ much from the volume in
the preparation period. The track runners increased the amount of high-
intensity training at specific race pace in the pre-competition period (March
and April), and in the track competition season (May - September).
Key words: Aerobic Capacity, Anerobic Threshold, Excercise Intensity,
Interval Training, Long-Distance Running, Periodisation, Training Diary
International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 6 · Number 2 · 2011 273
Reviewer: Andrew Bosch (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
INTRODUCTION
The research literature indicates that the strongest predictors of long-distance running
performance are maximal oxygen uptake (V
·
O
2
max)
1
, running economy (RE)
2,3
and the
velocity at anaerobic threshold (vAT)
4,5
. Research has also shown that there is a marked
variability between individuals in their physiological response to a standardized training
program, indicating different trainability
6,7
.
How to train to improve aerobic capacity (V
·
O
2
max) in well-trained long distance runners,
is a debated topic among coaches and researchers throughout the world
8-11
. Many attempts
have been made to develop a long distance training model that optimizes physiological
adaptations and enhances performance
12-15
. A consensus on how the exercise variables
training volume (km/week), training frequency (training units/week) and distribution of
training intensity measured in percent of maximum heart rate (% of HR
max
) should interact
in the different meso-cycles when developing an optimal training program remains elusive
11
.
Areview of the research literature shows that many of the most successful long distance
runners do workloads of 150-260 km per week during a normal season
12-17
. The training of
international marathon runners is based on one of two basic models: model 1) workloads
with an average of 200-260 km/week based on high training volume at low intensity (< 60-
75% of V
·
O
2
max); and model 2) workloads with an average of 150-200 km/week with a
greater proportion of the running at higher intensities (80-87% of V
·
O
2
max). Both models
have been shown to be beneficial for performance at a high international level
13
.
The significance of training intensity in endurance events has been studied extensively
over the years, but it has not yet been identified which combination of training at different
intensity levels is most advantageous for the development of aerobic capacity and
performance in the yearly meso-cycles. Recently, several training intervention studies have
examined the effect of high intensity training
18-20
. In these studies, moderately-trained
athletes performed high intensity interval training (85-95% of V
·
O
2
max), and results suggest
that a high intensity training model also enhances performance in highly-trained endurance
athletes. Some studies have also shown that continuous running at moderate intensity
(75-85% of V
·
O
2
max) with a duration of 30-50 minutes can stimulate an increase in aerobic
capacity (V
·
O
2
max) in moderately-trained endurance athletes
10,19
.
Other studies have shown significant improvements in V
·
O
2
max and running speed at
anaerobic threshold (vAT) in elite endurance athletes using the anaerobic threshold training
model (80-87% of V
·
O
2
max/ 82-92% of HR
max
)
21-23
. Indeed, the runners with greatest
success, the Kenyan runners, do a lot of training at this intensity
24,25
. Experienced coaches
and researchers emphasize that training at vAT is the most likely to develop aerobic capacity
and specific endurance for long-distance runners
22,26,27
.
Newer studies conducted with well-trained long-distance runners, however, indicate a
stronger correlation between performance and high-training volume at lower intensity (< 60-
75% of V
·
O
2
max), than lower training volume at moderate and high intensities
12,28,29
.
In a review article, Berg
30
discusses several limitations in running research, and identifies
several areas where research is needed to enhance our knowledge of running performance,
including a further examination of training methods. A review of literature shows that the
development of training methods has traditionally been based on short-term studies that used
untrained or moderately-trained individuals, coupled with anecdotal evidence from
experienced coaches and successful athletes
11
. It remains unclear how physical adaptations
that occur in untrained subjects and highly-trained subjects differ
31
. Because of the gap in
our knowledge of how training volume (km/week) and intensity distribution (% of HR
max
)
should interact in a training program intended to develop aerobic capacity (V
·
O
2
max)
32
and
274 Volume and Intensity of Training in Elite Long-Distance Runners
performance in long-distance runners, more longitudinal studies are needed
22
. This accounts
for more systematised data from field conditions and practical training experience rather than
laboratory testing
30
and should also include the periodization of training loads in the different
meso-cycles of a year to optimize performance
32
.
The purpose of this study was to present training data from a descriptive study of six
Norwegian runners who have competed or are currently competing at the top European level.
The examination process is based on systematic analysis of the athletes’ written training
diaries for one of the seasons they competed in an international championship. The
distribution of training volume (km/week) at different intensities (% of HR
max
) was
determined according to the intensity zones and duration of training recommended by the
Norwegian Olympic Training Centre
33
. According to Bompa
53
training volume and the
distribution of training at prescribed intensity zones differ during the main meso-cycles of a
training year.
METHODS
SUBJECTS
Six of the best Norwegian long-distance runners during the last decade, including three track
runners (A, B, C) and three marathon runners (D, E, F) volunteered to take part in the study.
They have all participated in international meets and races, and the track runners have
competed in finals in international championships. Their personal records in different
running events are listed in Table 1.
Table 1. The Best Results at Different Distances for the Runners in the Study
3000m 3000m 5000m 10000m Half- Marathon
Steeple-chase Marathon
A: Male 7:40.60 13:06.39
B: Male 7:57.60 8:16.75 13:54.51
C: Female 8:40.22 14:48.53 30:32.36
D: Male 14:02.70 28:38.89 1:03:22 2:14:00
E: Female 15:46.02 32:28.16 1:09:28 2:27:06
F: Female 8:58.75 16:00.51 32:31.45 1:10:19 2:29:12
All participants gave their written voluntary consent prior to participating in the study.
PROCEDURES
Each runner was asked to send in his/her training diary for one season in which they had
competed in the Olympic Games, World Championships or European Championships. Five
of the runners complied with this request, while one track runner sent representative weeks
for the preparation period (November - February) and the competition season (May -
September).
Calculations on the training reported in the diaries was used to estimate: a) average
number of training sessions during the preparation period (November - February), the pre-
competition period (March and April) and the competition season (May - September)
22,34,35
;
b) average training volume (km/week); c) distribution of training at the prescribed intensities
(% of HR
max
); and d) number of weekly sprints/strides and strength training workouts.
International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 6 · Number 2 · 2011 275
INTENSITY ZONES AND TRAINING VOLUME
The training registration protocol was based on the distribution of training into specific
intensity zones recommended by the Norwegian Olympic Training Centre
33
. Table 2 consists
of seven standardized intensity zones defined in terms of % of maximum heart rate (% of
HR
max
), blood lactate concentration, racing speed and duration of the training sessions.
Training performed in the prescribed intensity zones suggests a degree of specific
physiological adaptation, but the boundaries between the zones do not clearly underlie exact
physiological parameters.
Table 2. Standardized Intensity Zones (HR as % of HR
max
), Running Pace
and Type of Training. Blood Lactate Concentration, and Physiological
Adaptation in the Prescribed Intensity Zones
Zone Running pace/Type of training Lactate (mmol/L) HR as % Physiological
LT-1710 of HR
max
adaptation
1 Easy and moderate running pace 0.7-2.0 62-82 Running economy
2Marathon pace (mainly relative hard continuous 2.0-3.0 82-87 Anaerobic threshold
running or intervals from 5000m to 2000m) pace
3Half marathon pace (hard continuous training 3.0-4.5 87-92 Anaerobic threshold
and longer intervals from 1000m - 3000m) pace
4 10000m pace (mainly intervals from 4.5-7.0 92-95 V
·
O
2
max / aerobic
1000m- 2000m) capacity
5 5000m -3000 pace (mainly intervals from 7.0-11.0 95-100 V
·
O
2
max: aerobic/
400m to 1000m in 5000m pace and from 600m anaerobic mix zone
to 400m in 3000m pace)
6 1500m-800m pace >11 100 Anaerobic capacity
(mainly distances from 200m to 400m)
7 Sprint / strides Speed
Frequency of training (units/week) and average duration of training sessions (km/week)
were registered and summarized for all six runners (A—F) in the different meso-cycles of
the selected macro-cycle (Table 3a). The reported training loads (km/week) were also
classified according to the prescribed intensity zones (table 3b and 3c) and listed for the
preparation period, the pre-competition period and the competition season, representing an
average of all training done by all six track and marathon runners. In addition, an average
training week in the preparation period and in the competition season is presented for all
runners (n = 6) (Tables 4a – f, and 5a – f), respectively.
INSTRUMENTS
Two of the track runners and one of the marathon runners used heart rate monitors in most
of their training. These runners also measured training intensity during interval sessions by
sampling lactate using Lactate Pro LT – 1710
TM
(ArkRay Inc, Koyota, Japan). The other two
marathon runners occasionally used heart rate monitors, and their running speed and heart
rate were calibrated against lactate measurements at national training camps. Training
performed at intensities around 90% of HR
max
(85% of V
·
O
2max
) is referred to as the
anaerobic threshold intensity. Measurements of Norwegian elite endurance athletes’
individual anaerobic threshold show that the HR at vAT is in this area
33
. Runners and
coaches reported lactate measured at this intensity, using Lactate Pro LT – 1710
TM
(ArkRay
276 Volume and Intensity of Training in Elite Long-Distance Runners
Inc, Koyota, Japan), to be between 3.0 and 4.5 mmol/L. The identification of HR at anaerobic
threshold made it possible to quantify the amount of training in this intensity zone (zone 3).
The third track runner did not use a heart rate monitor or Lactate Pro LT – 1710
TM
while
training.
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
Data are presented as mean ± standard deviation. The validity of data is shown through the
systematic detailed descriptions, the process of analysis and the results.
RESULTS
FREQUENCY OF TRAINING
During the preparation period, the athletes reported an average of 13 ± 1 training sessions
per week. During the pre-competition period and competition season the average number of
training sessions was 12 ± 2 and 12 ± 2, respectively.
COMPETITIONS
The track and marathon runners took part in 11 ± 2 and 8 ± 3 competitions, respectively,
during the season.
TRAINING VOLUME
The average kilometer ran per week in different periods of the year for all runners are listed
in Table 3a. The track runners (B, C) reported an average of 161 ± 11 and 167 ± 3 km/week
during the preparation period and the pre-competition period. Runner A reported two training
weeks from the preparation period, and one week from the competition season of: 175, 210
and 143 km/week, respectively. In a “typical” week in the competition season, including an
important competition, the average running volume for the track runners A, B and C was
148.2 ± 16.1 km.
Average training volume for the marathon runners D, E, F was 186.6 ± 25.7 km/week in
the preparation period, and 186.6 ± 18.9 km/week in the pre-competition period. The average
documented training volume for the marathon runners in the competition season was 173.3
± 5.9 km/week.
INTENSITY DISTRIBUTION
Preparation Period
Table 3b shows the average total running distance (km/week) and the average running
distance (km/week) in different intensity zones in the preparation period, the pre-competition
period and in the competition season for the track runners. Of the track runners’ (B and C)
weekly running volume (km/week) during the preparation period, 76.4 ± 1.6% (123 ± 11 km)
was continuous running with a heart rate between 65-82% of HR
max
(zone 1). The percent of
training performed just below the anaerobic threshold with a heart rate between 82 and 87%
of HR
max
(marathon pace - zone 2), was 12.5 ± 1.3% (20.1 ± 4.2 km) for the track runners.
The training reported in zone 2 consisted of mainly interval sessions, but the training did
include some hard continuous runs. The track runners performed from two to four sessions per
week in zone 2, with a variation from week to week according to the planned training
structure. The percent of running volume in zone 3 (half marathon pace) was 7.1 ± 0.8% (11.5
± 5.1 km) for the track runners (87-92% of HR
max
). This was mainly long interval training.
During this period, 2.7 ± 1.5% (4.4 ± 3.6 km) of the training for the track runners was
reported to be training in 3000m – 5000m pace (zone 5). 1.3 ± 0.2% (2 ± 1.3 km) of the
International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 6 · Number 2 · 2011 277
training volume was reported to be strides or speed training (zone 7).
Table 3c shows the average total running distance (km/week)
,
and the average running
distance in different intensity zones, in the preparation period, the pre-competition period
and in reported representative weeks in the competition season for the marathon runners. Of
the marathon runners’ (D, E, F) the weekly training distance (km/week) during the
preparation period, 83.6 ± 4.0% (156.2 ± 21 km) was continuous running with a heart rate
between 65-82% of HR
max
(zone 1). The percent of training volume performed at marathon
pace was 12.7 ± 3.5 % (23.7 ± 8.2 km), with a heart rate between 82 and 87% of HR
max
(zone
2). The athletes performed from two to four sessions per week in zone 2, with a variation
from week to week according to the planned training structure. The marathon runners did not
report any training at half marathon pace (zone 3). However, during this period, 2.5 ± 1.2%
(4.7 ± 2.4 km) of the training volume for the marathon runners was training at 10000m pace
(zone 4). 1.2 ± 0.7% (2 ± 0.9 km) of the training volume was reported to be strides or speed
training (zone 7).
Pre-Competition Period
The intensity distribution in this period was very similar to the distribution in the preparation
period, except that the track runners performed 2.9 ± 0.8% (4.8 ± 0.9 km) of their training in
zone 6 (mainly track running at 1500m pace).
Competition Season
During the competition season the track runners (A, B, C) performed 80.8 ± 2.1% (119.4 ±
9.8 km) of the training volume in zone 1, 6.9 ± 1.1% (10.2 ± 4.2 km) in zone 2, and 6.2 ±
2.6 (9.2 ± 5.1 km) in zone 3. Compared with the pre-competition period more training was
done in 10,000m pace (0.3 ±0.5 % = 0.5 ± 0.9 km) and 3000m-5000m pace (4.0 ± 2.0% =
6.0 ± 2.0 km). This is due to competitions and training at specific 3000m or 5000m pace.
Compared to the preparation and the pre-competition periods, the marathon runners
increased the amount of training in zone 2 to and 3. The volume in zone 2 is nearly the same
as in the two previous periods, but now 4.1 ± 2.9% (7.1 ± 4.8 km) was carried out in zone 3.
STRIDES AND STRENGTH TRAINING
Strides, often carried out before interval sessions, and occasionally after continuous running
sessions, are categorized as zone 7 training. The total amount, intensity and length of strides
are not always reported in the diaries, resulting in some uncertainty regarding the amount of
training in zone 7. All runners reported some kind of general strength training. This training
was not specified in detail in the training diaries, and is not listed in Tables 3b and 3c.
WEEKLY TRAINING PROGRAMS IN THE PREPARATION PERIOD
Table 4a shows track runner As training week in the preparation period (week 9). The listed
training program was performed at 2000-2400m above sea level in Eldoret, Kenya, and the
total running volume was 210 km. Runner A performed 12 training sessions during this week
of which eight sessions were continuous running in zone 1. The four other sessions were:
One session in zone 2 (Wednesday p.m.), one session in zone 3 (7 x 2000m with one minute
recovery), one session in zone 4 (14 x 1000m, recovery = 45 sec) and one track running
session (10 x 200m) where every second 200m was performed in 800m pace (zone 5) and
5000m pace (zone 6) with a recovery period of 2:00 – 2:30 min between repetitions and a
lactate production just below 10.5 mmol/L.
The training week in the preparation period (week 47) for track runner B was performed
278 Volume and Intensity of Training in Elite Long-Distance Runners
at 2100m above sea level in South Africa. The presented program (Table 4b) indicates a total
running volume of 165.5 km. Runner B performed 12 training sessions during this week of
which seven sessions were continuous running in zone 1, two and a half sessions were
training in zone 2 (Tuesday a.m., Thursday p.m. and the first five 1000m of the session on
Tuesday p.m.) and one and a half session were carried out in zone 3 (6 x 6 min Thursday
a.m., and the last seven 1000m of the session on Tuesday p.m.). One track running session
(Saturday p.m.) was carried out at 5000m pace (zone 5).
Arepresentative training week in the preparation period (week 47) for female track runner
C at sea level in Oslo is shown in Table 4c. The presented program indicates a total running
volume of 172 km performed in eleven training sessions of which nine sessions were
continuous running in zone 1, one session continuous running including 45 min moderate
running in zone 2 and one anaerobic threshold training sessions in zone 3 (8 x 1500m with
a recovery of 45 sec).
Table 4d shows a representative training week for male marathon runner D in the
preparation period (week 49), 2100m above sea level in Flagstaff, USA. The program
indicates a total running volume of 177 km performed in 12 training sessions of which ten
sessions were continuous running in zone 1 and two training sessions in zone 2. The training
week seems relatively hard and monotonous, but it is worth noting that one of the continuous
running sessions was done with a moderate intensity (Friday p.m.). On Sunday a.m. runner
D performed 20 x 1000m in marathon pace with a recovery period of 1min.
In a week (Table 4e) in the preparation period (week 4) female marathon runner E
performed a total running volume of 232 km in 14 training sessions of which eleven sessions
were easy continuous running in zone 1, and three threshold training sessions in zone 2.
Table 4f shows a representative week in the preparation period for female marathon
runner F. The training program indicates a total running volume of 215 km performed in 12
training sessions of which nine sessions were continuous running in zone 1 and two sessions
close to marathon pace in zone 2 (Tuesday a.m.; 16 x 1000m in a pace of 3:25 min/km with
a recovery of 30sec., and Saturday a.m.; 4 x 5 km at a pace of 3:20 – 3:40 min per km).
WEEKLY TRAINING PROGRAMS IN THE COMPETITION SEASON
A representative training week in the competition season (week 23) for male track runner A
is shown in Table 5a. The total running volume was 143 km in 12 training sessions of which
eight sessions were continuous running in zone 1, one session in zone 3 (Wednesday p.m.; 6
x 2000m with a pace of 2:53 min/km), one session was performed in zone 5 (4x1000m in
5000m pace – average time 2:32min/km) and one track running competition (5000m –
13:09.19) in zone 5. On Sunday p.m., the runner performed an ergometer bike session in
simulating high altitude at 3000m.
Table 5b shows a training week in the competition season (week 22) for track runner B.
The presented program indicates a total running volume of 131.5 km. Runner B performed
12 training sessions during this week of which nine sessions were continuous running in zone
1, one session in zone 2 (Thursday p.m.) and one anaerobic threshold training sessions in
zone 3 (Thuesday p.m.) and one competition (zone 5).
In the competition season (week 30 - Table 5c) female track runner C ran a total volume
of 172 km performed in 12 training sessions of which nine sessions were easy continuous
running in zone 1 and two training sessions in zone 2, and a 3000m competition (zone 5) on
Friday p.m. (8:41.34).
Table 5d shows a representative training week in the competition season (week 30) for
male marathon runner D. The presented program indicates a total running volume of 178 km
International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 6 · Number 2 · 2011 279
performed in 13 training sessions of which 11 sessions were continuous running in zone 1,
one session in zone 3 (5 x 2000m in half-marathon pace, recovery = 2min) and one session
at 5000m and 1500m pace (6 x 800m in 2:11-2:12 min (zone 5) + 12 x 300m in 45-49 sec
(zone 6)).
A training week in the competition season (week 32) for female marathon runner E is
illustrated in Table 5e. The listed program indicates a total running volume of 165 km
performed in 11 training sessions of which nine sessions were easy continuous running in
zone 1, one sessions in zone 2 (Friday a.m.; 32 x 1000m in a average pace of 3:25 min/km,
recovery = 1min) and one session at 10000m pace (zone 4) (25 x 400m, recovery = 30 sec).
Table 5f shows a representative training week in the competition season (week 28) for
female marathon runner E. The presented program indicates a total running volume of 177.5
km performed in 11 training sessions of which nine sessions were continuous running in zone
1 and two sessions in zone 2 (Tuesday a.m.; 35 km continuous running with a varied speed
between 4:00 and 3:20min/km for each 10 km and 5 km, respectively and 20 km continuous
running on Thursday p.m.).
Table 3a. Average Running Volume (km/week) in the Different Meso-
Cycles of the Year for Runner B, C, D, E and F
The listed kilometer for runner A* is an average of two reported training
weeks in the preparation period, and one week in the competition season
ABCDEF
Preparation period 192.5* 150 172 154 216.8 189
Pre-competition period 131.8 173 149 197.2 177.5
Competition season 143* 120 160 148.3 181.3 148
Table 3b. Average Total Running Distance (km/week), and Average
Running Distance in Different Intensity Zones (km/week), in the Preparation
Period, the Pre-Competition Period and in Reported Representative
Weeks in the Competition Season for the Track Runners
Preparation period Pre-competition period Competition season
(November-February) n=2 (March and April) n = 2 (May-August) n =3
Total km /week 161 ± 11.0 km 167 ± 3.0 km 148.2 ± 16.1 km
Zone 1: Easy and moderate 123 ± 11.0 km 131.9 ± 5.7 km 119.4 ± 9.8 km
continuous running (76.4 ± 1.6 %) (79 ± 2.0 %) (80.8 ± 2.1 %)
Zone 2: Marathon pace 20.1 ± 4.2 km 11 ± 3.2 km 10.2 ± 4.2 km
(12.5 ± 1.3 %) (6.5 ± 1.4 %) (6.9 ± 1.1 %)
Zone 3: Half marathon pace 11.5 ± 5.1 km 13.3 ± 3.3 km 9.2 ± 5.1 km
(7.1 ± 0.8 %) (8.0 ± 0.6 %) (6.2 ± 2.6 %)
Zone 4: 10000m pace 0.5 ± 0.9
(0.3 ± 0.5 %)
Zone 5: 3000m- 5000m pace 4.4 ± 3.6 km 2.8 ± 2.8 km 6.0 ± 2.0 km
(2.7 ± 1.5 %) (1.7 ± 1.7 %) (4.0 ± 2.0 %)
Zone 6: 800m -1500m pace 4.8 ± 0.9 km 0.9 ± 0.6 km
(2.9 ± 0. 8 %) (0.9 ± 0.7 %)
Zone 7: Sprint / strides 2 ± 1.3 km 3.2 ± 0.9 km 2.0 ± 0,0 km
(1.3 ± 0.2 %) (1.8 ± 0.2 %) (1.3 ± 0.1 %)
280 Volume and Intensity of Training in Elite Long-Distance Runners
Table 3c. Average Total Running Distance (km/week), and Average
Running Distance in Different Intensity Zones (km/week), in the Preparation
Period, the Pre-Competition Period and in Reported Representative
Weeks in the Competition Season for the Marathon Runners
Preparation period Pre-competition period Competition season
(November-February) (March and April) (May-August)
Total km/week 186.6 ± 25.7 km 187.6 ± 18.9 km 173.3 ± 5.9 km
Zone 1: Easy and moderate 156.2 ± 21.0 km 158.2 ± 9.2 km 138.4 ± 15.2 km
continuous running (83.6 ± 4.0 %) (84.7 ± 4.2 %) (79.9 ± 6.5 %)
Zone 2: Marathon pace 23.7 ± 8.2 km 22.2 ± 8.8 km 22.6 ± 12.0 km
(12.7 ± 3.5 %) (11.5 ± 3.6 %) (13.1 ± 5.6 %)
Zone 3: Half marathon pace 7.1 ± 4.8 km
(4.1 ± 1.9 %)
Zone 4: 10000m pace 4.7 ± 2.4 km 4.4 ± 2.5 km
(2.5 ± 1.2 %) (2.3 ± 1.3 %)
Zone 5: 3000m-5000m pace 1.6 ± 2.6 km
(1.0 ±1.3 %)
Zone 6: 800m-1500m pace 0.5 ± 0.2 km 1,3 ± 1.8 km
(0.3 ± 0.3 %) (0.7 ± 1.0%)
Zone 7: sprint / strides 2 ± 0.9 km 2.3 ± 0.5 km 2.3 ± 5.0 km
(1.2 ± 0.7 %) (1.2 ± 0.3 %) (1.3 ± 0.3 %)
Table 4a. A Training Week in the Preparation Period for Runner A (Eldoret,
Kenya 2000 - 2400m Above Sea Level)
Week 9 a.m. p.m.
Monday 11 km continuous running 14x1000m La: 5-7mmol/L
Pace: 2:50-2:55, recovery 1 min
Tuesday 17 km continuous running 12 km continuous running
Wednesday 10 km continuous running + 11000m+8000m+ 4500m +3000m+1500m
5x100m jumping (sprunglauf) (recovery 2-1 min). La: 2-3 mmol/L (zone 2)
6x100 elastic leg jumps
Thursday 16 km continuous running 14 km continuous running
Friday 7x2000m threshold pace, recovery 1 min
Saturday 20x60m sprint (the last 10 with 2.5kg weight 10x200m, track running. Every second in 800m- and
loaded hanging behind) 5000m pace.Average: 26.0sec and 32.5sec. Recovery
+ 6x100 elastic leg jumps 2:00-2:30 min. Lactate< 10,5mmol/L
Sunday 20 km continuous running
12 sessions = 210 km
International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 6 · Number 2 · 2011 281
Table 4b. A Training Week in the Preparation Period for Runner B (South
Africa, 2100m Above Sea Level)
Week 47 a.m. p.m.
Monday 13 km (60min) continuous running 10 km (45min) continuous running
Tuesday Warm up 10 min. +7,5km continuous threshold Warm up 15min +12x1000m recovery =1min (average:
running. La< 3.0 mmol/L (3:24 - 3:27min/ km) + 3:13min) La: 2.7-3.6 mmol/L + 15min jog
15 min jog
Wednesday 62 min = 13 km 45 min = 10 km
Thursday Warm up 15 min + 6x6min (3:17-3:25min/km), Warm up 10 min +7.5km continuous threshold running
recovery 1 min. La: 2.9-3.6 mmol/L + 15min jog (3:24min/km) La: 1.9mmol/L + 10 min jog
Friday 21.5 km continuous running (1:37)
Saturday Warm up 10 min +7,5km continuous threshold Warm up 13 min + 15x400m (1800m above sea level):
running (3:20 min/ km) La: 4.2 mmol/L + 10 min average time 67.9 sec., La: 9.7 – 10.7 mmol/L,
recovery =1min + 15 min jog
Sunday 22 km continuous running (1:40)
12 sessions = 165.5 km
Table 4c. A Training Week in the Preparation Period for Runner C (Oslo, Sea
Level)
Week 4 a.m. p.m.
Monday 11.5 km continuous running (46 min = 4 min/km) Warm up 4 km + strides + 8x1500m, (recovery =45sec
jog) + jog 4 km
Tuesday 16 km continuous running (70 min)
Wednesday 11.5 km continuous running (46 min) 19 km continuous running (80 min) 4:12 min/ km
Thursday 17.5 km continuous running (included 45 min
moderate/ hard= 3:40-3:30 min/km) (67 min)
Friday 11.5 km continuous running (46 min) 15 km continuous running (64 min)
Saturday 11 km continuous running (44 min) 14 km continuous running (60 min)
Sunday 28 km continuous running (120 min)
11 sessions = 172 km.
Table 4d. A Training Week in the Preparation Period for Runner D (Flagstaff,
U.S.A., 2100m Above Sea Level)
Week 49 a.m. p.m.
Monday 8 km continuous running + 6x100m strides 13.5 km continuous running + general strength training
Tuesday 9.5 km continuous running 14 km continuous running
Wednesday 9.5 km continuous running 17 km min continuous running including 5,4,3,2,1 min
marathon pace with 1 min jog recovery.
Thursday 7.5 km continuous running 20 km continuous running + general strength training
Friday 9 km continuous running + drills 12 km moderate + 6 x100m sprint
Saturday 25 km easy continuous running
Sunday Warm up 3.5 km + 20x1000m (marathon pace)
(zone 2), recovery = 1 min + 3.5km jog
12 sessions = 177 km
282 Volume and Intensity of Training in Elite Long-Distance Runners
Table 4e. A Training Week in the Preparation Period for Runner E (Norway,
Sea Level)
Week 4 a.m. p.m.
Monday 40.5 km continuous running (4:30min/km) 11km continuous running (50 min) + strides
Tuesday 11.5 km (52min) continuous running 22 km continuous running + strides
Wednesday 13.5 km continuous running (59min) + strides 4.5 km warm up+ strides + 4 x 15min (3:30min/km) +
5.5 km jog
Thursday 14 km continuous running (4:30-4:20min/km) 56 min continuous running + 4 x 100m
Friday 14 km continuous running + 3 x100m 21 min warm up+4x100m strides +short intervals: 40 x
1 min (recovery =30sec)+20min jog
Saturday 27 km continuous running (4:30min/km) 50 min + 4 x 100m
Sunday 14 kmcontinuous running + 4 x100m strides Warm up 4 km + 4 x100m strides + 8 x 5min l
(3:25min/km, recovery=1min)+ 4 km jog
14 sessions = 232 km.
Table 4f. A Training Week in the Preparation Period for Runner F (Norway,
Sea Level)
Week 7 a.m. p.m.
Monday 13 km continuous running (65min) 16 km continuous running (70 min)
Tuesday 7 km continuous running (4:16 per km)+16x1000m 19 km continuous running (90 min)
(3:25), recovery = 30sec + 5km continuous running
Wednesday 16 km continuous running 14 km easy continuous running (70 min)
Thursday 15 km continuous running (4:00min/km) 26 km continuous running (120 min)
Friday 15 km continuous running (65min) 13 km continuous running (60 min)
Saturday Warm up: 3.5 km + 20 km progressive treadmill
running: 5 km(3:40min/km) + 5 km (3:25min/km)
+5 km (3:40min/km) +5km (3:20min/km) + 3.5km jog
Sunday 13 km continuous running
12 sessions = 215 km
Table 5a. A Representative Training Week in the Competition Season for
Runner A
Week 23 a.m. p.m.
Monday 7 km continuous running 4x1000m. Times: 2:32.2-2:32.4-2:32.2-2:32.1
(recovery = 3min)
+ 5x300m Times: 42-43 sec (recovery = 1min)
+ 3x3 deep, fast knee bend 40 kg, 1 x 3 horizontal
jumps (light weights) + 10 km jog
Tuesday 13 km continuous running + 5x100 jumps (legs)
Wednesday 8 km continuous running Warm up 15 min + 6x2000m (La: 2.5-3.0 mmol/L)
2:53 per km (recovery = 1min) + jog 10-15 min
Thursday 10 km continuous running 17 km continuous running
Friday 3 km continuous running 5000m, Bislett Games 13:09.19
(2:37-2:38-2:41-2:44-2:28)
Saturday 13 km continuous running + massage
Sunday 10 km continuous running Ergometer bike: 35 min moderate frequency (3000m;
stimulated altitude) La: 2.5-3.0 mmol/L.
Total: 143 km
International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 6 · Number 2 · 2011 283
Table 5b. A Representative Training Week in the Competition Season for
Runner B
Week 22 a.m. p.m.
Monday 14.5 km continuous running (64 min) 10 km continuous running (41min)
Tuesday 10 km continuous running (44 min) Warm up 15 min +12x1000m, recovery = 1min (2:56 -
3:05/km). La: 2.9-4.0 mmol/L (zone 4)+ jog 15 min
Wednesday 14,5 km continuous running (61 min)
Thursday 10 km continuous running (44 min) Warm up 15 min + strides + 3 x 6min threshold
running, recovery = 1min. La: 2.7 mmol/L (zone 3)+
15 min jog
Friday 6 km continuous running (32 min) Travel to Belgia
Saturday 5 km easy jog Neerpelt, competition: 3000m steeplechase: 8:24.80.
(Warm up 10min jog + 5min threshold pace + strides.
After the race: 20min jog).
Sunday 11 km continuous running (50 min) 10 km continuous running (43 min)
12 sessions = 131.5 km
Table 5c. A Representative Training Week in the Competition Season for
Runner C
Week 30 a.m. p.m.
Monday 11 km continuous running Warm up 2.5km + 50min moderate running (3:30
min/km) + 5x100m strides in spike shoes
Tuesday 11 km continuous running Warm up 3 km + 30min moderate running (3:30
min/km) + 6x200m on track (32-30 sec)
Wednesday 10 km continuous running 10 km continuous running + 6x100m strides in spike
shoes
Thursday 7 km continuous running 8 km continuous running + 6x100m strides in spike
shoes
Friday 5 km continuous running + strides Bislett Games 3000m 8.41.34
Saturday 8 km continuous running (very easy) 20 km continuous running
Sunday 14 km continuous running 15 km continuous running +
6x100m strides
14 sessions = 167 km
Table 5d. A Representative Training Week in the Competition Season for
Runner D (Norway, 1850m Above Sea Level)
Week 30 a.m. p.m.
Monday 9 km continuous running 15.5 km continuous running
Tuesday 9 km continuous running Warm up 15 min +2x3x800m (2.11-2.12) recovery =
200m jog, 2 min between sets. + 8x300m (49-47sec) +
5x300m (47-45 sec) (recovery = 1 min) + 15 min jog
Wednesday 10 km continuous running 15.5 km continuous running (4:00-3:50 min/km)
Thursday 28 km continuous running(150min)
Friday 10 km continuous running 14 km continuous running + 6 x 100m strides
Saturday 10 km continuous running 5x2000m, recovery = 2 min
Sunday 15 km continuous running (4:00min/km) 8.5 km continuous running (3:50 min/km)
13 sessions= 178 km.
284 Volume and Intensity of Training in Elite Long-Distance Runners
Table 5e. A Representative Training Week in the Competition Season for
Runner E
Week 32 a.m. p.m.
Monday 10 km continuous running (4:20 min/km) 15 km continuous running (4:20 min/km)
Tuesday 10 km continuous running (4:20 min/km) Warm up 15 min + short intervals: 25x400m, recovery
= 30 sec + jog 15 min
Wednesday 20 km continuous running (4:20 min/km)
Thursday 10 km continuous running (4:15 min/km) 20 km continuous running (4:20-4:25 min/km)
Friday Warm up 15 min+ 32 x1000m (average 3:25 min,
recovery=1 min) + jog 15 min
Saturday 10 km continuous running (4:30 min/km)
Sunday 10 km continuous running (4:20 min/km) 15 km (4:20 min/km)
11 sessions = 165 km
Table 5f. A Representative Training Week in the Competition Season for
Runner F
Week 28 a.m. p.m.
Monday 14 km continuous running (60 min) 14 km continuous running (60 min)
Tuesday 35 km continuous running,
varying speed:10 km
(4:00 min/km)+ 5 km
(3:45 min/km)+ 10 km
(3:30 min/km) + 2 km
(4:00 min/km)+ 3 km
(3:20 min/km) + 5 km(4:00 min/km)
Wednesday 10 km continuous running (45 min) 9 km continuous running (40 min)
Thursday 14 km continuous running (60 min) 20 km continuous running (3:40 min/km)
Friday 14 km continuous running (60 min) 14.5 km continuous running (62 min)
Saturday 24 km (including 20 km progressive running)
(total = 97 min)
Sunday 9 km continuous running
11 sessions= 177.5 km
DISCUSSION
The training methods used by high-level athletes are not well documented in the literature.
The training process naturally gives smaller adjustments in training response to performance
at this level, so for well-trained high level athletes, small improvements in performance
parameters are expected compared to the expected training response to performance result
for untrained athletes
11
.
TRAINING VOLUME
The three track and three marathon runners in this study have all represented Norway in
international championships, and are considered the most outstanding long distance runners
in Norway during the last decade. They ran an average of 13 ± 1 sessions and a mean volume
of 161 ± 11 km/week (track runners) and 186.6 ± 25.7 km/week (marathon runners) in the
preparation period. In the pre-competition period they ran a mean volume of 167 ± 3
International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 6 · Number 2 · 2011 285
km/week (track runners) and 187.6 ± 18.9 km/week (marathon runners). In the competition
season they ran a mean volume of 148.1 ± 16.1 km/week (track runners) and 173.3 ± 5.9
km/week (marathon runners). According to research literature, success in endurance events
is associated with high training volume (km/week) at low intensities (62-82 % of HR
max
)
performed in the preparation period, pre-competition period and competition seasons
36,37
.
V
·
O
2
max is one of the most important determinants of performance in endurance running
8
.
Although V
·
O
2
max may be a limiting factor for performance in typical endurance events,
running economy and running pace at the anaerobic threshold may also be of great
importance for success in long distance running events
32,38
. The trainability of running
economy, however, is uncertain. Some studies have shown that training volume significantly
improved running economy
19,39-41
, while other studies have shown no improvement
7,42
.
From the literature we know that the traditional low intensity training model (62-82% of
HF
max
) performed with a total running volume of 150-200 km per week can lead to very good
results for long-distance runners who have progressively increased training loads over many
years. This model emerges from observations of outstanding distance runners over the last
five decades
13,16,17,43
.
Runner A in this study trained according to a “low volume / high intensity model” until
the age of 21 years. He then changed his training model, increased the average training
volume from 80 km/week to 160 km/week, including two or three lactate threshold sessions
per week. After 14 weeks (January – April) his anaerobic threshold running velocity (vAT)
had increased from 16.3 to 19.3 km/hour, with a measured V
·
O
2
max of 86.7 ml·kg
-1
·min
-1
.
The following season he finished second in the European under-23 Championships in the
5000m and his personal record at this distance improved from 14:45 min to 13:22.58 min.
When runner C increased her training volume she experienced the same kind of
improvement in performance. Runner F, however, experienced improvement in her running
performance when she reduced her training volume from an average of 270 km/week in a
year to an average of 200 km/week, including more training at specific marathon pace. This
finding is in line with Billat et al.
44
, who reported increased V
·
O
2
max in elite marathon
runners as a result of more training at marathon pace.
TRAINING INTENSITY
Is there an optimal training intensity distribution that should be recommended for long
distance runners? The main finding in the present study was that, in the preparation period,
76.4 ± 1.6% of the track runners’ total volume, and 83.6 ± 4.0% of the marathon runners’
total volume (km/week) was performed below marathon pace, while 19.6 ± 1.8% (track
runners) and 12.7 ± 3.5% (marathon runners) was performed at marathon or half marathon
pace (zone 2 or 3) which is training close to (zone 2) and at the anaerobic threshold (zone 3).
In the pre-competition period and the track competition season, the track runners also
reduced training volume and percentage of total running volume performed in zone 2 and 3.
This was due to increased training at specific race pace (zones 4 and 5).
The marathon runners carried out the same volume of training at marathon pace (zone 2)
in the period leading up to the international championship as in the previous periods, the
training at half marathon pace, however, increased from 0% in preparation- and pre-
competition period, to 4.1 ± 1.9% (7.1 ± 4.8 km) in the competition season..
The high volume of interval training close to anaerobic threshold (zone 2 and 3) might
have resulted in favourable improvements in aerobic capacity parameters like vAT, V
·
O
2
max
and running economy. The advantage of anaerobic threshold training is that one can perform
a relatively high running volume in each workout. This may lead to increased oxygen
286 Volume and Intensity of Training in Elite Long-Distance Runners
transportation capacity and improved running economy. Researchers and expert coaches of
top international athletes underline the importance of training near the anaerobic threshold in
developing running economy, which is needed to perform at a high level in long-distance
running
38
. According to Svedenhag and Sjödin
45
, increased vAT may correspond to changes
in running economy and V
·
O
2
max.
Helgerud et al.
19
claim that training at high intensity (90-95% of HR
max
) results in faster
and more effective improvements in aerobic capacity than low intensity training. However,
symptoms of overtraining were found among distance runners who performed three high-
intensity interval sessions per week over a 4-week span
46
. Other studies have found similar
metabolic adaptations in untrained persons, when intensive interval training was compared
with traditional endurance training
47,48
.
It is important to take into consideration that the track runners ran 31.6 ± 5.1 km/week just
below and at threshold pace (close to 90% of HR
max
; zone 2 and 3) in the preparation period.
The female runner ran at 3:25 ± 0:10 min/km pace and the male runners at 3:00 ±
0:10 min/km pace. When doing steady continuous running, the female and male runners ran
at paces of 4:00 – 4:20 min/km and 3:50 – 4:00 min/km, respectively. This means that the
runners in this study, when running 120 to 170 km/week with a heart rate between 65-85%
of HR
max
, ran much faster per kilometre than did the so-called ‘well-trained athletes’, when
running 4 x 4min close to V
·
O
2
max
19
.
PERIODIZATION OF TRAINING
Preparation Period
The training data from the present study show that approximately 80% of the total amount
of aerobic endurance training in the preparation period was performed below marathon pace
and 20% at intensities near and above the anaerobic threshold (zone 2 and 3). This tendency
has also been found in other training studies
15,22,26,49,50
.
The presented training weeks in the preparation periods (Tables 4a, b, d) of the male track
runners A and B and marathon runner D indicate the necessity of performing 7-9 continuous
running sessions in zone 1 with a total running volume of 165.5-210 km per week, and two
to three sessions in zone 2 or 3 combined with one session in 5000m or 3000m pace (zone
5) to be successful on an international level. The presented running volume and training
intensity distribution is in line with newer studies which show that many of the most
successful long-distance runners and international marathon runners do workloads of 170-
250 km per week during their preparation meso-cycles. Studies conducted with well-trained
long distance runners also indicate a stronger correlation between performance and high
training volume at lower intensity (< 60-75% of V
·
O
2
max), than lower training volume at
moderate and high intensities
12,28,29
. With reference to the presented training programs, it is
important to underline that male track runner A practised high-altitude training regularly in
the preparation meso-cycles of the training year. It is worth nothing that he performed 28 km
of running in zone 2 in one single session at high-altitude (table 4a). Studies have shown that
training just below and at vAT (80-87% of V
·
O
2
max/ 82-92% of HR
max
) is the most likely to
develop aerobic capacity and specific endurance for long distance runners. The
documentation of high-altitude training research also shows that training at 2000m above
sea-level might give many positive effects on the development of V
·
O
2
max and performance
in endurance events
51
.
The presented training week for track runner B seems relatively hard and it is worth
noting that the interval track session on Saturday p.m.; 15 x 400m with a recovery period of
1min (average times 67.9 sec), was performed with a lactate production between 9.7-10.7
International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 6 · Number 2 · 2011 287
mmol/L (zone 5). With reference to the presented training program runner B also practised
high-altitude training regularly in the preparation meso-cycles of the training year.
The reported training of female track runner C shows that her running performances was
developed on a very solid base of continuous running on low (zone 1) and moderate intensity
(zone 1-2) in the preparation meso-cycle of the training year. A representative training
program in the preparation period (Table 4c) consisted of 9 relatively hard and monotonous
continuous running sessions in zone 1, one continuous session in zone 2 and one interval
session in zone 3, with a total volume of 172 km per week. Three of the presented
continuous running sessions were performed with a moderate intensity of 4:00 min/km (zone
1). The distribution of the running volume and training intensity in the preparation period is
in line with the research literature and the documented practice of earlier female world-class
runner Ingrid Kristiansen
36
.
With reference to the presented training program of female marathon runners E and F, it
is important to state that their running performances also were developed on a very strong
base of continuous running on low (zone 1) and moderate intensity (zone 1-2) throughout the
preparation period of the training year. The training week for the female marathon runners
consisted of 12 relatively hard and monotonous continuous running sessions in zone 1 and
zone 2 with a total volume of 180-230 km per week. The female marathon runners did one
to two weekly sessions at marathon pace with a total running volume up to 20 km in one
single session (zone 2). The described training structure of the female marathon runners is in
line with a consensus in the research literature and the practice of international marathon
runners of today
13
.
Competition Period
Due to competitions and training at specific race pace, more high-intensity training is
performed in the competition seasons. A common distribution reported by the athletes could
for instance be two sessions at race pace and two sessions in zone 2, or one session at race
pace and two sessions in zone 3.
Table 5a shows athlete As workout sessions during a week in the track competition
season. The week includes two sessions in zone 2 (Wednesday p.m., and a bike session on
Sunday). One session (Monday p.m.) was carried out at 1500m and 3000m race pace. This
session is listed as follows: 4 km (4 x 1000m at 3000m pace - average time 2:32 min/km) in
zone 5, and 1.5 km (5 x 300m at 1500m pace) in zone 6. The 5000m competition Friday p.m.
is listed in zone 5.
For runner A, the competition week seems quite well structured. The total running was
143 km and it is worth noting the training intensity of the specific session preparing for top-
performance in the 5000m which was performed three days before the competition (Bislett
Games). It is recommended that the last intensive training session should be performed four
days before an important competition in aerobic endurance events
52
. From practical
experience, however, we know that the periodization of training in the micro-cycle may vary
for each individual runner. Runner A has obviously discovered that a hard training session
three days before a competition optimized his performance potential. With reference to the
presented training program, it is also important to underline that runner A practised an
ergometer simultation session at high altitude on Sunday p.m. which he did regularly on
different occasions.
The presented training in a competition week for track runner B (Table 5b) seems
relatively easy. It consisted of one session in zone 3 (Tuesday p.m.; 12 x 1000m, 2:56 – 3:05
min/km, Lactate 2.9- 4.0 mmol/L) and one session in zone 2 (Thursday p.m.; 3 x 6 min,
288 Volume and Intensity of Training in Elite Long-Distance Runners
Lactate 2.7 mmol/L) four and two days, respectively, before the 3000m steeplechase
competition on Saturday p.m. (8:24.80) The periodization structure in his competition week
is in line with the research literature and practice of top international track runners
53
.
The competition training week for female runner C is quite well balanced (Table 5c). It is
worth noting that two of her continuous running sessions (Monday p.m., 50 min and Tuesday
p.m., 30min) were performed with a moderate intensity of 3:30 min/km (zone 2) three and
four days before the competition, respectively. With reference to the presented training
program, it is important to underline that runner C mainly used continuous running on low
(zone 1) and moderate intensity (zone 2) on all running sessions in her competition training
week. On Tuesday p.m. she ran six additional 200m’s at a pace of 30-32sec and on
Wednesday and Thursday p.m. she did 6 x 100m strides in spike shoes. She did not run any
sessions in specific race pace before the competition on Friday p.m. Her training structure in
the competition week seems a little different from the other track runners. However, the
strategy might be an attempt to gain an optimal compensation (surplus of energy) to perform
on a high level in the 3000m race which was run in 8:41.34. In the periodization research
literature, high-intensity training sessions are suggested to be performed seven and four days
ahead of an important competition to optimize the athletes’ potential performance
36,53
.
The running capacity of runner D was also developed on a regime of continuous running
on low (zone 1) and moderate intensity (zone 1-2) combined with an intensive interval
session once a week (zones 5 and 6). In the presented competition season week (Table 5d)
male marathon runner D did one session in zone 3 (Thursday p.m. – 5 x 2000m in half-
marathon pace, recovery = 2 min) and one session in 5000m pace (zone 5). The training week
seems relatively easy and it is worth to notice the detailed structure of the mentioned track
interval session run in 5000m pace (zone 5) on Tuesday p.m. (6 x 800m in 2:11-2:12 min +
12 x 300m in 45-49 sec) (zone 6).
Table 5e exemplifies a week leading up to an international marathon championship for
athlete E. The athlete ran 25 x 400m at half marathon pace on Tuesday p.m. (zone 3), and 32
x 1000m at marathon pace on Friday a.m. (zone 2). An analysis of the presented training
program of female marathon runner E shows that the competition running week was
performed with a dominance of continuous running on low and moderate intensity in zone 1
and two interval sessions in zones 2 and 3. All her continuous running sessions were
performed with an intensity of 4:20 – 4:30 min per km.
The training week seems relatively hard and one should notice the extremely strenuous
interval training session performed in marathon pace (zone 2) on Friday a.m. (32 x 1000m
in a pace of 3:25 min per 1000m, recovery = 1min). This session was meant to be a specific
preparation (super compensation) for the forthcoming marathon race.
With reference to the presented training program of female runner F (Table 5f), it is
important to underline that the running competition week was performed with a solid
foundation of continuous running on low (zone 1) and moderate intensity (zone 1-2). The
competition training week seems relatively hard and monotonous, and it is worth noting that
the continuous running sessions on Thursday a.m. were run with a moderate intensity of
3:40 min per km (zone 2). The session which was run on Tuesday a.m. consisted of: 35 km
continuous running with a varied speed between 4:00 (zone 1) and 3:20 min/km (zone 3) for
each 10 km and 5 km, respectively. The total running volume in the competition week was
177.5 km. This periodization structure is quite typical for marathon runners at an
international level
11-17,32
.
It is important to point out that, in the competition season, weekly training programs differ
more between runners and from week to week than in the preparation period. For each
International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 6 · Number 2 · 2011 289
individual runner, the weekly training program differs according to races, racing distance and
importance of the race.
CONCLUSION
Newer studies on moderately- and well-trained endurance athletes have demonstrated
increased V
·
O
2
max when high-intensity interval training (90-100% of HR
max
) replaced
training performed at low and moderate intensities
18,19,44,53,54
. Many coaches and athletes in
different endurance disciplines have recently incorporated this training strategy into their
practical training workouts in order to optimize performance.
The main finding in this study, however, was that a relatively high training volume at low
intensity (62-82% of HR
max
) combined with training just below and at the anaerobic
threshold (82-92% of HR
max
) was beneficial for the development of running performance in
six Norwegian male and female track and marathon runners competing at top European
level.
There is a consensus among Norwegian national coaches and endurance athletes that a
high weekly training volume based on continuous running combined with two, three or four
workouts just below and at anaerobic threshold pace in the preparation period, and stronger
emphasis on training workouts at actual race pace in the competition seasons, is a factor for
success. This is in line with the conclusions in a review article by Midgley et al.
32
Future research should compare the performance effects of different training intensity
distributions (below, at, and above the anaerobic threshold) for longer periods. Increased
knowledge of the significance of training volume and intensity distribution from a
longitudinal perspective would help coaches and scientists to design training programs that
improve aerobic and anaerobic capacity in elite long distance runners.
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International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 6 · Number 2 · 2011 293
... On the other hand, in order to quantify TID, coaches and researchers generally use heart rate [1,6,8,[15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23] or running speed [1,[24][25][26][27] associated with physiological benchmarks such as 1 st lactate threshold (LT 1 ), 2 nd lactate threshold (LT 2 ), 1 st ventilatory threshold (VT 1 ), and 2 nd ventilatory threshold (VT 2 ) or respiratory compensation threshold (RCT) determined through a GTX. Furthermore, other TID quantification methods derived from the session-rating of perceived exertion (s-RPE) [1,6,24], as well as race pace [25,[28][29][30], do not use a GTX. In addition, coaches commonly consider some percentages of running speed that athletes use to complete a given distance [25,[28][29][30] or specific tests as the critical power [24] to determine exercise-intensity zones and quantify TID based on the race pacebased approach. ...
... Furthermore, other TID quantification methods derived from the session-rating of perceived exertion (s-RPE) [1,6,24], as well as race pace [25,[28][29][30], do not use a GTX. In addition, coaches commonly consider some percentages of running speed that athletes use to complete a given distance [25,[28][29][30] or specific tests as the critical power [24] to determine exercise-intensity zones and quantify TID based on the race pacebased approach. However, recent studies have shown that different TID outcomes are yielded depending on the quantification method used and these differences are especially important among objective and subjective methods [1,6,24]. ...
... Typically, three exercise-intensity zones based on the triphasic model proposed by Kindermann et al. [31] and Skinner and McLellan [32] are used to quantify TID in endurance athletes [1, 6, 8, 15-23, 25, 27, 29, 33, 34], although approaches with 2 [18,35], 4 [26], 5 [28], and 7 zones [30] are also found in the specific literature. In this triphasic model, zone 1 is characterized by long training sessions at low-intensity ( < 2 mmol . ...
Article
Training-intensity distribution (TID) is considered the key factor to optimize performance in endurance sports. This systematic review aimed to: I) characterize the TID typically used by middle-and long-distance runners; II) compare the effect of different types of TID on endurance performance and its physiological determinants; III) determine the extent to which different TID quantification methods can calculate same TID outcomes from a given training program. The keywords and search strategy identified 20 articles in the research databases. These articles demonstrated differences in the quantification of the different training-intensity zones among quantification methods (i. e. session-rating of perceived exertion, heart rate, blood lactate, race pace, and running speed). The studies that used greater volumes of low-intensity training such as those characterized by pyramidal and polarized TID approaches, reported greater improvements in endurance performance than those which used a threshold TID. Thus, it seems that the combination of high-volume at low-intensity (≥ 70% of overall training volume) and low-volume at threshold and high-intensity interval training (≤ 30%) is necessary to optimize endurance training adaptations in middle-and long-distance runners. Moreover, monitoring training via multiple mechanisms that systematically encompasses objective and subjective TID quantification methods can help coaches/researches to make better decisions.
... Different pathways to excellence have been described, as both early and late specialization, and different backgrounds from other sports, can provide a platform for later elite LDR performance [15][16][17][18]. Several scientific publications during the last two decades have described the training characteristics of world-leading distance runners [17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31]. However, our understanding of best-practice LDR continues to evolve, and it is fair to say that positive developments in modern long-distance training methods have often been driven by experienced coaches and athletes rather than sports scientists [32]. ...
... Firstly, the inclusion of results-proven training information can be discussed since it is not based on peer-reviewed research. However, elite athletes are systematic in their collection of training "data" and report their training accurately [23,113], justifying the extensive use of training logs as primary or secondary information sources in scientific training characteristics studies within LDR [e.g., [17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]. Secondly, an initial review of both the scientific literature and results-proven practice reveals several biases, including a substantial male dominance and focus on a few successful training groups. ...
... While most scientific studies tend to only report training volume across macro-and mesocycles [e.g., 17,21,27,28], the results-proven practice describes more detailed fluctuations throughout the training year. Because most injuries are attributed to rapid and excessive increases in training load [159,160], elite performers increase the total running volume gradually during the initial 8-12 weeks of the macrocycle. ...
Article
Full-text available
In this review we integrate the scientific literature and results-proven practice and outline a novel framework for understanding the training and development of elite long-distance performance. Herein, we describe how fundamental training characteristics and well-known training principles are applied. World-leading track runners (i.e., 5000 and 10,000 m) and marathon specialists participate in 9 ± 3 and 6 ± 2 (mean ± SD) annual competitions, respectively. The weekly running distance in the mid-preparation period is in the range 160–220 km for marathoners and 130–190 km for track runners. These differences are mainly explained by more running kilometers on each session for marathon runners. Both groups perform 11–14 sessions per week, and ≥ 80% of the total running volume is performed at low intensity throughout the training year. The training intensity distribution vary across mesocycles and differ between marathon and track runners, but common for both groups is that volume of race-pace running increases as the main competition approaches. The tapering process starts 7–10 days prior to the main competition. While the African runners live and train at high altitude (2000–2500 m above sea level) most of the year, most lowland athletes apply relatively long altitude camps during the preparation period. Overall, this review offers unique insights into the training characteristics of world-class distance runners by integrating scientific literature and results-proven practice, providing a point of departure for future studies related to the training and development in the Olympic long-distance events.
... Several studies have investigated the training of elite road runners, reporting that elite road runners run an average of 182 to 206 km/week during marathon preparation (Billat et al., 2001;Enoksen et al., 2011) but studies describing the typical training of elite trail runners have not been published yet. Interestingly, TRAIL reported only 55% of the monthly training hours reported by ROAD, with ROAD training more hours than TRAIL in every type of training and TRAIL performing only 38% of the monthly resistance training hours reported by ROAD. ...
... The training volume reported by Jornet is similar or slightly higher than that of successful athletes in other endurance sports such as cross-country skiing (Solli et al., 2017;Torvik et al., 2021), which usually ranges between 800 and 1,100 hours. In the case of road runners, their time spent training is probably more similar to that reported for other endurance runners (Enoksen et al., 2011), although the training of road and trail runners is often reported in distance run, and therefore an exact comparison is difficult. A relationship between higher running volumes and performance has been shown in runners of different levels, ranging from recreational to elite (Casado et al., 2021;Foster et al., 1977). ...
Thesis
The objectives of this thesis were to investigate the performance determinants of trail running, and to evaluate the changes in running economy following prolonged endurance running exercise. First, we tested elite road and trail runners for differences in performance factors. Our results showed that elite trail runners are stronger than road runners, but they have greater cost of running when running on flat ground. In the second study, we evaluated the performance factors that predicted performance in trail running races of different distances, ranging from 40 to 170 km. We found that maximal aerobic capacity was a determinant factor of performance for races up to 100 km. Performance in shorter races, up to approximately 55 km, was also predicted by lipid utilization at slow speed, while performance in the 100 km race was also predicted by maximal strength and body fat percentage. The most important factors of performance for races longer than 100 km are still debated. We also tested the effects of trail running race distance on cost of locomotion, finding that cost of running increased after races up to 55 km, but not after races of 100-170 km. Finally, we tested the. effects of two different exercise modalities, cycling and running, on cost of locomotion, after 3 hours of intensity-matched exercise. Cost of locomotion increased more following cycling than running, and the change in cost of locomotion was related to changes in cadence and loss of force production capacity.
... Recreational running has seen a second boom in the early 2000s throughout Europe and North America (Scheerder et al., 2015), contributing to the growing popularity of recreational club running, with middle aged runners aged 34 and 54 years old forming 43% of road race competitors (Running USA, 2020). To improve their performance, these runners often train up to six sessions per week (Enoksen et al., 2011;Zinner et al., 2018), typically performing a combination of medium intensity continuous runs and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) (Enoksen et al., 2011;Wen et al., 2019). This growth in popularity has also contributed to the rise in the incidence of running-related overuse injuries (RROI). ...
... Recreational running has seen a second boom in the early 2000s throughout Europe and North America (Scheerder et al., 2015), contributing to the growing popularity of recreational club running, with middle aged runners aged 34 and 54 years old forming 43% of road race competitors (Running USA, 2020). To improve their performance, these runners often train up to six sessions per week (Enoksen et al., 2011;Zinner et al., 2018), typically performing a combination of medium intensity continuous runs and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) (Enoksen et al., 2011;Wen et al., 2019). This growth in popularity has also contributed to the rise in the incidence of running-related overuse injuries (RROI). ...
Article
Full-text available
PurposeTo examine the time course of recovery for gait and neuromuscular function immediately after and 24-h post interval training. In addition, this study compared the impact of different statistical approaches on detecting changes.Methods Twenty (10F, 10M) healthy, recreational club runners performed a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session consisting of six repetitions of 800 m. A 6-min medium intensity run was performed pre, post, and 24-h post HIIT to assess hip and knee kinematics and coordination variability. Voluntary activation and twitch force of the quadriceps, along with maximum isometric force were examined pre, post, and 24-h post significance HIIT. The time course of changes were examined using two different statistical approaches: traditional null hypothesis significance tests and “real” changes using minimum detectable change.ResultsImmediately following the run, there were significant (P < 0.05) increases in the hip frontal kinematics and coordination variability. The runners also experienced a loss of muscular strength and neuromuscular function immediately post HIIT (P < 0.05). Individual assessment, however, showed that not all runners experienced fatigue effects immediately post HIIT. Null hypothesis significance testing revealed a lack of recovery in hip frontal kinematics, coordination variability, muscle strength, and neuromuscular function at 24-h post, however, the use of minimum detectable change suggested that most runners had recovered.Conclusion High intensity interval training resulted in altered running kinematics along with central and peripheral decrements in neuromuscular function. Most runners had recovered within 24-h, although a minority still exhibited signs of fatigue. The runners that were not able to recover prior to their run at 24-h were identified to be at an increased risk of running-related injury.
... Among the subjects who suffer from injuries, 25.6% have reported foot and ankle injuries (Benca et al., 2020). This segment gets injured mainly due to high volume training, which in high-level runners it can reach 186 km per week (Enoksen et al., 2011). In a 42.195 km marathon for example, an athlete can perform 27,000-foot contacts, taking as a reference a frequency of 178.5 steps per minute (Amano et al., 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
The foot corresponds to the body segment that allows the exchange of forces between the support surface and the athlete's body; its morphology and function influence the quality of movement and body alignment. Moreover, the foot morphology can be modified according to the different adaptations that different sports cause, such as running, sport combat and team sports. This work aimed to define the knowledge that a sample of athletes has about their Medial Longitudinal Foot Arch (MLA). A sample of 119 athletes, separated into three groups (runners, combat athletes, and team players), were given a self-perception questionnaire of their MLA. Their responses were contrasted with the Arch Index (AI), which is a reliable objective measurement of the MLA. Just 18.5% of the sample were able to identify their MLA, as 67.2% stated they did not know, and 14.3% erred in their self-diagnosis. Combat athletes had the highest percentage who correctly identified their MLA (25%). Association was found between the knowledge demonstrated by athletes and the sport they practiced (X 2 = 9.926, df = 4, p = 0.04). The ignorance about MLA by the athletes studied is presented as a problem of which consequences are unknown; this opens future research focused on the study of injuries caused by misalignment of the foot and the need to prescribe sports shoes as orthoses.
... The dynamics of manipulating training loads is variable, alternating between the volume and intensity of workloads in each phase of the training process (Black et al., 2017;Enoksen et al., 2011). ...
Article
Full-text available
Periodization is a methodological system that distributes training contents. With the evolution of sports, several periodization models were developed based on Matveev’s classic periodization, Verkhoshansky’s Blocks periodization model, Vorobiev’s Modular, Arosiev and Kalinin`s Pendular, Tschiene`s High Load, Valdivielso’s ATR, Platonov’s Multicyclical, and Bompa’s Priority, among others. The vast majority of models - and even their variations - have made it difficult to classify and select which periodization to use. To that end, the aim of the present study was to create criteria to identify sports training periodization models and, with the use of analysis and discussion of their characteristics, propose a classification and indicate the applicability of the most widely cited models in the literature. In the methodology of this study, a group technique known as direct discussion was used. The group consisted of 20 Master’s students, all researchers of the models proposed and sports training students at the Science of Human Motricity Course of Castelo Branco University, in addition to four discussion mediators. Despite a number of conceptual differences, the results show that most of the contemporary periodization training models derive from Matveev’s model, in an attempt to meet the demands currently imposed by sports. We analyzed the models investigated and concluded that despite their diversity, some characteristics are common and help distinguish each of them in terms of structure, load variation, number of peaks, sports level and applicability. Resumen. La periodización es un sistema metodológico que distribuye los contenidos formativos. Con la evolución de los deportes, se desarrollaron varios modelos de periodización basados en la periodización clásica de Matveev, el modelo de periodización de Bloques de Verkhoshansky, Modular de Vorobiev, Pendular de Arosiev y Kalinin, Carga de alto de Tschiene, ATR de Valdivielso, Multicíclico de Platonov y Prioridad de Bompa, entre otros. La gran mayoría de modelos, e incluso sus variaciones, han dificultado la clasificación y selección de qué periodización utilizar. Para ello, el objetivo del presente estudio fue generar criterios para identificar modelos de periodización del entrenamiento deportivo y, con el uso del análisis y discusión de sus características, proponer una clasificación e indicar la aplicabilidad de los modelos más citados en la literatura. En la metodología de este estudio se utilizó una técnica grupal conocida como discusión directa. El grupo estuvo integrado por 20 estudiantes de maestría, todos investigadores de los modelos propuestos y estudiantes de formación deportiva del Curso de Ciencia de la Motricidad Humana de la Universidad Castelo Branco, además de cuatro mediadores de discusión. Los resultados muestran que la mayoría de los modelos de entrenamiento de periodización contemporáneos derivan del modelo de Matveev, en un intento de satisfacer las demandas impuestas actualmente por los deportes. Analizamos los modelos investigados y concluimos que a pesar de su diversidad, algunas características son comunes y ayudan a distinguir cada uno de ellos en cuanto a estructura, variación de carga, número de picos, nivel deportivo y aplicabilidad.
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The short- and long-term impacts of air pollution on human health are well documented and include cardiovascular, neurological, immune system and developmental damage. Additionally, the irritant qualities of air pollutants can cause respiratory and cardiovascular distress. This can be heightened during exercise and especially so for those with respiratory conditions such as asthma. Meteorological conditions have also been shown to adversely impact athletic performance; but research has mostly examined the impact of pollution and meteorology on marathon times or running under laboratory settings. This study focuses on the half marathon distance (13.1 miles/21.1 km) and utilises the Great North Run held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, between 2006 and 2019. Local meteorological (temperature, relative humidity, heat index and wind speed) and air quality (ozone, nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5) data is used in conjunction with finishing times of the quickest and slowest amateur participants, along with the elite field, to determine the extent to which each group is influenced in real-world conditions. Results show that increased temperatures, heat index and ozone concentrations are significantly detrimental to amateur half marathon performances. The elite field meanwhile is influenced by higher ozone concentrations. It is thought that the increased exposure time to the environmental conditions contributes to this greater decrease in performance for the slowest participants. For elite athletes that are performing closer to their maximal capacity (VO2 max), the higher ozone concentrations likely results in respiratory irritation and decreased performance. Nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5 pollution showed no significant relationship with finishing times. These results provide additional insight into the environmental effects on exercise, which is particularly important under the increasing effects climate change and regional air pollution. This study can be used to inform event organisation and start times for both mass participation and major elite events with the aim to reduce heat- and pollution-related incidents.
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Purpose: This review aimed to determine (1) performance and training characteristics such as training intensity distribution (TID), volume, periodization, and methods in highly trained/elite distance runners and (2) differences in training volume and TID between event distances in highly trained/elite distance runners. Methods: A systematic review of the literature was carried out using the PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, and Web of Science databases. Results: Ten articles met the inclusion criteria. Highly trained/elite distance runners typically follow a pyramidal TID approach, characterized by a decreasing training volume from zone 1 (at or below speed at first ventilatory/lactate threshold [LT]) to zone 2 (between speeds associated with either both ventilatory thresholds or 2 and 4 mmol·L-1 LTs [vLT1 and vLT2, respectively]) and zone 3 (speed above vVT2/vLT2). Continuous-tempo runs or interval training sessions at vLT2 in zone 2 (ie, medium and long aerobic intervals) and those in zone 3 (ie, anaerobic or short-interval training) were both used at least once per week each in elite runners, and they were used to increase the number of either vLT2 or z3 sessions to adopt either a pyramidal or a polarized approach, respectively. More pyramidal- and polarized-oriented approaches were used by marathoners and 1500-m runners, respectively. Conclusions: Highly trained and elite middle- and long-distance runners are encouraged to adopt a traditional periodization pattern with a hard day-easy day basis, consisting in a shift from a pyramidal TID used during the preparatory and precompetitive periods toward a polarized TID during the competitive period.
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For almost 80 years, physiological studies have attempted to explain the basis for endurance performance and to develop ways of improving performance by training. Performance, for a runner can be represented by his/her personal power (velocity) versus time to exhaustion (time limit) relationship. There are some particular velocities that delineate intensity domains which are determined by oxygen uptake (VO 2 ) and blood lactate response vs. time. Which can distinguish : 1°) the maximal lactate steady-state (MLSS) where the rate of appearance of blood lactate equals the rate of disappearance and at which VO 2 stabilizes after 3 minutes at about 85 % VO 2 max. This corresponds to the highest velocity that an athlete can sustain for an hour (85 % vVO 2 max for a well-endurance trained subjects), carbohydrate (and lactate even) are the main substrates for this exercise, 2°) The critical power which is the slope of the relationship between distance and time run at VO 2 max, 3°) the minimal velocity associated with VO 2 max determined in an incremental tests (vVO 2 max or maximal aerobic velocity). In the light of this physiological approach it should be possible in the next 5 years to diversify training and to explore endurance training effects and fitness.
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Endurance training involves manipulation of intensity, duration, and frequency of training sessions. The relative impact of short, high-intensity training versus longer, slower distance training has been studied and debated for decades among athletes, coaches, and scientists. Currently, the popularity pendulum has swung towards high-intensity interval training. Many fitness experts, as well as some scientists, now argue that brief, high-intensity interval work is the only form of training necessary for performance optimization. Research on the impact of interval and continuous training with untrained to moderately trained subjects does not support the current interval craze, but the evidence does suggest that short intense training bouts and longer continuous exercise sessions should both be a part of effective endurance training. Elite endurance athletes perform 80 % or more of their training at intensities clearly below their lactate threshold and use high-intensity training surprisingly sparingly. Studies involving intensification of training in already well-trained athletes have shown equivocal results at best. The available evidence suggests that combining large volumes of low-intensity training with careful use of high-intensity interval training throughout the annual training cycle is the best-practice model for development of endurance performance. KEYWORDS: lactate threshold, maximal oxygen uptake, VO2max, periodization.
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