Lets Bring Ireland 1500m Back To The World Stage (pt 2)

If you haven't read part one, I suggest you do so before reading on (see here).

We have top 1500m runners in Ireland at the moment. For instance, in the last few years we have had Ciaran O Lionaird running a 3.53 mile or 3.34 for 1500m, Paul Robinson running 3.35 for 1500m, David McCarthy 3.55 indoor mile, Eoin Everard - 3.39, and John Travers 3.37 for 1500m or 3.55 for the Mile.

While watching the European Indoors, it wasn't such a big surprise that an 800m specialist took the gold medal in the 1500m. However, the comparison of Marcin Lewandowski and John Travers is interesting. Lewandowski has an outdoor PB of 3.37.69 while John Travers has an outdoor PB of 3.37.27. Furthermore, John is 2 seconds faster then Marcin over a mile. However, their 800m PB is where there is a huge differential. Marcin has a PB over 800m 1.43.72, where as Johns PB is 1.50.90.

Kalle Berglund who finished 2nd in the same race has an 800m PB of 1.46.85 and a 1500m PB of 3.41.00.

Looking at this comparison of 1st, 2nd and last place in the Euro 1500m Champs, it shows how John is actually faster then the two of them in that distance but his 800m is is 7 seconds slower then Lewandowski and 4 seconds slower then Berglund.

The splits in the race went as follows.

300m 47.49

700m 1:52.11

1100m 2:51.33

It was essentially an 800m race. Nearly every 1500m Championship race is an 800m race. The Rio Olympics was won slower then most schools races.

This is where I feel Coaches are going about 1500m training the wrong way. I bring it back to mileage over raw speed. But I also want to talk about why we are too used to doing time trials instead of races.

My first question is, do coaches in Ireland give sessions to increase raw speed/turnover? Almost like a sprinting session. I haven't seen it (that doesn't mean it doesn't happen!!!)

I see too many 400 repeats. Firstly, it's not a 400m rep. It's more like 380-390m and then float the last 10-20m. This is where races are won or lost. The last few meters.

Secondly, 400m doesn't build raw speed. It's almost speed endurance. We have to ask why do we do 400m reps. Usually 12-15reps at 5k pace with short recovery. Do we do them because thats what history has told us to do?

In the last article I showed you 2 weeks of Taoufik Makhloufis training.

Below is a 2 week training block in February by Silas Kiplagat (Renata Canova is his coach). For those who don't know who Silas is, he has a 1500m PB of 3.27.64 (5th fastest time ever) and came 2nd in the World 1500m in 2011.

As you can see, Silas's longest run is 80 minutes. In February, where a lot of athletes in Ireland seem to do base work, Silas is putting in some very impressive speed work. To run fast, you need to train fast. You cannot improve your speed by doing high amounts of miles. It will improve your aerobic capacity but not raw speed.

Like I was saying earlier about championship racing it is about a fast finish rather then a hard effort from gun to tape. It makes sense to build raw speed rather then aerobic work. It is easier to build an aerobic capacity rather then trying to improve your raw speed.

Alberto Salazar once told me that if you can run 100m in 12.5 seconds, it will be easier to run 200m in 27 seconds. Therefore, it'll be easier to run 400m in 56 seconds and then it'll be easier to run 800m in 1.55. In fact, Galen Rupps PB over 80m is 8.9sec and 11.1sec over 100m. Alberto builds from speed up rather then trying to run longer distances and somehow get faster over 100m. Take away the controversy around Alberto at the moment, this ideology makes sense. I'd love to know how many 800/1500m athletes in Ireland run flat out 100m reps. On the international circuit I have always seen athletes that compete in those distances 100m sprints.

A great example/reason as to why you need to build raw speed is from the Rio 1500m Olympic final. It was won in 3.50.00 by Matt Centrowitz. The first lap was 66.83 and then an even slower second lap of 69.76. His last lap was 50.62. That averages out to be 12.62 seconds per 100m. Leading to my point about having raw speed. As I said before, Taoufik would run 10x100m starting at high 12s and dropping to low 12s or under. Im sure you can all remember when he won the 1500m in London Olympics. His last 300m was astonishing. His turn of pace down the back straight left everyone for dead. The final was won in 3.34.08 which was 4 seconds slower then his PB at the time. Taoufik didn't finish the last 100m the quickest however. Leo Manzano came from nearly last position to finishing 2nd. Again, my point of having raw speed.

This leads me onto the differences between Racing a race and Time Trialing a race. We seem to hunt for PBs and qualifying standards from May to the cut off point of a qualifying standard. It comes easy to go from gun to tape at X time and not have to think about tactics of racing. This doesn't stand to any advantage at a championship race. A championship race is always slower then nearly everyones PB. The general public then ask why can't we win championships if the athlete can run faster then what the race was won in? There are two reasons for this,

1 - We run too many races as time trials

which leads to

2 - We don't train our raw speed enough (or maybe at all) to finish a championship race with a 50s last lap.

To extend my point, Mo Farah is not the quickest over 5000m or 10,000m. In fact his PB over 5000m (12.53) is 16 seconds slower then the WR (12.37), and for his 10,000m PB (26.46) is 29 seconds slower then the WR (26.17). But he can finish the last lap of a 5000m championship race in under 52 seconds. Which is why he hasn't been beaten in a championship since 2011.

Take away points from this article if you are a 800m-1500m athlete/coach would be to introduce raw speed sessions consisting of 80-100m repeats with full recovery. Concentrate on quality over quantity. You are training/coaching for under 4 minutes of racing not an hour of a race.

You can also introduce these type of sessions into 5k and 10k runners for the same reason. You want to run faster for longer not slower for longer. You will be able to build from speed up.

Start to race more. Meaning, racing not always

hunting for a PB or a qualifying standard!

This is in no way trying to slander any coach in Ireland. The reason why I chose John is that it is topical when I started this article as John just ran in the European Indoors.


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