Chris Wardlaw – dual Olympian and coach of Steve Moneghetti, Kerryn McCann, Craig Mottram and numerous other top distance runners shares his views on training.

Article originally written for ‘Australian Runner’ magazine by Chris Wardlaw. Reproduced with permission.

Training for distance is definitely not rocket science, though for middle distance it gets a little more problematic! I reckon there are a few principles that should act as a checklist for any training program from 800m through to a Marathon. Obviously there needs to be variations on the theme depending on the distance to be raced, the time of year, key competitions and lifestyle considerations.

Getty image from the 1978 TM race – Chris Wardlaw leading at the turn from Bill Rodgers and Toshihiko Seko.

Principle 1 – Run long at least once a week

This can be an hour for some, 2½ hours for others depending on the athlete, event and stage of development. Why? Long running develops aerobic endurance, musculo skeletal strength and rhythm / cadence which is so essential for the optimal stride length for the athlete at the required speed.

Principle 2 – Run long again during the week

See Principle 1. This run would be 20 – 30% shorter than the long run.

Principle 3 – Think in one to two year programs

So many athletes think in day to day planning or weekly. So often I hear athletes say they have put together 3 weeks. Real development comes from long strings of continuity in training.

Principle 4 – You need to be ‘fit’ in order to ‘train’

Many, many athletes in middle distance do not get fit enough through steady continuous running to do ‘sessions’. All training is ‘sessions’. The training elements in Principles 1 and 2 are the main sessions in a week!

Principle 5 – Use the environment

Don’t hesitate to run over hills, rough ground, grass, footpaths and tracks. All the varied surfaces strengthens the musculo skeletal aspects of the athlete. Fartlek can be as beneficial as being on the track. Training on less than perfect surfaces makes putting on spikes at the track for a race a so much better ‘feel’.

Steve Moneghett and Benita Willis training in Falls Creek Australia. Photo by Tim McGrath

Principle 6 – Avoid Injury

If you follow the first 5 principles you will lower the risk of injury. Injury breaks continuity …fitness is harder to build…training is then dangerous. Training through an injury is madness. Days off early when an injury is present can save months later. If something does not warm up then…stop.

Principle 7 – Travel light

Gravity does not ever give up. One or two kilograms can make an incredible difference to an athlete’s performance.

Principle 8 – Look after yourself

The greatest enemy to fitness is lack of regular sleep. Eat well. Rest is training! Female athletes must be rigorous in managing their iron etc.

Principle 9 – The hard-easy principle is found in every good program

Belt yourself each day in training and you will not get to the level you should. Recovery training is as much a part of training as a set of 400s the day before. 400s for fitness, 200s for form is a variant on this principle.

Principle 10 – Plan the way ahead

Often athletes start with tomorrow’s training or next week’s race rather than looking to the goal ahead and working backwards. Rick Cooke will explain goal displacement in a future issue!! If you start at the goal next week’s race may not be the best thing to do.

Principle 11 – Beware the Super Session

I prefer to lower the risk and maximise the chances of getting to the line fit and ready by preaching moderate training (the ü factor) week upon week rather than creating a great diary entry but not getting to the line when you need to.

Principle 12 – Enjoy your running

Be demanding on yourself but don’t make it life or death. The sun will come up tomorrow …..I think!!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here