‘The Best Ever’ – The Training of Hicham El Guerrouj

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The Best Ever? – with 2 Olympic golds, 4 world championship golds and multiple world records; it is hard to argue against El Guerrouj’s claim to the title of ‘The Best Ever’.

Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco (R) wins the men’s 1500m final, Olympic Games Athens 2004. AFP PHOTO/GABRIEL BOUYS

Runner’s Tribe took a look back over the training of the great Hicham El Guerrouj.

Free Sources:

DOB: 14th September 1974, Berkane, Morroco.

Personal Bests

  • 800m: 1:47.18
  • 1500m: 3:26.00
  • Mile:  3:43.13
  • 3000m: 7:23.09
  • 5000m:  12:50.24


  • Olympic 1500m Gold, Athens 2004.
  • Olympic 5000m Gold, Athens 2004
  • World Championship 1500m Gold, Athens 1997.
  • World Championship 1500m Gold, Seville 1999.
  • World Championship 1500m Gold, Edmonton 2001.
  • World Championship 1500m Gold, Paris 2003.
  • World Indoor Championship 1500m Gold, Barcelona 1995.
  • World Indoor Championship 1500m Gold, Paris 1997.
  • World Indoor Championship 1500m Gold, Lisbon 2001.

Altitude training. 

El Guerrouj’s coach did not view altitude training as the most vital element of training. It was all about quality training. However, El Guerrouj did train several times a year at Ifrane, at 1650m altitude.  El Guerrouj would spend approximately 3 weeks at altitude during each training stint.


El Guerrouj’s training was broken down into cycles.  Notably, El Guerrouj did not run huge volumes, but his training involved a lot of quality work, certainly more quality than quantity.  El Guerrouj kept his track work to a minimum except leading into races.

El Guerrouj’s training was broken down into cycles.

Cycle 1: Preparation

Training diary example

Day Morning Afternoon
1 Aerobic endurance Strength work
2 Aerobic endurance Physical preparation
3 Aerobic endurance Aerobic endurance
4 Rest Strength work
5 Power Aerobic endurance
6 Aerobic endurance Physical preparation
7 Aerobic endurance Strength work
8 Rest Aerobic endurance
9 Aerobic endurance Power
10 Aerobic endurance Aerobic endurance
11 Aerobic endurance Strength work
12 Rest Rest
13 Aerobic endurance Aerobic endurance
14 Aerobic endurance Power
15 Aerobic endurance Strength work
16 Rest Aerobic endurance
17 Aerobic endurance Aerobic endurance
18 Aerobic endurance Strength work
19 Aerobic endurance Aerobic endurance
20 Rest Rest
21 Aerobic endurance Strength work

Aerobic Endurance. 

Cycle 1 aerobic endurance sessions involved four types of work: 

  • 30-45 min of continuous running 
  • 50-60 min of continuous running
    The pace of these runs varied but were generally quite quick.  The goal was to run hard, depending on how he felt that day. The pace therefore, varied from 3:00-3:10/km pace to 2:50/km.
  • 4 x 2000m in 5:10 with 2 min recovery 
  • 6 x 1000m in 2:30 with 2 min recovery 



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