there – when the different events (middle and long distances for me) got together. As my former coach, Per Halle, was one of the quite good Norwegian runners in the 70s (running 13.27, and 7th at the 72 Olympics) I do know the training regime back then pretty well. In fact, the year before I ran 13.22 (dropping my personal best with huge margines very short time) a fair bit of inspiration and guidance came from Per himself plus his whole training diary from his career that I got into my hands at that time.
I do believe those runners back then did a great deal of good training. Proper mileage, proper intensity on most training and the right kind of attitude. So I enjoy listening to them. This weekend, one of them who has run 13.20 himself back in the 70s was at at the team gathering as a coach for one of the female athletes. He had some very good ideas and I like the stories from back then. Until I was once again reminded of the ignorance when it comes to running faster than the 13.20s……
Many runners in Norway (not to say the world, even without Africa) has run in the 13.20s in the 5000 meters. For myself also, I did so at the age of 21 on only a few months of correct long distance running. But if you look at between 13.10 and 13.20 you have very few in Norway (actually only myself and Are Nakkim at 13.19) and if you look at 13.00-13.10 there are not many on the list total outside of the African countries. The reason ? Because those seconds down from 13.20 – second by second is difficult to the extreme compared to those down to 13.20. Even dropping my Pr from 13.11 to 13.09 took a great deal of work, effort and clever training.
Then this runner from the great old school comes to his conclusion during parts of the discussion ; “If I only had the time to train, and recover like you have I am pretty sure I could have run 13.00….” That, only a few minutes after a speach on how he trained over 200 km weekly, even three times a day ! 🙂
Well, if I had only moved to Kenya at age 15 I am pretty sure I would have been a 12.40 runner as well..
Point is – it takes effort to run 13.20 but for a non-African to run faster, it is not enough to just have more time to rest and there you go. From 13.20 and downwards you have to challenge the whole system in a much greater way than what is normally possible by “just listening to your body and running 200 k weeks”. So many have tried that and so many have failed. Even though some probably had some of the physical talent to approach those times.
But those seconds down are rewarding. Because it shows you how close you are to your maximum performance. Where details and general ideas of training must be mixed together to brings optimal results.
Hopefully next year will bring some of those 🙂