4 Training Secrets of Elite Runners

Haile Gebrselassie. Abebe Bikila. Henry Rono. These athlete legends have carved their places in the history of running, leaving many in awestruck wonder. How did they do it?

This article will divulge training routines and methods adopted by many elite runners around the world. Get ready for some considerable gains in your running performance.

Heavy Lifting Routines

I can hear the objections coming. What?  But I ain't training to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger! You will be surprised. Even if you are training to become the next Usain Bolt, heavy lifting is a way forward.

The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports explained why. It concluded in a 2010 research article that an especially high volume of high-resistance strength protocols considerably improved short and long-term endurance.

The science is simple. Heavy weights combined with little repetitions increased the number of type IIA muscle fibres. These fibres are less prone to fatigue and yet, highly capable of producing great contractile power.  The result? You run faster and longer.

The 80/20 Rule

If you are expecting lung-bursting workouts day in and day out, you are in for some major overhaul. After all, we have always thought that to run fast on marathon day; we've got to train to be fast right? Wrong.

The 80/20 rule, discovered by exercise physiologist Stephen Seiler, spoke just the opposite. In fact, 80% of your workouts should be done at a slow speed, coupled with 20% at a medium to fast pace. At this golden ratio, you will enjoy all the speed enhancement benefits of high intensity running and yet, avoid injuries that come from overextending yourself. What's more, and perhaps most importantly, you avoid burnout. The latter could be lethal if your marathon is just around the corner.

In the words of Matt Fitzgerald, author of 80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster By Training Slower, Low-intensity, high-volume training develops the sort of suffering tolerance that enhances fatigue resistance more effectively than does speed-based training. The slow-burn suffering that runners experience in longer, less intense workouts is more specific to (marathon) racing.

So the next time you schedule a week's worth of fast pace training, remember to turn that on its head and stick to the 80/20 rule.

The next time you schedule a weeks worth of fast pace training, remember to turn that on its head and stick to the 80/20 rule. 

Plyometric Training

Ethiopian athletes some of the most successful runners to dominate middle and long distance running.  One of their secrets? Plyometric training. By immersing yourself in workouts that involve skipping and bounding, it teaches your body to create more efficient running strides. That is, you push off from your feet with greater force each time you land from a running step. Accumulatively, stride over stride, you can effectively increase the distance covered over a shorter period of time.  

As shown from research, well-designed plyometric routines will improve strength, technique and ground contacts. This helps contribute to better overall running economy. So if you are craving for some serious performance enhancement, how about giving that skipping rope a shot?

Altitude Training

Altitude training is another coveted component of almost all elite running programmes. By training at higher altitudes, studies have shown that oxygen-carrying red blood cells are increased, which translates to improved running performance.

Don't worry about how long you should train, though. Even if you have just one week, the benefits of training in the highlands will last for many weeks after you return to sea level.  Now that you are familiar with training at higher altitudes, what about the opposite? That is, living in the highlands, but training at sea level?

In short, potentially even better. Recent findings in 2015 summarised by the National Strength and Conditioning Association have concluded that live high, train low could be the most effective type of altitude training you can do. Little wonder that many elite athletes have begun to adopt such a training program. After all, it could be the difference between a gold medal and not winning any medals at all. If you are dead serious about getting that boost in your running performance, altitude training may just be what you need.


Do you like what you read?

Tell us below or through our contact form. We love to hear from you.

Also, have you registered as a member on LIV3LY yet?

Don’t know what’re the benefits? Fret not. Find out here

LIV3LY Editor
LIV3LY Editor

Are you an experienced runner, or just love to write on topics related to running? Contact us. We love to hear how you can contribute!

facebook Share on Google+ twitter