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Systems of Training for the Distance Races 800M-1500M-Steeplechase-3000M-10,000 by Coach Skip Stolley

Posted: Sat Apr 27, 2024 10:53 pm
by George Payan
by Skip Stolley Coach, Track West International Athletics Team


There are many methods of training for the distance races, each varying in purpose, format, intensity, and duration. The demands of each specific race...from 800M to 10,000M...and the individual runner's strengths and weaknesses must be considered in the design of an effective training program. The coach and athlete should set seasonal and long-range performance goals and determine the best training plan to achieve them. As a rule, early-season training emphasis should be on improving areas of weakness, and late-season training emphasis should be on exploiting an athlete's racing strengths. Regardless of the methods of training used, the key to an effective training program is detailed planning, the judicious use of rest and recovery, and a gradual increase in training intensity and duration.


Compared to other track & field events, the distance races do not require a high degree of motor skill. With little need to learn complex movement skills, distance runners often view intense, high-mileage training as the only road to success. But more often than not, that road also leads to injury, illness, a loss of motivation ("burn-out"), a premature end to many promising distance running careers.

Another trend in distance running is to adopt the training regimen of the reigning Olympic champion or current world recordholder. It is not unusual to see runners suddenly abandon a successful training program to blindly follow a different system used by a prominent athlete or coach. While this practice often results in athletes regressing, or making little or no improvement, it has also been a way in which several innovative and effective training methods have been introduced to our sport over the years. In the 1940s "fartlek" training was introduced to track & field by several outstanding Swedish athletes who were using this "speed play" approach to their training. In the 1950s Repetition" and "interval" training were adopted from the training programs of several British and Australian champions. In the 1970s, high mileage "long slow distance" (LSD) became the rage of the running boom era. Training intensity became secondary to the sheer volume of running performed, accompanied by a boom in running shoe technology which provided footwear designed to enable serious and recreational runners to log more and more miles in training at "lactate threshold" has become increasingly popular as an effective training method which also reduces the risk off high mileage injuries and burnout.

Now that training year-round has become common practice even at the high school level, as we enter the 1990s more coaches and athletes are beginning to "periodize" their training, I.e. allocate different portions of the year to different forms of training. This enables training to become more diverse and to utilize several different training methods in a year-long training plan.

To continue with Training methods, Tempo-pace (Threshold) training, Repetition Training, Interval (High-Lactate) Training, Speed Play ((Fartlek") Training and Surging Training, by Coach Skip Stolley.