Friday, June 29, 2012

Elite Marathoning with Renato Canova: The Training of Moses Mosop and Abel Kirui

Abel Kirui (left) and Moses Mosop (right)
Renato Canova is a widely-renown coach of some of the most elite middle and long-distance athletes in the world.  His runners routinely medal at World Championship and Olympic races and place highly at major marathons.  I've done a good bit of writing on this blog about his training methods, and those posts are some of the most popular of all of my articles.  Unlike many other elite coaches, Renato Canova has no reservations about sharing his training philosophy and the workouts of his athletes.  2011 was a banner year for Canova, as several of his runners won medals at the 2011 world championships, including Abel Kirui, a young runner who won his second marathon World Championship.  Additionally, Moses Mosop, a long-time Canova runner with sub-27 10k credentials, made his debut marathon in an earthshaking 2:03:06 for second place at the Boston Marathon, then later smashed the 25k and 30k world records at the Prefontaine Classic meet in Eugene, Oregon.  To cap off his amazing season, Mosop won the Chicago Marathon with a course record as well.  Soon after this incredible spring and summer, Renato Canova posted the training of Moses Mosop before the Boston Marathon and Abel Kirui before the World Championships marathon on  I've had the training schedules sitting around for some time, but I've just now gotten around to copying them to a calendar and translating them into relevant paces.

If you would like to read my other work on Canova, a good place to start is my article titled "Something New in Training:"

And last fall I completed a similar analysis of the training of Canova's track athletes (1500-10,000m) in the last month before the World Championships:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Basic Training Principles now available in print at locally-owned running stores in Minnesota

 Good news! High-quality printed copies of Basic Training Principles for Middle and Long-Distance Running are now available for FREE at the following locally-owned running stores in Minnesota:
 Better hurry—only a limited number are available.  If they're out by the time you get there, ask the store to order some more! And remember, you can always download or print your own copy from Google Docs here:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Basic Training Principles for Middle and Long-Distance Running (booklet)

"Rome, 1960.  World record holder Roger Moens headlined an impressive field in the men’s 800m final at the Olympic Games.  At the gun, Moens led with a fast pace, and by 600m, the lead pack had thinned to five runners.  It looked to be a sure victory for the Belgian.  But then, something curious happened..."

So begins Basic Training Principles for Middle and Long-Distance Running, my first official booklet release.  I've been working on it for a very long time, and I am very excited to finally release it to the public.  Today marks the official "digital" launch of Basic Training Principles, and it should be available (for free!) at a number of Twin Cities running stores in print within a few weeks.  I'll make another post about that once the print version has launched.   Until then, you'll have to content yourself with downloading the .pdf version, or just printing it yourself! This booklet is free to copy and distribute, so PLEASE share it with your friends, family, teammates, coaches, and so on.

Basic Training Principles gives you an introduction into the structure of a proper training program through the eyes of Arthur Lydiard's legendary training methods, as first outlined in "Run to the Top" in 1962.  This booklet is short, gripping, informative, and (unlike some of the ramblings on this blog) written at a level which even complete novices can understand.  It is designed to be "an introductory lesson in fundamental training methods for young middle and long-distance runners," as the preface says.

This booklet was written to get young, promising high school runners eager to embark on a training journey and to set them on the right track for long term development.  But I think any runner, young or old, newbie or veteran, can gain something from Basic Training Principles.  And, since it's FREE, why not take a peek?  

The 16-page booklet is currently hosted as a PDF on Google Docs.  The image and text quality is rather poor in the Docs window, so I recommend clicking File > Download on the Google Docs menu to view it in its native PDF form.  As mentioned above, this booklet can be freely distributed, both digitally and in print.  Some of the photos I have used are copyrighted (used with permission of course), so you can't alter or reuse pictures from this booklet for any other project.  

Speaking of photos, I'd like to personally thank a few people who kindly allowed me to use their photos in this booklet.  Dan Mulhare from provided an excellent photo of a huge group of Kenyan runners out for their morning training session in Iten.  Dennis Barker, the coach at Team USA-Minnesota, provided a great shot taken by Paul Sanft of Josh Moen, Andrew Carlson, Jason Lehmkuhle, and Matt Gabrielson out for a long run in the winter.  And JJ Vico, a Spanish athletics photographer (, kindly allowed me to make a few alterations to one of his photos for use on the "wraparound" cover of the booklet (and with whom I correspond entirely en EspaƱol!).  ¡Muchas Gracias JJ Vico!

If any readers would like to print a large volume (say, 300 copies for the running store you own) and don't have an easy way to do that locally, contact me and I can arrange to print and mail it to you, charging you only for the printing and postage fees.  

Anyways, I hope you all enjoy Basic Training Principles for Middle and Long-Distance Running.  For those of you in Minnesota, keep your eyes peeled for the print release, hopefully coming to a running store near you.  And, looking ahead, I'll be coming out with a much more detailed booklet, titled Modern Training and Physiology, tentatively in a month or two.  A third booklet on injuries and setbacks is also in the works!  If you've got questions, comments, or feedback, click the "contact me" tab at the top of the page.  I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Brief thoughts: On leg stiffness and impact

In the course of writing my previous article on tibial stress fractures, I did a lot of thinking and reading about the role of impact and leg stiffness in the genesis of injury.  There’s a lot of back-and-forth on the subject, with few clear answers from the wealth of research that’s been done.  Before we get too in-depth on the details, let’s go over the basics: 

If we have an athlete step on a force plate while running, we’ll see a very characteristic curve (assuming he’s a heel-striker).  There is a sharp initial spike in force, which drops off a bit and is followed closely by a larger more gradual curve.  This initial spike is the “impact peak,” and it corresponds to the forces generated when your heel strikes the ground.  The second peak is the “active peak,” and it corresponds to the forces that your muscles generate to push off the ground and propel yourself forward.  When we talk about the “impact force,” we are talking about the height of that initial peak.  When we are talking about the “impact loading rate,” we are talking about the slope of the peak, which tells us how rapidly the force increases. 

From Nigg (1)

During the impact peak, your leg is essentially “locked”—that is, your muscles are tensed up and static, and your leg behaves like a passive system of springs and hinges.  Immediately prior to impact, your muscles tense, anticipating the impact with the ground.  You can feel this if you put your hand on your quads the next time you’re out running.