There's a quiet renaissance happening in American distance running. At the IAAF World Cross Country Championships this year, the Americans beat the vaunted Kenyans, a team we haven't bested since 1984. In 2012, Galen Rupp became the first American since 1964 to win a medal at 10,000 meters, and at the outdoor track and field world championships, Americans won medals in the men's and women's 800-meter and 1,500-meter races for the first time . . . ever.
What made the difference? Data-based training and nutrition practices from the top U.S. coaches and researchers. Lately these methods have spread from the front of the pack toward the back. "I use the same concepts with the fast runners as I do with the not-so-fast runners," says Greg McMillan, a Flagstaff-based coach who trains athletes of all levels, both pros and beginners. Here are 11 principles you need to know for more efficient training and faster times.
Stop training for distance.
If you're like most runners, you train very differently for half marathons than you do for 5Ks, using longer distances for long races and track work for the short stuff. Today's elite runners don't train that way anymore. "We train all our athletes to have well-rounded fitness," says Brad Hudson, a Boulder-based coach and co-author of 'Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon.' Hudson has all of them, milers and marathoners alike, do a similar mix of long runs for endurance, lactate-threshold runs (at 10K pace for most runners) for strength, and intervals for speed. With this combination as a base for your running fitness, you won't be limited by lack of speed in a longer race or fatigue in a shorter one.
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