Question about Bowerman

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Trackrunner220

Question about Bowerman

Post by Trackrunner220 » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:56 pm

Tinman-

I saw on Letsrun you posted on the Bill Bowerman thread and said that he trained his athletes moderately. How did he have so many sub-4 guys if they were trained moderately. Also what is moderately compared to hard. Can you give some kind of an example when you have time?

Thank you

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Question about Bowerman

Post by Tinman » Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:22 pm

Mileage for sub-4 minute milers under Bill Bowerman was typically just 60-70 per week (the highest being 80 - Wade Bell). Interval workouts were very doable; leaving a runner far from exhausted. Many guys now who try to train for a sub-4 minute mile run much harder intervals, both pace and shorter recoveries.

Example interval workout for a 4-minute miler:

warm up + 3 sets of 440yd, 660yd, 440yd, 220 yard. The paces were (2 mile, 3 mile, 1 mile, half mile). That was very typical training under Bowerman's from January through March or even April (when his runners would peak in late May or early June for nationals). Bill B. often prescribed very modest Thursday workout such as 8 x 220 yards at 30-28 seconds (jog 220yd recovery). Only a couple of times from January to June did he give a ball-buster workout like 10 x 440 yards at current 1 mile pace, and even then the recoveries were much longer than what most people in our era do). He gave 45 minute fartleks quite often.

For Wade Bell, who Bowerman considered a high mileage runner at 80 per week in the fall (only)(note; Bell was number 1 ranked in the world in 1968 going into the Olympic Games with a 1:45 low in the 880 yards and a 3:59 mile), did some long workouts on Saturdays in the fall like this:

warm up + 6 x 330 yards at 54 to 48 seconds (not very hard for a a guy who could run 47 seconds in the 440 and 1:45 - in top shape - for the 880 yards) (110 jog recoveries), then jog back to the dorms and sleep for couple of hours. Get up, run 15 miles around Spencer's Butte + 6 x 330 yards at Hayward Field track again, running 45 seconds each (jog 110 yards between). That was considered hard training in the fall, but in truth hundreds of college guys can run harder workouts than that. (source: Walsh, p. 23)

The big confusion and misleading thing about Bowerman's Oregon system of training and subsequently Dellinger's too was the use of date-pace and goal-pace. Most people erroneously think that date-pace is today's 100% effort. Under Bowerman and later Dellinger's system it was NOT 100% effort. In truth, it was about 3-4 seconds per quarter mile SLOWER than all-out. You only were allowed to time trial the last 20% of whatever distance they chose at full effort. Then, the average pace for the time trial was figured out and used in training regularly. For example, a runner capable of 3:56 for the mile in June would time trial a mile in 4:20 in November. If the runner had gone all-out he might have hit 4:10 to 4:08. But, he ran about 65-66 pace for the first 3 and a quarter laps and then hauled butt the last 330 yards. The average pace turned out to be about 65 seconds. The same guy time trialed 1 mile in 4:36 in September, using the same sort of controlled 80% controlled, 20% fast structure for the distance.

Dellinger would prescribe workouts like 10 miles at 3/4th effort and recommend his guys, capable of 29 minutes in the 10k, at 5:20 per mile, which is about 76-80% of VO2 max for those guys. An equivalent for a 18:00 (5k runner) would be 6:40 per mile. (Winning Running by Bill Dellinger)

Even in the off-season goal pace training was used under both Bowerman and Dellinger, but far away from the goal race (in the fall, for example) the total amount run at race-pace was small (like 1 mile of total interval in 220s, 330s or 440s) and with plenty of recovery time.

Seriously, it was the consistency of doing workouts that were individualized and appropriate over weeks and months that produced stellar results. As Roscoe Divine (a 4:16 high school miler in Washington) said, "I was consistent. I never missed a morning run in four years at Oregon. I did exactly what Bowerman told me to do and if you did exactly what he told you to do, you'd do well and wouldn't have any problems." (source: The Bowerman System by Chris Walsh, p. 26). Note; Divine ran 3:56 for the mile as a senior (on cinders, which is about 1 seconds a lap slower than today's mondo tracks, in my opinion).

More quotes:

"Doing long mileage just made me too tired. When I first met Bowerman in November of 1978 I was running 70-80 miles a week. I had a hard time running 4 x 440 yards at 70 seconds. Bowerman started me with easy intervals in January. For example, 2 x 880 yards in 2:30, then maybe 4 x 440 yards in 70 seconds and I'd finish the workout with an easy 20 minute jog. That would it for the day."
Chris Horton - who improved to 3:41.9 in the 1500m 18 months later.

(The following continues in Walsh's book on page 31):

"Recalling his initial thoughts of taking just a 20-minute run on his easy days, Horton remembered thinking, "Who trains for the Trials on 20-minute runs?" But he began to feel so much better on his interval days that he came to appreciate the recovery these days afforded him.

"Chris had trained at 40-50 miles a week throughout 1979. In January and February of 1980, he decided to increase the distance to 65-70 mile weeks, but as he reflects, 'I became noticeably tired and sluggish during interval sessions as well as during the day. That was probably du to not being used to such an immediate increase in mileage. I then dropped back to my normal 40-50 miles a week and began to feel better.'

"By June of 1980, after 18 months under Bowrman's tutelage, Horton was running 4 x 440 yards in 55-57 and 2 x 880 in 1:56-1:58. The author spent those same months chasing Horton around the track - eventually lowering his own mle PR by 8 seconds."

The point of the above is not to convince you to run low mileage. The point is to train optimally - for you - and not strain. As Dellinger often said, "My job is to keep talented runners healthy." I think a better phrase would be "train them intelligently so that they don't get ill or injured." The evolution of their fitness happens over time, in my words, so do smart training, consistently. Avoid taking days off. Never train so hard on one day you are too tired, sore, injured, or ill to run the next day. (Tinman)

Malmo (George Malley) on http://www.letsrun.com says, "You should be doing punch-card workouts." That means, like a job, you show up every day and run workouts that you can manage well. He really focuses big-time on telling young runners to not bury themselves in workouts. Trying to keep up with faster runners isn't smart. I wish that more people could hear his message and believe in it. What was the big message of Bowerman and later Dellinger? It was use principles in training and don't bury yourself. They often used Lydiard's phrase, "Trian don't Strain!"

Here are some of the key principles that Bill Bowerman used:

1) Regularity (train often and keep doing it). As Pre said (on page 35 of Walsh's book), "To me, consistency is probably the biggest thing." "You have to keep an appetite for running and enjoy what you're doing." Bowerman said, to provide a method of keeping "Regularity," "Much of the success many of the teams that I've coached was based on the use of written plans and the keeping of precise recrds." (p. 35)

It is the intelligent design of training, specifically tailored to each runners attributes and performance level, that matters. If you make a long-term plan; you prevent burning out in the short-term. No single workout matters much in the big-picture! Running hundreds of moderate workouts will transform your body and racing capacity, over time. (Tinman)

2) Workload - make it appropriate for your capability; not someone else's.

3) Goal orientation. "I think you have to have some success, know your goals, and run to your ability." Bowerman. "At the University of Oregon, we hope to see improvement of 10-15% every year. The champion is going to be the guy who makes the very best preparation and has the talent to go with it." (Bowerman, p. p. 35).

4) Hard/Easy Training. The underlying message: you should not train hard often and push the pace every day. You must schedule and do easy paced - almost jogging - training between key harder workouts. In truth, most people should only run moderately hard workouts twice per week, in my opinion. For many runners, "hard" workouts or races should be done only once every 7 to 10 days. (Tinman)

5) Moderation. "I've coach a dozen sub-4 minutes milers and I've never seen any of them who didn't run into trouble training over 80 miles per week." (Bowerman, p. 36). "In principle, Coe applies a hard day's workout followed by an easy days' workout. If some middle distance people in the United States would try that, I think they'd be astounded at the results." (Bowerman c/o Walsh, p. 36)

6) Rest. Go to bed by 10 pm! If an athlete doesn't go to bed by 10 pm, the next day's training should be modified.

7) Diet. "There are no magic or wonder diets which will enhance athletic performance, says Bowerman." (Walsh, p. 37). Eat in moderation (just as you train). Ice cream is ok once in awhile, but not every night.

8) Enjoyment. Don't schedule 10 x 400 every Monday. (Walsh, p. 37). People need training variety to enhance enjoyment.

9) Mechanics. Don't lean forward as if you are bashing your head into a wall. Run tall and relaxed. Make sure the pelvis is tucked under a runner - not sagging back!

10) Pace. Learn to race with even pace. The best approach, he contends (like yours trule) is to "...run the first part of the race slightly slower and attempt a faster finish, in order to obtain the maximum oxygen debt at the end of the race." (Bowerman, p. 38, c/o Walsh).

Regards,

Tinman
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Trackrunner220

Question about Bowerman

Post by Trackrunner220 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 1:36 pm

That was a lot more then I expected. thank you! I read it 3x so far. I just have a few questions:

1) The quote used by Chris Horton said that he felt tired doing long runs. But he ran 70-80 miles. Was his morning runs 20 min of easy running or was his entire day just 20 min and he just did a lot of 12-13 milers on the other days to make up for the one very easy day a week? Or is the 20 min just everyday?

2) Did Bowerman ever talk about what his athletes did the day before races? Like i am sure he trained through the non-important races.

3) Did Bowerman make all runners train/race through XC season? Or did his track/ Mid-Distance guys do their own thing when the Distance guys were running XC?
B. If so what did they do throughout their Fall season just mileage? Did they do tempo or fartleks in the the fall or did they just keep their mileage high and easy?

4) Horton was running 40-50miles, did that really develop his aerobic capacity well, or was his workouts triggered for aerobic development?



A few questions Not-Directly-Related


1) If my legs feel tired from upping my mileage but Im running slow. Does that mean I shouldnt attempt to up my mileage or is it I am just not used to it because its been awhile since I have done double runs?

2) On my base training workout it says do like 10 miles followed by 3x300 workouts at the end. First 100, as a stride, second 200 was hard and last hundred was all out (I do like 49,48,46). Is that beneficial to try develop speed when on other days i do like accelerations/striders.

Thank you very much for your time to my original question because you typed a lot! It was all very appreciated and if you dont know any of the answers to my questions that is fine. Its all very appreciated


Thank you!

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Question about Bowerman

Post by Tinman » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:00 pm

Track -

I am a fairly bright guy, but I must admit I do much better when I have just one or maybe two questions in front of me. I must be ADD because I get so distracted by multiple questions that I can't concentrate well on each one.

That being said, I'll try to tackle your questions.

My guess is the Chris Horton, who ran at Brandeis University, as I recall, and was a solid D3 runner, ran his 70-80 miles per week TOO FAST. I am speculating, of course, but I know what the guys at Brandeis did - which was fairly hard distance work and long intervals every week. So, it may not have been the 70-80 per week that was making Chris tired but the way in which he ran it. That's true of everyone! I've coached guys who thought they could never run more than 40 miles per week because history had shown them fatigue, injuries, and illness would happen, but when I slowed their training paces for the non-important runs (the filler runs, as I call them), mileage increased to 60 or 70 per week in just about 3-4 months.

I have considered Chris Horton's statement about 20 minute runs and concluded that he probably ran 2 x 20 minutes runs on his easy days, which would have been a common training pattern that Bowreman prescribed. Everyone I know of who was coached by Bowerman ran 20-30 minute morning runs, day after day after day. Bowerman made Chris slow way down on the pace, which is what Bowerman insisted for ALL of his runners. A 20-minute jog would be about 2.5 miles for top runners, under Bowerman. Some of this information I have gathered from runners who ran for Bowerman, like my friend Knut Kvalheim. Other informaiton comes from old runners who educated on Bowerman's ways when I lived in Eugene, Oregon. As you can imagine, a guy like me asks a lot of questions and isn't afraid to ask anyone anything. Another friend of mine, Rich (Whitty) Bass, a fine coach, was a runner in Eugene, OR has helped me understand some of the Oregon Sytem ways too. He was Pre and Mary's marriage counselor and took Mary home from the party on the night Pre died in a car crash. Others like Malmo (Gerge Malley) and Roscoe Divine have educated me on the Bowerman and Dellinger methods.

If you only learn a couple things about Bowerman's methods, learn the following:

1) Alternate challenging workouts and very slow paced distance work.

2) Run twice a day (or even swim once a day as a second workout).

3) Never train hard, just train to at a level that make you pleasantly tired. Workouts don't have to be hard to be effective.

4) Use your own training paces, not someone else's.

5) Figure out the key things that work for you and ignore what everyone else is doing. Bowerman would have 3-4 milers who could hit 4 flat or beter at the same time (on slow cinder tracks) and none of them had the same training schedule.

6) Get to bed early! You can't recover and become stronger when you stay up late.

7) Learn to pace. Don't be a fool and run too fast in the early part of the race like most runners. Hold back, run steady and then kick like mad in the last 20% of the race. Pacing is vital to racing succes, but it takes maturity and resolve.

8) Variety! You can achieve the physiological objectives of training yet still create variety of workouts. Fartlek, hills, distance runs, intervals, and striders can be mixed up and blended in hundreds of way to make running exciting and interesting. It is the paces and the frequencies and amounts that matter more than the repetition or redundancy of workouts. Don't run 10 x 400m every Monday at a hard effort. That gets darn boring after about 3 in a row.

9) Balance your life. Don't be obsessed!

10) Keep your weight in check. He didn't promote eating disorders, nor do I, but if you want to run fast you better be lean. There isn't much getting around this fact. As long as you are healthy, dropping a couple of excess pounds is going to help. Again, don't skip meals and eat crappy low-nutrient food or starve yourself. That's just plain dumb. But, eat only what you need. Joe Vigil talks about that all the time. You have to not live high on the hog, as Vigil would put it (don't eat fancy food and don't eat to excess if you want to be a great runner).
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Question about Bowerman

Post by Tinman » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:15 pm

Bowerman trained all his runners, starting in September of each school-year (through early June). Athletes ran on their own in the summer - most run 5-10 miles per day, easy, and threw insome fartlek here and there.

The University of Oregon seldom ran cross-country races in the era that Bowerman coached. First, cross-country racing wasn't that big. Second, funding for travel was limited at the U of OR. Third, Bowerman wasn't keen on hard racing all fall when the real goal was to kick butt at the end of outdoor track season. The U of OR did not race indoor track, by the way. Thus, the buildup from September to June was very smooth, very steady, and never rushed. Over-racing was not an issue and a deterence from smart progression of workloads. A lesson can be learned from Bowerman's approach!

People often wonder how Bowerman could possibly have given his guys intervals, fartleks, and hills for 9 months in a row. Because Bill B.'s athletes did very little racing until March, his athletes were not trying to "recover" from all-out efforts. Thus, his athletes were able to run intervals regularly and feel totally fine. Also, Bill seldom gave "hard" workouts. He prescribed regular workouts of moderate difficulty. Between the key workouts were slow paced runs, often but not much in any one run.
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Question about Bowerman

Post by Tinman » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:21 pm

Middle distance guys ran between 60 and 80 miles per week in the fall, depending upon their age and their abilities to recover. All fall Bill's runners did fartlek, easy intervals, hill reps (330 yard hills x 9), long runs that were moderate in length (12-14 miles was common), and lots of striders. If you look at the workouts his milers did, you'd probably say, "I could do that" and you'd be right. Even as a guy who was only a 4:25-32 miler in college, I could have done the workouts 4 flat milers were doing at the University of Oregon under Bill Bowerman in the fall and part way through the winter. The only exception would be an occasion faster rep of 59 seconds in the 440 (but that really didn't happen much until spring).
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Question about Bowerman

Post by Tinman » Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:10 pm

Horton's mere 40-50 miles per week was probably alright but not ideal. My guess is he would have been fitter and faster on 60-75 miles per week eventually. But, he only ran 18 months under Bowreman's care. Remember, Bowerman took a lot of freshman onto his team who, like Horton, needed a steady, gradual build up of mileage. Bill used to say he planned for a 10-15 mile increase in mileage per academic year. Guys who ran 30 miles per week in high school probably ran 40-45 as freshman and reach 80 by time their were seniors. Some, as Bill would note, by time they were juniors found the ideal amount of training they needed. So, one guy might reach 3:58 or 4:02 in the mile on 65 miles per week and Bill would keep that runner at 65 miles the following year, citing no reason to mess up a good thing.

Knut Kvalheim reache about 70-80 miles per week in the off-season and 70 miles per week during the spring and early summer, running 3:39 for 1500m (about 3:57 mile). He did the same thing his senior year as his junior year. After Knut finished he eligibility at the U of OR, he stuck around for more schooling. He trained on his own most of the time and did a Sunday run with the team (including with Pre). Knut ran 18 mies while Pre and the others ran just 12 miles). Knut during the fall moved his mileage up to 120 per week, did a weekly 1 mile rep session (at about CV pace, by the way), a 50 minute tempo run, and striders. Knut continued that from the fall until March. At that point he added in some quicker training but retained his mileage, long intervals, 50-minute tempos, and striders. He just blended in some quicker stuff but not too much. By April, as I recall, he ran 3:39 (after only about 3-4 weeks of adding in quicker stuff, which really wasn't that much). BY May and June he was running faster than Pre. Knut ran 7:42.4 (3,000m) and 13:20.54 (5,000m). Two years later he ran 27:41.26 (10,000m); all faster than Pre ran. The funny thing is Pre would call Knut a marathoner and chastise Knut for running 18 mile long runs. It seems to me that Pre was the runner who never reached his potential. Had Pre done better and more training I think he'd have run 13 flat in the 5k and won the Olympic Gold in the 10,000m. Of course, he died just over a year before the 1976 Olympic Games and never got to prove it. Knut, however, was 9th in the 5,000m.

To learn more about Knut, check out the link below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knut_Kvalheim#cite_note-1

Note; it was Knut who contacted me after reading my posts on http://www.letsrun.com about training. He stated that what I was saying about training matched his personal experiences as a world-class athlete. He did tempos at the paces that matched my tempos. He did repeat 1 mile reps at my CV pace. He believed in mileage as a means of transforming a runner, given care to blending together the right amounts (doubles were important) and paces.
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Question about Bowerman

Post by Tinman » Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:20 pm

The common mistake runners make is wimping out. When fatigue sets in from increased mileage, don't back down and say, "It must not be for me." My good friend Charlie Mahler used to say runners need to dip into the valley of fatigue occassionally if they want to reach their potential. Top level runners learn to accept that leg fatigue is part of the process of getting fit. Another thing; just because your legs don't feel snappy doesn't mean your aren't getting fitter. I've set personal bests when my legs were tired. My very good friend Joe Hanson talks about setting his indoor PR for 3 miles (13:40) while doing high mileage in the winter. He wasn't fresh! Stop worrying about whether your legs are fresh or not, my friends, and just keep training steadily. I think 90% of the time you shouldn't feel fresh. Being mildly tired on a regular basis, as opposed to down-right exhausted and irritable, is ok. Just think of it this way, your mind will get used to leg fatigue. The tough part of your mind will ignore that part of your mind that complains and whines about fatigue. Then, you are ready to make some serious breakthroughs, for breakthroughs do not come when you are fresh.

When it is time to taper out the hard training in the last 1-2 weeks before a peak race, you'll notice how even a 20% reduction in training will make you feel like a million bucks after a few days. At that point, you are ready to rumble!

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Trackrunner220

Question about Bowerman

Post by Trackrunner220 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:34 pm

Do you know anything about Jumbo Elliots training? My grandfather ran under him in the late 50's. (Note* My Grandfather is in the Villanova Hall of Fame for being on a Record setting 4x4).

If you want I can try and find out from my grandfather what kind of training Jumbo did, so you can add it to your encyclopedia knowledge of running. I know Jumbo always talked about K.I.S.S (Keep it simple stupid) and he did a lot of 400 intervals from what I read. When I get a chance i will se eif my grandfather has any old training logs around. He was a 154 guy (Freshman year. i dont know his following year times in the 800) (nothing spectacular now but in the 1950's that was a pretty good time).
Last edited by Trackrunner220 on Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Question about Bowerman

Post by Tinman » Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:46 pm

Track -

Sure, I'd appreciate learning about Jumbo's training methods. I know some because of Marty Liquori's book, along with various here and there snapshots of training that people like Coghlan, etc.

His guys mostly did mileage and intervals throughout the fall, winter, and spring. Yes, 440s were common for Jumbo's milers, along with 80-100 mile training weeks.

http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Jumbo-Elliott

http://ustfccca.cstv.com/sports/misc/sp ... 08aad.html

A coach most of you probably never hear of:

http://www.runnersgazette.com/features/pyrah.htm *If you read this article, you'll realize that the vast majority of great middle distance runners (from 1966 to 1991) were not trained by Jumbo Elliott but, rather, by Jack Pyrah. It is Jack who should get the credit for mastering the coaching of middle distance stars at Villanova.
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Trackrunner220

Question about Bowerman

Post by Trackrunner220 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:59 pm

If you have time can you do a general overview of what Jumbo Elliotts training from what you know looked like? Ill see if i can give anymore when I get in contact with my grandfather

O and Happy New Year...and Thank you for all the honest and thought feedback!

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Question about Bowerman

Post by TexNav » Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:59 pm

More great stuff Tom.

Too bad Pre may have missed out from learning from another runner.

Q: Can you comment more about what you said on a previous post, about Dr. Saltin and his comments about the running paces of most Kenyan's being less intense than as promoted by the media ? (I remember you had posted before that many take a pace as easy as 8 min/mi , I found that quite intriguing as well.)


-TexNav

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Question about Bowerman

Post by Tinman » Wed Dec 31, 2008 10:31 pm

I am not sure where to fine the article, now, but I read that Dr. Saltin found the average "hard" workout was 90% of VO2 max - which is exactly what CV pace is. He further said the only 1 time per week did the elite Kenyans he tested go above 90% of VO2 max. Their easy runs hovered around 60% of VO2 max (which is my V.EZ pace - see my charts in the Tinman's Articles part of the home page). Some of their runs were progressive and started at 60% and reached 80% of VO2 max (which equals my tempo pace).
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Question about Bowerman

Post by Tinman » Wed Dec 31, 2008 10:42 pm

I found a quote by Dr. Stephen Seiler regarding research done by Dr. Bengt Saltin on Kenyan runners:

"The runners train twice a day, morning and afternoon. 90% of the morning runs are through mountains and villages for 8-15 km (5-10 miles) at a moderate intensity (70 to 79% of VO2 max.) The other 10% are at a lower intensity. Then in the afternoon, they run again. This time the distance is only 3.5 to 5 miles, but 80% of these runs are at close to 90% of VO2 max. The other 20% are at very low intensity. If they feel tired they don't run as hard. This doesn't sound very complicated. Out of twelve workouts in a week, only one is an interval session, at 96% of VO2 max. "

It was taken from the following website: http://www.doitsports.com/bboard/q-and- ... _id=0001dO

I read some of Keven Sullivan's comments, and he demonstrates misunderstanding of physiologic intensity. Apparently he thinks that Kenyans running between 5 and 6 minutes per mile are training hard. If that's his position, then it would be incorrect. A 27:01 (10K) runner, which would be about what those guys were who stayed at Kim McDonald's place, can run 5:35 per mile at 66.6% of VO2 max. It is technically still easy for them at that pace. Their blood lactate level at that pace is barefly above resting level. Yeah, it's true!

Note; most of the time that particular Kenyan group, which lived and trained in London, running lower mileage because it was the European racing season (in the summer). So, the Kenyans ran fewer miles per week, but a bit quicker than they would, on average back in Kenya in the off-season. Regardless, mid 5s per mile for those guys was easy.
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Question about Bowerman

Post by rocknrollrunner » Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:39 pm

Thanks Tinman for all the great info. I read Kenny Moore's Bowerman book last year and really enjoyed it. There's a really great Bowerman PBS documentary which you can watch online:

http://www.opb.org/programs/oregonexper ... player.php

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