Moderators: TV, Caroline Cooksley

Snell, Cruz and Coe

Joined: July 20th, 2005, 11:36 am

November 9th, 2008, 6:43 am #1

This article is still in progress...

"At 14 I really thought he was good. And at 16, I was certain that if I was patient and played it right that he'd be a world beater."

Peter Snell, Sebastian Coe and Joachim Cruz have a combined total of six 800 metre Olympic Medals. Many would rate then in the top 5 half milers ever.

It makes sense to study their training and try to find a common thread. What did all three do?

Most readers will have a theory on correct training for 800 metres. Most lock themselves into a particular train of thought and stay there. When studying the training of an elite athlete we look for elements of their training that validate the model we believe in and ignore other training as supplementary or disregard it completely.

So bearing that in mind. What did they do that made them better than the rest?

Let's see.
Last edited by Tony Wilson on December 4th, 2010, 1:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: July 20th, 2005, 11:36 am

November 10th, 2008, 1:16 pm #2

Bulk Reps

In Running with Lydiard, published in 1983, Lydiard suggests 4 weeks of weekly Monday: 15-20 x 400 and Thursday: 15-20 x 200

Lydiard's Run to the Top, published in 1962 (so in the middle of Snell's dominance) outlines training for 800 m runners. In a twelve week program
Wk 1 includes: 6 x 800,
Wk 2: 20 x 300 strides,
Wk 3: 10 x 800 m
Wk 4: 20 x 300 strides and 10 x 800,
Wk 5: 10 x 400, 8 x 800,
Wk 6: 10 x 400
And a weekly hard effort over 3000 or 5000 metres (sometimes both distances in the one week).
The bulk reps stopped there.
outlines training for 800 m runners. In a twelve week program
Wk 1 includes: 6 x 800
Wk 2: 20 x 300 strides
Wk 3: 10 x 800
Wk 4: 20 x 300 strides and 10 x 800
Wk 5: 10 x 400, 8 x 800
Wk 6: 10 x 400
The outline set for 1500 m runners includes
Wk 1 includes: 4 x 800
Wk 2: 20 x 400
Wk 3: 6 x 800, 6 x 800 m
Wk 4: 20 x 400
Wk 5: 6 x 400 and 3 x 300
Wk 6: 20 x 200
And a weekly hard effort over 3000 or 10000 metres (sometimes both distances in the one week).
The rest of the training for that period included sprints, hard efforts ver 800 to 1600 m, a weekly hard run over 3000 to 5000 m, and a weekly long run.
The next six weeks was sharper training - a weekly time trial over 600-800m, Lydiard Sharpeners, hard reps over 400m and race pace reps over 200m.

In both the "Basic Preparation Phase" and "Specific Preparation" Cruz ran "relaxed efforts, many repetitions - Runners World Magazine December 1984 p.93
During the Basic Preparation Phase goes to the track just once per week.
from here ... 752&page=0
5 sets of (5 x 400m in 66-68 av: 65 with 45 secs recovery and 4.00 mins between sets)
4 sets of (4 x 400m in 61-63 av:62 with 45 rec and 4.00 mins between sets)
3 sets of (4 x 400m in 58-60 av:58 with 60 secs rec)
3 sets of (3 x 400m in 56-58 av:57 with 60 rec)
2 sets of (2 x 400m in 51-53 av:51 with 3.00 mins rec)

So that no-one gets the idea it’s all 400m training, note that sessions such as: 6 x 1,000m in 2.35-2.40 (with 3.00 recovery) and 6 miles at 5.30-5.40m/m were being done in the Specific Prep (Apr-June) period."

Similar training (same coach, same event, different athlete) is supplied later in the same thread from different authors citing this training
Nov 3x6x200 30-32" 45" rec 2' b/sets ave 30.76 (dirt)
Dec: 4X1600m (4:40, 4:37, 4:38, 4:39) 4min recovery
Jan: 6X1200m (3:22, 3:22, 3:24, 3:25, 3:25, 3:21) 4min recovery
3x5x300 with 100 jog, 4min b/sets.
Feb: 5X1000 (2:44 avg) 4min rec
Mar: 5X 800 (2:04-2:06) 3min rec
May: 3X800 (1:55) 10rec + 400 (49s)

The volume dropped and the reps sped as the year progressed

We would recommend one session per week for the first month before incorporating any speed endurance into the programme (repeated extended high speed runs)
In a two week cycle in Running for Fitness by Peter Coe, 8 x 800m and 16 x 200 are included. This is performed around March, April, May.
And from the same book, "Once you have managed a few sets of 20 x 200 metres, we would expect you to find it easier to maintain a faster steady pace on the road"
In the Coe and Martin, it states that Seb retained the ability to run 30 x 200 m in 27/28 each year (45 sec recovery)
In spring one year, Peter set a session of 40 x 200 in 30 secs (short recovery). The session was cut short as Seb was running them too quickly.
Important to note that Seb could always run a 23/24 rep throughout. If he couldn't the session was too intense and there was excessive anaerobic buildup. Reps are performed at 1500 m pace.
In Running With Legends, it states that "repeat 200s were the workout for him". The repeats would get quicker and the rest less. He was getting more and more anaerobically fit.
Even at age 16, Coe was running 20 x 200 m.
The main period for multi-tier training was in March to May Running for fitness p. 114.
In Coming Back, Peter states that the multi pace training was used in the essential build up phase after winter.
Peter Coe's statment in Coming Back: "The great conditioner is 5,000 m training. I find it essential for the late winter/early spring phase." supports this.
Mal Whitfield
Mal Whitfield (2 Olympic Gold Medals over 800 metres '48, 52) "My preparation often included progressive repetitions of 300 m with very short recoveries, up to 15x300"

Wilson Kipketer (2 x 20 x 200 rest 26/30s)

Alberto Juantorena 20 x 200, 15 x 300
Mondays and Wednesdays were interval sessions on the track. Standard interval sessions were 20 x 200 m or 15 x 300 m. The 200s started at 30 seconds and became faster as the season progressed.

Even Michael Johnson does 15 x 200

PP: So in December and January, you're just running steadily at an easy pace. What happens in February and March?
KIPROTICH: I add in some hill training.

PP: How does that work?
KIPROTICH: I'll do my regular base running on Tuesday through Friday, but I'll add in hill sessions on Monday and Saturday. Nothing fancy about the hill workouts; I'll just find a steep, 200-metre hill and complete 20 reps per session at close to top speed, with jog- to-the-bottom recoveries

coe link ... G%26um%3D1
Last edited by Tony Wilson on December 14th, 2009, 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: July 20th, 2005, 11:36 am

November 12th, 2008, 12:24 pm #3

Long Hill Reps
Snell ran 800 metre hills for a period of between 6 weeks prior to his double Gold Medal winning performance in Rome. They finished 9 weeks before the Tokyo races. No Bugles No Drums p.169. Prior to his 1962 record breaking spree he completed two weeks of hill training. No Bugles No Drums p.169.
Lydiard suggests a reasonable steep hill is best. Run to the top p.76
It had a couple of downhill rest sections and according to his training partner, Barry Magee, it was usual to spring the first 200 metres, then just run for 400 metres and spring again for the last 200 metres. Healthy Intelligent Training p.113
The hill session was roughly ten miles in total running the 800 m hill 4 times. Snell reportedly ran this 6 times per week.

Cruz -
According to the Runners World article, in the "Basic Preparation Phase" (following his easy running phase) he ran "1000 m uphills". This phase went for three months. How many hills he did, I do not know.
In the next phase, "Specific Preparation" which lead into the track season, he ran "200 to 500 metre hills" Once again, how many is not stated. This phase also went for three months.
And from here ... 752&page=0
"They do 800m repeats on a 15% hill (not steeper). About 6-8 x 800m depending on the athlete (no times given). Easy jog down recovery. They later do hill work on 300m, 200m, 100m and even 75m for speed workouts. For the shortest repeats they work on arm and knee lift, trying to improve coordination. They do no downhill training, fearing injury."
Both sources of information are consistent.

Coe -
Coe ran hills from 100 m to 1000 m.
In March, April, May Coe ran short hills up to 30-40 times for 100 m hill and 10 times a 200 m hill. He runs the 1000 m hill 6 times with a slow jog back recovery. he hill was largely anaerobic and a high knee lift is stressed.
"Everywhere from my front door was effectively up, and there was a run we used to do often that was uphill for 10 miles," he (Seb) remembers. "We'd be out in all weathers..." ... gbo14.html

PM hill work - 6 times series
1. up 200 yard hill (steep)
2. stride 880 on top, controlled sprint down (gradual incline

Alberto Juantorena
"We used to train on sand hills, two times day, up to 25 kilometers a day; 15 km in morning, 10 km in evening."

Nixon Kiprotich
Nixon Kiprotich explains when he introduced hill training. Snell, Coe and Cruz incorporated them into their training programs at the same time
"How does the 800-metre runner improve efficiency? A: By conducting some 200-metre and 400-metre interval workouts at faster than goal race pace -and by working on hills, hills, hills. Repetitions on hills appear to be the most specific, useful form of resistance training for 800-metre runners. Hills can be emphasized before the main competitive season begins, during the four- to eight-week period which follows the pre-season, aerobic-development period.
The Kenyans are currently dominating 800-metre running, and few of them have ever entered a gym. However, almost all of them have grown up in the perfect environment for 800-metre runners - in places where there are lots of steep hills. As mentioned, hill running is the most specific way to develop brute power in the leg muscles -power which translates into faster 800-metre running. So, the answer to the question might be 'Yes, you need to strength train if you are an environmentally challenged runner who lives in the flatlands.' To succeed at 800 metres, you do need to bolster leg-muscle power. Whether you do that while carrying out squatting and lunging exercises in the gym or while running on steep inclines may not matter" ... ics112.xml

It's true that I came to it fresh, but I was free of dogmas. When people thought we must be doing 100 miles a week, we were doing under 30

Last edited by Tony Wilson on June 24th, 2009, 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: July 20th, 2005, 11:36 am

June 4th, 2009, 11:03 am #4

Time Trials / Speed Endurance
After four to six weeks on hill running, then six weeks of training that is "geared down to speeds well within the capacity of the runner" where "we have been curbing our runner's bid for speed", a period of six weeks of short, sharp work is done as well as Time Trials. Easy distance running is maintained through this period.
Snell would run a weekly time trial (over 600 or 800) and race in the final six weeks leading up to an important race. Also, steady efforts over a mile were run. The hardest training appears to be a session like 6 x 400. The training for the final six weeks was quite light, but quality increased.
Time trials were not speed tests but a series of runs over the weeks where a gradual improvement was targeted.
Time Trials were seen as crucial. The focus of training following a Time Trial may depend upon how the time trail went.

There is less information on Cruz but have seen this
1x1400 (600 4min 400 3min 200 2min 200) 1:16.65 53.80 24.70 25.70 for one session.
"Tempo Training" (up to eight minute rest between more intense efforts) and "Interval Tempo Training" (45 to 90 second rest between 90 percent efforts, fewer repetitions)
Peter Coe states that interval training (e.g. building from 10 x 200 to 30 x 200) starting in March has s specific role between steady running and speed endurance running. The lactate levels are not intolerable and the athlete is becoming used to fast work.
Peter suggests hard speed endurance runs (eg 6 x 600, with rec twice the running time) is crucial. Attention to recovery here is crucial, between reps and also in the days to follow.

In Running With Legends, it states that Coe preferred time trials rather than races in the spring to let himself know what sort of shape he was in.

Rudolph Harbig
In summer Rudolph would do a weekly speed endurance session -
1000 (15 min jog), 600 (10 min jog), 500
Last edited by Tony Wilson on June 28th, 2009, 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: July 20th, 2005, 11:36 am

June 4th, 2009, 11:06 am #5

Down Hill Running
Lydiard included a 4 to 6 week hill phase for his athletes. Initially, they ran
Coe's Rivelin Valley Road 6x800's with short recovery is downhill. Apparently, the session starts at an elevation of about 165m and drops to around 75m in just under 5k. So that is a drop of around 15 metres for each 800. I read that here in an excellent thread about 800 metre training. It is worth your while checking it out - particulary posts by "OldSub4" who is very knowledgeable. ... ad=2669719

Here is what OldSub4 had to say about Coe's long downhill reps. These long downhill runs were Lydiard's innovation not Peter Coe's. It is interesting that obviously a decision was made to run the reps on that piece of road downhill and not uphill, and not flat somewhere else.

I always thought this may have been Peter Coe's most incredible innovation. You create a workout where you are building up lactic acid, but instead of resistance or flat you being forced by gavity to keep your turnover quicker than comfortable. You are put in a position to stimulate your hip flexors and turnover system in a way that you cant do on either flat or incline, which may have been the special ingredient to give Coe the "double kick" when he was healthy and in his prime. Look at the gear change at the end of the 84 Olympic Final -- devastating!!!

Cruz -
Apparently, Cruz's coach was not a fan of downhill running

You should try to get hold of the video also entitled Born To Run. You will see the 800m reps along the Rivelin Valley Road into Sheffield per the above link and also see Coe doing short hill reps with jog down recovery. If you stop the video at the right moment you will also glimpse Peter Coe's training diary open with a month of 5 pace sessions.

from ... ad=2132036
Last edited by Tony Wilson on June 23rd, 2009, 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: July 20th, 2005, 11:36 am

June 19th, 2009, 1:25 pm #6

Seb is trained in an orthodox method using known methods

A Base of Steady Running
Snell's base of steady running has been well documented. I won't spend too much time here discussing it. Here is an outline of suggested training from Lydiard's best book - his first one, Run to the Top published in 1962
Sun - 15 miles at 1/4 effort
Mon - 10 miles at 1/2 effort over a hilly course
Tue - 15 miles at 1/4 effort over an easier running course, undulating rather than dead flat
Wed - 12 miles of fartlek running
Thu - 18 miles at 1/4 effort on an easy course
Fri - 10 miles fast over a flat course - not racing speed but about 3/4 effort
Sat - 20 to 30 miles over an easy course at 1/4 pace

The only training the Coe's publish is that of just prior to a major race or from a couple of weeks when he was 16 or 18. There is so much reading between the lines and contradictions. I suppose we are all going to believe what we want to believe.
November - February started off running 40 miles per week in November and worked up to 65-80 miles per week by March.
Seb ran most of his training at 3 min 20 sec per km
The Coes were aware of the steady running vs interval training debate. In Running for Fitness, Peter states that they used both forms of running, but regular interval training does not start until March. That leaves four months of training prior to March as predominantly steady running with some repetition running and hill running. More rep work being introduced as the season progresses. Frank Horwill has stated that Seb he did a 5km pace session at 13:20 speed each week. In Coming Back, Peter says he uses 5 km pace training is performed in Late Winter / Early Spring
The mileage starts at around 40 miles per week and progresses to 65-80 miles per week by March, and then decreases as the speed content of the training increases - according to David Martin (co-author with Peter of Training Distance Runners)
And again
"Rather than running 100 to 120 miles a week like many runners, Coe would run 60 to 75 miles (96 to 120 km) a week of basework. It was hard hard work"
In May there was a gradual changeover to anaerobic work.
Cutting back to 60 miles per week and then to 30 miles a week.
Source Running with the Legends by Michael Sandrock

"The athlete will have to have built up a solid strength and endurance base by steady distance running and by hard weight and circuit training in the gymnasium. On to this base, using a multi tier training program, he will build speed endurance... In addition he will have not neglected his pure sprinting speed."
Source: Running for Fitness by Peter Coe

I've read this
"During his base phase he ran 10-11 miles a day in singles 7 days a week. Oliveira told him to run 10, but he usually ran 11. He ran lots of his base at 5:20/mile and only run slower if he was particularly tired. As he approached the pre-competitive period he would often run 4:40 every other mile. So, he was a moderate mileage runner during his base phase at 70-80 miles a week with lots and lots of LT work.

Transitioning out of the base phase he would run large sessions of 100 meter repeats with a very short recovery. He would do this until he could consistenly run the 100s under 12 secs. Only when he could to this would he start doing the typical middle distance workouts." ... 737&page=3

and this
For two months - Re adaption Period
Week 1: three miles every other day
Week 2: five miles every other day
Week 3: four miles every day
Week 4: six miles every day (68 km per week)
Week 5-8: six miles every other day, plus 1.5 - 2.0 hours easy running and gymnastics every other day
with this
There are a number of example weeks from de Oliveira’s training program, weekly mileage is as follows (incl warm-up and cool down):
• Basic preparation (Dec-March) approx 48-63 mpw
• Specific Prep (Apr-June) approx 60 mpw
• Competitive period (Jul-Sept) approx 39mpw ... 752&page=0

The Kenyan men have an amaizing 11 Olympic medals over 800 metres since 1964. It is worth noting that Kenya boycotted the 1976 and 1980 Olympics Mike Boit and James Maina may well have made the tally 13!
I was reading Understanding Intervals and read that the Kenyans rarely run Intervals. Furhter investigation of Nixon Kiprotich's training and a read of Toby Tanser's Train Hard Win Easy reveals this to be the case in during the Base Preparation Phase of training. In the winter, even the 800 m runners, train on a diet of steady running (often quite quick). They did the occasional fartlek (often used as a cross over between winter and track season). The only reps they did were up hills.
Last edited by Tony Wilson on June 30th, 2009, 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: July 20th, 2005, 11:36 am

June 22nd, 2009, 2:33 pm #7

Circuit Training

From week two onwards they do cicuits and weights each week. They continue circuits well in to the racing phace.

Joined: July 20th, 2005, 11:36 am

June 23rd, 2009, 2:07 pm #8

5000 m training / Multi Pace Work / VO2 Max Work
To follow is a comparison of Coe's Multi Pace Training and Lydiard's Anaerobic Training (week 6 of 6 weeks (of his phase one of anaerobic training) and week 2 of 6 weeks (of his phase 2 of anaerobic training)) So altogether week 6 of 12 and week 8 of 12.
Whereas Coe combined different paces over the pre competition / competition phase, Lydiard had two phases - the longer systemic anaerobic (longer rep work 5000/3000/1500 pace work) phase (wk 1 to 6) and the local anaerobic / peaking phase (1500/800/400 pace work) (wk 7 to 12).
Lydiard's Week 6 and 8 listed below (as stated above) and compared to Coe's 12 day program. Lydiard's paces are estimated (highlighted) to match Coe's Paces.
The similarities are clear (see table below Arthur's paces are matched to Peter's)
Coe / Snell

Rudolph Harbig
In early and mid winter Rudolph would run a weekly long reps session
early winter - 2000 m warm up, 2000 m stride, 2000 m in six minutes
mid winter - 1500 m warm up, 3 x 1200 m in 3 min 20 sec with a 15 mi jog b/w reps
late winter - 4000 m warm up, 12 x 100 m, building up speed over the last 50 metres. Then 500 m in 65 secs.
Last edited by Tony Wilson on April 7th, 2013, 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: July 20th, 2005, 11:36 am

June 24th, 2009, 2:05 pm #9

Speed Endurance