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Training Philosophies

Answered By Jeff Arbogast


Hello, I am wondering if you can elaborate on the main training ideas that I have heard about. I understand Lydiard for the most part and have read some stuff about him, but can you please tell me what you know about daniels, vigil, and paavo training? Also which one you prefer or if it is a culmination of some of them. Thank you for your time and effort!


Wow . . .you have covered every major training philosophy that has separated itself in the last 50 years, so the possibilities for answers are endless. To summarize the four main philosophies would be an epic work, so let's look at similarities and an overall set of ideas that are commonalities between them. I am relatively unschooled in Paavo, but I don't view it as unique or trend setting in and of itself. Of the four (Lydiard, Daniels, Vigil being the others) you have mentioned, I look at Paavo as being more regimented and less flexible while the others allow for training to follow guidelines according to the individual needs of the athlete in question. Daniels has a regimented section as well with his breakdowns of pacing, but allows for variability within a training microcycle of 7-14 days. Paavo is a bit more delineated according to what days follow what. The other two prescribe less detailed pacings. Overall, the main three you have mentioned have commonalities that include strength phases (off-season overdistance), intensity, (speed-endurance components relying on repeats of 600m-1000m) and legspeed additions (shorter intervals of 300-600m with complete rest). Also, the three emphasize consistency, year-round training, heavier mileage during strength phases (not necessarily a bad thing), and resistance work (hills, sand, uneven terrain). But . . the most important question remains . . . do you need to take any individual training philosophy as gospel at the exclusion of others? I would counsel you that the answer is "no". Look at commonalities, train "hard-easy" within a weekly microcycle, challenge yourself with harder performances in training and chart those performances, and set priorities that allow running to be near the top. Those ideas will mean a lot more than any specific time at an interval or distance on a long run. Our training philosophy comes from the African model as adapted to what our specific culture will allow. It comes from 3 weeks of intensive discussions with the Kenyans during the 1996 Olympics (through Chick Hislop, our 1996 Distance Coach) and is outlined on our website as well as here on youthrunner.com. We use elements of all three major training ideas you mentioned that also have common roots in the African model, then design 4 macrocycles around it that are Summer Training, XC, Indoor, and Outdoor. We build year-to-year (a failure among most HS programs in the country) and that allows us to send many more kids on to NCAA programs as the focus (like the African model) is more long-term. To briefly summarize what we do (although detailed reading of our "4 Macrocycles" is a ton better) . . .we build from strength to speed throughout the year. "Summer" is our strength phase with little speed, and "Outdoor" is our speed based macro with the least strength. We then launch our next "Summer" macro with a whole new potential of speed in front of us, provided by the "Outdoor" phase. Our 'easy' paces in the following "Summer" macro are now much faster . . .and the higher velocity stuff is supported by continued strength training. Historically, we use the 800 as our core interval (running 7:45 indoors for the 4x800 and being ranked National #1 3 times although our state DOES NOT have the 4x800 on it's track schedule!) and then move that speed to XC. It IS possible to emphasize speed and strength . . .just not at the same time. But, strength will not leave you if you keep consistent throughout the year. Our fastest FL Finalist ever (3rd) also ran 48 in the 400 in track and set a State Record. In conclusion . . .maintain flexibility in your training, stay consistent, look for commonalities in not only the main programs you mentioned, but in others that exist, use variety, go 'hard-easy' to allow the body to recover, use good diet/hydration/rest philosophies, and set high goals. That is the secret . . . not blindly following anyone's training ideas. Have fun . . train hard . . .

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