Monday, March 2, 2009

Peter Snell Video

Robert Hill just sent me a video of Peter Snell -

I had the pleasure of seeing Snell talk a few years ago at the Running Works Coaching Camp. After winning 3 Olympic Golds, he is now a PhD exercise physiologist at a university in Texas studying running and athletics. Here are my notes from his talk...

Peter Snell is the 1960 800 meter Olympic Champion and 1964 800 and 1500 meter Olympic Champion. This guy was amazing. Trained by Lydiard. He is now an Exercise Physiologist (PhD) at Univ of SW Texas in Dallas. Here is his personal progression:

Age Performance
17 2:04/4:40
18 1:59
19 1:52/4:10 – This is the year he started working with Lydiard
20 ?
21 1:47/4:01
22 ?
23 1:45/3:54

He says his key was he started running distance when he met Lydiard and built strength. Took years to develop fully.

His weekly training schedule before Tokyo in 1964:
M – 10 moderate
T – 15 easy
W – 12 hard – either fartlek or interval work
Th – 18 easy
F – 10 hard (or easy if race next day)
S – 15 moderate
Sun – 22. At the beginning of this training cycle – 6 months before Tokyo he started at 16-18 and 7 min per mile pace. Right before Tokyo he was running about 6 minute pace.

He said he was training really hard before Tokyo. He ran an 800 meter race and the objective was to go out easy in 56 and then see how much he had left. He told us he went out in 58 and then could only manage to come home in 2:02. He was widely regarded as not being ready for Tokyo. Yet he tapered a lot (he was not specific here), and was very fresh for Tokyo. Must have worked.

When he did his fast intervals he did them fast. He would run 55 seconds 400’s. Like 4-6 of them. He would sit and rest between them for maybe 5-10 minutes.

He put up some Seb Coe workouts (plenty of rest between intervals):
- 4X400 @800 meter pace
- 4X800 @ mile pace
- @400 pace – 350, 300, 250, 200

He also put up a chart that predicted 800 meter performance:

200M 800 Target
24 1:50-1:53
25 1:55-1:58
26 2:00 – 2:03
27 2:04 – 2:07
28 2:09 – 2:12

Another fascinating slide (I gave him my email – hopefully he will send me his slides) he put up was about Fast Twitch Muscle use in distance running. He maintains that long distance running actually develops not only slow twitch muscles, but also fast twitch muscles. He has conducted a bunch of tests on this. You can determine if a muscle is used by measuring glycogen depletion. The slow twitch muscles show lowering of glycogen at 15 minutes of running and deplete at say 60-120 minutes. The more interesting is that the fast twitch muscles show some glycogen use at 30 minutes, but show a fair amount at 60 minutes of running and get fully depleted at 120 minutes.

His point is that running very long actually improves a runners fast twitch muscles and speed. He maintains the reason for his killer kick (we saw videos and it was awesome) was just as much his long Sunday runs as it was his speed workouts.

He was also not high on a lot of speed work because of the danger of injury. He had charts that measured Ph in muscles and had a bunch of reasons why doing intervals could be bad. He really put focus on intervals as something that was really only needed in the final 6-8 weeks of training. He did favor some fartlek and moderate pace stuff throughout the year.

No comments: