Split times

Con­tin­u­ing our se­ries on how science and gen­eral opin­ions have changed over the decades, this time we look at train­ing.

Trail Running (UK) - - Warm-Up -

1800s

The ba­sic prin­ci­ples of train­ing have been long es­tab­lished, al­though back in the 1800s it’s all about con­tin­u­ous run­ning rather than in­ter­val train­ing. Henry Faza­k­er­ley Wilkin­son in the book Mod­ern Ath­let­ics (1868) says the four pri­mary points of train­ing were ‘diet, sleep, cloth­ing and ex­er­cise’, but spe­cific train­ing ad­vice is sparse.

Early 1900s

Lauri Pihkala, coach to the great Fin­nish run­ner Paavo Nurmi, pi­o­neers in­ter­val train­ing. It typ­i­cally con­sists of sev­eral flat-out sprints over 150m, fol­lowed by a longer-dis­tance ef­fort of up to 3km.

1930s

Swedish greats Gun­der Hagg and Arne An­der­son em­ploy ‘speed play’, which is ad-hoc in­ter­val train­ing over var­i­ous dis­tances. Soon af­ter, Ger­man coach Wolde­mar Ger­schler be­comes the first to use heart-rate train­ing.

Post-war

Emil Zatopek puts vol­ume back on the agenda. He runs more than 140 miles per week, al­though with a mas­sive amount of miles from in­ter­vals.

1950s

New Zealand coach Arthur Ly­di­ard pro­motes build­ing an en­durance base through vol­ume, fo­cus­ing on speed only in short spells known as ‘pe­ri­odi­s­a­tion’.

1980s

Ath­letes like Seb Coe bring in­ter­val train­ing to the fore again, with lower mileage and speed­work be­ing key. Sports science is in­creas­ingly play­ing an im­por­tant role too.

Late-1980s

Kenyans and Ethiopi­ans start to dom­i­nate dis­tance run­ning. One of the the­o­ries be­hind their suc­cess is good con­di­tion­ing from a young age – such as walk­ing to school ev­ery day.

2000s

An ac­tive daily life­style doesn’t catch on world­wide, but the Africans’ train­ing ap­proach does as the tide ebbs back slightly to­wards vol­ume.

2010s

GPS de­vices, pi­lates and pro­bi­otic yo­ghurts all be­come com­mon­place as run­ning hits an ever-grow­ing mass au­di­ence.

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