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Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox
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     I have noticed through the course of several threads an understandable, yet eroneous conclusion that many people make due to the success of other athletes.

I'm not the first runner (or the last) who's been asked, "How do you break x:xx time in a race?" as if there was some sort of secret race strategy or magic formula that allows the faster runners to do so. What is even more disturbing than the question is that it is often followed up with, "so-and-so said I need to do XYZ,".....so-and-so usualy being someone not qualified to give advice and XYZ often being a "magic workout."

The fact is "proper run training" allows YOU to reach YOUR potential. It has little to do with absolutes such as "to run 18:00 you need to run 30 miles a week but if you want to run 17:00 then you need to train 40 miles a week." It all depends on the person, the amount of training they've done in the past, and as much as we hate to admit it.....genetics!


This leads me to The Zatopek Paradox. Emil Zatopek DOMINATED the running scene in the early 1950s winning gold in the 5,000, 10,000, and marathon in the 1952 Olympics and broke 18 world records. If one wanted to become faster in 1952, they'd be wise to take a look at Zatopek's training (but beware....see The Khannouchi Paradox coming soon). Zatopek's success was attributed to a high level of interval training. The man liked to train fast all the time, and it worked for him. In fact, it would have worked for most people compared to what they were doing at the time.

But here comes the paradox. What if YOU were to train that way today? Would you see the kind of success he had....at least relative to your geneticly determined potential? Well, lets see. How good *was* Zatopek.

Zatopek's PR in the 5,000 was 14:07!! Wow! That's fast! I bet you wish YOU could run 14:07. But, keep in mind that Zatopek was likely one of the most gifted runners of his time. In fact, no one could run faster.

However, here is something to think about. 52 years later in the US Olympic trials, 25 people ran FASTER than Emil Zatopek's world record. In fact, they were required to run 19 seconds faster than his record in order to even be allowed in the race. Once you include all the milers, steeple chasers, 10K runners, marathoners, and those out with injury who were capapble of running under 14:07 in the US and extrapolate that out over the 6 billion people in the world, and you'd likely have over 1,000 people in one year who were faster than the fastest man ever to run 5,000 meters 50 years earlier.

If you want to look at it a different way, the current world record is a full 10% faster than his world record. It is quite possible that the current record holder has more talent than Zatopek had, but not 1,000 people.

One could argue that improvements in equipment can account for some of this, and that is correct. But the simple fact of the matter is that science and the art of coaching has continued to evolve since the era of Zatopek. We know more now than ever before and it DOES matter how you train. There is no magic workout that will replace consistency. That's a given. But the fundamentals that have been laid out by the likes of Lydiard, Daniels, Martin, Kellog, Pfitzinger, etc. have allowed for the runners of today to eek out an extra 10% over what runners 50 years ago could do.

Training the way Zatopek did will unlikely get you to 14:07 unless you posess the talent that he had. What it will do is get you to within 90% of what modern training theory will get you. This same concept applies to antiquated swimming and cycling training methods. And, rest assured, in 50 years you will see the same happen in triathlon.

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
Last edited by: BarryP: Feb 7, 07 7:12
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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Did he lift weights?

:)

__________________________________________________

You sir, are my new hero! - Trifan 11/13/2008

Casey, you are a wise man - blueraider_mike 11/13/2008

Casey, This is an astute observation. - Slowbern 11/17/2008
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [Casey] [ In reply to ]
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Squats with his wife on his shoulders.

(I'm not kidding).

This is the guy who ran 40 x 400s in his army boots and was regularly caught unconscious on duty (while in the army) becasue he would train by holding his breath.

Like Barry says - he may not be the best role model....



"Are you sure we're going fast enough?" - Emil Zatopek
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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Nice post again BarryP - keeps me in my Zone2 running for just a little more :-)

What I would be interested in seeing is Ryan Hall's current training program (like Polar opposite) - (since he was thought to be a great miler, now 1/2 American record with hopes to the marathon). Might be intersting ...

____________________________________
Fatigue is biochemical, not biomechanical.
- Andrew Coggan, PhD
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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Can we at least copy his form?
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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great post barry. you should seriously consider writing a training book.

Dan
www.aiatriathlon.com

http://www.aiatriathlon.com
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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Agreed a great post but I'd only question whether we'll really see a thousand people under 8 hours for IM. So much of what has been learnt about biking, running and swimming carries directly over in to triathlon that it seems it shouldn't take anything like 50 years to get to the top of the improvement curve (if we're not there already).

On this graph the top is the bottom:



I can't find a graph for Ironman results but I'll wager it looks pretty flat and will stay that way.



"Are you sure we're going fast enough?" - Emil Zatopek
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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If you were to coach Zatopek, what would you have changed in his training?

A part of the 10% difference could somewhat be accounted for the fact that to win and break records he did not need to run any faster. For these type of personalities competition is a pretty powerful motivator.

---------------------------
http://www.nunnsontherun.com
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [rroof] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
What I would be interested in seeing is Ryan Hall's current training program (like Polar opposite) - (since he was thought to be a great miler, now 1/2 American record with hopes to the marathon). Might be intersting ...

I was just listening to an interview with Ryan Hall on Competitor Radio's podcast while I was doing intervals today. It was a great segment (you can get it for free on ITunes - search Competitor podcast). I won't try to paraphrase it here, but he does talk about his training.


Dax
http://dirtyrunning.blogspot.com
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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is the "kanuchi paradox" referencing Khalid Khannouchi???
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [dax] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks, I'm going to check it out!

You did intervals to that? :~(

____________________________________
Fatigue is biochemical, not biomechanical.
- Andrew Coggan, PhD
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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well written! thanks :)

maybe she's born with it, maybe it's chlorine
Fishtwitch is chlorintined!
disclaimer: PhD not MD
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [rroof] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
You did intervals to that? :~(
I know; it's sad. If I use music, I start too fast and finish too slow. The other one I listened to was a 2-parter - Tinley/Molina/Lemond all on the same radio show.


Dax
http://dirtyrunning.blogspot.com
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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One of our assistant coaches, an older guy who used to train under Igloi, told me a story about someone going up to zatopek and telling him he ran his 80x400 workout, but kept getting injured, and wanted to know how Zatopek survived. Z asked him how fast he was running them and it turned out zatopek was running them relatively slowly (still a badass workout, but closer to threshhold than balls out 400's).

no idea if it's actually true or not, but thought I'd throw it out there.

FWIW, I'm guessing tri training (and I'm only a duathlete, I sink like a rock) is going to be even MORE individualized, as there are more types of sport specific strengths/weaknesses when you're training for 3 sports at once

-Dave
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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Come on - no one has suggested that its because the drugs are getting better....

Dave
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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As usual nice post. Now let's hope no one will try to twist it (as usual) and bring some nonsense about the great 4! ;-)

Jorge Martinez
Head Coach - Sports Science
E3 Training Solutions, LLC
@CoachJorgeM
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [rroof] [ In reply to ]
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Nice post again BarryP - keeps me in my Zone2 running for just a little more :-)

What I would be interested in seeing is Ryan Hall's current training program (like Polar opposite) - (since he was thought to be a great miler, now 1/2 American record with hopes to the marathon). Might be intersting ...
__________________________

Thanks. That means a lot coming from the poster of the year!!

I plan to do a little more digging on Hall, but apparently he did a handful of 12 mile "tempo runs"......more likely they were MP runs or what I like to call "LT +" runs.

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [luckyleese] [ In reply to ]
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Squats with his wife on his shoulders.

(I'm not kidding).

This is the guy who ran 40 x 400s in his army boots and was regularly caught unconscious on duty (while in the army) becasue he would train by holding his breath.

Like Barry says - he may not be the best role model....


"Are you sure we're going fast enough?" - Emil Zatopek
_________________________________________________

Thanks for the post. This is one of the points I wanted to make on the lifting thread (though I hope this doesn't turn into another one). I'll have to dig a little more and find out exactly what others were doing in the 50s, but it is very likely that Zatopek's high interval approach gave him an edge over what the rest of the world was doing at the time (perhaps not enough intervals). It is UNLIKELY that his combat boot running, his breath holding, or his squats were what made the difference. We know this because we have n = hundreds of thousands in distance running and we have no reason to believe that any of this leads to success.

In Ironman training we just don't have a large enough pool to draw any real conclusions. Did Mark Allen's weights equate to Zatopek's interval training......or were they Zatopek's combat boots?

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [luckyleese] [ In reply to ]
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I can't find a graph for Ironman results but I'll wager it looks pretty flat and will stay that way.
_______________________________

It won't improve the way the other sports have, but rest assured, someone will discover some ground breaking fundamentals...wheather it be a system of 50 hour weeks followed by recovery weeks, 10 hour bricks, speed work aqua jogging, altitude training, or something. Someone will break 8 hours.

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [gavnunns] [ In reply to ]
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If you were to coach Zatopek, what would you have changed in his training?
_______________________

I'd have to REALLY look at his training to know. Probably more slower mileage, a solid system of periodization, more straight LT training, and have the V02max intervals inserted in leading up to his peak races.

I don't think it was really until the 70s that people saw the value of high mileage training....but they often did too much, and not enough LT training. In the 80s it was too much interval work and too little mileage. Now days there seems to be a better balance.

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [ace1317] [ In reply to ]
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FWIW, I'm guessing tri training (and I'm only a duathlete, I sink like a rock) is going to be even MORE individualized, as there are more types of sport specific strengths/weaknesses when you're training for 3 sports at once

______________

Absolutely.

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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Well when you figure that out let me know... i know you got something cooking in that head of yours.

pmed you about last weekend also.

Grant

Grant
----------------------------------------------------
Proudly sponsored by Desoto Sports
Please Support CAF every little bit helps http://raceforareason.kintera.org/grantreuter
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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Barry, perhaps you're making a few incorrect assumptions here and drawing conclusions from them that are very mis-leading.

You say Zatopek was one of the most gifted runners of his time. How do you know that???
I think you are making a wrong asusmption here.

What was Zatopek's VO2? Do you know what it was when he began training?
We do know his final results which were under 29 for the 10k and under an hour for 20k.
Pretty studly for a normal white dude if you ask me. And he did it on about 5 years of training beginning at an advanced age of 19.
We don't know where he started, only that his first race was a 9:12 for 3km at age 19.
That doesn't exactly indicate world record holder potential does it. I'd be willing to bet Haile Geb did a minute faster than that at age 12.
So can we agree on this point - that we dont' know much about his genetic potential???
And if we don't know that, then how do we know that his training didn't optimize it to a very large degree?

I believe his training brought him absolutely amazing results given where he started - as a typical, white, non-athletic, late-starting dude living in a 3rd world country during the depression.

Don't you think its fair to assume that his genetics weren't equivalent to the genetic potential of many of world record setters who followed him? Like Kenyen Henry Rono or the Ethiopian Geb for example?
And Zatopek only started running at age 19, not when he was in single digits like Rono or Geb or many others who ran a hell of a lot in high school.

Zatopek ran under 14 for the 5,000m a few times by the way.

When you say say that the world record has progressed mostly due to training methods .......... well c'mon.
That's quite a leap of logic.

You ask the question in your post here - is it reasonable to think that 1,000 people who run distance on the track have more potential than Zatopek? My answer to that would be a resounding yes.
My guess is that the Rift Valley alone has more than 1,000 kids with more genetic talent for distance runing than Zatopek, not to mention Ethiopia, Morroco, Tanzania, etc.

Even in the USA there are a hell of a lot of distance runners running quite a bit in high school - so even if they don't have the talent of Zatopek, they are getting a 4-5 year head start during those crucial years of adaption when hormones enable near-miraculous change. That would give 100's if not 1000's of them a much better chance of ultimately becoming a faster runner than he was. So if they do end up running faster than he did I would simply put it down mostly to getting an earlier start running.

And about the combat boots - he said many times that he ran in them to save money and save his feet. He couldn't afford running shoes which were quite rare and quite expensive back then - practically non-existent in the 50's. He was in the army so got new boots for free when-ever he wanted them. You make it sound like he chose to run in them for other reasons to back up your reasoning that he did a lot of things we shouldn't do now.

He was a very innovative, successful runner as you point out, and there's a lot we can learn from the way he went about things. He revolutionized distance training and was one of the all time greatest runners in history after beginning from absolutely nowhere.
To keep using him as an example of what not to do won't serve you or any one else as much as it will if you look at his personality traits, approach to training, all that he did right.
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [luckyleese] [ In reply to ]
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Woah, look at that near-vertical line in the womens' WR in the early 1980s. That must have been cool.

-C

------------------------------------------------------------
Any run that doesn't include pooping in someone's front yard is a win.
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Re: Runtraining2 - The Zatopek Paradox [skid] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
Barry, perhaps you're making a few incorrect assumptions here and drawing conclusions from them that are very mis-leading.
conclusions?...this is the most worthless post i have seen...seems like someone wanting to hear himself talk....there seems to be no hard facts in his drivel...all hearsay and as others have posted, missing plenty of key facts...blah blah blah....
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