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Running Intensity: 7 reasons why Mo Farah stays injury-free and how you can too (Part 4)
Running intensity is one of the least acknowledged aspects of the Salazar overhaul of Farah’s training regime. But it may also be one of the most important. Read on as your countdown of the reasons behind Mo Farah’s injury-free success continues.
Earlier this week we started our review of the top 7 factors behind Mo Farah’s consistent, injury-free success. You’ll find the start of the article here; your countdown continues below.
4 Running intensity
The role of training intensity in Farah’s improvement has received little attention. But it’s impact should not be under-estimated.
One of the few pieces of analysis on the issue was published a couple of years ago, early on in the Farah-Salazar partnership and to relatively little fanfare, by CompetitiveEdgeSports.com.
The article highlighted the dramatic improvement in Farah’s times, even at that early stage. And it posed the key question – just how is it possible for an already well-established athlete to make such dramatic improvements?
One possible answer is the substantial increase in the intensity of some of Farah’s workout sessions. A key example is Farah’s long run.
Based on the CompetitiveEdgeSports.com estimates, the pace of Farah’s long runs has increased by a full minute per mile – a dramatic amount for an elite athlete.
As the author argues, when Farah arrived at Salazar’s training camp he was in quite a different position to your typical elite athlete. For many of the elite, the issue is usually one of over-training.
By contrast, for Farah, it appears that – on his previous training programme – he may have actually been undertraining. The speed at which he was undertaking his long runs may have been producing only a very limited training effect.
…at his original training speed he was at about 64% of race speed which is incredibly slow. At his new speed it is still only about 75% of race speed. The latter speed is…excellent for improving aerobic capacity. The initial slow speed would not have had much, if any, training effect…
But there may be a further lesson to draw in terms of our approach to the quantity and quality of our running.
In particular, while Farah’s weekly mileage is substantial by comparison with the average runner, many elite athletes have tried to eke out further improvements in performance through even greater mileage – in some cases far in excess of the typical 110-miles or so that Farah runs in a typical week.
In many cases, runners’ attempts to increase mileage to significantly higher levels have ended in injury.
The implication of the data on Farah training intensity, allied with his exceptional performances, is that an alternative approach may be more sustainable.
It’s a simple message. To put it bluntly:
Don’t just run more. Run smarter.