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Training Specificity: 7 Reasons Why Mo Farah Stays Injury-Free And How You Can Too (Part 5)
Many runners attempt to achieve success through brute force. They ratchet up the mileage, logging more and more miles in a desperate effort to obtain a competitive advantage. But there is a more subtle approach – and it’s one that characterises the training regimes of all of Alberto Salazar’s runners.
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.
3 Training specificity
In our last article we discussed the importance of intensity in the Salazar coaching regime. A related explanation for the improvement in Farah’s performances, and his ability to avoid potential injury, lies in training specificity.
Rather than rely on more and more mileage to obtain a competitive advantage, Salazar has placed particular focus on a certain type of race-specific fitness – the capacity of his runners to end taxing runs with breathtaking sprint finishes.
The coach’s approach is evident in both the training workouts that his runners have undertaken and also in the races at which they compete.
Last summer, StrengthRunning.com reported on the brutal maximum effort repetitions that Salazar had Galen Rupp undertake to finish interval workouts. These included:
- A 400m lap completed in just 51 seconds.
- A 100m sprint (with a standing start) completed in 11.03 seconds.
Recall that these weren’t simply part of the athletes’ workouts – these were the laps and sprints that followed the rest of the runners’ workouts.
As the author put it:
…What 10,000m distance runner can run an 11 second 100m?!…
In addition, Salazar has had his middle-distance runners compete in much shorter races than their usual race distances.
In the case of Mo Farah, the programme involved the athlete spending much of one winter competing at distances between 1500m and 3000m, in stark contrast to his usual cross-country programme.
In the process, Farah experienced the bitter taste of defeat in competitive races, as he honed the blistering finishing pace that is now associated with the athlete.
But the impact of the Salazar approach has been obvious – not least this summer, when Farah recorded the fastest time for the 1500m in European history, breaking a 16 year-old record in the process.
MORE: Ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Salazar incorporated a couple of interval sessions to fine-tune Farah and Rupp’s final laps in the 10000m. Check out the exact (punishing) routines in these articles by SI.com and ChiRunning.com.