Yobes Ondieki winning 5000m gold at the Tokyo World Champs, 1991
We send notes to our private athletes to help them to understand the philosophy that shapes our trisutto training, techniques, specific sessions and how we should approach them. Some of these we also share here with our followers.
This is one of those notes. I hope some find it helpful to their own training.
Many have asked me to write a book. Well I've written three however have not published them because in triathlon I'd sell about five plus one to my mother! However, last week I gave a run training session to the pros and pointed out it was a Lisa Ondieki session and asked them to discover who she was, and what she accomplished in her running career. It's interesting as she started out as a 100m hurdler and won her first Australian title in the 400m hurdles. Her story shows what can be accomplished if one has the mind to challenge themselves. Hence I thought I'd let all my private athletes know, so the ones who are interested can read and learn more.
Where it pertains to age grouper athletes is that in the month I personally observed Lisa training at the Australian Institute of Sport, I never saw either her or her husband Yobes time anything. They were working on Kenyan not science philosophy. Lactate tests were given weekly to the Australian team who all wore heart rate monitors, and their data was collated and stored in a database in military precision. Lisa and Yobes never participated in testing.
During the month I was there I always ran with them (Lisa and Yobes) when possible, to 'learn' what they were doing. I watched every track workout, where coaches shouted out all the lap splits - neither Lisa or Yobes paid any attention to that.
I have yet to give any male triathlete the Yobes Ondieki training day because none could possibly cope. However this was not a 'one off' special day. I observed that they did this day, after day, after day!
I have also observed the great Ron Clarke who back in the 60s did something similar when he made his comeback after a break from running. During his first period in running he trained with multiple timed intervals every day. He left running because he hated the training. He then played football instead for two or three seasons. He returned to running under one rule - 'I train without any pressure of timed workouts, or intervals that are timed'.
During the following 8 years Ron Clarke set 17 world records. He never timed anything.
To be sure this was correct, I personally spoke with 5 great runners of the time who sometimes trained with Ron. On track training night he would warm up with the others, then when the stop watch came out and intervals were started, Ron would head across the road to 'the tan' (a well known 3km running loop in Melbourne) and smash out lap after lap.
His routine was to build up each lap, faster and faster, till he hit top aerobic speed, then smash out 3 laps at faster than race pace. No timing, no lactates, no self recriminations of not fast enough, or highs of how fast it was.
When I asked him why he chose the new path he said -
'I used to beat myself up, as any timed split wasn't fast enough for me, I felt bad mentally every day. My brother said you used to love running, now it's a misery. If ever you run again, do what makes you love it again.So after my failed attempt to emulate my brothers success as a champion footballer, I gave running one more try - but my way. I only went to the track for races. No stop watch. I just ran. I fell in love with it again.'
Young and dumb, I had to ask 'but Ron how did you know how you were going?'
'That's the easiest question you asked! When I returned to running I made a pact with myself. If I give it my best effort, I would be happy with myself! Times meant nothing but misery for me. I settled on a strategy of measuring my effort - if it was all I had, it was a good day!
Hope you learned something from this. I certainly did at the time. From that camp I became a better coach.